Transforming Lives. Transforming Rehabilitation.

At Addiction Treatment Services International (ATSI), each client is treated with compassion and respect. Here, you or your loved one will learn to overcome the disease of addiction, understand why addiction has taken control and, in turn, change life for the better. Why? Because we make long-term recovery possible by advancing standards and practices in the field of substance use disorder treatment.

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September is Suicide Prevention Month

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Co-Occurring Disorders and Mental Health

walking_awayDid you know that September is Suicide Prevention Month? With all of the great causes out there, this one sometimes gets overlooked, but we need to all do what we can to create awareness about this issue. It starts with a conversation.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, according to studies. Most people who experience thoughts of suicide are too afraid to tell anyone, so they keep it a secret. Without help, these people continue to struggle and sink deeper into depression, mental illness, substance abuse, and they may try to commit suicide.

This month’s theme is “One conversation can change a life.” Talk to someone if you think they might be struggling with this issue. If you are having suicidal thoughts yourself, find someone to talk to. Confiding in a treatment provider, therapist, doctor, or good friend can be the first step toward getting the help you need.

Know the warning signs of suicide.

According to NAMI, warning signs include:

  • Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more overt and dangerous
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Talking, writing or thinking about death
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior

PTSD after the World Trade Center Attack: 14 years later

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Co-Occurring Disorders and Mental Health

WTCAs our country today remembers the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, many people are still dealing with the aftermath. Physical illness, injury, and mental illness are still causing problems for many people who were in New York that day, and these can often have far-reaching effects.

Several studies have been done since 9/11 on those that were impacted by the event. Among the most common lasting effects is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A study conducted by New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene estimated that up to 20 percent of people present during the attacks experienced PTSD, which is approximately four times more than what is typically seen in the general population.

A panel of experts describes the effects in a report to New York’s mayor. “While New York has strongly rebounded in the years since 9/11, one of the painful legacies of the disaster is its lasting effect on the physical and mental health of thousands of individuals who survived the attacks— including the City’s first responders, volunteers from all 50 states who came to assist in the rescue, recovery and clean-up operations, and area residents, school children, large and small businesses, City employees, and commercial workers.”

PTSD often goes hand in hand with substance use. Many people with this mental health condition, unable to find peace of mind and a normal life, turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. This only makes the problem worse and contributes even more to the mental illness. There has been much progress in the treatment of mental illness and substance use disorders in the years since 9/11, and those finding themselves dealing with co-occurring disorders like this should get professional help immediately.

Read more about the effects of the World Trade Center attacks here.

How to Manage Depression without Turning to Drugs or Alcohol

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Co-Occurring Disorders and Mental Health

file0002062790027Mental health disorders and substance abuse often go hand in hand, but many people don’t realize just how closely related these conditions are.

  • According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), about 20 percent of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder, such as depression, also have a substance abuse disorder, and about 20 percent of those with a substance abuse problem also have an anxiety or mood disorder.
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) concludes that compared with the general population, people addicted to drugs are roughly twice as likely to have mood and anxiety disorders, and vice versa.

There are many reasons for the connection between co-occurring disorders. Someone who is sad or depressed will eventually want to find ways to feel better, because over time, chronic depression and other mental health disorders can become very taxing on a person’s mind and body. Sometimes it seems easier for the person to turn to drugs or alcohol to numb their feelings and soothe their mind. Even though the drugs or alcohol might make the person feel better at the moment, eventually they will make things much worse. The person will become dependent on the substance to feel normal or to function at a level that will allow them to get through the day, and then they will have to deal with an addiction as well as mental health disorder.

If you are struggling with depression, turning to substances to self-medicate is not the answer. Instead, find healthy ways to deal with the mental health issue. First of all, consult a doctor or psychiatrist about your feelings and follow their advice and treatment plan. Then, incorporate things like proper nutrition and exercise, stress reduction techniques, positive social interactions, and counseling and doctor-prescribed medications if necessary to manage the depression. Above all, be open about what you are going through and ask for help when you need it.

Learn more about co-occurring disorders here.

Recent Violence Linked to Mental Illness

Written by Bethany Winkel on . Posted in Co-Occurring Disorders and Mental Health

DSC06922 (1)According to officials, mental illness could be to blame for the recent shootings in America. Both John Russell Houser, shooter in the Louisiana movie theater attack, and Chattanooga gunman, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, struggled with mental health and depression in the past. Authorities say that the mental health issues of these men could have led them to carry out these atrocious acts of violence.

Mental illness is an issue that affects many Americans. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 42.5 million American adults (or 18.2 percent of the total adult population in the United States) suffer from some mental illness, enduring conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Of those, 9.3 million adults, or about 4 percent of those Americans ages 18 and up, experience “serious mental illness” which is categorized as impeding their normal daily activities.

Mental illness itself is debilitating, but it can also contribute to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. In order to heal mental health issues and keep a person from turning to addiction to numb their pain, we need to screen more people for mental illness and provide help when necessary.

Read more about the history of the Louisiana and Chattanooga gunmen, and then weigh in with us how you feel our country can prevent episodes like this from occurring.

George W. Bush Wants to Drop the “D” In PTSD

Written by ATSI Admin on . Posted in Co-Occurring Disorders and Mental Health

PTSD symbol design isolated on white background. Anxiety disorder symbol designFormer President George W. Bush is calling on the medical community to drop the “D” from “PTSD.” According to the Marine Corps Times, Bush joins retired Army Gen. Pete Chiarelli and veterans’ groups who are in favor of dubbing PTSD an injury rather than a psychological disorder. In turn, the initiative aims to remove the heavy stigma associated with PTSD.

PTSD Statistics, and the Stigma Attached

PTSD is a mental health disorder that develops as the result of a traumatic experience, such as violence, disaster, tragedy or war. PTSD often leads those who suffer with this crippling condition to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, which only worsens the symptoms while putting individuals at risk for substance addiction. Symptoms of PTSD include recurring nightmares, chronic stress, memory loss, delusions, panic attacks and sudden flashbacks.

PTSD is more common than you may think. Take these statistics:

  • Approximately 7.7 million American adults age 18 and older, or about 3.5 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have PTSD. [NIMH]
  • PTSD expected to touch 8 percent of adults during their lives. By contrast, just over 3 percent of Americans have cancer. [NBC]
  • The number of post-9/11 veterans with PTSD is unknown; a 2010 Rand Corp. study placed estimates at 5 percent to 20 percent, or 125,000 to 500,000 people. [Marine Corps Times]
  • About 20 percent of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder, such as PTSD, have an alcohol or other substance abuse disorder. [ADAA.org]

Sadly, many people with PTSD do not seek treatment, often due to fear, embarrassment or shame; for example, the Marine Corps Times notes that many employers discriminate against veterans for fear they may have a psychiatric disorder. About this issue, Bush says, “Employers would not hesitate to hire an employee getting treated for a medical condition like diabetes. … They should not hesitate to hire veterans getting treated for post-traumatic stress.”

PTSD Treatment at ATSI

At ATSI, our Trauma and PTSD Program is specifically designed to help men and women identify, address and heal their past experiences, process traumas and develop healthier coping skills in order to manage the symptoms. Our licensed therapists are experienced in treating trauma issues, and utilize an array of evidence-based therapies that prove successful among cases of PTSD, including cognitive behavioral therapy and other psychotherapy techniques.

Do you think the “D” should be dropped from PTSD?

The Link Between Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Written by ATSI Admin on . Posted in Addiction Treatment, Co-Occurring Disorders and Mental Health

integrated-treatment[image via dualdiagnosis.org]

Behavioral health issues and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand and are referred to as “co-occurring disorders.” Someone who suffers from co-occurring disorders must get the right kind of treatment in order to fully and truly recover  long-term. Researchers have found that behavioral health issues often cause, impact and mask substance abuse, and vice versa.

According to SAMHSA:

  • More than 8.9 million persons have co-occurring disorders.
  • Only 7.4 percent of individuals receive treatment for both conditions, and 55.8 percent receive no treatment at all.

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