Publication Date

Spring 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Counselor Education


There is a dearth of scholarship on the notion that chronic or severe physical illness can be the threshold issue in the development of mental illness and chemical dependency. In a random sample of 300 participants in a hospital based mental health clinic, research was conducted to determine whether relationships exist among the three domains: physical illness, mental illness, and chemical dependency. Research found strong relationships among chronic illnesses, such as Hepatitis C, substance use disorders (SUDs), and various Axis I and Axis II mental health diagnoses. Research further suggests that pain, whether due to a general medical condition, or to an accident or injury is related to opioid use disorders and Axis I mental health disorders. Finally, research suggests that stomach and intestinal issues have a strong relationship to alcohol use disorders and Axis I and Axis II mental health disorders. The research suggests that counselors should pay close attention to Axis III medical conditions as developmental issues that may be related to the onset of mental illness and SUDs.