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Substance Use Disorders

Although we don’t offer treatment to people whose substance use disorder (SUD) is active or primary, many of those struggling with mental disorders have co-occurring SUDs. If you have a co-occurring SUD, we do provide support to help you maintain abstinence while in treatment at Riggs.

What Are Substance Use Disorders?

SUDs, which were previously called substance abuse disorders, are diagnosed when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or other drugs causes clinically significant impairment or distress, placing a person at risk for serious problems with health, relationships, or role functioning, according to the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5—a reference commonly used by mental health professionals in the US.
Almost half of the patients at Riggs have had past difficulties related to the use of alcohol and/or other drugs. We will consider such individuals for admission to Riggs only if their SUD is a co-occurring rather than a primary disorder, and only if they’ve achieved substance abstinence.
SUDs are relatively common. Nationally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, also called SAMHSA, reports that 19.3 million adults had an SUD in 2019, and 9.5 million had both an SUD and a mental illness.
In addition, if you use alcohol and/or other drugs, it can exacerbate symptoms of other co-occurring mental disorders such as depressive, or bipolar, psychotic, post-traumatic stress, and personality disorders, and can make treatment of those disorders much more difficult.
If you are looking for resources related specifically to substance use disorders, SAMHSA operates a 24/7 National Helpline that’s free and confidential: 800.662.HELP (4357).

Supporting Patients with Co-occurring SUDs

At Riggs, we have substantial clinical expertise working with patients who may have disorders that co-occur with substance use disorders. In fact, we are known as the place “where treatment-resistant patients become people taking charge of their lives.”
We include attention to substance use disorders in the treatment plan whenever it is indicated. If someone relapses into active substance use and cannot quickly return to abstinence, we will recommend discharge and a period of substance use disorder treatment before resuming treatment here.
Our certified substance use counselors and substance use group work to support sustained abstinence in patients with co-occurring SUDs. The “use and consequences” approach examines not only the individual consequences of substance use, but also the consequences to a patient’s family, friends, or community, whether at Riggs or elsewhere.
At Riggs, the whole person is the focus of the treatment, not simply discrete symptoms. Because, while symptoms must be addressed, they also have meaning. We work with you as a person with your own unique life story and your own problems and strengths.
Our treatment approach for mental illnesses and their symptoms centers on intensive psychodynamic psychotherapy four times a week with a clinician, exploring your lived experiences to identify patterns that influence your decision making, and helping you choose positive new behaviors.
Family is often part of the social context in which symptoms of anxiety disorders may emerge. So an important part of every treatment at Riggs is family evaluation—with family treatment offered when indicated.
To augment psychotherapy sessions, medications usually are part of your treatment at Riggs. We have been trailblazers in developing what we call psychodynamic psychopharmacology, a way of using medications for their biochemical benefit, while also carefully attending to their important meanings.
In addition to therapy and medications, our open setting with its Therapeutic Community Program mobilizes the powerful potential impact of social learning from interactions with peers—a profound opportunity to learn about things we do that we cannot see but that others can help us see and address.
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Admission Process

If you’re thinking about Riggs treatment for yourself or a family member suffering with a mental health issue and co-occurring substance use disorder, please contact Admissions for more information. Clinicians: If you are considering referring a patient to Riggs, please contact Admissions to begin the process.

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If you’re ready to take the first step toward recovery at Riggs, please contact us.

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