Addiction Messaging and Seeking Treatment

addiction

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) defines addiction as compulsive use of a mind-altering substance despite adverse consequences. Scientists characterize brain disorders involving the use of drugs and alcohol as compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse outcomes.

In the field of use disorder treatment, the disease model of addiction is the standard today. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) support the disease framework. In 2015, Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and George Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) co-authored a commentary defending the disease model.

The two NIH Institute Directors defend their position by referring to current research. They point out how current studies show that chronic exposure to drugs and alcohol disrupt “critical brain structures and behaviors.” Dr. Volkow and Mr. Koob also cite research indicating that heavy, prolonged substance use impacts brain processes associated with:

  • Loss of control
  • Compulsive drug taking
  • Inflexible behavior
  • Negative emotional states

Volkow and Koob’s commentary states that the modern understanding of addiction has led to several advancements. The disease model and a better understanding of the processes of addiction have led to the development of brain stimulation treatments, behavioral interventions, and effective medicines, including:

  • Acamprosate
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naloxone
  • Varenicline

In their defense of the disease model, the experts go even further. They said the framework has also had a positive effect on public policy. While the accepted understanding of addiction has been mostly positive, some wonder about the impact it has on patients. Does calling addiction a disease adversely affect people with use disorders? New research attempts to answer that question.

Addiction Messaging

Addiction is a complex disease of a complex brain; ignoring this fact will only hamper our efforts to find effective solutions through a comprehensive and systematic understanding of the underlying phenomena.” – Volkow and Koob (2015)

Alcohol and substance use disorder in the United States is an epidemic. Tens of millions of Americans struggle with the disease of addiction despite available treatments. Encouraging more men and women to seek help is vitally important.

There is evidence that many people do not respond well to messaging defining addiction as a disease. As such, they are less likely to seek assistance, according to research published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

Calling addiction a disease does not have an impact on the people conducting the research. However, there is evidence that the label may adversely affect those living with the condition.

Researchers at North Carolina State University compared the effect of disease messaging to a “growth mindset message,” a university press release reports. The latter says that human attributes are malleable.

Those who work programs of recovery and accrue long-term sobriety show us that people can change even though they have an incurable condition. With assistance, use disorder can be managed, and relapse is preventable. However, while the new study may be about semantics, the finding(s) could guide efforts to steer people toward treatment.

When we began talking about addiction as a disease, the goal was to decrease stigma and encourage treatment,” says Sarah Desmarais, co-author of a paper on the work and an associate professor of psychology at North Carolina State University. “That worked, to an extent, but an unforeseen byproduct was that some people experiencing addiction felt like they had less agency; people with diseases have no control over them.”

Steering People Toward Addiction Treatment

The study involved 214 men and women with drug and alcohol use problems, according to the article. One hundred and twenty-four were placed in a growth mindset message group. The other 90 participants received disease messaging. Participants in both groups read articles that included the respective messaging.

Growth mindset enrollees read about the many causes of substance abuse and how to manage addiction. The disease group learned about the addiction-related changes in the brain. Participants in the growth mindset group were found to be more likely to seek treatment, compared to the disease message group.

“Overall, our findings support moving away from messaging about addiction solely as a disease,” Desmarais says. “It’s more complicated than that. Instead, the finding suggests that it would be more helpful to talk about the many different reasons people become addicted.”

Southern California Addiction Treatment

Alcohol and substance use disorders are treatable, and long-term recovery is attainable. Please contact PACE Recovery Center to discuss our gender-specific programs. Our clinically sophisticated approach can help you or a loved one make lasting changes.

We can also help men who have co-occurring mental illnesses accompanying their use disorder. Our highly trained staff will treat both conditions simultaneously to facilitate better treatment outcomes.

Mental Health Disorders: Early Diagnosis is Vital

mental health

One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 50% of youth ages 8-15 didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year.

Early diagnosis of psychological health disorders can spare individuals from experiencing significant problems in the future. Those who struggle with mood disorders at a young age must be screened and treated to prevent them from developing unhealthy coping mechanisms.

It is a fact that many people who struggle with substance use in adulthood have an underlying mental illness stemming back to their youth. Men and women who use drugs and alcohol to manage their symptoms risk developing behavioral health problems. More than half of adults living with addiction have a co-occurring mental illness like:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

While the conditions listed above can result from heavy alcohol and substance use, it is often the other way around in plenty of cases. Many teenagers begin and continue to use drugs and alcohol because they are dealing with undiagnosed psychiatric issues. Mind-altering substances can provide temporary relief from pain and suffering, but the practice only serves to worsen symptoms in the long run.

Mental illness screenings of young people are of the utmost importance. Evidence-based treatments exist, and pairing teens and young adults with mental health services saves lives. During Mental Health Month, it is imperative that parents consider prioritizing both their overall well-being and their children’s.

Diagnosing Childhood Depression

NAMI reports that one in five young people (13 to 18) suffers from a severe mental health disorder at some point in their lives. In previous posts, we have pointed out that depression is the leading cause of disability around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that some 300 million people of all ages suffer from the disorder. A significant number of youths are affected by this serious health condition.

Researchers associate undiagnosed depression with both substance use disorder and suicide later in life. The WHO reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death in those between the ages of 15 and 29. With that in mind, it’s not challenging to see the need for developing effective screening techniques.

Researchers at the University of Vermont may have found a new method for identifying anxiety and depression in young people. These types of conditions are sometimes referred to as “internalizing disorders.” The research team tested a machine learning algorithm that might help doctors diagnose mental illness in youths, according to a press release. The findings of the study appear in the Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics.

We need quick, objective tests to catch kids when they are suffering,” says Ellen McGinnis, a clinical psychologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center’s Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families and lead author of the study. “The majority of kids under eight are undiagnosed.”

The study shows that artificial intelligence can evaluate child speech patterns to detect signs of anxiety and depression. The AI singled out three speech patterns that point to the presence of internalizing disorders: low-pitched voices, repeatable speech inflections and content, and a higher-pitched response to unexpected noise.

Fast and Reliable Mental Health Diagnoses

The press release points out that typical youth mental health screenings involve a trained clinician and the child’s primary caregiver. The patient receives a 60 to 90 minute semi-structured interview. Since children do not excel at articulating their emotional suffering, screenings are time-consuming and not always accurate.

The algorithm was able to identify children with a diagnosis of an internalizing disorder with 80 percent accuracy, and in most cases that compared really well to the accuracy of the parent checklist,” says senior study author, Ryan McGinnis.

The researchers plan to embed their algorithm into a universal screening tool.

Gender Specific Mental Health Treatment

At PACE Recovery Center, we assist young men who suffer from mental health disorders. Our center offers both residential and outpatient services that can help you or a loved one facing a mood or behavioral health disorder. Please contact us today to learn more about the services we provide and our highly credentialed clinical staff.

We utilize a multidimensional treatment approach that integrates evidence-based practices from the psychological, medical, social, familial and self-help communities.

Mental Health First Aid in America: Training Pharmacists

mental healthIn the second week of Mental Health Month, it’s worth making time to discuss what some companies are doing to help the cause. Raising awareness about mental illness is of the utmost importance. Estimates indicate that one in five people will face a mental health or substance use issue in a given year.

Psychological conditions live beneath the surface, and they are challenging to recognize for the untrained eye. Many doctors lack training in the subject matter, which places patients at risk. Undiagnosed and untreated mental illness is one of the leading causes of substance use, self-harm, and premature death.

The field of medicine has long been the frontline for prevention and intervention. It is vital that doctors and nurses have the skills to spot behavioral health problems and are able to provide evidence-based guidance. If a patient presents to their primary care physician (PCP) for a routine check-up, it is an opportunity to screen for mental health conditions.

People struggling with psychiatric illness are often unwilling to discuss their symptoms. Many individuals have fears about what a diagnosis might lead to, including being treated differently by one’s peers. As a result, mental illnesses often do not receive proper care; over time, diseases like depression become progressively worse.

It is of critical importance that PCPs undergo training for identifying at-risk patients so they can refer them to mental health professionals. However, since many patients only see their physician once a year, intervention opportunities are sparse.

Pharmacists, on the other hand, have far more contact with the general population. Which means those working at pharmacies are in a unique position to take action if they see people exhibiting signs of mental illness and substance use issues.

Pharmacy Employees Receive Mental Health Training

Tens of millions of Americans walk into stores like Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens to fill their prescriptions each month. There are at least twelve opportunities, annually, to have an impact on men and women who may be struggling.

While it’s true that pharmacists do not go to medical school, they can be taught what to do when a customer appears to be struggling. With training, those working in American pharmacies can intervene and offer up support.

Last week, Walgreens announced that it would provide Mental Health First Aid training for many of its pharmacists and team members. Working in conjunction with the National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), the company’s employees are learning:

  • Mental health literacy.
  • Risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction.
  • Strategies for helping people in crisis and non-crisis situations

The eight-hour Mental Health First Aid course teaches participants how to open up a dialogue with persons who require assistance. More than 1.5 million Americans have undergone training to date, according to the National Council. Walgreens plans to direct over 300 of its team members to Mental Health First Aid courses.

With the growing need for services and resources to help those living with mental health conditions, as well as substance use and addiction, we can play an important role by giving our pharmacists and certain team members the training to help those in crisis,” said Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.

In 2016, the company joined forces with Mental Health America to provide customers with behavioral health resources and information on accessing care. Moreover, the pharmacy giant offers prescription-free naloxone, an overdose reversal drug that saves thousands of lives each year.

Gender-specific Mental Health Treatment

Help is available for all who struggle with mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Hopefully, Walgreens’ initiative will result in more people seeking treatment and recovery services.

PACE Recovery Center’s doctorate and masters-level clinicians can help you or your male loved one acquire the tools to recover. Our team provides clients instruction in managing their symptoms of mental illness so that they may thrive in recovery. We believe that it’s essential that men learn how to balance mental health needs with educational, vocational, and familial responsibilities.

We understand that each client has unique needs. Our clinicians create individualized treatment plans that cater to our clients’ histories and environmental challenges.

Please contact our dynamic, evidence-based extended care center at your earliest convenience to discuss treatment options. You can call 800.526.1851, any time of the day, to speak with an admission counselor and learn more about our specialty tracks.

Mental Health Month: Educate People About Mental Illness

mental health

With Alcohol Awareness Month behind us, this is an excellent time to pivot to mental illness as a whole. May is Mental Health Month! The nonprofit Mental Health America (MHA) has been celebrating this vital observance for 70 years.

Working with various affiliates, MHA is committed to helping millions of Americans to see that mental health is worth consideration. The myriad psychological disorders affecting millions of Americans, young and old, impacts us all. A society is only as healthy as its most vulnerable citizens.

43.8 million adults experience mental illness in a given year. To put it another way, 1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year. Despite evidence-based treatments, most people are unable to access these for several reasons. Stigma and shame stand in the way of therapy quite often in the United States.

Men and women who struggle with conditions like depression face enormous obstacles. Without access to available treatments, the risk of self-medicating and engaging in self-harm is high. Using drugs and alcohol to manage the symptoms of psychological issues is a risky business. Using mind-altering substances to cope can lead to addiction and result in an overdose.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 10.2 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders. A dual diagnosis is when a person meets the criteria for an alcohol or substance use disorder and another form of mental illness.

Raising Mental Health Awareness

Taking care of the mind is as vital as physical wellness. The truth is that both facets of human beings are inextricably connected. Mental well-being depends on physical health, and vice versa. During Mental Health Month, one of the key messages is prioritizing a healthy lifestyle. Eating right and exercising can prevent symptoms from worsening and can help people heal.

At PACE Recovery Center, we stress to our clients the importance of recognizing the mind-body connection. Abstinence is of vital importance, but healing is multidimensional. To keep the disease of addiction in remission, one must maintain mental, physical, and spiritual balance.

Making small changes to daily routines can go a long way in recovery. Since healing is a process, lifestyle alterations happen gradually. In addiction and mental health recovery, small changes can be the impetus for continued progress.

This year’s Mental Health Month theme is #4Mind4Body. Spirituality, recreation, and work-life balance are critical for everyone but may be more vital to individuals dealing with mental illness. Mental Health America states that:

Finding balance between work and play, the ups and downs of life, physical health and mental health, can help you towards focusing both #4Mind4Body.

There are several ways that Americans can have a hand in helping raise awareness. MHA offers a toolkit that can assist organizations in hosting events. People in mental health recovery can use social media to spread the message: “mental health is something everyone should care about.”

Helping Others Boost Mental Health and General Wellness

In the social media age, the average American can reach thousands of people with just a few clicks. While most Facebook and Twitter posts are relatively trivial, such platforms can be harnessed for good.

If you would like to help spread the word, then MHA offers some stock social media posts, including:

We need to speak up early and educate people about #mentalillness—and do so in a compassionate, judgment-free way. Download @mentalhealthamerica’s 2019 toolkit to help raise awareness at bit.ly/MayMH. #4Mind4Body #MHM2019

You are also welcome to create unique posts and utilize the above hashtags. The key messages below can help you design your posts:

  • Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable.
  • A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions, as well as chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It can also help people recover from these conditions.
  • Finding a reason to laugh, going for a walk, meditating, playing with a pet, or working from home once a week can go a long way in making you both physically and mentally healthy.

Looking Past Stigma, Finding Support

Mental illnesses, ranging from addiction to post-traumatic stress disorder, are treatable. When people find the strength to seek help, they can heal. Still, those suffering from mental health conditions need everyone’s encouragement.

When society has open, honest, and fact-based discussions about mental illness, myths and misconceptions fade away. When psychological distress is viewed through the prism of compassion rather than judgment, people seek help. We can all play a part in eroding the mental health stigma.

Please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our mental health and dual diagnosis treatment. Our gender-specific programs help male clients manage mental health conditions and heal from trauma. Males struggling with substance use disorders and behavioral health issues can and do recover.

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