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Treating individuals with substance-abuse disorders who have attempted suicide

, and so caution is needed in concluding that inpatient treatment resulted in superior outcomes, at least as concerns suicide risk." He suggested that future research examine the extent to which psychiatric symptoms/problems are addressed in inpatient and outpatient substance-abuse treatment.

Both Ilgen and Conner said that this study shows that certain populations clearly benefit from inpatient treatment.

"These findings serve as a reminder that there is a place for more intensive treatment," said Ilgen, "that outpatient treatment is a positive thing, but we shouldn't overact and decrease the availability of inpatient treatment before we know for whom that more intensive treatment might be more beneficial."

"It appears problematic to include individuals who have made a recent suicide attempt in outpatient care," agreed Conner. "Recent suicide attempters, as well as other select patient populations such as substance abusers who also have a major psychiatric illness, may benefit more from inpatient care."

Ilgen hopes that these findings will not only encourage treatment providers to assess for both suicidality and substance use in their patients, but also encourage them to refer the suicidal patient to SUD treatment or even provide SUD treatment for them. "One should not immediately conclude that a suicide attempt precludes these individuals from SUD treatment," he said. "A suicide attempt is often perceived as being so glaringly important that it overshadows other problems. People might just focus on the suicide attempt and forget to address other issues that were going on beforehand, when what they really need to do is make sure that the person gets the appropriate treatment for all of the problems they may have."


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14-Sep-2005


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