August 05, 2004

Substance Abuse Makes Mental Illness More Likely

A recently released government report (from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), shows that adulets who had a substance abuse disorder in 2002 were about three times as likely to have a serious mental illness as those who were not substance abusers (20.4% of users, vs. 7% of non-users). Within the substance abuse population, the highest prevalence of mental illness occurred in those who used both drugs and alcohol (30.1%), followed closely by drug abusers (29.1%). Alcohol dependants had a 19% rate of mental illness. Overall, an estimated 4 million adults have both a substance abuse problem and a serious mental disorder.

The report also revealed a serious lack of services to address these co-morbid diagnoses; although 47.9% of adults with both disorders had recieved some kind of treatment, only 11.8% had been treated for both mental health and substance abuse problems.

To view the news release, see "New Study Shows Approximately 4 Million Living with Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Abuse" (July 29, 2004) on the SAMHSA website (

To see the results of the report online, go to

For research showing that substance abuse raises a person's risk for mental illness and/or psychotic episodes, please see Causes and Prevention on the website.

For resources to help deal with these co-occuring diagnoses, see the Dual Diagnosis Website (


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