Co-occurring Disorders: LCA Conference 2010

25 Sep

Co-occurring disorders are when alcohol addiction occurs alongside a psychiatric or mental health disorder.  Mental Health America states:

Alcohol and other drug abuse and addiction constitute major health and safety concerns in the United States, with costs running into the billions of dollars annually for health care, related injuries and loss of life, property destruction, loss of productivity and more.

The presenters in this session (Jacobs and Varnado-Johnson) demonstrated the importance of creativity in developing interventions with both substance abuse and severe mental health patients.  The session was a hands on interactive lecture in which observers were able to participate in games/activities.

Games you can play with your clients courtesy of Jacobs and Varnado-Johnson:

  1. Stranded on an Island – You’re stranded and can only bring 1 item to represent you.  After deciding on the item, clients are broken up into groups and must combine the items in order to survive or get off the island…creatively.
  2. Talking with your problem – client writes to his/her problem and then writes responses as if the problem is talking back.

The important thing is to promote creativity in one’s clients.  According to Jacobs and Varnado-Johnson, creative individuals share mental characteristics of mentally healthy individuals.  Encouraging creativity encourages mental health and development over time.

This article by Science Daily in 2003 explored the “Biological Basis for Creativity Linked to Mental Illness”:

“The study in the September issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology says the brains of creative people appear to be more open to incoming stimuli from the surrounding environment. Other people’s brains might shut out this same information through a process called ‘latent inhibition’…”(CLICK ME FOR MORE!)

When I Googled creativity and mental health, I found conflicting discussions and academic debate.  Creativity is an evolving field of study, however I believe it will open new avenues for treatment and intervention over time.


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