What is a "Crisis?"
A crisis refers to a short-term, substantial change in one's psychological functioning or circumstances. It can feel like one is "having a breakdown," "losing it," or "falling apart." The individual might show drastic changes in their thoughts, mood, or behavior.
Crises are like complete chaos-often coupled with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. During these times, people need support from family, friends, and professional help.
Crises often coincide with alcohol or drug abuse. Deteriorating mental health can lead to substance use, and substance use can negatively impact mental health.
Crisis Centers: Treating Addiction and Mental Health
Crisis Centers treat people who are in a psychiatric crisis. Examples include being at suicide risk, falling into a major depression, or experiencing psychotic symptoms (e.g., hearing voices). These symptoms are sometimes associated with drug use.
Crisis centers help people when they feel mentally unstable and unable to properly take care of themselves. However, if someone is at risk for harming themselves or others, a crisis center is not the appropriate facility- they should seek immediate care at a hospital or other inpatient facility.
Treatment at a Crisis Center
The following treatment approaches may be involved:
- Detox: Allowing your body to excrete toxins and return to balance.
- Medication: Sometimes medication is helpful for your mental health symptoms and/or addiction.
- Individual therapy: You will likely talk with a counselor/therapist about your mental health concerns and addictive behaviors.
- Group therapy: Group therapy allows you to share your story and struggles with others.
- Educational groups. These might consist of presentations or informational sessions about recovery or social needs (e.g., housing, food stamps, continued care).
- Social services: Staff will sometimes be able to help you with finding services after you leave the crisis center (e.g., sober living homes, outpatient treatment, other rehab centers).
- Faith/alternative-based approaches: Some facilities may incorporate faith and prayer, or meditation, yoga, and other alternative means of healing.
The insight and behavioral skills that you learn during treatment should be extended beyond your crisis center visit. Practice these things in the real world- and talk to friends, family, or another professional about them. You are not perfect and will make mistakes. But just beginning to recognize these patterns- with self-compassion- is a great first step.
The Connection Between Mental Health and Addiction
Examples of Crises
Jenny would benefit from receiving care at a crisis center. This would also her to "gather herself," work on her behavioral patterns, and head in a new direction.
Keith, recognizing that his behaviors are hurting himself and others (i.e., his wife), decided that he needs "help." This a great first step. A crisis center would allow Keith to stabilize himself and consider making some important behavioral changes.
It is important to recognize that the work does not end once you leave the crisis center. It is ultimately your responsibility to maintain your mental and physical health by remembering, and putting into action, the skills and knowledge you acquire along your path to wellness.