When mental illness goes un-diagnosed and untreated, the results and implications can be devastating. In light of recent events, including school and public shootings, and later mental illness speculations for the shooter or shooters, it is hard not to ask the question: is there a connection between gun violence and mental illness, or even dual diagnosis?
The term co-occurring disorder, or dual diagnosis, refers to an individual who has enough symptoms of a mental illness to be diagnosed plus enough symptoms of a drug or alcohol abuse, dependence, or addiction to be diagnosed. The individual has two diagnoses at the same time, and is therefore, dual diagnosis.
So, in the case of these young people who felt hopeless enough to walk into a movie theater or a school to start shooting innocent people, what factors are at play? And are any mental illness or substance abuse diagnoses applicable?
President Obama and Vice President Biden have created proposals for gun violence reduction. To be best informed, they requested the facts from doctors and staff at the Louisiana State University – Tulane department of public health criminology. Expert Dr. Peter Scharf and psychiatrist Jose Calderon-Abbo prepared a report stating that mental illness and substance abuse need to be considered in shooting cases of all sorts.
Gun Violence And Dual Diagnosis
Dr. Calderon-Abbo states, “If you compound mental illness along with substance abuse, unemployment, and other dynamic factors that are going on in the community, victimization, lack of community ties, etc. then the risk of violence increases significantly.”
He goes on to say that the vast majority of people who have a mental illness also have a substance abuse problem, either with drugs or alcohol, or both, meaning the prevalence of dual diagnosis is high.
There is a connection between gun violence and dual diagnosis in our country. When un-diagnosed and untreated, the presence of a mental illness and a drug or alcohol addiction cause many individuals to act and react in violent ways. The inability to think rationally and to make sound choices, due to debilitating effects of dual diagnosable conditions, continues to lead young people to taking their pain out on others with the use of guns.
Listen to Alli’s success story for the dual diagnosis treatment she received from Sovereign Health: