Addressing addiction and mental health illness, and sharing so others can do the same

October 25, 2019

Millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition along with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD).  Despite mental illnesses’ reach and prevalence, stigma and misunderstanding are also, unfortunately, widespread. Each year during the first week of October, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and organizations across the country raise awareness of mental illness. At Ammon Foundation, we join those affected by co-occurring disorders by expanding the conversation to bring awareness.

Meet Ammon Recovery Scholar Eric.  

Eric Arnold Resinger is a 36-year-old student at Virginia Commonwealth University. His goal is to earn a degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness from the Wilder School at VCU. After completing college, he would love to work for FEMA, the state, or the city of Richmond in risk management and disaster preparedness. His ultimate goal is to stop collecting disability and earn an income that would sustain him.  

Eric received a scholarship from the Ammon Foundation at the end of 2018.  “I am extremely elated to receive my Ammon Foundation scholarship. Once scholarship funds are released, I’ll use the money to purchase a student’s laptop and ink for my printer.” 

On May 1, 2008, Eric began his journey of long-term recovery from SUD. Throughout his early life, he battled with severe mental illness.  Eric began drinking alcohol and misusing substances in high school. After graduation, he enlisted in the Army but was discharged due to his mental health condition. Feeling lost, he returned home and eventually began to misuse more substances.   His mental health condition continued. “From 2003 to 2008, I was in and out of various psych wards for serious mental health issues,” he states. 

One night in May 2008, he attempted suicide and was subsequently hospitalized, and upon his release, was not allowed to return home.  While living in a shelter, he roamed the streets of downtown Richmond. His mother found him walking all alone at night and she begged him to get help.  That night, he finally accepted the support he needed.  

I’d love to share my mental health story alongside my recovery story to help persons who deal with both problems,” Eric said.  “I’ve attempted suicide several times.  As of now, I’m diagnosed with schizo-affective and my symptoms are under control thanks to medication.” Eric is a prime example that addiction and mental illness are treatable diseases, and immediate – and sometimes persistent – help can make a difference.  

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Recovering from co-occurring disorders takes time, commitment, and courage, but people with substance use disorder and mental health problems can and do get better. Treatment for your mental health problem may include medication, individual or group counseling, lifestyle changes, and peer support.  Treatment for your substance abuse may include detoxification, managing withdrawal symptoms, behavioral therapy, and support groups to help maintain your sobriety.” 

Eric’s wellness care plan includes actively participating in a 12-step fellowship as well as addressing challenges to his mental health.  “I have a decent quality of life,” Eric affirms. 


1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year

Substance use problems occur more frequently with certain mental health problems, including: Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Schizophrenia and Personality Disorders 

Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide

In the United States, only 41 percent of the people who had a mental disorder in the past year received professional health care or other services

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-8255 

Our blog features the profiles of other recipients of the scholarship, as well as information about how to apply.  Applications for the Spring 2020 semester are open now and are due on November 1, 2019 for 2- and 4-year students.  Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis for trade and vocational students.