“They are broken people,” sighed Martin Lugo, an individual on his way to sobriety, who works in a rehab center to bring a change in the lives of others like him. Lugo was one among the group of 12 people who assembled again at the San Clemente City Council’s meeting on May 2, 2017, seeking urgent repeal of the draconian ordinances discriminating against one of the most vulnerable sections of society.
“If there are any Christians in this room, it is our duty, we are obligated, to help these people and not turn our backs on them,” Lugo said, citing how rehab services can make a difference in the lives of people struggling with mental disorder and substance abuse.
Speaking of her success story, another protester in the group, Suzanne Helfing of Aliso Viejo in southern Orange County said that she owed her six years of sobriety to rehab centers. Expressing her concerns about the growing crisis in San Clemente High School, Helfing said that the number of people with either addiction or mental health issues was on the rise. “Shutting the doors to such people is not the answer,” she argued.
The group members maintained their stand that they were saving lives every day. “We will be back,” said Richard Noble, leader of the group and case manager at Sovereign Health, reiterating his commitment to the cause. Describing the new zoning regulations as hateful and discriminatory, Noble urged city leaders to stand up for the legitimate and humane presence of “sober living residences” in their neighborhoods.
However, defending the council’s stand, San Clemente City Attorney Scott Smith clarified that the ordinances were not designed to single out rehabs, rather they are essential to regulate short-term rentals. Besides, he also stressed on dedicating new zones in the city to cater to people with special health needs. “The city has not closed its doors. Rather, it is a move to ensure only proper licensed medical facilities function in our neighborhoods,” said Steve Swartz of San Clemente City Council.
Further to the initial protest on April 18, 2017, outside the San Clemente City Council chambers, this was another attempt by people in favor of rehabs to step up the ongoing agitation against ‘hateful’ ordinances. In 2016, San Clemente City Council adopted new ordinances to regulate rehabilitation centers and addiction treatment facilities within residential neighborhoods in the city.
America is in the midst of a mental health crisis
Millions of Americans are affected by wide ranging mental health conditions every year. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2015, there were over 43 million people aged 18 years or older in the country – representing about 18 percent of all adult population — with any mental illness (AMI) within the previous year. Experts say the writing on the wall is clear for the United States. The downward slope signals that a society engrossed in single-mindedly chasing the American dream can only expect a deteriorating social fabric.
Dealing with feelings and crises that seem beyond one’s control can be a debilitating and daunting task, particularly a troubled relationship, a hurting marriage, a challenging situation at home, coping with the loss of a loved one or job, stress, depression or substance abuse. Moreover, problems in life can prevent otherwise normal people from functioning properly or feeling good about themselves. In such situations, professional intervention can certainly go a long way in making a big difference in their lives. In such moments, professional care from a trained, empathetic and licensed mental health expert can help the suffering individual live a healthier and more productive life.
Research on mental health and substance use shows that the best outcomes occur when these diseases are treated in the same manner as any other chronic ailment — with regular check-ups, monitoring treatment adherence, and educating patients and their families. But if there is a lack of treatment centers and recovery residences, where will check-ups and monitoring happen? How will professionals help patients stay healthy and reach out to those who are having trouble following their treatment plan?
San Clemente and other cities are simply pushing “the problem” off into other cities and counties that do not have restrictive ordinances. This will not make people in need of treatment better — in fact, it may make them worse off. These cities can push people out of their backyards, but individuals with a need for mental health and substance use treatment will still be in their workplaces and schools and communities. And in the yard next door.
A message from Sovereign Health
Dealing with different types of mental disorders and understanding what causes mental illness can be a daunting task requiring a sensitive approach. An early mental health diagnosis from a reputed and professional mental health services provider is essential to nip the problem in the bud or else they can be immensely devastating. Do not let them grow to an extent where there is no scope for recovery.
Despite the availability of several effective mental illness treatment options, the stigma of being branded as a weak person prevents many individuals from overcoming mental health disorders through professional help. However, the help and support of family members goes a long way in reducing the stigma associated with the illness.
Sovereign Health is one of the leading mental health institutions in the U.S., which provides treatment for all kinds of mental health disorders as well as any underlying health condition.
Sovereign Health of San Clemente, California offers a variety of customized mental health treatment programs suited to treat the person holistically. Patients can opt for individual and group psychotherapy or alternative therapies for mental health to regain control of their lives. Our residential mental health treatment facilities in California are among the best in the nation. Call at our 24/7 helpline or chat online to know about our most effective mental health services.
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