Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Almost Alcoholic

This is the third in a series of blogs about the book. Last week’s blog we started talking about the five signs of being an almost alcoholic. We finished the first sign and this is the second sign in which we will talk about people presented in the book: “You look forward to Drinking. With respect to this second key sign, both Marcus and Jen qualify as almost alcoholics. Although Marcus’s drinking was mostly limited to parties, he readily admitted that he looked forward to it. He even eagerly anticipated getting drunk. Meanwhile, Jen said she definitely looked forward to her glass of wine and would have been considerably put out if someone told her she could not have them.” (pg. 31) When I was drinking I would look forward to getting off work and getting drunk. I worked construction and sometimes we would not even wait to get home we would buy shooters and drink in the parking lot. I would be drunk by the time I arrived home. The third sign: “You Drink Alone. The vast majority of people who drink begin their drinking careers in a social context. And for many people, drinking remains largely a social activity throughout their lives. When a person’s drinking moves beyond a social setting—when it becomes more than just a social activity and is done alone for its own sake; that is, for the intoxicating effects of alcohol—there is a good chance that he or she has crossed the line separating normal social drinking from the territory we’ve labeled almost alcoholic. Drinking alone is also common among alcoholics, and whether this behavior indicates that some one has ventured beyond the large gray area of almost alcoholic drinking to alcoholic drinking depends on whether a person meets the criteria for alcohol dependence.” (pg.31, 32) When no one was around I would drink alone. It was cheaper than going out and spend money drinking in a bar. Alcohol can make you do some crazy things. Even if they put you in jail, a person will continue to drink after they get out. When they would put me on antibuse and probation, I was just a dry drunk waiting to get off so I could drink. I still had the alcoholic tendencies. To wake up and know what you did the night before is a relief also. Next week we will finish the signs of an almost alcoholic.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Experiencing Violence the Mentally Ill

It is said, that the number of people with mental illness experience violence of some kind every year, which is a higher ratio than the rest of the population. Physical, sexual or domestic violence is much higher in those whom are mentally ill, than adults without disabilities; and this is stated by doctors in Liverpool England in an analysis of a study on the victimization of people with mental illness. The violence against those with disabilities is common, for those with learning disabilities or mental disabilities and others. As you would expect compassion towards adults with disabilities, the stigma of the public exist and is that they, (the public), fear violence from those with disabilities, especially those with severe mental illness. As you can see, those with disabilities have as much to fear as those that fear others of a mental illness. The stigmas exist, and trust is hard to find when you have experienced a violent crime whether you are disabled or not. As such there should be programs based in disabled settings, including training for staff members unaccustomed to violence. This is recommended for mental health center staff members as well, to reduce victimization, especially with the mental health client which may be verbal as well as physical victimization. Medical News: Mentally Ill Often Targets of Violence - in Psychiatry, General Psychiatry from MedPage Today Having had exposure to violence throughout their lifetime some mental health clients with a disability who are threatened with violence live in fear of becoming a victim, and here you would foresee that there is a percentage of violently linked crimes either linking those with a mental illness or being subjected to crimes they would not have committed. Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Almost Alcoholic

This is the second in a series of blogs about the title of this book. As I said last in week’s blog I am a recovering alcoholic. My first DUI was at the age of nineteen and I totaled another car and damaged mine. I only had liability insurance so I lost my job without a car. Now I will talk about the five signs of being an almost alcoholic. “(1). You continue drinking despite at least some negative consequences. (2). You look forward to drinking. (3). You drink alone. (4). You sometimes drink in order to control emotional and/or physical symptoms. (5). You and your loved ones are suffering as a result of your drinking.” (pg.29) We will talk about the first one first. Because of my drinking I lost a good job. That is one of the first signs, also even though I was always being locked up in jail after the first DUI. I kept drinking, and antabuse and probation were just part of life. The book says about the first sign: “This first sign we discovered is shared by true alcoholics and those who drink more than they should but not enough to be considered and alcoholic. In fact, this is the hallmark of the criteria for alcohol abuse in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV where negative consequences are defined as affecting work, family, legal status, physical safety, and social life.” (pg.29) As we go along I will fit all the criteria when I used to drink. The book goes on to say that: “…estimated 10 to 12 percent of the U.S. population who meet the criteria is needed to be diagnosed as alcohol dependent.” (pg.30) They are not full blown alcoholics but they are close to becoming one. The book asks the question about one of the case studies should they wait to get such a diagnosis: “For an almost alcoholic, even a short delay can cause long-term problems.” (pg.30) It is better to try and correct the problem before it worsens. I will write about more of the signs next week. I let alcohol ruin my life, and I could not see it at the time. I do regret that all the times I was sentenced to probation no one tried to help. The counselor I saw never practiced none of the applications I studied to be an alcohol counselor. It could have saved me from going to prison. Years are lost when an alcoholic is spiraling down. For me abstinence is the only way.

Monday, May 21, 2012

In most cases the strategy to subdue someone who is mentally ill, suffering from their symptoms, is to role play or lecture the consumer. There are instances where reality becomes twisted. Police officers are trained to make decisions every day which either guide people to understanding through the use of performed attitudes, free of prejudice or stereotypical approaches. Two police officers forgot this line of training and brought about the death of a man who was mentally ill. Why did a man, sitting in a public place, mentally ill and homeless, meet with fate at the hands of trained law officers? There is no real answer, though they dispense the law they have now come before the scales of justice, because they did not perform their duty with beneficence or in a just manner. The problem lies there in also with the incompetence of the mentally ill, not being able to understand those whom are trying to communicate with them or the authorities of the office they are in care thereof. This theme is the same throughout the United States; it’s the complex nature of law enforcements responses to people with mental illnesses which has become the issue of concern, and politicians, people in the community and the general public whom are demanding some constraint to the growing problem of the mentally ill. As to the reasons the mentally ill are being singled out as a growing problem, this seems to be that the mentally ill when detained by the law are generally seen at some point as being incompetent and are not able to understand, being without a mediator of the mental health system they may even proceed to trial as defendants as such while they are at times unable to access the help they need from the mental health system or to be processed through the mental health system. There was no place for this homeless man as there seems to be no place for many whom have met with incarceration for weeks or even months; finding brutality or worse, then finding they are nowhere, alone and vulnerable or suffering from their symptoms without any kind of understanding except to be encroached by the law or even worse then again the criminal elements thereof. This is the danger the mentally ill and homeless face, once you are suspected of a crime, you become the target, unless someone is your guardian angel or there happens to be a Good Samaritan understanding the needs of a person of weakness. Written by Donald S.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Almost Alcoholic

That is the title of a book that I was sent and am going to review. The book is written by Robert Doyle, MD, who is a psychiatrist and Joseph Nowinski, PhD, who is a clinical psychologist. Both of them have worked as mental health professionals and pursued further training in the area of substance abuse. I will do a few blogs about this book. My major in college was in the drug and alcohol field. I am a recovering alcoholic. I also went through the circle program in Pueblo, Colorado in the early 90s when it was the number one treatment center in the state. The book starts out with a case of a man who is on the way of becoming an almost alcoholic. After that story it talks about the view of two kinds of people and they would be alcoholics and non-alcoholics. It lists an alcoholic as: “Being unable to stop drinking, beginning from the first time he or she had a drink. Repeatedly having blackouts (i.e., can’t remember the next day what happened) after having only a few drinks. Being arrested multiple times for driving while intoxicated, becoming violent on more than one occasion.”(pg.15) I can attest to being just like all that was just said. I had three DUIs before I even turned twenty one. Everything I ever been arrested for has been alcohol related. I would not start drinking unless I knew there was enough alcohol to get drunk. That is something I never want to go back to. I was always angry at the way my life was going. I was asked if it was so horrible why I continued. My answer was I did not know another way. They offered me drug and alcohol treatment way before I went to the circle program. I turned them down. The first chapter goes on talking about cases of people who are almost alcoholic. Then it talks about how alcoholism was first talked about as a medical condition in the early nineteenth century by two physicians Scotsman Thomas Trotter and American Benjamin Rush. “Alcoholics Anonymous was published in 1939 that the idea that alcoholism was a disease with both physical and mental causes begin to take hold.”(pg.23) Alcoholics anonymous sure does help a lot of alcoholics, if you keep going to meeting it helps a lot. I do believe in rock bottom when you are there you finally understand that you do not want to sink further.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Idea of Empathy

Empathy is the sharing of feelings and or ideas of another person or persons. There are ways to reach others how to handle their emotions which is through trust and empathy. These two aspects help in learning and coping with emotions through verbalizing in a way that the experience of learning and coping are understood by the mental health consumer. I for a long time, having used drugs throughout my mid-teens to middle adult life, had a hard time at understanding or being understood. I was frustrated, and had a hard time acquiring my needs, I didn’t know how to express my true feelings anymore and basically “vegetated” and identified with anyone who was at the bottom of the “heap”. Empathy is real, it is responding in a way that others are as satisfied as you are or want to be, reflecting and expressing yourself in a proper way in respect to feelings of others. It was difficult at that time in my life, harboring anger, and discontent towards others, yet with the compassion of mental health workers, case managers, therapist and other consumers, I began to build self esteem and listen and know what expressions brought good feelings which helped me to understand that I could think of good ideas and solve problems by associating with others instead of living in frustration. Learning to involve yourself, with people with similar aspirations helps build friendships and strength of character. This involves empathy, yet as we are climbing from the depths of a well, the apathy, the lack of interest or motivation has to become something other than the indifference we live. The helplessness and anxiety exit yet when understanding and support of our weakness is understood the apathy gives way to empathy, and then we begin to develop our identity and know the importance of respect for our fellow beings. Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Homeless Count

In this article it says that Denver has more homeless people this year than last. “A total of 12,605 homeless people were counted in the survey of the region’s homeless Jan. 23- a survey that occurs on one night in January every year.” That is a lot of homeless people that are out on the streets and shelters. They do not all get into shelters some sleep at night on the street. They did this study just a week before the city council is supposed to have the final vote in which I wrote about in last week’s blog. They found out in the study that: “Nearly 1,000 people were unsheltered that night; 600 respondents said domestic violence was the reason for their homelessness, and 3,239 people were considered “newly homeless.” Nearly 1000 people lived on the streets and not in a shelter. They have about 1,700 shelter beds in Denver. “.. about 10,000 fewer than needed.” If this ordinance passes where are they going to put all those people; in jail? The police it would seem would be spending most of their time catching homeless people? Who are these homeless people? “We see this rise every year… That changes the stereotype of what people think a homeless person is. These are children.” They are family with kids. If there is no room in shelters what are they going to do with these children? A lot of unanswered questions, it seems they are pushing this through so fast and are not thinking about the consequences of what will really happen. It is more than just the mentally ill. “You have to have somewhere to go… adding that families with children make up about 64 percent of the region’s homeless population. They should think of a way to help these people rather than pass a bill making camping illegal on the streets of Denver. To me I think they are just pushing this measure through and not given a chance to stop and think what might happen.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Where is Home?

One of the reasons it’s hard to face the reality of the homeless is because we see them and acknowledge them as vagrant; we become disturbed not wanting to be in their place; placing distance between ourselves and those whom are homeless or distraught. Having advocates to alleviate the homeless people plight gives any one to wonder if we are giving a “free ride” to such people or are we only keeping up with what is thoughtful and supportive in helping our fellow man. Criminalization of the homeless is a twofold reality, our suspicions exist as well as theirs of crime; yet we have to agree, they are not under control unless they are incarcerated or placed in “check” in control environments or governed shelters, control shouldn’t be the issue, how will the populace know if anyone person is safe, either from the elements of nature or society. At this stage to lay and rest where a person pleases or camp somewhere within the city limits, “being homeless” has the undertones of the rights of those who cannot afford shelter displaced, and we do not want to take away the rights of the indigent away because they are in need. It’s a matter of safety, safety for the taxpayer, safety for the vagrant who has no employment, or home thus is living without responsibility. The passage of the proposal to ban “urban camping” is a blessing in disguise to many in Colorado, who see others needing a place to rest. They, the homeless, realize there is a lack of space for shelter in designated shelter areas and this plight is being alleviated for those who are searching for a new way of life to have somewhere to exist, where they can reach out from nothing and succeed finding work with an address to rely upon without bending over to criminality. As there are more temporary shelters for the homeless, this too gives the homeless the opportunity to gain a step forward without having to feel threatened or threaten others for their needs. It may be a matter of law in enforcing the problem of homelessness in Denver and other cities and states as well as it becomes a greater problem, yet as common people and tax payers we cannot overlook nor be indifferent to those who honestly need shelter, to gain what was lost, a home with dignity. Written by Donald Sammons

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Denver Homeless

Wow they want to not be able to see our homeless population in Denver. So they are proposing a ban on camping in the city. “The ordinance that would ban unauthorized camping is a bad idea.” There are a lot of mentally ill homeless that would be put in jail. I was in jail when I was mentally ill. It was the worst experience. For me I could not explain what was happening to me. I was in one fight not understanding what was going on. They did not charge me with it, although it should not have happened. That is what happens when you are mentally ill and in a place that you should not be in. There should be a better way to help rather than put them in jail. “Unlike Hungary, a bankrupt nation that still decided to pass a law to fine and imprison their homeless, Denver has options for spending taxpayer dollars in a more supportive way for its most vulnerable people.” Will some of the mentally ill understand what they are going to be doing to them? There is a scramble to find places for the homeless. The city council was in session last night which was Monday night to have a public hearing on the matter. If this passes it will go it to effect on May 29th of this year. Monday in the Denver Post they were having homeless shelter that regularly closes for the summer to stay open. Some homeless just do not like the way of everyday life like the rest of us. It is not a bad thing you just have to understand them and that is hard if you are not mentally ill. “Usually in the springtime, Denver loses about 360 beds used to shelter people in winter- leaving the city’s homeless with only 867 shelter beds for homeless men, women, youths and families through the warmer months.” The people who oppose the ban are saying there is not enough room to house all the homeless. If they do not go in shelter what are they going to do but arrest them as they will be violating the law. Well in today’s Denver post article they passed the camping ban on the first reading. The will have a final vote on May 14th. “The council voted 9-4 in support of the measure that would make unauthorized camping illegal in the city aimed at reducing the numbers of homeless people sleeping on the streets.” It looks like as of now they are going to pass this measure. There were hundreds of people who went to discuss this matter. Proponents of the issue say this is needed. “…wants the law for personal safety for the guests and staff. They are intimidated she said. They are afraid to go out there after dark. One guest was stabbed. We have witnessed break-ins. People are constantly asking what we are doing to end this? That is why I am here.” No one should be afraid to go out to dinner or work. You can understand some of the frustration. Although there should be another way, then criminalizing people for being homeless.