Chemical Dependency – Detoxification Treatment

Frequent use of drugs and alcohol can result in physical dependence, and when individuals stop using drugs and alcohol abruptly, they often experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Our inpatient detoxification program ensures safe withdrawal and the beginning of the recovery cycle.

Patients are detoxified under the care of a psychiatrist, nurses, social workers, and psychologists who provide medication, monitoring, and support during the withdrawal process. Additional treatment includes group therapies and activities throughout the day to address the disease of addiction. To ensure continued success when the patient leaves the hospital, we create discharge plan outlines with the patient and family for appropriate follow-up care.

Recovery Works – Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program (801) 587-3235

Recovery Works is an intensive outpatient program for adults struggling with drug and alcohol problems. Patients work in a group therapy setting four nights a week for eight weeks. To ensure success after completion of treatment, continued weekly aftercare support is available for participants.

The treatment team includes a board certified addiction psychiatrist, licensed clinical social workers, licensed substance abuse counselors, and expressive therapists.

The program incorporates some components of the philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous along with cognitive behavior treatment (CBT) and mindfulness techniques. Participants are expected to attend 12 Step meetings or other community sober support group.

The family's participation in the family group is essential to the program, held once a week. Experiential therapy, which includes art and music therapy, ROPES challenge course activities, and equine therapy, are also integrated into the program weekly.

To be included in Recovery Works, individuals must be medically clear and detoxified from alcohol and drugs. Regular attendance is required.

Recovery Clinic – (801) 585-1575

The Recovery Clinic is for adults seeking alcohol and drug addiction and dual diagnosis treatment. The clinic is staffed by board certified psychiatrists who have additional training in addiction psychiatry. Senior residents as well as licensed clinical social workers also provide services in the clinic.

Services include consultation and evaluation, group and individual therapy, medication management, suboxone maintenance therapy, and outpatient detoxification, if medically appropriate.

Substance Use Disorder

What is substance use disorder?

The main words used medically to describe substance abuse or addiction include the following:

Substance (drug) abuse (alcohol or other drugs)

Substance abuse is the medical term used to describe a pattern of using a substance (drug) that causes significant problems or distress. This may be missing work or school, using the substance in dangerous situations, such as driving a car. It may lead to substance-related legal problems, or continued substance use that interferes with friendships, family relationships, or both. Substance abuse, as a recognized medical brain disorder, refers to the abuse of illegal substances, such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. Or it may be the abuse of legal substances, such as alcohol, nicotine, or prescription medicines. Alcohol is the most common legal drug of abuse.

Substance (drug) dependence

Substance dependence is the medical term used to describe abuse of drugs or alcohol that continues even when significant problems related to their use have developed. Signs of dependence include:

  • Tolerance to or need for increased amounts of the drug to get an effect

  • Withdrawal symptoms that happen if you decrease or stop using the drug that you find difficult to cut down or quit

  • Spending a lot of time to get, use, and recover from the effects of using drugs

  • Withdrawal from social and recreational activities

  • Continued use of the drug even though you are aware of the physical, psychological, and family or social problems that are caused by your ongoing drug abuse

What substances are most often abused?

Substances frequently abused include:

  • Alcohol

  • Marijuana

  • Prescription medicines, such as pain pills, stimulants, or anxiety pills 

  • Methamphetamine  

  • Cocaine

  • Opiates

  • Hallucinogens 

  • Inhalants

What causes drug abuse or dependence?

Cultural and societal factors determine what are acceptable or allowable forms of  drug or alcohol use. Public laws determine what kind of drug use is legal or illegal. The question of what type of substance use can be considered normal or acceptable remains controversial. Substance abuse and dependence are caused by multiple factors, including genetic vulnerability, environmental stressors, social pressures, individual personality characteristics, and psychiatric problems. But which of these factors has the biggest influence in any one person cannot be determined in all cases.

What are the symptoms of drug abuse or dependence?

The following are the most common behaviors that mean a person is having a problem with drug or alcohol abuse. But each person may have slightly different symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Using or drinking larger amounts or over longer periods of time than planned.

  • Continually wanting or unsuccessfully trying to cut down or control use of drugs or alcohol.

  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of drugs or alcohol.

  • Craving, or a strong desire to use drugs or alcohol.

  • Ongoing drug or alcohol use that interferes with work, school, or home duties.

  • Using drugs or alcohol even with continued relationship problems caused by use.

  • Giving up or reducing activities because of drug or alcohol use

  • Taking risks, such as sexual risks or driving under the influence.

  • Continually using drugs or alcohol even though it is causing or adding to physical or psychological problems.

  • Developing tolerance or the need to use more drugs or alcohol to get the same effect. Or using the same amount of drugs or alcohol, but without the same effect.

  • Having withdrawal symptoms if not using drugs or alcohol. Or using alcohol or another drug to avoid such symptoms. 

The symptoms of drug or alcohol abuse may resemble other medical problems or psychiatric conditions. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is drug abuse or dependence diagnosed?

A family doctor, psychiatrist, or qualified mental health professional usually diagnoses substance abuse. Clinical findings often depend on the substance abused, the frequency of use, and the length of time since last used, and may include:

  • Weight loss

  • Constant fatigue

  • Red eyes

  • Little concern for hygiene

  • Lab abnormalities

  • Unexpected abnormalities in heart rate or blood pressure

  • Depression, anxiety, or sleep problems 

Treatment for drug abuse or dependence

Specific treatment for drug abuse or dependence will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and health history

  • Extent of the symptoms

  • Extent of the dependence

  • Type of substance abused

  • Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the condition

  • Your opinion or preference

A variety of treatment (or recovery) programs for substance abuse are available on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Programs considered are usually based on the type of substance abused. Detoxification (if needed, based on the substance abused) and long-term follow-up management or recovery-oriented systems of care are important features of successful treatment. Long-term follow-up management usually includes formalized group meetings and psychosocial support systems, as well as continued medical supervision. Individual and family psychotherapy are often recommended to address the issues that may have contributed to and resulted from the development of a substance abuse disorder.

Robert D. Birch, D.O.

Robert Birch, D.O., is an inpatient physician for the adult unit at UNI and the University Hospital. His interests and expertise are in the diagnosis and treatment of complex substance abuse cases.... Read More

Elizabeth F. Howell, M.D., M.S.

Dr. Elizabeth Howell is Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Clinical) at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, Utah, with an inpatient and outpatient practice at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute. She is the Training Director for the Addiction Psychiatry fellowship program at the University of Utah School of M... Read More

Duy Pham, M.D.

Dr. Pham specializes in addiction and substance abuse related issues. He is currently an inpatient and outpatient physician at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) and supervises adult psychiatry residents through the Recovery Center at UNI. He is an advisor/mentor to the medical students and residents. As an Addiction Psychiatrist Dr. ... Read More

Jeremy E. Thueson, M.D.

Dr. Jeremy Thueson, Assistant Professor (Clinical), earned his M.D. at the University of Utah. He then completed his psychiatry residency at the University of Washington where he was chief resident of the inpatient and consult/liaison services at the University of Washington Medical Center during his final year of residency. Following that, he al... Read More

University Neuropsychiatric Institute 501 Chipeta Way
Salt Lake City, Utah 84108
(801) 583-2500