May 29, 2013
NC House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services
Honorable Subcommittee Member:
North Carolina Consumer Advocacy, Networking, and Support Organization is a state-wide advocacy organization comprised of people who have lived with mental illness and substance addiction. Many of us have had sustained periods of recovery and have dedicated our health and effort to making life better for our peers by promoting a focus on recovery and self-responsibility.
Because of this, we are opposed to the proposed closure of our substance abuse treatment centers and the potential of further decreasing substance abuse treatment funds in order to pay for treatment availability in community hospitals.
Historically, our state has not dedicated the resources to treatment for people with addiction or addiction occurring with mental illness that many other states have. We have stood on outdated and unsupported ideas about addiction, yet years of research identify the factors that result in addiction versus mere substance misuse. NC CANSO believes, then, that our state has a responsibility to ensure treatment access, quality, and accountability to North Carolinians with addiction problems.
Further, many individuals served in the ADACTS also have a mental health problem–often schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, or serious depression. According to statistics provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Washington, 25.7 percent of all adults with serious mental illness have co-occurring substance dependence. That is 4 percent of all adults in our country. Yet some people have not had their mental health properly recognized or treated until they have gone to ADACT treatment because the addiction related problems are often recognized before the mental health problems.
Finally, people with addiction or addiction and mental illness have the highest levels of co-morbid chronic physical disease related to substances they have used and to lifestyle. Funds used for addiction treatment may yield tremendous savings later in an individual’s life as people recover and their lifestyles change.
We urge the legislature to continue funding of the ADACTS as they are as such intensive treatment cannot be had in community hospital settings. Further, we ask that this legislature not reduce any of the funds utilized for treating persons with addiction. Addiction is a serious and painful illness and it calls for courage and support to overcome it. We must not disregard the needs of North Carolinians who need addiction treatment.
It might be said that some of our state elected officials live in obscurity where it comes to mental health and substance abuse conditions in the USA. Why must our representatives in Washington, D.C, the State of North Carolina, and County Governments insist on maintaining a “status quo” of ignorance, stigma, discrimination, and prejudice with regard to those living with a chronic medical condition?!
I am appalled at these social injustices, which wreak of mindlessness and disregard for human conditions of a growing segment of our population! There must be a way to affect change with factions of our electorate that insist on keeping our recovery and wellness an afterthought rather than a priority in our country’s healthcare services.
One obvious way is to vote these representatives out of office. Another way is to spur a nationwide educational campaign, which this country’s political and social leaders adopt as an asset and not a deficit! In addition to these two areas of change, we must accept the fact that our community based services are our country’s grassroots efforts that meet numerous healthcare challenges head on…often without the support of social and political leaders.
If those living with mental wellness and substance abuse recovery needs choose not to spearhead change, who will? Thus, the importance of advocacy and a continuing move to effect positive awareness of our healthcare needs in the USA! This is not only a sociopolitical issue, but a moral issue as well. And so far, many whom we have voted into offices of leadership and support have failed us terribly!
Our expressed intolerance of such direct indifference must be stopped through continuing education, lobbying, fundraising, new leadership, and collaborative efforts in local communities. This is where effective support comes from and where continued support moves forward for us!
“If not now….when?”
Hooray for your thoughts, Diane! Who else will spearhead the change, as you say? And who else understands the relevant circumstances as much as those of us with lived experience! Our families can help, but they don’t know OUR experiences, our perspectives. They have their own, which must be respected. (Of course, there are some whose families are part of the problem). But to express what truly helps us recover, WE have to find our VOICES and start using them! We have to reach further for our own empowerment, and we have to put faces on the issue. It is easier to do when we are doing it together.