Substance abuse is often linked to mental illness. It's a complex problem, as drugs and alcohol are used to self-medicate and could worsen an underlying mental health problem.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, nearly one-third of all people with mental illness and about half of those with a severe mental illness also experience substance abuse.

In addition, one-third of those who abuse alcohol and more than half of those who abuse drugs also battle mental illness.

"It runs hand in hand," said Chassity Ross, an outreach, screening, assessment and referral counselor at East Texas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. "About 90 percent of our clients express that they have a mental health issue or feelings of mental illness."

Advocates worry there isn't enough access to substance abuse treatment programs, noting it's important to treat both substance abuse and an underlying mental health problem concurrently.

East Texas Medical Center's Behavioral Health Center offers a chemical dependency program, which includes medical and psychiatric monitoring. Cenikor Foundation will open an inpatient substance abuse treatment facility this summer in Tyler.

There are two state-funded outpatient facilities in Longview that address both mental illness and substance abuse and two inpatient facilities. Rural East Texans would have to travel to have access to these services.

Recommended for you