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Mental health and addiction service use among United States veterans with liver disease nationally in the Veterans Health Administration

Lamia Haque (Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA)
Robert Rosenheck (Department of Psychiatry, VA Connecticut Health System West Haven Campus, West Haven, Connecticut, USA and Yale University School of Medicine, West Haven, Connecticut, USA)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 5 May 2021

Issue publication date: 14 September 2021




While many studies have shown that liver diseases (LD) can be caused or exacerbated by substance use disorders (SUD), few have examined the proportion of adults with LD and SUD who receive mental health and addiction treatment or correlates of such use.


Using national Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 data from the United States Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the authors studied all 43,246 veterans diagnosed with both LD and SUD in FY 2012 and compared those who received mental health treatment (n = 30,456; 70.4%) to those who did not (n = 12,790; 29.6%).


Veterans who received mental health treatment were less like to be older than 75 years of age, more likely to have served during recent Middle East conflicts (Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom), more likely to have been recently homeless and to have drug dependence as contrasted with alcohol dependence when compared with those who did not receive mental health treatment. Although the majority, 70.4%, received mental health treatment, only 30.6% of the total received specialized addiction treatment, and these veterans were more likely to experience homelessness and have drug dependence diagnoses.


This is the first study as per the authors’ best knowledge that broadly examines mental health and addiction treatment received by veterans with LD and SUD. High rates of mental health treatment in this population likely reflect the integrated nature of the VHA and its emphasis on providing comprehensive services to homeless veterans. Further research is needed to identify barriers to specialized addiction treatment in this population.



Conflicts of interest: none.


Haque, L. and Rosenheck, R. (2021), "Mental health and addiction service use among United States veterans with liver disease nationally in the Veterans Health Administration", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 191-200.



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