Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLPRAC 765 - Coexisting Problems: Theory and Principles

15 Points 

Semester 1



Develops further knowledge and skills in working effectively with clients who suffer from coexisting mental health and addiction problems. Students will be presented with research and theory on existent problems and will examine recent developments in intervention strategies.


Prerequisite: POPLPRAC 708 or equivalent experience

This course may be taken as part of a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma in Health Science (Alcohol and Drug Studies) or the Masters in Health Sciences (Addiction and Mental Health). The course builds on foundation material introduced in the core course, POPLPRAC 708: Assessment and Intervention with Addiction. It assumes a foundation knowledge of mental health, in particular of diagnostic categories. POPLPRAC 708 (or equivalent experience as assessed by the programme director) is a prerequisite for enrolment in this course.

Goals of the course

This course will help students further develop knowledge and skills to assist them in working effectively with clients who suffer co-existing mental health and substance use disorders.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course the students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the main assumptions and conceptual models used to manage coexisting disorders

2. Evaluate the potential impact of co-existing substance use and mental health disorders on clinical practice, service provision, families and the broader community

3. Critically evaluate a range of therapeutic strategies and interventions for working with these clients.

4. Reflect on their practice and how that might change to best meet the needs of the client group they serve.

Content outline

The content of the course will be focused on the following themes:

  • Introduction to Co- existing problems: definitions, prevalence, aetiology
  • Detection and assessment: Overview of drug effects; Interaction issues: between symptoms and across substances; screening and assessment issues in co-existing problems
  • Frameworks for delivering treatment
  • Management of specific groups

Learning and teaching

Class time will utilise a combination of teaching sessions, discussions, debates and workshops relating to specific content. Teaching assumes a large component of self-directed learning. Students will be encouraged to develop their own perspectives and interests and to relate these to their work environment. This 15 point course is taught in the first semester in five, one day blocks, located at the Tāmaki Campus. Classes are small and opportunities exist for students to interact to enhance learning.

Teaching dates

This course is held at Tāmaki Campus. The lectures will occur Tuesday 9am to 4:30pm on the following dates: March 6, 20, Apr 17, May 15 and Friday 9am to 4:30pm on March 9. Please see your timetable on SSO or Building 730 Reception noticeboard on the day for the room details.


There are three assessment points in this course:

The last two assessments give the student an opportunity to explore an area of coexisting disorders that interests them.

• The first Assignment is a short Questions Answer assessment based on the content and readings of the first two days.

• The second assignment (30% of course grade) is a report/essay on a particular area of coexisting disorders that either interests you or is relevant to your work.

• The third assessment (50% of course grade) comprises of a case study and discussion of the evidence for one aspect of the intervention you propose for the client featured in the case study.

Learning resources

K. Muser,K., Noordsy, D., Drake R & Fox. L. (2003) Integrated Treatment for Dual Disorders – a guide to effective practice. The Guilford Press New York ISBN 1-57230-850-8 (pbk)

Baker, A., Vellerman, R (Eds). (2007). Clinical Handbook of Co-existing Mental Health and Alcohol Problems. Routledge London ISBN 978 1 58391 7756 3 (pbk).

Course Director

Course Administrator