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As if substance addiction is not a big enough problem.  Enter; an underlying mental illness.  These are the dually diagnosed drug and alcohol addicts.  Kathleen Sciacca founder of MIDAA, Mental Illness, Drug Addiction and Alcoholism tackles the issue head on from a perspective of treatment.  Here is what she says:   “People who have multiple disorders of severe mental illness, drug addiction and alcoholism “dual diagnosis” have the same severity of addictive disorders as do people who have addictive disorders alone.  They also experience exacerbation of both their mental illness and their addictive disorder due to interaction effects. Their families experience the disruptions evoked by addictive disorders alone.  This is in addition to the stress of coping with a serious mental illness.”  Sounds like the ingredients for hell on earth.   View the Dual Diagnosis Website here for further information on the impact of addiction and mental illness.  Also view the PDF files of the World Health Report:  Investing in Mental Health and Kathleen’s Sciacca’s PDF file of her Fact Sheet on Dual Diagnosis. Links by Mary Slivinski.

A cool morning conversation with a case worker outside of C.O.P.E’s  downtown  treatment facility in Tucson this morning led to some interesting questions.  We’re talking about the world of addiction and recovery.   The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA)  and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation RWJF, took part in an HBO film series about addiction that can shed some insight.  There are 8 million narcotic, cocaine and methamphetamine addicts on the streets of America at any given time and as a totality of all drug and alcohol addiction that figure soars to 23 million people struggling as we speak.  That’s  an alarming world of dysfunction and suffering.  Of these individuals, fewer than 10% are receiving effective treatment.  These figures come from NIDA and RWJF.

C.O.P.E. has earned exceptional credit in helping those who arrive at their door step.  To ask about the majority that don’t make it is another story.  The easy answer lies solely with the addict.  When they are  ready; they show up.  What about those 20 or so million addicts and alcoholics not receiving treatment and the impact that has on families and communities.   That’s the intimidating reality that poses the hard question.  Realizing the patches on our  recovery boats are not holding is a scary thought.  The seas of addiction  are rough.  America needs a new fleet of sea worthy recovery vessels.  What that will take is a 21st century question pointing to new paradigms that we haven’t invented yet.  The impact is real.  The needs are real.  America is worth every ounce of effort.

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December 2009