By: Carol Briggs, Clinical Intern

In the world of mental wellness and recovery, September is marked as the month to educate people about substance use and the mental health services that improve the lives of individuals and families. It is also an opportunity to increase awareness of the discrimination and stigma that those with substance use and mental health concerns face.

We cannot talk about mental health without talking about substance use. About 4 million Americans have a mental health condition in addition to a dependency on drugs or alcohol and of those, only about 12 percent receive help for both ( Discriminatory beliefs about substance use and those in recovery fuel the stigma surrounding mental health. Shame is often a byproduct of addiction. Those with a substance use issue need shame like a sinking ship needs water.

Taking the first step to recovery can be difficult and terrifying. There are multiple treatment options available from inpatient treatment centers, intensive outpatient programs, and weekly outpatient therapy. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows for individuals to take time off work for substance abuse treatment without risk of losing their job.

These are some signs that indicate you, or someone you love might have problematic substance use:

  •  Abandoning friends or family in favor of new activities or a new crowd
  • Struggling to keep up with school or work
  • Dishonest behavior used to get access to substance or addiction
  • Staying up late at night and sleeping during the day
  • Unsuccessful attempts to quit using drugs, drinking, gambling, or having unsafe sex
  • Expressing feelings of guilt or regret about a compulsive behavior
  • Seeking out larger doses of drugs, more alcoholic beverages, or more extreme high-risk behavior to get the same high
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after trying to quit a harmful substance or cutting down the dose

If you have a co-occurring mental health issue, your recovery plan should address both issues to be most effective. At Owens & Associates, you can find therapists experienced in treating co-occurring mental health and substance use issues. Our approach includes compassion, empathy, and evidenced-based modalities and techniques as well as referral relationships with several local treatment centers. Call for a free 15-minute consultation. Recovery is possible!