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Center of Excellence in Addiction Services

Restoring Healthy Lives Through Healthy Minds

All around the country and particularly in recent years, the prevalence of addiction, its effect on families and communities, and the challenges of recovery have been well-documented. In Silicon Valley, the story is no different: highly stressed and fatigued employees, with some relying on prescription and recreational drugs to keep up with the outsized demands of life. To help address these potentially hazardous circumstances, El Camino Hospital is helping the people of Silicon Valley deal with addiction by delivering mental health care and addiction treatment in a unique way.
Michael Fitzgerald, Executive Director of Mental Health & Addiction Services at El Camino Hospital, has led the charge in establishing a whole person approach with individualized care. “Addictions do not occur in a bubble. Every patient with an addiction has mental health treatment needs and this is incorporated into the program, including a psychiatric evaluation. For those with significant  comorbid (mental health and addiction) conditions, we offer a dual-diagnosis track,” Michael explains. The dual diagnosis track allows patients to receive treatment for immediate addiction issues as well as an extensive focus on their mental health condition, often depression or anxiety. Patients in the regular addiction program also learn and apply skills to manage these symptoms.
To further benefit patients, Michael and his team designed the addiction program with accessibility in mind. Many patients are working professionals spending their days earning a living or students working towards a degree. “It’s so expensive living here that taking time off completely to deal with your addiction is not always an option. It’s also stressful to feel pressured to tell an employer why you’re taking time off from work,” he adds. “Organizing our program as an outpatient offering in the evenings makes treatment available to those who might otherwise not participate.” Evening treatment allows patients to maintain a sense of routine in their day-to-day lives, during a time of major life changes. Another benefit is that evening time is often a period of substance use for people. Instead of using, they engage in building strengths for recovery.”
In large part, the program has seen great success due to its offerings. Patients are choosing El Camino Hospital’s outpatient Addiction Services program specifically for its evening hours. Michael explains, “It alleviates some of the stress that contributed to their addiction in the first place.” Patients are also finding great value in the program’s emphasis on the physiology of addiction. For example, it helps them to understand that addiction is wired into their thinking, and they can better recognize how addiction and the mind work.  As they apply life skills learned in the program, the brain begins to function differently. This helps patients and their families understand that addiction is not a moral flaw, but a treatable disease. This approach provides a judgment-free environment, which patients embrace.  
Learn more about the El Camino Hospital Addiction Services program.

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