A common problem faced by healthcare professionals who have a patient who has a mental illness and who needs addiction treatment is which problem should be addressed first to minimize the risk of violence, and a new study provides the answer. People with a mental illness who need addiction treatment are less likely to become violent if their addiction is treated first, and then their mental disorders. University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions senior researcher and the co-author of the study Clara Bradizza explained “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.” The link between violence, addiction, and severe mental illness has been scientifically proven in some cases.
The addiction treatment study that involved mental illness and violence followed close to 300 patients for a 6 month period, and the results were promising. Clara Bradizza said “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. 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 can be found in the online version of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Hopefully the study results provide some clarification for healthcare professionals.