I met Mary just prior to our video interview with Dr. Russ Ferstandig earlier this week, and I was instantly impressed withe her courage for sharing her story.

This video may change lives in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Take a minute to watch it, and also check out the article written below by Dr Ferstandig about the importance of combining addiction medicine with psychiatry.

Dr. Russ's take on treatment, in his own words:

Common mental health issues like anxiety and depression frequently are present in people who struggle with alcohol and drug abuse.  Most people do not see this connection because they consider many mental health issues part of “life” and thus something you just accept, making their presence somewhat “invisible”.  However, common mental health issues are amongst the most powerful factors that drive people to alter their state of mind by abusing alcohol and/or drugs.

Therefore it should not be surprising that common mental health issues like anxiety and depression are among the leading causes that drive people to progress from socially using alcohol or a mind-altering drug to developing a serious problem with alcohol and/or a drug.  For the same reasons, untreated mental health issues like anxiety and depression are such strong triggers for relapse with alcohol and drugs that it is essentially impossible to achieve long-term sobriety in an individual unless their mental health issues are addressed and treated.

When treating opiate and heroin problems, it is particularly important to address mental health issues like anxiety and depression in order to ensure any degree of patient compliance with the treatment program, which is essential for lasting success.  Untreated anxiety and depression help opiate users rationalize and justify using small amounts of opiates/heroin on a “one time special” basis, which almost always produces a resumption of regular alcohol, and/or drug use, typically at progressively higher quantities.

Another benefit of treating common mental health issues when treating addiction problems is that the individual actually feels better than they ever have in their entire life because proper treatment helps them overcome their anxiety and/or depression in addition to their drug and/or alcohol problem.  It is particularly important to show these individuals that the benefits from properly treating their anxiety and/or depression are permanent instead of the temporary 30-45 day improvement that occurs when using opiates to address anxiety and/or depression.

 Numerous research studies have consistently shown up to a four-fold improvement in addiction treatment outcomes when therapy of any sort is part of the overall treatment program.  It is my experience that the best form of treatment typically involves a combination of thought and behavior change therapy in combination with the proper anxiety and/or depression medications when indicated.

 The benefits of combining addiction treatment and correction of common mental health issues are so impressive that all of  my addiction medicine treatment programs include a combination of addiction medicine and psychiatry techniques.  I have found that essentially anyone can successfully overcome alcoholism and/or substance abuse, provided that they have a genuine desire to live a better life and are willing to comply fully with this treatment program.