Mental Health America Indiana Blog

Mental Health America Indiana Blog. Keeping your mental health informed.

Let Freedom Ring!

Let Freedom Ring!

The fireworks in my neighborhood have been booming for more than a week now in anticipation of this coming July 4th.  Where I live, Independence Day and the week leading up to it, is the highlight of the year.  We have an event or two every night in the community that culminates in a hometown parade and fireworks display, the longest running parade in Indiana with more than 16,000 people in attendance every year.  Everyone gets into the Fourth of July - friends and family come to visit from all over the country and everyone has a great time.  There are barbeques, house parties, pool parties and the city parks are packed with people enjoying the new water park or savoring funnel cakes and fried anything at the week long carnival.  Independence Day brings people together in a community of love and shared experiences.

Independence Day has another meaning for many and that is the independence of substance abuse addiction, and that also brings people together in a community of love and shared experiences.  I have a friend who  this week ,fittingly, celebrated 10 years of  sobriety from alcohol and other drug use.  She has used her personal and professional life to help others on their journey to recovery - and as she says "treatment works and recovery is possible!"  Does recovery mean that she is free from wanting to turn back to her substances of choice?  I don't think so.  Does sobriety mean that she is free from the stigma that people still perpetuate against those in recovery?  No.  But it does mean she is free from the despair, broken relationships, and bad decisions that she made while she was using.  It  means that she is free from the chains of her substance that pulled her down.

As we celebrate this day of freedom, take a moment to remember those who have not been able to overcome their struggles with addiction but also remember those who continue the fight every day.  Treatment does work and recovery is possible - let freedom ring!

 

Resources:

DMHA certified providers

https://secure.in.gov/fssa/dmha/2577.htm 

Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition

http://recoveryindiana.org/

Alcoholic Anonymous

http://alcoholicsanonymous.com/aa-meetings/indiana/

Narcotics Anonymous

http://www.naindiana.org/

 

 

 

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Gone Too Soon: how addiction impacted my family - Suzanne Picerno

Gone Too Soon: how addiction impacted my family - Suzanne Picerno

The following is a excerpt from a personal story of how addiction has once again resulted in the death of a person much to young  to die from this disease.  We must make treatment more available and accessible - recovery is possible!

 

"It's been a very difficult time for my ex-husband, his former wife, my son, and myself.  Grief, as you well know, is gut wrenching in its stages, and with a child, even one who was always in trouble, you wonder if there was something else you could have done.  He was 22 years old. You cry, and you hurt, people do what they do and say what they say and the world goes on.  And you sit with the lump in your throat and the tears that sometimes flow down your cheeks and other times hide behind your eyes, and you try not to think of where your imagination takes you...what did he look like when that last breath was taken? Were his eyes open or closed?  Was he cold? Was it painful?  And I can only hope that that when he left the safety net that we and others tried to give him, that he got to see the world just a little bit.  I know that he went to Las Vegas.  I heard he went to LA.  He saw San Francisco.  And he died in Berkeley from an overdose -he was homeless and lost.

His name is Tyler Lee Gray - he had a huge heart but was never able to tie consequences to his behavior.  He was desperate for attention, but he had a hold in his bucket that every intervention could not repair because he wanted someone else to do the work for him.  For whatever reason, even with many arms around him, he could not accept responsibility for himself, his feelings, or his behavior.  He was diagnosed with Axis 2 Dependent Personality Disorder, and in the end without even knowing this assessment, he enacted the outcomes as if he had."  written by Suzanne Picerno

 

If you need more information about addiction, treatment, or recovery please reach out today!

Indiana Addiction Issues Coalition - Kim Manlove, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  317-638-3501

www.recovery.org  

Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction - http://www.in.gov/fssa/dmha/index.htm 1-800-457-8283

http://www.eskenazihealth.edu/our-services/midtown-community-mental-health 

 

 

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More Compassion, Less Condemnation- a guess blog post by Kim Manlove

More Compassion, Less Condemnation- a guess blog post by Kim Manlove

Kim Manlove can speak about addiction and recovery from both sides of the issue - as a parent of an addicted son who unfortunately died from his disease, and also as a person in long term recovery.  We are pleased to welcome Kim to the MHAI family as the Director of the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition and look forward to seeing all of the great work he will do!  The following is a letter he wrote to the Indianapolis Star in response to Jim Irsay's arrest for substance abuse.

 

"Drug Addiction is a Disease, Not A Moral Failing"

 

I write to applaud Bob Kravitz for his March 17 column, “Jim Irsay is fighting for his life, he needs help.” It is one of the few pieces I have seen in the blizzard of articles and media reports that contain compassion and concern.

Despite the fact that the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a “chronic, relapsing brain disease,” the public and popular media still represent addiction as a moral failing. Addicts and alcoholics often continue to be regarded with disapproval or disdain, and celebrities like Irsay who have addiction issues are exploited and hounded. These attitudes are vestiges of the “War on Drugs” era, which indelibly etched into the public mind that most drug and alcohol abusers were exhibiting criminal behavior.

Recovery from addiction is a reality for millions of Americans who, like me, struggled for many years with substance abuse and are taking the first step — deciding to get help. Some of us get that help from our friends and families while others get the “nudge from the judge.” But, regardless, recovery from addiction means embracing a new perspective. When we are early in recovery many of us struggle with the fear that recovery isn’t for us. Many are not initially willing to give up old behaviors and rationalize that things weren’t that bad. It takes many in early recovery a long time to see that the perspective we were choosing wasn’t one of hope. But once we can gain that new perspective we begin to realize that embracing hope in recovery can come from not only taking things one day at a time, but surrounding ourselves with a recovery support system of family and friends.

Organizations like the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition can provide much-needed support to those early in recovery through education, advocacy and service.

Recovery is our hope and wish for Irsay as well as the promise we will always be there to embrace him and others who reach out for help.

 

Kim Manlove

 

 

 

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What Addicts Know - an excerpt from Christopher Kennedy Lawford's book

In "What Addicts Know," Christopher Kennedy Lawford revisits the topic of addiction and provides an eye-opening explanation as to how our culture has become dependent on the instant gratification of gambling, drugs, alcohol, technology, and material possessions. Here's an excerpt. 

The “Gifts” of Addiction

'What Addicts Know'
BenBella

I've dealt with a wide variety of individuals afflicted with the disease of addiction, and in my estimation they are the most interesting, fascinating, and gifted people I've come across. They are also the most challenging; addicts are deviously manipulative and self-absorbed. Their illness causes suffering and pain for themselves, their loved ones, and the rest of society. Yet from their struggle comes an opportunity for all.

Recovery is about exposing and healing the darker sides of being human. And honing the skills necessary for sustained recovery from addiction reveals a life-enhancing recipe that can benefit everyone. From the darkness come exquisite, profound gifts.

People who get punched in the face by the 800-pound gorilla of addiction for decades and who live to tell about it are remarkable human beings on many levels. They are not just survivors, they are teachers. And it’s time we all pay closer attention to what they have to teach us about human well-being.

Whether or not you are or have ever been an addict, whether or not you know addicts—in fact, even if you consider yourself hopelessly normal and not prone to any kind of addiction or seriously bad habits—you are still at risk and will benefit from the advice in these pages. Before you snicker with skepticism or indignation, let me tell you why I think this is true.

As a culture we've become addicted not only to gambling, drugs, alcohol, and the other usual suspects, but also to technology and the acquisition of material possessions and every conceivable promise of instant gratification. More is better has become society’s mantra. We eat more, spend more, take more risks, abuse more substances...only to feel more depressed, unsatisfied, discontented, and unhappy. You may know these symptoms firsthand, or recognize them in the lives of the people you care about.

What we are left with is the throbbing emptiness that sets in when the fixation on more brings us nothing but more of the same old feeling of want. As a consequence, most of us will do or try just about anything to escape the recurrent stress, frustration, discomfort, and boredom. Those are the warning signs on the road leading to the cliff of addiction and social dysfunction.

Is Addiction the New Normal? As I pointed out in my book Recover to Live, the well-documented statistics for the U.S. are stark and revealing:

--17 million alcoholics --19.9 million drug abusers --4 million with eating disorders --10 million problem gamblers --12 million with sexual compulsions --43 million cigarette smokers. To complete the picture we must add in those who also admit to being in recovery from an addiction. At least 10 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 and older are recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. Add in those folks recovering from sexual compulsions, gambling addiction, smoking, and food-related issues, and we’re probably talking about one in five of all adults, maybe even one in four. These disturbing statistics are true for just about every industrialized nation.

Has addiction become the new normal? I don’t know, but we do seem to have become a world of addicts. The toxic compulsions affecting so many people in North America can be found spreading like a metastatic cancer to practically every culture on earth. To repeat, it’s not a crisis of moral weakness and lax discipline. It’s a brain disease. Medical science has now conclusively proven that.

Having this disease doesn't necessarily mean the end of your quality of life. As the history of drug and alcohol treatment and recovery demonstrates, people can and do recover— and do so magnificently—emerging from the ordeal far stronger and better prepared for life’s many and varied challenges. How they did it offers a recovery plan for humanity itself, a plan laid out in the ten lessons in these pages.

Consider this book an opportunity to investigate how your life is going. Ask yourself these questions:

Am I generally content with the way things are? Are my emotions mostly on an even keel? Are my personal relationships strong and supportive? Is there enough joy in my life? Your answers may lead to a realization that what you need is recovery—a recovery that is unique, personal, and crucial for you. Because recovery is about finding something we've lost, and what we have lost is our true self. Alienation from self is a byproduct of this culture of ours and its fixations, and we are all trying to find ourselves—whether we realize it or not. Addicts in recovery have discovered a process for achieving just that.

These pages give you the practical tools mastered and lived every day by those countless people who have successfully stayed in recovery. It may take some time to get off the Ferris wheel of repeating your mistakes over and over, but if you’re going to be compulsive about something, you can’t do much better than relentlessly pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

So consider this book a gift from the recovery community to all of humanity. Most of society continues to accept us addicts only reluctantly, not yet knowing what we have to give back. But what you now hold in your hands could, hopefully, change all that.

Reprinted from What Addicts Know by Christopher Kennedy Lawford by arrangement with BenBella BooksCopyright © 2014 by Christopher Kennedy Lawford

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How I got CLEAN - guest blogger, Dawn Brock

I was born in 1967 to my parents who were fresh out of high school. My dad was drafted into the Vietnam war, and didn't return home until I was around 8 months old. My father came home with an alcohol problem. I believe that some of the horrific experiences he had while at war contributed to his alcohol problem. My father's problem with alcohol caused a lot of problems in our home, as I am sure you can imagine. My father never received help with his alcohol problem, or help with processing what he experienced in war. 

Fast forward several years later.... I met my son's father when we were both in high school, although we went to different high schools. We didn't date then, but we got back in touch with each other a couple years after high school, and started dating then. His name was Sam ( Sammy). We were both young, and we were having fun and partying. The partying (drinking alcohol) was fun at first, but I knew I wanted something different for my life. I knew that the partying was just part of my life, but for Sammy it was different. It was as though he couldn't do without the alcohol. We had several talks about it, and arguments too, but nothing seemed to get him to see that his drinking was out of control. Sammy's father committed suicide when Sammy was around 6 years old. I always thought Sammy had a lot of issues that stemmed from that. I knew that he was a good person, he just had a bad problem. I thought, as many co-dependents do, that if he had his own family he would change. I loved him, and saw all the potential in him. I wanted things to be healthy and good, but his alcohol problem caused so many other problems. Just like it did in my family growing up. Sammy had all kinds of legal problems too. I didn't understand addiction or alcoholism back then (I am still learning today). I am still a co-dependent, but I am in recovery. 

In 1994, I became pregnant with my son. Sammy and I were engaged to be married and I thought things would get better. Well.... things did not get better, and I called off the wedding and moved back home with my parents. It was a hard thing to do because I loved Sammy, and I wanted more than anything in the world to have my own family. I wanted my child to have a two parent household but I knew it wouldn't be healthy, so I had to make the tough decision to leave. I had my son Tyler in 1995. I was thrilled to be a mommy. Sammy decided to fight for visitation rights, and I was devastated. I knew that Sammy wouldn't be able to take good care of Tyler because of his alcoholism. I wanted him to see his son, I just wanted it to be with supervision. For a while it was supervised. For years we fought this battle. The first time Sammy got unsupervised visitation with Tyler, he showed up under the influence of alcohol. After that the courts agreed with my request for supervised visitation again. 

When Tyler was in kindergarten, Sammy called and told me his brother Jack committed suicide. Jack was Sammy's only brother. Jack was in a car accident with his girls, and was facing jail time because he was intoxicated. He couldn't stand the thought of going to jail. Sammy saw Tyler one more time after his brother died. I met Sammy with Tyler at the park in our town. I told Sammy that day that he needed to think about turning his life around, or he could end up like Jack. I never spoke to Sammy again after that day. He overdosed that next week. I don't know if it was intentional or not. 

After Sammy's death, I was an emotional wreck. I had no one to talk to about my feelings. I still loved and cared for Sammy, but my family hated him for everything he put us through with the visitation. I started talking frequently to Sammy's uncle Sonny. I had known Sonny for years. Long story short.... Sonny and I started dating. I know Jerry Springer lol! I just felt that Sonny loved my son, loved Sammy, and he had always been kind to me. I knew that Sonny had past problems with both drugs and alcohol, but that he had turned things around. Sammy had even told me this that day we spoke at the park. Sonny and I were together for a couple years when I noticed some strange things happening. We were living together, and he would have money that was unaccounted for, and there were nights he didn't come home. Big red flag! One night, (I believe) God spoke to my heart, and told me to look up under my sink. I found a bag with a pipe in it. Sonny reluctantly admitted to me that he was using meth. I was instantly wrecked to the point of vomiting. He told me he would go to meetings. It didn't seem to help. He then said he would go to treatment. He went for a couple weeks, then left. All the while he was trying to convince me to stay with him. I couldn't have an active meth user around my son! Sonny eventually died of a drug overdose as well. 

After Sonny was out of my life for a few years, I started noticing some odd, yet familiar habits from my son. I just knew he was headed down the wrong path. I was determined to not let what happened to the others in his father's family happen to my son. I began getting him in counseling. I eventually knew for a fact that my son was using drugs like marijuana, acid, mushrooms, and abusing cough syrup, alcohol and pills. I continued to look for help for him. I took him to psychologists, psychiatrists, pastors, social workers, even energy healers. I tried to find a treatment program to send him to, but there was always some little niche he didn't fit into. There were several occasions I had to call the police.  So at that point, not only did he have a substance abuse disorder, but he also had legal problems . I just kept feeling like I was living a nightmare, and eventually I would wake up. I could walk away from Sammy, and Sonny, and anyone else in my life that I needed to, but NOT MY SON! Dear Lord not my son! 

Things progressively got worse to the point where my son was shooting up heroin. That is still hard for me to say. In 2012, he hit a pedestrian. The young girl was nearly killed. After that, my son got so depressed that he was suicidal. I had the police escort him to Saint Vincent's Stress Center. He could barely walk or talk. They knew the family history, yet they sent us home saying "he doesn't have a plan on how he is going to kill himself". Whaaat??? I was beside myself. I knew I had to take action. I knew my son needed treatment. I started looking on the Internet for treatment centers AGAIN. Mind you, I had tried to get him into Fairbanks, and Valley Vista to no avail. I searched Indiana addiction treatment centers. I found a number for a call center. they told me they didn't have any drug rehabs in Indiana, but that there was a good one in Michigan. I called the number, and they gave me hope! Finally hope! they told me they had an 80% success rate. I was in! This was the first time I felt like we had a chance at beating this thing. Again, there is a lot more to this story, but the place ended up being Narcanon by a different name.  They never mentioned Scientology but tried to indoctrinate Tyler  for $20,000 + and no legitimate treatment. 

Somewhere in the middle of the mess with Tyler, I met up with a woman (Michelle) I went to school with years ago. She told me that she had just spoke up at a meeting in her town about the rising heroin problem with the young people. I knew that around the time that Sammy died, she had lost a sister who was addicted to heroin. Her sister's death was caused by suicide. Michelle now had two children who were addicted to heroin. I told  her about Tyler, and told her that I was going to be interviewed by Channel 13 News. We decided to do the interview together. I had finally decided to speak up about my experience. I began to think maybe I had experienced the things I had experienced for a reason. I knew there had  to be others out there suffering in a similar way.
People who were ashamed because of the stigma. Michelle and I were past the stigma. We knew by then that this was a disease withe genetic links. We decided that we wanted to focus on what we  can do, instead of focusing on the problem. That was how we came up with the acronym CLEAN. It stands for Can Live Everyday Alive and New. Clean is a fund that is set up through the Community Foundation of Boone County. Our greatest desire is to start a rehabilitation center, but in the mean time we are trying to educate, and bring awareness to not only the problem with substance abuse/ addiction disorder, but the problems within the problem, such as stigma, funding, and the fact that we are mainly incarcerating people with the  disease. most people never receive treatment.
CLEAN is looking to become a not for profit this year. Right now we are umbrellaed  under the Community Foundation. All donations are tax deductible. CLEAN has partnered with a national organization two  years in a row to host Recovery and Remembrance Night at Centenary Methodist Church in Lebanon, Indiana. We brought in some great speakers, Jill Matheney Fuqua from IAIC Sharon Blaire who is responsible for the Jennifer Act, Tadd Whallon, one of the directors of the Progress House, and Sue Thompson, a mother speaking out about losing her son to a heroin overdose in 2009. CLEAN is also responsible for bringing the movie The Anonymous People to AMC Movie Theater at  Traders Point area.  We are doing what we can, and not focusing only on the problem, but solutions!
For more information about CLEAN, please visit their website at  www.cleanindiana.org

 

 

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Addiction Has No Prejudice

With the death this week of Glee star, Cory Monteith, the media once again is focused on the grip that addiction to alcohol and other drugs has on Hollywood, but sadly, it's nothing new.  Radio, movie and TV stars have been privately and publicly battling addiction since the advent of entertainment.  In the late 1800's famed writer Edgar Allen Poe wrote in a letter to a friend about his constant use of opium and his reported suicide attempts while using laudanum.  It  is also  widely believed that he was an alcoholic.  The list of celebrity deaths because of addiction is, unfortunately,  long and includes people such as  Curt Cobain, W. C. Fields, Billie Holiday,  Elvis, Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston.   Even the "Father of Psychoanalysis", Dr. Sigmund Freud, is reported to have been addicted to cocaine in an attempt to get rid of his depression.

Living in a constant spotlight, these celebrities are often seen as invincible and untouchable.  They have so much money, opportunity, and seemingly so many friends and fans, why would they turn to alcohol and other drugs?  By using alcohol and other drugs celebrities can "escape" from the person they think the public wants and needs them to be.   But just like anyone else with an addiction, these celebrities have an underlying reason for using...depression, anxiety, traumatic events.  However, unlike anyone else with addiction, they have to try to recover in the bright and unforgiving glare of social media that is with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Does it make us feel better to know that our favorite actor or singer has flaws like we do and that they struggle with issues too?  Maybe that's why we can't stop watching.  But we need to remember that though it doesn't  seem like it, celebrities are people like us who have a past they might be trying to forget, daily lives that are being pulled in a lot of directions, and a future that might not be what they want it to be. We should remember that addiction has no prejudice, even in Hollywood.  And we should also remember that recovery works and people can get better, even in Hollywood.

Because although the list of celebrities who have lost their battle with addiction is long, so is the list of celebrities like Johnny Cash, Drew Barrymore, Elton John, Robin Williams, and Samuel L. Jackson who have conquered their addiction and are here to inspire others to find recovery...even in Hollywood.

 

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