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Old 07-01-2016, 08:37 AM
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Default Mental Health when you're an addict question

My niece, who is 25, has been a meth/crank user for almost 2 years. Not continually, but occasionally, if that's believable. In the last few months, she graduated to heroin. My brother got her into a mental health center as she had been diagnosed as bipolar, BPD and ADHD. The first day, their concern was what meds to put her on to manage all of those diagnoses.

Now, my question is this. If you have been using heroin and not terribly often, would those meds be more important than getting you clean from the heroin? My brother said that the dr. said she hadn't been doing so much that she was going to go through withdrawals or DTs. They have her slated to go into rehab - her initial request because she knows she has a serious problem, but it will be a week to 10 days before a slot opens up. They will send her back home to live with my brother until then.

This sounds crazy to me, but I have absolutely no basis of comparison on either the mental health aspect or the drugs. I'm just hoping it's not some backwoods dr. who doesn't know the right thing/way to do things.
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Old 07-01-2016, 10:09 AM
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I wouldn't know anything on the subject. Glad that she is getting help and prayers for your family while everyone is affected by addiction and the whole recovery process.
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Old 07-01-2016, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by momwalker1966 View Post
I wouldn't know anything on the subject. Glad that she is getting help and prayers for your family while everyone is affected by addiction and the whole recovery process.
That's just how I feel. I consider myself a very smart person and I have read a great deal on the subjects over the years, but honestly, I don't know a thing.

The saddest thing is that she was raised away from my brother by a mom who "dr. shops" for pills and is surprised that her daughter got caught up in a drug lifestyle. Not to mention that this same mom is raising my niece's 2 young sons. Sounds like a white trash soap opera - oh if I could write a book and change the names to protect the innocent.

Thanks for the prayers, especially her two boys, who don't understand any of this.
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Old 07-01-2016, 01:10 PM
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I hope she can get straightened out and for the good of her kids be healthy. Im not big on taken o.t.c meds but maybe bc shes gone from meth to heiron she requires to meds to get rid of the side affects of coming down/off.

It is sad when family doesnt realize a drug is a deug no matter if u get it from a white coat or crack head on street.
Ill be praying for the kiddos.
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Old 07-01-2016, 02:27 PM
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I am no expert but it seems mental health issues and drug abuse often cross paths or go hand in hand. Often it seems the drugs are used to treat the mental health issue without the person even realizing that, that is what they are doing. They just know that the "problem" is gone when they use the drug. Also if the entire family doesn't get the help needed then the addict will continue to struggle with the addiction cycle. I will keep the entire family in my prayers.

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Old 07-01-2016, 05:16 PM
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I am no expert but it seems mental health issues and drug abuse often cross paths or go hand in hand. Often it seems the drugs are used to treat the mental health issue without the person even realizing that, that is what they are doing. They just know that the "problem" is gone when they use the drug. Also if the entire family doesn't get the help needed then the addict will continue to struggle with the addiction cycle. I will keep the entire family in my prayers.
That's exactly what happens. She had been taking Adderall, under a drs. care, but ran out one weekend and was hanging out with the wrong crowd. They offered her some meth, she took it and guess what? It "worked" better than the Adderall!
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Old 07-01-2016, 07:09 PM
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I don't have much experience with the drug using part of it, but I have plenty of experience with the mental health issue being that my mother has bipolar. Drugs and mental health issues are toxic. While the average person can have a drink or two, people with mental health issues should just completely abstain. My mother was living with us at one point, and had started drinking wine. It agitated her bipolar so much that I told her she either had to stop drinking or leave because I was tired of taking care of her whenever she had another episode and my oldest son was only a baby at the time.

Since your niece is already a drug user, I think addressing her mental health issues trumps her drug issues because they may have added to the cause of her starting drugs in the first place. If not, then she can address her drug issues once her mental ones have been straightened out.

Also, contrary to what some may think, it's absolutely imperative that people with mental issues stay on their meds. I'm not a fan of taking medication at all, but I've seen firsthand for almost 20 years what happens when someone with a mental disorder refuses meds. It's frustrating hearing people say, "Oh they don't need them. They just need to cheer up, get out the house..." and what not because it is not that simple. They cannot control themselves when their disorder takes over. They need those meds. If they know they have the disorder and refuse meds, anything they do during their episode is their own fault. I can't express the amount of resentment I had for my mother growing up and even throughout my 20's because her disorder is manageable. It got to the point where we could tell when she stopped taking her meds again and another episode would occur. I was the one who had to take care of everyone during those times as my father was in the military and was away during some of her episodes. I'd been doing it since I was 10 and it really wasn't fair to me being that all she had to do was take a couple of pills to not end up in that state. So I become a bit irate when people tell those with mental issues that they don't need medication because I can assure you that the family at home actually dealing with the situation can give a completely different outlook.

I hope everything works out for your niece, and I hope that if she gets straightened out, she'll stay on that path so that her children won't grow up with any ill feelings toward their mother.
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Old 07-01-2016, 10:20 PM
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I'm not a mental health expert either, but I do have an interest in the subject and work for a mental health agency (not with the clients - I work in the corporate office). I have no formal education in the mental health field so take what I say with a grain of salt, but I agree with a lot of the things Jay86 and others mentioned.

Bipolar and Borderline are serious diagnoses (and ADHD too of course) that will likely require life-long medication. As Jay said, mental illness is not something that you can just will away...I'm also not a "medicine pusher" type person but in cases where the medical condition puts the life of the individual and/or others around them in danger, then I absolutely think meds are necessary. When prescribed correctly, the meds should help normalize the person's behavior and thought patterns to help combat the extremes someone with bipolar and/or bpd regularly experiences. Finding the right medication will very likely take some time and trial/error. I would certainly also recommend finding a therapist, support groups, getting exercise regularly, eating well and all the other "natural" things that can help a person stay on track (but as Jay said, they won't work alone for someone with bipolar/bpd). I hope the doctors are able to find something that works for your niece and that she stays on it. I've heard of people who had been taking medication for a couple of years and hadn't had any more issues (no manic episodes, etc) so they decided to stop taking their meds....surprise, surprise a few months later, they have a manic episode after the effects of their meds have fully worn off! I completely understand the urge - it seems like you're "cured" - but maintaining the regime is very important.

Make sure that your niece likes her doctor and that the doctor is being attentive. There are plenty of good psychiatrists/psychologists out there, but also plenty of bad ones or ones that just aren't a good match for one patient even though they may be great for another. I'm not sure what the financial situation is, but there are places/doctors that will charge on a sliding scale (no fee/low fee).

I recommend the family does as much research as they possibly can. Unfortunately, people don't like to talk about mental illness in this country and many more people suffer than necessary because of it. On a lighter note, there is a great podcast that I have been listening to for years called the "Mental Illness Happy Hour." You can find it on itunes or their website mentalpod.com if interested. It was started by comedian Paul Gilmartin (long time host of that TBS "Dinner and a Movie" thing) who himself struggles with his own and his mother's mental illness. He started out interviewing mainly other comedian/celebrity friends of his who also dealt with mental illness in some capacity but he has greatly expanded that over the years to now include many of his listeners experiences (through surveys and in person interviews) and mental health experts (therapists, social workers, etc). There are hundreds of episodes discussing pretty much every mental illness known (including people who have bipolar, bpd, and adhd - you can use the search function in the corner of the website to find the specific eps that mention each of those topics). It's a great podcast in my opinion where people are incredibly honest about their struggles and the things that have helped them. I should warn, it can feature some dark/obscene humor on occasion - as Paul and his guests often say some things are so horrible you just have to laugh.

Hope something I've said helps in a small way and best of luck to your niece and your family.

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Old 07-01-2016, 11:42 PM
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There were some parts of your response Mary that I very much agreed with and would like to comment on them:

"...but in cases where the medical condition puts the life of the individual and/or others around them in danger, then I absolutely think meds are necessary."

That is very true. My mom would sometimes become violent, and during one of her episodes, I had to physically hold her down so that she wouldn't hurt herself or my sisters. My youngest sister was 2 at the time. I was living 2 hours away at college, and had to drop everything and rush home because my other sister called crying saying that our mother was freaking out.

"When prescribed correctly, the meds should help normalize the person's behavior and thought patterns to help combat the extremes someone with bipolar and/or bpd regularly experiences."

This is something I don't think many people understand. If a "normal" person is in a stressful situation, they handle that situation better than someone with bipolar. That's why it's even more important they continue their meds during times of stress. Take how a "normal" person would handle it, and multiply by 50,000 of how someone with mental illness would.

"Finding the right medication will very likely take some time and trial/error. I would certainly also recommend finding a therapist, support groups, getting exercise regularly, eating well and all the other "natural" things that can help a person stay on track (but as Jay said, they won't work alone for someone with bipolar/bpd)."

Spot on. All those other things basically just maintain the mental health that their medication is stabilizing. Without the medication in the first place, they'd be all over the place. Once the meds are straightened out, then like any other person, they would do whatever they feel keeps them grounded.

"I've heard of people who had been taking medication for a couple of years and hadn't had any more issues (no manic episodes, etc) so they decided to stop taking their meds....surprise, surprise a few months later, they have a manic episode after the effects of their meds have fully worn off! I completely understand the urge - it seems like you're "cured" - but maintaining the regime is very important."

THIS. That is EXACTLY what my mother would do which would basically turn her into a ticking time bomb that we could see from a mile away about to explode. It also didn't help that people such as her mother and friends, kept telling her she didn't need the medication which gave her the excuses she needed to stop taking them. We BEGGED her to take her meds during my parents' divorce. We told her over and over that a stressful situation like that would definitely send her into an episode, and she didn't listen. She lost her job and my SISTERS to my dad. She tried to blame it on my dad, the stress of losing her job, but my sister and I weren't hearing it. That was precisely why we begged her to take her meds. It took my sister years to forgive her being that she was a minor at the time and therefore had to endure living among my father and his family who treated us like garbage. So taking meds regularly is very important no matter how "good" one may feel. THEY COULD LOSE EVERYTHING. Thanks to that episode, my youngest sister is still in the custody of our father since he was able to prove that my mother doesn't regularly take her meds and made her seem too unstable to keep my sister.

I'm not sure what the financial situation is, but there are places/doctors that will charge on a sliding scale (no fee/low fee)."

Yes, look into state funded clinics and what not. When my mother lived with me, I found an agency that set her up with a therapist and gave her meds for free or really cheap.

"I recommend the family does as much research as they possibly can. Unfortunately, people don't like to talk about mental illness in this country and many more people suffer than necessary because of it."

Yes, many suffer, and when there are children involved, my heart aches because I know exactly what they're going through. Most people that I hear speak on mental illness has never even dealt with someone who's had it, so while what they say may sound logically to them, those with experience know that logic isn't even an issue because you can't rationalize with a mentally ill person once they reach that threshold.

Fidder, I hope all of this information is helpful. Best of luck to your niece. It's great that her parents are acknowledging the fact that she is mentally ill because denial can be strong among some.
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Old 07-02-2016, 08:45 AM
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I think its so also important to find the right medication for each individual. My gf growing up mom was cool and worked held a job etc (nurse)...but a few stressful life events and her life unfolded and she was diagnosed with skizophrenia. My gf was 16 working 2 jobs to pay the house bills and they lost everything. My gf ended up caring for her mom as best as she could but eventually needed to put her in a home. Well she wasnt getting treated well so she pulled her out again to live with her and tried to get her mom into day programs so she could work/have normal life of her own but her mom wasnt taken meds as she should and episodes continued..hallucinations...sleeping all day..or not at all...leaving with strangers...drug use..etc
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