Thursday, May 23, 2019

Patrick Kennedy: On Addiction and Stigma

“Addiction was unimpressed that I came from a famous family.” – Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy 

Mental illness does not discriminate is a sentiment shared among experts in the field of medicine. Each person, if certain conditions are met, can struggle with mood disorders or behavioral health issues. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experiences mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

To complicate matters even further, more than half of individuals who live with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental illness. The fact of the matter is that addiction and other mental health disorders affect tens of millions of Americans. What’s more, despite a modern understanding of the mechanisms of psychological morbidity, stigma and shame remain pervasive.

As long as there have been mental diseases, there has been the stigma that goes with them; sometimes, it comes from strangers and other times, family. Moreover, the American health industry is still guilty of discriminating against people living with mental health conditions. Even though legislative protections exist, insurance providers continue to do everything they can to deny coverage.

Parity is a word of vital importance: the state or condition of being equal, especially regarding status or pay. In health care, the word means providing the same level of care and coverage to everyone regardless of the ailment.

Not too long ago, ante-Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) and Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurers were allowed to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies could also set arbitrary coverage restrictions on those with mental illness.

Despite the enactment of the MHPAEA and ACA, the fight for parity continues, as well as the effort to eliminate stigma.

 

Mental Disorder and Addiction: Legitimate Health-care Issues


addiction
Last December, we wrote about former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy and his “Don’t Deny Me” campaign. The champion of equal coverage and lead sponsor of the MHPAEA continues his effort to ensure every American receives the coverage they deserve.

Patrick Kennedy, some of you will remember, is in recovery. He has a keen understanding of what it’s like to live in silence, to be treated differently by those who you love. Now sober for eight years, he continues to share his story with others and encourage people to seek mental health services.

Over the weekend, Kennedy gave a commencement speech to an audience of 15,000 at the University of Rhode Island, Dispatch reports. He used the opportunity, as one might expect, to talk about his experience with addiction, mental illness, and stigma. Mr. Kennedy also encouraged 3,434 undergraduates to seek help if they experience symptoms of mental disorder.

During his speech, Patrick shared how his father, the late U.S. Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy, lacked compassion for his struggles, according to the article. He said that “when it came to my addictions,” his father’s response was: “Patrick just needs a swift kick in the ass.”

“I spent many years lost in a fog of shame,” Kennedy said. 

Like many people with substance use issues, Kennedy hid his illness as best he could for as long as possible. Stigma will cause people to go to extraordinary lengths to conceal their problems, such behaviors often come at severe costs. When Patrick first sought recovery, he went out of his way to ensure no one knew he was seeking help. Again, such actions are a testament to the shame that looms over mental health conditions.

Seeking Help for Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders


Acknowledging that you have a problem that requires outside assistance isn’t simple, and it takes a tremendous amount of courage. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we understand how challenging it is to ask for help and to look past stigma.

Recovery is possible for all determined to make it their reality. At HVRC, we can help you break the cycle of addiction, address any co-occurring disorders, and give you the tools to realize long-term sobriety. Please contact us today to speak with our admissions staff and to receive a chemical dependency treatment evaluation.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Decriminalizing Addiction in America

addiction
When discussing addiction in the United States, it is hard to ignore the fact that it has not been handled appropriately. On top of being in the midst of a substance use epidemic, we have a long history of punishing people for being ill. Arresting and incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders have led to the largest prison population in the world.

Even though Americans account for merely five percent of the global population, we have more inmates than any other country by far. While steps have been taken in recent years to confront overpopulation in penal institutions, more than two million adults live behind bars.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, one in five incarcerated people is locked up for a drug offense. Moreover, 451,000 Americans are incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses on any given day. Over one million drug possession arrests occur each year in the U.S.

Addiction is a form of mental illness. It is imperative that more be done to put a stop to draconian drug sentencing laws and provide people with treatment instead. Locking people up for the crime of drug use is only a temporary fix. Without access to adequate mental health services, inside jail or out, recidivism is practically a guarantee.

There are other ways lawmakers and enforcement officials can tackle substance abuse in America. Many states and municipalities have changed their stance on drug use, opting for diversion, and addiction treatment over jail and prison.

The American opioid crisis has had an impact on policymakers, many of whom now understand that substance use disorder is a disease. They have witnessed that addiction can impact anyone in their communities. However, we still have a long way to go as a nation regarding the handling of all mental illnesses, but with use disorder especially.

How Portugal Handles Addiction


Making alterations to the criminal justice system is not a simple task. Dispelling bad ideas and implementing evidence-based changes does not happen overnight. While America has excelled at trying to arrest away drug addiction, we are not alone. Many other countries have engaged in similar wars on drugs. Although, some republics have made drastic changes to how they deal with substance use in recent years.

Some of our readers may remember when Portugal decided to decriminalize drugs in 2001. The outcome of the country’s decision to treat drug possession as a public health issue has had mixed results. While more research is needed to better understand these outcomes, there are some interesting items worth mentioning. Statistics show:
  • More people are seeking treatment.
  • New HIV diagnoses reductions.
  • Reductions in drug-related deaths.
  • Drug use among adolescents and problematic users declined.
  • Decreases in drug-related criminal justice workloads.
American prosecutors, in many cases, decide how to handle nonviolent drug offenders. It would seem that they may be able to glean insight from how things are being done across the Atlantic. This month, twenty prosecutors from major cities, like Philadelphia and Baltimore, are touring Portugal to learn about decriminalization.

The Marijuana Moment reports that the contingent of prosecutors will tour courts, prisons, treatment facilities, and health and community service providers. The trip is sponsored by the advocacy group Fair and Justice Prosecution.

“The enormous power of prosecutors to exercise their discretion in ways that ensure outcomes that enhance public safety and reduce recidivism is unparalleled in the criminal justice system,” said Washington, D.C. Attorney General, Karl Racine. “My colleagues and I look forward to learning from countries that have successfully reduced mass incarceration, reintegrated previously incarcerated individuals back into society, and treated drug users and individuals struggling with mental illness with health services and supports that have a high degree of success.”

 

California Chemical Dependency Treatment Center


Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat to speak with our Admissions and Assessment Department. We can answer any questions you have regarding our approach and what you can expect from receiving our care. We can help you stop the cycle of addiction and show you how to take steps toward lasting recovery.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Mental Health Screening During MHM2019

Mental Health Month (MHM) is now 70 years old; the annual observance takes place each May. Mental Health America (MHA) – founded in 1909 – launched MHM in 1949 as a way to reach millions of Americans about mental illness and well-being. A goal of this essential nonprofit is to encourage people to receive screenings and treatment for behavioral health and mood disorders.

One in five Americans face symptoms of a mental disability each year; depression, alone, is the leading cause of poor health globally. The need for screening, diagnosis, and evidence-based treatment is paramount to society.

Throughout May, events are being held across the country to get more people thinking about the importance of mental health. The theme this year is #4Mind4Body, which emphasizes the necessity of both psychological and physical well-being. MHA and its affiliates are exploring how animal companionship, spirituality, humor, work-life balance, and recreation and social connections can improve mental health and general wellness.

There are no cures for mental illnesses; however, symptoms can be managed, and people can recover. Those who prioritize overall well-being can lead fulfilling and productive lives in recovery.

While it’s critical that individuals receive professional assistance, there are things people can do on their own to reign in their illness. MHA offers many tools and helpful guidance for men and women who are struggling. Still, some people are unaware that psychological problems are impacting their lives. Many persons convince themselves that their life issues are circumstantial when it’s likely they meet the criteria for one of several conditions.

Proper screening from primary care physicians (PCP) is crucial, but many people do not have a PCP. Fortunately, there is a quick and easy way to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.

 

Mental Health Screening


Before we proceed, we must point out that digital screenings are not an exact science. A screening is not a diagnosis. However, the result of the MHA screening tool can help individuals begin discussions with mental health professionals.

There are numerous mental health conditions, ranging from addiction to schizophrenia. MHA provides effective, research-proven screening tools for some of the more common psychiatric disorders. You can find a list of available screens below:
  • Depression Screen: for individuals who are feeling overwhelming sadness.
  • Anxiety: for people who feel that worry and fear are affecting their ability to function day-to-day.
  • Bipolar Disorder: for individuals who have mood swings - or unusual or extreme shifts in mood and energy.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): for those who are affected by a traumatic life event.
  • Alcohol or Substance Use Problems: for helping people determine if their use of alcohol or drugs is an area to address.
  • Psychosis: for young people (age 12-35) who feel like their brain is playing tricks on them (seeing, hearing or believing things that don't seem real or quite right).
  • Eating Disorders: for exploring eating-related concerns that have an impact on your physical health and overall well-being.
Following successful completion of mental health screens, MHA provides resources to help steer people toward assistance. Again, the available tests are not diagnoses; they are meant to help people determine if further action is required.

If you or someone you love is exhibiting concerning behaviors, then taking a mental health screening could be of significant value. More than half of people living with mental illness have not undergone treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

MHM2019 is an excellent opportunity for people to take steps to improve their mental health. Once a problem is determined, men and women can take action to enhance their psychological well-being.

 

Co-occurring Disorder Treatment


The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that approximately 10.2 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders. In the field of addiction medicine, alcohol and substance use diseases are impacted by other forms of mental illness. It is vital that men and women meeting the criteria for dual-diagnosis receive treatment for all conditions present.

Those who believe they are struggling with addiction and a co-occurring mental illness are strongly encouraged to seek help. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we can provide detoxification and treatment services to people impacted by mental health disorders. Please contact us today to learn more about our Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH).