FAQs - click to see the answer

Getting help from others. You have the right to:

Get a second opinion, at your expense.

  • File a complaint and get an answer to your complaint about services or treatment.
  • Talk to an attorney.
  • Have contact with the court system.
  • Talk to a pastor or minister and to worship in the faith of your choice.
  • Access protective services.
  • Pray, if you want to.
  • Get proper, healthy meals.
  • Have your personal belongings and clothing to wear.
  • Have visitors, to send or get mail and phone calls in private.
  • Not be put into isolation or restrained or put on drugs unless this is a part of your treatment.
  • Refuse to do any work that would financially benefit AltaPointe Health.
  • Get a free public education if you are of school age.
  • See a doctor or dentist and get the health care you need (at your own expense).
  • Formulate or have your Advanced Directive honored.

You have duties too. You should:

Respect other people.

  •  Talk to our staff.
  • Not touch other people in the wrong way.
  • Not run away.
  • Not break things.
  • Take your medicine.
  • Follow the rules.
  • Join in activities.
  • Do your chores.
  • Not hurt other people or fight.

Contacts that can assist with questions about your rights


If you feel that any of your rights have been violated or if you want further information, you may contact the following:

Alabama Department of Mental Health Advocacy Office
(800) 367-0955

Alabama Department of Human Resources
(251) 450-1800

Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program
(800) 826-1675

AltaPointe Health Consumer Needs Department
(251) 450-4303

You may contact the Joint Commission’s Office of Quality Monitoring to report any concerns or register complaints about AltaPointe Health either by calling (800) 994-6610 or e-mailing complaint@jointcommission.org.

You may also call Elder Care at Alabama Department of Public Health in Montgomery/Division of Health Care Facilities to report a complaint and/or to ask questions about your Advance Directive at (800) 356-9596, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Substance Abuse and Addiction

Addiction is a serious illness. Health, finances, relationships, careers—all can be ruined. The abuse of drugs and alcohol is by far the leading cause of preventable illnesses and premature death in our society. The importance of substance abuse treatment cannot be overstated, and fortunately many effective treatments are available. The road to recovery, however, begins with recognition.

Consequences of use


People often drink alcohol during social occasions; it tends to loosen inhibitions. Unfortunately, the recklessness often resulting from excessive drinking is a leading cause of serious injuries and accidental deaths. In addition, alcohol is the most common cause of preventable birth defects, including fetal alcohol syndrome. Of course, excessive drinking can also lead to alcoholism; an illness that tends to run in families and is often associated with depression. Alcoholism can have devastating effects on health, including serious liver damage, greater risk of heart disease, impotence, infertility, and premature aging.


The most widespread and frequently used illicit drug is marijuana. It is associated with the following consequences:

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Difficulty with concentrating and information processing
  • Lapses in judgment
  • Problems with perception and motor skills


In addition, years of marijuana use can lead to a loss of ambition and an inability to carry out long-term plans or to function effectively.


Stimulants (for example, cocaine, “crack,” amphetamines) give a temporary illusion of enhanced power and energy. As the initial elevation of mood fades, however, a depression emerges. Stimulant abuse can lead to serious medical problems.

  • Heart attacks—even in young people with healthy hearts
  • Seizures
  • Strokes
  • Violent, erratic, anxious, or paranoid behavior


Cocaine use during pregnancy may result in miscarriages, stillbirths, or low-birth-weight babies who may be physically dependent on the drug and later may develop behavioral or learning difficulties. Excessive crack use can lead to a permanent vegetative, or zombie-like, state. Long-term amphetamine abuse can result in psychotic effects, such as paranoid delusions and hallucinations.


Heroin, which can be smoked, eaten, sniffed, or injected, produces an intense—but fleeting—feeling of pleasure. Serious withdrawal symptoms begin, however, after 4 to 6 hours:

  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose and eyes
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Muscle pains
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea


Heroin use during pregnancy may result in miscarriages, stillbirths, or premature deliveries of babies born physically dependent on the drug. Those who inject heroin are introducing unsterile substances into their bloodstream, which can result in severe damage to the heart, lungs, and brain. In addition, sharing needles is one of the fastest ways to spread diseases; it is currently the leading cause of all new HIV and hepatitis B cases.


Hallucinogens are drugs such as LDS (“acid”) or the new “designer” drugs (for example, “ecstasy”) that are taken orally and cause hallucinations and feelings of euphoria. Dangers from LDS include stressful “flashbacks”—re-experiencing the hallucinations despite not having taken the drug again, sometimes even years later. Excessive use of ecstasy, combined with strenuous physical activity, can lead to death from dehydration or an exceptionally high fever.


Inhalants are breathable chemicals—for example, glue, paint thinner, or lighter fluid. They are commonly abused by teenagers because they are easy to obtain and because they produce mind-altering effects when “sniffed” or “huffed.” These chemicals reach the lungs and bloodstream very quickly and can be deadly. High concentrations of inhalant fumes can cause heart failure or suffocation. Long-term abuse of inhalants can cause permanent damage to the nervous system.


Sedatives are highly effective medications prescribed by physicians to relieve anxiety and to promote sleep. Unfortunately, harmful effects can occur when they are taken in excess of the prescribed dose or without a physician’s supervision, such as when they are obtained illegally. Combining sedatives with alcohol or other drugs greatly increases the likelihood of death by overdose. Women who abuse sedatives during pregnancy may deliver babies with birth defects (for example, cleft palate) who may also be physically dependent on the drugs.


The U. S. Surgeon General has confirmed that nicotine in tobacco products has additive properties similar in severity to those of heroin. Quitting is difficult because of the unpleasantness of withdrawal, which involved feelings of irritability, frustration, anger, anxiety, insomnia, and depression. However, continued smoking may lead to far more dire circumstances:

  • Lung cancer
  • Heat attacks
  • Emphysema
  • High blood pressure
  • Ulcers


The first step on the road to recovery is recognition of the problem, but often this process is complicated by a lack of understanding about substance abuse and addiction or, worse, denial. In these cases, what often prompts treatment are interventions by concerned friends and family. Many health centers and other institutions offer screenings free of charge for various disorders throughout the year. For example, screening tests for alcohol abuse are usually offered in early April.
Because substance abuse affects many aspects of a person’s life, multiple forms of treatment are often required. For most, a combination of medication and individual or group therapy is most effective. Medications are used to control the drug cravings and relieve the severe symptoms of withdrawal. Therapy can help addicted individuals understand their behavior and motivations, develop higher self-esteem, and cope with stress. Other treatment methods that may be used as part of the rehabilitation process include the following:

  • Hospitalization
  • Therapeutic communities—highly controlled, drug-free environments
  • Outpatient programs, including methadone maintenance for heroin addiction


Finally, in addition to treatment, self-help groups for substance-abusing individuals (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous) as well as their family members (Al-Anon or Nara-Anon Family Groups) are useful in providing support and reinforcing messages learned in treatment. These organizations can be found on the Internet of in your local telephone directory.


What is Mental Health First Aid?

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour training course designed to give members of the public key skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The evidence behind the program demonstrates that it does build mental health literacy, helping the public identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness.

How many days does it take to complete the Mental Health First Aid program?

The Mental Health First Aid program runs 8 hours and may be offered in a variety of formats. Most often, it is conducted as a one-day seminar or two half-day sessions.

What do Mental Health First Aid training participants learn?

Just as CPR training helps a layperson with no clinical training assist an individual following a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid training helps a layperson assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis, such as contemplating suicide. In both situations, the goal is to help support an individual until appropriate professional help arrives. Mental Health First Aiders learn a single 5-step strategy that includes assessing risk, respectfully listening to and supporting the individual in crisis, and identifying appropriate professional help and other supports. Participants are also introduced to risk factors and warning signs for mental health or substance use problems, engage in experiential activities that build understanding of the impact of illness on individuals and families; and learn about evidence-supported treatment and self-help strategies.

Where did Mental Health First Aid start?

Mental Health First Aid was created in Australia in 2001 by Professor Tony Jorm, a respected mental health literacy professor, and Betty Kitchener, a nurse specializing in health education. The program is auspiced at the ORYGEN Research Center at the University of Melbourne, Australia. (www.mhfa.com.au)

Who should take a Mental Health First Aid course?

Mental Health First Aid is intended for a variety of audiences, such as:

  • friends and family of individuals with mental illness
  • mental health and social service professional
  • primary care professionals
  • school and college leadership, educators, personnel
  • employers and business leaders
  • faith communities
  • school and college leadership, educators, personnel
  • professionals such as police officers
  • human resource directors
  • nursing home staff members, and
  • members of the public

The training venues will also vary as Mental Health First Aid program sites reach out to Chambers of Commerce, professional associations, hospitals, nursing homes, Rotary Clubs, parent organizations, social clubs and other groups who make up the fabric of a community. The core program is tailored for response to the general adult population.

Is there evidence to support the effectiveness of the program?

Yes, in fact, the strong evidence base is the very reason the National Council selected this particular program. Five published studies in Australia show that the program saves lives, improves the mental health of the individual administering care and the one receiving it, expands knowledge of mental illnesses and their treatments, increases the services provided and reduces overall stigma by improving mental health literacy. One trial of 301 randomized participants found that those who trained in Mental Health First Aid have greater confidence in providing help to others, greater likelihood of advising people to seek professional help, improved concordance with health professionals about treatments, and decreased stigmatizing attitudes. Unexpectedly, the study also found that Mental Health First Aid improved the mental health of the participants themselves. For further evidence supporting the implementation of Mental Health First Aid, please see the Evaluation section of the Australian Mental Health First Aid website: http://www.mhfa.com.au/evaluation.shtml

Have consumers of mental health or addictions services contributed to the development of Mental Health First Aid?

Yes. In fact, one of the original founders of the program in Australia is a consumer. Here in the United States, the National Council continually consults with mental health consumers to ensure the program content accurately reflects consumer experiences and perspectives. Consumers have maintained an active voice in focus groups, aided development of the training manual, and offered invaluable feedback on the program content itself. Additionally, a number of our certified instructors are mental health consumers themselves.

Has Mental Health First Aid been replicated in other countries?

Yes. To date, it has been replicated in Cambodia, Canada, England, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, and Wales in addition to the United States.

What is different about Youth MHFA?

Youth Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents and the importance of early intervention. The ultimate goal is to teaching individuals how to help a youth in crisis. Mental Health First Aid USA worked with experts at the National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health at the Georgetown University for Child and Human Development to develop the training.

How do I find a Mental Health First Aid course near me?

Search our database for up and coming courses near you here.

How can I learn more about Mental Health First Aid?

AltaPointe schedules training sessions daily. To learn how to participate in Mental Health First Aid training in Mobile, call (251) 450-4340.

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