“GATEWAY THEORY” & INTEGRATED TREATMENT

I had my first taste of alcohol by the age of 7. It was while sitting on my father’s knee that I asked if I could try what he was drinking. It was beer in a brown glass bottle. That’s all I remember. In another ten years I would be an alcoholic. In another 20 years I would reach and maintain sobriety for over 7 years. I still struggle. Understanding the reasons why help me in being sober. Although I admit the frustration it brings also makes me question why I stay sober.

“The Gateway Theory” has been talked about often and brought up again during campaign season. Governor Chris Christie has been the most vocal on this issue siting marijuana as the biggest drug leading to harder drug use and addiction.

Tobacco, and alcohol are also listed as gateway drugs. I personally have never known any tobacco user to decide “Gee, this nicotine isn’t working for me anymore. I think I’ll try some Meth.” I have seen people who don’t usually smoke do so when drinking. Whatever that means.

Researchers from Texas A & M and the University of Florida say it doesn’t matter which came first, it matters HOW EARLY. Kids who had their first drink in the 6th and 7th grade went on to try on average 2 illicit substances later on. Kids who waited until the 12th grade to drink only tried on average .4 illegal substances.

The first time I ever got DRUNK was in the 11th grade and I tried several illicit substances after.

Researchers can’t really tell us why kids are drinking earlier due to the factors of genetics and environment. And that is true about most studies concerning addiction and mental health.

“Integrated Treatment of Addiction and Mental Illness” is a topic that too few people are discussing.

4 Million Americans this last year suffered from Mental Health Disorders along with Substance Abuse Disorders. I know some people argue whether or not these should be labeled as “Disorders”. For today they are.

When a person suffers from substance abuse and mental health issues they are considered to have a “Dual Diagnosis”. I’m a Bipolar Alcoholic. But I suffer from so much more I don’t think there is a name yet. I do like that my Doctor has started calling it “Remission” instead of “Sober”. Takes some of the pressure off and reminds me, like a lot of health problems, it can reoccur.

2.4% of today’s workforce have been diagnosed with both mental health and addiction issues.

More than 50% of those living with a dual diagnosis did not receive any medical treatment or psychological help.

20% of people with a mental illness also has an addiction problem but Chief of The Center for Addiction and Mental Health says that’s a┬áconservative number.

When it comes to getting care, the problem is most Providers are trained in one area and not the other. Not realizing that an addiction treatment could interact negatively with a treatment for mental health symptoms.

Organizations that are meant to support people suffering from either addiction or mental illness, not run by a medically trained staff, can also do damage.

Some addiction support groups disagree on the use of medications. Some groups only have a problem with some meds, others any medications that alter your feelings or state of mind. Example: Antipsychotics, Antianxiety, and Antidepressants. They see these meds as a crutch to the addict getting well. In fact without some of these medications addicts often relapse and do so worse than before.

As a side note: Governor Chris Christie signed a Bill in 2013 to expand the State’s production of hard liquor. Distillers would of course have to pay a $938 licensing fee. Researchers have recently recognized ALCOHOL if anything was to be a “gateway” if they had to name one thing.