......Minnesota

Article excerpt

An estimated 60 to 75 percent of people who are chemically dependent are also mentally ill. Left untreated, mental illness can sabotage individuals' attempts to stop using drugs and alcohol - a critical fact that is often overlooked in efforts to treat chemical dependency. (Some individuals do not fare well in either traditional chemical dependency or traditional mental health treatment programs; likewise, people with chemical dependency and mental illness often go from one chemical dependency treatment program to another.)

To help individuals who need effective treatment for what clinicians term co-morbidity, the Medallion Program at Willmar Regional Treatment Center addresses both chemical dependency and mental illness. In this program, mental health professionals and chemical dependency counselors work side by side to provide uniquely integrated services to people with a dual diagnosis. To enhance their skills, the staff receives training in both mental health and chemical dependency on an annual basis.

Test and retest data show that clients' symptoms improve as a result of involvement in the Medallion Program. Clients report that their quality of life and level of functioning improve after completing the program. Their satisfaction with the program is high, and many participants maintain that they now have hope that they can effectively deal with their complicated condition.

Sam, for example, had struggled with alcoholism for 13 years, throughout both his adolescence and his college years. Chemical dependency treatment initially seemed to help. …