Could Early Mental Health Screening and Intervention Reduce the Addiction Epidemic?
The increasing number of individuals with substance use disorder is worsening the addiction epidemic. This disorder continues to overwhelm the healthcare system and negatively impact society.
The American Medical Association (AMA) reported over 105,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. between December 2021 and December 2022. Also, research shows that individuals with a mental health disorder are 5 to 18 times more likely to develop a substance use disorder than individuals without a mental health disorder. Plus, millions of people who suffer from undiagnosed mental illnesses may use alcohol, opioids, or other illicit substances to self-medicate rather than receive professional help. These factors contribute to the addiction epidemic.
Focusing on early screenings and treatment for mental health disorders could prevent millions of individuals from developing substance use disorders and save lives. Additional training and education are among the strategies that could help.
Discover how early mental health screening and intervention could reduce the addiction epidemic.
Train Primary Care Providers to Screen for Mental Health and Addiction Risk
Primary care providers (PCPs) can be trained to ask the right questions about mental health and substance use and respond appropriately. PCPs might screen for underlying mental health issues and immediately refer patients to the appropriate providers. These actions could prevent the development of an addiction.
Increase Awareness of Genetic Predisposition to Substance Use Disorders
Research shows that individuals with a parent who abused alcohol or drugs have a significantly higher risk of developing a substance use disorder than individuals without a parent who abused alcohol or drugs. Raising awareness of this genetic risk could encourage individuals to seek treatment for their mental health disorders rather than turn to alcohol and drugs.
Provide Tools for Coping and Resilience
Mental resilience is essential for effective stress management without substance use. Therefore, healthcare providers should provide resources and tools to develop coping skills for emotional strength. Examples include positivity, gratitude, mindfulness, self-care, yoga, and exercise.
Develop Integrated Health Hubs
PCPs and mental and behavioral health providers are encouraged to work in the same or nearby buildings. These professionals can refer patients to a specialist and increase the likelihood of receiving treatment. Then, the PCPs and mental and behavioral health providers can follow up and give and receive feedback on each patient to help reduce the addiction epidemic.
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