Ala. Dept. of Mental Health urging people to get help for substance use disorders

Ala. urging substance abuse treatment awareness

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Mental Health said people are not aware of the help the state offers for people dealing with substance use disorder.

Less than one in five of the people in the United States who are dealing with substance use disorder get the treatment they need, according to ADMH 2017 data. And the department encouraged people to reach out.

Pamela Butler works as the coordinator of recovery services with the Alabama Department of Mental Health. At one point she was unemployed with a college degree and said additional resources helped her overcome an addiction.

“I think people have the misunderstanding that once people go to treatment, they will be better. They need somewhere to live. They need a job. They need food. You know. They need some shoes. They need some teeth," Butler said.

Now Butler encourages people to tap into the help the Alabama Department of Mental Health offers for sometimes little or no cost.

For example, the department partners with at least 60 providers to help with housing, transportation and counseling.

But the mental health department says people are not aware of the help out. Only 19 percent of Americans who needed treatment for a substance use disorder got the help they needed in 2017.

“It’s stigma. It really does affect all of us in a way that when you have a problem you don’t always go to someone to talk about it. When you go to family members, they don’t know what to say, where to go," said Malissa Valdes-Hubert, a spokeswoman with the Alabama Department of Mental Health.

She said last year the department of mental health helped 30,000 people in Alabama who were dealing with substance use disorder.

“Even though you’re in recovery and you’re doing great. You’ve still got to pay bills. You still need income. You still need a house," said Butler.

The department says they heavily depend on individual people to spread the word about the help the department offers.

The department of mental health has received about $34 million in grants that they have used to bring awareness to the programs they have.

A 2017 state survey result said substance abuse and mental health was ranked 4th among Alabama voter priorities.

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