Intersection Between Mental Health and Addiction
After maintaining sobriety for several years, Angel moved from her Houston home base to Galveston, away from her recovery support. Knowing she needed mental health assistance, she attempted to get prescribed medication from a community resource. Without coordination and despite her past, she was given a drug in the same family as one of her former drugs of choice and a cocktail of other prescriptions. She was over-medicated and all she wanted to do was sleep, 18 hours a day.
She quickly lost her job, her home, and her children and spiraled back to the streets. For the next three and a half years, she lived in hotels and cars and quickly accumulated traffic violations and finally, a charge of possession that triggered criminal justice involvement. She was alone and miserable.
Facing prison, she chose the alternative and again turned to treatment. Angel began the slow process of coming back to herself, in the care of her team at Santa Maria. This time, she found integrated treatment that addressed both her substance use disorder and her mental health issues. Like almost 65% of her peers in treatment, she learned that her life would not be stabilized without balancing both. She had the benefit of a mental health counselor, who was part of her treatment team at Santa Maria. This counselor worked to monitor her medications but also to train Angel in a healthy lifestyle by creating habits that allowed her to establish routines in four key areas: community, health, purpose, and home. She began to slow down and practice gratitude, household organization and time for self-care. These simple, yet essential tools, were incorporated into her daily life. Other SMH team members rallied to her assistance and she grew strong.
Little by little her life improved. She reunified with her children and found an incredible career path. She is now part of a four-person team with the UT Health Heroes Opioid Outpatient Program. She serves a community of those trapped in desperate opioid use, giving the same hope and advice that was given to her.