More than 50% Americans living with chronic health problem: Study

More than 50% Americans living with chronic health problem: Study

With the rising number of chronic illness cases across the United States, a simultaneous increase in substance abuse issues and mental disorders have also been reported. As per a recent study, published in the journal Psychology, Health & Medicine in November 2016, more than 50 percent Americans suffers from at least one chronic health condition, substance abuse or a mental illness.

As per study authors Elizabeth Lee Reisinger Walker and Benjamin G. Druss, the health of individuals in the U.S. is progressively being defined by the co-occurrence of two or more chronic medical conditions. The researchers set out to discover the proportion of U.S. adults who have experienced each combination of mental illness, substance abuse and chronic mental conditions.

Chronic condition related to poverty

The authors also analyzed how these combinations were related to poverty. They examined public health records to find the percentage of adults suffering from chronic medical conditions and how many of them also lived in poverty. The researchers discovered that adults with one chronic condition reported higher percentages of living in poverty.

The study found that the past year saw 18.4 percent adults suffering from a mental illness and 8.6 percent adults suffering from substance abuse. It also found that during their lifetimes, nearly 40 percent individuals had one or more chronic condition and that 14.7 percent lived in poverty.

The study also focused on the association between substance abuse and mental illness as well as mental illnesses and chronic medical condition. The researchers found that for people suffering from one or more of the chronic health conditions, such conditions often overlap with one another, and in combination with poverty it contributes to the poor health of an individual.

In fact, about 2 percent of people had both a substance abuse problem and a mental illness and roughly 6 percent had a mental illness and a chronic medical condition. In addition, the study also reported that 2.2 million Americans had all the three conditions – a mental illness, a substance abuse problem and a chronic medical condition.

As per Walker, to promote the overall health of an individual, a care model needs to consider all the health conditions of an individual, along with socio-economic factors such as poverty. The authors further stressed on the need for collaborative care models to treat mental health illnesses and provide primary care in mental health settings.

Dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders

When an individual is diagnosed with both a mental health issue like depression or anxiety and substance abuse issue, he or she suffers from co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis. In addition to the existence of more than one condition, what makes the situation more complicated is that these disorders often overlap and interact with one another, making it difficult to diagnose their exact symptoms and to render appropriate treatment.

A medical health professional needs to follow an integrated approach to treat co-occurring disorders. Care needs to be taken to treat both the disorders simultaneously as any disorder that is left untreated may trigger a relapse and make the situation worse. An integrated approach addresses both the mental health and substance abuse problems along with therapy or counseling sessions that help address mental blocks associated with the treatment and teach healthy coping skills to minimize substance abuse. It also focuses on educating the patients about their disorder and helps them recognize their conditions.

Seeking treatment for recovery

It is common to diagnose people suffering from mental illness with an addiction problem. Though mental illness and substance abuse are closely linked, one does not directly lead to the other. Moreover, overlapping of symptoms can also make the simultaneous treatment difficult.

If you or someone you love is suffering from co-occurring conditions, it is time to get professional help. We at the Dual Diagnosis Helpline can help you find the best dual diagnosis centers across the U.S. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-981-6047 or chat online with our representatives to find the best dual diagnosis rehab centers in your locality.