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Drug addiction is a tough nut to crack.  When you add co-occuring disorders, namely,  a host of mental illnesses that plague many addicts,  it becomes near impossible for some to recover and stabilize their lives.   To Kathleen Sciacca, trying to understand and deliver a reliable system of dealing with dual diagnosis and drug addiction has become a personal goal.  You can hear Kathleen discuss her work in this you-tube clip:   Motivational Interviewing

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NAMI | dual-diagnosis-factsheet

The frustration of a parent dealing with a teen and drugs is well known.  Here is a PDF  report that might help :  Adolescent Brain Development and Drug Abuse.   To make matters worse, 5 million adolescents suffer from clinical depression and 70% are undiagnosed.  The numbers for drug & alcohol abuse are worse.; 10% of the  1.4 million American teens with SUD get treatment…” read the article here.   Courtesy of  “The Drug and Alcohol Scene”

Depending on who you talk to,  the percentage of drug addicts with serious mental  illness is as much as 53%.  That figure is from the  National Alliance on Mental Illness It is a subject that  flies in the face of state policies that define where publicly funded  psychiatric intervention can apply, which is often reserved for those who are a threat to themselves or others.  According to Dr. Glen Hanson,  drug addicts can initially mask mental health issues and later make them a lot worse.   What makes this so hard for families, is that state policies that mandate psychiatric evaluation are set up to define mental illness in a vacuum.  Drug addiction is a whole other issue.  It is defined as a self-inflicted condition based on an individuals choice.  Treatment for addiction is illusive at best.   But really came first the chicken or the egg; the addiction or the mental illness?  In the U.S., there is an estimated 5 million adolescents that suffer from clinical depression. Does this mean that these adolescents will soon make up 2.65 million more drug addicts?  Scary thought!  Mental illness is basically under diagnosed, while drug addiction stymies the efforts of parents wanting to save their kids and can’t afford specialized care; care that insurance companies have so craftily excluded from most policies.

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.

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