The problem in the United States at this time is people who are struggling have to realize they are hurting and get help immediately. Many know they are depressed but have used alcohol or drugs to help mask their depression. Others have used sexual encounters and lots of them to try and feel good about themselves instead of dealing with the real issue at hand in their lives. Mental Health America states that, despite there being significant gains to effectively treat depression, the level of unmet needs of people still remains very high. In America, many people on average live with their illness for ten years plus before getting help, and sometimes it is just too late.
Just recently in Austin, Texas a frustrated and confused man crashed his plane into a building that housed the Internal Revenue Service. This gentleman was frustrated with the taxes that he had to pay back to the Internal Revenue Service and was going through some martial issues with his spouse. He allowed himself to be frustrated and depressed with life and did something that took his own life and hurt his own family forever. Many people that knew the man said that he was not a bad person but was so frustrated with his finances and taxes. If this man had reached out and talked with a psychologist this situation may have never occurred.
Please see the chart from a study done by Mental Health America that rated depression among the states from 2002-2006. The report was done with the hope of getting more health professionals, senators and hospitals to see the impact of depression on the stability of their states. As you will notice this is a problem that truly stretches all across our country and must be dealt with.
What the report showed a couple of years back was that the state of South Dakota was the healthiest state with respect to depression. Among the adults in the state 11.16% had experienced a serious psychological distress in their lives. Now life brings us all stress and some difficult times because that is a part of being human but these are big issues of distress. Among adolescents, in South Dakota, 7.4% had a major depressive episode in the past year.
Utah, of all states was the most depressed state during the study. Among the adults 10.14% had a major depressive episode in the past year. Among the adolescents though in Utah, they had also 10.14% who experienced a major depressive episode. Please see the chart on your specific state of the alarming number of suicides state by state as well and where the state ranks. Many of these numbers have risen so dramatically over the last several decades and really explains why the US has seen such escalated violence and death in our country. The biggest tone of the study was that when a state has a huge number of psychiatrists and psychologists per capita, the suicide rates drop and depression is less.
I would be remiss though if I did not mention a recent MSNBC story that did another story the other day about teen depression. The influential government-appointed medical panel is urging all doctors to routinely screen teens more for depression. The task force is an independent panel of experts made up by the government to work with doctors to better recognize depression in youths. They are supplying the offices with questionnaires that the patients or the parents can answer to see if the person is clinically depressed or not. Two million teens and our country’s future adults, if they can be evaluated and diagnosed early, we could have such a brighter future.
The panel’s recommendations appeared in the April 2009 issue of the journal Pediatrics. About six percent of the teens are clinically depressed and more it is said with girls. Whether the depression is affecting a male or a female, their well being is so important for them to live productive lives in college and in the later workforce. Some of the issues they suffer are a part of growing up and if they are treated properly they could live happy lives and enrich so many. The panel seems to support teens getting therapy sessions first over putting teens on anti-depressants right away. Anti-depressants have some side effects and some of them were linked with suicidal thoughts with some teens.
The story, to my surprise, did mention that pediatric psychiatrists in some states are scarce. So they are urging more primary care physicians and family practitioners to be more educated in the signs of depression. These are some things that I have seen that are being done with younger people and it is so vital to our country to have more happy and stable people. I think if that occurs you would see fewer suicides and fewer young adults getting involved in drugs and alcohol and could get a high in just living and doing good things.
In summary, I truly believe that people are so vital to the makeup of any great country. Without great and caring people the country is not great. We as Americans are proud people who are given so many freedoms and become whoever we want to be. A lot of other countries are run by a military or a government and people are not allowed to always be who they want to be. We as a country can get back to some of the ways of yesterday with more disciplined people and productive people, but it will not happen overnight. We as people, though, have to step up and be responsible for ourselves and others we care for. We must make necessary lifestyle changes immediately like taking the necessary medication if prescribed and eating better and exercising and doing good thing like yoga and meditation.
We are not taking care of ourselves enough and exercising enough to stay healthy and that is seen by how obese we are as a country. If we take care of ourselves physically then I think mentally we will feel better as well. If we can do these good things regularly in life we will be better for all of us. Had maybe some of the youths mentioned earlier in this chapter been properly diagnosed and treated earlier with their severe depression and stayed on their medication all could have been so different. If we can become more of an aware nation of treating depression and anxiety we will become so much more of a stronger nation.
Action Steps for all Americans
Chemical Dependency in America
“Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change”- Ingrid Bengis
As an author, I have thought so much about this quote from Ingrid Bengis a few times over the last couple of years. It has been a quote that says so much because truly words when eloquently written have changed lives for a very long time. Quotes may be short but their messages can be powerful. I guess I have thought about these words because of the word “change”. There are so many things that need to be changed in our society - not tomorrow but let’s start today.
For myself, I often have reached out to the sophisticated writings of great writers such as Norman Vincent Peale, Napoleon Hill, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and others to learn about life and learn from them. These blessed men and of course so many others just got it, and led productive lives and changed lives. They died older in their lives because they loved life and got out of it all that they could. It is my desire to lead my life the same way and also in some way help make a difference in this world I live in. Their message of positive thinking and hope over the past many years of my life has really changed who I am and how I live life. My life has been changed in a way that I feel like it is payback time to use their vital messages and my own to make life better for the next.
Never once have I ever thought that I know everything about life, but I have a little of its wisdom. I have been told that by family members and professors who taught me at Susquehanna University that I had some wisdom that could help people in my words. We all live life trying to figure it out and some just do a better job than others because we all are in search of understanding it better. I have loved to learn from others before me who did not run from life but captured it. These authors and many others learned from their mistakes in life and learned not to let it happen again.
Sure, we will all continue to make mistakes but hopefully we will all learn from them and try not to continue to make them. I want to die someday knowing that I led a good life and learned from others and from God that made my life more simple to live. I only wish that my message in this book will enter some minds and change them in some way. If this happens, so many lives will be changed for the betterment of so many. I wrote my first book years ago and its message changed some lives for the better and nothing was so gratifying as knowing that my words helped others.
I am so blessed to have come from a loving mother and father and a great twin brother and sister. Today, I am also blessed in that I have a wonderful spouse of thirteen years and two of my best friends, my son Justin, and daughter and Jillian Rae. But as no family is without its own hurts and tribulations, I had my own along the way. My own father was an alcoholic and it later consumed his life and lead to his demise. He was a great person but his alcoholism overtook his life. He was a strict man and a hard-working man who did so many wonderful things before his disease of alcoholism.
He died way too young, at the age of 57, and never had a chance to meet any of his eight grandchildren. He was a successful man in his life and was Vice President of Sales for Libby McNeil & Company, the food company in Montvale, New Jersey. This was not a stumbling man on the streets living under a bridge, but a man you judged by his career accomplishments over everything else.
The material things that he bought like a big house in Northern New Jersey and a nice car showed himself his own wealth and stroked his ego. I always felt that was really sad because being a good father and a supporter of his family meant a lot more to me than his material worth. The alcoholism eventually destroyed his liver and the toxicity of his anti-rejection medicines caused great cancer in his lungs and his mouth and took his life. So sure, I was the son of an alcoholic but also I was the son of one of the hardest-working people I knew in my life. I have been so blessed to have him in my life because he was such a humorous person and fun and I choose today to remember more of those times.
So although I am not an expert in chemical dependency, I do know a lot about it because I dealt with it firsthand. I dealt with it with my father and with his many doctors as I worked hard to get him to beat this disease. I did realize at a younger age that alcoholism and drug addiction is a disease and some people are hardwired genetically to have the disease. I lost someone I loved and have seen some of my friends and coworkers over the years lose their own lives from it and learned a lot. I, like many, love to occasionally go out and blow off steam and go out with my softball teammates and of course had some fun in college. But luckily to this day I have never tried an illicit drug and was offered it many times in my life but chose not to.
Although it was offered to me I lived by the virtue that if I did not try it then in no way could I get addicted to anything. The high addiction to alcohol and drugs has always been an issue in the United States but more than ever today. Society today with the failing economy and the wars overseas, and the pressures and hours expected to work today and the pressures of raising children, maybe has led to this. Instead of getting a high on life many people enjoy more ingesting pills and smoking marijuana and drinking themselves silly. In no way is it my intent to judge anyone as not being a bad or good person because who am I to do so not being perfect myself. But go to any party today or go to any college and drugs are such a part of that culture and it is getting worse before better.
Recently I met with a work associate over lunch and on that day he seemed quit quiet and his personality seemed much more relaxed than I was accustomed to. I asked him if all was OK with him and he apologized for being in deep thought about his son and issues with marijuana in his life. He said that his son who was a good football player at the local high school had admitted to him that marijuana had been something he enjoyed on and off since the eighth grade. That so angered my friend, because he said that to his son had felt that it had never been thought of as a big deal that he smoked.
His son, who attends a catholic high school said that probably about 60-70% of the students smoked marijuana on a pretty regular basis there. Here is his son going to a catholic school where you send children to learn morals and what is right and wrong and drinking and drugs is such commonplace. Drugs and drinking has always been an issue that high schools have had to deal with but if his numbers were even close to being really at even 60% that is truly sad in our society.
Talk to many students today and probably they will tell you much the same across the country in our junior high schools and high schools and this is sad. Many more kids should be getting their highs on the sports fields or from learning and gaining knowledge in the classrooms. What is so vital for people of this country to realize is that every time we lose one child or adult to the world of drug addiction, we take a step back as a country. These people will end up spending a ton of money on a chemicals or pills that will sap them of their life and make them so much more of a less productive person to our society. When this occurs and it happens each and everyday to thousands upon thousands of people, it does not take a brain surgeon to realize that we have become such a weaker nation. Marijuana and crack cocaine and heroine and other prescription drugs are killing this country day by day by day.
But the facts are that we have easy access to alcohol and drugs today and this has killed many and destroyed many lives in the US. A very good author Sammy Sorrell in one of his books Homegrown Terrorism, The Undeclared War Against Crime in America, mentions that in 2005 DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) killed more American than all the wars this country fought in combined up till then. That is only one year and it seems that DWI still becomes such a troubling issue with the alcohol and drugs consumed by our populace. We are able to get so much drugs into this country because we are a wealthy country but also because we are such an addictive country.
Many people never set out to be an alcoholic or drug addict, but it sneaks up on them quietly over the years. It allows many to escape from the everyday stresses and realities of life that can be difficult. Where are the days when a high came from getting good grades in school or being a great parent and working daily to take care of one self. Sure there are so many Americans that do this but unfortunately many of their peers cannot say the same. Even as I have gotten older it has shocked me to see so many people in their upper 30’s and 40’s spending so much of their hard earned money to get a high instead of using it for productive things for their lives.
According to the website RecoveryHelper.org drugs and alcohol make people feel good. As many as 30 million of our peers are believed in this country to suffer from dependency problems with alcohol or drugs. That is monumental because their lives are destroyed but what about the family members’ and friends’ lives that also go down as well. They suffer as much as the addict because they lose someone they love dearly. Many sufferers soon get so used to their highs and refuse to let go of their addictions. They would rather get this high than have any withdrawal symptoms in their lives. The problem is many are jailed or subject to stiff fines that ruin their lives in the workplace or in life when they are caught.
According to the Season’s Recovery Center, out of Malibu, California, 24 million people over the age of 12 are currently suffering from addiction. Of those people, only about 10% receive help from a professional treatment facility. Once again, is it just laziness or just a sheer disregard for own health in this great country. Bad enough that millions get into a bad situation but worse is not a lot of them want help. This is a silent suicide for many and they just accept it as a way of life. This is killing our country more today than ever. Imagine how much of a more productive country we could be working hard to do good things in our lives instead of getting a high from drugs or alcohol.
In the early part of the 20th century why could so many people survive in their lives without so much drugs and alcohol, but today why can we not? This group also mentions that 6% of Americans between the ages of 16-25 have engaged in non-medical use of prescription drugs in the past month. Somewhere along the line it became commonfor people to take prescription drugs to mask their insecurities and difficult young lives. This practice is killing their brains and their lives everyday. In the past, only twenty years ago the number of people with drug addictions has skyrocketed almost 500%. What has happened over those years that would have us with more in this country, but a country that is not as happy as it once was? Addiction and depression in my opinion and in the opinion of others can show why as a country we have slowly lost our edge.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) points out that this dependence put an enormous burden on the American society. They back up so much of their findings and the numbers are so troubling it can be hard to comprehend. It is hard to comprehend that there are so many unhappy people amongst us. Although their numbers are less, they believe that 18 million or more have alcoholism and as many as 6 million people have drug problems. Can you imagine how many football stadiums you could fill with the number of people in the US who are addicted to both of these chemicals?
Many of these people need these substances just to function on a daily basis and try and be productive every day. With this many Americans destroying their precious bodies and minds it will be very difficult for America to be great unless we quickly change our ways. To those numbers you can probably add another 10 million loved ones and children who could also themselves become addicts or deeply be affected as they watch love ones fall apart. My hope can only be that a reader realizes their issues by reading these words and reaches out for help because it is a huge problem.
Nine million children in the US live with a parent who is dependent on alcohol or drugs to function. These children are then not getting the best from their parents and therefore not growing up under the best of circumstances. It is sad because we are offered so much in our free society but so many are depressed or suffer daily with mental health issues or drug and alcohol issues. It is not one ethnic class or any gender or the rich or the poor that it is killing. It could be you or I or a neighbor or a church member or even your best friend.
Slowly, one by one, many people have to reach out to their clergy or family member or best friend and say, “OK, today is the day I am going to put my faith in someone else and ask for help.” If not for yourself then for your family and loved ones that want to see your life whole again. In no way is anyone weak when they reach out and say I need help because I am relying on a substance just to live. When I myself suffered with OCD I got to the point where I said “OK, I am tired and need help from someone and just cannot beat this on my own.” I told myself I am not a coward or weak, but that I needed to admit to my doctor my life was now a struggle and I needed help immediately. I received that help and today I benefit from admitting I was not perfect and needed assistance to get better. Chemical dependency is an illness and without the proper help it will be very difficult to find the peace in one’s life.
In my opinion one who reaches deep down and gets the guts to admit they are not perfect is more of a hero than those who do not. You will realize that you are no different than so many others who suffer from the same disorder you do. There is that old adage that we all get up and put our pants on the same way. You are saving your life and the life of so many around you who really care about your well being. Like my OCD, the psychologist believed I had it probably from inheriting it from my family, and so many people with addictive tendencies also inherited it as well. So in many ways you may not be to blame for your makeup but it is so vital that you receive help. Too many Americans are struggling with chemical dependency and we so need the numbers to go down.
The NCADD again in a recent article pointed out some valuable information that will open people’s eyes. There are more deaths and disabilities each year from alcoholism and drugs than any other cause in the US. This is one of the leading problems in this country that will continue to hold us back if not acted on. Sure, there will always be dependency problems in this country, but at these numbers our country is busting at the seams. We are failing ourselves in that too many of us are taking getting high over trying to the do the right things. Life can give you enough highs like feeling healthy and working, or falling in love, taking a fun vacation, or having a baby, and these are great highs. We need to focus more on these good highs then the ones that come from the bottle.
Our highs need to come more from this than addiction for all our sakes. Like my family, in the United States more than half of adults have some kind of family history of alcoholism or drug addiction today. That is simply saying that we are not doing the right things in society to help more to love life. We, as a nation, are singlehandedly killing ourselves and if we can change this tide, we may find many of