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PsychU Spotlight

Self-Medication and Substance Abuse

Estimates from the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2019) indicate 19.3 million Americans aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder (SUD) in the previous year.1 Substance abuse is a serious issue, particularly for nearly 4% of adults in the U.S. who live with co-occurring mental illnesses. 1 Access, funding, misdiagnosis, lack of insight, or side-effects, among other reasons, cause some individuals to self-medicate or “treat” the symptoms of a mental illness by abusing alcohol or illicit drugs. This is particularly problematic as substance abuse can trigger or exacerbate mental health conditions. It is imperative that providers across the care continuum band together to address co-occurring disorders to ensure patients receive the treatment they need to address multiple concerns.

Policy and treatment advances may provide novel ways of advancing dual diagnosis and addiction treatment in the United States. Keep up-to-date this month with the research, field-tested best practice models, quality measurement concerns, and specialty treatment program developments for the patient population living with co-occurring disorders.

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