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Constant Threats to Health Coverage Hurting National Addiction Recovery

Constant Threats to Health Coverage Hurting National Addiction Recovery

Author: Justin Mckibben

When we talk about national addiction recovery, what we mean is acknowledging how we as a country and a culture are recovering in our communities. How are we supporting those in addiction treatment? What services are we making available? How is our economy recovering? What are we doing to prevent the spread of addiction?

So if we are taking away resources that not only treat those already struggling, but also prevent more people from suffering, how do we expect to ever escape the devastation caused by the opioid epidemic and rise of overdose deaths?

One of the most divisive issues facing America today is access to healthcare and the extent to which health coverage should or should not be provided. The debate has gone on for a long time, and in the shuffle of each proposal, it seems mental health and addiction services are constantly threatened. Recently there have been more attacks on addiction treatment access. So how is the possibility of more decreases in health coverage going to hurt national addiction recovery?

The Parity Protections

Once upon a time in 2008, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) created guidelines that required health insurers to treat mental health and addiction coverage exactly the same as they would with medical and surgical care options. So this means that prior to the MHPAEA those who were lucky enough to have health insurance still could not be guaranteed to receive equitable benefits for mental health or substance abuse care.

These protections were even further expanded by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and legislation put forth by Congress in 2016 with the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes tougher enforcement of parity requirements.

Since the Trump administration stepped in adamantly proclaiming the goal or repealing and replacing the ACA there has been a lot of concern about whether or not any new proposals will decrease health coverage for mental health and addiction services. Many addiction and mental health advocates worry that parity protections and enforcement will also lose their power.

As of yet, politicians are still hoping for a compromise that will keep the protections and resources for treating addiction and mental health intact.

BCBS Cuts Mental Health Coverage

One instance of concerning changes in policy has come out of Minnesota. Just this September the largest insurance carrier in the area, Blue Cross Blue Shield, is making drastic decreases to payments to mental health providers.

We are talking about cuts in addiction and mental health coverage to the tune of that’s 33%!

This decision came after a recent survey showed that the individual therapy costs of Minnesota had exceeded the national average for the last two years. But mental health professionals immediately spoke out against this move. Protests actually took place on Thursday the 14th outside the headquarters of Blue Cross Blue Shield in Eagan, MN. Many advocates and protesters are saying these kinds of cuts will put mental health clinics out of business.

The insurance provider is now under fire as caregivers insist this change will discourage necessary, extended psychotherapy services. People in Minnesota see decisions like that of BCBS as being a violation of the protections offered by parity.

If this kind of policy shift within insurance providers becomes a trend, we could see a dramatic decrease in the people getting substance abuse and mental health treatment. These changes can hurt our national addiction recovery by slowly cutting off the people who need every chance they can get, especially during a devastating opioid epidemic.

Threats within Medicaid

Believe it or not, Medicaid is currently the single largest payer for behavioral health services in America. Threats to the Medicaid health coverage of services like this could do critical damage.

At one point the Trump administration and congressional leaders seemed partial to the idea of turning Medicaid into a block grant program. This strategy would give states a fixed amount of money to provide healthcare for low-income residents. However, policy experts say that means states would have to:

  • Reduce eligibility
  • Narrow the scope of benefits
  • Impose cost-sharing requirements

All of which would also impact the number of people seeking substance abuse and mental health treatment.

Recently GOP representatives and the Trump administration began the work of fundamentally altering state Medicaid programs. Some of these new requirements include governors pushing for:

So again, there is the very real possibility of more hurdles being put in-between those who need help and the already limited resources available to them.

Stigma Influencing Policy

The bigger part of this issue is that these shifts are happening in a way that shows how stigma is influencing policy. We are only further hurting our national addiction recovery by letting this idea that addiction is a moral failing or class issue limit what we are willing to provide to those who need help.

The reason behavioral and mental health services are so crucial is because the cause of addiction is not just the drugs themselves. The vast majority of recovery advocates endorse the concept that addiction develops from multiple factors, such as:

  • Lack of access to resources
  • Poor social networks
  • Trauma

So in fact, by limiting coverage to mental health services, the problem could be magnified.

Mental health services like behavioral therapy being lost with a decrease in coverage means that more children and young adults could go without the support systems. What this does is puts more people in the exact circumstances where we see substance abuse and addiction grow.

So in essence, not only could these constant threats to addiction and mental health coverage be taking away treatment for those already addicted, but it also takes away from prevention programs in communities that fight to keep addiction rates down.

National Addiction Recovery Effects Everyone

If we have any hope of having sustainable national addiction recovery then it is vital that our country continues to push for mental health parity in every discussion about healthcare. If we ever hope to overcome the demoralization of communities we have to fight for mental health and addiction services.

This isn’t about treating the individual’s symptoms with just medications either. Access to other crucial elements like housing, medical care, and basic preventative measures all contribute to the overall mental health of any individual.

When people have better access to the specific levels of care they need, we empower them to contribute to the better communities we need for healthy nation-wide recovery.

People struggling with substance abuse and mental health disorders deserve comprehensive and compassionate treatment, and we should all fight to protect coverage that makes treatment more available. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135

Should I Go to Rehab If I’m Addicted to the Life-Style?

Should I Go to Rehab If I’m Addicted to the Life-Style?


Author: Justin Mckibben

When many people think of addiction, they think it is limited to the substance, and don’t often enough associate the other behavior and relationships that make up ‘the life-style’ that comes with addiction or just with drugs in general. People can easily become addicted to more than just the physical dependence of a drug, but to the actions and the other habits that come with it, like selling drugs. Money is a powerful addiction as well, or power in itself can be an addiction to some people. So when thinking of being addicted to the life-style, some people are unsure if that means they need rehab.

Should I Go to Rehab If I’m Addicted to the Life-Style: A Different Addiction

Being addicted to the life-style is a different level of addiction. Some may not even be able to imagine being addicted to the life-style as a reality, but plenty of people can tell you that the feelings and the rush associated with selling drugs, partying all night, and other risk behaviors can create another kind of high that is extremely addictive. It in many ways is comparable to an impulse-control disorder like gambling is.

Money can be a huge aspect of being addicted to the life-style. An addiction to money can be destructive to an individual who goes to any lengths to have it, and risks everything if they have to. Money is a necessity in many ways and being ambitious is nothing to be afraid of, but risking your health, your safety, or putting others at risk for money and throwing away your values is destructive. The same exact circumstances apply to power as an addiction.

Another part of being addicted to the life-style is that nightlife. Even if you are not addicted to the drugs or alcohol, being addicted to the life-style and having that uncontrollable desire to stay out late and party as hard as possible has the capacity to put a strain on the rest of your life, and can even seem impossible to give up, whether you are drinking and using drugs or not. Many addicts and alcoholics can say they developed what they considered an almost completely separate obsession with the actual physical act of using or drinking, and the circumstances they almost used in.

Should I Go to Rehab If I’m Addicted to the Life-Style: Dealing and Possession

If you are a first time offender charged with possession, you might be able to take advantage of something called Diversion. This is where rehab comes in. Diversion programs are similar to probation, in that there are stipulations set for a period of time. Prosecutors will allow you to go to rehab by entering into a counseling and behavioral health program.

Upon completion of a substance abuse program, as long as you do not commit any more offences during the diversionary period, the case will be dismissed and you will have a clean record. Now that diversionary period usually lasts anywhere from 6 to 18 months. You won’t even have to divulge that you have been arrested or convicted of a crime for say a job application in the future.

So when being charged with possession, rehab is an option that can keep you out of trouble and help reduce your sentence after you make the appropriate changes. As far as dealing drugs, you will be looking at a little bit of a different court case, but if you can get into treatment it can help tremendously. Selling drugs is a toxic behavior that can become addictive just through the money and the power that one feels they obtain, but ultimately if you feel trapped in that cycle or compelled by the money, you may want to consider another way.

Should I Go to Rehab If I’m Addicted to the Life-Style: Rehabilitation

If you think it would not be possible to change the craving for money, power, security, or other habitual self-destructive behaviors like gambling, lying and stealing from others you are very wrong. People who are addicted to the life-style have the same opportunity as anyone else. Whether you think it is hurting you or not, if you’re fortunate enough to get a chance to go to treatment you should absolutely take advantage of it.

Many states allow courts to sentence people charged with possession and other drug charges to a period of rehabilitation at a drug treatment program or rehab instead of a jail sentence. This is more than likely the first time you’ve gotten caught, not necessarily the first time you have been in possession of drugs.

People who have impulsive-control disorders or other serious behavioral health issue but they have no ‘serious’ drug problem are able to learn how they are filling their empty selves with outside elements trying to fill the void, but in reality they are hurting those around them, and digging their hole deeper. Letting go of the habits and letting go of being addicted to the life-style is a huge step on a path to recovery.

Rehab for people addicted to the life-style teaches them how to treat others, it teaches of the harm addictions like money and power can do to families, and how these addictions can be overcome with some help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

Gambling Addiction

Gambling Addiction

Author: Justin Mckibben

Addiction is not a word that is limited to alcohol and illicit narcotics, it is an illness that comes in several forms of behavioral health issues that sometimes can fly a little longer under the radar as a result of being more socially acceptable. Gambling addiction is an impulse-control disorder, because the individual has no ability to control the impulse to gamble once it takes hold. Gambling addicts do not have to gamble every day, and the issue is not that they cannot afford it, it is the stain compulsive gambling puts on every aspect of their lives.

Gambling Addiction: Compulsive Gambling

Compulsive gambling (pathological gambling) is when an individual who is unable to resist their impulses to gamble, be it on the slots at a casino, card games and dice, or even betting on sporting events. Gambling addiction often even creates severe personal, social, and obviously financial consequences. The urge to gamble becomes so great that tension can only be relieved by more compulsive gambling.

There is a very fine line between gambling a little too much and compulsive gambling. The critical sign of gambling addiction is often hidden from the persons own awareness by things like denial. Many compulsive gamblers typically do not know they have a problem. Admitting you have a problem, or may have a problem, is the first step to recovery from gambling addiction. Unfortunately this realization normally only surfaces when a compulsive gambler hits some form of what is typically called a ‘rock bottom’ which is not always the same for everyone.

Although some people like to gamble occasionally, those who struggle with a compulsive gambling addiction usually progresses from occasional gambling to chronic, habitual gambling. As the gambling progresses, the gambler begins to risk more—both personally and financially, often resulting in more painful personal problems, possibly even financial ruin and criminal behavior to support the gambling addiction. A gambling addiction can take a toll on your finances gradually or immediately, but either way the problem is never just about the money, it is the behavior associated with compulsive gambling.

Gambling Addiction: Symptoms

  • Pathological gambling is indicated by demonstrating five or more of the following symptoms:
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about gambling, such as past experiences or ways to get more money with which to gamble
  • Needing compulsive gambling to reach progressively larger amounts of money to feel excitement
  • Having made many unsuccessful attempts to cut back or quit gambling
  • Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut back or quit gambling
  • Gambling to escape problems or feelings of sadness or anxiety
  • Gambling larger amounts of money to try to recoup previous losses
  • Lying about the amount of time or money spent on compulsive gambling
  • Committing crimes to get money to gamble
  • Losing a job, relationship, or educational or career opportunity due to compulsive gambling
  • Needing to borrow money to get by due to gambling losses

Gambling Addiction: Treatment Options

Compulsive gambling addiction is a chronic disorder that will only worsen over time, causing more and more problems in the individual’s life if not treated. Treatment for compulsive gambling addictions is available, and as a behavioral health issue there are many key concepts that are used to treat other types of addictions which create effective and lasting recovery.

  • Individual Psychotherapy
  • Group Psychotherapy
  • Support Groups
  • 12 Step Groups

While temporarily giving up compulsive gambling is relatively easy, staying in recovery and making a commitment to permanent a change from gambling addiction can be a truly challenging and unpleasant experience. Maintaining recovery from compulsive gambling and is possible if you surround yourself with the right people, and get the right kind of direction and support system.

Behavioral health issues and impulse-control disorders like compulsive gambling addiction usually go hand in hand with other addictions or compulsions. Often times those who have a gambling addiction can also abuse alcohol and other substances, all to deal with more personal issues. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 

Remembering 25 Years of National Recovery Month

Remembering 25 Years of National Recovery Month

Author: Justin Mckibben

As the month of September comes to a close for the year 2014 it is awesome to be able to take a look at the good being done and the efforts to effectively raise awareness about addiction, after all September is National Recovery Month. In its 25th year, National Recovery Month promotes the benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance abuse disorders across the board. 2014’s theme has been “Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out” which was to encouraged people to stand strong and speak up about mental health and substance abuse disorders, addiction and the reality of recovery.

A History of Recovery

National Recovery Month began in 1989, originally entitled “TreatmentWorks!Month” which was initially created to honor the work of professionals in the treatment and recovery field. The annual observance evolved in 1998 to “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month” when the scope of the focus extended to include celebrating the accomplishments of individuals who are actively in recovery from substance use disorders. Later in 2011 this celebration evolved even further to National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) to include all facets of behavioral health.

This month also promotes new growth for individuals to use to recognize behavioral health issues and reach out for help. National Recovery Month spreads the message that behavioral health is a crucial piece of the overall health issue. Over the past 25 years National Recovery Month has inspired millions of people across the nation facing both mental health disorders and substance abuse to raise awareness about addiction. It has inspired millions more to share their stories of recovery, and to contribute to educating and helping others who are still struggling with these important issues.

Every year since its inception, National Recovery Month has made a tremendous impact. Through activities and events at both the national and local level, the resulting media exposure, and the growing support from elected officials, policymakers, education leaders, judges, health providers, the faith community, and many other sectors, efforts in raising public awareness have soared beyond expectation. Every individual and entity involved has taken a position to take a stand in nurturing the survival and growth of quality treatment services. These sectors and officials have invested time to work together to carry the message that substance abuse is a treatable disease, and that recovery is possible.

Jeffersonville Rally for Recovery

Overcoming substance abuse is possible was the underlying theme of a fun-spirited event held in Jeffersonville Saturday afternoon to fuel support and raise awareness in honor of September being National Recovery Month. The Rally for Recovery event had a guest list including  some of the United States advocates spear-heading the fight against drug addiction.

Michael Botticelli, the acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and national drug czar, told those in attendance that he knows recovery can work, as he personally overcame substance abuse 25 years ago. Director Botticelli went on explain that those fighting addiction often need community organizations to be successful in their battles against drug abuse, and stressed the great deal of importance there is to him that people at every phase of recovery have a voice in the fight against addiction.

“Our office promotes policies and practices that make sure that people are getting access to treatment, that we know when people recover they become productive members of their communities, and we can restore them to life and to love. We know that community problems require community solutions. One of the most important things is to bring communities together to help support people in recovery [and] to make sure we are not arresting and incarcerating people who have a substance-abuse disorder. The importance of events like this is it brings out all parts of a community. That is what we experienced today. We have treatment providers, prosecutors, community advocates and families.”

Botticelli addressed crowds at the events held in Jeffersonville alongside Tom Coderre, who happens to be the senior advisor for The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. While the event praised those who have overcome substance abuse, it also reached out to those who continue to struggle with addiction.

NCADD Recovery Rally

The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) was one of the original founding sponsors of National Recovery Month 25 years ago and has been an actively involved in National Recovery Month as a Planning Partner ever since. Local NCADD Affiliates across the country hold hundreds of local community events in celebration of recovery month including events at baseball games, picnics, rallies, walks, luncheons and dinners.

For several consecutive years NCADD has worked hand in hand with A&E and its Recovery Project in planning and sponsoring a National Recovery Rally. The first two years of the National Recovery Rally were held in New York City and then three years in Philadelphia. Back in 2009, the NYC Recovery Rally attracted a crowd of 10,000!

In 2012 the Recovery Walks Rally, sponsored by NCADD Affiliate, the Council of Southeast Pennsylvania/PRO-ACT, drew an astonishing crowd of over than 15,000!

Similar programs and rallies have been organized and conducted yearly nationwide, with the California Association of Addiction Recovery Resources (CAARR) being responsible for the organization of Recovery Happens and the annual California Recovery Happens Month Kick-Off Rally at the Capitol.

Millions of American lives are transformed and elevated through recovery from drugs and alcohol. These successes stories often go unnoticed by the broader population, and many unsung heroes have amazing and compelling stories to tell. Therefore, National Recovery Month has been put in motion for 2 and a half decades now to facilitate sharing and rejoicing in these victories. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction there is hope to become one of these incredible success stories, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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