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Mental Health and Alcohol Abuse

Expert Insight

Alcohol Abuse and Mental Health Issues

Jim Scarpace, MS, LCPC
Jim Scarpace, MS, LCPC
Executive Director
Gateway Aurora

Often times alcohol abuse and mental health issues go hand in hand. In fact, 80% of individuals with addiction issues also have a co-occurring mental health issue such as anxiety or depression.


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Ever felt anxious, depressed or suffered emotional distress due to a trauma? If so, you are not alone in experiencing mental health issues. Actually, one in five American adults aged 18 or older, or 45.6 million people, had mental health disorders in the past year, according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Mental health issues can significantly decrease a person's quality of life and wellbeing, especially when left untreated. Unfortunately, rather than seeking help, many people may turn to alcohol or other drugs to briefly adjust their state of mental health.

The SAMSHA report revealed rates for substance dependency or abuse were far higher for those who had mental health problems than for the adult population which did not have mental health issues in the past year.

Mental health and substance abuse issues often co-occur. In other words, individuals with substance abuse issues often have a mental health condition at the same time and vice versa – this is known as dual-diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder. Approximately 8.9 million adults have a co-occurring disorder. What's more, approximately 80% of individuals in treatment for drug or alcohol abuse have co-occurring disorders. In essence, they are self-medicating in an attempt to cope with undesirable emotions and distressing thoughts.

Gateway is a recognized leader among behavioral health care providers in offering substance abuse treatment, as well as treatment for individuals that are diagnosed with a dual-diagnosis/co-occurring disorder.

To review the SAMSHA report findings click here.

Source: SAMHSA

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