Background: Past research shows that among individuals with substance use disorders, the presence of a co-occurring mental illness can influence the initiation, course, and success of behavioral health treatment, but little research has examined people with opioid use disorder (OUD) specifically.
Methods: Using the 2008-2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, this study examines the utilization of substance use disorder and mental health treatment among individuals with OUD and different degrees of mental illness severity. The study also examined types of treatment, perceived unmet need for treatment, and barriers to care.
Results: 47% of individuals with OUD and co-occurring mild/moderate mental illness did not receive any behavioral health treatment, and 21% of those with co-occurring serious mental illnesses did not receive any behavioral health treatment. Among those with OUD and co-occurring mild/moderate mental illness, 16% reported receiving both substance use disorder and mental health treatment; among those with co-occurring serious mental illness the rate was 32%. The most common form of treatment was prescription medication for mental health, and this was true regardless of whether or not the individual had any mental illness. More than 50% of the study population reported financial difficulties as a barrier to treatment.
Conclusion: A high proportion of individuals with OUD and co-occurring mental illness are not receiving needed care. However, nearly one in five of those with OUD but no diagnosed mental illness is receiving prescription medication for mental illness. These findings suggest that there is a need to better facilitate access to and coordinate behavioral health care across settings for individuals with OUD.
Keywords: Barriers to care; Mental health; Mental health treatment; Opioids; Substance use disorder treatment.
Published by Elsevier Inc.