How are you managing co-occurring disorders?

Coming to Helena, MT
David Mee-Lee, M.D.


It will be twelve years since I first visited Helena to provide training on the Patient Placement Criteria of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) in June 2001.  A lot has happened in 12 years.  Since the current edition published that year, there will be a new edition of The ASAM Criteria out in October and the new edition from the American Psychiatric Association, DSM-5.

But what is more important is how the behavioral health field has moved towards integrated treatment for people with co-occurring mental and substance-related conditions.  Time was when clients would be shunted back and forth between addiction and mental health services: “No, you can’t be admitted here in mental health until you are 30 days sober.”  Or: “Sorry, we don’t take people who have suicidal thoughts or are on those medications.  You have to take care of your mental health problems first before you are ready to get into addiction recovery.”

We’ve come a long way in treating people holistically instead of having them drop through the cracks……or have we?  Well, when I come to the ChildWise Institute Spring Conference on Co-Occurring Disorders, I look forward to seeing how far the Helena area and Montana overall has come in helping youth with co-occurring disorders (COD).  Perhaps my keynote presentation on May 10, “Co-Occurring Disorders in Youth: Building Bridges in Assessment and Treatment” will be a helpful review for those who are well along in integrated COD services.  Or maybe for those still getting there, I will have a few suggestions that can jumpstart your work.

Then in the workshop I will do on “Engaging Adolescents in Client-Directed, Accountable Treatment: Skills to Help Youth Change”, we’ll have a good time looking at new ways to think about “resistance” and how to engage and attract people into recovery. If you are coming to the conference (and of course you should) bring some challenging clinical vignettes and we’ll see if we can help you engage your client a little better.

So I am looking forward to getting back to Helena and hope to see you at the conference. We’ll bounce around a few ideas together and see if we can find ways to serve youth with co-occurring disorders even better.

Brief Bio

David Mee-Lee, M.D. is a board-certified psychiatrist, and is certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM). He trains and consults both nationally and internationally.  Dr. Mee-Lee is Chief Editor of The ASAM Criteria and is Senior Vice President of The Change Companies. Dr. Mee-Lee has over thirty years’ experience in person centered treatment and program development for people with co-occurring mental health and substance use conditions.

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