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County clinic offering outpatient treatment for drugs, alcohol

March 06, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Individuals with problems or potential problems with drugs or alcohol now have access to treatment services at a county outpatient clinic in El Centro.

Mike Horn, director of the county's Behavioral Health Services, said before the outpatient clinic opened the county's services were fragmented and in need of the clinic to help anchor everything.

He said research has shown many of those who have mental health problems also have substance abuse problems.

"We're really treating people for mental health systems when in fact a lot of time their symptoms are caused by drug and alcohol problems," Horn said.

Now people with those problems can be treated on an outpatient status.

Martha Singh, program supervisor for the adult alcohol and drug program, said an individual can go to the outpatient clinic and receive screening, an assessment and a diagnosis to determine the level of treatment the individual needs.

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"The individual would then come here two times a week for group counseling for an hour and a half," she said.

Group counseling is aimed at four to 10 people with similar addictions.

"Group counseling provides peer support and it allows them to know they are not alone in their addiction, and how they can help each other; always, of course, under the guidance of a substance abuse counselor," Singh said.

She said the counseling sessions are focused to address an individual's specific problems, such as employment barriers, family dysfunction or the inability to control anger.

"They cover a wide array of impairment to the individual," she said.

Singh said though an individual might have a substance abuse problem, frequently there are other underlying problems as well.

"We're anticipating that we will have a large majority of individuals that will seek our services," she said.

The outpatient clinic is part of the county's Behavioral Health Services. It is the umbrella organization for the county's mental health and drug and alcohol programs.

The mental health side has about 1,800 active cases in the county, Horn said.

"We do a lot of different things for those folks who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder," he said, adding that disorders include anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder in children, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Some of the services include obtaining medicines, obtaining psychotherapy, group support and obtaining housing, among others.

Behavioral Health also helps those on conservatorships, or those who cannot care for themselves due to a mental disorder. It also performs evaluations for the local court system.

The adult alcohol and drug outpatient clinic staged its grand opening Monday. It is located in suite 205, 1295 State St. in El Centro.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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