The Link Between Mental Illness And Opioid Use

The number of individuals with mental health conditions being prescribed opioids is staggering. According to a study by the University of Michigan and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center 51 percent of all prescriptions for painkillers are for patients diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Individuals with mental health issues have a higher risk of abusing opioids and 38.6 million individuals in America have a mood disorder. Roughly sixty million painkiller prescriptions are written for this group a year. Prescriptions for opioid’s have quadrupled in the United States between 1999 and 2015. During this time there were 183,000 deaths from medication overdoses. Approximately 500,000 individuals are expected to die from overdoses in the next decade.

The current theory is opioids are being prescribed for mental health patients to deal with chronic pain but this increases risks for both anxiety and depression. Its possible prescription medications are also being used by patients with mental illnesses connected to diseases including endometriosis and fibromyalgia. Most of the country’s opioids are being prescribed to a small and vulnerable group of patients as a short term fix but they do not provide long term solutions. For more information on the opioid use of patients with mental illnesses please visit

The data shows more integration is required between behavioral health practices and primary care practices. Specialists must be available to offer options in treatment methods including cognitive behavioral therapy which is targeted for patients with mental illness. This could allow the disorders effects to be managed more quickly if the professionals in the mental health field make themselves available at the physician’s office. Research has additionally shown more patients take this type of medication when specialists are not available nearby. Unfortunately many of the prescriptions being written are done so with a proper diagnosis which only contributes to the problem.

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