ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Electing Trump, Legalizing Pot in California, and Increasing the Cigarette Tax in California, and How This Might Affect Mentally Ill People

Jack Bragen
Friday November 11, 2016 - 01:57:00 PM

The voters of the U.S. have made their wishes known, and in about two months, barring the unforeseen, Donald Trump will take office as our President. Many people are terrified about this. However, I believe we shouldn't panic and that we should hope for the best.  

Early in his campaign, Trump said he would leave Social Security alone. I don't believe Congress would vote to stop SSDI and SSI for the disabled. HUD is another matter. Trump may make cuts to HUD housing, or may scrap the program altogether--this is just a guess. If he could come up with some kind of viable replacement that will make housing affordable, it would be nice. But don't count on it.  

Trump is promising to get rid of Obamacare. Would this affect Medicare and Medicaid? Maybe not. Those of us who are disabled due to our psychiatric condition will probably still have access to psychiatric medications and medical care.  

Trump might toughen SSI rules, and might create more restrictions for the disabled. I don't have any facts about this and we just have to see what happens when he takes office. 

Donald is expected to deport undocumented workers. This could mean that there will be a lot of job openings. If you are able-bodied but psychiatrically disabled, this might mean you could get hired at some sort of labor job, where before you couldn't. A lot of medium sized and large corporations could soon be seeking workers. 

This is a bit tangential: In order for a mentally ill person to perform manual labor, medications might have to be adjusted to allow physical activity. This could later on cause a relapse of one's condition. I should know of this, because I was put on medications after my first episode of psychosis, and when I was released from the hospital I got a job doing physical but not exceedingly demanding work. However, the medications were blocking the physical activity, and I quit the meds so that I would be able to work at my job. I relapsed a year later. However, in that year I earned ten thousand dollars, and in 1983, that was a fairly decent amount.  

Concerning legal pot smoking, I don't recommend it. It could worsen a mental illness, and it could get you kicked out of HUD housing or other housing. If you rent with a HUD subsidy, you are subject to their "zero tolerance" policy concerning narcotics--pot remains federally illegal. Secondly, one or more of my psychiatrists informed me that pot doesn't mix well with antipsychotic medications. Thirdly, if you drive under the influence of pot, or drive smelling like pot, and if you get pulled over by a cop or get into a car accident, it will doubtless be very bad for you.  

Retail vendors aren't yet allowed to sell pot--they will be in 2018, according to one news source. Therefore, you must continue to deal with drug dealers, people who often are unsavory individuals. If none of this concerns you, go for it; just make sure you are downwind from me.  

Concerning the cigarette tax, if you smoke, now is a good time to quit, since by no stretch of the imagination will smoking still be affordable in California. The new, additional cigarette tax will make the price of a pack $7 or more for the cheapest brands.  

I wish there existed rehab facilities specifically for treating tobacco addiction, since I haven't yet voluntarily gone for more than two weeks without smoking. I am working on tapering off as of this morning.  

Other than that, if you have a psychiatric disability, leave it up to other people to deal with the world coming to an end, which it probably won't. We should proceed as usual as much as possible with our daily lives, with taking care of ourselves, and with keeping out of trouble.