Hope for Those on the Fringes

Melissa Jones, '00 M.R.C. Rehabilitation Services

Melissa JonesOn the fringes of Dayton society, where a cardboard box provides shelter and a dumpster a meal, people suffering from mental illness and a substance abuse problem are not likely to know the name Melissa Jones. But those who have been referred to the Consumer Advocacy Model (CAM) know about the unique treatment program she directs for them. Located in a nondescript two-story building on Dayton’s east side, CAM is a clinical component of the Center for Intervention, Treatment, and Addictions Research and the SARDI Program within WSU’s Boonshoft School of Medicine.

At CAM, the numbers tell the story but the services are about the individual:

The Numbers:

  • One in five American families is affected by mental illness.
  • Nearly 50 percent of those with a mental illness also have a substance abuse problem.
  • On average it takes seven failed attempts at recovery before success.

The Individuals:

  • An bipolar alcoholic who is on probation and has no job, car, or food in the house.
  • A victim of domestic violence with a traumatic brain injury uses drugs to cope with the violence in her life.
  • A homeless person who is wheelchair bound and smokes crack.

“What differentiates CAM from other treatment facilities is that we offer interdisciplinary dual-disorder treatment,” said Jones. She has been CAM’s clinical director for four and a half years.

“We treat consumers who may have a physical or cognitive disability, a mental illness, a substance abuse issue—or a combination of the three,” she said. “We provide holistic care. It is extremely important that we understand that addiction and mental illness can be managed. We have to begin to break down as best we can the stigma that can shroud our consumers’ lives.”