Unmet need for treatment of substance use disorders and serious psychological distress among veterans: a nationwide analysis using the NSDUH

Golub A, Vazan P, Bennett AS, Liberty HJ.
Mil Med. 2013 Jan;178(1):107-14.

SOURCE:  National Development and Research Institutes, 71 West 23rd Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10010, USA.

Many veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq experience serious mental health (MH) concerns including substance use disorders (SUD), post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, or serious psychological distress (SPD). This article uses data from the 2004 to 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to examine the prevalence of unmet MH needs among veterans aged 21 to 34 in the general population. The prevalence of untreated SUD among veterans (16%) was twice as high as untreated SPD (8%), a nonspecific diagnosis of serious MH concerns. Surprisingly, similar rates of untreated SUD and SPD were found among a nonveteran comparison sample matched on gender and age. These findings suggest that reducing unmet need for MH treatment for veterans in the general population may require improving outreach to all Americans and creating greater acceptance for MH treatment. The need for further analyses of reasons for not obtaining treatment is discussed.