New national report reveals that adults with mental illness are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependency than adults without mental illness

A new report shows that alcohol dependence is four times more likely to occur among adults with mental illness than among adults with no mental illness (9.6-percent versus 2.2-percent).

Based on a nationwide survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) the report also shows that the rate of alcohol dependency increases as the severity of the mental illness increases. For example, while 7.9-percent of those with mild mental illness were alcohol dependent, 10-percent of those with moderate mental illness and 13.2 percent of those with serious mental illness were alcohol dependent.

“Mental and substance use disorders often go hand in hand.  This SAMHSA study adds to the evidence of this connection,” said SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde, J.D.  “Co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders are to be expected not considered the exception. Unfortunately, signs and symptoms of these behavioral health conditions are often missed by individuals, their friends and family members and unnoticed by health professionals. The results can be devastating and costly to our society.”

The SAMHSA Spotlight report, Alcohol Dependence is More Likely among Adults with Mental Illness than Adults without Mental Illness: was developed as part of SAMHSA’s strategic initiative on data, outcomes, and quality – an effort to inform policy makers and service providers on the nature and scope of behavioral health issues. The report is based on data from the 2009 National Survey of Drug Use and Health – a state-of-the-art scientific survey of a large representative sample of people throughout the United States. 

The full report is available on the web at .  For related publications and information, visit .

SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office
Telephone: 240-276-2130