Sarasota Addiction Counseling Blog

My Father’s Flag: Reflections on Veteran’s Day

My father chose February in which to die: Columbus, Ohio’s cruelest month. At least, on the day he was laid to rest, the sun shone magnanimously. When we arrived at the cemetery, I was surprised to see three uniformed Navy soldiers. My dad was a Navy veteran of World War II. He served for several years toward the end of…

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The Baker Act and Mental Health Court in Sarasota

130804 mental health court

Prior to 1971, the laws in Florida regarding due process and civil rights of persons in mental health facilities – which dated back to 1874 – were in a sorry state of affairs.  With signed affidavits by three laymen and the approval of a county judge, you could be committed to a mental health hospital.  There was no specific period of commitment before a person’s confinement would be reconsidered by a judge. The standards were so lax that, reportedly, the crony of a local judge would periodically have his wife committed so he could carry on a dalliance with another woman. 

All this ended in 1971 due to the work of Florida state representative Maxine Baker, who spearheaded the passage of the Florida Mental Health Act. Referring to the treatment of persons with mental illness before the passage of her bill, Representative Baker stated, “In the name of mental health, we deprive them of their most precious possession – liberty.”   The Baker Act, as it would come to be known, prohibited the indiscriminate admission of persons to state institutions or the retention of persons without just cause.  The law also prohibited the placement of persons with mental illnesses in jails, unless they had committed criminal acts.

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Belief In God And Psychotherapy

For psychotherapy, God has always been a problem.  Among the scientific theories for understanding human behavior, the acknowledgement of the supernatural is generally lacking.  Freud, the founder of our profession, saw God as an illusion based on the infantile need for a powerful father figure.  To him, religion was a convenient instrument for controlling people – the institutional representation of…

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Science Finds Evidence of Depression in Young Children

It’s easy to feel ambivalent about psychotropic medication.  Pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurance companies, and the American Medical Association are some pretty undesirable sorts, and their misdeeds are well documented.  In 2007, Purdue Pharma, its president, top lawyer and former chief medical officer paid $634.5 million in fines for claiming that Oxycontin wasn’t dangerous. There have been reports of unethical experimentation and…

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Advances in Treatment of Depression

I was born in 1955, as the Dark Ages of mental health treatment in the 20th Century was coming to an end.  There were 600,000 mentally ill people – 356 per 100,000 – more or less permanently hospitalized in public or private asylums.  Those ravaged by severe and persistent mental illness couldn’t walk the streets without being victimized, being arrested…

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What is Depression?

Everybody gets the blues.  When the dog dies, you lose a job or a boyfriend, a check bounces, the roof leaks, you get sick, your team loses – you feel down, sad and empty.   In a relatively short time though, you bounce back.  You get better because the circumstance changes, you take some action or your feelings just go away.…

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Cravings in Early Recovery

I have great respect for those of you in the early stages of recovery from addiction.  You have given up your drug of choice, which has served as your primary coping mechanism for years, perhaps decades.  At the same time, like an arm that’s been in a cast for months, your emotional maturation has atrophied from lack of use.  The…

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What’s the Difference Between Fear and Anxiety?

“Is your seatbelt buckled?” “Yes.” “Can you see out the window?” “Yes.” “Can you hear the engine getting louder?” “Yes.” “We’re going to be taking off soon.” “OK.” It’s 1988, and I’m accompanying my daughter on her first plane flight.  My entire focus is to ensure she feels safe. “Can you feel us beginning to move?” “Yes.” “Now, things outside…

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