Treatment of substance abuse can lessen risk of future violence in mentally ill, study finds

October 1, 2014 by Cathy Wilde
Treatment of substance abuse can lessen risk of future violence in mentally ill, study finds
Treating the substance abuse problems of those with severe mental illness can reduce their risk of future violence, according to research by Clara Bradizza.

If a person is dually diagnosed with a severe mental illness and a substance abuse problem, are improvements in their mental health or in their substance abuse most likely to reduce the risk of future violence?

Although some may believe that improving symptoms of mental illness is more likely to lessen the risk for future episodes of violence, a new study from the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) suggests that reducing has a greater influence in reducing violent acts by with severe mental illness.

"We were surprised to find that the severity of the patient's psychiatric symptoms was not the primary factor in predicting later aggression," says Clara Bradizza, senior research scientist at RIA and co-author of the study. "Rather, the patient's substance abuse was the factor most closely associated with future aggression."

Although the vast majority of people with mental illness do not engage in violent acts, the risk of violence is greater among the severely mentally ill than among the general population, and the connection between severe mental illness, substance abuse and aggression is a significant concern for community safety, and public policy.

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

The study, funded by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, followed nearly 300 patients over a six-month period following admission to an outpatient dual-diagnosis treatment program that provided both substance abuse and treatment.

Explore further: People with mental illness make up large share of US smokers

Related Stories

People with mental illness make up large share of US smokers

March 20, 2013
(HealthDay)—Adults with a mental illness or a substance-abuse disorder represent about 25 percent of the U.S. population but account for nearly 40 percent of all cigarettes smoked in the country, according to a new study.

Study examines discrimination among homeless adults in Toronto with mental illness

September 8, 2014
Vulnerable populations in ethnically diverse Toronto reported more discrimination by health care workers based on their housing status, mental health or substance abuse issues than race, a new study has found.

High rates of substance abuse exist among veterans with mental illness

April 19, 2011
A new study published in The American Journal on Addictions reveals that Veterans who suffer from mental health disorders also have high rates of substance use disorders.

40 percent of women with severe mental illness are victims of rape or attempted rape

September 3, 2014
Women with severe mental illness are up to five times more likely than the general population to be victims of sexual assault and two to three times more likely to suffer domestic violence, reveals new research led by UCL ...

Mental illness protects some inmates from returning to jail

January 17, 2012
People with mental illness have gotten a bad rap in past research studies, being labeled the group of people with the highest return rates to prison. But a researcher from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case ...

Recommended for you

Schizophrenia disrupts the brain's entire communication system, researchers say

October 17, 2017
Some 40 years since CT scans first revealed abnormalities in the brains of schizophrenia patients, international scientists say the disorder is a systemic disruption to the brain's entire communication system.

For older adults, volunteering could improve brain function

October 17, 2017
Older adults worried about losing their cognitive functions could consider volunteering as a potential boost, according to a University of Missouri researcher. While volunteering and its associations with physical health ...

Magic mushrooms may 'reset' the brains of depressed patients

October 13, 2017
Patients taking psilocybin to treat depression show reduced symptoms weeks after treatment following a 'reset' of their brain activity.

Living near a forest keeps your amygdala healthier

October 13, 2017
A study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development has investigated the relationship between the availability of nature near city dwellers' homes and their brain health. Its findings are relevant for urban ...

Scientists researching drugs that could improve brain function in people with schizophrenia

October 12, 2017
Virginia Commonwealth University researchers are testing if drugs known as HDAC inhibitors improve cognition in patients with schizophrenia who have been treated with the antipsychotic drug clozapine.

Researchers find a fine timeline between delusion and reality

October 12, 2017
The line between reality and delusion may be just a matter of time, a new Yale study suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.