How has California's Marijuana legalization increased the need for Mental Health Services?
Many of the people who come into treatment have what is called a "Co-occurring Diagnosis," which means drugs or alcohol use is part of the problem. What has become a "right" for many is creating a huge problem with the ability of therapists to effectively assist with positive mental health change due to the interference of drugs and alcohol.
In the Amplified Bible, Apostle Paul explains how our choices, even when laws permit, may still not be good for us:
"All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please],
but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome).
All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying
[to spiritual life]."
1 CORINTHIANS 10:23 (AMPC)
Paul was addressing the concerns of his day, which are very similar to the societal concerns of today. Look at how the legalization of Marijuana, alcohol, pornography, gambeling, and other addictions are affecting the mental health of society through this one scenario, which I've seen played out over and over...
A guy is reluctantly brought in for couple's therapy by his wife (or girlfriend) in a "last attempt" to resolve their relationship conflict. She says the problem is that they don't communicate, don't have any connection, and she's sick and tired of his not working and sitting around all day smoking pot, drinking alcohol, and looking at porn. The guy explains that he's been diagnosed as a kid with AD/HD, was on medication, but began smoking pot as a teen, and now smokes it several times a day to help him "relax." He blames his wife/girlfriend for his porn addiction, "It's easier than begging for sex," and admits he has low motivation to deal with employers. He is now considering applying for disability because he has also been diagnosed with Bipolar and Depression. He says he has no desire to quit smoking pot, doesn't think he is an alcoholic, thinks his wife/girlfriend is the problem, and SHE needs counseling, not him.
Here's the problem in a nutshell:
People change for only two reasons; because someone or something externally motivates them to change (DUI, Arrest, divorce, terminal disease, homelessness, loss of job, etc), or there is an internal motivation (desire, dream, goals), which is bigger than their current circumstances and they want to get someplace else. For the person who is unmotivated (no reason to change) it's nearly impossible for anyone to motivate them to change, including therapy. When I worked in a residential treatment center for addiction, I was told the average client went into treatment an average of 7-10 times before they could reach a level of sobriety, and less than 10% remained clean and sober. Without having a personal reason "why" people won't change. I recently heard on the news that the jails in California are now giving a drug to prisoners (who are addicts) being set free, to try and avoid their death by overdose because "the highest percentage of overdose deaths occur within two weeks after release." Even the external motivation of jail or potential death doesn't scare anyone "straight" anymore.
Full Circle Recovery (Norco, CA) reported in their weekly newsletter on the connection between addiction and mental health (http://fullcirclerecovery.com/),
"A 2014 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
found that an estimated 20.2 million adults had a substance use disorder in the past year. Of those 20.2 million, 7.9 million also had a mental health disorder along with their substance use disorder"
(Read More here).
With so many individuals and couples going into therapy, and the homeless rates on the raise (increased 60% over the past two years), why are we not talking about this? Could it be the financial gains outweigh the individual needs? Think about it? Who WINS...the addict gets what he wants, the seller gets government funding to "provide" the drugs legally, the manufacturers make money through the sales of the product, the pharmaceutical companies make money by prescribing more drugs to counteract the "negative" effects of drugs and alcohol (and the addiction), the insurance companies get rich off of premiums, and residential in- and out-patient treatment centers get paid, and therapists are being paid to attempt to make changes to undo this whole mess with 1 hour sessions a week. It's pathetic how drug and alcohol treatment centers are popping up in every neighborhood because insurance companies are paying $10,000-$150,000 and up for each person who goes into "treatment." And every time the government changes one person's choice to drink, smoke, take drugs, over eat, watch porn, have multiple affairs (remember Tiger Woods?) or any addiction at all, they rename it as an "illness," and this crazy pattern repeats.
So, if you are or know someone who is addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, or food, please give them our phone number. We want to help individuals and couples overcome the pain of addiction and live a life to it's fullest blessing.