Study Highlights Unmet Treatment Needs Among Adults With Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

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Despite current treatment guidelines, fewer than 10 percent of adults with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders receive treatment for both disorders, and more than 50 percent do not receive treatment for either disorder.

The findings highlight a large gap between the prevalence of co-occurring disorders and treatment rates among U.S. adults and the need to identify effective approaches to increasing treatment for those with these conditions.

An analysis of data from U.S. adults with both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder indicates that only 9.1 percent of those adults received both types of care over the past year, and 52.5 percent received neither mental health care nor substance use treatment.

The study, based on data collected from the 2008-2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reports that 3.3 percent of the adult U.S. population, or some 7.7 million individuals, suffers from both a mental health and substance use disorder. Those adults with co-occurring disorders who did receive both types of treatment tend to have more serious psychiatric problems and accompanying physical ailments and were more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system compared to individuals who did not receive both types of care.

The primary reasons for not seeking care were inability to afford treatment, lack of knowledge about where to get care, and a low perceived need among those with both disorders.

For a copy of the paper, go to "Prevalence, Treatment, and Unmet Treatment Needs of U.S. Adults with Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders," published in Health Affairs. The paper was authored by scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the National Institute on Mental Health.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

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