CBHC AND Sheriff’s Office Open Doors To Drug Addicts

Friday, January 29, 2016 @ 01:01 PM
Author: Chato Stewart

Please, first watch the above-video.  If it does not load, use the links below the post.

Drug addicts and drug users have never thought to walk up to a cop or sheriff and hand over their stash and ask for help.  It sounds absurd, ludicrous, one would have to be…well, you get the point.

Yet, there is a change at how police and the Sheriff departments are looking at the plague of addiction on a national level.

There has been a growing movement for many years in policing to recognize drug addiction as a health problem rather than a criminal problem,” said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation.† (The Police Foundation’s mission is to advance policing through innovation and science. It is the oldest nationally-known, non-profit, non-partisan, and non-membership-driven organization dedicated to improving America’s most noble profession – policing) ~

Helping people into treatment, Mr.Bueermann says, becomes a means of “crime prevention.”  Most importantly, it’s offering drug addicts a way out.  In some cases, this could be the final opportunity to get treatment for their addiction.

We can’t sit around and wait for them to overdose,” Arlington Massachusetts Police Chief Frederick Ryan

The prevention model mentioned that Charlotte Behavioral Health Care and Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell have modeled the “open door policy“… Has its grassroots in the The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.)

P.A.A.R.I.  mission is to support local police departments working with Opioid addicts…offering help to overcome addiction, rather than arresting addicts who need treatment.  The CDC reports in 2014: 47,055 people died from drug overdoses.‡

 P.A.A.R.I has already made a difference:

  • 350 program participants in under 6 months
  • 40 police departments in nine states running similar programs
  • 54 Working with treatment and Rehab centers in 19 states
  • 88 and counting law enforcement in the process of creating similar programs

Charlotte County Open Door Drug Program

Sheriff Bill Prummell announced a new Drug Recovery Initiative Program on Tuesday. In partnering with Charlotte County Behavioral Health Center, this program will focus on a fresh approach to the problems of drug addiction in our community. This will allow for contemporary options of prevention, intervention and treatment. Sheriff Prummell is shown below with Vickie D’Agostino, COO and Jay Glynn, CEO of Charlotte Behavioral Health Care.

Charlotte County Sheriff's Office's photo.

Posted by FACEBOOK Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, January 20, 2016


WinkNewsPUNTA GORDA, Fla.- The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office is working on implementing an open door policy for drug users, where addicts can turn over any drugs in exchange for help and not be charged criminally.

I just see people using officers as a resource, somebody that they can contact and speak to if they have an issue like this and they want to get into treatment,” said Victoria D’Agostino, with Charlotte Behavioral Health Care, a recovery center working hand in hand with the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office is modeling the program after one in Massachusetts, where more than 300 addicts received the help they needed.

I don’t think that historically folks with addiction issues have looked to officers as a resource for them, but I think that’ll be a mind shift,” said D’Agostino.

Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell says he hopes the program will have positive results in the county.

We really don’t know exactly what we’re getting in for, but we anticipate that folks will be using this program,” said D’Agostino.

Charlotte Behavioral Health Care says the county jail is overcrowded with addicts, and the new initiative could help keep drug users out of jail and get them on the path to treatment.

“I think it’s a great approach to this issue,” said Diane Ramsayer with Drug Free Charlotte County. “We need a full range of opportunities and services that will help anybody that is being impacted by substance abuse. So even if it just touches the life of one person, it’s worth it to us.

Chato Stewart says: There are some fantastic Facebook comments in the above tweet link, such as this quote:

“Punishment doesn’t cure addiction. Time and companion shows someone actually cares!”

You have to read them.  The pro’s and con’s and feel free to add your voice to the conversation below.

Republished with written permission.

Originally published: January 20, 2016 : VIDEO LINK
Reporter: Kristin Sanchez WINK-TV & WXCW-TV
†Jim Bueermann – Board Member: 2012-Present –

‡ CDC :

Homeless But Not Helpless

Thursday, January 14, 2016 @ 11:01 AM
Author: Chato Stewart

Do you understand what it feels like to be helpless? Or hopeless or homeless? (Or honest, hungry and hard working?) Many of us have experienced these states of fluctuating-varying circumstances. Oftentimes—our circumstances are beyond our control. How we cope or choose to deal with our circumstances is another thing entirely. We may be honest and hardworking, but find ourselves hungry and homeless. We may be hungry for answers or solutions to life’s big problems yet have a roof over our head.

Please realize: our temporary circumstances don’t define who were are deep inside. The true inner-secret person of the heart is much different (i.e. than any presenting symptoms of any diagnosed disease).  Whether we are healthy, unhealthy, homeless or hungry…these changing, temporary states don’t tell our whole story! We are much more than where we happen to live or not happen to live. We are so much more that what we eat or not happen to eat. We are more than what we do for work or not do for work. Some of us cannot help where we find ourselves in this moment in time at the start of this new year. The point is: it is a new day for fresh starts.

Some of us are suffering from poor decision making. Some of us are suffering from poor mental or physical health. Many of us are suffering in one way or another, but have hope for a better 2016. What is your personal hope for 2016?

I don’t believe in making resolutions that are impossible to reach. I just try to let my yes mean yes and my no mean no. Consistency in my interactions and relationships. A living of honesty. It’s hard being honest with ourselves, isn’t it? Especially when not balanced mentally and needing extra help…say professionally or extra support from peers, family and friends. Where can You find the extra help or support you may need?

Where are you at now? Where do you hope to be in 2016? May be, it’s in the spot you now occupy or maybe, it’s further along in your recovery. Perhaps, you are indeed homeless, but remember home is where is the heart is, right? So, where is your heart? Where is your heart taking you in 2016? My hope is that 2016 will bring you peace, all the healthy food you need for mind and body, work that helps provide for you and your loved ones.

Hope exists for most of us…who have belief in positive change. If you can identify a change you need to make for 2016…go for it! Wishing You much success, help, home!

Please check out this inspirational article recently published about homelessness and mental illness. Raising awareness about these important issues is paramount for our community.

{Recently in the Herald Tribune published an article about the homeless and mental illness. The article featured a mother and daughter struggling and coming to terms with living with co-occurring diagnoses of ADHD, anxiety, bipolar and struggling for seven years with the effects.  I encourage you to read the article. The article also quotes our own Vicki…} Here are some highlights:


NORTH PORT, Fla. – Jourdan Miller used to travel the world performing as a champion Irish dancer. She was a “teen leader,” her mother Joyce said of Jourdan’s life seven years ago — before the “ugly intruder” arrived.

“Vicki D’Agostino, chief operating officer of Charlotte Behavioral Health Care, based in Punta Gorda, knows the limitations of the federal and state budgets all too well.

CBHC provides a wide range of services, including outpatient, psychiatric, children and adolescent, crisis, family support and prevention, and substance abuse outpatient and recovery services. D’Agostino said the organization’s core services, like therapy and prevention, are underfunded.

“Our per capita funding in Florida is extremely low,” D’Agostino said. “We have to make a dollar stretch much further than some other states.”

Almost 50 percent of CBHC’s funding goes to the center’s crisis system, which comprises its locked crisis-stabilization units for adults and children — places where patients usually are kept involuntarily because they are suicidal or a threat to themselves or others — and the center’s inpatient substance abuse programs.

D’Agostino said CBHC’s contract with the state’s managing entity is for $6.2 million this fiscal year. Approximately $3 million goes to CBHC’s CSU and recovery center. According to D’Agostino, the remaining 51 percent of funds go toward outpatient, medication, residential and case-management services.

“There are very little prevention dollars in any of this — less than 1 percent of it, really,” she said. “More money gets funneled into treatment of an existing problem, versus preventing a problem.”

Herald Tribune Referance

†Published: January 3, 2016: Housing a dire need for mentally ill | By Allison

‡Vicki D’Agostino, of Charlotte Behavioral Health  Care Quoted:

Anger Management 101: Are You An Angry Person?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 @ 09:11 AM
Author: Chato Stewart

Are You An Angry Person?

Anger…Are you angry? Do you blow your top at the drop of a dime? Does spilt milk enrage you? Are you the first one on the horn when the light turns green if the car in found of you has not moved in the first 2 seconds?

Anger – we all will get angry over one thing or another. How we process that anger can indicate there could be underlying “anger issues.” This is where some self-assessment may be needed.


Mental Health Humor Cartoon “Anger” used with permission by cartoonist Chato Stewart

Ask yourself: When I get angry is it because:

  • Other people around me are completely useless. So, I have to do everything myself!
  • No one listens to me, and I want to be heard!
  • I’m an utterly thorough waste of a human existence, and can never get anything right!


Control and Anger Are They Connected?

Each example above represents three types of anger issues. First, anger is due to lack of controlling a situation. The second is anger due to lack of control of an environment, and third is anger due to lack of control over self-esteem. The keyword phrase connection is anger equals “lack of control.” Can you agree that anger and lack of control are connected?

We’ve heard the phraseology associated with someone who went on a mad, angry rage “they lost control.”

Yes, anger and control or lack of control are deeply connected. So if that is the case, then learning some simple techniques to “control anger” just may help us when “anger explodes.”


  • Breathe – take a few deep calming breaths before you take any drastic actions.
  • Count to 10 before you act.
  • Write or draw your feelings.
  • Punch a pillow/punching bag (no walls or people or pets!)
  • Walk Away ~ it takes more courage to walk away from a fight, then it does to start swinging punches.
  • Bite your tongue, or upper lip – words can hurt sometimes more than a fist, and have long-lasting, negative effects.
  • Go for a brisk walk ~ exercise ~ Jog ~ lift weights ~ aerobics ~ go swimming ~ go fly a kite – get your mind off the situation and out of the boiling pot that made you angry.

to be continued

Consumer   Ambassador
Chato Stewart


Treatment Team effective for Schizophrenia

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 @ 03:11 PM
Author: Chato Stewart

Go Team! Have you ever been on a sports team or any work team for that matter? When a team functions well and is supportive of one another, success is certain. We are all on the same team: human. Some of our human team need extra support and cheer leading to continue on the road of recovery from various mental health concerns including schizophrenia.

We all appreciate the multi-benefits of accurate-evidence-based education, open communication, whole-hearted commitment and active cooperation. Let’s think of those positive things in terms of a treatment team working side-by-side, actively cooperating for the good health of a sick loved one, family friend, fellow-community member. (Imagine what good could be accomplished with unity of thought and deed.)

In a recent interview on NPR, Nina Schooler PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, discusses how low-dosage medicine, talk therapy, along with a range of interventions is a new treatment strategy for early illness schizophrenia; instead of high-dosage drugs alone.  In the past, these powerful drugs, with terrible side-effects, were the most heavily relied upon for primary treatment of those suffering with schizophrenia.

A study Dr. Schooler co-authored shows that this new approach: low-drugs, talk therapies, etc. is effective and can help some not only manage symptoms of schizophrenia better, but may help some reach the goal of full recovery (with early interventions).

All of us would probably manage our lives better with an effective support team and on-going education. It’s important to know our options, what medications or treatment plans available that will be the most beneficial for those of us who may be suffering or living with a serious illness including addiction.

Supportive Treatment Team

Have you thought about developing your own personal support team?

Who would you include?

Family members?



Please, make CBHC a part of your treatment team.

Team work can lighten the individual load each of us may daily carry. A lightened load can bring much refreshment, relief and less stress to daily living and coping. Especially if any of us have the added burden of a serious illness or if we are caregivers in need of compassionate assistance to fulfill our important role in the lives of those who trust us to be there.

A team can be there for you. Take the time to assemble your team.

How wonderful for those of us who suffer from schizophrenia…that recent research is pointing toward options opening up and available in terms of treatment strategies. Don’t we all feel better knowing we options.

With a synchronized support team working like a machine to tackle challenges: Hope in on the Horizon for a better tomorrow.

If you or a loved one is dealing with schizophrenia, the following link below may be of deep interest to you: please do your own research to discover the best treatment options available for you personally or for your loved one.

For further reading: An abstract of the article in The American Journal of Psychiatry is available

Yet, Another Reason to Stop Smoking

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 @ 03:10 PM
Author: Chato Stewart

NO Clean Air–doesn’t seem fair.

NO Clean Air–doesn’t seem fair.  How can we expect youth, who are the future leaders, to make it to adulthood without their fundamental human rights being respected?  All of us, young and old, have the fundamental human right to breathe. All of us have absolutely no control over what family we are born into. One that may expose us to clean air or one that may expose us to toxic air.

Smoking among people with a serious mental health diagnosis is higher than the general population.  This is from a study (published in 2012 and updated in 2013) which gives you an idea how serious an issue this addiction is for people living with mental health diagnosis such as: bipolar, depression or another mental health disorder.

“Adults with mental illness 70 percent higher than for adults with no mental illness”- Smoking among U.S. adults”

Adults with some form of mental illness have a smoking rate 70 percent higher than adults with no mental illness, according to a Vital Signs report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report finds that 36 percent of adults with a mental illness are cigarette smokers, compared with only 21 percent of adults who do not have a mental illness.¹ ~ Press Release Smoking among U.S. adults

As adults–we do have a choice to SMOKE (or not)! So what if we smoke right, it can’t be as bad for us as being mentally symptomatic all day? Maybe, we feel a cigarette or e-cigarette (research is still out on any health value), is better than puffing down a pack or two a day to help our mood or depression.  Even the CDC understand that “Adult smokers with mental illness are also less likely to quit smoking cigarettes than adult smokers without mental illness.
Great, you can do what you want, but you know the realty is: smoking is is bad for your health and leads to many health issues; most notably death.  Quitting is hard yet it is worth it. Clean air is worth it.
A choice to breathe…clean! A choice to breathe healthy air that doesn’t pollute/endanger our body. A choice to breathe healthy air that doesn’t pollute/endanger our environment. A choice to breathe healthy air that doesn’t pollute or endanger our children. Of course, breathing is a very personal matter.  Long-learned habits of living can be changed. Remove smoking as a coping skill and replace it with something healthy…walking, writing, drawing, something that inspires you. Smoking is no longer a lifestyle, it’s like recovery or addiction and should be treated as such. Remove all temptations yet, don’t give up if you have a relapse.
Smokers and non-smokers alike, we all have new things to learn every day. (Myself very much included.) Things that can help improve our health. Things that can help us feel better and feel happier.
Can each of us learn positive-coping-skills that contribute to our over-all mental, physical and emotional health?? (Sure we all can!)  Can we better model as humans our basic fundamental human right of living: breathing? (Sure we can!) Can we respect young life and their basic fundamental human right to grow up? (Sure we can!)
Breathing is a basic bodily function. Breathing clean…a skill: we may have to take time to learn how. Children: another reason to stop smoking and breathe clean!
Peer Consumer Ambassador
Chato Stewart
¹ 9/30/2015| Press Release Smoking among U.S. adults | | Vital Signs