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Friday, October 13, 2017

Promoting Mental Health At Work

mental health
October is an important month for people in addiction recovery, particularly for those with a dual diagnosis. Hopefully, you were aware that last week was Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), and this past Tuesday was World Mental Health Day (WMHD). The critical events, sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the World Health Organization (WHO) respectively, raise awareness about mental health conditions.

During MIAW, the goal was to raise public awareness about various mental health conditions, including:
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Dual Diagnosis
  • Depression 
  • Schizophrenia 
  • Psychosis 
Those of you in dual diagnosis recovery understand that mental health is dependent upon treating the substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health disorder. It’s not an easy feat to accomplish, but with the right kind of help, it’s achievable.

Most people go without treatment for far too long resulting in disease progression. Thus, people arrive at treatment facilities barely clinging to the will to live. Putting off recovery is overwhelmingly dangerous, and it’s quite often the result of stigma. The shame people feel about their condition(s) hinders their ability to seek assistance. Individuals fear repercussions from deciding to do something that will improve their quality of life. That may sound paradoxical, but it’s no less valid.


Consequences of Mental Health Treatment

People fear that which they can’t understand. Mental illness, and being diagnosed with one, is terrifying to most individuals. Psychological health conditions feel like a curse to those who are afflicted. The average person touched by psychiatric disorders fears what will happen if they seek help; they will no longer be able to deny the existence of a problem—treatment makes it real. Conversely, if they don’t recover, they may lose their job because of their abnormal behavior. The symptoms of depression or anxiety can make getting to work a real chore. Even arriving at one’s desk does not make the symptoms less burdensome.

Such people also have the fear of talking about their problems with a boss. They are afraid of how they will be viewed moving forward. If they ask for time off to address their disorder, people speculate that they will get fired, even when it’s unlikely. On Tuesday, World Mental Health Day was about encouraging employers to be supportive of their employees' mental health. The World Health Organization asks employers to exercise compassion concerning mental illness. WHO provided some statistics to highlight the prevalence of anxiety and depression:
  • More than 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide.
  • More than 260 million are living with anxiety disorders.
  • Struggling with both conditions at the same time is not uncommon.
  • Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity.
A failure to promote mental health results in people turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with untreated mental illness. The outcome of which is never positive, substance use only makes one’s problems worse. What’s more, many substances have the power to cut life short. On the other hand, WHO writes:

“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.”


Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Substance use is not an efficient way to cope with symptoms of mental illness. It’s a behavior that often leads to dependence and addiction. If that happens, one must receive treatment for both conditions simultaneously to achieve recovery. Do you have depression or anxiety disorder and substance use disorder? Maybe you have loved one who fits this description? Please contact Whiteside Manor to discuss treatment options. Please do not let shame and fear stand in the way of recovery.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"War On Drugs," Lives On...

war on drugs
The previous White House administration made concentrated efforts to undo some of the wrongs of past administrations. Wrongs, what wrongs you might find yourself asking? Specifically, criminal justice that had run wild. For decades, ever since President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs,” drug sentencing laws have been used to unjustly punish Americans for possessing “illegal” drugs. Essentially the only infraction such people committed was the crime of mental illness—specifically addiction.

There is a good chance that in previous posts of ours you’ve ‘read, you became aware of some startling figures. For instance: The United States makes up roughly five-percent of the world's population, but there are more incarcerated adults in the U.S. than in any other country. The most disturbing figures of all: The majority of people in American jails and prisons are not doing time for rape or murder. No, our penal institutions are home to mostly nonviolent drug offenders.

This problem is systemic, which means that without a paradigm shift in societal beliefs progressive remedies are hard to come by. For starters, doing away with draconian drug sentencing laws, which typically come in the form of mandatory minimums.  Secondly, commuting or granting pardons for people affected by such laws. Thirdly, providing the option of addiction treatment services rather than jail for drug possession.


Commuting Sentences of Nonviolent Drug Offenders

The past eight-years showed great promise, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle taking a more enlightened stance toward nonviolent drug offenders. A change which can be partially due to the opioid addiction epidemic. It becomes harder and harder to support draconian drug laws when a politician's own family is being affected. What’s more, former President Obama commuted the sentences of 1,385 prisoners before the end of his tenure. It’s fair to say that if the President had more time he would have given more people a new lease on life. Even still, he signed more commutations than any other president in history.

All of that was good and well, and needed to be done. However, the Federal arm of authority could only go so far during that time period. In fact, FBI data indicates that every 25 seconds a drug arrest occurred in 2016, ALTERNET reports. The Uniform Crime Report indicates that U.S. law enforcement officials made more than 1.57 million arrests for drug law infractions. Up from the previous year (2015) and more than 3 times the combined number of all arrests for violent crimes. Here’s the breakdown:
  • 84.6% (1,330,401 arrests) were for simple drug possession.
  • Despite legalization in some states, marijuana arrests increased in 2016.
  • Roughly 41 percent of all drug arrests were for marijuana (again, mainly for simple possession).
  • 29 percent of people arrested for drug law violations were black people.
  • 35 percent of those incarcerated in state prison for drug possession were black.
It’s worth pointing out that 13% of the population are black people, and they consume drugs at rates on par with other demographics, according to the report, Yet, they are arrested for possession more than those using drugs at similar rates.


We Are Not Winning the War

Good intentions or not, one thing is for certain. This war has created far more societal and economic blow-back than it’s worth. What’s more, Americans by and large do not agree with sending people to jail for using drugs.

Those living with an alcohol or substance use disorder are far better served by addiction treatment, compared to jail and prison. The country as a whole is better for it, too. Families are not split up; economic loss would not be as profound either. The fewer nonviolent “offenders” in jail, the better. Addiction treatment works, but people need to be given the option.

There are ominous signs that the current White House administration has no plans of letting up on the war on drugs. With that in mind, seeking treatment for your addiction preemptively mitigates the risk of going to jail for a mental health disorder, needlessly. Please contact Whiteside Manor to discuss your treatment options, we can help.

Friday, September 8, 2017

National Recovery Month: Sharing Your Story

National Recovery Month
Every September, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) partners with addiction and mental health experts observing National Recovery Month. Throughout the month addiction and recovery related events will be held to celebrate the millions of Americans working programs of recovery.

While the act of getting clean and sober is a monumental feat, most people in recovery try hard to keep their pride and ego in check. Recovery being the difference between choosing life or a death, it is important to remember that the road to relapse is often paved with hubris. However, that does not mean that people in recovery cannot exercise gratitude for their achievements. Nor should recovering alcoholics and addicts discount the leaps and bounds they’ve made.

If you are in recovery, you know firsthand pain and heartache. You know that the disease brought you to your knees and was poised to kill you had there not been an intervention. Once in recovery, you realized quickly that you would have to fight to hold on to your program. And it would not be a fight using traditional weapons, you learned you’d have to wield total, uncompromising honesty if you were to keep what you have. There are no free rides in recovery, after all.


You Have a Voice In Recovery

We all found ourselves in the program by a different road, but everyone’s experience is remarkably similar. The embodiment of desperation. Like active addiction, our stories of active recovery are often homogeneous. There may be small variations from one person to the next, but at the end of the day we all practice the principles of recovery guided by the Steps. This requires a daily commitment to not do or behave in certain ways that might precipitate a relapse, and a return to our disease.

Those of you working a program also know that if you intend on keeping your recovery, you must give it away. Which usually takes the shape of spreading the message that recovery is possible, which can take many different forms. Sponsorship being the most common. By helping others find what you’ve found, you strengthen your own program.

As was mentioned earlier, National Recovery Month is time to honor the brave men and women who have taken certain steps. And, in an effort to encourage more people to embrace recovery, SAMHSA is asking those who are willing to share their story of recovery. After all, you never know the impact you might have on another. Just a few words might be lead another to seek help and find recovery. If you are interested in sharing your story via text or YouTube video, please click here. Below you will find an example of spreading the message of recovery:

If you are having trouble viewing the video, please click here.


Addiction Recovery is Possible

If you or a loved one is still battling with the demons of addiction, please contact Whiteside Manor. We understand how hard it is to turn one’s back on their disease and seek treatment. But, it is a decision that will ultimately save your life. Let National Recovery Month be your new beginning.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Addiction Treatment for Pregnant Women

addiction treatment
Women struggling with addiction encounter many of the same problems as men. The threat of losing friends and family, employment and home is very real for anyone in the grips of alcohol or substance abuse disorders. Women, like men, who are unable to get the assistance they need are also at risk of getting arrested. When it comes to certain narcotics both men and women are eligible for an overdose. A potentially fatal one at that.

Addiction, without a doubt, is a debilitating illness for anyone no matter where they come from. Yet, there are concerns that are specific to women that are not to males. Specifically, pregnancy and having children. Women are not only the people who carry a fetus to term, they are also (usually) the primary caregiver to said child. Naturally, a serious use disorder can put both fetuses and children in harm's way. As is evident by the growing number of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) cases in recent years. Also, state child welfare services being bogged down by a serious flux in the number of children needing foster care. Their parents being deemed unable to care for them anymore.


Pregnant Women With Addiction

Opioid addicted females who find out they are pregnant have some hard decisions to make. They may not seem hard to the average American, but then again, the average American hasn't experienced opioid withdrawal before, without the assistance of certain medications. 24 states and the District of Columbia view drug use during pregnancy as child abuse, The Washington Post reports. Given that some of the drugs used to detox opioid patients are habit-forming themselves, many doctors are opposed to prescribing drugs like buprenorphine to pregnant women. This can present a real problem.

“Oftentimes what I see is that we treat pregnant women even worse than we treat the general population with opioid use disorder,” said Stephen Patrick, a neonatologist and assistant professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. “We should be offering them more compassion.”

A survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) showed that less than one-fourth of addiction treatment centers offer programs with pregnancy in mind. And, only a small percentage of those offer drugs to pregnant women that will ease the pain and cravings of withdrawal. Without access to such drugs, unnecessary stress can be placed on the child and the likelihood of relapse is quite high.


Addiction Treatment for Pregnant Women

Preventing relapse in early recovery is paramount. Without recovery, pregnant women are at risk of losing their child to the state. It can be extremely difficult to regain custody. If pregnant women are unable to access effective methods of detox and treatment, they are likely to choose not to go altogether. Thus, using throughout the entire pregnancy, putting the baby at great risk. It is vital that states adopt a more humanitarian approach to pregnant women with drug addiction.

If you are a women in need of treatment for opioid addiction, and are also pregnant, please contact Whiteside Manor. Our treatment center staff understands that certain women with addiction have specific needs, and we are committed to helping them experience the miracles of recovery.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Addiction Treatment: Answer to The Opioid Epidemic

addiction treatment
One of the problems with tackling the American opioid addiction epidemic is its unprecedented nature. Sure, we have faced drug addiction crises in the past, but nothing as severe nor as deadly. Coupled with the fact that the opioids being abused are coming from several different fronts. On the one hand, we have opioid painkillers prescribed by doctors—in many cases over-prescribed. Then there is the problem of heroin and even more deadly fentanyl coming from Mexico. However, and more importantly: Where these dangerous drugs are originating is not as salient as what is to be done about the millions of Americans already in the grips of an opioid use disorder.

You have seen the headlines, whether you are in the field of addiction or not, you know that the problem we face is catastrophic. You have heard of various pieces of legislation crafted to combat the epidemic, right? Perhaps you thought that it would have a significant impact on lowering the death toll? Unfortunately, that has not been the case, showing once again that this crisis will not dissipate without putting up a fight.

This week, the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released a preliminary report citing data which estimates the daily overdose death toll at 142 Americans, the Associated Press reports. Yes, 142 mothers, daughters, fathers and sons' lives cut short by a mental illness which can be effectively treated. And yet, the clear majority of the over 2 million people with an opioid use disorder have not been benefited by addiction treatment services.


Addiction Treatment Has Always Been The Solution

Lawmakers can make it harder to acquire prescription opioids. Doctors can utilize prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) to identify risky patients. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can mandate the use of abuse-deterrent painkiller formulas. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) can double their efforts at the border to mitigate the number of drugs making it across. The aforementioned efforts are sure to help, potentially saving many lives.

The reality, though, must be faced. Right now, prescription opioids are the most effective method of pain management. Doctors will continue to prescribe them to patients exhibiting the need. PDMP’s can make doctor shopping harder, but many prescription opioids can be acquired on the black market. Addicts are notorious for finding ways to circumvent abuse deterrent drug properties. The cartels will find new ways to get around the DEA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

If people are living with untreated addiction, they will find a way to get their hands on the drugs they seek. If there is demand, supply is sure to follow. Just as the “war on drugs’ proved to be an unwinnable fight, targeting the opioid supply will not have the desired effect. Conversely, placing greater focus on the demand, is the best option.

This is accomplished by providing greater access to treatment, emphasizing recovery over punishment. A fact that has not been lost on the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, who has asked the President to declare a national emergency regarding the epidemic. The commission states that such a declaration would “force Congress to focus on funding” and to “awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”


Addiction Treatment Can Save Your Life

If you, or someone you love, suffers from an opioid use disorder—treatment is perhaps the only thing that can prevent catastrophe. The likelihood of an overdose is extremely high, a question of “when” not “if.” Please do not hesitate, contact us at Whiteside Manor. We can help break the cycle of addiction and show you how living a life in recovery is possible.