CleanSlate Blog

Co-Occurring Disorders: The Link Between Addiction and Mental Health

by Dr. Maria Russo-Appel | May 25, 2018

Those of us who work in the field of addiction, or suffer from addiction ourselves, know the stigma that surrounds this illness.

There's another disorder so laden with stigma that treatment is often roadblocked: mental illness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in 5 Americans (43.8 million) experiences mental illness, and nearly 1 in 25 (10 million) adults in America live with a serious mental illness that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. As with addiction, the barrier of shame, fear and silence prevent far too many people from seeking help.

And often, addiction and mental illness are connected. This only compounds the stigma that makes treatment for both disorders difficult to access.

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A Mother's Day Wish for Pregnant Women Suffering from Opioid Use Disorder

by Dr. Maria Russo-Appel | May 11, 2018

This Mother's Day, far too many pregnant women will be struggling, not celebrating.

That's because they're battling an addiction to opioids, which is classified as Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). At any moment, this battle could end in tragedy for mother and baby.

Stigma makes it difficult for people with substance use disorder to obtain life-saving treatment. The obstacles multiply when that person is pregnant.

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How Doctors Can Help Pregnant Patients with Opioid Use Disorder

by Dr. Maria Russo-Appel | May 11, 2018

Opioid use in pregnancy has escalated dramatically in the last decade, paralleling the epidemic in the general population. Pregnant women suffering from opioid use disorder (OUD) constitute a highly vulnerable patient population. This group experiences a higher risk of unplanned pregnancy, and their infants are at risk for being born with opioid dependence and suffering Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

Pregnant women often face serious barriers to treatment, including legal statutes in some states that support charging women with OUD with criminal child abuse. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia define substance use during pregnancy as child abuse under civil child-welfare statutes. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia require healthcare professionals to report suspected prenatal drug use.

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5 Steps to Take When Someone You Know Suffers from Addiction

by Dr. Maria Russo-Appel | May 8, 2018

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdoses increased by an average of 30 percent nationwide from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017. CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, M.D., warns, “We’ve got an emergency on our hands.”

Even as the crisis gets the media attention it deserves, there still is a vexing roadblock keeping many of those addicted to opioids from getting the treatment they need.  As a physician leading addiction treatment teams, the roadblock I see most often is stigma.  

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