Mental illness and substance abuse only strikes certain zip codes


By David Joel Miller.

Why does mental illness only affect those on the south side of town?

Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat ill...

Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat illustrator Louis Wain near the beginning of his mental illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mental illness and substance abuse somehow are able to single out certain zip codes to focus its ravages on. Here in the central part of California, those zip codes are generally on the south sides of towns. I thought it was only here in my neck of the plains that serious mental health issues and the disease of addiction knew to focus its efforts on certain parts of town.

I see from another blogger’s post that there is now an outbreak of this phenomenon going on in New England. It seems that these debilitating disorders know to only strike on the south side of town (poor neighborhood) while there are never any people with mental health issues or drug addiction in those areas on the north sides of towns (Wealthy or closer to it.)

The powers that be have warned repeatedly that placing any form of treatment facility in the north end of town would only draw those people who chose to be mentally ill or addicted to those more northern areas.

Those of you who live in other regions, particularly where there are north and south flowing rivers may find that this divide will be an east-west phenomenon. But in those situations, the disorders and the diseases still will be able to find the correct zip codes to inhabit.

People in upscale neighborhoods do have their problems. Some of them have medical issues that require daily maintenance on injectable narcotics, but they are not drug addicts. There are also those that have chemical imbalances and need frequent monitoring by their psychiatrist.

These are good normal people who have adequate insurance and can pay ready cash to private medical practitioners to have their needs met.

On the south side of town we find those people who have lower or no incomes and as a result, they do not get chemical imbalances or need maintaining on prescription medications. These residents of the south side, singled out so it would appear solely because of their zip code, develop serious and persistent mental illnesses and addictions.

On way governmental agencies can ameliorate these geographic issues is to locate as many facilities as possible for the mentally ill in those areas

Recovery and half way houses are frequently co-located with large sources of drugs and crime to reduce the travel time between recovery and relapse.

Given that the seriously and persistently mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators it makes sense to avoid locating services for them in northern zip codes that would place them in wealthier, lower crime areas, and to concentrate facilities for the mentally ill as close to known concentrations of prostitutes and drug dealers as possible.

This entirely logical system of locating the predators and the prey within easy reach of each other has not been universally recognized. Many seriously and persistently mentally ill continue to try to live in the wrong zip codes despite the need to make long journeys to the south side to get their treatment.

Clearly, not everyone has gotten the message that the mentally ill live only on the south side of town. Frequently misguided people from the wealthier neighborhoods present requesting services. Some mistakenly think that because they are now out of work and their insurance is curtailed that they have moved from the chemically imbalanced to the seriously and persistently mentally ill group. They need to be gently reminded there are not services for their problems as “those kinds of people” do not live in the more northern (wealthier neighborhoods.)

Despite all our efforts to sort this out, people on the north end of town continue to believe that they are addicted to something like a drug or alcohol and need treatment. The usual procedure for these misguided folk is to remind them there are no drug addicts in those zip codes and they need to seek services in the south part of town where the addicts live or preferable move and live there.

Despite the best effort on the part of the powers-that-be to keep serious and persistent mental illness and addiction out of their neighborhood, there are those residents who do not comply with the program and insist on getting ill even when they live in the wrong zip code.

As on old man once remarked, my dad was the town drunk, if we had only had more money he could have been an alcoholic like the mayor.

So much for keeping “those” kinds of people out of our neighborhood.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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6 thoughts on “Mental illness and substance abuse only strikes certain zip codes

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