Gateway Foundation Pilots Program for Men Struggling with Substance Abuse

CHICAGO, May 15, 2012Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment recently piloted a new program that taught effective communication skills as a tool to help enhance relationships and aid one’s commitment to lasting recovery. Piloted in spring 2012, the Immediacy in Effective Communication program was well-received by 36 adult men who were primarily in substance abuse treatment for alcohol, cocaine or heroin issues at Gateway Foundation’s Chicago West treatment center.

“We recognized the opportunity to promote self-awareness and trust building would be valuable in teaching men effective communication skills. One goal was to promote collaboration in messaging—understanding and appreciating others’ state of mind or position to foster empathy,” says Gateway Foundation Clinical Director Dr. Phil Welches.

Retrospection, Reflection, Reframing

To lead the program, Gateway Foundation enlisted Tim O’Malley of Chicago’s Second City. O’Malley, who graduated from a residential substance abuse treatment program at Gateway Foundation Lake Villa several years ago, has an intimate understanding of the struggles associated with substance abuse and remaining sober. While guiding groups through the Immediacy in Effective Communication pilot program, O’Malley taught the skills of improvisation to promote listening, supporting the ideas of others’ and building trust while injecting humor. Many of the interactive exercises O’Malley explored are based on the improvisation teachings of Viola Spolin.

Program activities required individuals to channel retrospection, reflection, reframing—all skills promoted in the substance abuse treatment program. Group members learned about new coping mechanisms, such as mirroring, agreeing, surrendering, saying yes as well as exploring heightening emotions and actions. Tailored to individuals with substance abuse issues, the workshops are intended to:

  • Create a “group personality,” surrendering personal wants for the good of the group.
  • Build on positive imagination, teaching how to use imagination in communication.
  • Give and receive constructive feedback.

Gateway Foundation developed an evaluation and the feedback from attendees overwhelmingly concluded the Immediacy in Effective Communication program accomplished the following:

  • Fostered creativity
  • Helped pilot program participants learn to listen better
  • Helped participants learn to respect others
  • Helped them feel comfortable with themselves and take risks in communication
  • Allowed participants to “have fun” and appreciate humor
  • Helped them learn new and different ways to communicate

“In improvisation, the whole group is greater than the sum of its parts. Contrary to our competitive instincts, to succeed in improvisation, you have to collaborate and treat others as you would like to be treated,” explains Program Trainer Tim O’Malley.

To help adults and adolescents succeed in their life-long commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle free of alcohol or drug abuse, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment provides individuals the necessary knowledge and tools, including effective communication techniques.

“Communication is at the cornerstone of establishing connections and positive relationships—a basic human need for us all,” explains Dr. Welches. “When relationships suffer, a person with a history of substance abuse can feel alienated or disconnected which—depending on the person—could lead to depression and trigger a relapse.”

Gateway Foundation Professionals Refine Gender-Specific Expertise

As part of Gateway Foundation’s commitment to providing individuals effective treatment tailored to specific needs, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment recognizes the benefits of using evidence-based gender-specific therapies in treating substance abuse. To further the expertise of professionals who specialize in treating women with drug alcohol abuse issues, Gateway Foundation partnered with leading expert in women’s treatment, Dr. Stephanie S. Covington, to lead a two-day intensive training in Chicago.

Pictured: Dr. Stephanie S. Covington and Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment Clinical Director Dr. Phil Welches

Dr. Covington is a nationally recognized clinician, author, and organizational consultant. She has developed an innovative, gender-responsive and trauma-informed approach to the treatment needs of women and girls that results in effective services in public and private settings.

Dr. Covington guided 36 Gateway Foundation counselors and program managers through various approaches featured in her curricula on April 19-20, 2012 at The Adler School of Psychiatry in Chicago. The training focused on gender-sensitive addiction treatment for women covered in Dr. Covington’s curricula, which addressed: sense of self, relationships, sexuality, spirituality, trauma-related issues and a woman’s way through the 12 steps.

“The training was especially worthwhile for Gateway Foundation’s clinical team since we use Dr. Stephanie Covington’s curricula in all of our residential programs that provide addiction treatment for women. Our substance abuse treatment professionals had the opportunity to hone in on more complex approaches to enhance their gender-specific expertise and ask Dr. Covington questions related to their on-the-job experiences,” says Dr. Phil Welches, Clinical Director at Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment.

Gateway Foundation finds Dr. Covington’s curricula to be effective tools, as part of a multi-disciplinary integrated approach, for helping women in recovery. Gateway currently uses the following curricula: “Helping Women Recover” and “A Woman’s Way through the Twelve-Steps,” as well as trauma-specific curricula, such as “Beyond Trauma” and “Healing Trauma.”

Attendees valued the opportunity to learn from a pioneer in women’s issue and an addiction expert, expressing their positive sentiments:

“Dr. Covington’s knowledge, experience and communication are amazing and inspiring.”

“I enjoyed the interaction and group participation in addition to the discussion about women’s sense of self in relationship to others.”

“I loved all of it; in particular, the exercises, studies and role playing with stories and experiences of past clients.”

“Thank you so much. This training was invaluable.”

Dr. Stephanie S. Covington leading the training seminar

Gateway Foundation Offers New Outpatient Program in Chicago

Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment is proud to introduce a new intensive outpatient program in Chicago at its Chicago West Treatment Center.  An integrated approach to substance abuse treatment, Gateway Foundation’s Mindful Recovery intensive outpatient program is based on Dr. Alan Marlatt’s Relapse Prevention Therapy.

The Chicago West outpatient program utilizes evidence-based relapse prevention curriculum to provide the most effective treatment to achieve a successful outcome. The new outpatient program also provides treatment for individuals that may have a co-occurring mental health issue. Individuals in treatment for substance abuse issues will focus on global lifestyle balance issues, strategies to escape high-risk situations, improving awareness, enhancing motivation and development of coping skills.

Gateway Foundation Chicago West Counselor Stacy Lott says, “Individuals in our intensive outpatient program will develop coping skills and self-sufficiency by learning how to utilize strengths and resources they already have with the support of effective, evidence-based clinical practices.”

The program also includes:

  • Individual counseling as well as family therapy.
  • Integrated approach for adults who may be challenged with a co-occurring mental health issue.
  • Convenient hours Monday thru Thursday from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Delicious and nutritious dinner in our cafeteria.

Gateway Chicago West’s intensive outpatient program will be offered during the evening hours for individuals that have daytime responsibilities like work, childcare or school. And, this affordable treatment option is covered by most health insurance carriers.

Gateway is licensed by the state of Illinois and accredited by The Joint Commission, the leading accrediting organization for hospitals and behavioral healthcare organizations.

Gateway Chicago West is located at 3828 W. Taylor Street in Chicago; for more information, please visit

Illinois: In the Eye of the Heroin Storm

It is unfortunate for the residents of Illinois that heroin is so accessible here in particular—and it’s a matter of great concern to the clinical team at Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment.

Heroin is an illegal Schedule I drug, meaning it is in the group of the most highly addictive drugs. It affects the regions of the brain responsible for producing physical dependence. Heroin is one of the most frequently reported drugs by medical examiners in drug abuse deaths. People who use heroin repeatedly develop a tolerance and consume higher doses to induce the intended high.

A 2010 study by Roosevelt University determined that the city with the highest prevalence of heroin use and associated problems in the U.S. is Chicago. The study reported that, from 2004-2008, Chicago had the most heroin-related emergency room visits per capita of any city in the U.S.—almost 50 percent more than New York City, the city with the second highest rate.

Historically an urban problem, heroin has spread into the suburbs and rural towns. Illinois police departments continue to report an increase in heroin use among adolescents in the suburbs surrounding Chicago. Most alarming, there have already been eight heroin-related deaths in Will County in 2012.

Treatment for heroin addiction is essential to overcoming the physical and emotional dependence it causes. We have more than 40 years of experience in treating heroin addiction in adults and adolescents. Heroin is the third most popular drug of choice among individuals seeking treatment for substance abuse at Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment (alcohol is first followed by marijuana).

If you have any questions about treatment programs offered at Gateway or thoughts to share, please comment below or call the toll free number for answers at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

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