MTN News is continuing the conversation about substance abuse being at an all-time high during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s obviously a problem that needs some clear and practical solutions.
“The mental health and substance abuse issues is our second pandemic. This virus will be long gone and we’re going to spend a decade or two dealing with the outcome of it,” explained Michael Foust, executive director at Western Montana Mental Health.
Some people typically think of substance abusers as people who take harder drugs like heroin, but substance abuse could start with something as simple as you drinking earlier and more now that you may be home more.
“A lot of us have this image of what a substance abuser looks like and that’s really not the case. You know, it’s people that you’re in line with at the grocery line, walking downtown, and getting ice cream. We’re all blended together,” said Sheri Bagley, a nurse practitioner in addiction medicine.
It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out process to see if you may have issues with substance abuse.
“There’s a very rapid test. It’s called the CAGE; C stands for have you ever felt like you should cut back? And the A stands for have you ever annoyed someone by your use? And then the G, guilty. Have you ever felt guilty for drinking or using substances too much? And then the E is the eye-opener. Do you have to drink a beer to feel better? Do you have to steady yourself til the next morning? So, that’s called the CAGE,” Foust said.
And there are resources out there. But first — “You have to really want it. Doing it for your spouse or for your employer or for some other outside entity doesn’t work,” Bagley said.
Again, a good place to start is just to take a few minutes, even seconds, to do the CAGE self-assessment and go from there.