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Sadly people are only now beginning to realize what many of us who work in the field of addictions have known for many years over 60% of drug addicts and alcoholics relapse into their illness even after 30 days of treatment.  And an alarming percentage end up dying.  A 30 day program is only a beginning. It takes that long just to get to a point where an individual can begin to think clearly again, and that means they begin to start feeling again, especially they start feeling what they had been trying to numb. If those merging feelings are not dealt with they end up causing a relapse into addiction which increases the risk for death.  More beneath the fold...

I have worked in this field for some time now and know of addictions counselors who keep a wardrobe at the ready just for attending the funerals of their clients. Those of us who work in this field see as many deaths annually as those who treat individuals with terminal cancer. I once had a friend with metastatic breast cancer who had a bone marrow transplant went into remission and survived her cancer only to die of a heart attack because of her addiction to pain medications and alcohol. Her survival from cancer showed the power of when funding goes into research in order to save lives, a similar campaign needs to be ignited for drug addicts and alcoholics. If a person goes to a 30 day program, receives weekly aftercare/outpatient treatment and attends a twelve step support group they increase their chances of not relapsing by over 90%. If they are not able to follow this prescription/design for living then usually something more is going on such as a co-occurring mental health disorder and/or unaddressed trauma issues and then a longer round of treatment and support is necessary. Just as people who have diabetes or heart disease the illness of drug addiction and alcoholism can be treated but not cured.  For years there has been a stigma surrounding drug addicts and alcoholics, the stigma involved belief systems that viewed these individuals as weak or lacking will power when in fact these individuals were and are seriously ill people.

 The celebrity show is revealing to the public in stark numbers the toll exacted because of chemical dependency.  But it doesn’t show the entire story, because each one of those deaths create a wake of emotional damage in families and in communities that as with any traumatic event can create ripple effects of pain, trauma and suffering over time. We need for insurance companies to pay for more treatment services. We need for communities to increase funding for treatment services. We need to increase awareness around the fact that this is an illness that is insidious and fatal but also treatable but not curable. We need for the public to start stepping up and to start donating to organizations that are working to provide treatment, research cures and help families and communities to heal.  Drug addicts and alcoholics need our help not our judgment and intolerance. One 501 c 3 charity trying to make a difference is www.asburyhouse.org you can also find agencies in your own community to support if you want to make a difference.  Everyone is touched by the illness of chemical addiction. This is a silent epidemic that needs to be exposed and financially funded in order to treat its victims and to find a cure.

Originally posted to Marina Asbury on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:09 PM PST.

Also republished by Mental Health Awareness.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Republished to Mental Health Awareness (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mary Mike, wader, Oh Mary Oh

    So very often, addiction is due to self medication in someone with mental illness. Undiagnosed or not.

    "Mitt Romney looks like the CEO who fires you, then goes to the Country Club and laughs about it with his friends." ~ Thomas Roberts MSNBC

    by second gen on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:24:57 PM PST

    •  Addiction (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mary Mike, Catte Nappe, wader, Oh Mary Oh

      actually 10 - 11% of all addiction has a biological and genetic base and is considered a medical illness. After that there are a percentage that are addicted due to self medicating a mental health disorder and/or unaddressed trauma. People like to think that addiction is caused by mental illness rather than a physical and neurological illness but the brains and bodies of true chemically dependent individuals process the chemicals differently than healthy individuals.  As I mentioned for those who are unable to remain clean and sober it is usually due to an unaddressed co-occurring mental health disorder or trauma. Thank you for your insight and feedback.

  •  You couldn't be more on target. My brother is an (5+ / 0-)

    alcoholic and drug addict and has been for 35 years. He's now 50, I'm 48. We have a long history of addiction on our mother's side of the family, there's no question that there is a genetic component. But it certainly isn't the only component, our older brother and myself are not addicts. I would not wish addiction on my worst enemy, it is a horrible, vicious beast and it devestates both the addict and just as importantly, the addicts' family and everyone who loves them. It is absolutely a family disease and I personally have never met anyone whose family wasn't 1000% on board and in treatment themselves be able to stay sober. I've been watching my brother committing a long, very slow, very painful and very devestating suicide for 35 years now. He has also contracted chronic Hep C and has significant cirrhosis of the liver. He began interferon treatment again several weeks ago which was to be augmented with a protease inhibitor in several more weeks, but unfortunately he isn't even tolerating the interferon this time. We should find out by next week if he can even attempt treatment again. If not, there's nothing else medically that can be done. Addiction and mental health MUST be treated concurrently with medical health. And covered by insurance the same.

    Thank you for the work you do, I know how difficult it is and thank you for speaking out here.

    "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity" Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..

    by mindara on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:39:45 PM PST

  •  A heartbreaking journey through hell (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marina Asbury, Oh Mary Oh

    is the best way to describe drug addiction. Here are a few facts to add. Suburban areas now have as high of rates of addiction as do the inner cities. While heroin has made a big comeback, with some locales seeing as much as a 60% increase since 2007, prescription opiates are just as common and can be just as deadly. Our children now face a greater risk of death from overdose then they do from MVA, or disease, or any act of violence. Addiction is a biological psychosocial progressive illness with an astoundingly high mortality rate and as such requires a multifaceted approach to treat. Unfortunately the treatment system can be hard to navigate for a person who is not fully functioning, especially when coupled with cost, waiting lists, inadequate detox protocols, worn out intake workers, counselors and physicians,and antiquated  rules governing treatment protocols, anti addiction medicines or medicated maintenance programs. Addiction is not the results of a lack of will power, rather a lack of will power is the result, and a symptom of addiction. Addiction is a lack of choice for the addict. Imagine if choice and free will were no longer a part of your life how devastating that would be and how limited your life would become. That is the life of an addict.

  •  Thanks for the diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marina Asbury, Oh Mary Oh

    I saw some story on MSN the other day about some of the people on Celebrity Rehab who went off the show but ultimately died either from their addictions or suicide, but the article itself was rather snarky and took some shots at Dr. Drew.  Now whatever your feelings are about Dr. Drew, the fact is celebrity addicts are no different from the average Joe who is battling addictions every day.  It's good to know the reality of this situation, and I wish more people were aware of this.

  •  I agree there needs to be increased funding but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    Republicans will stand in the way of that unless they can get a rich hospital network or insurance company to fund their campaign first. Profits before people is the 'corporations are people' mantra.

    Our money system is not what we have been led to believe. The creation of money has been "privatized," or taken over by private money lenders. Thomas Jefferson called them “bold and bankrupt adventurers just pretending to have money.” webofdebt

    by arealniceguy on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 09:04:15 PM PST

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