Message from Our Medical Director
It is with pleasure that I introduce myself as the new Medical Director
for Chemical Dependency at Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach. I am originally
from the East coast, where I grew up in Connecticut, and completed my
undergraduate degree at Brown University and medical school at Harvard.
After one too many New England winters, I figuratively and literally "saw
the light" and came to Southern California to complete my psychiatry
residency at UCLA. A board-certified psychiatrist, I previously was the
Director of Anxiety Disorders at Cedar Sinai and was most recently medical
director for Behavioral Health at Glendale Memorial.
I believe what is important to understand in identifying and treating substance
use and mental illness is that these conditions do not occur independently
in a 'vacuum'. In fact the co-morbidity rate of substance abuse
and psychiatric disorders (including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder)
is extremely high- substance abusers are two times more likely to have
psychiatric disorders. As the Director of the National Institute of Drug
Abuse Nora Volkow recently stated:
"It is often difficult to disentangle the overlapping symptoms of
drug addiction and other mental illnesses making diagnosis and treatment
complex. Correct diagnosis is critical to ensuring appropriate and effective
treatment. I ignorance of or failure to treat a comorbid disorder can
jeopardize a patient's chance of recovery."
The model we employ at our Chemical Dependency unit emphasizes first the
importance of the comorbidity between substance use and psychiatric illness,
and the need for different evidence based treatment modalities to work
in conjunction with one another. Medication, cognitive behavioral therapy,
spiritual therapy, group therapy and family therapy can all be strong
methods of treatment, but none of them can be completely successful in
isolation. At our Chemical Dependency program, we also employ evidence
based complementary medicine such as tai chi, yoga, mindfulness that have
been shown to be effective in healing.
The Chemical Dependency staff at Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach understands
that individuals who suffer from mental illness and chemical dependency
can often feel they are on a long and challenging journey and we look
forward to helping you on your road to recovery.
Jonathan Shaywitz M.D.
Medical Director MPRC