Since opening its doors in July 2017, Unison Health’s sub-acute detox unit has helped dozens of patients take the most important first step of their lives — the sometimes painful but ultimately rewarding journey from addiction to sobriety. The first few days of that journey can be the most intense, as the process of detoxing from opioids is often accompanied by terrifying withdrawal symptoms. Without trained, dedicated people to guide a person through, it can be all too easy to relapse. Sub-acute detox provides a supportive, medically sound environment to let the true healing process begin.

Real Letters from Sub-Acute Detox Patients

Overcoming an addiction to opioids is one of the most difficult things a person can do. It’s estimated that a person may attempt to quit several times before recovery fully takes hold. Unison Health is proud to report that nearly two-thirds of our patients successfully complete the detox regimen. These people’s stories can be touching, they can be humorous, but most of all they are inspiring, and they show us that a better life is out there for those who seek it.

“I wanted to thank you guys for all that you do. As you know, this is not by any means my first rodeo, so my compliment should mean something! You all truly care and have made an impact on my life. Please know your hard work and attention do not go unnoticed, even by the most grumpy of client! I promise to stop by and say hi and keep you guys up to date. I am so grateful for meeting every one of you!”

“I want to say thank you all. Y’all went above and beyond to make my stay there nice and comfortable. All of y’all were so nice and helpful. I’ve never felt more at home. I enjoyed all the groups as well. Most importantly thank you for helping me save my life.”

Recovery Housing: The Next Chapter in the Story of Hope

Unison Health seeks to provide a continuum of care for every patient who walks through our doors. That means applying our medical approach to ensure that patients not only rid themselves of the drugs in their systems, but also to diagnose any coexisting behavioral health issues and treat the entire patient, physically and mentally. In order to deliver on that promise, Unison Health is in the process of establishing Recovery Housing in the Toledo area.

In Recovery Housing, patients are placed in an environment surrounded by others in recovery, people committed to a drug- and alcohol- free life. In addition to reducing substance use and incarceration rates, Recovery Housing improves social relationships, and promotes emotional well-being.

Rules regarding admittance into recovery housing vary from provider to provider. Unison Health is working to establish 38 Recovery Housing beds here in the Toledo area, so we can provide the continuum of care that we believe is essential to a safe, healthy recovery. We hope you’ll join the many people who have contributed to our efforts.

Unison Health

From sub-acute detox to Recovery Housing, Unison Health believes that no one should have to break free from addiction alone. Our goal is to take those facing the toughest battle of their lives and surround them with a network of caring people. If you or someone you know is facing a substance abuse disorder, Unison Health wants you to know that no one has to go into this battle alone. To get started on the path to a better life, contact Unison Health online or call 419-214-HOPE today.

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As if the opioid crisis weren’t horrifying enough, a disturbing new trend has made using street drugs even more dangerous. Many people struggling with addiction now find that what they thought was heroin is actually a far stronger opioid — fentanyl or carfentanyl. The difference is often deadly.

Understanding the difference between the different opioids currently flooding the illicit market — and the serious risks involved in any of them — can go a long way toward preventing overdose.

Prescription Pain Killers: A Potential Gateway to Addiction

Beginning in the 1990s, restrictions on prescribing opioids such as Percocet and OxyContin were dramatically loosened. Many users found they could achieve a high by crushing the pills, then snorting or injecting them. This abuse led to a massive increase in the number of people who became addicted.

As a result, OxyContin and other medications were everywhere, and they eventually made their way onto the black market. Knowing the potential for heavy demand, drug cartels began increasing the availability of heroin, making it cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription pills. Today, it’s estimated that up to 80% of heroin addicts began by using and abusing prescription pain medications.

Fentanyl and Carfentanyl: Grave New Threats

Morphine has been around for centuries, and it is commonly used to treat severe pain. It’s derived from the poppy plant. Heroin was first introduced in 1874 as a more potent alternative to morphine. At twice the strength of morphine, it’s not only more powerful, but it also carries a greater risk of addiction.

The term “china white” is often used to describe extremely pure, powerful heroin, and it’s highly sought-after by addicts. Throughout the Toledo area, though, the substance being sold as china white is actually the synthetic opioid fentanyl with little or no heroin content. Why does that matter? Because fentanyl is over 50 times stronger than heroin, making the potential for overdose far higher.

As one user stated, “There’s so much fentanyl on the streets. It’s pretty much what people are dying from. When fentanyl hits the streets, there are bodies every day.”

In recent years, we have seen a tremendous rise in the prevalence of these synthetic opioids, which have made their way into communities across the country. While synthetic opioids are manufactured to be used in legitimate medical applications (fentanyl is manufactured to alleviate severe pain for people post-surgery), a massive black market has developed as people illegally sell or manufacture them.

In 2016, the DEA issued its first warnings about the rise of a synthetic opioid 10,000 times stronger than morphine — and 100 times stronger than fentanyl. Carfentanyl is manufactured as an anesthetic for elephants. One user has said, “I overdosed one time… it took six shots of Narcan to get back.” Just 2 mg of carfentanyl can be lethal; law enforcement officials are at risk just by handling the drug.

Unison Health: Leading the Fight Against Heroin and Opioids

Today, the danger of overdosing is greater than ever, mainly because it’s impossible to tell exactly what you’re using until it’s too late. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Unison Health has an array of services designed to place people on the road to recovery. In addition to a sub-acute detox facility to help people through the crucial first few days, Unison Health offer medication-assisted treatment for heroin and opioid addiction.

Looking ahead, Unison Health recently began raising funds for Recovery Housing in conjunction with our treatments. Recovery Housing provides a safe place, free of alcohol and illegal drugs, with a network of peers to help one another through the difficult times. And studies show it works. Recovery Housing residents experience decreased substance use, decreased incarceration rates, increased family and social relationships, and improved social and emotional well-being.

We have received a pledge of nearly $500,000 in grant funding from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, as well as $83,000 from the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County. In order to receive these funds, though, we must raise $100,000 in matching funds by December 31, 2017.

If you would like to contribute to making Recovery Housing a reality for Unison Health, please contact us today. Together, we can fight back against heroin and opioid addiction in the Toledo area — and open even more doors to hope.

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For kids, Halloween is mostly about dressing up like Iron-Man, a princess or a character from Paw Patrol and acquiring absurd amounts of candy. For parents, the prospect of dressing kids up, taking them around the neighborhood, and keeping them from eating absurd amounts of candy might seem a little daunting. Even so, it’s important to look at Halloween as a way to help children learn important socialization skills.

The Halloween rituals of approaching a house, engaging with unfamiliar people, and interacting according to social guidelines offer teachable moments and opportunities to praise appropriate behaviors.

According to Dr. Aimee Drescher, Director of Psychological Services at Unison Health, “Halloween empowers parents to model and promote healthy social skills and provide education and support to our children.”

Tips to Make Halloween a Treat for Everyone

Dr. Drescher suggests the following tips to help make Halloween a great experience that also provides real chances for personal growth:

Discuss expected and unexpected behavior prior to trick-or-treating. Talk with your child over dinner, while getting their costume on, or even several days prior about how you expect them to behave while trick-or-treating. Repeat this exercise as needed to reinforce expectations. Have your child repeat them back to you — this will help them to internalize these lessons.

Emphasize respectful interactions with adults and other kids. Remind your child to say “trick-or-treat,” “please,” and “thank you” at every house. If your child forgets, gently model for them in the moment by saying “please” and “thank you” on their behalf. Because children develop many of their social skills by watching, eventually they’ll pick up on the behavior themselves. To promote positive social interactions, encourage your child to give two compliments to others about their costumes while trick-or-treating.

Emphasize the importance of good social skills. If your child is naturally shy, he or she might be more likely to hide behind your coat than make eye contact and smile. But the more chances they have to interact, they less nervous they’ll feel. It might take time, but each step forward is a positive step.

Conversely, some children might be more extroverted, and they may be somewhat more aggressive. By reminding your child to wait their turn in line without complaining or pushing other children, you can also demonstrate the importance of patience and sharing. In addition, some children may need to be encouraged to give healthy personal space (i.e., don’t touch people’s costume without permission). Remind your child that if another child is bothering them to use friendly words to handle the situation or to get help from an adult.

Offer feedback to your child during the outing. Praise your child for the positive behaviors that you are seeing; for example, “I really like how you are using your manners with others tonight.” According to Dr. Drescher, parents and caregivers are the most important role models in a child’s life. A parent’s praise is a tremendous motivator, so don’t miss out a chance to recognize the behaviors you want to see happen again.

Unison Health: Dedicated to Children’s Behavioral Health

Sometimes children’s behavioral problems extend beyond trick-or-treat. When a child is experiencing behaviors that require extra help from a professional who understands a child’s needs, Unison Health offers a range of services for children. More information about this program is available on our Integrated Child and Family Services page or by calling 419-214-HOPE.

The first week in October is Mental Illness Awareness Week. To commemorate, Unison Health offers this look at one of the most important issues within the mental health community — stigma.

When it comes to medical conditions, depression and other behavioral disorders are often among the most misunderstood. Although they’re quite common — 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience a mental illness — nearly 60% of adults who live with these conditions did not receive mental health services in the past year.

In part, that’s because behavioral disorders exist along an incredibly broad continuum of conditions, and they manifest themselves in very different ways among the people who live with them. As such, it can be difficult to gain an in-depth understanding of what is so often a highly personal struggle.

So we rely on the information that’s right in front of us. The media and entertainment industry, for example, often present the mentally ill as either dangerous or dealing with some inner turmoil that can be resolved through a hug and a few kind words.

The result, too often, is something known as stigma.

The Stigma of Depression and Other Behavioral Disorders

Stigma is when a person views someone else negatively because of a condition—in this case, a behavioral disorder. A person may be leery of engaging with someone because they’re concerned for their own well-being. They may also make an effort to engage, but come away feeling discouraged because their best intentions have, too often, too little impact. So it becomes easier for a person to withdraw, even as some they care about is visibly struggling.

What makes depression particularly problematic — especially compared to more conventional diseases — is that the stigma is often internalized by the person coping with the disorder. A person with cancer won’t often say, “I have cancer because I am a bad person,” but that’s all too common among people with depression.

Their brains are lying to them. No one really understands why this happens, but that’s the result. Their brains lie to them and tell them they’re no good. Which makes it hard to hear the good things other people are saying. Which makes people withdraw even further. Which makes for a terrible cycle of dysfunction.

Smashing the Stigma of Depression and Behavioral Disorders

Everyone touched by depression and other behavioral disorders (which, we’re pretty sure, constitutes just about everyone everywhere) can help to eliminate the stigmas that surround these common conditions! The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has put together a few steps you can take.

See the person, not the condition. Even people who live with depression, anxiety and other behavioral disorders have good days and bad days that might not be related to their condition. Consider whether the person is experiencing an episode — or just the same stresses and strains you experience on any given day. And when in doubt, ask (from a place of respect, of course).

If you think someone is having trouble, reach out. Often people who are in the midst of a depression, for example, will isolate themselves. It’s part of their own self-stigmatizing. Don’t be afraid to offer your support, and don’t worry if your words don’t immediately cure the problem. Just providing unconditional support can be incredibly meaningful.

Encourage equality in how people perceive physical illness and mental illness. You wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg they’d feel better if they got more exercise. And you wouldn’t tell someone with skin cancer that people with liver cancer have it worse. When you just acknowledge that a person going through a depressive episode is suffering, and they really just need to feel heard or seen, you can do amazing things for someone you care about!

Unison Health Can Help When Depression Becomes Too Much

Sometimes, even when we all do our best to help someone, the pull of the behavioral disorder is just too strong. When that happens, Unison Health can help. Unison Health offers a broad array of services for adults, including programming designed to help each individual patient take those critical first steps toward a happier, healthier future For more information about Unison Health’s integrated care for adults, call 419-214-HOPE today!

Clinical depression goes far beyond sadness. It’s a disease that robs people of hope. Depression destroys the ability to find the pleasure in living — and enjoy activities that had once brought joy. When that feeling takes hold, we look for any way to bring a person back, to help them experience vitality once again.

Fortunately, there are now more treatments for depression than ever before, including art therapy, which Unison Health offers as part of its overall commitment to our patients’ mental well-being.

The Unison Health Approach to Art Therapy

Unison Health seeks to create an environment where individuals are empowered to make choices. That begins as soon as a person enters the art therapy studio — a visually exciting place that stands in stark contrast to more clinical settings. The studio is a place that immediately conveys the idea that “something different can happen here.”

As clients interact further with their environment, they are empowered to make even more choices regarding their choice of medium. Each medium has its own personality, from the light, soothing feel of watercolors to the dramatic power of oil paints, and the physical act of engaging with the medium invites different statements and initiates new action. A broad swipe of paint across a canvas parallels the bold movements of breaking out of one’s emotional shell. It’s meaningful, it’s powerful, and it has an immediate resonance with the emerging artist.

Unison Health Art Therapy Helps Adults Battling Depression

Treating depression is about more than managing the symptoms—it’s also about providing tools the patient can use going forward. These tools give the individual the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of their mental and emotional processes and ultimately move beyond depressive episodes when they occur. As art therapy works in conjunction with an overall treatment regimen, it also provides a unique set of benefits that give patients new opportunities for hope.

Art Therapy Provides a Visual Voice. Think about how verbal communication works. As you speak, one thought leads into another, creating a narrative that takes the listener from Point A to Point B. Coming to terms with a behavioral disorder, though, is often a far less linear path. As thoughts race and mental images come to mind, the story may fold back on itself, preventing clarity from emerging.

As a patient creates a work of art, though, they are empowered to say the things that have not been said. Through art, the creator is able to face and embrace strong emotions — safely. The works they create reflect their feelings, illuminate previously unseen ideas, and inform both the creator and the viewer.

By creating symbolic representations of their feelings, patients allow for several layers of meaning to emerge, often leading to a heightened level of understanding. 

Art Therapy Encourages Stretch Goals. People with depression can often retreat, pulling themselves out of their day-to-day activities. That’s understandable. When your inner voice is constantly telling you you’re not enough, it’s all too easy to start believing it. Art therapy offers people an opportunity to re-engage with their world.

When we say art therapy encourages “stretch goals,” we are referring to art therapy’s ability to help clients achieve consistent continuous improvement. The therapy is structured in such a way that it provides just enough challenge to set the client up for meaningful growth. As their artistic skills improve, their confidence grows accordingly. They explore new interests and discover a light within themselves that they may not have noticed before.

Art Therapy Transforms Lives. Ultimately, the goal of art therapy is to empower individuals to look into their environment and recognize their right to make choices that are helpful to them. By creating a durable, concrete piece of art, the artist is making a statement that can return to over time and reflect upon its meaning. The work of art holds elements of the creator’s past, it speaks to them in their present, and it provides tools that can help them anticipate their future.

Explore Art Therapy with Unison Health

Art therapy is part of a regimen of treatment available to adults participating in Unison Health’s Spera partial hospitalization program. For more information about Unison Health’s integrated care for adults, visit our web page or call 419-214-HOPE today!