Though most mental illnesses do not have a cure, our clients can learn to live with their illness and find hope in our treatment. One of our alumni shared her experience with depression: “I was trying to quit drinking and I got a medical marijuana card. Pretty soon I was super paranoid and couldn’t leave the house. My brother had to go get my pot for me because he had a card too. I got so depressed that I stopped washing my hair. Toward the end I was drinking again. When I arrived at Northbound I was unable to acknowledge my depression. But pretty soon after sobering up and talking with my therapist, I began to get back in touch with reality.”
Mental illness co-occurring with substance abuse is treatable. A dual-diagnosis client is clinically appropriate for Northbound Treatment Services as long as substance abuse is the primary disorder. Common secondary disorders include:
- anxiety disorders
- bipolar disorder
- obsessive compulsive disorder
- panic disorder
- psychological trauma
Unique Take on the 12-Steps
In terms of treatment, we follow a 12-step method backed up with a tremendous clinical team with decades of experience in addiction treatment. While some may be skeptical regarding the 12-step efficacy for improving mental health, we’ve found amazing success in the system of having our clients work closely with their peers who have had success in treating their own mental illness. Research backs this process, with study after study demonstrating that a support group comprised of people sharing a common experience is extremely effective in stabilizing a mental illness. Shared experiences are a huge part of the treatment program at Northbound, whether or not the client is dually diagnosed. From this shared experience stem hope and positivity, as well as great coping skills.
When a client arrives at Northbound, they are assigned a highly experienced therapist who performs a complete initial assessment. All previous diagnoses and medications are taken into account and core treatment goals are discussed. Through psychiatric referrals, Northbound emphasizes stabilizing moods with the least medication, and through improved ability to anticipate mood problems we’ve been hugely successful in reducing, correcting the dosage of, or eliminating unnecessary medications. Likewise, improper diagnoses and stigmatizing labels are discarded at NTS. Each week the clinical team, comprised of multiple doctoral-level psychologists, meets to review each client’s progress.
Psychotherapy and Medication
Psychotherapy is the cornerstone of treatment at Northbound along with cognitive behavioral therapy, anger management, process group, sleep management, psycho-education, and neuro-feedback. Our philosophy at Northbound is to focus on holistic healing and trauma care with the minimal amount of medication necessary. If necessary, the medications for mental health are monitored at Northbound to treat mental illnesses. These include antipsychotic medications, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers.
The clinical staff works hard with psychiatrists to stay current on new medications that might benefit a particular individual. The biggest change in medication in the last ten years has been newer antipsychotics and antidepressants. Now, even better compounds are being developed that target the key neurotransmitters that are involved in certain mental disorders, as opposed to drugs that only target dopamine. The clinical staff stays up-to-date on the latest medications, keeping in mind medications are useful only if they cause more benefit than harm, and work only if clients actually take them. Moreover, research has shown that it’s not only the drug, but the dosage. Dosages for clients in all phases of treatment are closely monitored because it is vital to adjust dosage after stabilization so that clients aren’t over-medicated.
Virtually all medications have some side effects, and that’s why the comprehensive treatment available at Northbound is so crucial. The staff works with psychiatrists to monitor clients for side effects such as excessive sleepiness, and weight gain or loss. Often, clients can change from one antipsychotic to another one if they are not responding well to the first medication. The same principle applies to the use of antidepressants or mood stabilizers, which are often necessary for treatment or therapy to be effective.
Often times, our clients need to learn, or re-learn, social skills. This is crucial to building self-esteem and long-term sobriety. Through group therapy sessions, experiential therapies and the residential structure of our extended care program, we are able to help improve comfort with and proficiency of social skills.
Daily living at Northbound focuses on physical, spiritual, mental and emotional well-being. All clients are required to participate in gym time and activities to maintain physical fitness, while meditation and yoga assist with relaxation. The 12 steps focus on spiritual fitness while our expert clinical staff works on the mental aspect. We really treat the whole body.
At Northbound, we understand that treatment for mental illness requires a multi-faceted approach and will take time. The important thing for mental health counseling is to undergo this process in a safe and nurturing environment with professionals and peers who understand what you are going through. This is the environment we strive to achieve on a daily basis at Northbound.
To see if Northbound is right for you or a family member, go to: Are We Right for You?