New Study Shows Unmet Treatment Needs for Mental Health and Substance Abuse

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With the uprising of the opioid epidemic over the last few years, the need for substance abuse treatment has increased a hundredfold. Despite the urgent need for mental health and substance abuse treatment, many people are not receiving the adequate care needed.

It turns out, after a study published by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, that some 7.7 million Americans suffer from a co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorder. Meaning, not only do they struggle with addiction, but many of those people often suffer from disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and many more.

  • According to the study, fewer than 10% of adults with co-occurring disorders have received proper treatment of both
  • More than 50% of adults with mental health and substance abuse disorders DO NOT receive treatment for either.

The main problem here is realizing the large prevalence of both disorders occurring simultaneously, usually one built off of the other, and the drastic need to identify effective and obtainable approaches to treating these people.

Where Can We Improve?

A primary reason for the lack of treatment for these adults with co-occurring disorders usually falls into one or more of these three categories:

  • Inability to afford treatment
  • Lack of knowledge about the locations of and types of care available
  • lack of understanding about the need or severity of their situation.

For the first category, this quickly turns into a discussion about insurance. While mental health and substance abuse treatment is primarily covered by most health insurance plans, many people find that it is still out of their reach, especially adults with families to take care of and an inability to leave work for a long enough period of time to receive treatment.

President Obama launched an initiative in 2016 under the Affordable Care Act that would allow for a $2 billion budget in the aims to help combat the substance abuse rates in the US. The money would have been pushed into:

  • Medically Assisted Treatment programs around the nation, with more money going towards the states with higher overdose rates
  • Putting mental health and substance abuse counselors to work around the country through the National Health Service Corps
  • Researching the effectiveness of MAT programs in real world situations, and improving current treatment standards and accessibility for people of all financial backgrounds.

Despite the efforts that the Obama Administration worked to put into effect for the improvement of the addiction rates, the issue here really is in the hands of for-profit insurance companies.

In an investigation by the attorney general of ValueOptions, an administer of behavior claims for 2.7 million people, it was discovered that “denials were nearly twice as common for mental health claims than for other medical health claims submitted” and not to mention, substance abuse claims were denied nearly four times as often.

Similar findings from a different company discovered that Blue Cross Blue Shield – Excellus denied inpatient substance abuse treatment nearly 7 times more than other medical health claims.

This is actually completely illegal, as the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was passed over a decade ago that enforced all insurance companies to cover mental health and substance abuse treatment at the same rate and with the same guidelines as any other medical health issue.

woman suffering from mental health issues

Discussing the Severity of Co-Occurring Disorders

Due to improper education and the lack of widespread information, many people who actually suffer from co-occurring disorders, aren’t even aware of the fact that they might be suffering from a mental health or substance abuse disorder.

It seems that in our society, emotional and mental health are often downplayed or ignored, and are instead blamed on fatigue from work, or financial stress. While these two main factors can definitely play a role in the onset of severe anxiety and depression, what a majority of American’s know about mental health, is often what they learned about it in school, which is little to nothing at all, and more than likely out of date.

When drug and alcohol addiction is added into the mix, many people who may be unfamiliar with the signs of addiction, believe that it is something that they NEED to do to get through the day, completely unaware of the severity of their disorder, or completely unable to stop.

With the announcement of the Medical Health Emergency by the Trump Administration, they have declared that they will put the following combative efforts in effect to reduce addiction rates:

  • Increased advertising about addiction and mental health
  • Funding towards Responsible Prescribing Education for health professionals
  • Mandatory education on addiction for government workers.

What we really need is to be able to open the lines of communication about substance abuse and mental health. Many people are aware there is a problem, but don’t feel like they have a voice, don’t want to be judged, lose their kids, lose their job, etc. Hopefully, with the declaration of the Medical Health Emergency and the upcoming new changes to be put in place, more people will come forward with their struggles, and the accessibility to proper treatment for mental health and substance abuse will be enforced.

Adjusting to Sober Living before Sober Living

At the end of the day, some of us require a bit of additional help before comfortably moving into any type of sober residence. Addiction will show up at your door with both barrels blazing and it’s up to us as the alcoholics we are to know how to handle it appropriately. Nobody wants to be victim to this disease. It’s on us to get clean while the getting is good.  If you or your loved one is ready to leave substance dependency behind and start a new way of life, please call 1-800-982-5530 or visit www.restoredetoxcenters.com. Our teams of specialists are waiting by to explore your options with a drug detox center.

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