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Lack of health insurance, mental illness and addiction

While health reform moves such as the Affordable Care Act have increased health care accessibility for Americans, it is still very possible for folks in Charlotte and other cities to slip through the cracks. Mentally ill people are especially vulnerable; for example, they may forget to renew health insurance or to even sign up for it in the first place. They may also skip payments or lose jobs that carry insurance, thus compromising their access. If someone you love has a mental illness, you may know all too well about self-medication and other reasons they could have become addicted.


A depressed individual may turn to substances such as marijuana to reduce his or her emotional pain. Another depressed person may take cocaine for an energy boost to get through the day. The lack of insurance means that these folks, along with others who have issues with, say, panic attacks or social anxiety, lack many safe and legal options to treat their conditions. It may take only a few times with a substance for someone to develop addiction and to increase tolerance for the substance. Even worse, the underlying condition or mental illness remains.

Lack of treatment

Detoxification, rehabilitation and counseling are common treatment options for addiction. However, for mentally ill people without insurance, treatment options are severely limited. Without help to break their addictions, they are likely to remain addicted and to spiral even deeper into their problems.


There is also the fact that substances such as alcohol and drugs are readily available for self-treatment. Actually, this holds true for people who also have insurance. Alcohol is even legal to purchase and can reduce symptoms such as anxiety. Some people also try different drugs and can become addicted to multiple substances.

Punitive system

Another reason that the mentally ill may become addicted and stay addicted is that many drug courts favor jail (where drugs may be available) over rehabilitative options. Even the judges who simply fine someone or who dismiss a charge could be letting an addict who lacks health insurance go without treatment. Fortunately, Charlotte cases may be referred to the treatment-friendly North Carolina Drug Court.

When someone you love has a mental illness, it can be painful to watch the person make poor choices that lead to addiction. If an arrest occurs, it could benefit you and your loved one to talk with an attorney to see if drug rehabilitation is an option as opposed to alternatives such as jail. 

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