Substance abuse related to future violence among mentally ill

A study conducted by the University of Buffalo suggests that reducing substance abuse can lessen violent acts by patients with severe mental illness.

IANS| Updated: Oct 02, 2014, 21:32 PM IST

Washington: A study conducted by the University of Buffalo suggests that reducing substance abuse can lessen violent acts by patients with severe mental illness.

Though the vast majority of people with mental illness may not engage in violence, the risk is greater among the severely mentally ill than among the general population, found the study.

"We were surprised to find that the severity of the patient’s psychiatric symptoms was not the primary factor in predicting later aggression. Rather, the patient’s substance abuse was the factor most closely associated with future aggression," said Clara Bradizza, senior research scientist at the University at Buffalo' Research Institute on Addictions.

"Our findings suggest that treatment attendance is very important for these individuals and treatment programs should include interventions that are likely to decrease substance abuse as this may provide the additional benefit of reducing the risk of later aggression among dual-diagnosis patients," explained Bradizza.

"This not only improves the lives of affected individuals and their families, but also provides a safer environment for the society as a whole," Bradizza added.

For the study, the team followed nearly 300 patients over a six-month period following admission to an outpatient dual-diagnosis treatment programme that provided both substance abuse and mental illness treatment.

The results appeared in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.