Lee Smithson, director of Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), resigned recently, citing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol addiction as the reasons behind his decision. Prior to his appointment as the MEMA director in 2016, Smithson had a 31-year military career. Consequently, he developed PTSD symptoms that pushed him toward alcohol as a coping mechanism. However, Smithson regrets not having sought timely treatment as for years he had been under the impression that he could handle everything on his own.
The outgoing MEMA chief attributes his co-occurring disorders to his deployment to Iraq and work after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. However, he admitted that his struggles with drinking problem have interfered with his abilities to run the state’s emergency management agency. He has now decided to focus on seeking treatment to combat his condition. “It has been a true honor to serve the people of Mississippi during times of disaster. My family and I ask for prayers and privacy as I start my journey to recovery. They have been my greatest supporters in this difficult decision,” he said.
Without elaborating further on the situation, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant announced the same day that he had accepted Smithson’s resignation, who served as the director of military support for the Mississippi National Guard from 2005 to 2015. In the past, he has been honored with numerous awards and decorations for his commendable service to the nation.
Smithson is not alone, as millions of Americans battle dual diagnosis in their daily lives. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 8.2 million Americans aged 18 and above had both any mental illness (AMI) and substance use disorders (SUDs) in the past year. Besides, an estimated 2.6 million adults had co-occurring serious mental illness (SMI) and SUDs in the past year. There are millions who drink to drown their mental agonies, but the negative effects often show up in the end. It is a startling fact that across the U.S., alcohol-related causes claim more lives than all intoxicants combined. Experts feel that timely co-occurring disorders treatment can make a lot of difference in such cases.
Dual diagnosis treatment is gaining importance
In the past, co-occurring disorders were not only viewed as a financial burden on society, but also associated with poor outcomes. Patients suffering from co-existing conditions generally exhibit a high degree of complexity, and don’t fit into the typical standard of care models and clinical guidelines. Besides, traditional medical treatment models are largely based on a single disease. Additionally, payment and reimbursement models for health care providers are centered around single procedure and intervention.
Dealing with strong urges for drug addiction has always been a daunting task. And, such compulsive substance-seeking urges are likely to get further complicated if someone is struggling with mental disorders like depression, anxiety, PTSD or bipolar disorders. Nowadays, measures are being taken to foster a comprehensive and holistic treatment, encompassing all real-world complexities and conditions.
Dual diagnosis can pose an enormous challenge because the condition demands a comprehensive approach to treatment that includes a proper investigation of each of the co-existing illnesses. Therefore, it is essential for a patient seeking treatment for mental issues to be evaluated for substance use disorders and vice versa. It is always advisable to seek professional treatment from trained mental health specialists for dual diagnosis. A pioneer in mental health and substance abuse treatment, Sovereign Health of Florida provides evidence-based dual diagnosis treatment programs at its Fort Myers and Pompano Beach facilities. For more information on our state-of-the-art dual diagnosis treatment centers, call our 24/7 helpline number. You can even chat online with one of our representatives for further assistance.
Get the latest news on program developments, behavioral health news and company announcements