“The Social Security Administration (SSA) has proposed changes to the way decisions are made for awarding disability benefits based on a mental impairment. These changes will threaten the ability of people with serious mental illnesses to obtain benefits….
The changes appear in a regulation that would amend the “Medical Listings” -the standards that SSA uses to determine eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. While the proposed new Listings include some very good features, these are undermined by a provision that could limit the number of people with mental illnesses who can qualify to only one or two percent of the nation’s population. This is far below even the most conservative estimate of the number whose mental health disability makes them unable to work (the criterion for eligibility for federal disability benefits) and who therefore need this monthly income.”
~ Read all of “Social Security Disability Rules to Change – for Better and Worse:Â Agency Needs to Hear from You” — then, take action!
A frequently asked question from visitors to this site:
Can crack cocaine come through breast milk?
And the answer? YES.
When a breast-feeding mom uses crack cocaine, she may pass the drug on to her baby through her breast milk, with serious effects:
“Convulsions have been seen both in infants of breast-feeding mothers using cocaine and in infants exposed to passive crack smoke inhalation. Because cocaine and its metabolites can be found in breast milk for up to 60 hours after use, breast-feeding is not recommended.”
~ p. 225, “Drug abuse and withdrawal”, S Schechner, Manual of Neonatal Care, Philadelphia, 2004
Drinking crack-cocaine-tainted breast milk can severely damage a baby, and in some cases, may lead to death. (More here.)
I’ve been trying to assist a friend who wants and needs help with recovery from addiction. My friend doesn’t have the benefit of good health insurance. Few long-term addicts do. Serious addiction often leads to unemployment, and that means no insurance. Without insurance, treatment options are limited to local and state programs.
Our county had a good treatment center which offered detox, outpatient, and inpatient services. The center stayed full, with a waiting list, from the day it opened, but still, it was good treatment, and people got help there. But there were issues with Bridgeway, the operator contracted to provide services, and the state suspended admissions in August. The county is transitioning to a new provider, DayMark, but new patients won’t be admitted until at least late November. So that’s four months with no county substance abuse treatment.
Uninsured/under-insured Guilford County residents in need of substance abuse treatment can go to ARCA in Winston, RTS in Burlington or ADATC in Butner for detox and crisis stabilization. But those services are limited to 14 days. While that’s helpful in some cases, in many cases, it’s like sticking a bandaid on a seriously injured car crash victim and dumping them back into the middle of the interstate. Those in recovery from cocaine addiction, for example, often need significantly more residential treatment. They need to be in a safe, structured environment while their brains begin to heal. And at just 14 days’ clean time, a crack addict’s brain looks like someone turned the lights out.
Much is said about “community-based treatment,” which means non-residential (not in a facility), but in reality, it sounds a lot better than it often works. “Best practices” and “client-centered therapy” are also important parts of good treatment. But the substance abuse treatment available locally to alcoholics and addicts who don’t have good health insurance coverage doesn’t always measure up to those terms.
I’m a realist. I know that the biggest reason why we don’t have the needed treatment is because there’s not enough money to pay for it. Local and state treatment programs are paid for primarily with tax dollars. There’s always been a shortage of treatment beds and treatment options. And the current economy has no doubt worsened the situation. But I also know the cost of addiction that most taxpayers don’t see or think about. It’s “pay me now or pay me later.” When treatment-ready alcoholics and addicts can’t get the help they need, and they continue in their addictions, taxpayers still end up paying for it.
People who can’t access needed treatment services often continue to cycle through emergency rooms (the most expensive form of healthcare) and detox programs. That costs taxpayers money. Active alcoholics and addicts who are on disability may use government benefits, such as SSDI or SSI checks, food stamps or utility vouchers to buy alcohol and drugs. Taxpayers pay for that. Police officers, jailers and judges can tell you about the correlation between addiction and crime. Again, taxpayers pay.
The cost of the destruction of lives — both the addicts’ and their friends and families — cannot be measured. Alcoholics, addicts, and their friends and families lose time from work dealing with crises. Alcoholics, addicts, and their friends and families deal with mental and physical health issues — some which contribute to the alcoholism and addiction, and some resulting from it. Families break up and relationships end because of alcoholism and addiction. Single-parent families are at a greater risk of poverty and are more likely to receive government assistance. All of this adds up to more taxpayers dollars.
There’s much stigma, misinformation and mythology attached to alcoholism and addiction. This probably contributes to the lack of advocacy for increasing treatment options. But if we were to really look at the bottom line, we’d see that “detox and done” isn’t really serving anyone.
It’s easy to appeal to compassion and make an emotional case for providing treatment for alcoholics and addicts who are ready to do the next thing. But the pragmatic case is just as compelling, if not more so. Currently, adequate treatment is not available because our community can’t afford to provide it. But the truth is that taxpayers are already paying (and likely paying more) for not providing adequate treatment services, which raises the obvious question: Can we really afford not to provide it?
From DayMark’s web site:
Daymark® Recovery Services, Inc. is a mission driven, comprehensive community provider of culturally sensitive mental health and substance abuse services… committed to using the most current best practices and effective, research-based treatment programs to assist all citizens working toward achieving optimum health and recovery.
DayMark plans to retain at least some of Bridgeway’s staff and tentatively plans to re-open on November 1st. No decision has been made as to whether or not detox services will be provided by DayMark. Those services are currently being provided by ARCA in Winston.
Bridgeway lost the contract to run the treatment center following the death of a detox patient in January. And there had been other problems shortly after Bridgeway’s opening.
Our county could easily use hundreds more than the 56 beds at the treatment center. These are needed services, and I hope that the transition to DayMark goes smoothly and substance abuse treatment in Guilford County continues to improve and expand.
The following is a guest post, written by Donna Newton of the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress. It contains important information about RUCO, and how you can take action in support of RUCO. (Slightly edited for the web from original emails.)
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RUCO is under attack by opponents and now is the time that those who support RUCO speak up and let all Council members, not just your district Council person, know how you feel.
The focus of the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress is the preservation and improvements of our neighborhoods in terms of quality of life, property values and safety. As we all know, sub-standard housing undermines surrounding property values — even one substandard property can undermine the property values of an entire neighborhood. Also, we know that sub-standard properties invite crime into our communities.
Other organizations that are partnering in support of the pro-active aspects of RUCO, such as the Greensboro Housing Coalition and the Human Relations Commission, are focused on the human rights issues of improving sub-standard rental properties, in that renters have a right to live in safe housing and that many of them won’t complain about substandard housing out of fear of retaliation from their landlords.
RUCO is a sucessful program
- Since RUCO was implemented, known sub-standard housing in Greensboro has been reduced from 1679 units in 2003 to 705 in 2010;
- Since RUCO was implemented, complaints about sub-standard housing have been decreased 77%;
- Since RUCO was implemented, inspections staff have been reduced by 22%.
- Since RUCO was implemented, inspections staff have been more successful in getting deteriorated housing to the Minimum Housing Commission more quickly and the number to go has steadily increased from 17 in 2003 to 105 in 2010.
RUCO is reasonable
- Once inspected and a certificate is issued, the RUCO is good for the life of the property unless there is a complaint on the property or violations are found during the sampling inspections and not repaired within the prescribed time frame.
- The time frame in which a violation must be repaired is 45 days from the written notice of the violation and can be extended as long as in the judgment of the inspector, progress is being on the repairs.
- The sampling inspection process applies only to a random 2% of rental properties.
- Rental properties that have not yet been inspected that come on the rental market are required to pass inspection and be issued a RUCO before they can be rented.
Opponents of RUCO plan to propose an elimination of the pro-active portions of RUCO, and as they couch it: “target problem properties”. Their proposal will in effect eliminate RUCO. (more…)