Tag Archives: mental health disorders

Adoption-specific Treatment Program for Mental Illness


The origins of alcohol and substance use disorders vary from case to case, but there are two primary variables worth particular consideration. First, a genetic predisposition that people have for mental health disorders; second, the environment in which a person is brought up. Both factors, each in unique ways, will have a hand in who we grow up to be; they will shape how we form attachments with our peers, influence our ability to love others, and how we allow ourselves to experience affection in return.

While there isn’t a guarantee that people with a family history of addiction or alcoholism will struggle with the disease one day, those with a genetic link to mental health conditions are thought to be at more significant risk. The same idea applies to surroundings, just because somebody grows up in toxic environs doesn’t necessarily imply that an individual will self-medicate to cope. Although, as with genetic links, experts tend to agree there is a heightened risk of experiencing problems with drugs and alcohol if a person suffers trauma at an early age. Furthermore, when individuals hail from both detrimental environments and families with addiction in the lineage, the likelihood of problems developing is exponentially higher.

During the developmental stage of a person’s existence, we shape our perspectives about ourselves and others. Our interactions with people early in life, especially our parents or lack thereof, can wreak havoc on the psyche. There is an inextricable link between attachments during adolescence, and our self-worth, self-esteem, and identity development. If a person isn’t able to form bonds with their parental figures (biological or not), it can stunt one's ability to make attachments later in life. Isolative tendencies may ensue.

Genetics, Environment, and Adoption

mental illness

Mental illness thrives in solitude and interpersonal darkness; left unchecked the means of coping are often disastrous. Many children fail to receive the care and attention that fosters a healthy psyche, especially kids who go into foster care or are placed for adoption. Each case is unique to be sure; however, the ways, means, and timing of a young person’s separation from birth parents (regardless of the quality of their birth parents) is often traumatic.

Where a child ends up, a good home or an unloving environment, coupled with a genetic predisposition to mental illness, is often a causal sequence to addiction. While it’s regularly the case that predisposed young people struggle with drugs and alcohol after being separated from biological parents, it’s not a foregone conclusion. A study of adopted children reveals that family history of addiction and environment are equally crucial to substance use initiation, CNN reports. The findings appear in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Overall, 4.5% of adopted individuals had drug-abuse problems, but those with genetic ties to addiction were at double the risk of mental illness compared to those without the link. Researchers found a higher risk of drug abuse in children adopted into environments that include parental divorce, death, criminal activity, and alcohol problems.

Knowing the medical history of children who will be adopted is always a good idea, however... genes are not destiny," adds Dr. Wilson Compton, director of the division of epidemiology, services, and prevention research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "This study shows that in a healthy, safe, and secure environment with little exposure to drug abuse and other problems in the adoptive relatives, even children with multiple drug abusing biological relatives do much better than those whose adoptive families don't provide such advantages."

Addiction With A History of Adoption

Where we come from plays a deciding role in how we navigate through life; it plays a part in whether or not we will ultimately struggle with substance use and co-occurring mental health conditions. The study mentioned above didn’t account for the age at which the children, who would later develop addiction disorders, were adopted, which researchers should address in future studies, according to the article. Highlighting the research is meant to provide readers with an idea of how prevalent use disorders are among people in the demographic.

At PACE Recovery Center, we’ve treated many clients whose backgrounds involve adoption. We understand that a successful treatment outcome and achieving the goal of long-term recovery is contingent upon addressing clients’ underlying attachment issues. A significant number of adults raised in adoptive families struggle with anxiety or relationships. In dealing with a traumatic past, many people resort to drugs and alcohol to cope; self-medication is a sure path to dependence and addiction.


PACE is proud to announce the creation of our unique, adoption-specific program for men struggling with alcohol, substance use, and co-occurring mental health disorders. Working with Brett Furst, M.A., MFTI, clients can explore how a clash between logic and emotion precipitated and contributed to the development of mental health conditions, i.e., anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder.

If you were adopted and are in the grips of a progressive mental health disorder, please contact us to begin the journey of recovery and self-discovery. We can provide you with the tools to help you heal from a traumatic past and help you foster healthy relationships moving forward. Connecting with your peers in recovery will prove vital to fulfilling your dream of lasting recovery.

Winnie-the-Pooh’s Mental Illness: How to Treat Others (in spite of their “flaws”)

mental illness

All of us in recovery have a story. Our stories go back to before we began walking down the treacherous road of addiction. Many of us had, for the most part, decent childhoods. Growing up in houses full of love. Parents who bent over backwards to ensure we would be afforded every opportunity in life. After all, that is the role that parents are expected to take in a child’s life. Two people who teach you how to be a good person, to yourself and to others.

However, our guides in early life had no way of knowing that deep inside their children something was amiss. Rather than a philharmonic orchestra, a syncopated jazz ensemble was on stage. The music sounded great, but it was off-beat. While there is certainly beauty in organized chaos, left unchecked the lines of discord and harmony become blurred. Truly, the number of variables that lead one toward the grips of addiction are numerous. Each individual case with unique roots, but the trees that would grow up were similar in appearance. Everyone recovering from addiction has unique experiences, but what brought us too surrender looked the same.

The signs may not have been picked up on early on. But, it can’t be denied that a significant number of people living with addiction met the criteria for mental illness. In one form or another, early on. Such conditions, and a lack of treatment, likely played a part in many people's’ path to drugs and alcohol. Verily, those touched by mental illness, but don’t have tools to cope or even talk about it, turn to self-medication. It doesn’t have to be in the form of substances, it can be behaviors as well. Patterns of risk-taking behaviors, specifically, resulting in co-occurring disorders.

What Does Winnie the Pooh Have to Do With People In Recovery?

When you were a kid, your parents likely read you children stories. Regardless of which decade you spent your childhood, A.A. Milne’s stories were probably read to you. Winnie the Pooh and his pals of the Hundred Acre Forest danced through your mind before falling asleep. We couldn’t see it then, but Milne was trying to reach us—even if it was inadvertently. You see, Milne fought in both world wars, which scared him. At the time “experts” would have called it bullet wind, soldier's heart, battle fatigue, or operational exhaustion. But, most people called it “shell shock;” what we would call post-traumatic stress disorder.

A new biopic ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin,’ explores A. A. Milne’s battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the creation of Pooh. Milne’s inspiration being his son and his toys, TIME reports. The Winnie the Pooh series has been dissected and has even been applied to schools of philosophy (i.e.The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet) over the years. Helpful for those in recovery, to be sure. Perhaps even more relevant to the field of addiction is a study from 2000, published in The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood: a neurodevelopmental perspective on A.A. Milne.

In the study, Dr. Sarah Shea Read and colleagues started out with the intention of having a bit of fun. They assigned a mental illness to each character, using criteria from the DSM, according to iNews. Dr Shea claims that she hadn’t any knowledge Milne’s struggle with PTSD, at the time of the research. Milne’s characters were likely the author’s way of processing his own struggle with mental illness. Untreated mental illness, that is.

Concept of Comorbidity (Co-Occurring Disorders)

For some of you, decades may have passed since you read or watched something with Winnie the Pooh. Still, there is good chance you remember the attributes of the characters. iNews compiled some of the researchers’ insights on the characters:

Winnie the Pooh: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

This unfortunate bear embodies the concept of comorbidity [the presence of more than one disorder].
Most striking is his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). As clinicians, we had some debate about whether Pooh might also demonstrate significant impulsivity, as witnessed, for example, by his poorly thought out attempt to get honey by disguising himself as a rain cloud.”

Piglet: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Had he been appropriately assessed and his condition diagnosed when he was young, he might have been placed on an anti-panic agent… and been saved from the emotional trauma he experienced while attempting to trap heffalumps.”

Eeyore: Dysthymia – or ‘Persistent Depressive Disorder’

We do not have sufficient history to diagnose this as an inherited, endogenous depression, or to know whether some early trauma contributed to his chronic negativism.”

Tigger: Recurring Pattern of Risk-Taking Behaviours

We acknowledge that Tigger is gregarious and affectionate, but he has a recurrent pattern of risk-taking behaviours. Look, for example, at his impulsive sampling of unknown substances when he first comes to the Hundred Acre Wood. With the mildest of provocation he tries honey, haycorns and even thistles. Tigger has no knowledge of the potential outcome of his experimentation.”

Rabbit: Possible Narcissism

We note his tendency to be extraordinarily self-important and his odd belief system that he has a great many relations and friends. He seems to have an overriding need to organize others, often against their will, into new groupings, with himself always at the top of the reporting structure.”

Do Unto Others… The Stigma of Mental Illness

People living with untreated mental illness are often treated poorly by society. What people can’t understand, often frighten them. Impelling them to treat people in ways that they would never wish to be treated. Perhaps all of us missed the most important aspect of Milne’s stories. That it is O.K. to be different. That things happen in life that are beyond any one person’s control. And rather than ostracize and exile others, compassion and love can be what helps them heal.

Humans have a long history of treating those with mental illness as broken. Moral weakness, and a lack of constitution, drove them to insanity and vice. That has never been the reality, but if people are treated that way they will never find the courage to recover. Recovery is possible, so long is people are given the opportunity to do so—without fear of repercussion.

More than anything, the key to the books are their tone of love and acceptance and unspoken forgiveness in the Hundred Acre Wood,” said Dr. Read. “The stories provide lovely examples of how humans should behave.”

Many of us, upon finding recovery, were unaware that our addiction was inextricably linked to a co-occurring mental health disorder. We found that when our depression or anxiety was treated, achieving lasting addiction recovery was exponentially more likely to come to fruition. If you are a young male battling addiction, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We can help.

You can watch the ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ trailer below:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Mental Health Disorders Feel Like…

mental health disorders

A few weeks ago we wrote about the global problem of depression, a serious mental health disorder that plagues more that 300 million people worldwide. With such a high prevalence of depression, the leading cause of poor health and disability around the word, one would hope that nations would place treating mental illness at the top of their list. Unfortunately, as with any form of mental illness, only a small percentage of those suffering ever receive any help. It cannot be stressed enough that untreated mental health disorders can, and often are a death sentence; such people are at high risk of committing suicide or using mind-altering substances to dull the pain. Either way, the outcome is rarely good.

Even in the most developed nations of the West, those impacted by mental health conditions like addiction, depression and bipolar disorder struggle to get assistance. In many cases, it is not for a lack of trying—or wanting help. As we mentioned back towards the beginning of April, the World Health Organization (WHO) was in the midst of a year-long campaign to encourage people to talk about their depression. Sometimes talking about an issue can strengthen one’s resolve to seek help, and begin the journey of recovery. And everyone, in our society, has a vested interest in encouraging a serious discussion about mental health. Not only will it help to wear down that persistent stigma of mental health disorders, one the biggest obstacles between the afflicted and treatment, it will make Society healthier as a whole.

Problems left unchecked in an individual, have a way of becoming everyone’s problem. The costs of undiagnosed and untreated mental illness are staggering—the human cost is even more troubling. Treatment is out there, it is up to us all to encourage people to view mental illness as they would any chronic health condition, as you would say diabetes. The longer that goes unrealized, lives will continue to be needlessly lost. In addition to WHO’s year-long, Depression: Let’s Talk, campaign—the organization Mental Health America (MHA) is doing their part as well.

Mental Health Month 2017

Going back to 1909, if you can believe that, Mental Health America has been committed to addressing the needs of people affected by any one of the many forms of mental illness. The nation's leading community-based nonprofit in the field, seeks to promote the overall mental health of everyone.

This time every year, the month of May, MHA asks that individuals and organizations observe Mental Health Month (sometimes called Mental Health Awareness Month). The theme this year is Risky Business, and the goal is to “educate people about habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or could be signs of mental health problems themselves.”

Individuals who have been touched by mental illness are being asked to share what it is like to live with a mental health disorder. In doing so, you can send a clear message to those whose illness has gone untreated that they are not alone. That others too understand what it is like living in a society that views mental illness with suspicion. And that treatment is not only available, it can drastically improve the quality of one’s life. There isn’t any cure for mental illness, but it can be managed with medications and therapy. There are those, too, who may not be aware that that how they are feeling is symptomatic of a mental health disorder, sharing what It is like could encourage them to get screened.

If you would like to have a role in helping others, MHA asks that you take to social media using the #mentalillnessfeelslike Organizations interested in hosting an event can access information here.

Addiction From Untreated Mental Health Disorders

People with mental health disorders, as we have mentioned, do not seek help for several reasons. In many ways spurning treatment is an aspect of one’s disease. Naturally, there are inherent risks in eschewing help, such as self-medicating one’s illness. Individuals often turn to drugs and alcohol to mitigate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. The behavior persists because at first the substances make them feel a little better. But over time it becomes harder and harder to achieve the desired relief. What’s more, a substance use disorder is commonly the end result of self-medicating mental health disorders.

What once eased one’s mind, actually ends up making the symptoms of mental illness worse. This is what is called a co-occurring disorder, two illness’ feeding off each other at the expense of their host. It is not uncommon for people with untreated co-occurring mental health disorders to resort to drastic measures such a suicide. Once again highlighting the importance of screening and treatment.

If any of what you have read in this post has resonated inside you, or your story is one of untreated addiction and co-occurring illness—please note that with such conditions, time is rarely a luxury one can afford. With diseases of the mind, the symptoms are progressive. Please contact PACE Recovery Center.

Addiction Family Work: A Two-Sided Problem

Addiction is a Family Disease

An addict’s net cast wide…” HBO Mini Series A Night Of, August 28, 2016
Family Work Two-sided ProblemIn five simple words, the above quote manages to capture the essence of the disease of addiction. It is a family disease, not unlike any other chronic disorder. It requires family work. It is a two-sided problem. But for some reason, an addiction diagnosis, like many mental health disorders, often carries with it elements of shame and guilt. With any health diagnosis one can experience an array of emotions: shock, terror, fear, resentment, confusion...and so the story goes. How we learn of a family member’s addiction diagnosis will vary. One might be standing in a hospital emergency department, one could receive the phone call in the middle of the night from a jail, one may find himself at a parent-teacher conference listening to someone describe their child’s unexplained behavior. Every parent has their own story. But most parents won’t share their story after receiving a final diagnosis of addiction. They will pull inward, feeling guilt, shame and fear of the unknown.

So, what steps should parents pursue to start the family’s recovery?

First and foremost, the family must understand and accept they are not alone. An estimated 21 to 25 million Americans struggle with substance abuse. Indeed, last month the U.S. Surgeon General reported that one in seven Americans struggle with substance abuse. To put that number in perspective, if you live in a neighborhood of 100 people, then 14-15 could be dealing with addiction. And each of those 15 have a story they are afraid to share. Secondly, get the facts. If you have a family primary care physician, seek their advice. If your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), then determine what programs might be available for your loved one. Third, take a deep breath, have a family meeting and make a plan. If planning doesn’t come easy, then perhaps you need an interventionist to guide you in this process. Fourth, if an intensive primary care substance abuse treatment program or intensive outpatient treatment program are in order, then review your health insurance policy and move forward. Finally, take the first step and start to care for yourself; learn to set your boundaries. Seek out an Al-Anon meeting and understand the three “C’s”: You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. Work your own program of recovery and allow your loved one to work their program.

Dr. Phil helps one young man take his first step

Dr. Phil logo This past November Dr. Phil viewers were allowed to meet one young man and his parents. If you happened to tune-in, you may have been shocked to hear their story. But if you have a family member with an addiction diagnosis...then you may have been empathetic and hopeful that this family will find recovery. Here is how Dr. Phil guided the family to consider PACE Recovery Center’s multi-pronged approach to addiction and co-occurring disorders. In his own words, Dr. Phil explained:
There is an organization called PACE Recovery Center and it is a gender specific, extended care program for young men struggling with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues, such as immaturity, the inability to modulate, regulate,  predict their behavior. Whether it is neurological, psychological, or whatever. The  PACE approach utilizes a model of integrating philosophies and research and clinical practices from medical, psychiatric, psychological, social, familial and self-help communities. I mean this is a very integrated model."
If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Family recovery is possible…

PACE Recovery Center specializes in treating young men. We have a core philosophy to offer a place where men can delve into their underlying issues, which have caused them to resort to substance use and self-defeating behaviors. We understand that a positive attitude changes everything. Parents are encouraged to attend family therapy with their loved ones at PACE to address how addiction has impacted family members. This therapy allows family members to leave behind the guilt and shame; they are encouraged to share their story. Working with PACE Therapists and counselors, family members can learn about the disease of addiction, acquire tools to end enabling or co-dependency, and develop new healthy communication patterns in sobriety. Yes, the story goes on...

Replace the Stigma of Mental Illness With Hope

mental-illnessWith our nation’s eyes fixed on the television screen and other major media outlets following the primaries, there are a number of other important events happening that are being overlooked—such as Mental Health Month (MHM). Last month, events were held across the country to raise awareness about alcohol, with the goal of educating Americans about how alcohol can impact one’s life which would hopefully prevent people from traveling down a dangerous path towards alcoholism. In May, everyone is being called upon to do their part in ending the stigma of mental illness and advocate for equal care. Mental health disorder is an umbrella term that covers a number of different conditions, including addiction. The disease is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). There are 20.2 million adults in America who have experienced a substance use disorder, a staggering number which begs everyone’s attention, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). On top of that, more than half (50.5 percent or 10.2 million adults) had a co-occurring disorder; this is when someone living with addiction also suffers from another form of mental illness, such as: anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Mental health awareness is an extremely important topic, especially when you consider that the majority of people living with any form of mental illness do not receive mental health services. In the past year, only 41 percent of people with a mental health condition were able to get assistance, NAMI reports. Mental illness is unlike a number of other health issues, brain diseases currently do not have a cure, which means it is paramount for not only the patient, but society that those who are afflicted get the help they so desperately need. Expanding access to mental health services will only come to fruition if we, as a nation, work together to break the stigma that has for too long accompanied treatable conditions. We all have a vested interest in bringing mental illness out of the darkness, practically every American is close to someone who battles with a mental health issue 365-days a year. Every year, 43.8 million adults in America experience mental illness, approximately 1 in 5. May is Mental Health Month (MHM), and there are a number of things you can do to help break the stigma of mental illness. NAMI is asking people to harness the power of social media platforms to share mental health related information, images and graphics with #StigmaFree or #MentalHealthMonth. You can also take your efforts one step forward by taking a pledge to be ‪#‎StigmaFree‬. It’s quick, easy and could reach the millions of people who are too afraid to seek help due to societal shame. Just follow the steps below:
  1. Take the pledge.
  2. Record your video.
  3. Upload to your YouTube channel and other social media accounts.
  4. Be sure to include #StigmaFree in the title of your video.
If you’d like, take a moment to watch The Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik take the pledge to be #StigmaFree: If you can’t see the video, please click here.

Many Attorneys Drink Alcohol At Unhealthy Levels

attorneys drink alcohol unhealthy levelsMillions of Americans, upon finishing their workday, will often times cap off their night with an alcoholic beverage or two. This is why drinking alcohol is commonly equated with unwinding or decompressing. The behavior of drinking alcohol after a stressful day is usually considered to be relatively benign; however, sometimes end of the day drinking can get out of hand which can become problematic - especially for those whose line of work is stressful. New research suggests that more than one-fifth of licensed, actively working American attorneys drink alcohol at unhealthy levels, The Chicago Tribune reports. The study showed that many of those same attorneys suffer from depression and anxiety as well. The findings will be published this month in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. What’s more, the research showed that younger attorneys were affected by the aforementioned problems the most. The researchers hope that the new data will result in action.
“Any way you look at it, this data is very alarming, and paints the picture of an unsustainable professional culture that’s harming too many people. Attorney impairment poses risks to the struggling individuals themselves and to our communities, government, economy and society. The stakes are too high for inaction,” said study lead author Patrick Krill, in a news release.
The data comes from a sample of 12,825 attorneys in the United States who filled out surveys designed to assess both substance use and other mental health problems, according to the article. The findings showed that 28 percent of lawyers struggled with varying degrees of depression and 19 percent exhibited symptoms of anxiety.
“This is a mainstream problem in the legal profession,” said Krill, the Director of the Legal Professionals Program at a well respected treatment facility. “There needs to be a systemic response.”
This is the first major study on the prevalence of addiction among attorneys in 25 years, the article reports. The research was co-funded by the American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. This research is especially important because many attorneys are unwilling to seek help for mental health problems for fear they will be disbarred or lose their position. PACE Recovery Center specializes in working with young adult males struggling with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues. During this important transitional phase our clinical team focuses on helping young adults put into practice skills gained while in addiction treatment and balance their lives as they begin to integrate back into real world settings. Our treatment program is designed to focus on and develop our clients’ life skills, including understanding when stress and anxiety can impact one’s program of recovery.

High-Potency Marijuana and Psychosis

high-potency-marijuanaNew research suggests the use of high-potency marijuana may be linked to an increased risk of psychosis, Medical News Today reports. The study was conducted by researchers at the institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London in the UK. Dr. Marta Di Forti and her team observed the effects of high-potency marijuana use among 780 individuals aged 18-65. Between 2005 and 2011, 410 participants reported a first episode of psychosis, according to the article. Psychosis occurs when people experience hallucinations or delusions, often happening in conjunction with particular mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. The research suggests, according to Dr. Di Forti, that the risk of psychosis among marijuana users is dependent on different factors, like frequency of use and drug potency - factors which should be considered by physicians. "When a GP or psychiatrist asks if a patient uses cannabis it's not helpful; it's like asking whether someone drinks," says Dr. Di Forti. "As with alcohol, the relevant questions are how often and what type of cannabis. This gives more information about whether the user is at risk of mental health problems; awareness needs to increase for this to happen." It was determined that around 24% of psychosis cases could be avoided if people were to stop using this high-potency cannabis, the article reports. Although, since the study was conducted over a long period of time, the researchers say they did not have data on how much marijuana was used each day, which could present problems. "However, because we collected information about use over a period of years and not about present use, the reliability of such detailed information would probably have been confounded by recall bias to a greater extent than was the general description of pattern of use that we obtained," the researchers add. The findings were published in The Lancet Psychiatry.