Co-Occurring Disorders: The Chicken or the Egg?

Known as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder, substance abuse and mental health issues frequently occur together. In fact, 80% of individuals with addiction issues have a co-occurring mental health issue according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The question comes down to the chicken or the egg – which came first and which do we treat first? The mental health issue or the substance abuse issue? “The likelihood of succeeding in treatment is greatly enhanced when both are treated simultaneously. Integrated treatment approaches coordinate substance abuse and mental health interventions to treat the whole person,” said Sally Thoren, Executive Director of Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment in Chicago.

Desperate man

Individuals arriving at Gateway receive a comprehensive assessment and those who are found to have a mental health disorder may be admitted into our specialized dual diagnosis program. “We use a variety of clinically proved treatment methods to address co-occurring substance abuse and mental health problems at the same time, in the same program by the same treatment team,” said Thoren.

As each individual is unique, so should be their treatment plan. We work together with individuals to develop a customized treatment plan that capitalizes on methods that may have worked for them in the past. In addition, medication assisted treatment may be used if deemed appropriate for the individual.

If you know someone struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues, know that help is available. Visit RecoverGateway.org for more information.

CEU Webinar to Increase Understanding of the Relationship between Trauma and Addiction

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers will offer a free continuing education (CEU) webinar for healthcare professionals.

The webinar, “Dual Recovery fromTutor with class of students Trauma and Addiction,” will give participants the opportunity to earn one CEU and learn how to identify signs of trauma-infused personalities and how and when to intervene.

The Webinar presenter is Dr. John Fusco, Psy.D., M.Div., a Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Gateway Treatment Centers. Dr. Fusco trains and supervises psychology students to provide diagnostic testing, biofeedback and individual, group and family psychotherapy in an inpatient addictions program for adolescents and adults with mental health related issues.

“Past and current traumas have a ripple effect over decades in the lives of individuals,” Fusco said. “These traumas account for much if not most of a person’s difficulties in living, anxiety, depression as well as inefficient and ineffective coping strategies, including  the use of substances of addiction.”

The webinar will be offered on two occasions: Wednesday, May 18 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday, May 24 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Participants can receive one CEU IAODAPCA, NAADAC, Illinois: LCPC, LPC, LCSW, LSW, Nursing, Psychologist.

Registration in advance is required at RecoverGateway.org/training and space is limited.

“The trauma infused personality is a syndrome of troubling thoughts, feelings and behaviors which go down to the marrow of a person’s psychological bones. It impacts almost everything about a person’s relationships, view of self and view of the world,” Fusco said.

Other areas to be discussed include coping mechanisms, stages of recovery and appropriate interventions for each stage.

To learn more about this training, visit  RecoverGateway.org/training.

Mental health and alcohol abuse: Is there a connection?

During the month of May, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers, Mental Health America and countless other organizations across the country are bringing awareness to mental health. Mental Health Awareness Month aims to fight the stigma associated with mental health issues as well as provide support to those who may be struggling.

While we support mental health awareness year round, this May, GatewayiStock_000059997060_Medium Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers would like to highlight the strong correlation between mental health issues and alcohol abuse.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA), 80 percent of individuals with addiction issues have a co-occurring mental health issue. These can include depression, mood disorder, ADD, among others.  “In our experience the number of people with a dual diagnosis may be even higher,” says Jim Scarpace, Executive Director, Gateway Aurora.

Alcohol abuse and mental health issues go hand in hand because both are tied to similar centers of the brain. Alcohol temporarily energizes the center of the brain responsible for depression and anxiety, decreasing those symptoms for a person.

The effects of using alcohol to self-medicate are fleeting, leaving a person feeling substantially worse than prior to using. Still, many use this “band aid” approach because it helps them obtain some manner of immediate relief. However, when a person drinks to make them self feel better, they create a cycle that repeats, so both the alcohol abuse and mental health issue worsen.

Caught in the spiral, it is almost impossible to stop the cycle without help and support. To learn more visit RecoverGateway.org/MentalHealth

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