Submitted by Matt Salis
Mental health is health. There should be no distinction between the two as it relates to importance, severity or preventative maintenance. Yet, we are applauded by our society and culture when we are attentive to our physical health, while our mental health remains a largely ignored and stigmatized enigma.
Never has the need to eliminate the arbitrary distinction between physical health and mental health been so urgent than during the COVID-19 pandemic when we are at an even greater risk of emotional and neurological damage than we are of contracting the virus. A recent study published by the Well Being Trust and the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies estimates that as many as 150,000 Americans could die “deaths of despair” from alcohol and other drug abuse, and other mental illnesses. Fear of the virus, economic struggles, food insecurity,
stress from work and educational disruptions, and the loss of loved ones to the direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic all lead to self-medication. It is the most challenging of times to work in the field of alcohol addiction recovery and prevention.
At Denver-based nonprofit, Stigma, it is our mission to crush the stigma associated with alcoholism. We do not believe alcoholism is a spiritual deficiency. I was a loyal and active member of Wash Park UMC at the same time that my active alcoholism flourished. Recovery is not a matter of handing our uncontrollable relationship with alcohol over to God. If it was that simple, we would not have over 15 million American alcoholics and over 3 million alcohol-related deaths per year worldwide, even after 80 years of traditional alcoholism recovery methods based on the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I had a strong connection to God as I drank my life into turmoil. It is possible to maintain a spiritual connection to God and a deadly neurological addiction to alcohol at the same time.
Think about it for a minute. We pray for victims of cancer, and the healing power of God is unquestionable. But I’m pretty sure God is OK with us consulting with an oncologist, too.
Alcoholism is a brain disease. It is a form of mental illness, and the numbers afflicted during this pandemic crisis are staggering and continuing to climb.
At Stigma, we believe in a scientific approach to addiction recovery. We offer programs that incorporate an understanding of neurotransmitter function, the power of the subconscious mind, an addiction nutrition plan to repair brain function, bibliotherapy, emotional education, and an emphasis on patience to make the puzzle all fit together. Most of all, we offer the connection necessary to battle all forms of mental illness.
We also preach the importance of recovering out loud. Not only does open recovery destigmatize the disease and make recovery possible for others, but it also solidifies our own commitment to healing. It is hard to start drinking again when we have committed serious time to telling the world about the value of our sobriety.
The programs we offer at Stigma include our SHOUT Sobriety
program for alcoholics in early sobriety, and our Echoes of Recovery
program for the loved ones of alcoholics who very much need to heal and recover from the destruction of second-hand drinking. We also produce the
Sober and Unashamed
website full of resources, and the Untoxicated Podcast
where we discuss topics for the health and healing of the loved ones of alcoholics.
On September 23rd, we published our first book titled, soberevolution:
Evolve into Sobriety and Recover Your Alcoholic Marriage
. We are not satisfied with the status
quo, especially in a time when the alcohol abuse numbers are trending in the wrong direction.
At Stigma, we believe in the need for and possibility of a better mousetrap. We are leading a
For more information, please contact Matt Salis at matt@theStigma.org