Jermaine Cook, 37, has spent more than half of his life addicted to drugs, and in those years has been in and out of prison. Barring a five-year prison stint in his teenage years, he had never been clean until two months ago. Had it not been for his mother who forced him into Yale’s emergency rehabilitation clinic in early November, Jermaine would have turned out to be another statistic: a black male addicted to drugs in downtown New Haven.
The challenge, Jermaine admits, is battling not only his addiction but also his mental illness, depression. A loner from an early age, he preferred isolation to social settings. The symptoms showed early in his life, but due to a lack of psychiatric treatment and any awareness about mental health problems among those closest to him, the problem went unnoticed.
It wasn’t until his chronic PCP use in the fall of 2011 and his eventual breakdown that Jermaine was admitted to Yale’s rehabilitation unit in New Haven, Connecticut, where, unlike most rehabilitation services, they treated both Jermaine’s addiction to PCP as well as his depression.
Upon release from Yale’s one-month rehabilitation clinic, Jermaine entered the Patrick F. McAuliffe co-occurring, 30-day intensive rehabilitation house, one of two co-occurring treatment centers in the state. Using clinical therapists, psychiatrists, and drug and alcohol abuse counselors, the house takes a two-part approach to treating its patients.
Funded by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), the Patrick F. McAuliffe House provides cutting edge co-occurring treatment. Studies have proven a direct link between drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness. For a large amount of treatment providers in the state as well as the nation, there is a pattern of treating either mental illness or addiction singularly. The duel diagnosis program allows treating both congruently.
Anthony Corso is the Chief Officer of Residential Services for Connecticut Renaissance. On top of the co-occurring recovery house, he oversees a halfway house in Waterbury and two low intensive, long-term care houses.
When asked how many of the patients at the co-occurring treatment house have some sort of history of incarceration, his estimate is around fifty percent.
In his one month at the McAuliffe Center, Jermaine has participated in a wide range of treatment options. Family therapy, including group therapy, one-on-one therapy is just some of the forms of counseling practiced.
Until we completely erase the perception of ex-offenders being ‘different’ from other people, we will continue to have this subset of people who don’t have opportunities and remain steeped in poverty.