BY: Jerome Mutchie, Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor for ThedaCare
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. One in five Americans will be affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime – and every American is affected or impacted through their friends and family.
According to the Journal of American Medical Association, 50 percent of the people who have a severe mental condition also have a substance abuse problem. JAMA also found that 37 percent of alcoholics have a mental illness, as do 53 percent of drug addicts.
I believe the numbers might be even higher than JAMA predictions.
Dual diagnosis is very common with the patients in our groups. We often need to treat the addiction first before we can help patients deal with their mental health issues. The first thing we need to do is to clear their minds. It often takes 30 days just to help them feel better so we can help them seek the kind of mental health resources they might need.
I work with two groups – each with eight people. Recovery planning requires exploring six dimensions of the wellness wheel: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Social, Occupational and Spiritual. Each person keeps a planner that they need to update each week demonstrating how they have touched at least three dimensions, three times each week. So, they may have started a new exercise routine, started volunteering for a non-profit and participated in new social situations. This is a six-week program. Our goal is to help them get balance in their lives so they can achieve success.
I see patients twice each week during the program, and provide additional support once they graduate. In addition to the six weeks of group, I also conduct three individual sessions to address issues that are not group fodder. After the six-week group, patients do “step down” treatment called, “Continuing Care For 8 More Weeks,” but it is less intensive (2-hour sessions, once per week).