Why St. Christopher's

More information about Co-Occurring Disorders

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Currently researchers have highlighted a statistically significant increase in mental health and substance use disorders over the past 15 years. We can dig in and further break down the many contributors to this disturbing trend to include the significant increase of stress, trauma, life demands, and breakdown of the family unit.

However, we would be remiss to not consider the influence of big pharmaceutical companies. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, American’s make up approximately 5% of the world’s population but consume over 50% of the pharmaceuticals and nearly 80% of prescription narcotics. This is indicative of a culture focused on medication of symptoms as a first line of treatment. The statistics vary each year, but the top 10 prescribed drugs annually typically include drugs for pain (specifically hydrocodone being #1 from 2010-2013) and mental illness—some of which can be highly addictive. America has simply become a culture that is drug dependent for managing symptoms that are often better treated with non-pharmaceutical interventions.

Most researches would agree that the old methods of treating addiction separate from mental illness are antiquated and simply do not meet the new standards of medical intervention. When we reflect over the recent headline news articles related to overdose the person is often being treated for mental illness in addition to the addiction to drugs. The research supports that many of the patients diagnosed with substance abuse disorders are also suffering from a co-occurring mental health disorder. In fact, many patients can develop drug dependence as a result of being treated pharmacologically for mental illness (anxiety, depression with chronic pain and many others). The term co-occurring simply means the patient has at least one substance abuse diagnosis and one mental health diagnosis. It does not define which is primary as this is no longer the most important thing in identifying treatment for the co-occurring population.


Substance abuse diagnoses such as Alcohol Abuse, Opiate Dependence, Cannabis Abuse, and others classified by the American Psychiatric Association as mental illness using the same diagnostic manual that is used to diagnose Depression, Anxiety, and Mood Disorders (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5). It is important that we as a society embrace this idea of substance abuse as a component of mental illness because it breaks down barriers to evidenced based treatment interventions, improves the strength of the Mental Health Parity Act, and further shifts the view of addiction from one of a character flaw to a more scientifically accepted definition of mental illness.

St Christopher’s is proud to embrace the new science that supports substance abuse treatment to include treatment of co-occurring (mental health and substance abuse). We have first-hand experience in working with men who testify about a life of struggling with trauma, depression, anxiety or mood disorders and utilizing substances as a means of coping with mental health issues. We support the National Institute of Drug Abuse’s and National Institute of Health directives to implement more treatment for the co-occurring diagnoses as best practice for all patient care.

For these reasons we are proud to be expanding our services as we continue with our mission. We strive to move away from old stigmas and terminology of the past associated with addiction and secrecy of treatment to embrace the ideas of a St Christopher serving as a Men’s Wellness Center. Our expertise is working with men in all stages of life by offering an extensive and comprehensive package of treatment options. We are proud to be including a multidisciplinary treatment approach to our patient population that still fosters the ideas and principles of the 12-Steps. We have now offer specialty groups and tracks for a more individualized treatment approach to our patients.

For more information call us at 877-782-4747 and visit our Staff Page to meet the St. Christopher’s Team.