Peer Support for Abuse Survivors
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Schizophrenia is a very serious mental disorder that affects about one person in one hundred. A significant percentage of people with this illness also become addicted to drugs, sometimes trying desperately to find some relief from the symptoms that they experience. Unfortunately, the street drugs your son is taking can worsen the symptoms of his schizophrenia. You have described a situation that needs to be addressed by mental health professionals in your area. I think you would benefit from supportive therapy to help you cope with both your Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and your son, and your son needs to be in treatment and on antipsychotic medication to prevent his illness from getting worse. You can begin to learn more about schizophrenia at the National Institute of Mental Health website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/schizmenu.cfm
Another very useful resource is the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill: http://www.nami.org/.
When you talk to your son bear in mind that he is probably quite frightened and distrustful, and that these feelings are part of his illness. Your son is probably afraid of appearing weak, so tell him that it takes a lot of strength and courage for anyone to admit they have a problem and need help. It may not be easy to convince him to get into treatment. If you have a physician or therapist, asking them about local resources for your son would be a good place to start. If you do not have a physician or therapist, start by getting yourself some help, as you will likely benefit from assistance to address the problems you face. In addition, by getting yourself some help, you act as a role model to your son, showing that it is ok to ask for help when you feel overwhelmed. Many communities have a community mental health center that provides treatment and/or a local mental health association that can provide information. In addition, almost every state as a state-level department of mental health that you can ask. Still another resource are the state legislators and county or city officials in your area. To them, you are a constituent, and they will have someone on their staff forward information to you. Good luck.
Do you have a question relating to a mental health issue? Do you have a question relating to abuse or multiplicity? Do you have a question about medication? Once a month a new question will be answered and posted on this column. A special thanks to Dr. Yank for donating his time to answer the questions.
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