Drug Abuse Instead of Mental Health Meds?

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December 10, 2012

Drug Abuse Instead of Mental Health Meds?

HOPE court Ohio

Should We Treat This Differently?


I have treated many addicts who are struggling with substance abuse while trying to medicate mental health symptoms. These dually diagnosed addicts get sober and then decide that they don’t want to take their mental health meds. Where does this lead them? Typically, it leads them right back to drugs and alcohol — looking for some kind of relief. Interesting how they fear taking mental health meds; but will take mind- and mood-altering drugs instead.
Ohio is one of several states using HOPE courts, which help addicts (including those with a dual diagnosis) receive proper treatment for their mental health and addiction while they are still in the court system. Judge Eric Martin, who presides over the program in Muskingum County, seems to have more of a social work approach than lawyer. He responds to the direct needs of the participants, insisting on attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, therapy, groups and participation in mental health assessments. If we had more people in our court system who used the same approach as Judge Martin, then maybe we could minimize the dually diagnosed addicts who are treated like criminals.
Having a dual diagnosis doesn’t excuse bad behaviors. However, the influence of those behaviors may be directly impacted by drugs and alcohol. Maybe the criminal behavior is a way for addicts who struggle with mental health issues to gain attention. It is our duty to help them get the support they need. I wonder if giving addicts mental health court may help eliminate the underlying issue of why they use drugs and alcohol, ultimately reducing their crime.
Do you think mental health court will minimize those dually diagnosed addicts who are treated like criminals? Share your opinion with us below or on Facebook.

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