Tag Archives: mental illness

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

mental health

September is a crucial month regarding mental health in America. Those who follow our blog know that this is National Recovery Month, which we covered in some detail last week. Hopefully, many of you have taken the time to promote this observance on social media. Now is also a time to celebrate people in recovery and acknowledge the treatment service providers who help men and women make critical changes in their lives. When we shine a spotlight on those committed to leading productive lives while abstaining from drugs and alcohol, we encourage others to seek help.

When alcohol and substance use disorders go without treatment, the outcome is usually tragic. Addiction is a progressive mental illness with no known cure, and like any mental illness left untreated, the symptoms often become deadly. One need only look at the overdose death toll year-after-year or consider the 88,000 Americans who die from alcohol-related causes annually, to see evidence of the disease’s destructive nature. However, we have the power to reduce the number of people who succumb each year by eroding the stigma of mental health conditions. The simple fact is that evidence-based therapies exist; people can and do recover from diseases of the mind provided they have assistance.

While many people who fall victim to addiction do so owing to physical health complications, sadly there are some who decide they’ve had enough. The vicious cycle of addiction takes a significant toll on the psyche of many individuals, and some make fateful decisions that are irreversible. Such persons come to believe that treatment is inaccessible, they convince themselves that recovery is an impossible dream; such resignations can result in suicidal ideations or worse—attempts on one’s life.

Eroding Stigma Saves Lives

One of the most efficient ways to take the wind out of stigma’s sails is by having real conversations about mental health disorders. Anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD, and alcohol and substance use disorder are treatable, but many people are of different opinions. What’s more, many of those who live with such afflictions fear what others will think of them if they seek help. It’s as if reaching out for support makes one’s condition more real, and it's impossible to hide an illness from others if treatment is sought.

Men and women don’t develop a fear of seeking help for no reason, much of society either consciously or subconsciously looks unfavorably upon mental illness. Even individuals with afflicted loved ones can still harbor misconceptions about mental health and the possibility of recovery. Much of society could stand to alter their understanding of mental illness and take a more compassionate approach. People who suspect a friend or family member is battling mental illness can affect change by merely asking how said person is doing or if they need help. It doesn’t matter the type of disease in question, everyone benefits when we open up the dialogue on mental health.

National Recovery Month aside, September is also National Suicide Prevention Month. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) asks that we reduce suicide risk by making sure we connect with one another and talk about mental illness. The organization points out:

We don’t always know who is struggling, but we do know that one conversation could save a life.

National Suicide Prevention Week

Not too long ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a startling figure: more than 300 million people worldwide are living with depression. Major depressive disorder, just one of several mental health conditions, is believed to be the leading cause of mal-health on the planet. It probably will not surprise you to learn that depression is the most common mental disorder associated with suicide. It’s also worth mentioning that depression and addiction often go hand-in-hand, more than half of the people living with a use disorder meet the criteria for a co-occurring mental illness. Moreover, depression like addiction is underdiagnosed and undertreated. The AFSP reports that only 4 out of 10 people receive mental health treatment.

One in four people who die by self-harm is under the influence at the time of their death, according to the organization. It is of the utmost importance that everyone in recovery and those with affected loved ones, spread the message that seeing a mental health professional is a sign of strength. We need to end the pervasive association that seeking assistance is an indication of weakness or failure. There is no time like the present, and there is certainly no time to waste: each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide. The AFSP shares that:

  • On average, there are 123 suicides per day.
  • Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women.
  • The rate of suicide is highest in middle age (white men in particular).
  • White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016.

Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorder Treatment

This week and throughout the month, everyone is encouraged to talk about mental illness and what can happen without treatment. We can all benefit from learning the warning signs of mental disorders and share messages with each other that promote treatment. If you would like to get involved, you can find shareable images here. On social media, the hashtags #SuicidePrevention #StopSuicide #RealConvo are trending. Together we can fight suicide!

When addiction accompanies depression, bipolar disorder or any mental disorder for that matter, it heightens people's risk of suicide exponentially. However, when individuals receive simultaneous treatment for use disorder and their dual diagnosis, long-term recovery is achievable. At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of men living with co-occurring mental health disorders. Please reach out to our team at your earliest convenience to learn more about our evidence-based programs.

Mental Health Awareness Month 2018 Cure Stigma Quiz

mental health

May is Mental Health Month; a time to raise awareness, fight stigma, provide support, educate the public. At PACE Recovery Center, our primary focus is treating addiction and coöccurring mental health disorders; we have made a commitment to do all that we can to end stigma and encourage individuals to seek help. Over the course the month we will cover a number of topics regarding mental illness, addiction, and stigma with the hope of helping those still struggling to understand they are not alone. We know your suffering and grasp the difficulty of reaching out for help.

Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year. It is worth noting that more than half (10.2 million) of people living with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental illness. What’s more, recovery is dependent upon treating both disorders simultaneously; there is no way around it, ignoring one condition will compromise the efforts made in treating the other.

One of the most significant obstacles standing in the way of treatment is stigma; in fact, stigma prevents the 1 in 5 Americans with mental health conditions from seeking help, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). When the general public doesn’t have all the facts, as is the case with brain diseases, people base their opinions on what it “seems" is going on with an individual. Large swaths of society believe that those suffering can choose to look at things differently; as if they can just walk-off their mental illness like a skinned knee and get back into the game of life.

Together, We Can #CureStigma

In reality, mental illness is not a choice! When people come to conclusions without the facts, it has a parasitic effect and creates an environment of shame, fear, and silence. When individuals don’t seek help because they worry about what other people think, it is a detriment to all. The overall wellbeing of society, like the links of chain, is only as healthy as it’s sickest citizens. When those suffering can’t access help, everyone pays the price in some way. It is worth remembering that there is not a single person on the planet who doesn’t know or care for someone with a mental illness; rarely is a family spared of the consequences of mental health conditions. 1 in 5 adults in the United States lives with a mental illness.

Even when there are mental health problems in the family, it is not uncommon for some members to view the afflicted negatively. What ends up happening is that the person suffering convinces his or her self that their illness is a byproduct of doing something wrong. As a result, such people shroud their behaviors in secrecy and are less likely to seek help for fear of judgment and ridicule. We cannot stress enough the importance of resisting the temptation to act in such ways in response to the ill-conceived notions of others; on the other hand, it is vital that everyone take some time and evaluate their views about mental illness.

Mental Health Month CureStigma Quiz

Examining your behaviors toward people living with mental illness and making adjustments (if necessary) can go a long way; doing your part to avoid contributing to the stigma of mental health disorders can save lives. NAMI believes that stigma towards mental illness is 100 percent curable, and there is a simple way to determine if stigma has infected you, take the CureStigma Quiz.

Please take a moment to watch a short PSA:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

If you are a young man struggling with addiction and a coöccurring mental health disorder, PACE Recovery Center can help. Our team of dual diagnosis experts can teach you the skills and provide you the necessary tools for leading a productive life in recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our program.

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.

Is Fear Standing in The Way of Recovery?

recovery

Fear is one of the primary components of addiction. It would be difficult for any one person, in recovery or still active, to deny the role that fright has had in their life. It has been said on numerous occasions, by countless people, that when you strip away all the layers of an addict or alcoholic, what you find is fear. Underneath the anger, resentment, dishonesty, et al., you see a person who trembles at the thought of living another day with substances, or without drugs and alcohol.

Let’s be clear, people living with substance use disorders are not a bunch of scaredy-cats. You might even say that Fear, as it pertains to people struggling with addiction is more of a philosophical dilemma than the typical worries that the average human contends with from day to day. Existential angst may be a more fitting description of the addict’s condition. When a person can’t live with something while simultaneously being unable to live without it, it is a dilemma in the strictest sense of the word—a cruel paradox.

Many articles have touched upon the subject of fear and the part it plays with mental illness and how it can be a catalyst for addiction. With that in mind, getting to the roots of people’s unease, or “dis-ease” for that matter, is an integral component of addiction recovery. Ironically, people only learn this after they have made the courageous “fear-less” decision to ask for assistance and valiantly accept help. In a sense, those who go into treatment choose to resist against their fear, and ignore the chatter in their head that says, ‘you’re not worth it, you will fail, and think what you stand to lose?’

Creation In Spite of Addiction

If you are not in recovery or do not struggle with addiction, the question above may seem baffling. You may ask yourself, ‘what could a person caught in the grips of mental illness have to lose by choosing recovery?’ It’s a good question, and the answer may not be an obvious one, so perhaps you can keep an open mind for a time.

Please consider for a moment that not every person with a substance use disorder in need of treatment is in the final iteration of the disease. Most people who require treatment are somehow managing to hold things together, at least on the surface. Each day, countless active using addicts and alcoholics get up, and go through the same motions as “normal” people; a significant number of people living with mental illness are successful, talented, and in quite a few cases—famous. We probably do not have to run down the list of all well-respected artists, musicians, authors, and performers who are both actively using or are in recovery.

We can probably all agree that it’s possible to make some of your dreams come true despite drugs and alcohol dependence. In spite of the pain, heartache, guilt, and shame that comes with addiction, individuals can create a masterpiece using their preferred medium. One could even argue, and many have, that substance use is a form of muse that guides them toward creation. Whether such a suggestion is right or wrong is debatable, what is certain is that no matter what excuse people have for continuing use, the choice comes at a significant cost— often, the ultimate price.

Identity is Important to Everyone. Even in Recovery!

Years of drug and alcohol use shapes people in many ways. Those caught in the cycle of addiction often define themselves by their struggle, convinced that their fight while deadly, is beautiful. What’s more, since humans are prone to gauge who they Are by how they see themselves in the eyes of others, one can easily convince their self that giving up drugs and alcohol will result in people viewing them differently. We all strive for consistency in how people see us, the thought of people changing their view (even when it is for the better) can be too much to stomach.

Addiction becomes a part of people’s identity; therefore, the thought of abstaining is tantamount to sacrificing (real or imagined) who they Are in the name of health. If a person’s identity is inextricably bound to that which they create, it’s difficult to justify anything (recovery) that could jeopardize creation. There is a pervasive mindset among many people with alcohol or substance use disorders who create art; the idea that self-improvement will diminish their ability to create. The fear of losing that which one loves most keeps people rationalizing their behaviors. Fear justifies continued use, one might say to themself, ‘what good is recovery if I’m going to spend the rest of my days mourning the loss of Art?’ For such people, their passion is more valuable than a healthy existence.

So, does recovery hurt the ability to be original and authentic? The simplest answer, and the right answer is, NO! Sadly, many people never come to that determination because their life was cut short by the disease.

Does Recovery Kill Great Writing?

Those who find the strength to stand up to their disease and give recovery an honest chance, discover an exponentially more exceptional ability to create. Fear is a dominant force, but it is not all-powerful. Fear can convince people that they have the answers to questions without having to do any research. Being convinced of something without conducting a proper study, is to live in ignorance. The only way to know what is possible in recovery is to do the work; only by openly and honestly giving a program of healing a chance can you answer the lingering questions bound to your fear.

Saying that anything is possible in recovery may sound suspiciously catchy; that doesn’t make it any less accurate. Recently, an article appearing in The New York Time’s Magazine, set its sights on the topic of recovery affecting creativity. The article is adapted from Leslie Jamison’s “The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath,” to be published next month. Jamison is an author who has several years sober in recovery which, like many artists, struggles with fear. The piece covers many areas relevant to people in recovery and in-need-of recovery. Even if you are artistically inept, everyone can relate to fear.

Jamison’s adaptation can speak to anyone, regardless of artistic background; but, it is likely to resonate most with people who have a penchant for reading and writing. Please find time to read this article, if you have used up your free NYT online articles for the month, the mobile site should still work. Reading the piece might serve to allay the fears of people still teetering on the fence of recovery; it can show you that there is beauty in recovery, resisting doubt is a beautiful struggle. Hopefully, it inspires you to pick up the phone and reach out for help. Making the brave decision to resist fear and seek change could lead you to create your best work yet; naturally, there is only one way to find out, just as Leslie Jamison would discover.

During days spent in the archives and during the midnight hours of my own attempts to write, it was liberating to start questioning the ways I’d understood torment as a prerequisite to beauty. It was liberating to start imagining that there could be meaningful stories told about wreckage, sure, but also meaningful stories told about what it might mean to pull yourself out from under it: stories about showing up for work, for intimacy, for other people; stories about getting through ordinary days without drinking enough vodka to forget yourself entirely. The lie wasn’t that addiction could yield truth. The lie was that addiction had a monopoly on it.

Addiction Recovery

It is hard work facing your feelings without the aid of alcohol and drugs. Early recovery is a difficult time for anyone, but what you will discover along the way will change your life for the better. Recovery is not an antidote for fear; it is a tool that allows you the ability to cope with and manage the state of being in healthy ways. Abstinence is the only absolute when it comes to healing, other than that, recovery isn't a trade-off. You will still be You when working a program, arguably an even better version of yourself.

If you are ready to face your fear and embrace changes in your life for the better, please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin a remarkable journey.

Problem Gambling Screening is the Focus of PGAM

problem gambling

Alcohol and substance use disorder are what most people think of when they hear the word “addiction,” and for a good reason—left untreated, they are deadly mental health conditions. The national conversation about addiction, these days, almost always leads to opioids and the ever-growing number of overdose deaths in the U.S. While it is vital that we keep our focus on finding solutions to the American opioid addiction epidemic, it’s paramount we do not lose sight of the big picture. There are a plethora of mental health conditions plaguing Americans; even if individual disorders do not carry the risk of overdose, they can indirectly contribute to premature death; people living with untreated mental illness stand to lose everything if they don’t get help. Such is the case for problem gambling, otherwise known as compulsive gambling.

At PACE, we understand that the complexities of non-substance-related addiction, i.e., eating disorders, sex, shopping, and gambling. Arguably, disorders not involving drugs and alcohol can persist unnoticed far longer than substance abuse disorders. Despite being manifestations of psychological turmoil, it’s difficult for doctors to screen patients for conditions like problem gambling. When a person sees a physician complaining of back pain, it’s unlikely that the caregiver will inquire about how the chips are falling these days. However, primary care doctors can play a role in helping some of the over ten million pathological gamblers in America.

Problem Gambling Signs and Symptoms

People might contend that it’s not a doctor’s place to ask about behaviors that, on the surface, do not bring about physical harm. One could argue that patients have the right to spend their hard-earned cash any way they like, whether it be shopping or at a craps table in a smoke-filled casino. Nevertheless, while non-substance addictive behaviors appear relatively harmless, they most certainly have the power to disrupt and destroy peoples’ lives.

Any practice that persists despite negatively impacting one’s life is concerning. Your average adult can go to a casino for a few hours—win a little or lose a little—and then go home thinking little of their experience ever again. Others may occasionally buy a scratch ticket or Powerball ticket, fully expecting that they just wasted some money for the fun of it; in both examples, such individuals have no illusions about hitting the jackpot. Unfortunately, for many Americans, casinos and the Lotto are not some frivolous activity. What’s more, the costs of gambling can significantly exceed what is lost at the card table.

As with any behavior, the line between casual and problematic is exceedingly thin. People failing to recognize that they have a problem is not uncommon. There are a number of symptoms that could indicate that a problem exists, according to the Mayo Clinic, including but not limited to:

  • Lying to family and friends about your gambling.
  • Attempting to stop gambling without success.
  • Gambling as a method of escape from life problems or to relieve troubling feelings.
  • Gambling to raise money to pay off gambling debts.
  • Losing jobs, relationships, and opportunities because of the behavior.

Anyone can see, the above symptoms are quite similar to the behaviors of your typical substance user.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2018

Some of you may be aware that March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM), an observance led by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). Now in its 14th year, the organization wants to steer the national conversation towards problem gambling screening. This year’s theme, “Have the Conversation,” is meant to encourage healthcare providers to screen patients for this concerning mental health disorder.

As with any national observance devoted to raising awareness, events are being held over the month of March to discuss prevention methods and get the word out that treatment and recovery works. The organization has created a toolkit to help doctors identify signs of problem gambling and assist them in talking to patients about their options.

If you are unable to attend an event this month, you can still take part in the campaign to raise awareness. NCPG has created graphics that you can share on your social media accounts.

Problem Gambling Treatment and Recovery

If you or a loved one’s life has become unmanageable due to any type of gambling, please contact PACE Recovery Center for a free consultation. Unchecked problem gambling will continue to complicate your life, the sooner you seek help, the better. We specialize in assisting clients to get to the root of their addictions or behavioral health disorders and provide them with the tools to lead a fulfilling and productive life in recovery.

Depression Screening Early In Life

depression

Can you relate to experiencing symptoms of anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness? If so, you are not alone; over 300 million people around the globe struggle with depression. The above symptoms are painful to contend with and ignoring the disorder can lead to harmful behaviors. It’s no wonder that alcohol and substance use disorders frequently accompany coöccurring mental health conditions like depression; when individuals have no way of coping with their symptoms self-medication seems logical. Unfortunately, resorting to drugs and alcohol for managing mental illness can and does lead to addiction. What’s more, substance use exacerbates the intensity of depressive symptoms.

The road to addiction is often slow, it starts with an internal whisper and develops into a terrible roar. While use disorders are a form of mental illness, they’re usually rooted in or grow out of other types of psychological turmoil. There is no telling when pathologies will strike or in what order; it is not uncommon for addiction to predate depression. We could spend hours debating which came first, the chicken or the egg, but the sequence of onset is of little importance in the grand scheme of things. What is salient is that alcohol and substance use disorders be treated simultaneously with any coöccurring mental illness. If one condition goes without treatment, successful outcomes rarely result.

Knowing what needs to happen is only half of the equation to recovery, the other portion involves encouraging others to talk about their struggle. The latter isn’t an easy task, the stigma of mental illness is pervasive; on top of that, a large number of people who meet the criteria for depression don’t know that’s what they are facing.

Mental Illness Screening

The reason many depressives are unaware of the true nature of their feelings is a lack of screening. When individuals operate without a diagnosis, they can convince themselves that how they are feeling is normal, so they don’t talk about their symptoms with friends and family. Over time, sometimes slowly, mental illness worsens; self-defeating behaviors like drugs and alcohol stand-in for treatment and in a significant number of cases, suicidal ideations become ever-present.

There is a large number of people whose mental strife progresses quickly, requiring intervention at a young age. At PACE Recovery Center, we treat young men from all walks of life for alcohol and substance use disorder. It is not uncommon for clients to learn in treatment that drug and alcohol use is just a symptom of a more significant problem. Many of those same clients discover that they meet the criteria for a coöccurring mental illness like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. In many cases, a client’s symptoms of depression were present when they were in middle or high school. While there is no sure way of knowing what people might have been spared had mental health screening occurred during adolescence, early diagnosis often prevents disease progression.

Given that 1 in 5 teenagers contend with symptoms of depression during adolescence, it’s critical doctors act. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shares the sentiment and updated its guidelines for pediatricians regarding screening, TODAY reports. Annual checkups for patients 12 and up should include one-on-one discussions about mental health. The organization encourages pediatricians to get more training in how to assess, identify and treat depression.

So many teens don't have access to mental health care," said family psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein. "It has to start with their pediatrician, and these changes really point in that direction."

Spotting The Signs of Depression Saves Lives

Adolescence involves enormous changes in one’s mind and body. With puberty comes hormones and physical changes, every adult can remember how awkward life was at that time. Simply put, being a teenager isn’t defined by comfort, so it’s possible that someone can present symptoms of depression without actually being a depressive. Smoke doesn’t always mean fire, so it is up to physicians to be able to discern the difference between circumstantial and neurochemical problems. In either case, young people need support; they require an outlet to talk about how they are feeling without fear of judgment. If there is a fire, necessary steps toward recovery can follow.

When doctors address mental health concerns early on, they have a crucial opportunity to offer treatment options. Treating depression before unhealthy behaviors present themselves can spare young people from significant heartache and mitigate the risk of self-medication. Drugs and alcohol make any issue worse and can lead to premature death; early interventions are the most efficient way to prevent such outcomes.

There isn’t a cure for mental health disorders; however, with screening and treatment, it is possible to lead a fulfilling and productive life. We understand that millions of people are living with psychological disorders that their doctors were unable to spot, a broad cross-section is also dependent on drugs and alcohol. If that sounds like your story, please know that recovery is possible with the right help.

At PACE Recovery Center we specialize in the treatment of young adult males who struggle with a dual diagnosis, otherwise known as co-occurring disorders. We’re fully equipped to treat both presenting mental health conditions and give you, or a loved one, the requisite tools for achieving lasting recovery. Please contact us today to begin a truly life-changing journey.

Adoption-specific Treatment Program for Mental Illness

adoption

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.

adoption

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.

Addiction Treatment Commitment Laws

addiction

Opioid use disorder is a deadly manifestation of the disease of addiction. The condition leads to the premature deaths of over a hundred Americans, every day. In 2016, some 64,000 people died from overdose across the country — more are expected to succumb in 2017. An "epidemic" is perhaps the only word to be used in describing the severity of the opioid crisis in America.

As with most serious health conditions, finding solutions is particularly tricky. However, if experts and lawmakers agree on one thing it’s that addiction treatment is our best recourse. Substance use disorder treatment works, having helped a significant number of people break the cycle of addiction. Those who keep on the path of recovery can live meaningful and productive lives into old age. Without that type of assistance, there isn't a guarantee that an individual will survive to the end of a given year.

Encouraging people with opioid use disorder to seek treatment is more critical than ever. The rise of synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil has dramatically increased the risk of overdose. More times than not, individuals are unaware that the heroin they just bought contains an iteration of synthetic opioid. They administer their heroin as usual, which under normal circumstances carries the risk of overdose, only to find that they bit off more than can be chewed. Synthetic opioids are exponentially more potent than what’s seen in the typical bag of heroin. So toxic that the overdose reversal drug naloxone often proves an ineffective antidote.

A heightened prevalence of synthetic opioids begs the question: Is it possible to protect opioid addicts from this invisible foe? That may seem like a simple question, but answering the poser is philosophical.

Are Opioid Addicts a Danger, to Their Self?

We could rephrase the above question to say: How can an addict be protected from their self? Hopefully, we can all agree that addiction treatment services are the most effective tool at our disposal. Individuals with opioid use disorder are no longer at risk of overdose when they are in recovery. Treatment is the surest way to develop the skills necessary for a program of lasting recovery.

Under ideal conditions, a person with alcohol or substance use disorder seeks help on their own accord. They see that the path they are on is only leading to one inevitable end, prompting them to make moves to correct course. Unfortunately, the disease of addiction is both cunning and baffling; even when someone knows they need assistance, they often resist. When that occurs, some suggest mandating individuals to treatment.

Persons exhibiting signs of being a danger to their self and others are often committed to psychiatric evaluation. The standard for commitment is 72 hours, giving clinicians time to assess the level of threat. After that period patients are usually released, but there are times where longer lengths of commitment are in order. Some people view opioid use, or overdose more specifically, as a form of suicide. With that in mind, there is an argument to be made for mandating addiction treatment. Court ordered addiction rehab is a practice that occurs more often than you would think.

Addiction-Related Civil Commitments

The practice of asking the courts to protect individuals from him or herself is happening across the country. Parents, at their wit's end, will turn to the judge and plead for help in saving their child’s life. In fact, over 30 states have laws allowing for addiction-related civil commitment, The Washington Post reports. There were more than 6,000 civil commitments in Massachusetts last year, alone. While it can be easy for some people to see the benefits of mandating treatment, the policy may not have the desired outcome.

Michael Stein at the Boston University and Paul Christopher at Brown University examined this subject. They wrote an opinion piece warning that the efficacy of civil commitment is unknown, potentially doing more harm than good. They bring up three valid points worth consideration:

  • Research is lacking and there isn’t any evidence that civil commitment saves lives. Those forced into treatment may just bide their time until release. With diminished tolerance, the risk of overdose death is particularly high.
  • Given that civil commitment is a response to the level of imminent risk, shorter stays may be warranted. How can a judge be tasked to decide what length of stay is most effective for a given individual?
  • As the number of civil commitment instances grows, greater funding will be needed to pay for beds and facilities.

Stein is chair of health law, policy, and management at the BU School of Public Health. He is the author of “The Addict: One Patient, One Doctor, One Year.” Christopher is an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

We need studies to guide the crafting of new commitment laws and the revision of existing ones. How long should commitment last? What services should be required during commitment that increase the chances of a safe release back to the community? Without data, judges will face desperate parents and their children and continue to direct commitments one by one, restricting civil liberties without knowing whether they are reducing overdose deaths or if the clinical and public health resources are justified.”

Even without science to back up the effectiveness of civil commitment, it’s relatively easy to see problems. It’s well established that mental illness doesn’t respond well to force. Compassion is considered to be the most effective method of encouraging people to seek treatment. Mandates imply that an individual has done something wrong. Mental illness is not a crime, over 2 million Americans have an opioid use disorder.

Despite the fact that commitment is not a criminal charge, it’s likely that individuals subject to it will feel punished. It may not be a criminal charge, but it’s a decree backed by the force of law. If one violates the terms of the commitment, it’s probably safe to assume there will be repercussions. There are many different roads one can take to find addiction recovery, force and ultimatums have rarely led to beneficial outcomes.

Consider an Intervention

At PACE Recovery Center, we offer a multi-pronged approach to our men's addiction treatment program and philosophy because we understand that our clients are complex beings. Having a place where men can delve into their underlying issues, which have caused them to resort to substance use and self-defeating behaviors, is the core philosophy of PACE.

Often accepting treatment is prompted by an intervention. Should you need guidance in arranging an intervention for your loved one, call our team.

Mental Health in the Workplace: Exercising Compassion

mental health

From National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month to Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), significant efforts have been made of late to shatter stigma and promote mental health treatment. We can all lend a hand in encouraging others to seek help. By promoting wellness, lives can be both mended and saved. It’s vital that such efforts continue, there is much work to be done.

On numerous occasions over the years, we have written about the importance of mental health parity, mental illness treatment and the negative impact that stigma has on society. We are all affected by the well-being of our peers, demanding that everything in our power is done to inspire others to seek help. Whether someone is suffering from depression, battling addiction or both; treatment works, recovery can become a reality for the millions of afflicted individuals.

Regardless of where you live or how old you are, the odds are that you know someone affected by mental illness. Or, you may be struggling yourself. With depression affecting more than 300 million people worldwide (just one of the many forms of mental illness), the odds are high. There are over 260 million living with anxiety disorders, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is next to impossible not to know someone touched by mental illness.

Mental Health In The Workplace

With such a high prevalence of mental health conditions, it stands to reason that most workplaces employ people affected. Unlike other typical illnesses, people with mental illness are far less likely to share what they are going through with an employer. Conversely, many employers are not keen on the idea of hiring people with mental health conditions. Creating closed-mouthed environments, one has to omit information to get a job. Then, has to do what they can to disguise their issues to keep it.

Obviously, it’s illegal to fire someone because of mental illness. But, that doesn’t mean that openly talking about it is typically welcomed in the workplace. This code of silence makes not only employees iller, but it also has an impact on the business itself. If someone feels that they can’t talk about what they are dealing with, they are less likely to seek treatment. For fear of repercussions to their career, individuals will do whatever they can to hide what they are going through on the inside. A trend that can have grave implications for the individual in the long run.

Without treatment and continued maintenance, people living with untreated mental illness will take desperate measures. Drugs, alcohol, and self-harm are conventional vehicles of coping with untreated mental health conditions. Behaviors that often lead to addiction, overdose, and premature death. Employers who promote environments of well-being can have a hand in reversing such outcomes.

World Mental Health Day

Some of our readers may remember that we discussed the topic of mental health in the workplace back in July? An exchange involving employee and employer. Yes, talking about needing time off for mental health, mirabile dictu, and it went unbelievably well. If you didn’t get a chance to read our post, below you can see the fantastic exchange:

Employee:

Hey team, I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully, I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.”

Employer:

I just wanted to personally thank you for sending e-mails like this. 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.”

The above discourse can serve as an inspiration to everyone. We can all promote mental health in the workplace. Mental health in the workplace is the theme of World Mental Health Day 2017 (October 10, 2017). Depression and anxiety disorders, alone, cost $1 trillion in lost productivity each year, according to WHO. The organization would like to raise awareness for mental health issues, and the impact such conditions have on society:

Employers and managers who put in place workplace initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees who have mental disorders see gains, not only in the health of their employees but also in their productivity at work. A negative working environment, on the other hand, may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity.”

Dual Diagnosis Therapy

AT PACE, we would like to acknowledge all the employers who treat mental health with compassion. You are a model for all employers around the globe, promoting the facts. Mental illness is treatable; kindness pays off in the end.

A significant number of the millions battling anxiety and depression also meet the criteria for addiction. When that is the case, treatment can be complicated. In such cases, long-term recovery is dependent on treating both the addiction and co-occurring mental health condition. If you are struggling with a dual diagnosis, we can help. Please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin the lifesaving process.

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 to 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 frightens 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.