Program Targets Mental Illness, Substance Abuse Together

Substance abuse and mental health issues often go hand in hand, but treatment programs often target only one or the other, making relapse more likely.

A new program at Stormont-Vail West aims to give help for both at the same time.

Substance Abuse Counselor Don Gloeckner, LMSW, AAPS, says, in the past, people would separate the issues and deal with one, hoping the other would get better. He says research finds that if you don't deal with both at the same time, you increase the chance of relapse.

Gloeckner says people with a mental illness such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder often turn to drugs and alcohol. He says they think the drugs make them feel better, so they abuse them, not realizing they are only making the mental illness worse.

A new substance abuse program at Stormont-Vail West aims to address both issues. Gloeckner says a big part of it is education on how addiction impacts mental illness and learning coping skills. He says for many people who abuse substances, the substance has become their coping mechanism. Take it away, he says, and they have nothing. He says the program gives them opportunities to learn alternative ways to cope so they don't go back to the substance.

The program is out-patient. Depending on a person's needs, they can enter an intense three-hours a day, four days a week schedule. Another option is two hours, one day a week.

If you're interested in finding out whether it could help you, call (785) 270-4600.


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