Recovery

Addiction: It may not be us; it may be our cages

Our country’s “War on Drugs” began in 1971 with President Nixon’s declaration that drug use was “public enemy number one in the United States.”

In addition to drugs as a symbol of youthful rebellion and radicalization, America’s new home-turf war was fueled by a growing literature base supporting the biological theory of addiction. However, one of the most interesting experiments to emerge from that era challenged this biological view. It became known as “Rat Park.”

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Addressing the Shortage of Child Psychiatrists—It Doesn’t Take Rocket Science, Phone Call Support Will Do It!

The numbers aren’t good. Approximately, 16-20 percent of the nation’s children and adolescents have some kind of behavioral disturbance, with 4-7 percent suffering from significant functional impairment, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. That translates to about 15 million youths who need specialty psychiatry. However, there are only 8,300 practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists. If every youth needing treatment was seen by one, that would be more than 1,800 patients per practitioner – an undoable ratio! However, this problem is not new, and with some creativity and practicality, phone consultation projects have been developed to address it. To get an understanding of just how they work, consider the story of Johnny Marks (a fictional case based…

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First-episode Psychosis: Why Timing Is Everything and It’s Not Just Taking the Meds That Matters

One of my all-time favorite films is A Beautiful Mind starring Russell Crowe as the great John Nash, the genius mathematician who died earlier this year in a car crash. John Nash won a Nobel Prize in 1994 for his revolutionary work on game theory. He also struggled throughout his life with delusions secondary to paranoid schizophrenia. However, with the support of his wife and colleagues, he was able to learn to live and function despite the vicious persistence of his underlying psychopathology. On average today, people have psychosis for one year and five months before being treated. This timeframe is six times longer than the World Health Organization guidelines for effective early onset intervention (less than three months). The…

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How Sometimes When You Lose, You Really Win

  In my first ever swimming race, I came last. Not second. Not third. Last. It was a flashy promotional event put on by Speedo at the Olympic pool in London. Top athletes were there to swim with us. There was even branded bunting. In the photo taken afterwards, I am standing brazenly (and inaccurately) on the winner’s block. The three girls with whom I’m sharing the podium are also laughing and pulling faces. It’s a competitive scene, and there are cameras all around. I’ve just gained the worst possible result, and I look the heaviest I’ve ever been. It is also the happiest picture I have of me as an adult. Belonging was not a condition of your ability…

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Access to Behavioral Health Care Promotes Post-Traumatic Growth

Achieving positive psychological growth from adversity Behavioral health was an issue we avoided during my 20 years as an Army Infantry officer. It wasn’t until I began working for a national behavioral health company nine years ago that I understood the value of timely behavioral health care for our military. Through Chris Kyle’s story, America saw three key elements of behavioral health support that can lead not only to recovery but also to growth for an individual exposed to extreme physical and mental trauma, often referred to as post-traumatic growth. For many, that education came overnight. One recent box office hit gave more than 25 million Americans a realistic view of the importance of behavioral health support for the recovery…

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The Sweet Spot for Peer Support

Many of us have experienced some traumatic event in our lives when a friend, close relation, spiritual leader or therapist has been very helpful. With their help, we’re often able to bounce back from life’s many traumatic events. That’s the essence of resilience. However, for those living with mental illness, sometimes it’s not that simple. Often, they need someone who has been there, which is where peer supports come in. Let me tell you my story to illustrate. There is a saying I later learned: seduced by the illness. I could actually see myself being magnificent in my defeat. At one point in my life, I considered myself a proud warrior. An officer in the world’s finest navy. The first…

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