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According to Angela Kimball, CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five Americans experience mental illness. When the illness is combined with the recreational use of illegal drugs, addiction occurs easily and quickly. Many people living with drug addiction began using drugs young as a form of self-medication, in a desperate attempt to feel better.

WHO IS AT RISK

Niznik Behavioral Health has estimated that 77.7 percent of people with various health issues have reported trying to self-medicate in order to improve their pain. Around 27.5 percent are medicating for physical health issues and 26.5 percent medicate for psychological issues. The rest are a mixture of both. They are driven to use illegal drugs because they can’t afford going to the doctor or are scared of the prescribed medicine and all of its side effects. For others, trauma that stems from abuse and neglect as children, or even as adults, that causes depression, fear, anxiety and various other emotional and societal problems. These adolescents and adults often don’t have access to any form of physical and psychological help as they grow deeper into their addictions. Anyone that you pass by on the street or sit close to in a restaurant could be living with addiction. It is a disease, much like the cause of the pain they are trying to silence. This is an issue everyone is in danger of falling into.

WHAT CAN BE DONE

In order to address this issue, mental illness and its triggers needs to be identified earlier in a person’s life and thoroughly addressed. For adults and older, the health problems they suffer from need to be addressed. NAMI’s mission is to encourage our policy makers to “make it a priority for people to get care early, get the best possible care, and get diverted from the criminal justice system”. When drugs are involved in someone’s life, the criminal justice system becomes part of the family. SAMHSA offers grants for teachers, and other public servants, for a mental health and training program (MHAT). They provide information for parents, and links for schools, to directly refer individuals with signs of mental illness to the appropriate services. This way, those who love and support those living with addiction have more help and guidance to keep their loved ones safe and prevent any legal repercussions.

Just like you don’t know what goes on in each home you drive by, behind their closed doors, many people are abused in secret and they continue keeping their pain and drug use secret. That is what they know. Many people in our society view pain as weakness. If you know someone who needs help, or want to get information on how you can help further, contact us at Niznik Behavioral Health. Our sole purpose is to be here to help you and your family.