Tackling drugs, mental illness and distressed animals
Updated: July 8, 2012 8:11AM
Let’s spend time today in the land of Loose Ends & Random Ramblings.
First up is a subject that we find difficult to discuss here in suburbia, but it is real and devastating. Drug use, particularly by our young adults, and how to approach the dilemma of users calling for help for a person in trouble and running the risk of getting into legal trouble themselves.
A new law signed by Governor Pat Quinn in February and going into effect this month called the Emergency Medical Services Access Law is intended to reverse the upswing in drug overdose-related deaths by granting immunity from prosecution to a 911 caller who may also be under the influence or in possession of small amounts of drugs. A recently proposed amendment to that law adds a caveat: the 911 caller who has drugs in their possession or is also under the influence must enter a drug treatment program within 14 days or face prosecution. Some experts say drug users should not have to make a choice between making the call for help and getting treatment. Others believe it is a good way to address increasing drug use, especially heroin. What do you think?
Speaking of Governor Quinn, his deep budgetary slashes in the mental health arena will make life more difficult for those grappling with mental illness. I have “attitude” when it comes to this issue. We find it so easy to feel compassion for cancer victims, AIDS patients, people with ALS or other physical health issues. But society has no such empathy for those with mental illness.
Our brains are body parts also, and they can malfunction just like kidneys or lungs or heart. Problem is, when they do, it mostly exhibits itself as behavioral, rather than physical, problem. Part of the work we as a society have to do is learn more about how brain chemistry affects behavior, and then remove some of the stigma and show a kinder gentler approach to those struggling.
One place making headway is called ‘The Living Room’, an alternative to a hospital Emergency Room for people under duress with a mental illness. This free service, funded by a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services, and provided by Turning Point in Skokie and Josselyn Center in Deerfield, utilizes paid “peer counsellors” who have successfully managed their own mental illnesses and have been trained to help talk “guests” through their crisis. This option provides faster attention, a more low-key environment, and less cost than traditional ER visits. Let’s see more Living Rooms, please.
And finally, would you know what to do if you saw a wild baby animal that might be in distress? I am still haunted by guilt over a recent situation in my neighborhood. I heard a constant rhythmic noise, couldn’t tell if it was children playing or a strange bird, but then I noticed a tiny deer fawn walking on the sidewalk making that noise. It sat down for a minute on the lawn of a neighbor, then got up and walked towards a field behind our homes. I did some online research, because instinct told me not to approach the fawn, even if it was in distress. I can’t get the vision out of my head, and I keep hoping mother and baby were reunited.
According to my research, a quiet fawn sitting in a secluded area is fine and simply waiting for mother to return, but a fawn who is crying or wandering may be in trouble and a licensed wildlife rehabilitator needs to be called. Since there are many areas of specialty, it’s probably best to begin with Lake County’s Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Barrington, phone (847) 842-8000 or visit their great website, which I wasn’t aware of during my incident but would have been helpful: www.flintcreekwildlife.org.
Send email to Pat Lenhoff at: email@example.com