When substance abuse, mental illness mix | News

Often times a mental illness isn’t the only concern for patients needing treatment. Referred to as a dual diagnosis, patients can experience mental illness with a multitude of other conditions, from development disabilities to alcoholism to abusing drugs.

One-third of those with a mental illness present a dual diagnosis, according to data from the National Alliance on Mental Health, a nonprofit advocacy group. The organization says roughly half of substance abusers report experiencing a mental illness.

In those instances of drug use along with a mental illness, patients become inherently more difficult to treat. The CROSS Region’s disability service coordinator Angela Nelson said substance abuse beds are even harder to come by than mental health beds.

With legal commitments, they can go the route of a mental health commitment or a substance abuse commitment. The facility or program a patient is then referred to varies depending on the commitment type.

“That’s where family members really get into that quadrum of when they go to do a commitment…do they do a substance abuse commitment or do they do a mental health commitment?” Nelson said. “When you do a substance abuse commitment, there are no beds for substance abuse. It is full.”

However, sending someone with drugs in their system to a mental health bed isn’t necessarily a good option, either.

“They’re trying to detox,” Nelson said. “They’re not working on any mental health [issues].”

NAMI says in order for the dual diagnosis to be treated properly, a patient first must go through inpatient detoxification, a process they say can take up to seven days. Then care for a mental illness can occur.

Marion County Sheriff Jason Sandholdt says they are two separate issues that need to be looked at together, then treated separately.

“I think a lot of…

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