Research links substance use and mental health to create a healthier future

7 Oct 2021

Studying the harm of substance use on mental health is the focus of new University of Queensland research, granted $650,000 from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Dr Leung from UQ’s National Centre for Youth Substance Use Research (NCYSUR) said the research would focus on the relationship between substance use and mental health.

“Both substance use and mental health are leading public health problems which commonly occur together,” Dr Leung said.

“However, the relationship between the two is severely under-studied.

“Our research will use statistical models to quantify the relationship to predict the impact that substance use is having on mental health.

“By understanding this relationship, we can then work towards prevention methods and reduce the economic burden of these diseases in Australia and encourage a healthier population.”

Harmful substance use costs the Australian economy over $30 billion each year in lost productivity, injuries and accidents, healthcare and crime.

It is also one of the leading causes of disease and disability in Australia, equating to over 186,000 disability-adjusted life years of health lost.

Dr Leung said the research will also help inform different policy approaches to identify how these harms could be prevented.  

“We expect the findings gained from this research could be used to directly advise policies at a government level,” Dr Leung said.

“It will help policymakers to optimise resource allocation and service planning to prevent the health and economic burden of substance use disorders in the country.”

The research will be conducted at NCYSUR, one of the four Commonwealth-funded National Addiction Research Centres in Australia and the only one dedicated to youth.

Media: Dr Leung +617 3346 9643; UQ Communications Bridget Druery 0435 221 246