Children with both mental health and substance abuse issues

Learn about: Children with both mental health and substance abuse issues from Sharon LeGore,...
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Children with both mental health and substance abuse issues

You know, many people are confused about the term co-occurring disorder and really what that means is having two problems at once. But in the realm of substance abuse, mostly we are talking about substance abuse addiction and mental health problems that occur at the same time. And what we have found and I know even in my own family, I have a young son that has a co-occurring disorder, and his diagnosis is bipolar schizophrenia. And what we have found is that a lot of times people that have underlying mental health issues and don´t realize it will self-medicate with drugs in order to bring them to a sense of normalcy. So what their normal is is not the same range as what our normal is. And they need to find substances to bring them to that level of normalcy. So if have substance abuse and a mental health issue, that´s classified co-occurring or sometimes it´s called dual diagnosis. It depends on where you are in the country and what terminology they use. But what´s very difficult about co-occurring is the fact that it´s a chicken or the egg. When you go for treatment, people want to label substance abuser or mental health issue. And it depends on which one is the primary diagnosis, that means the first diagnosis, as to what kind help you get. And unfortunately my son was in a full blown psychosis episode and when I took him to the hospital, they asked him if he used substances. And he just went well, duh. And when that happened, they handed me a pamphlet on substance abuse and told me to take him home. You need to be very vigilant about getting treatment, especially when it´s co-occurring and get a complete assessment. And a complete assessment would cover substance abuse and mental health issues. Get it done together. Ask and find out who provides co-occurring treatment so that you are guaranteed your child is going to get help for both issues, not just one or the other.

Learn about: Children with both mental health and substance abuse issues from Sharon LeGore,...


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Sharon LeGore

Family Advocate

Sharon is the founder and president of Momstell, a parent advocacy organization she created after the death of her daughter to a drug overdose.  She created the Momstell website in order to expand the mission to join concerned parents and families to work together towards improving drug treatment, education, legislation, and policy. Mrs. LeGore has worked on many drug and alcohol policy, state budget and legislative issues for Pennsylvania, including legislation to create the first statewide Parent Advisory Council for substance abuse issues in Pennsylvania. She serves on several policy tables and co-chairs the PA Children’s Advisory Committee.

Mrs. LeGore is a consultant on substance abuse family involvement issues for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and is also the co-director of the SAMHSA sponsored “National Family Dialogue”. Sharon co-authored the CSAT/SAMHSA report “Families of Youth with Substance Use Disorders: A National Dialogue”, an issue brief entitled “Family Involvement in Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment” a journal piece for Reclaiming Futures entitled “Family Involvement in Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery: What do we know and what lies ahead”, co-authored the “Access to Substance Abuse Treatment: Results of a Family Survey” as well as several additional published articles. She is a national speaker and also serves on the Parent Advisory Board for the Partnership for a Drug Free America.

Sharon is the mother of four and resides in Mt Wolf, Pennsylvania with her husband Terry.

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