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Message From Our Medical Director

Hello,

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. Ignorance of or failure to treat a comorbid disorder can jeapordize 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