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N'ville Sun: Seek help for mental illness, addiction.

Naperville Sun:

Lifting the shroud off mental illness and addiction
By: Susan Frick Carlman
September 13, 2013

It’s an awful sort of ride, the kind you fear might never end.

The roller-coaster of life in a household plagued with addiction or mental illness, or both, isn’t something I’d wish on anybody.

And while it can be a tiny bit irritating that pretty much every month is an “official” observance of something (case in point: the pink hue that will predominate in October, to spotlight the very real need for breast cancer awareness and research support), there’s a certain urgency about Recovery Month, of which we’re smack in the middle right now.

Declared official all across the state by Gov. Pat Quinn, Recovery Month is designed to build awareness and understanding of the bullies that are mental illness and substance abuse. If it gets us thinking even a little bit about this unholy duo, it’s worth the minor annoyance of yet another official commemoration.

If you’ve had one or both of these brutes as housemates — they frequently travel in packs — you understand how difficult they can make it to function in anything resembling normal fashion. When walking on eggshells feels like business as usual and each day dawns shrouded with a veil of dread, you know the dysfunction of these menacing plagues has come to rule your home.

Having grown up with alcoholism in the house, I’ve trod on an eggshell or two. It was a wonderful awakening when I finally discovered it wasn’t something shameful — least of all for my stepdad, who genuinely loved us all. While I’m sure the cyclical thought patterns that were among his symptoms made him certain the addiction was a personal failing, really it was an illness that bullied him for decades, exacerbated by the chronic depression that went untreated with the exception of the daily numbing brought on by the booze. Back then, you didn’t admit you needed help. People might call you crazy.

But severe depression, anxiety, stress disorders and addiction are all illnesses that can be treated. Everyone can get better, including loved ones. Especially us. We know that now.

Saturday will bring the annual Recovery Day observance at Linden Oaks at Edward, Naperville’s superb facility for those who struggle with any or all of the above. Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., visitors to the behavioral health center’s appropriately named Healing Garden will celebrate the successes of those who have escaped the shackles of chemical dependency, and find strength to support those still imprisoned by it.

Certainly there are too many such folks. With heroin overdoses continuing to claim lives in and around Naperville, and city officials agreeing prevention efforts call for a fresh funding infusion, there is clearly an addiction problem here.

And treatment isn’t limited to those who can afford the considerable costs involved. With so many households affected by job loss, that’s an issue — but there’s help for those who need it. In 2012, the Illinois Department of Human Services paid for substance abuse treatment services for almost 80,000 people and mental health services for about 140,000 people in Illinois.

This year’s keynote speaker at Recovery Day will put a face on that. He’s a Narcotics Anonymous member who will share his story of growing up in a loving household that had very little money, and the early successes that gave way to crippling setbacks as the disease of addiction took over his life.

Linden Oaks, which also is hosting a half-day seminar for addiction treatment professionals Friday morning, does a lot more besides addressing addiction. The facility employs more than 350 people who offer an array of highly acclaimed treatment programs that include inpatient, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and traditional outpatient services for adolescents, adults and older adults struggling with anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, geriatric conditions and self-injury.

You can find out more by calling the help line at 630-305-5500.

Or, by visiting www.edward.org/lindenoaks.


(630) 527-3000

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