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America’s need for treatment for substance abuse and mental health disorders

Too many Americans go without the mental health or substance abuse treatment that they need. Very often, the stigma attached to mental illness or the cost of getting treatment for a disorder prevents families from encouraging one another to get help for a drug addiction or mental health issue or disorder.

Untreated substance abuse disorders

In the United States there are more than 14,500 specialized drug treatment facilities that provide counseling, behavioral therapy, medication management, case management and other types of services to people with substance use disorders. However, the amount of people actually obtaining the treatment for substance abuse disorders is shockingly low in comparison to the amount of treatment centers providing services to help them.

According to a study conducted in 2013 by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 27 million people have heart disease, 25.8 million have diabetes and 19.4 million have cancer. In contrast, approximately 40.3 million Americans suffer with the disease of addiction, demonstrating quite the discrepancy when it comes to what the United States deems treatable. This has a large part to do with the stigma of mental health issues and drug addiction (NIDA 2014).

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 22.7 million Americans aged 12 and older needed treatment for an illegal drug or alcohol use problem in 2013. Evidence has revealed that only 2.5 million of those people (10.9 percent) actually received treatment at a specialty facility for an illicit drug or alcohol problem (SAMHSA 2014).

Untreated mental health disorders

In the United States, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health conditions. Approximately 40 million adults in the United States aged 18 years old and older (18 percent of the U.S. population) have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are treatable, but only about one-third of those afflicted receive any treatment.

An estimated 568,886 adults ages 18 to 64 were diagnosed with a serious mental illness, psychological stress or substance use disorder at the start of last year. According to a study done by the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), more than half a million adults who have expressed wanting help with serious mental health concerns last year didn’t get the help they needed due to their ineligibility for Medicaid, as well as not being covered under the Affordable Care Act in their state.

A high cost with a possible solution

Substance abuse costs Americans over 600 billion dollars annually, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug treatment could help lower these costs. For every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs, four to seven dollars is returned. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that the total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12-to-1. Treating drug addiction is also a preventative method in keeping down the costs associated with interpersonal conflicts leading to incarceration and fewer drug-related accidents, this also includes overdoses and deaths.

Treatment centers are intended to help addicts stop their compulsive drug seeking and use and help those with mental health disorders learn to cope with their illness and lessen symptoms. Treatment can occur in various forms and settings. Most treatment centers will offer an inpatient and outpatient component.

Therapeutic modalities utilized are usually of the evidence-based approaches to treating addiction and mental health disorders. Treatment for addiction and mental health disorders can include behavioral therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, dialectical therapy and contingency management.

Whatever the circumstances surrounding each individual, it is important that those in need of treatment are able to find it. This will in turn improve quality of life and in turn lower the cost created by those incarcerated for drug use or offenses tied to mental illness.

If you or a loved one would like more information on obtaining quality treatment for a substance use addiction or mental disorder, you can call the Recovery Helpline at 855-441-4405.

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