The Veteran Mental Health Problem We Need to be Talking About

The Veteran Mental Health Problem We Need to be Talking About

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When we talk about fighting the addiction problem in America and better understanding substance use disorder, we have to acknowledge those who are at a specific risk for suffering from substance use. Far too many American soldiers come home only to fight another devastating, heartbreaking battle.

With addiction being considered a mental health issue, it should be clear the contribution of overall mental health makes to causing substance use disorder (SUD) in many cases. Depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are all mental health issues that often associated with addiction.

Some of those susceptible to mental health disorders and substance abuse are those who fight for the safety and freedom of our country; our Veterans. So we need to acknowledge the mental health issues that the men and women who sacrifice everything for this nation are suffering through. We need to talk about how to best understand these conditions, and how to best treat those in need.

Veteran Mental Health Disorder Statistics

According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research:

  • 20% of Veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from either major depression or PTSD

  • 5% of Veterans in these two categories have suffered a traumatic brain injury

According to the U.S. Department of Federal Affairs:

  • More than 2 out of 10 veterans with PTSD also suffer from SUD

  • In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning soldiers seen in VA have a problem with alcohol or other drugs.

  • Almost 1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD.

  • War Veterans with PTSD and alcohol problems tend to be binge drinkers.

  • Among all U.S. adult deaths from suicide, 18% (7,403) were identified as Veterans of U.S. military service

Probably one of the most troubling statistics comes from a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which tragically revealed:

Only 50% of returning vets who need veteran mental health treatment will receive these services.

That is an extremely troubling number. It says a lot about how Veterans are struggling to get the help they need when you realize that only around half of them ever get it.

Veterans and Substance Abuse

One of the hardest issues to address when examining the veteran mental health issue is substance abuse and SUD. It is also one of the most important aspects of Veteran mental health treatment that need to be acknowledged.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that substance abuse among veterans is strongly connected to their experiences in combat and how they struggle to cope with these traumas. Various NIDA studies indicate that:

  • 25% of Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan showed signs of SUD

  • In 2008, active duty and veteran military personnel abused prescription drugs at a rate that was more than twice the rate for the civilian population

  • In 2009, the VA estimated that around 13,000 vets from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from alcohol dependence syndrome and require veteran mental health treatment for this problem.

PTSD and SUD

A lot of people, even those who are not Veterans but have experienced great trauma, use substances to self-medicate and deal with PTSD. Even for those who have never had an issue with substances or may never have even used substances, PTSD increases the risk an individual can develop a drinking or drug problem or SUD.

To make matters worse, PTSD and SUD can likely lead to other problems in life, including health. These Veteran mental health issues can often be associated with:

Ultimately, using drugs or alcohol in combination with PTSD might seem to make things easier, but will actually make them a lot worse. It creates a vicious cycle of numbing and re-traumatizing.

Better Treatment for Veteran Mental Health and Addiction

Many advocates for Veteran services, including the National Veterans Foundation (NVF), believe:

  • More funding needs to be allocated for Veteran mental health care services so that every veteran has easy access to this type of care.
  • Excessive wait times at local VA facilities need to be addressed in order to grant people the access they need to these services.

The NVF website states:

“We can no longer look the other way or continue to underfund the mental health care system that our veterans use.”

This should absolutely be a priority. Strengthening the system that provides mental health care not just to citizens who are suffering, but to our vets who have given so much and desperately need help, is crucial to saving lives from substance use disorder.

Not only does Palm Healthcare Company understand the importance of providing quality addiction recovery treatment, but we also know how important dual diagnosis treatment is for those who suffer from serious mental health conditions like PTSD or major depression along with addiction. Better treatment means addressing both conditions simultaneously, to help the individual heal holistically.

Palm Healthcare Company also knows how important it is to help those first responders and Veterans that put their lives on the line every day. That is why we are a proud sponsor of the Harrigan Foundation’s Annual Run to the Rescue 5K to raise money for the treatment of first responders and veterans.

To find out more about this event, visit the link here:

Harrigan Foundation’s Annual RUN TO THE RESCUE 5K

Mental health care and addiction treatment for vets is an important resource that can save lives and our veterans put their lives back together after experiencing trauma and hardship that causes PTSD and the devastation of substance abuse. If you or a loved one is struggling, you don’t have to fight alone. Please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

After Las Vegas Shooting: PTSD and Mental Health Must be Priority

After Las Vegas Shooting: PTSD and Mental Health Must be Priority

Just this past Sunday the nation saw one of the deadliest shootings in modern American history in Las Vegas. This immense and indescribable tragedy shocked the world as news reports and live footage filled the airwaves after a gunman opened fire with high-powered rifles at an outdoor music festival. At this point there are at least 58 dead and over 520 wounded, making it the deadliest mass shooting in recent history.

The heartbreak and weight of this tragedy truly cannot be put into words. The unimaginable loss is without parallel. Beyond those who lost their lives in such a senseless act of violence, the impacts this event has had on countless friends, families and loved ones are unfathomable.

In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, mental health must be a priority. How we address and protect the psychological well-being of every American must be a very serious part of the conversation. We have to take a close look at how we are facing mental health, and support those who have been traumatized in the wake of such horrific events.

PTSD of Mass Shootings

The risks of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is extremely elevated in situations like this. Research on mass shootings is not extensive but is sufficient enough to allow for some preliminary conclusions. One study examined 15 mass shooting events to review consequences of the incidents upon survivors. From these studies conclusion, researchers stated:

  • Prevalence of post-disaster diagnoses (predominantly PTSD) in these studies ranged from 10% to 36%
  • Much higher percentages reported sub-threshold PTSD
  • Very few participants reported no symptoms

One 1994 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that in the acute post-disaster period:

  • 20% of the men met criteria for PTSD after a mass shooting
  • 36% of the women met criteria for PTSD

The same study looked at those with post-disaster PTSD who also met criteria for another post-disaster psychiatric diagnosis, especially major depression. They found:

  • One-half of the women met the criteria
  • One-fourth of the men met the criteria

Experts say most people will recover fully from post-disaster PTSD within 6 to 16 months, but most still emphasize the importance of support.

Not only can those present at the tragedy be affected directly, but also those not present but connected to the location or individuals present can be affected vicariously. You don’t have to experience something so horrifying first-hand to suffer a severe impact. An attack like this can have deep emotional effects on those who witness the event, or even for those all over the world following the story.

Understanding PTSD

Part of dealing with the residual effects of tragic events and disasters is to understand how conditions like PTSD can impact people. PTSD can result in emotional, physical and even cognitive issues that some people may not know how to recognize or cope with.

Emotional Effects of PTSD Include

  • Shock
  • Terror
  • Irritability
  • Blame
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Grief or sadness
  • Emotional numbing
  • Helplessness
  • Loss of pleasure derived from familiar activities
  • Difficulty feeling happy
  • Difficulty experiencing loving feelings

Physical Effects of PTSD Include

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Startle response
  • Cardiovascular strain
  • Increased physical pain
  • Reduced immune response
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased libido

Cognitive Effects of PTSD Include

  • Decreased concentration
  • Confusion
  • Impaired decision making
  • Disbelief
  • Dissociation
  • Nightmares
  • Impaired Memory
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Reduced self-efficacy
  • Self-blame
  • Intrusive thoughts/memories
  • Anxiety

All of these things can cause other more personal issues. Some will experience difficulty with intimacy or social relationships. Isolation and alienation can develop at work, at school or even at home.

According to PTSD United, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support and resources for those suffering from PTSD:

  • 70% of adults (approximately 223.4 million people) in the US have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives.
  • Up to 20% of these people go on to develop PTSD.
  • Approximately 44.7 million people today either have struggled or are struggling with PTSD.

With PTSD, a lot of people actually turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Some will rely on substances as a form of relief when PTSD brings feelings of isolation or depression. However, as people try to numb or distract themselves from these feelings, they tend to create more problems through substance use.

Often times, the substances only fuel feelings of isolation, depression or anxiety.

Make Mental Health a Priority

This week, October 1 through October 7, is Mental Illness Awareness Week. There is no time like the present to discuss the current state of mental health across the country. Now is always the time to advocate for better support, services, and acceptance when discussing mental illness and mental health in America.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):

  • 9% of all U.S. adults (43.4 million)qualified as having mental health issues in 2015
  • Approximately 20-21% of incarcerated Americans have a “recent history” of mental health issues
  • 70% of young people caught up in the juvenile justice system have at least one mental health issue
  • 46% of people living in homeless shelters live with severe mental health issues and/or substance use disorders (SUDs)

In the aftermath of such profound tragedy like the recent shooting in Las Vegas, or even natural disasters like recently with Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria, there should be a very direct conversation about mental health. We should also work diligently to ensure that while the world grapples with opioid addiction and drug abuse, that more people don’t turn to self-medicating to fight feelings of loss, terror or alienation.

For all survivors of recent tragedies, or those affected indirectly, there are ways to take care of yourself and monitor your own mental state. Make your own mental health a priority. Protect yourself from destructive behaviors, and reach out for help in the wake of such emotionally compromising events as what happened in Las Vegas.

The national crisis hotline also offers confidential and free services 24/7/365 Call (775) 784-8090 or text ANSWER to 839-863

Our hearts and prayers go out to all those touched by this tragedy.

If you or someone you love is struggling with trauma, don’t let substance abuse make it all even worse. Drugs or alcohol are not the answer. There is real help out there. Please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

American Anxiety: A Mental Health Epidemic?

American Anxiety: A Mental Health Epidemic?

The American Generation X faced high rates of depression, but it seems now the millennial age is plagued with an outbreak of American anxiety.

Anxiety on an occasional basis is a pretty standard part of the human experience. When we are faced with difficult tasks, frightening news or even critical decisions, we will naturally experience some form of anxiety. There is a big difference between these feelings of worry and a developed anxiety disorder. With serious anxiety disorders the feeling isn’t fleeting, it can linger and grow worse over time. Anxiety disorders can cripple our ability to complete everyday activities, and it can take many forms, such as:

  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

Of course our outside world can have a drastic impact on these feelings, and our ability to face them. Here in America some believe that anxiety has evolved with society and now impacts more and more people. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

  • Anxiety disorders affect over 40 million adults age 18 and over in the United States, accounting for 18% of the population
  • GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) affects 6.8 million American adults
  • Panic Disorder affects 6 million American adults
  • Social Anxiety Disorder affects 15 million American adults
  • Specific Phobias affect 19 million American adults

Other disorders are closely related to anxiety disorders, such as:

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)– affecting 2.2 million
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)– affecting 7.7 million
  • Major Depressive Disorder– affecting 15 million

This doesn’t even begin to address the various related disorders that often co-occur with anxiety disorders, such as eating disorders or substance abuse. So is American anxiety a mental health epidemic?

An Anxious Nation

Earlier this month there was an article in the New York Times entitled “Prozac Nation Is Now the United States of Xanax” In the piece the author recounted how American society has seemingly grown into a nation where an anxiety diagnosis is now as common as a diagnosis of depression. The author, Alex Williams, suggests:

“Anxiety is starting to seem like a sociological condition, too: a shared cultural experience that feeds on alarmist CNN graphics and metastasizes through social media.”

Williams includes some pretty damning numbers to support the conclusion, such as:

  • Anxiety disorders are now more common than depression on college campuses, which has always been the leading mental health disorder among university students.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports:

  • 38% of teenage girls have an anxiety disorder
  • 26% of teenage boys have an anxiety disorder

Politics and Anxiety

If anyone out there is like me, this one may hit close to home. Every time I come across a story about the state of national affairs, or even about a controversial piece of legislation in another state, it gives me pause. I am not going to point the finger at anyone, but needless to say I am an idealist and I think we could do much better. My anxiety flows from the intensity with which some people attack those they cannot compromise with, and what that may say about our future. Politics frequently contribute to many people’s anxieties.

Another article on anxiety was published in the New York Times back in April of this year, where the author looked at the issue of American anxiety from both a social and generational view, comparing the issues of past generations with the social construct the newer generation of Americans face today. With wondering what to worry about, some would say to pick your own panic flavored poison. From the side of political anxieties people could choose between:

  • Economic anxiety
  • Racial anxiety
  • Cultural anxiety
  • Demographic anxiety

In the grander scheme of things, American anxiety was the “profound unease” and the more our politics seem to revolve around our racial, economic or cultural differences the more unease sets in.

While the news is constantly informing us of another contention with legislation on education, health care and immigration, we are also dogged by the drama of foreign influence and relations. While no average American is in control of such things directly, we can easily adopt anxieties over these outcomes, especially in the current political climate. Far too many have developed the “us VS them” attitude of party politics, and it only fuels more anxiety through division and distrust.

Technology and Anxiety

Of course the concept of smartphones and social media comes hand in hand with examining how American anxiety has reached such heights. We have these constant tools of connectivity that some have said simultaneously make us feel more detached. When social media, instant messaging and texting has us on the constant look out for communication, validation or distraction we can easily become far too reliant on technology for peace of mind. On top of that, studies have indicated people develop an urge to constantly check their phones for updates and interactions. This need to be tethered to our iPhones has fed into our nervous behavior.

Another new wave of technology, if you can even call it that, is the hand-held toys specifically designed for people dealing with fidgeting. We all remember stress balls, and now a recent phenomenon of the “fidget spinner” device has seen incredible spikes in sales. These types of toys were originally developed to help children with anxiety, ADHD or autism. These toys come in various shapes and designs to replace the incessant clicking of a pen or tapping of a finger. Lately children, adolescents, and young adults appear to use these toys. One may see it as a fad taking off, but could these tedious decoys be actually serving a purpose by alleviating anxious feelings?

Is the seemingly ridiculous popularity of “fidget spinners” happening because more people are subconsciously trying to overcome their own anxieties?

Anxiety and Substances

Anxiety is notably a product of uncertainty. Many of us addicts use to seek out a measure of escape or comfort. So when we are looking to diminish our anxiety, wouldn’t it make sense that we ask for some semblance of certainty? Some might argue substances, legal or otherwise, provide some much needed consistency. I know personally, as someone who struggled with serious anxiety for years, that I would try to use drugs to be numb to the fear. However, I ultimately found that the drugs and the drinking fed my fear, which in turn exacerbated my anxieties.

Anti-anxiety medications, like Xanax, are some of the most prescribed drugs in America. It is possible to become convinced that a pill can fix everything, especially in a world where pills are everywhere and we are so used to instant gratification. And yet, many of these pills are potent and dangerous; they come with their own baggage. Xanax may be helpful to some, but it is also one of the top prescription drugs being abused in America.

Others will seek out a way to dull their anxieties through illicit substances. They may seek a calm release from their nerves through abusing alcohol or drugs, especially depressant drugs or “downers”. Opioids, such as OxyCodone or heroin, are the most commonly abused depressants next to alcohol. In the midst of an opioid epidemic, we may be seeing how growing rates of American anxiety have fed into a devastating drug addiction crisis. With mental health and substance use disorders, dual diagnosis treatment becomes essential.

Underneath all of this is a constant fact; American anxiety is real. What are we most worried about? That may be subjective. Freud explored the concept of “anxiety neurosis” which we today commonly call GAD. This Freud describes as a fear that could be attached to any appropriate idea. So no matter what our circumstances, we could attach fear to it and then it would become our focal point to the extent it may be debilitating. The fear is there, even in the home of the brave.

For those struggling with substance use disorder and an anxiety disorder, dual diagnosis treatment with a holistic approach can make all the difference. For someone to create lasting coping skills and break out of self-destructive and counter-productive habits, holistic treatment can be a game changer. If you or someone you love is struggling please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

With prescription drug abuse being one of the biggest issues facing the country today, there is an increasing need for education and awareness as to what these drugs really are and how powerful they can be. One of the prescription narcotics most commonly abused is Xanax, a name brand medication in the Benzodiazepine (Benzo) category of depressant drugs. This medication can be very helpful to those who use it accordingly, but it can also be seriously addictive and even life threatening.

So in taking a closer look at specific substances, we want to of course answer the question- how long does Xanax stay in your system.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System: Understanding Alprazolam

Alprazolam is the generic name for a potent, short-acting anxiolytic drug in the benzodiazepine class. Xanax is actually a brand-name for Alprazolam, and is typically the most commonly known version. Alprazolam is frequently utilized in the treatment of anxiety disorders, such as:

The drug binds to a number of specific sites on the GABA receptor of the brain, and elicits responses as a:

  • Anxiolytic (Anti-panic)
  • Sedative
  • Muscle relaxant
  • Anti-convulsant
  • Amnestic
  • Antidepressant

While there is some debate about people building a tolerance to the anxiolytic effects, there is a clear indication that tolerance to the sedative effects will build in a couple days of using the drug. Thus, withdrawal symptoms can occur after only a few weeks of use if the drug is suddenly stopped.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System: Side-Effects

There are various possible side-effects that may occur while taking Xanax or any Alprazolam drug. Some possible adverse effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Slurred speech
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Urinary retention
  • Skin rash
  • Respiratory depression
  • Constipation

These side-effects can be uncomfortable and some are more common than others. However, probably some of the greater risks come with prolonged use, which can lead to severe dependence and withdrawal.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System: Withdrawal

Another reason people as how long does Xanax stay in your system is to determine how long the withdrawal periods are. Once the body has developed dependence on a drug, withdrawal or “rebound” symptoms can make it extremely difficult to discontinue use. Some common symptoms of withdrawal from Xanax include:

  • Rebound anxiety
  • Panic
  • Hallucination
  • Insomnia
  • Moodiness
  • Tremors
  • Nightmares
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Some of these seizures and other reactions can actually become life-threatening, making Xanax withdrawals some of the most dangerous one can experience.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System: Overdose

When asking- how long does Xanax stay in your system- you may be concerned about the risks of overdose. An Alprazolam overdose can range from mild to severe depending on how much of the drug has been taken. One of the primary problems with an Alprazolam overdose is that it creates an excessive depression of the central nervous system. Some of the signs of Xanax overdose are:

  • Dizziness
  • Impaired balance
  • Muscle weakness
  • Hypotension
  • Drowsiness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Fainting
  • Coma
  • Death

These risks may be more or less serious depending on a number of factors, including if Xanax is taken with any other substances.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System: Half-life

As with all drugs, and even most chemicals or substances that enter our bodies, there are a number of factors that influence how long it takes for Xanax to leave the body, such as:

  • Metabolism
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Body fat content
  • Age
  • Health of the liver
  • Kidney health
  • Amount of the drug taken
  • Length of time using the drug

Typically Xanax has a half-life of 9-16 hours, meaning it takes a healthy body 9-16 hours to get rid of half of a dose of the drug. Because of the half-life, the drug will typically be out of the systems after 4 days. However, this is usually just for the occasional consumption. Xanax can stay in the system for a week or longer for frequent or heavy users depending on the above factors.

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System: Detoxing

A huge problem with drugs like Xanax is that a lot of people assume these prescription narcotics are safer because they are not street drugs. Yet, Benzodiazepine drugs like Xanax are commonly connected to serious health issues. Beyond that, the dangers of addiction and the potentially fatal withdrawals are exactly why these medications are not nearly as safe as some people like to think they are.

Because of the risks of Xanax withdrawal it is crucial to seek out safe medical supervision for the detox process. Because Xanax can be present in the body for over a week for long-term users, it is important to have a means to monitor the complications Xanax withdrawal may cause. This is especially true if the individual has been using other substances in combination with Xanax.

Detoxing does not have to be what stands between someone who is suffering and a full recovery from this progressive and far too often fatal disease. If you want to get Xanax out of your system in a safe and effective way, a medical detox is the best choice. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Could Mental Health Security System be the Future of Public Safety?

Could Mental Health Security System be the Future of Public Safety?

If there are any other nerds out there like me, you may have come across an abstract animated series called Psycho-pass that rose in popularity a few years back in 2012. The show’s name fits firmly into the primary premise of the show, an authoritarian future dystopia, where omnipresent public sensors ceaselessly scan the mental states of every passing citizen. In the TV show, collected data on both present mentality and aggregated personality data is used to gauge the probability of an individual committing a crime, the rating referred to as that citizen’s Psycho-Pass. Law enforcement and public security utilizes technology tracking mental health of citizens in order to premeditate possible threats. The characters chase criminals who the system deems emotionally or psychologically at risk, and the show adds a few good twists of suspense and philosophical paradox.

Needless to say, I am a big fan of the series.

So of course, seeing a headline explaining a new research project that could make this kind of system a reality, it stirs up some curiosity. This abstract concept of machines reading the psychological profiles of everyday people as a security measure has jumped right out of the world of sci-fi fantasy and could soon be another innovation that changes our world.

Could a mental health security system be the future of public safety?

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