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

Treat Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders Together

dual-diagnosis, co-occurring, gateway treatment centers

Article By:
Gilbert Lichstein, LCPC, M.S. Clinical Psychology
Program Director
Gateway Chicago West

Known as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder, substance abuse and mental health issues frequently occur together. The likelihood of succeeding in treatment is greatly enhanced when both are treated simultaneously.

Clients arriving at Gateway receive a comprehensive assessment and those who are found to have an Axis 1 mental health disorder may be admitted to the dual diagnosis unit. Axis 1 disorders include depression, mania, excessive anxiety and psychosis. One of Gateway’s distinguishing features is the depth with which we are able to address these issues.

Dual diagnosis care involves creating an individualized, client-centered treatment plan, which is a hallmark of Gateway’s approach to all treatment. We work together with clients to develop mental health care that capitalizes on things that may have worked for them in the past.

During this process, we listen to strategies clients believe will work and synthesize this information with our expertise to provide feedback and enhance those strategies.Medication assisted treatment is offered, but not mandatory.

One aspect of treatment that sets Gateway programs apart from other programs is our co-occurring disorders group, which is a standard part of all our residential programs. The core curriculum is a mindfulness based sobriety curriculum that combines relapse therapy, motivational interviewing, and acceptance and commitment therapy, all of which are evidenced-based practices. Treatment for mental health disorders is built into the continuum of care, so discharge planning starts when the person enters treatment.

Patients may elect to have family and loved ones involved; our family group component is an evidence-based practice for mental health concerns.

Chicago-IL-West-Drug-Abuse-Psychologist-Office

Treatment Programs and Gateway Chicago West

Life Skills Treatment and Recovery: the LSTAR Program

The LSTAR program at Gateway’s Chicago West location is an enhanced co-ed residential treatment program for people with both substance abuse and moderate to severe mental health concerns. More robust than our standard dual diagnosis program, LSTAR has proven to be effective for clients who did not succeed in other programs.

LSTAR provides more one-on-one contact, addressing mental health concerns with greater concentration. Individual counseling, psychological consultation, monitoring, nursing, testing and assessment are ongoing.

Additional components of LSTAR include:

  • Co-occurring group which uses an evidenced-based cognitive behavioral therapy curriculum
  • Mindfulness based sobriety, motivational interviewing, and seeking safety, a curriculum for co-morbid trauma and substance abuse
  • Single and multi-family group counseling, 12-step facilitation and transition groups to help clients adjust to outside care
  • Recreational therapy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) anger management curriculum

To learn more about the treatment of co-occurring disorders, or for a free consultation, call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers today at 877-505-HOPE (4673) or visit RecoverGateway.org.

Gateway Treatment Centers Earn Esteemed Joint Commission Accreditation

Gateway Treatment Center in Lake Villa, IL

Gateway Treatment Center
in Lake Villa, IL

Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment centers were recently surveyed by The Joint Commission, which renewed its accreditation for the next 3 years. Considered the gold standard in health care accreditations, The Joint Commission evaluation included 11 Gateway locations and 30 alcohol and drug treatment programs to verify the organization provides the highest standards in care for substance abuse and mental health issues.

To help ensure communities have access to safe, quality treatment and services, The Joint Commission is an independent, non-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. It analyzes hospitals and health care providers for compliance with more than 1,000 “individual elements of performance” applicable to a variety of functions, such as: safety and well-being of patients and staff, quality assurance, governance, environments of care and medication management. 

Gateway Treatment Center in Chicago's River North District

Gateway Treatment Center in Chicago’s River North District

“I consider this last evaluation our most successful since The Joint Commission awarded Gateway its first accreditation in 1992—and our extremely dedicated staff is a main reason why we are performing so well,” says Michael Darcy, President & CEO, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment. “As an organization, we continuously improve the quality of our clinical programs and adopt the most effective evidenced-based clinical treatment protocols to help people overcome addiction. And, I believe The Joint Commission accreditation is a vital process that has helped Gateway become a leading substance abuse treatment provider in Illinois,” adds Darcy.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

alcohol abuseEver felt anxious, depressed or suffered emotional distress due to a trauma? If so, you are not alone in experiencing mental health issues. Actually, one in five American adults aged 18 or older, or 45.6 million people, had mental health disorders in the past year, according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Mental health issues can significantly decrease a person’s quality of life and wellbeing, especially when left untreated. Unfortunately, rather than seeking help, many people may turn to alcohol or other drugs to briefly adjust their state of mental health.

The SAMSHA report revealed rates for substance dependency or abuse were far higher for those who had mental health problems than for the adult population which did not have mental health issues in the past year.

Mental health and substance abuse issues often co-occur. In other words, individuals with substance abuse issues often have a mental health condition at the same time and vice versa. Approximately 8.9 million adults have co-occurring disorders. What’s more, approximately 80% of individuals in treatment for substance dependency have co-occurring disorders. In essence, they are self-medicating in an attempt to cope with undesirable emotions and distressing thoughts.

To review the SAMSHA report findings click here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance dependency, please call Gateway Foundation‘s 24-Hour Helpline to arrange a free and confidential consultation at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

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