Tag Archives: mental health disorder

Addiction: The Unforeseen Consequences of Stigma

addiction

What we say to one another matters, perhaps more than some are willing to admit; few people can grasp this as much as the addict. It isn’t just what we say to each person that is worth discussion, how we talk about groups of people can a lasting impact and unforeseen consequences. As the U.S. nears the end of the second decade of unprecedented opioid use and overdose rates, some hard questions are worth asking. If addiction is a mental health disorder, and the NIDA considers the condition a long-term, treatable brain disease; why does much of society continue to view the illness with scorn, ridicule, and judgment?

Searching the internet reveals that treatment works and recovery is possible. If you ask your friends and family members if they know someone in recovery, they will likely say ‘yes.’ Reading books or watching television can illuminate the lives of others who have gone to battle against the seemingly indomitable foe that is an addiction. While such people do not slay the dragon, they do find a way to tame (manage) it with the help of specific programs.

If a person is sick why would anyone want to discourage them from seeking assistance? If that same person gets better, why would people still look at them differently or expect that at a certain point they will fail? It is difficult to explain why some people will always view those whose addiction is at bay through working a program different from one whose cancer is in remission thanks to chemo.

It’s unlikely the answers to most of these questions will reveal themselves by the end of this article, and that is alright. Hopefully, by making inquiries into the nature of addiction, we might encourage people to rethink their views.

Defining Addiction

Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunk Christian. ―Herman Melville, Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Could a drunkard "actually" be more dangerous to the fabric of society than a person who "literally" consumes their fellow man? Of course not, but it depends on who you ask. As health experts and lawmakers continue to seek out novel ways of addressing addiction in America, the word “stigma” comes up in the discussion more often than not. If the addict were a horse, stigma is the wagon it pulls. With that in mind, it might be helpful to contemplate the origins of the words inextricably bound to mental illness.

The word ‘addiction’ results from the Latin ‘addictus,’ from the verb ‘addicere’ [ah-dee-keh-reh]. There are several translations for addicere, but a few stand out; enslavement, extreme religious devotion, and sacrifice. Other definitions can apply, but those above will suit for this article. Nobody can deny that people living in the grips of mental illness find themselves in a form of bondage. Each day, enormous sacrifices are made (against wellbeing) in devotion to the disease. What’s more, it may be worth mentioning that the verb addicere can also mean to judge, sentence, or condemn. It isn't hard to see that the way we talk about mental illness results in stigmatization.

Defining Stigma

stigma

Now, let’s talk about stigma or a mark of disgrace. Half a millennium ago, the word from the Latin Stigmata, meant a "mark made on skin by burning with a hot iron;" from the Greek stigma (genitive stigmatos) "mark of a pointed instrument, puncture, tattoo-mark, brand." Anyone with a Christian upbringing can probably deduce the association with Christ and stigmata. Stigmas "marks resembling the wounds on the body of Christ, appearing supernaturally on the bodies of the devout." The last bit there, and perhaps worth extended focus, is devout; if you remember from above the addict devotes him or herself to the point of slavery, and here we see that stigmas are brands upon such people.

You can easily see the link between addicts and stigmas in America; if we are honest, everyone living with mental illness has come face to face with judgment at some point. The question we should be asking is, ‘to what end?’ There is research with ample support to back it showing that stigma prevents people from accessing treatment, and by default—recovery. Given that addiction is an epidemic, and the symptoms of which are treatable; it begs the question, why does society continue to act and speak in a way that prevents mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers from getting help?

The perspective of addiction that many people adhere to is somewhat schizophrenic (in the non-psychological sense of the word); to give you an idea, please consider the data below. More than half of Americans believe addiction is a medical problem; however, less than 1 in 5 Americans say they would closely associate with people (i.e., friend, co-worker, or neighbor) struggling with addiction.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Survey

A survey involving 1,054 adults fielding questions online or by phone reveals the kind of troubling findings above. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey shows that forty-four percent believe opioid use disorder is a sign of lacking willpower or discipline; one-third of those participating see opiate addiction as a character flaw, The Washington Post reports. Equally as troubling is the fifty-five percent of respondents favoring a “crackdown” on people misusing drugs.

While two-thirds said policy-makers should expand access to treatment, it appears that respondents fail to grasp how their views of addiction bar people from accessing rehab. Federal research confirms what those working in the field of addiction acutely understand; stigma prevents people from seeking treatment. Over 2 million Americans are struggling with an opioid use disorder; but, only 1 in 5 receive “specialized treatment.”

“When something is stigmatized nobody wants to bring it up, so therefore people who need the help are less willing to come forward,” Dr. Corey Waller, an addiction specialist in New Jersey, told the AP.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

In my judgment such of us who have never fallen victims have been spared more by the absence of appetite than from any mental or moral superiority over those who have. Indeed, I believe if we take habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class. —Abraham Lincoln [addressing the Washingtonian Temperance Society, February 22, 1842]

Addicts are people living with a form of mental illness that they can manage and recover from provided, however, they feel compassion from their friends, family, and community. For too long stigma has had a hand in preventing individuals from finding support; we can no longer allow people’s “personal” views about any life-threatening conditions shape our policy. Millions of people are living with an opioid use disorder, and many millions more are battling alcohol use disorder; no family or community is exempt from mental illness. Compassion is far more valuable than judgment; branding our fellows as weak or flawed impacts society in myriad ways.

If prescription opioids or heroin is impacting your life negatively, PACE Recovery Center can help. We specialize in the treatment of young men caught in the vicious cycle of addiction and coöccurring disorders. Please contact PACE to learn more about how we can assist you to begin the process of healing and learn how to lead a productive life in recovery.

Mental Illness Sick Days

mental illness

If you get the flu, you would probably do what anyone would do, call in sick. After all, you wouldn't want to risk passing a bug on to your coworkers or work at less than 100 percent. Every day, millions of people call in sick to work for various illnesses, it is commonplace. But, there are some illnesses that people shy away from calling in, for fear of professional consequences. Mental illness.

Millions of Americans, and hundreds of millions around the globe are living with what are, at times, debilitating mental health disorders. Yet, waking up amid a depressive episode or an anxiety attack might not prompt someone to contact their workplace asking for a day off. There are a number of reasons for this, some people experiencing such problems may not think it warrants a sick-day. Others may think that they can muscle through the workday without a loss of productivity. Perhaps more common, and even more saddening, is the fact that many employers do not understand mental health disorders. Or employers believe that they are just cause for a day away from the office. They might say something like: “we all struggle with angst at times, we all get a little sad from time to time.”

Just pick your head up, and put your best foot forward, right? Wrong! People who manage their mental illness day-in-day-out can’t always stay ahead of the symptoms. There are going to be days when functioning is just not a reality. In such cases, most people will try to hide it at work rather than let on that they have a condition. And it should go without saying that doing that can be a slippery slope. People living with behavioral health conditions, who do not put their well-being first, are at risk of exacerbating their symptoms.

Mental Illness Is Real

In the 21st Century the verdict on mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, bipolar, et al. is no longer out. Mental illness is real, in every family there is at least one person who has been touched by such disorders. People living with mental health issues should not be discriminated against or stigmatized. But, they are. Even in more enlightened environs, the afflicted feel as though they need to hide what is going on underneath the surface. The result of years of conditioning, perhaps.

With each year that passes, more and more people living with mental health disorders are saying, ‘enough!’ They will no longer be shamed into putting their needs last. It is a brave move, and can be costly to one’s career, because most employers are not so enlightened. However, there are some workplaces who encourage those with mental illness to take time for themselves when it is needed. Perhaps a sign that the ‘times they are a-changin.' Not too long ago, few could’ve imagined calling in sick for mental health reasons, and returning to work on Monday with their job intact.

A recent email exchange between an employee and an employer regarding this subject went ‘viral’ (no pun intended) this month. A truly remarkable story of a CEO who understands the negative impact of mental health stigma. Madalyn Parker—an executive at Olark Live Chat—sent an email to her team at work explaining that she would be away from the office to focus on her mental health, PEOPLE reports. The response received from the company’s CEO was, well it was…up worthy!

Hey team, I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health,” Parker wrote. “Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.”
I just wanted to personally thank you for sending e-mails like this,” Olark CEO Ben Congleton wrote back. “Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health – I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations. You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can bring our whole selves to work.”

There Is No Place for Stigma

Parker posted the exchange on social media, and the Internet celebrated and commended Congleton and Parker’s exchange. And for good reason. This kind of thing is infinitesimally rare. Which is why we need more of this type of exchange in the workplace. Normalizing mental health disorders is of the utmost importance. It will not only increase productivity, it will save lives.

Even in the safest environment it is still uncommon to be direct with your coworkers about mental health issues,” Congleton wrote on Medium, a few days later. “I wanted to call this out and express gratitude for Madalyn’s bravery in helping us normalize mental health as a normal health issue.”

Parker added:

After repeatedly being told to keep my problems to myself for fear of discrimination, it’s good to know that it actually is possible to be open about mental health (even at work!)…You should never feel like you can’t address your emotional well-being because ‘it’s just not something you talk about at work.’”

Co-Occurring Recovery

Many of us working programs of addiction recovery are living with a dual diagnosis, as well. A co-occurring mental illness that, like the addiction, must be managed every day of the week. If one’s symptoms of depression or anxiety are ignored, it could lead to a relapse—or something worse. If you are in recovery for a co-occurring disorder, it is vital that you do not put your employment before your personal wellbeing. Fearing the consequences of being upfront about what you are going through is normal. But ignoring your condition for the sake of a day’s work can be deadly.

If you are still in the grips of addiction, battling another form of mental health disorder as well—please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin the lifesaving journey of addiction recovery.

Depression Affects Many Young People

depression

At the beginning of May we wrote about depression, which was timely considering that the debilitating mental illness was the focus of the World Health Organization’s World Health Day (April 7, 2017). If you did not read the article, no worries, we can give you a little recap. The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a year-long campaign called, “Depression: Let’s Talk” to illuminate the public about the fact that over 300 million people around the world suffer from depression. WHO has determined that the mental illness is one of the leading causes of poor health in the world.

If people are unwilling to talk about the mental health disorder due to fear of social stigma, the whole world suffers. For every person touched by the illness, there are exponentially more people who are close to the afflicted whose lives are affected. By encouraging people to talk about their disease, we have a better chance of such people seeking help. In the realm of addiction medicine, it is abundantly clear that untreated mental illness of any form is correlated with an increased risk of substance use and abuse. Simply put, those who ignore their mental health disorder, by not seeking help, are on an easy course to addiction.

In the 21st Century, a time where the use of social media is ubiquitous, our ability to have open discussions about not only mental illness, but also the effective treatments available is significantly greater than in decades past. What’s more, the ability of scientists to disseminate facts about mental illness and that mental health problems beget other mental health issues—is greatly improved by the internet.

With that in mind, we also know now that problems like anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder often begin at a young age. And if it can be screened for early on, then it can be treated before behaviors like self-medicating with drugs or alcohol develop.

Depression Affects Teenage Boys and Girls

At PACE Recovery, we specialize in the treatment of addiction affecting young men. However, it is relevant to discuss how mental health is a problem for both sexes. A new study of data regarding children's mental health in the United States, showed that depression can begin in children at age 11, The Washington Post reports. The data indicates that 13.6 percent of boys and 36.1 percent of girls have experienced or are depressed by age 17. The results of the study highlight the importance of early screening. The findings were published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

mental illness

The researchers admit that the reasons why females are at greater risk of depression in adolescence are not well understood, according to the article. Teenage boys, the data shows, are more likely to have problems with conduct, aggression and substance abuse; whereas depression appears to be much more common among girls. Understanding the reasons why for the time being, in many ways, pales in comparison to the importance of parents, teachers and medical professionals keeping a close eye for signs and symptoms of depression. Failure to do so, as you well know (probably), can have disastrous consequences—addiction and suicide to name a couple.

When you are seeing young people with symptoms consistent with depression it is really much, much better to get them connected to a pediatrician to get them a comprehensive mental health assessment and hook them into treatment sooner rather than later,” said study author Elizabeth Miller, director of the division of adolescent medicine at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Young Adult Rehab Program

In a perfect world every child, of either sex, would be screened early on and regularly for mental illness. Unfortunately, we are not at that point, yet. The fact is, many young men experiencing symptoms of mental illness make it through high school without ever having been screened, and as a result turn to mind-altering substances to cope with their symptoms. As is clearly evident by the prevalence of young adults in need of substance use disorder treatment in America.

The good news or silver lining, in a sense, is that mental illness, whether it be depression, addiction or both, can be treated. Recovery is possible and the trained professionals at PACE Recovery Center can help you break the cycle of addiction and learn how to live a fruitful life in recovery. Please contact us today to begin the process, it is likely to be one of the most important phone calls you ever make.

Stigma of Addiction: Stop the Shame

stigma

How we treat people who have diseases which can be fatal says a lot about who we are both as a nation and a society. Our ability to express empathy to those who are suffering from conditions that are, in many cases, outside of one’s control is of vital importance—especially in this day and age living in a country that has been racked by addiction.

Throughout out the second half of the 20th Century and into the 21st, the United States has made and gone through significant changes with how we look at those afflicted by a substance use disorder and how to best effectively treat addiction. Not too long ago, the majority of Americans would have said of addiction, if asked, that it was likely a moral failing; such people lack constitution or willpower and are an example of extreme narcissism.

To be fair, a superficial look at addiction could present a picture of the aforementioned pejorative statements. It could be easy for anyone without all the facts to view the disease in such a light, and such viewpoints are then perpetuated and disseminated to others who also lack the ability to grasp what is actually going on inside the mind of an addict. As a result, thunderous clouds of stigma float permanently above the millions of Americans who have been touched by this pernicious mental illness.

Yet, a closer look through the lens of science reveals the nature of addiction as being something altogether different. Which is why, for quite some time the disease of addiction has been classified as a serious mental health disorder, a condition that has little to do with a moral compass. Scientists have overwhelmingly concluded, that while no one chooses to be an addict and there is not a cure for the disorder, with assistance those living in active addiction can make changes to break away from drugs and alcohol and recover. Going on to live a meaningful and productive life, existing as part of society rather than being the subject of ostracization.

From Stigma to Empathy

If addiction is a disorder which has no cure, but can be maintained allowing for individuals to live relatively normal lives, then do you wonder why addicts are viewed so differently than those who suffer from other incurable conditions? The response to that question is far from easy to answer, being the subject of many an investigation. But simply put, much of the stigma of addiction rests on the fact that the complex disease is not well understood. Such a reality has opened the door for people without any qualifications to draw conclusion about substance use, and nonchalantly disseminate their “2+2=5” summations.

We would like you to imagine for a moment and entreat you to look honestly inside your selves, that somebody close to you contracted a serious illness. Perhaps a condition that science currently offers no cure, but does provide treatments that can prove effective at slowing down the progression of such disorders (e.g. diabetes, HIV, cancer and Parkinson’s). Could you picture yourself acting towards that individual in such a way as to elicit guilt or shame inside your loved one? Can you see yourself saying to someone dying from cancer or AIDS that they are ‘not trying hard enough?’ That they could get better, but are choosing to do otherwise. While rhetorical questions like this may seem like “no brainers,” they illustrate the absurdity of casting stones at somebody with a terminal illness.

Now, please close your eyes, picture your mother, daughter or neighbor is not suffering from cancer, but rather addiction. Would you act the same way in respect to them, as you would if they had cancer?

PSAs About Stigma

Breaking the stigma of addiction is a process that requires a multifaceted approach involving several agencies. Last week, the American College of Physicians (ACP) published a position paper arguing that addiction should be viewed as a “chronic disease” requiring treatment. Substance use problems are not a "moral disorder or character defect."

At the same time, a new campaign was launched called “Stop the Shame,” which released two public service announcements aimed at breaking the stigma of addiction. We must warn you ahead of time, the PSAs are hard to watch due to the videos accuracy with regard to how people living with addiction can be, and often are treated.

PSA 1: Addicts Hear Comments Cancer Patients Never Would

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

PSA 2: Addicts Hear Comments Parkinson’s Patients Never Would

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Far Reaching Effects

The tough comments that people with addiction endure on regular basis have a serious impact, affecting American society. Those made to feel shame and guilt about addiction are less inclined to seek help for their condition. As a result, their illness progresses, sending ripples throughout the country. For starters, without treatment, more and more families find themselves burying loved ones before their time. There is also a huge economic toll that is associated with untreated addiction. Lawmakers have tried arresting addiction away, unsuccessfully. The time for compassion, is now.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month

problem gambling

Recovery from mental illness is possible, but it is always darkest before the dawn. If you have personal experience with addiction (i.e. problem gambling), then you understand firsthand that it is a progressive disease. Left untreated, you continue to spiral down until, at some point, you realize that you are in a worse position than hitting rock bottom—in fact, you are looking up at your “bottom.”

It is said time and time again in the circles of recovery, that one must truly reach their bottom in order to be willing to surrender and be able to embrace the principles of recovery. But, the truth of the matter is that you actually hit, and surpass several bottoms in multidimensional ways—a veritable tesseract of despair. No matter which direction you look, you are confronted by the entryway doors that connect you with the world around you closed or closing, one after another. With active addiction, you can feel like you are falling in multiple directions at the same time, stretching your mind to the brink. You finally cease plunging for just enough time to take a panoramic snapshot of existence, only to discover upon development that you are, in fact, alone—shackled to the disease. At such a crossroad, one must make a choice; follow the path you are on to its logical end, or…

Addiction is a mental health disorder that takes many different shapes. And while a number of behaviors or substances can be habit forming, regardless of what you are dependent upon, the outcomes for each of the afflicted (left untreated) are typically the same. Any number of things can lead to dependence, and each of them in their own way can bring one to their knees: Snatching friends, family, livelihood and life right out from under you. Fortunately, if one works on any problem, a solution can oftentimes be found. When it comes to addiction the solution is treatment and a commitment to work a program of spiritual maintenance.

There are millions of Americans plagued by one form of mental illness or compulsive disorder. However, while it is easy to find information about treating and recovering from a substance use disorder, the same cannot be said for other debilitating conditions—such as “gambling addiction" or "compulsive gambling." The reasons are numerous, but it is important that those who are actively struggling with problem gambling, sometimes referred to as Ludomania, come to realize that they are not alone and help is available.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Gambling can turn into a dangerous two-way street when you least expect it. Weird things happen suddenly, and your life can go all to pieces.” —H.S. Thompson

In 2012, there were an estimated 5.77 million disordered gamblers in the U.S. in need of treatment, according to the 2013 National Survey of Problem Gambling Services. Yet, of that staggering number of problem gamblers, only 10,387 (less than one quarter of one percent (0.18%) people were treated that year in U.S. state-funded problem gambling treatment programs. In comparison, substance use disorders were about 3.6 times more common at the time, than gambling disorders. However, the amount of public funding allotted for substance use disorder treatment was about 281 times greater ($17 billion: $60.6 million) than the funds directed towards treating problem gamblers.

Every March, a grassroots campaign is waged to raise awareness about problem gambling. During Problem Gambling Awareness Month events and activities will be held around the country to “educate the general public and healthcare professionals about the warning signs of problem gambling and to raise awareness about the help that is available both locally and nationally.”

This is an important time for raising awareness about the condition, because there is a serious effort on federal and state levels to lift or amend the federal prohibition on sports betting, ESPN reports. While the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) is neutral about whether or not sports betting should be legal, the organization believes that expanding the practice across the country will likely result in more people playing and in turn—more problem gamblers. The NCPG is asking legislators behind expanding sports gambling for funds to prevent and treat gambling addiction.

Getting Help

If you are a compulsive gambler and need assistance, you can call the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (800-522-477). In some instances, your or your loved one’s condition may be so severe that residential addiction treatment is the best option. Additionally, PACE Recovery Center's Orange County Intensive Outpatient Program is a men’s only - gender specific program. We treat men who are suffering from drug and alcohol issues, depression, anxiety, grief and loss, relationship issues, process addictions, and gambling addiction.

The War On Drugs: A Closer Look

Some of our older readers can probably remember when President Richard Nixon called drug abuse America’s public enemy number one. You can likely remember when the 37th President of the United States declared a “war on drugs.” Setting aside any ulterior motives or hidden agendas, Nixon’s declaration of war seemed to make sense. Drugs are both dangerous and deadly. They have the power to ruin the lives of individuals and their families. Illegal drug manufacturing, distribution and use place a heavy economic toll on society.

The war on drugs was basically a three-pronged effort to target illegal drug sales, help addicts recover from what we know now to be a mental health disorder and educate young people about the dangers of substance use and abuse. Unfortunately, now forty years later, we know that most of the Federal government’s energy was directed towards incarcerating drug offenders. Whether they be dealers or addicts. The idea, presumably, arrest those who supply drugs and those who demand them. And voilà! The problem goes away. Right?

President Nixon may have started the war, but the battle to rid the country of both drugs and addiction would continue under every Commander-in-Chief to follow. Aggressively under both Presidents Reagan and Clinton. It is important for all of us to remember that the ill-fated war on drugs in America was believed in by lawmakers on both sides of the Congressional and Presidential aisle. It was about party affiliation. Going after drug traffickers in this country and abroad, and arresting individuals for breaking laws prohibiting the use of certain narcotics, seemed like good policy. Not just in America.

Decades later, and a closer look at such a policy and the results that it achieved versus the costs (not just monetarily), one will see that what can only be described as a dismal failure presents itself. As is evident by the fact that we host the largest prison population and have the biggest drug problem on the planet—despite everyone’s best intentions. Over half of inmates in the U.S. are in jail or prison for nonviolent drug offenses.

While the last decade could be called a quasi-cease fire in the war in drugs (i.e. changes in mandatory minimum sentencing, drug courts, state-level marijuana legalization and presidential pardons for nonviolent offenders), there is still a lot more to be done with regard to putting an end to draconian drug sentencing laws. Also, with breaking the stigma of addiction, so that people who need help can get it.

A War on Drugs, Abroad…

You may have seen news reports over the last year, covering President Duterte of the Philippines. A leader who essentially declared that the punishment for both drug dealers and addicts is death. One not even be given the luxury of a trial, evidenced by suspects being gunned down on the streets. It is fair to say that the approach in the Philippines is far more severe than any war on drugs to come before. Even compared to a country with a history of being the frontline of the global war on drugs, Colombia.

In the 1980’s and early-90’s, with the help of billions of American dollars and the CIA, the Colombian government fought tooth and nail to bring down narcotraficantes (drug traffickers). With the most notable target being Pablo Escobar, who was finally brought down under Colombian President Cesar Gaviria in 1993. While that nation won a few battles, Gaviria points out that it came at great costs in New York Times op-ed published last week. With first-hand experience in such matters and a founding member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the former Colombian leader used the op-ed as a forum to reach out to President Duterte. Warning him about what is at stake, if his hardline approach continues.

Winning the fight against drugs requires addressing not just crime, but also public health, human rights and economic development. No matter what Mr. Duterte believes, there will always be drugs and drug users in the Philippines. But it is important to put the problem in perspective: The Philippines already has a low number of regular drug users. The application of severe penalties and extrajudicial violence against drug consumers makes it almost impossible for people with drug addiction problems to find treatment. Instead, they resort to dangerous habits and the criminal economy. Indeed, the criminalization of drug users runs counter to all available scientific evidence of what works.” Gaviria adds, “Taking a hard line against criminals is always popular for politicians. I was also seduced into taking a tough stance on drugs during my time as president. The polls suggest that Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs is equally popular. But he will find that it is unwinnable. I also discovered that the human costs were enormous. We could not win the war on drugs through killing petty criminals and addicts. We started making positive impacts only when we changed tack, designating drugs as a social problem and not a military one.”

Not Just A History Lesson

Hopefully, Gaviria sage wisdom will not fall on deaf ears, and the lives of addicts overseas may be spared. Here at home, where we do not see addicts being meted out extrajudicial punishments, we have a seen a lot of progress in recent years with regard to drugs and how those who use them are treated. In a number of cities across the country, addicts can surrender their drugs to police. Instead of being given handcuffs in return, those living in addiction are shown compassion and referred to treatment centers. A trend that we all hope will continue.

While President Gaviria’s message was meant for the President of the Philippines, hopefully it will be heeded in some degree here in America. As was emphasized earlier, there is still a lot more that can be done, that can make a real impact for the better. Last week, a Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking was signed. Some working in the field of addiction fear that the language in the new EO might echo the draconian approaches of the past in the American war on addiction. In the NYT op-ed (unrelated to the new EO) mentioned earlier, Gaviria closed with:

A successful president makes decisions that strengthen the public good. This means investing in solutions that meet the basic standards of basic rights and minimize unnecessary pain and suffering. The fight against drugs is no exception. Strategies that target violent criminals and undermine money laundering are critical. So, too, are measures that decriminalize drug users, support alternative sentencing for low-level nonviolent offenders and provide a range of treatment options for drug abusers. This is a test that many of my Colombian compatriots have failed...”

PACE Recovery Mission

At PACE Recovery Center, our mission is to provide our clients with a safe and supportive environment to help them overcome the challenges they have experienced due to alcohol and drug abuse. We believe that incorporating sound clinical interventions and a lifestyle that encourages health and wellness, in a shame free setting that encourages accountability and responsibility, will help foster long term recovery.

We will continue our efforts to break the stigma of addiction.

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

suicideLast week we discussed National Recovery Month, which takes place every September. It is a topic that we at PACE Recovery Center feel is vital, given that the need to raise awareness about addiction treatment services is crucial to the health of our society. Addiction is a disease which meets the criteria for being a mental health disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). The importance for providing adequate and effective, science-based recovery solutions cannot be overemphasized. Millions of Americans struggle with this debilitating illness every year, and without treatment the outcomes are never favorable. Addiction is one of the leading causes of premature and preventable deaths. While many of the people who lose their life to the disorder die from an overdose or alcohol and drug related health complications, there are many Americans who decide to take their own life because they can no longer endure living in the depths of despair that typifies addiction. What’s more, people living with untreated mental illness will often self-medicate in order to cope with the symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder. The drugs and alcohol may appear to mitigate their symptoms for a time, but in the long run, mind altering substances that are used for coping will typically result in addiction and only serve to exacerbate one’s mental illness symptoms they experienced in the first place.

Co-Occurring Disorder

In the field of addiction recovery, it is common for people to be living with both addiction and another form of mental health disorder. When this is the case, it is referred to in clinical settings as having a co-occurring disorder (also referred to as a dual diagnosis). As time goes by, addiction professionals are finding that it is more common for a client to have a co-occurring disorders than not. More importantly, it is paramount that addiction treatment centers address both the addiction and secondary condition, if recovery is to be possible. A failure to treat the whole patient will, more times than not, result in a relapse. At PACE, we make sure that all of our patient’s mental health needs are addressed. We work closely with physicians and mental health care providers, so that we can create a treatment plan that will ensure the best chance of success for our patients and their families. The stakes are extremely high; we know first-hand that mental illness that is not tended to appropriately will often lead to patients opting for a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Preventing Suicide

While September is in fact National Recovery Month, it is also National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It is worth pointing out that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Young adults living with mental illness are much more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, which in turn leads to a co-occurring disorder. During the month of September, we hope that everyone will do their part to raise awareness about suicide prevention and help break the stigma that has long accompanied talking openly about mental illness. By doing so, we all can play an active role in encouraging young people to seek help, potentially averting suicidal ideations from coming to fruition. On September 10, 2016, NAMI would like everyone to observe World Suicide Prevention Day. The organization aims to:
  • Reach out to those affected by suicide.
  • Raise Awareness
  • And connect individuals in need to treatment services.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness would also like as many people as possible to share the banner located below on social media. You can help promote awareness of suicide prevention resources and promote discussion of suicide prevention awareness using #suicideprevention or #IAmStigmaFree.National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month