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Helping Addicts Who Are Mentally IllPremium Content

How can we help the addict who is also mentally ill?

A. Understanding "Dual Diagnosis" -- Up to one-third of today's homeless adults are mentally ill. The trend toward "deinstitutionalization" of the mentally ill has meant that our city streets are now being flooded with people who at one time would have been hospitalized for their problems. As many as half of them are also addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. Many are "self-medicating" -- using addictive substances to cope with their mental problems. Social service professionals usually do not like working with these "dually diagnosed" people because they can be so demanding and time-consuming. They can be too destructive and troubled for the typical addiction recovery program. And, mental health workers shy away from them because they often do not stay sober long enough for treatments to be effective. So, they end up at the rescue mission.

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When is a Client Truly Ready to Move On?Premium Content

I am convinced that our goal in any recovery program is to "work ourselves out of a job." Or to say it another way, we ought always to be helping program people to become stable and growing believers who can experience God's power and guidance for themselves. This is the exact opposite "missionizing people" -- the rescue mission version of institutionalization. I am referring to the problem of teaching people how to live in the confines of the mission, but not equipping them for life outside. This is usually the case when program people seem to doing fine but end up crashing and burning a day after they leave the program.

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Hallmarks of a Healthy Support GroupPremium Content

Simply stated, a support group is a regular meeting of individuals who have joined together to offer one another support and encouragement in order to overcome a shared problem. In informal, small group settings, participants, in turn, share their own experiences, feelings and struggles

Ideally, a good support group is, first, a place where recovering addicts will find true acceptance and a sense of what unconditional love is all about. It is a safe, non-judgmental setting where they can express struggles, thoughts, ideas, and feelings without fear of rejection. Hearing the stories of others with similar difficulties and how they overcame them, gives the struggling addict great encouragement to go on in a life of sobriety.

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Find a Treatment Center

Looking for a Treatment Center near you? Here are a great locators:

RehabInfo.net

SAMHSA Locator

Directory of U.S. Substance Abuse Facilities and Programs

To find listings of drug rehab programs and treatment centers, alcohol rehabilitation programs, halfway houses, sober houses, eating
disorder centers and clinics, drug detoxification & alcohol detox centers, etc. see: http://www.sober.com

Checklist of Symptoms Leading to RelapsePremium Content

While each individual must maintain the disciplines that insure sobriety, there are ways in which others can help. Nearly every person close to the addicted person is able to recognize behavior changes that indicate a return to the old ways of thinking. Often these individuals and fellow Christians in Recovery® members have tried to warn the subject, who by now may not be willing to be told. He may consider it nagging or a violation of his privacy. There are many danger signs.

Most addicted people, if approached properly, would be willing to go over an inventory of symptoms with a spouse or other confidante. If the symptoms are caught early enough and recognized, the addicted person will usually try to change the way they think, to get "back on the beam" again.

A weekly inventory of symptoms might prevent some relapses. This added discipline is one that many addicted people seem willing to try. The following list can be used by spouses, close friends, or the addicted person.

1. Exhaustion: Allowing yourself to become too tired or in poor health.

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Free Addiction Treatment is Available

Many people do not know what options are available to them when seeking addiction recovery treatment free of cost.

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Free Addiction Treatment is Available
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Organizing the Addiction Counseling Process - Part 1Premium Content

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

In the past thirty years of my work, I have had the opportunity to visit many facilities that help the homeless. When I see a man in a recovery program I like to ask, "How is he doing?" I usually just get a pat answer like, "Well, he’s been with us for six months." The problem with this answer, of course is that a sober, healthy lifestyle is not automatically picked up just by hanging around the mission for a certain length of time.

The only way to really know is by keeping accurate written records that show how we are meeting the individual needs of the people in our programs. A formal needs assessment process is needed. The information that is gathered provides the foundation for a written recovery plan (or discipleship plan). The purpose of such a plan is to help program people think through their options, to identify their own needs, and to determine which specific actions they must take to get their needs met. To ensure maximum "buy in," the plan should be developed with lots of input from counselees themselves.

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Women & Substance AbusePremium Content

  • Although women drink less than men, the number of women who do drink is significant. Estimates indicate that of the 15.1 million people who abuse alcohol or are alcohol-dependent, 4.6 million are women. That means that roughly one-third of alcoholics are women.
  • The number of women who report using illicit drugs is alarming, although women are less likely to use illicit drugs than men. Five percent of women and 8 percent of men report having used illicit drugs during the last 30 days.
  • In 1989, 43 percent of drug abuse patients admitted to emergency rooms were female and 56 percent were male.
  • Cigarette use among women has decreased at the rate of about 1 percent each year since 1985. Use during the last 30 days by women was at 24.2 percent in 1990, down from a 1985 figure of 28.1 percent.
  • Women who drink heavily or are alcoholic are more likely to become victims of the alcohol-related aggression of others, such as date rape.
  • Drinking varies among women of different racial or ethnic backgrounds. African American women were more likely to abstain from drinking alcohol (66.9 percent) than White women (52.6 percent) during the month prior to their interview.

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Aftercare for Recovery ProgramsPremium Content

For Christian programs that work to help addicts, the primary goal is to help them to become integrated into two vital communities -- the Church and the recovery community. If our goal is truly to work ourselves out of a job, then we must make sure we are spending enough time and energy preparing our clients for life after our programs. If we don’t, we have done them a great disservice. No matter how success we are with newly sober clients, they will still leave or programs as struggling baby Christians. We must be sure that these new believers knows where to find help when they experiences struggles, even 2, 5, 10 years and more in the future, no matter where they live.

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Twelve Steps to FreedomPremium Content

The Twelve Steps originated with Alcoholics Anonymous in the mid 1930's. Besides being used to help alcoholics and drug addicts, the Twelve Steps have been used in support groups for family members, over-eaters, compulsive gamblers, and even for those desiring to escape from sexual addiction. These Steps formed the basis of treatment and counseling activities at New Creation Center where I served as Executive Director for ten years in the 1980's.

In the past few years, a movement recognizing the power of the Twelve Steps has sprung up among evangelical Christians concerned with those struggling with various addictions. Some believers worry that they bring secular concepts to the Christian counseling field.

From where do these Twelve Steps derive their power? The answer is very simple; from the Bible! Although following the Steps does not always bring an alcoholic (or other sufferer) into a saving relationship with Christ, they do work in overcoming addictions. This is shown by the millions of people who have found sobriety since AA's beginning. In some ways, it is very much like the businessman who succeeds financially when he makes spiritual principles the basis of his business practices.

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