People with serious mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders are often excluded from vocational services, despite the lack of evidence that having a substance use disorder prevents them from being able to work. This study explored enrollment in supported employment services among clients with and without co-occurring substance use disorders.
With data from electronic medical records from a psychiatric rehabilitation agency, relationships between co-occurring substance use disorders and supported employment were examined among 1,748 clients with serious mental illnesses who were consecutively admitted to the agency over a two-year period.
Despite a similar interest in employment, clients with a co-occurring substance use disorder were 52% less likely than those without to enroll in a supported employment program. Those who were enrolled had similar competitive employment rates (25% for those with co-occurring disorders and 28% for those without).
People with co-occurring substance disorders have reduced rates of enrollment in supported employment services. (Psychiatric Services 62:545–547, 2011)