Mental Health & Substance Use

The Be Connected Ecosystem of Support includes ten different Areas of Focus for service members, veterans and their families. The ten areas of focus include Basic Needs, Employment, Family & Social Supports, Finances & Benefits, Higher Education, Housing & Homelessness, Legal, Mental Health & Substance Abuse, Physical Health and Spirituality.

Managing the unique and specific needs of the individual to address the immediate requirements and work toward long-term success.

 

MENTAL HEALTH

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. At times, we can experience problems with our mental health due to life stressors, life events, a traumatic incident, or medical issues. When this happens, we can feel unsettled, scared and unsure of how to move forward. Therefore, the first step to healing, growing, and recovering is to reach out for help. Treatment and recovery are ongoing processes that happen over time and include a journey back to your best self.

Mental Health FAQs

If you have or believe you may have a mental health problem, the first and most important step is to seek professional help from a mental health provider in your community. If you are unsure where to go, talk with your primary care physician, local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) mental health community, community information and referral service lines. Call local or national crisis lines or your health insurance plan if you have one. Next, get involved in your treatment through shared decision-making. Participate fully with your mental health provider and make informed treatment decisions together. We know that systems can be complex and overwhelming to work through, especially when you are already overwhelmed and dealing with seeking a resolution to an immediate need. Be Connected uses a resource match tool to connect clients to information and resources that best fit their situation. Please call 866-429-8387 for additional assistance. Additionally, it can be helpful to talk about these issues with others. Having a sound support system and engaging with trustworthy people are key elements to successfully talking about your mental health. Recovery is a process of change where individuals improve their health and wellness and strive to reach their full potential. Work on self-care activities like mediation, exercising, eating healthier, sleeping well, and managing stress to improve mental health.
  • Take breaks. When something becomes too overwhelming, take a break from it. Walk away and engage in a different activity that is rejuvenating, such as exercise, a quick shower, walking or watching television.
  • Practice mindfulness activities and gratitude. Engaging in spiritual or religious activities, volunteering or mediation can help with stress management.
  • Do things that make you happy, such as swimming, painting, biking, etc.
  • Exercise! Exercise releases endorphins, which flood the body with serotonin, making you happier and healthier.
  • Gather a support system, such as family, friends, co-workers, significant others, anyone you trust and are comfortable with, and spend time talking and enjoying their company.
Suppose you or a family member are struggling with a mental health issue. In that case, you or they could be a vulnerable target for being taken advantage of financially or at risk of sexual, physical and mental exploitation or abuse. If you are worried about yourself, you can ask for help from your local Adult Protective Services, medical providers or any local crisis line. If you are worried about a family member or friend, many local social service agencies can help by assigning case managers or navigators to review needs. The Guardianship or payee services process is also available after legal involvement and can give a third-party agency control of getting bills paid and managing money. In addition, Be Connected offers a needs assessment by caring, skilled and trained staff and can connect Arizona service members, veterans, families to information, support and appropriate resources, following an assessment. Please call Be Connected at 866-4AZVETS (866-429-8387) for additional assistance.
Sometimes it will seem obvious when someone is going through a hard time, and other times less subtle. So don’t worry too much about finding out the details or if there is a diagnosis. Instead, focus on the following:
  • Set time aside with no distractions to offer support. It is important to provide an open and non-judgemental space to listen. Keep questions open-ended and give the person time to answer.
  • Let them share as much or as little as they want to, and let them lead the discussion at their own pace.
  • Don’t put pressure on them to tell you anything they aren’t ready to talk about.
  • Don’t try to diagnose or second guess their feelings. You probably aren’t a medical expert and, while you may be happy to talk and offer support, you aren’t a trained counselor.
  • Talk about wellbeing and ways of de-stressing or practicing self-care, and ask if they find anything helpful. For example, exercising, having a healthy diet and getting a good night’s sleep can help protect mental health and sustain wellbeing.
  • Listen carefully to what they tell you, offer them help-seeking professional support, and provide information on ways to do this.
  • Know your limits, and if you believe the person is in immediate danger or they have injuries that need medical attention, you need to take action to make sure they are safe. Please call 1-800-273-8255, press one if the person is a veteran.
Set boundaries between yourself and the other person. You’re not responsible for anyone’s happiness, and while you can be there to help them, your priority is first. Be careful not to become immersed with the needs of others, and forget to take into account your emotional and physical health. Make sure you eat a healthy diet, get enough rest or exercise, which all work together to maintain the energy needed to provide care and support for others.
While it may be hard to keep a positive mindset when struggling with mental health, practicing/ completing activities such as mindfulness or meditation can help someone put things into perspective. Gratitude activities, indulging in treats and simply doing things that make you happy can help tremendously.

SUBSTANCE USE

 

Many people think they can stop a drug or alcohol problem on their own. Unfortunately, overcoming addiction is not easy. Stopping drugs or drinking will probably be one of the hardest things you or your friend has ever done. It’s not a sign of weakness if you or they need professional help, as most people who try to kick a drug or alcohol problem need professional assistance or a treatment program to do so. 

Stopping the use of any substance should be done in consultation with medical and addiction professionals. Following any medical detox program, counseling: individual or group,  support groups, 12 Step programs or Smart Recovery help the addicted person learn healthy coping mechanisms without the substance, relapse prevention techniques, identification of triggers, and new coping skills.

Substance Use FAQs

Addiction means a person has no control over whether they use drugs or drink. Addiction can be physical, psychological or both. The type of substance being abused and the level of addiction will usually dictate the treatment approach needed for sobriety. For example, being physically addicted means a person’s body becomes dependent on a particular substance by building tolerance. As time goes on, that person needs a larger dose to get the same effects, as the body and brain adjust to being ‘high.’ Someone who is physically addicted and stops using a substance like heroin or alcohol may experience physical withdrawal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, shakes, runny nose, seizures, heart arrhythmias and at times strokes. This type of withdrawal could require a medical detox from the substance. Psychological addiction happens when the cravings for a drug are psychological or emotional. People who are psychologically addicted feel overcome by the need to have a drug but are not physically dependent on the drug. An addicted person, whether it’s a physical or psychological addiction, no longer feels like there is a choice in taking a substance.
  • Attend support groups related to the specific substance that has been abused.
  • Don’t attend places that you know will be risky. For example, if you are a recovering alcoholic, staying out of places like parties and bars is best.
  • Build a support system of people who you know can support you.
  • Healthily manage urges. Chewing gum, drawing and filling your mind with activities will help take those urges away.
  • Find activities that make you feel good! Volunteering, teaching, helping others, etc., can make you feel better when dealing with substance issues.
They need to be sure to find the right program that fits their needs best. For example, someone struggling with a heroin addiction won’t find the best help at a treatment facility that focuses on alcohol, even if they say they can help. Always research and read reviews on what people say before being admitted.
  1. Educate Yourself: Get information about addictions and the disease process. In addition, find information about how it impacts family and friends. Knowledge is power, and it may help you understand more about yourself and your loved one. There are many resources for finding this information: SAMHSA.gov (Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration) has educational and informational resources.
  2. Get Support: When you have a loved one with an addiction problem, it can create a great deal of difficulty in your life. However, some groups can help you learn how to cope, provide resources and support the addict, including Al-Anon (focused on Alcohol addiction) and Nar-Anon (focused on drug addiction – prescription and illegal). Get Counseling: It may be helpful to get some individual counseling to assist yourself. The more you can manage, the better you will be able to help your loved one.
  3. Don’t Enable: It is difficult for family members when the disease takes hold. Often, family members have supported the person’s addiction without fully realizing that they were doing it. Don’t rescue the addict. Instead, let them experience the consequences of their disease. Don’t financially support the addict or their addiction.
  4. Have Realistic Expectations: Don’t preach or lecture to the addict. They are usually unable to hear what you are saying. Instead, continue to hold them accountable to expectations and offer help to direct them to the treatment they need. Don’t react with pity or anger.
  5. Take Care of Yourself: Focusing on your own life is the most important thing to assist the addict. If you are stressed out due to their issues and your own, it creates resentment and strain. It makes it difficult to want to help someone who has created so much difficulty in your life. By taking care of yourself through exercising, getting plenty of sleep, socializing, and getting support, you may be better able to help your loved ones when they are ready to accept the help.
It’s not always easy to decide to help someone who has an addiction, but they will have a greater chance of overcoming addiction with your support. Basic steps are outlined below:
  • Remember that addiction is not a choice or a moral failing; it is a disease of the brain.
  • Addiction is ultimately a condition that the individual must learn to manage; no one can take the fight on for the addict.
  • Set boundaries and stand by them.
  • Encourage the individual to seek help; this may include finding treatment resources for them.
  • Find a treatment program or therapist who specializes in addiction counseling and get help. Loved ones of addicts need support too.
  • Set an example for healthy living by giving up recreational drug and alcohol use.
  • Be optimistic. A person struggling with drug or alcohol abuse will likely eventually seek help due to ongoing encouragement to do so. If they relapse, it is not a sign of failure; relapse is often part of the overall recovery process.
Struggling with addiction is challenging on all levels. It can cause many mental health problems, from feeling irritable, sad, or more anxious than usual, to more serious issues like depression, thoughts of suicide, and continued addiction issues or relapses. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your mental health despite the ongoing uncertainty of the situation. Stay physically active, sleep, eat well, and drink plenty of water. Schedule time to worry instead of worrying all day, and find solace in connecting with your loved ones and friends. Keep the big picture in mind. Although things may feel stressful right now, you are working on getting help and changing your circumstances. If you’re experiencing a decline in mental health that has you concerned, or your strategies aren’t working to improve your mood, then seek support. Some services can include inpatient detox and rehabilitation, partial hospitalization, drug and alcohol counseling, support groups, outpatient treatment groups, 12 step programs and psychoeducation groups, outpatient medication-assisted treatment.
Don’t say things that judge their substance use. More often than not, substance abuse is linked to mental illnesses like depression or anxiety. So just like you would say to someone struggling purely with mental wellness, say you are here for them. However, set boundaries and don’t let them be dependent on you. Your health matters too.
Your addiction is not your fault. It’s the way your brain decided was the best way to cope with any situations at hand, and recovery is always possible. Many resources in the state of Arizona offer help, including community, government and military benefits. However, these systems can be complex and overwhelming to work through, especially when seeking a resolution to an immediate need. Be Connected uses a resource matching tool to help find the right information and resources that best fit your situation. Please call 866-429-8387 for additional assistance.

Many resources in the state of Arizona offer help, including community, government and military benefits. However, these systems can be complex and overwhelming to work through, especially when seeking a resolution to an immediate need.  Be Connected uses a resource matching tool to help find the right information and resources that best fit your situation. Please call 866-429-8387 for additional assistance.

  

Click to view our PDF for more information on how you can help provide Basic Needs to Arizona’s service members, veterans and their families!

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