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‘Land Of Dreams’ Staggers Under The Weight Of Neuroses And Substance Abue

The great America dream-this may be the epitome of many rags- to- riches stories, but as reports show, this fast life at neck-break speed,// takes its pound of flesh too.

Recent study findings show that close to one- fourth of all hospital stays in the U.S are for those including various psychological disorders as well as substance abuse.

Says the Agency for Research Healthcare and Quality (ARHQ) which released the figures based on 2004 data ,drawn from hospitals that comprised 90 percent of all discharges in the United States: One-fourth of all stays in U.S. community hospitals for patients age 18 and older involve depressive, bipolar, schizophrenia and other mental health disorders or substance use related disorders.

These study findings represents the first documentation of the full impact of mental health and substance abuse disorders on U.S. community hospitals. According to the report, about 1.9 million of the 7.6 million stays were for patients who were hospitalized mainly because of a mental health or substance abuse problem. In the other 5.7 million stays, patients were admitted for another condition but they also were diagnosed as having a mental health or substance abuse disorder.

Regarding the economics of these findings, the government paid two-thirds of costs: Medicare covered nearly 50 percent of the stays, and 18 percent was billed to Medicaid.

Out of these figures it was seen that nearly 8 percent of the patients were not insured. Private insurers cleared the check for the balance. The study also found that one of every three stays of uninsured patients was related to a mental health or substance abuse disorder.

Says AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy: “Community hospitals play an important role in the treatment of people with mental health and substance abuse disorders. This report gives health care policymakers an in-depth look at the impact of mental health and substance abus e care on the health care system."

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Administrator Terry Cline was quoted: “The significant number of hospital stays related to mental health and substance use disorders signals the need for an increased national effort to identify and intervene early before the conditions require a hospital stay. Too often because of social stigma or lack of understanding, individuals and health care providers don't recognize the signs or treat mental health or substance use disorders with the same urgency as other medical conditions."

Other findings include facts that most patients with mental health and substance abuse disorders were older although people age 80 and older comprised only 5 percent of the U.S. population .In 2004, it was seen that they accounted for nearly 21 percent of all hospital stays for these conditions – principally for dementia.

Gender differences also persisted. The most frequent diagnoses requiring hospitalization for women was mood disorders, while for men it was substance abuse.

AHRQ also found that patients who have been diagnosed with both a mental health condition and a substance abuse disorder – those with "dual diagnoses" – accounted for 1 million of the nearly 8 million stays. Nearly half of these cases with dual diagnoses involved drug abuse, a third involved alcohol abuse, and one in five involved both drug and alcohol abuse.

It was also seen that 240,000 women hospitalized for childbirth or pregnancy were diagnosed as having mental health or substance abuse problems. Almost half of these patients were between 18 and 24 years of age.

Attempts on one’s own life accounted for nearly 179,000 hospital stays. Of these, 93 percent involved a mental health condition (most commonly mood disorders –and/or substance abuse). Nearly 75 percent of these patients were between ages 18 and 44 and more than half were women.

Po isoning-by overdosing prescription medicines or ingesting a toxic substance was observed to be the most common way patients attempted suicide.


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