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Mental Health Month in America: Let’s Cure Stigma

mental healthMay is finally underway which means the horizon of summer nears closer and closer, thankfully. At Synergy Group Services, we hope that you were able to participate in National Addiction Treatment Week, even if it was a short little post on your social media account; sharing a fact or words of encouragement can generate enormous ripples. Those who have come through the other side of active addiction are living embodiments of the programs’ power. Your compassion towards those still suffering can be the spark that lights the torch of another’s recovery.

Treatment Week is over, but that doesn’t mean we stop working to end the stigma of mental illness that prevents millions around the globe from seeking treatment. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), stigma prevents the 1 in 5 Americans with mental health conditions from seeking help. When you consider that 60 million people in the United States are living with any form of mental illness, stigma is standing in the way of millions of people’s recovery. But, it doesn’t need to be; together, those in recovery and not can change the narrative about mental health conditions and guide countless individuals toward recovery.

Perhaps you are already aware that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? If not, this is a perfect opportunity to help organizations like NAMI and Mental Health America raise awareness of mental health and support changing society’s perception of debilitating brain diseases. Throughout the course of the month events are going on across the country; hopefully, you will find time to take part. If not, you can utilize social media; when efficiently wielded, the internet is a powerful weapon for fighting stigma.

Mental Health and Curing Stigma

NAMI has set its sights on helping the general public better understand stigma and the impact it can have on those living with mental illness. Given how pervasive stigma is, it is not uncommon for individuals to know they are contributing to the problem. With that in mind, NAMI offers a short quiz that everyone can take to determine if stigma has infected them, please take a moment to take the test and be part of the cure. As an aside, some people in recovery may have views about mental illness that are not in line with the facts; stigma can be an internal feeling confusing “feeling bad” with “being bad.” The point is, addressing the virus of stigma is vital for all of us.

Effective ways to work the problem and be the solution:

  • Examine your own behavior before judging others.
  • Stigma may not directly affect you, but it prevents others from seeking help.
  • Be an ally to people with mental health conditions.
  • There’s no cure for mental health conditions, but we can cure stigma.
  • Take the test, find out if you need to make some adjustments.

Please take a moment to watch a short video:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with alcohol, substance use disorder, and co-occurring mental illness, Synergy Group Services can assist you in your recovery. Please contact Synergy today to learn more about our programs.

Addiction Figures In The United States

addictionAlcohol and substance use disorder is a disease, a form of mental illness defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the U.S). Addiction is not up for debate any longer, people who misuse drugs and alcohol are not morally weak; instead, such people are struggling with a severe mental health disorder that requires treatment.

Synergy Group Services is committed to doing our part to help end the stigma that, for too long, hovers over people with use disorders. Decreasing stigma is perhaps the most effective way to encourage individuals to seek help and lead productive lives in recovery. There are options for people battling drug and alcohol addiction, but if people are fearful of experiencing social repercussions for seeking assistance they are less inclined to reach out for help. It is up to all of to do whatever we can to educate others about the nature of mental illness.

Perhaps the best way to accomplish such a feat it to make sure the general public has a better understanding of the prevalence of addiction in America. Some of our readers may find themselves in awe of the staggering rates of addiction in the U.S., especially the statistics about how few people manage to access care. The figures below are also a clear indication of the fact that a mental health disorder can touch anyone and that practically every family includes a member struggling with addiction.

Addiction Epidemic

addictionOver 20 million Americans suffer from addiction, yet only 1 in 10 receive treatment, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). Of the 2.3 million Americans battling opioid use disorder in 2015, only 1.4 million people received any kind of treatment (i.e., MAT, detox, residential, or outpatient). Since alcohol is legal in the U.S., people often forget that many misuse it more than any other mind-altering substance. What’s more, alcohol is involved in significantly more premature deaths each year than opioids.

It’s likely that most of our readers have some knowledge about the dangers of prescription opioids and heroin. You have probably heard that 64,000 Americans fell victim to an overdose death in 2016 and that roughly 100 people die of an overdose each day in the U.S. Even though alcohol use and abuse is more pervasive than opioids, many people are not aware of the toll alcohol takes on society. For instance:

  • About half of liver disease deaths in the U.S. involve alcohol misuse.
  • An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually.
  • Alcohol is the third leading cause of premature death in America.
  • An estimated 15.1 million adults suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder, yet only 1.3 million adults (or less than 10%) received treatment.

The above figures, complements of ASAM, paint a pretty stark picture of alcohol and substance use in the U.S. At this time, the organization is hosting events across the country and online in observance of National Addiction Treatment Week. ASAM hopes to raise awareness about addiction being a disease and spread the message that evidence-based treatments are available. If you would like more information on how to get involved in this most vital task, please click here.

Addiction Treatment

If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder, Synergy Group Services can assist you in finding recovery. Please contact Synergy today to learn more about our programs.

Opioids On College Campuses

opioidsTowards the end of 2017, The New York Times published an article which reveals some alarming opioid statistics. While most people understand that painkillers and heroin affect people from several walks of life and practically every age group, it’s likely that a significant number of individuals are unaware that opioids are also affecting young adults in college. Just because people can get into prestigious schools, doesn’t mean that they are going to make wise decisions. Prescription opioid misuse falls under such a category.

In fact, between 2001 to 2014, data indicates a six-fold increase in opioid use disorder among people under age 25. In roughly the same timeframe, opioid overdose deaths pretty much doubled for the age group. The 2016 Monitoring the Future survey of college students reveals that 7% misused opioids and the number of Blue Cross Blue Shield opioid-related claims has nearly increased twofold in almost a decade.

The author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education (2015), Ryan Craig wrote an op-ed recently appearing in Forbes which displays some interesting observations about opioid use disorder and college students. After speaking with experts, like Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis and others working in the field of addiction, he lays out a pretty concerning picture of prescription drugs use at universities across the country.

Schools Must Confront Opioids

Craig points out that while most colleges have naloxone on campus for use in the event of an overdose, he says that schools are falling short in addressing the underlying issues. He presents “four fundamental elements of college campuses make them suboptimal environments for those struggling with opioids:”

  1. An anything-goes approach to alcohol and drugs;
  2. high pressure;
  3. lack of structure;
  4. they’re in this environment for at least four years.

Despite the fact that a number of 4-year schools offer students the option of living in sober dorms and some even provide counseling services, Craig believes that such programs don’t go far enough. The author says college programs for people in recovery don’t treat addiction and students spend the majority of their time outside the specialty dorms; he has concluded that if universities are serious about assisting people living with addiction, they must expand their sober programs to include:

  • Medical treatment under medical supervision.
  • Separation from other students and much more structure – tapering off as students demonstrate success.
  • Offer off-ramps leading to good jobs, so students don’t need to spend four years in order to get a win. Most parents of young adults struggling with opioids would trade anything for a clean, employed child; a degree is the least of their concerns. Then provide on-ramps back to degree programs for students who are prepared for the next challenge.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If you are a college student misusing prescription opioids or heroin, Synergy Group Services can assist you in finding recovery. Please contact Synergy today to discuss making recovery a part of your life. We understand that education is of vital importance to you and your family, treatment will provide you with the skills for completing higher education unhindered by drugs and alcohol.

Recovery Plan for the Holiday Weekend

recoveryAnother holiday weekend is upon us, and for those working a program of recovery, it is vital that steps are taken to avoid complications. While Passover and Easter may not be super important to everyone, for many people this is an essential time for observance. Just because you do not associate a holiday with heavy alcohol use, it doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. After all, any holiday that involves spending time with family, both being around loved ones, and not, can result in several emotions rising from within you. Coping with your feelings in constructive ways can make all the difference, especially if long-term recovery is your goal.

It is vital that you do not discount the power of emotions. A considerable number of people in early recovery have not yet regained the trust and confidence of their friends and family; which means that some of you may not spend time with loved ones this weekend. Disliking your current reality is OK, natural even, but it should not be cause for behaving in ways that will not benefit your recovery. Remember, the program gives us tools for managing uncomfortable feelings; instead of dwelling on deficiencies in your life, double your efforts in recovery. You are not alone, your program, support network, and the fellowship are always available to assist you with any obstacle. Significant holidays easily qualify as a potential barrier to progress.

Hopefully, you have already begun planning your drug and alcohol-free weekend. If not, take some time today to start planning how you will navigate the coming days without doing anything that could jeopardize all your hard work.

Utilizing Your Support Network in Recovery

Those of you who have plans to spend time with close friends and family this weekend must also make time for your program. No matter what, recovery comes before anything else for the simple reason that without your program nothing beneficial is possible. Getting to a meeting before and after family gatherings is a surefire way to avoid the trappings of alcohol and substance use. The “meeting before” grounds you, allowing you to proceed with your plans with focus; the “meeting after” can act as a decompression chamber sparing you of the familial “bends.” Feelings can quickly arise without you knowing it when in the company of family, left unchecked, “stinking thinking” ensues. Processing your feeling with your support network protects against relapse.

Anyone who doesn’t have a holiday agenda this weekend would be wise to stay close to your “recovery family;” the people who you sit next to you every week in meetings. It doesn’t matter how you refer to such people—friends, peers, or acquaintances—they have a vested interest in your wellbeing. What’s more, some of the individuals in your inner-recovery circle might need your assistance over the weekend; being there for them, and vice versa can significantly strengthen your program. Never downplay the vital role you play in other people’s lives, recovery is inextricably linked with being of service to others. Call the people in your support network and lock down plans for safely traversing the holiday weekend.

Making a schedule of meetings, you plan to attend is crucial. Keep to your plan as best you can and it far less likely you will encounter problems. If you get into a risky situation, make a phone call or get to a meeting ASAP. The dedicated staff of Synergy Group Services would like to wish everyone a safe and sober holiday.

Addiction Treatment

If you are struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact Synergy today to discuss your treatment options. Lasting recovery is possible, and the healing process starts with reaching out for help.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2018

problem gamblingAddiction is a broad term that covers a multitude of behavioral health conditions. More times than not, when people think of addiction they consider alcohol and substance use disorders; however, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), which classifies mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the U.S, indicates that addiction takes many forms.

Mental illness in any form takes a severe toll on people’s lives. Without treatment, those living with mental health disorders are at risk of experiencing adverse effects, i.e., social, familial, employment, and financial problems. One behavioral health disorder that doesn’t involve the use of drugs or alcohol is problem gambling; while blackjack may not lead to an overdose death, the condition still has the power to destroy lives. What’s more, there are more compulsive gamblers in America than you’d think; almost 10 million people had problem gambling addiction in 2016.

Addressing problem gambling isn’t dissimilar to how you would any mental health disorder; prevention, treatment, and recovery services. Getting compulsive gamblers the help they require rests in encouraging the afflicted to talk about their condition and seek treatment.

Problem Gambling Awareness Month

Educating people about the nature of problem gambling is of the utmost importance. Those who gamble, despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop, put their entire family at risk of problems. Compulsive gambling recovery doesn’t just help the gambler; it improves the lives of loved ones as well. March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM); it is a time to talk about the effects of the disorder and options for those struggling with the condition. Now, in its 14th year, the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) asks that we “Have the Conversation.

Events will be taking place across the country all through March. The goals are to raise public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment & recovery services. The NCPG would like to encourage healthcare providers to screen clients for problem gambling. As with any mental health condition, when patients feel like they can talk about their issues without fear, recovery is possible.

If you are interested in attending a PGAM event, you can find more information here. You can also play a part in raising awareness about this treatable disorder using social media. The organization has several graphics you can share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, et. al.

Compulsive Gambling Treatment

If you or a loved one is a problem gambler, Synergy Group Services holistic treatment approach can help. We can assist you in getting a better understanding of your illness’ nature and provide tools that will help you regain balance of mind, body, and spirit. Please contact us today to begin the life-changing journey of addiction recovery.

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