Substance Abuse and Mental Health in Nevada

Nevada is like the rest of the United States in the sense that there are many people here struggling with substance abuse and addiction. Among these people, there are also some who deal with co-occurring mental health disorders. When this happens, it is known as a dual diagnosis.

Co-Occurring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders

According to SAPTA - the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Agency - there are some substances that are commonly abused in the state of Nevada. Among them, alcohol is the substance that is most commonly reported as a problematic drug by people checking into addiction treatment and rehabilitation facilities. In 2015, for instance, 37 percent of all these patients were addicted to alcohol. By 2014, however, the number had gone down to 35 percent.

Methamphetamines - including meth and amphetamine - come in second to alcohol. from 2010 to 2014, it was the 2nd most commonly cited drug of abuse by people seeking help for addiction. In 2014, this number had peaked to 28 percent.

After alcohol and methamphetamine, marijuana is also commonly cited as the primary substance of abuse among people going for addiction treatment and rehabilitation services in Nevada. In 2014, 13 percent of all the people who sought these services in the state were addicted to marijuana.

Heroin, on the other hand, is also commonly cited among the residents of the state who were enrolled in an addiction treatment and rehabilitation facility. In 2014, for instance, 12 percent of all these enrollees were addicted to heroin.

Other drugs that are commonly abused in the state include synthetic opiates at a rate of 5 percent according to a study that was conducted in 2014. That year, it was reported that a total of 55301 people were enrolled in a state-funded addiction treatment and recovery center between 2010 and 2014. This number, however, was exclusive to facilities funded by SAPTA and did not include the people who were admitted into privately funded and managed facilities.

In terms of age group, people between the ages of 15 and 34 years took up the largest segment of the population seeking help for substance abuse and addiction at a rate of 58 percent. Over 50 percent of these clients were male - about 62 percent - while the remaining 48 percent were female. In terms of ethnicity and race, 60 percent of the patients were white and non-Hispanic.

The Division of Public and Behavioral Health - the DPBH - in Nevada also reported that there were many deaths linked with co-occurring disorders involving both substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders.

Further, SAMHSA - the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration - reported that mental illnesses and suicide were highly correlated in the state. For instance, about 90 percent of all those people who lost their lives to suicide had been diagnosed with a mental illness.

That said, the state reported a total of 17,675 fatalities linked to behavioral and mental health disorders from 2010 to 2014. The death rate for deaths related to these disorders were at 122 for every segment of 100,000 residents. During this period, the state also shows an increase of 5 percent in the rate of deaths.

Over the same time frame, Nevada also reported 6664 deaths linked to substance abuse and addiction. The death rate during this period, however, varied from 45.9 deaths for every segment of 100,000 people to 50.1 deaths for every segment of 100,000 people.

The section of the population that was most commonly prone to these deaths involving drugs included males at 64 percent, white and non-Hispanic residents at 79 percent, and people between the ages of 45 and 64 years at 54 percent.

Although there is a high incidence of dual diagnosis in Nevada, it seems that many people struggling with these co-occurring disorders do not seek treatment because of the stigma that they face.

This is despite the fact that it is now commonly understood that using drugs and drinking alcohol excessively can change the brain - including its circuitry and chemical structure. This is because such substances can affect your natural ability to make lucid decision as well as change your stress response and reward systems.

As a result, addiction is a chronic brain condition. For this reason, it is now being treated with the same compassion and urgency that other illnesses receive. Even so, many of the people who struggle with addiction do not just battle the disease but try to overcome the stigma that they experience as a result.

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Common Mental Health Problems Associated with Drug Abuse in Nevada

But what are the common mental health disorders that are typically associated with drug abuse and addiction in Nevada? According to the Division of Public and Behavioral Health, among 57,920 of all the residents of this state who received help for their mental illnesses, about 17 percent also had a diagnosis for a schizophrenic disorder while 14 percent were also diagnosed with major depressive disorders.

Another finding showed that the total number of visits to emergency rooms and departments in the state were linked to 7 mental health disorders. During the same period - between 2009 and 2014 - it was reported that issues linked to drug and alcohol abuse have been increasing.

The total number of such visits, however, seem to be sex specific. For instance, female patients comprised the majority of these visits for post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD), bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. Among the people who checked into an emergency room for a mental health disorder, male patients were mostly diagnosed with schizophrenia.

In facilities that were funded by SAPTA, about 35 percent of all patients were struggling with alcohol abuse and addiction, 28 percent with amphetamine and methamphetamine addiction, and 13 percent with hashish or marijuana abuse.

The DPBH also provided its services to a total of 57,920 adults in Nevada for mental health disorders between 2010 and 2014. The overall services offered at facilities funded by this division, however, totaled 161,817 because some clients used several recovery services.

During this period, mood disorders, bipolar disorders, major depressive disorders, and schizophrenic disorders were the most common diagnosis for mental health among patients seeking these services. however, some patients also had multiple diagnoses of mental illness and some also struggled with co-occurring substance abuse and addiction.

Like in other states, Nevada also struggles with high rates of mental illness especially among people who are dependent on alcohol and drugs. Today, the problem of dual diagnosis of substance use disorders with co-occurring mental illness is quite common. In fact, these mental health disorders have been reported to affect at least 37 percent of all the residents of the state who also struggle with alcohol use disorders or alcoholism while they affect 53 percent of all people who are dependent on drugs.

It was also reported that around 28,000 children and 89,000 adults are living with a severe mental health disorder in the state. Often, these people turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate the painful and uncomfortable effects of their mental illness.

Some of these disorders also present with the symptoms of impulsivity. As such, they can lead people to abuse drugs to escape the responsibilities and obligations that overwhelm them on a day to day basis.

For instance, if you struggle with bipolar disorder, you may struggle with sleeplessness as well as an ongoing urge to spend money, shop compulsively, or binge on drugs and alcohol.

The sad thing is that most of the people who struggle with mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse and addiction do not receive the help that they need to overcome these disorders. Sometimes, these disorders also go undiagnosed for many years and end up leading to fatal outcomes. For instance, Nevada lost 486 lives to a suicide in 2006 alone.

Other studies have reported that the mental health disorders that are most common among people struggling with alcohol and drug abuse include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and depression.

Types of Treatment

Luckily, there are many programs that offer recovery services for people struggling with substance abuse and co-occurring mental illness. These programs offer what is known as integrated dual diagnosis treatment to manage all these disorders simultaneously. The goal is to ensure that one disorder does not aggravate the other and that the client is able to achieve full and long term recovery.

These programs often provide a variety of recovery services including but not limited to evidence based treatment options, such as medically supervised detoxification, individual therapy, group therapy, family counseling, couples counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, 12 step group facilitation approaches, dialectical behavioral therapy, aftercare planning and programming, medication management, and relapse prevention.

Some of them also provide their clients with holistic or alternative treatment and therapy options, such as massage therapy, yoga, Ayurvedic medicine, acupuncture, animal assisted therapy, art therapy, meditation, and more.

Through these recovery options, it might be possible for you to overcome your substance abuse and addiction as well as manage the mental health disorders that you have been struggling with. The important thing is to ensure that you are enrolled in a long term program that will provide you with highly integrated dual diagnosis treatment.

Learning what treatment is best for you or your loved one is easy. Speak to one of our trained counselors and let them guide you to the best treatment options available for your specific needs.


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