Brain, neurocognitive issues need equal care

Today I received a newsletter from state Rep. Frank Burns that included information about a lawsuit filed against a pharmaceutical company for its role in the opioid crisis and his proposal for a law requiring people who overdose to get addiction treatment.

The newsletter, like most reports of illegal misuse of drugs, fails to report the reason the opioids were prescribed in the first place and why, when people can’t get the addictive drugs by prescription, they turn to illegal street drugs for whatever unmet need justified the initial prescription.

This follows a July 29 front-page Mirror article “Family reeling from shooting,” by Greg Bock detailing serious health matters of an individual compounded and distraught over the inability to fulfill expectations for self and family.

Drugs are part of this story as it is in many stories of people suffering and dealing with underlying brain and neurocognitive challenges.

The family’s story has a tragic end with the individual being killed instead of being incarcerated where he would have been charged with numerous offenses, fines and even more unrealistic expectations — both endings a loss of life with unresolved consequences.

Connecting the dots for holistic care for someone with underlying brain and neurocognitive disorders shouldn’t be looked upon any differently than any type of illness that requires limiting and securing an environment needed to promote healing, well-being and safety.

When reason is compromised, expert care and skill must be available for onsite intervention.

Would someone in agony with an obvious compound fractured hip be expected to coordinate services for the trauma expertise, hospital, operating room, orthopedic surgeon, anesthetists, pharmacists, central supply, transportation, monitoring equipment, monitoring staff and specialist, and all else needed to establish a plan for treatment and aftercare of an injury or illness?

Brain and neurocognitive disorders deserve equal consideration.

Habilitation based on an individual’s demonstrated capabilities and capacity is a realistic goal, but takes committed clinicians in and out of the health system. An article in a recent People magazine about Alan Graham’s Homeless project in Austin, Texas may provide insight and a model for helping desperate, damaged people help themselves before hurting themselves or others.

Etta Albright



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