Tag Archives: mental illness

PTSD and Addiction Treatment for Veterans

PTSD

Veterans Day 2018 in the United States of America is Sunday, November 11; but, the country will officially observe the holiday on Monday. Each year, the Gentlemen of PACE Recovery Center like to express our gratitude for those who serve bravely in the military. As a treatment center specializing in bringing the light of addiction recovery into the lives of young men, the coming holiday is acutely important. We understand that many people who come back from armed conflict overseas struggle in civilian life. The prevalence of mental illness among such people is high, conditions that include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress or PTSD, and substance use disorder.

The rates of substance abuse or use disorders for male veterans aged 18–25 years are higher compared to civilians, according to a recent study. Substance use disorders can precipitate the development of coöccurring mental illness or can emerge secondary to conditions like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is common among individuals who witness or experience trauma; without evidence-based treatment, men and women are more likely to self-medicate.

The order in which a psychological disorder presents itself pales in importance compared to the need for therapy. Veterans who are unable to access the care they need are likely to continue misusing drugs and alcohol. Continued substance abuse does little to ameliorate PTSD symptoms, leads to or worsens a substance use disorder, and significantly increases one’s risk of self-harm. Veterans who commit suicide have drugs and alcohol in the system regularly.

Young males, struggling with substance use and coöccurring mental illness like PTSD, are encouraged to seek help. Immediately! The more extended treatment is put off, the more deleterious it is to the individual.

PTSD Treatment That’s Right For You

A new study appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that PTSD patients, including veterans and survivors of sexual assault, who have a say in the form of treatment they receive, fare better. The researchers found that patient preference in the course of treatment impacts the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy and use of antidepressants, according to a University of Washington press release. The study was the first large-scale trial of hundreds of PTSD patients.

This research suggests that prolonged exposure and Sertraline are both good, evidence-based options for PTSD treatment -- and that providing information to make an informed choice enhances long-term outcomes," said study lead author, Lori Zoellner, a UW professor of psychology and director of the Center for Anxiety & Traumatic Stress.

Analysis indicates that SSRI antidepressants and prolonged exposure therapy show promise in mitigating the symptoms of PTSD. However, the group of patients who were offered a choice in the type of treatment they receive exhibited:

  • Fewer symptoms;
  • a greater ability to follow their treatment plan;
  • and, some no longer met the criteria for PTSD two-years later.

Almost 75 percent of patients who underwent their preferred method of treatment, completed the program, according to the article. Whereas, fewer than half in the non-preferred group saw their therapy through to the end.

Dr. Zoellner and our team showed that we've got two effective, very different interventions for chronic PTSD and associated difficulties," said study co-author Norah Feeny, a psychology professor at Case Western Reserve University. "Given this, and the fact that getting a treatment you prefer confers significant benefit, we are now able to move toward better personalized treatment for those suffering after trauma. These findings have significant public health impact and should inform practice."

Addiction and Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Approximately 50 percent of veterans who need treatment for mental health conditions seek it, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. However, just more than half who receive treatment receive adequate care. Mental health conditions among veterans are no small issue; approximately 18.5% of service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan have PTSD or depression. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, more than 2 of 10 Veterans with PTSD also have substance use disorder.

Studies, like the UW/Case Western, are vital and should help guide screening, diagnosis, and the determination of a treatment plan. It’s also worth mentioning that a large number of veterans are unable to access evidence-based treatment where they live. Such individuals can benefit from seeking help in another area. If you are a male veteran who is struggling with substance use disorder or coöccuring mental illness (dual diagnosis), please contact PACE Recovery Center.

Veterans Day 2018, we would like to honor two of our staff members who served in the U.S. Marine Corp, our Chief Operations Officer Sean Kelly and our Lead Resident Manager Victor Calzada. Additionally, our PACE team members Helen O’Mahony, Ph.D., Hisham Korraa, M.D., and Ryan Wright, M.D. all have extensive experience working with veterans with PTSD and substance abuse issues.

Again, the gender-specific environment at PACE enables men to share openly and without fear of judgment or social pressure. Our team works together with referring physicians and healthcare providers to create individualized dual-diagnosis treatment plans that emphasize continuity of care. Please call 800-526-1851 or submit a confidential online inquiry, to learn more about our innovative program for men.

Addiction to Recovery: A Young Man’s Journey

addiction

Who better to inspire young men in the grips of addiction to take a leap of faith and embark on a quest of recovery then a young man. Addicts and alcoholics – seemingly by nature – feel disconnected from the world around them; such individuals convince themselves that no one else can understand their struggle. As a result, men and women battling the disease consider the desolate course they are on as being the only option. Even when friends and family encourage a loved one to seek help, their pleas can fall on deaf ears.

The sad and unfortunate reality is that too many people believe recovery is impossible. Alternatively, if it is attainable, thoughts of not having what it takes abound; they become convinced that their disease is too advanced or worse, they do not deserve freedom from the scourge of addiction. Driven by countless forms of guilt, shame, and regret, some will spurn recovery services and continue on a path typified by self-defeating and destructive behaviors.

In many ways, it is more onerous to encourage young men and women to seek treatment. College-aged persons have a difficult time believing that they meet the criteria for addiction, even in the face of life spinning more and more out of control. It is easy to persuade one’s self that you are too young to have drunk and drugged yourself to the point of developing a progressive, incurable disease. Young folk who’ve seen movies with recovery themes, picture older people sitting in circles identifying as addicts and alcoholics; when applying the images they have in their head to their reality, it can be grueling to relate.

Never Again?

There are some young people, meeting the criteria for a use disorder, who have a hard time reconciling with the fact that recovery means total abstinence. Explaining to someone in their twenties that a fulfilling and productive life depends on never drinking or drugging again (among other things), is news that some struggle to welcome. The disease, while inanimate, is always pushing people away from making decisions that are in one’s best interest. Even those looking up at the bottom of despair will put limits on the sacrifices they are willing to make to lead a healthy life.

Not everyone who needs addiction treatment is willing to admit it to him or herself. Perhaps the most significant paradox of addiction that people who appear to have lost everything think that they can stand to lose more before they surrender. The lengths a person will go to continue down a path toward almost certain death is astonishing. Even in the 21st Century, in a country devastated by an overdose death toll, addicts and alcoholics persuade themselves into thinking that it can’t happen to them; such people consider themselves somehow different.

Being unwilling to commit to a life of total abstinence or being too young, are just two of many reasons given by individuals to avoid seeking help; there are myriad excuses one can put forth to skirt making the courageous decision to seek help. If you are a young person who thinks himself too young-in-age, we implore you to think again. Please understand that thousands and thousands of young men are currently working programs of lasting recovery; they are both inspired and given direction by the young men who came before.

A Young Man In Addiction Recovery

Millions of Americans, many of whom are young men, are battling addiction and coöccurring mental illness. There exist treatment centers, fellowships, and support groups which guide these young men out of the abyss of self and into the selfless light of recovery. There are men in their late twenties with more than ten years clean and sober.

One young man in long-term recovery is an author, Nic Sheff. If you follow and read this blog regularly, then you are probably aware that Nic’s story is the subject of a new film in theaters now, “Beautiful Boy.” We covered some of the details of the film last month and are pleased that it is well received by both moviegoers and Nic and David Sheff. Recently, Nic sat down with actor Timothée Chalamet for a Q&A; Chalamet plays Nic in the movie. Please take a moment to watch and listen to Nic as he shares about his inspiring experience. If you are a young man dealing with active addiction, perhaps you will derive hope from the young man's experience with the disease and recovery. Nic rightly points out, “As long as there is life there is always hope.”


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.
With addiction, when you get sober, it’s not like your life just goes back to the way that it was before. Your life gets so much better than it ever had been,” says Nic during the Q&A. “It’s a really amazing life that’s possible sober. The fact that addiction is not a death sentence, and that the love that a family has is always there even after everything that we all went through, to have that love, in the end, is beautiful.

If you are new to recovery, Nic advises that you ‘take things slow and just hold on,’ things will not always be this way.

Young Adult Rehab Program

At PACE Recovery Center, the goal of our gender-specific, young adult rehab program is to equip our clients with the tools and skills to live healthy, happy, and balanced lives free from substances. If you or a male loved one needs assistance for a substance use disorder and/or coöccurring mental illness, please contact us today.

Stigma Curing During Mental Illness Awareness Week

stigma

While May is Mental Health Awareness Month, October 7–13 is Mental Illness Awareness Week or MIAW 2018. Naturally, there is some overlap between these two essential observances—namely—ending the stigma of psychological disorders like addiction and depression.

We cover stigma on this blog frequently due to our understanding that there exist forces preventing Americans from seeking treatment. More people need to see the person, not the illness. Nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year. Given that individuals living with untreated mental health conditions are at significant risk of self-harm and suicide, collective action is needed immediately.

The National Alliance On Mental Illness or NAMI chose Cure Stigma as its theme this year for Mental Health Month and MIAW 2018. The organization would like it to be known that: together we can encourage more people to seek treatment. NAMI’s campaign manifesto reads as follows:

There’s a virus spreading across America. It harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives. What virus are we talking about? It’s stigma. Stigma against people with mental health conditions. But there’s good news. Stigma is 100% curable. Compassion, empathy and understanding are the antidote. Your voice can spread the cure. Join NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Together we can #CureStigma.

Mental Health Facts

Most Americans are more than likely unaware of just how pervasive mental illness is around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 300 million people are living with depression. What’s more, the vast majority of the afflicted have never undergone therapy, counseling, or treatment.

The truth is that too many people have little understanding of mental disease; lack of knowledge – ignorance – is a contributing factor in persons lacking empathy and compassion. If a more significant number of Americans could appreciate that mental illness affects 1 in 5 adults in the United States, maybe they’d exhibit greater understanding. With that in mind, let’s take a look some of the more recent figures to bring depression, bipolar disorder, and addiction in to focus.

Here are the facts:

  • 60 million people in the United States are living with a mental illness.
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in America who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. experiences a severe mental illness in a given year.
  • 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.

Armed with such information, anyone can see that we have a real crisis on our hands when it comes to mental disease. This week provides an opportunity to take to social media and spread the message that stigma hurts us all; that empathy and compassion save lives; and, that together we can affect real change.

Fighting Stigma On World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, October 10, 2018! The focus this year is Young People and Mental Health In A Changing World.

mental health

The World Health Organization writes:

Investment by governments and the involvement of the social, health and education sectors in comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based programmes for the mental health of young people is essential. This investment should be linked to programmes to raise awareness among adolescents and young adults of ways to look after their mental health and to help peers, parents and teachers know how to support their friends, children and students. This is the focus for this year’s World Mental Health Day.

In recognition of MIAW and World Mental Health Day, we hope that more people will open their hearts to friends and family members affected by mental illness. Mental health disorders are not going anywhere, but we can make stigma disappear. As a result, millions of people will find the courage to seek help and go on to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

We mentioned above that more than ten million Americans are living with addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder. It is paramount that such individuals receive treatment for their use disorder and dual diagnosis concurrently for successful outcomes. If you are a young adult male whose life is unmanageable due to mental illness, please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our program. Parents of young men are also welcome to reach out to our team to learn how we can help your child break the cycle of addiction and heal from mental illness.

During World Mental Health Day and Mental Illness Awareness Week, PACE is spreading the message that the stigma virus is 100% curable; and, the antidote is compassion, empathy, and understanding.

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.