The impact of substance abuse and mental health issues spans individuals, families and communities. In 2013, an estimated 23.1 million Americans ages 12 and older needed some type of treatment for illegal drug or alcohol use. Many of these people are also impacted by a mental health diagnosis as well. The benefits of prevention, treatment and recovery are obvious and necessary in order to create better relationships with yourself, your body, your future, your family and your community. Perhaps you feel that you’re not using alcohol or marijuana or some other substance to excess. Every drug you take leeches something from you; certainly your health is impacted no matter what your substance of choice is.

Perhaps you feel you need something to help deal with your life. You are just taking the edge off, you think. You might imagine you have a handle on your use and it’s not having a negative effect on your life. Think again. Be honest with yourself. Everything you put in your body has an effect on you. Learning to cope with your life and the challenges you face can be achieved once you are ready to change your choices.

Time to take a personal inventory. Is a substance eroding your life? What are you losing by continuing to use? Depending on what substance you use, you could be trading your usage for a shorter time on this Earth. If heroin is your drug of choice, you could be gambling with your life with your very next fix. The latest batch of heroin from China was cut with Fentanyl, making a prescription painkiller that is cheaper than heroin, but 100 times more potent than morphine, causing the user to overdose. With illicit drugs, you can never be certain what the drug has been cut with. With meth, it does have destructive properties that eat up your internal organs and cause serious health conditions. With cocaine, it may be cut with relatively harmless talc or it could be cut with something that kills you.

This heroin epidemic that has swept the United States has severely impacted states across the map. In one small town in West Virginia in Huntington, a town of just 49,000 people, 27 people suffered from heroin overdoses in just four hours, necessitating the county coroner to stack up the bodies on top of each other because their due to lack of space.  Fentanyl, the very powerful opioid that is often used to augment street opioidsis, is the same substance that the singer/composer Prince overdosed on.

There is work you must do in order to kick whatever is controlling you and causing you to look outside of yourself for a solution. No matter what you use, after the drug wears off, there you are, still stuck with the same problems. Getting help means you will find out more about yourself and learning new coping skills.

It’s an internal journey that you must make in order to understand how to live in the world without being overwhelmed or frustrated. The first step is recognizing that a substance is impacting your life. The second step is doing something about it. If you have insurance, find out what is covered and how you can get the help you need before your family has to deal with the loss of you.

I have seen lovely individuals overdose, die or repeatedly relapsing because they’ve been on a drug so long, they don’t know how to cope without using as a buffer to dealing with life. No matter what you use and how long you’ve used it, there is hope for you. Most addicted folks started in their teens. The drugs stole from them the critical emotional development stages that are crucial at that stage, and here they are, maybe ten or twenty years later, older but no better able to cope than when they started using.

If you are afraid, don’t worry. Professionals know what challenges you are facing and they know how to help. So reach out to the recovery community for help. If you are unsure of how to begin, try attending an AA meeting or call your insurance company and ask what kind of coverage you have. There are programs that can help but you have to take the first steps. Advocate for your life. Be on your own side and find out what resources are available to you and then take the steps to end drugs controlling you and putting your health and your life at risk.

Acting on your own behalf to end your dependence and free yourself to grow and evolve is worth all your efforts and will help you make sure you are around for a long time and can grow and thrive. ~ STAY JUICY! 

~ by Lorraine E. Castro on September 12, 2017.

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