Sunday, December 03, 2000

For Daniel, 'the bottom would drop out'

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Daniel Maiorano turned 18 in January. He isn't a child with mental illness and drug addiction problems anymore — he's an adult.

        He still hears voices in his head, although not as often as a few years ago. His struggle to stay off drugs continues. He expects to need treatment for a very long time.

        “I take eight pills at night and three in the morning,” he says. "I've got a psychiatrist, a case manager and, of course, my parents.”

        For the past few weeks, Daniel has lived at a group home in Walnut Hills, where he spends weekdays in counseling and has weekends mostly to himself. It's the kind of facility Cincinnati has for adults, but is in short supply for children.

        “When you're a kid, you've got very few options, and those options aren't that great,” he says.

        Not that adult psychiatric care is all that wonderful. During a recent stay at University Hospital, Daniel says he waited on a stretcher for nearly 24 hours before he could be admitted to the psychiatric unit.

        Daniel describes his high school years as a haze of drug abuse and stays in psychiatric wards. He would vanish from school for weeks at a time, and so-called friends would barely notice.

        “Most of the stuff I really don't remember. I would get to a pretty good state for a while, then the bottom would drop out from under me,” he says.

        Now, after years of ups and downs, Daniel is optimistic. He's been off drugs for a month. He has a high school equivalency degree. He would like to enroll at the University of Cincinnati.

        “I'd probably study psychology,” he says.

Children with mental problems often have nowhere to turn
- For Daniel, 'the bottom would drop out'
Where to get help for troubled youths

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