BIANCA’S JOURNEY WITH BRONX MENTAL HEALTH COURT
Bianca was in her 40s when she was charged with a felony drug sale. She had previously been diagnosed with co-occurring bipolar and cocaine abuse disorders, illnesses that, if left untreated, would continue to fuel her drug use and felonious behavior. It’s important to know that co-occurring disorders, in which an individual has a mental health illness and a substance abuse issue, can drive people to behave in ways they normally wouldn’t. The court referred Bianca to our Bronx Mental Health Court program, which provides alternative-to-incarceration services for defendants with serious mental health issues and substance abuse disorders who would benefit greater from treatment than incarceration.
Bianca was accepted into our program after a full mental and physical assessment. She pled guilty to her charge with the promise that upon successful completion of 18-24 months of full compliance with all clinical recommendations, she would be able to lower her charge to a misdemeanor. This meant that Bianca, who had trouble taking her medication in the past, would have to follow all medical recommendations for treatment. If she didn’t, she would be sentenced to two years in state prison.
Our staff was able to get Bianca outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment, including individual therapy, group therapy, and psychiatry and medication management. Bianca had a rocky start due to the instability in her living environment and relapsed on cocaine. First she denied drug usage, but she then took responsibility and completed 28 days of in-patient rehabilitation treatment. She then was moved to a sober living facility, where she attended intensive substance abuse groups six days a week. She continued her mental health treatment and was regularly seen by a nurse practitioner for medication and therapy. Bianca also received random drug screenings to ensure she wasn’t relapsing.
Bianca completed treatment at the sober living facility following three months of sobriety. She was back on track to becoming a productive community member. She continued working with our staff on receiving mental health treatment. She even joined our Vocational Services program to get job training.
We’re happy to report that Bianca graduated her 18-month program with us and has continued her mental healthcare treatment, as well as maintained a full-time job!
To learn more about Bronx Mental Health Court, click here.
*In order to protect our client’s identity, her name and likeness has been changed.
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Cassandra Huneke was the Development & Marketing Specialist at EAC Network. She graduated from Stony Brook University with a B.A. in English and is currently completing her Master’s Degree in Media Studies at The New School University in New York City.