Suspect mental illness or substance abuse? Take the right steps

While I have one more article on September being National Recovery Month, I want to let readers know North Central Ohio Educational Service Center is offering its facility to Community Action for Reduction of Substance Abuse coalition for its “Let’s Talk” series. This event, Wednesday, is to host a moderated panel featuring persons in recovery; it promises to be an interesting dialogue!

Some people are more at risk for mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders than others. Experiencing traumatic events, whether it’s a death in the family or a natural disaster, may place a person in a more vulnerable position in dealing with events. Research suggests a predisposition to alcohol should dictate extreme vigilance in preventing first-time use – especially in youth!

If you suspect a preteen, teen or young adult is using drugs or alcohol or may have a mental illness, it’s important to take action immediately – just as you would seek treatment for a physical injury. Casual substance abuse can quickly turn into a long-term problems, and it may be indicative or a person trying to cope with a mental illness.

Following are ways to intervene if you suspect a loved one has a mental illness or a substance abuse disorder.

Express your concern and support.

Ask what you can do to help.

Seek outside help and support if necessary.

Have calm conversations sharing your concerns – and listening.

Reassure your loved one that you care about him/her.

Observe behavior and activities, help out with homework or chores.

Dispose of or lock up prescription medications to reduce risk of abuse.

Monitoring activities are proven to work. In 2011, past-month use of illicit drugs and binge alcohol use were lower among youth aged 12 to 17 who said their parents were engaged in monitoring behaviors than among youth whose parents seldom or never engaged in monitoring their behaviors.

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties is committed to sharing information and resources for better mental health and the prevention of substance abuse. It now has a website,, and you can like us on Facebook by clicking the Facebook link on the website. If you would like more information, please call the board at (419) 448-0640 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The board’s hotline is available 24/7 at (800) 826-1306.

Nancy Cochran,

executive director