Jun 30, 2008 News Comments Off on Substance abusers prone to mental disorders – Dr Bhiro Harry
The problem of substance abuse is undoubtedly linked to mental disorders, and according to Head of the Mental Health Unit at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Dr Bhiro Harry, the two problems can affect each other in many ways.
Quoting from a study which was done in the United States of America, Dr Harry disclosed that 30 per cent of people that have been diagnosed with mental health disorders also had a substance use problem at some point in their lives.
This he regarded as close to twice the rate found in people who do not have a lifetime history of mental health disorder.
“Thirty seven per cent of people diagnosed with an alcohol disorder will have a mental health disorder at some point in their lives…24 per cent of persons diagnosed with anxiety disorder will have a substance abuse disorder.”
According to the doctor, the connection between the problems is in fact described as a concurrent disorder.
He said that this type of disorder is identified by several names, including a dual-diagnosis, dual-disorder, co-occurring substance use, and mental health problem, co-morbidity and mentally ill chemical abusers.
Dr Harry said that while it will always be quite a challenge to determine how many people are faced with this problem, it has been conclusively deduced that people with mental illnesses have a much higher rate of addiction than people in the general population.
It is for this reason, he said, that the collaboration of mental health and addiction therapists must be appreciated.
He explained that, although the two problems are independent of each other, they have the potential to interact in a person.
As a result, he disclosed, together, the problems present a threat that can see them affecting each other in many ways. For instance, Dr Harry noted, substance use can make mental problems worse, or they can limit or hide the symptoms of such problems.
He pointed out that it is often the case that mental disorders cause substance abuse patients to forget to use their medications, or even render them useless.
As such, he noted, when a person is brought in for treatment and rehabilitation, the underlying problem, which could either be a mental disorder or substance use, must be addressed as well.
But according to Dr Harry, treating such problems can be addressed at any stage of life.
However, he pointed out that when problems begin early and are severe, recovery will probably take longer, and thus the person will need to work harder and require more support.
On the other hand, he said, if the problem is detected and treated early, a person will inevitably have a better chance of a quicker and fuller recovery.
He noted, though, that the process of recovery has over the years been hindered by the fact that persons would have to seek treatment for their addiction and mental health problems at different locations, thus slowing up the process.
It is for this reason, Dr Harry divulged, that the Ministry of Health has set up a single centre at the GPHC, where persons can access the dual service provided by experts.
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