Memorial walk for heroin addiction victim spreads awareness about heroin scourge

Memorial walk for heroin addiction victim spreads awareness about heroin scourge

To raise awareness about the twin problems of drug abuse and bipolar disorder, the family of late Emily Ann Dwyer (24) organized a memorial walk in Davenport’s Centennial Park on October 16, 2016. Born on July 29, 1991, to Diane and Patrick Dwyer, Emily of Davenport in Iowa died of a heroin overdose in April 2016. She was also diagnosed with anxiety and bipolar disorder.

More than 100 people participated in the two-mile memorial walk. Friend and organizer of the event Breanna Johnson said that the goal of the walk was to raise awareness about addiction and to let people know that there are places that can offer them help. As per Emily’s father Patrick, though they cannot change what had already happened, they can at least try and educate people about the addiction problem and make the Quad-Cities a better place. He said that they are working along with the local police department and governmental agencies to find out different ways to treat heroin addiction.

Substance abuse and mental health

In the U.S., approximately 8.9 million people suffer from both mental health and substance abuse problems. As per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), of the people dealing with dual disorders, only 7.4 percent gets treatment for both the issues. Issues of mental health and substance abuse often go hand in hand as people suffering from mental health issues are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. It is also believed that drugs play an important role in the development of mental health issues.

As per the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), 50 percent people suffering from severe mental health also have substance abuse problem. As per experts, an undiagnosed illness such as anxiety, depression or paranoia can lead to substance abuse as the person tries to self-medicate through drugs.

Co-occurring mental and substance abuse disorders and their symptoms

Co-occurring disorders is the co-existence of both a substance use disorder and a mental disorder. Both the issues have their own symptoms that may pose a hurdle in daily life. As the two illnesses are entwined, it often becomes difficult to point out exact symptoms of each condition and treat co-occurring disorders. It can also cause the disorders to interact and affect one another.

A person suffering from co-occurring disorders can suffer from drug dependency, mood disorders, thought disorders and anxiety disorders. Some of the common symptoms of dual diagnosis are:

  • weight change
  • hallucinations
  • changed sleep patterns
  • hopelessness
  • violent behavior
  • social withdrawal

Co-occurring disorders treatment

The treatment for co-occurring disorders combines medical, therapeutic and holistic approaches to help the patients heal emotionally, mentally and physically. As no two co-occurring disorders can be the same, an effective treatment plan requires a customized treatment. The line of treatment includes the following steps:

  • Evaluation: A patient is first evaluated to identify the mental health and substance abuse symptoms. It also helps uncover issues that may pose a threat to the recovery path.
  • Detoxification: For patients dealing with drug or alcohol addiction, detoxification helps flush out toxins from the body. It further helps reduce drug cravings and dependence. Medications may be provided for the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Therapy sessions: Individual, group or family therapy sessions help patients define recovery goals and adjust the treatment plan. Group therapy sessions help them share their experiences which can inspire all.
  • Recovery management: Prior to the end of the treatment, patients are encouraged to work with their therapists and design a recovery management program. The recovery management program is a combination of treatments that assist an individual on an outpatient basis after the treatment.

Recovery road map

The treatment of co-occurring disorders requires an integrated treatment that treats both substance abuse and mental health disorders simultaneously. If left untreated or partially treated, it can worsen both the illnesses and lead to additional complications. Co-occurring disorders treatment can be sought at both an inpatient recovery center and an outpatient recovery center.

If you or someone you know is living with co-occurring disorders or are in the need of dual diagnosis rehab, contact the Dual Diagnosis Helpline to find the best dual diagnosis centers in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 981-6047 or chat online to get immediate assistance regarding some effective dual diagnosis programs.