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What is Mental Illness?

The US Surgeon General characterizes mental disorders as abnormalities in cognition, emotion or mood, or the highest integrative aspects of behavior, such as social interactions or planning of future activities.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental disorders affect people of all ages. Research tells us that approximately 22.1 percent of Americans ages 18 and older about 1 in 5 adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year, which means over 44 million people suffer from some type of mental illness. Millions more will grapple with mental distress that can diminish quality of life, impede academic achievement, and disrupt productivity on the job.

Although mental disorders are common and can be highly disabling, they also can be identified and diagnosed reliably, and treated with a high degree of effectiveness.

Common forms of mental illness include:
Major Depressive Disorder
Bipolar Disorder
Anxiety Disorders
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

The landmark Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health encourages Americans to seek help if they have questions about mental health or mental illness, just as they would seek help when questions arise about their general health.

What is Substance Abuse?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse and addiction is a complex illness and not just a social problem, which is often the myth. However, substance abuse affects all types of people regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status along with their families.

Based on a survey conducted in 2001 by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), an estimated 16.6 million persons age 12 or older were classified with dependence on or abuse of either alcohol or illicit drugs (7.3 percent of the population). Of these, 2.4 million were classified with dependence or abuse of both alcohol and illicit drugs, 3.2 million were dependent or abused illicit drugs but not alcohol, and 11.0 million were dependent on or abused alcohol, but not illicit drugs.

The path to substance abuse and addiction begins with the conscious decision of taking drugs or drinking alcohol, but often ends with compulsive behavior characterized by drug craving, seeking, and use that persists even in the face of negative consequences. Evidence has proved that prolonged abuse of drugs and/or alcohol has long-term effects on brain metabolism and activity, and treatment is necessary to end this compulsive behavior.

Treatment for substance abuse is offered through a variety of methods and is often tailored to meet an individual's needs in efforts to assist him/her in learning to control the condition and live relatively normal lives.