What Does Dual Diagnosis Day Treatment Look Like?

If you struggle with a mental health condition and have a substance abuse disorder, then a dual diagnosis day program at CAST Centers is an excellent option. Dual diagnosis refers to the case when a person has symptoms of substance abuse disorder (SUD) accompanied by a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 7.7 million adults suffer from a dual diagnosis of SUD and a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.

It is not uncommon for those who struggle with substance abuse to have a mental health disorder. And often, the two problems make each other worse, making a recovery a more significant challenge.

Those with a dual diagnosis must get treatment because those affected by substance abuse and mental health disorders experience greater medical severity. They also tend to have more difficulty with social functioning than those without a co-occurring condition (Tirado-Muñoz et al., 2018).

Many individuals who suffer from the challenging symptoms of mental health disorders such as depressed mood, high anxiety, or psychosis turn to substances to self-medicate when mental health disorders go untreated

Day Treatment Program at CAST Centers

At CAST Centers, we treat mental health disorders and addictions simultaneously to ensure a smooth recovery from both conditions. Our approach to treating dual diagnosis patients is grounded in research and employs various techniques. According to an article published in the Journal of Psychiatric Services, research shows that outpatient treatment for dual diagnosis patients can be very effective (McCarty et al., 2014).

Our day treatment program, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), meets five days a week and offers group and individual therapy. Group therapy allows you to process life situations and the complex emotions they generate while getting feedback from others experiencing similar problems.

Our day program provides an optimal transition for someone completing an inpatient hospitalization program or detox. Participating in the PHP day program at CAST Centers will help prevent you from relapsing into drug use following inpatient treatment.

Our Day Treatment Program offers:

  • Group therapy five days a week
  • Individual sessions with a therapist once a week
  • Individualized treatment plans
  • An opportunity for personal growth
  • A path to achieve sobriety
  • Guidance and support from licensed professionals
  • Treatment in a safe, secure, and confidential setting

The CAST Alignment Model

Our day treatment program at the CAST Centers employs a unique holistic approach, the CAST Alignment Model. This approach focuses on your personal development, which is essential to recovering from substance abuse and managing your mental health disorder. The CAM model reinforces the fundamental need to integrate emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. When struggling with a substance use disorder, a person’s life is often in disarray and lacking in these crucial areas. At CAST Centers, we will get to the root of your problems, which will help you come to a place of clarity and peace in your life.

Treatment at CAST Centers in West Hollywood

If you or someone you love struggles with dual diagnosis, CAST Centers can provide help and support. We will simultaneously treat your substance use disorder and your mental health condition to optimize your wellness and set you up to succeed in your recovery. Call us for a free assessment today!

(877) 657-8967


●      McCarty, D., Braude, L., Lyman, D. R., Dougherty, R. H., Daniels, A. S., Ghose, S. S., & Delphin-Rittmon, M. E. (2014). Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs: assessing the evidence. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.)65(6), 718–726. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201300249


●      Tirado Muñoz, J., Farré, A., Mestre-Pintó, J., Szerman, N., & Torrens, M. (2018). Dual diagnosis in Depression: treatment recommendations. Patología dual en Depresión: recomendaciones en el tratamiento. Adicciones30(1), 66–76. https://doi.org/10.20882/adicciones.868

●      Subodh, B. N., Sharma, N., & Shah, R. (2018). Psychosocial interventions in patients with dual diagnosis. Indian journal of psychiatry60(Suppl 4), S494–S500. https://doi.org/10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_18_18


The Six Most Common Types of Depression

By Jackie O’Brien, CADC III

Depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), depression affects more than 264 million people worldwide. There are six major types of depression and learning about each may lead to better personal mental health habits.


One of the most common types that is more acute (has occurred within the last 2 weeks to six months), symptoms associated with Major Depression are an increase or decrease in sleep, poor eating habits, an increase or decrease in libido and a deep sense of anhedonia, which means loss of pleasure-seeking feelings and activities. In severe cases, suicidal ideations can occur. Treatment varies depending on the severity of symptoms. Outpatient group therapy, individual therapy, and medication are often recommended.


This type of depression is chronic and has lasted for at least two years. People suffering from this have a low mood, but it is usually not as severe as Major Depression. People experience many of the same symptoms of MDD including, concentration issues and feelings of hopelessness. PDD is best treated with a combination of therapy and medication.


This mental health disorder is a little different from the aforementioned types of depression. Bi-polar disorder has two major components. The first being, Mania. Manic episodes are defined as periods of time in which one’s mood is extremely elevated and there is a major increase in energy and motivation levels. Also present are racing thoughts, hyper-verbosity and in severe cases, psychosis or hallucinations. Subsequent to mania, depression occurs and is highly debilitating. Bipolar Disorder, left untreated, can endanger one’s life. Medication combined with intensive outpatient treatment is most effective.


SAD, as it’s known, occurs in most people during the winter months, when the days get shorter and the evenings longer. There is a plethora of research out there and most of it indicates that there is a link between sunlight and the levels of serotonin and melatonin released in the brain. The most effective treatment is light therapy which involves sitting in front of a specific light box for short bursts during the day.


While primarily known to affect women during or after pregnancy, research suggests that 1 in 10 men may also experience symptoms after the birth of a child. Due to the importance of early childhood connections between caregiver and child, this type of depression can be particularly devastating for all parties involved. The symptoms found in Major Depressive Disorder can be found in Postpartum Depression as well as psychotic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations. Medication and intensive therapy are usually the most effective treatment for caregivers.


PMDD occurs in people biologically assigned female at birth. It is directly connected to the female menstrual cycle and most symptoms occur in the weeks prior to the start of menses. These symptoms include extreme irritability and agitation as well as drastic mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, and changes in sleeping and eating patterns. Often the symptoms go away after the start of a period, but they are severe enough when present to disrupt the quality of life. Usually, oral contraceptives are most often prescribed to combat these disruptive symptoms.

Depression is a soul-sucking and life altering disease. When left untreated the results are disastrous and, in some cases, life-ending. However, a common thread between the various types is the effectiveness of therapy as treatment. In fact, Intensive Outpatient Group Therapy has shown to be most effective across the board. If you start experiencing any symptoms of depression, please reach out to someone and give yourself the help you deserve.

Asking For Help Is Not Enough

By Patrick O’Neil, Group Facilitator

The meeting started at noon and I was running late. It used to be when I first got sober I was so self-conscious if I couldn’t be on time I just didn’t go. But these days, with my busy life and even busier schedule, I have to get in a meeting whenever I can. I can’t afford to use the excuse of being late to keep me from going.

Normally with my low attention span, I like to sit up front so I don’t miss anything the speaker says. But when you walk in and they’re already halfway into the readings, your seat options are what’s left, and today that meant in the back of the room with all the newcomers that hadn’t yet made AA a priority. Luckily there was an open chair on the aisle and I quickly sat down.

The secretary was taking care of business and they were passing the 7th tradition basket around. I put in two dollars and handed it across the aisle. Or at least I tried to. The man sitting there had his head down and he was crying. I tapped him on the shoulder, gestured with the basket, and asked if he was okay.

“I can’t do this anymore,” he whispered. He took the basket, and without adding any money, handed it to the woman next to him. Then he turned away from me and hid his head in his hands.

For the next twenty minutes I listened to the speaker share his experience, strength, and hope. He told one story after another defining his drunkalog, and then switched to when he found recovery. The man across the aisle never stopped crying. No one else spoke to him. When he abruptly jumped up and walked out I followed.

“Hey man, what’s your name?” I called out to him as soon as we were both outside.

“Um, Daniel. Why?” He furiously wiped the tears from his face and stared defiantly at me.

“Hey Daniel, my name’s Patrick. Why are you leaving?”

“I need help. No one in there gives a damn.”

“God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference.”

— Serenity Prayer

Typical of most newcomers Daniel thought his not so silent crying would attract a fellow alcoholic to ask if he needed help. Unfortunately that doesn’t always work. One of the fundamental cornerstones of Alcoholics Anonymous is learning to ask for the help you need. As that signals to the rest of us that the addict or alcoholic has finally surrendered and, “admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” Daniel just wasn’t there yet. But he still needed help.

“You need to talk to somebody? I’m listening.”

“Really? Why the hell do you want to help me?”

“Look Daniel. I’ve got over 18 years in the program. I didn’t stay sober this long keeping it to myself. I have to give away what’s been given to me. It’s how it works.”

Daniel stood there, hunched over, staring at the sidewalk, and not making eye contact. Then he quietly started talking. “My life’s a mess. I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m gay and I work in an industry where I can’t be myself. My family disowned me. I’ve been doing meth for ten years. I can’t keep a relationship. I feel like… I’ve been thinking of killing myself.”

“You suicidal now?”

“No, that’s not the point. It’s just that… I’m desperate. I’m so desperate I came here and not one person in that goddamn room even looked at me or introduced themselves.”

“I introduced myself.”

“Yeah, well now that you know me you’ll probably just leave like everyone else in my life.”

“You got a cell phone?”

“Of course I do. I’m not homeless.”

“I wasn’t implying you were. Here, punch in your number.” Daniel slowly inputted his number into my phone. I hit the call button and the phone in his pocket rang. “Now you got my number.”

“Your numbers not going to help me get sober.”

“Well okay, Daniel. Just how are you going to get sober?”

“I don’t know. This is a waste of time.”

“Ever considered going to rehab?”

“I can’t afford that.”

“How do you know? You got insurance?”

“Yeah, and a lot a good it’s done me.”

“I work at a rehab. Let me give you the director of admissions’ number and then you call him.”

“What, this some weird religious place out in the desert? You guys keep me secluded, indoctrinate my gayness to be gloriously cis straight and I’ll find Jesus. Then soon as I get back I’m hitting Grindr and doing meth all over again.”

“Wow. Ah, no man. We’re right here in West Hollywood. CAST Centers. Not only are we LGBTQ-affirmative. But we’re Gay owned and operated.”

“I don’t know… I just…”

“Come on man, call tomorrow. I mean like really, what do you have to lose?”

“I got to go.”

“Hey, I’ll be here next week. See you then?”

“I can’t… I have to go.”

“Call me, okay?”

Daniel didn’t turn around or acknowledge me as he walked away. I went back into the meeting just as they were standing up to pray out. I took my place in the circle and joined in.

“God grant me the serenity; To accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.”

My life got busy again after that meeting. I went to work. I hit the gym. I made another two meetings over the weekend. I hung out with my wife. We went out to dinner with friends. I called my father. I text my sponsee that never calls. I did a bunch of domestic stuff like laundry and vacuumed the rug. But I didn’t hear from Daniel.

Monday rolled around and once again I was running late to the meeting. Not quite as late as last week. But I still had to park on the street, as the community center’s parking lot was full.

Thankfully they hadn’t started and there were seats up front. As I walked the aisle I notice the empty chair where Daniel had sat the week before. I looked around for him but he wasn’t there.

When the meeting let out I scrolled through my phone and found his number. I pressed call. It went straight to voicemail and then said the mailbox was full.

A lot of people try to get sober. It’s not easy. It’s a “we” program and they have to ask for help. Some people just aren’t ready. As a recovering addict/alcoholic I always have to be there in case they are.

What is CBT?

By Michael Arndt, Alumni Coordinator, CAST Centers
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CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) was first put into practice by Aaron T. Beck in the 1960’s and has in the ensuing years become an industry standard for evidenced-based care in mental health and addiction treatment. It traces its philosophical roots to a marriage of Greek Stoicism and Eastern mindfulness practices. Stoicism teaches us to essentially challenge our negative, maladaptive or unrealistic thoughts and perceptions of the world around us as a way of living. It is about finding objective truths.  Mindfulness practices teach us to be able to examine our own thoughts and to take them with a grain of salt. The idea behind CBT is that when you are able to reframe these problematic thoughts, you can then move into changing behavior that is not serving you.

CAST Centers recently hosted an in-service for our staff with Dr. Joel Becker, Ph.D who studied with Dr. Aaron T. Beck in the 1970’s in Boston after completing his training at Harvard. He now heads the Cognitive Behavior Associates practice here in Beverly Hills. He has been a leader in CBT since just after its inception. He now spends time working with SGM (sexual and gender minority) clients, in addition to teaching at UCLA in the Department of Psychology and the Geffen School of Medicine, precepting and seeing clients at Cognitive Behavior Associates.

CBT was originally developed with the hope of treating major depression. Over the years it has evolved to include many variations that treat everything from substance use disorders to OCD and anxiety. Offshoots of CBT include the very popular DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) which is primarily used in the treatment of personality disorders like borderline personality disorder. There is also mindfulness CBT, compassion-based CBT among many others, all sharing the same goal but aim to achieve it with slightly different approaches.

Mindfulness is seen across the board in all of the various offshoots of CBT. Mindfulness training teaches us to sort of detach ourselves from our thoughts (or cognitions, hence the word cognitive in CBT) instead of immediately reacting to them or even accepting them as necessarily true. In the recovery world, this is called “the pause.” It is a practice that lessens our reactivity to our thoughts and beliefs. For example, just because I have a negative thought towards my partner does not mean that it is true, or that I am a jerk for thinking it. It is just a thought, and I do not need to act on it. I can pause and ask myself if this thought is true, helpful, or in alignment with how I truly feel when I am coming from a more authentic and relaxed place. Or just because I think of using drugs, or engaging in self-harm does not mean I have to do it.

At its core, CBT is about examining root causes of negative thoughts and then building up towards taking contrary actions and setting goals as a team with the therapist. Over time, and with enough practice, we literally rewire our brains to act more in alignment with what we really want, and to make it second nature to do so. CBT is not the traditional open-ended talk therapy model that most of us think of when we think of therapy. Sitting in a room rehashing our childhoods over and over again with vague insights. It is about action, and implementing new tools into our daily lives. One of the things that sets CAST apart from most treatment centers is that we are very action-oriented. While we believe it is important to address underlying issues, we encourage and support our clients as they decide what kind of life they want for themselves. That is what our programs are all about: helping our clients dig deep and figure out exactly what they want out of life at their core so that they can begin building a life that is theirs and worth fighting for.

CAST Centers recently hosted an in-service for our staff with CBT pioneer, Dr. Joel Becker, Ph.D.

The False Intimacy of Crystal Meth

By Michael Arndt, Alumni Coordinator, CAST Centers
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My first time trying meth was one of the classiest drug experiences I have ever had. I was sitting in a literal Maybach on a cute, cobblestone street in Philadelphia. I felt invincible, all my fears were gone, and I felt like I could take on the world. That was coincidentally the last time my adventures with crystal meth were even classy-adjacent.

I’d been introduced to meth by another gay man (who I had a crush on) who told me it was much stronger than the Adderall I had been using, and would make sex amazing. I was very into that, and very into gaining his approval and spending more time with him. It gave me this sense of intimacy and connection that I struggled to feel in my day-to-day life. I felt smarter, more social, and like every idea I had was brilliant. It also offered the added benefits of weight loss and more energy for longer periods at the gym. It also played on my fear of not being productive enough. As far as I was concerned, there was no downside.

I was barely aware of the paranoia as it set in. I would walk down the street and become convinced I was being followed. Or that the elderly woman who worked at the bodega by my house was actually spying on me for the Chinese government. I wasn’t even certain that my hallucinations were hallucinations. I was slowly pulled away from reality as the meth changed how my brain worked, and the lack of sleep took its toll. I could barely keep it together without other drugs and alcohol to manage the effects. My temper went from almost nonexistent to present in my everyday life. I turned into this angry, disorganized, mess of a human being. It took about a year of continuous sobriety before I started to feel normal again.

Sadly, crystal meth is like the interconnective tissue of the dark underbelly of gay sex culture. Its like this secret we do not want to acknowledge. Just look at Grindr, Scruff or Jack’d — if you log on in West Hollywood you are bound to see references to T, Tina, Partying, speed, PNP, clouds, etc. on some profiles. Sometimes it’s just a capital T in an otherwise innocuous word, or a series of emojis. This is particularly true if you are on gay dating apps late at night when tweakers are still up and partying. You can buy, sell or just find someone willing to share some of what they have in a matter of minutes.

Those of us who identify as gay men already are significantly more likely to develop addiction and struggle with drugs and alcohol, as is the LGBTQ community at large. Gay and bisexual men use crystal meth at double the rates of other populations. For a lot of us who indulge for whatever reason, sex and meth become more and more interwoven until we cannot even separate them. Normal sex becomes dull and even unappealing. Under the influence of crystal, we become completely uninhibited and inadvertently put our health at risk. We are much more likely to contract HIV and other STIs.

Crystal meth touches on two things the gay culture struggles with — vanity and sex. We feel intense pressure to be thin or fit, and an emphasis of sex is a major emphasis in our culture. There is this unspoken, and unfortunately mainstream, message that if you are gay and want to be a part of the culture, you have to be hot and have plenty of sex.

The core issues of gay men and crystal use are the same as they are with most things gay men struggle with: shame, fear, compartmentalization, intimacy, and perfectionism. Meth can easily pollute our natural, human sexual energy and darken our prospects for the very things we use it to facilitate in the first place. It plays on our blindspots and makes them wounds that take a long time to heal.

My use of meth, and my use of drugs and alcohol in general, was often driven by loneliness. The same loneliness that most gay men can relate to. Ironically, the more we lean on drugs and alcohol to alleviate that feeling of isolation, the more isolated we become. The more we end up surrounding ourselves with people who are also using, and therefore cannot meaningfully connect to us in any healthy way. Our minds, under the influence of addiction may tell us that we are “going through” something together, but really what we are doing is engaging in a mutual suicide pact. We are teaching ourselves that connection means exchanging and supporting harm. Therefore an integral part (some might argue the MOST integral part) of recovery is finding a community of other people working to better themselves.

Luckily, in West Hollywood there is an abundance of resources for those wishing to explore recovery and a community of other people who are going through the exact same thing. Finding treatment for crystal meth addiction can be difficult because it requires time and a comprehensive approach, but rarely do we see people able to successfully do it alone. And we are not alone in the struggle. Time, patience and a little self-love go a long way in this fight. There is no shame in leaning on a support network during the fight to get clean. Asking for help is the first step to repairing the damage from crystal meth and starting down the road to recovery.

Top Ten Reasons Why West Hollywood Is The Destination For Recovery

By Patrick O’Neil, Group Facilitator

When you think of Southern California do you immediately think recovery? Well you should, because the Huffington Post listed Los Angeles as one of the top ten American cities that make getting sober easier. The criterion that put L.A. at the top of the list is the extensive recovery services offered including drug treatment centers, sober living facilities, and an abundance of 12 step meetings. If one were to take that listing even further to include the neighborhoods and districts that make up the greater Los Angeles area then West Hollywood would not only be ahead of the pack, but a crucial element within the SoCal recovery landscape.

Commonly referred to as WeHo, West Hollywood is its own city within Los Angeles. Bordered by the Miracle Mile neighborhood to the South, Beverly Hills to the West, Hollywood Hills to the North, and Hollywood itself on the East. With a population just over 37,000 WeHo feels like the tightknit community that it is. However, with the Sunset Strip and Santa Monica Boulevard’s ever-growing nightlife, restaurants, and hotels the weekends can see the population expand to 80,000, and with such iconic events as Halloween or the Pride Parade crowds of 100,000 to 500,000 are not unusual. One would think with this “party atmosphere” West Hollywood would not be known for its recovery. But that would be a misconception as WeHo is definitely a Destination For Recovery.

Here Are the Top Ten Reasons Why:

1. Treatment Centers: If you’re looking for a city that can deliver on rehabs then West Hollywood is your answer. According to the U.S. Department of Mental Health’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration there are 41 recovery centers that provided substance abuse treatment and mental health services within WeHo’s seemingly tiny 1.8 square mile radius. Per capita that would make WeHo the densest ratio of rehab to residents in the entire Los Angeles area.  

2. Meetings: Do meetings make a difference? Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was quoted as saying, “Well-supported scientific evidence demonstrates the effectiveness of twelve-step groups.” Whether it’s Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, or Overeaters Anonymous (just to name a few), West Hollywood is home to over 150 of these meetings per week. So to say WeHo is 12 Step friendly would be an understatement.     

3. Spirituality: Are you searching for a sense of connection to something greater than yourself that not only inspires you, but also promotes harmony with the universe? What you’re no doubt looking for is “spirituality”. In West Hollywood there is an abundance of opportunity to find the right guidance to help connect you with your own inner peace and serenity. Spirituality can be found following a religious faith or through inner personal connections, such as engaging in mindfulness activities like yoga and meditation. WeHo has a multitude of faiths, churches, temples, meditation and wellness centers, and over 50 yoga studios that offer various approaches to help you discover your own spiritual path. 

4. Health: An integral part of recovery is addressing mental and personal health issues. There are numerous hospitals and medical centers in or near West Hollywood, including the world-renowned Cedars Sinai Medical Center, and the UCLA Medical Center. Psychology Today lists close to 300 licensed therapists, psychologists, and counselors in West Hollywood, and the list of “Alternative Medicine” practitioners is just as long. For physical health there are well over a hundred fitness clubs, gyms, yoga studios, and just as many personal trainers available to assist you in whatever level of comprehensive fitness program you desire.  

5. Diversity: West Hollywood is a diverse multi ethnic, cultural, and racial city. It is not unusual to hear Slavic languages spoken along side English and Spanish. 45% percent of the population identifies as LGBTQ and 65% of the adults have a college or graduate degree. The overwhelming majority of the workforce is employed in white-collar jobs and there are more artists, designers and people working in media than anywhere else. This diverse concentration of occupations and ethnicity helps shape West Hollywood’s character into a distinct community that not only embraces individual differences and uniqueness, but celebrates them.

6. Housing: Think palm trees and swimming pools because West Hollywood is home to an unprecedented number of fine hotels and motels, all of which cater to your every lodging needs. WeHo also boasts an abundance of sober living, transitional living, and sober roommate opportunities. Online share-rental companies list hundreds of rooms, apartments, and houses for short and long term rental agreements. For more permanent options there are numerous rental companies that can help you land that amazing WeHo apartment.    

7. Fun: There is no reason not to have fun in recovery. In fact, why be in recovery if you can’t have fun? West Hollywood is a party town and that party includes sobriety. Every New Year’s Eve there’s a city sponsored Alcohol/Drug-free celebration. During Pride and Halloween there are accompanying sober events. The restaurants are legendary. Sunbathing at the ocean beaches or hikes in the canyons of Hollywood are minutes away. For cultural events there’s the West Hollywood Book Fair and the Pacific Design Center. At last but not least, the shopping is phenomenal. From the numerous stores in the Beverly Center to the glamour of Sunset Plaza and Rodeo Drive, the cutting edge designer clothes are everywhere.      

8. Safety: Personal safety is always a top priority and West Hollywood ranks high as a safe area in Los Angeles County. The Los Angles Sheriff’s Department polices WeHo and according to their statistics crime is down, assuring visitors a secure and welcoming environment. The main boulevards are well lit. The near constant foot traffic in the business areas helps pedestrians stay safe. The city employs “Security Ambassadors” on bicycles that patrol the neighborhoods. Their constant vigilance keeps the residents safe and crime down. 

9. Transportation: Need to get around and have concerns about transportation in a new city? Well, there’s no need to worry as West Hollywood has an abundance of transportation options. Town cars, taxis and ride share services ply the streets and are on call 24 hours a day. Cityline shuttle services the Santa Monica Corridor and connects with the Metro Red Line in Hollywood. Five Los Angeles Metro bus lines transect the city allowing for connections across the greater Los Angeles Area. WeHo has it’s own bike share company and you can find racks of rental bikes throughout the city. If you’re driving a personal vehicle, the majority of WeHo’s streets are regulated with residential parking permits. Be sure to check if your neighborhood requires a permit, as temporary Visitor Parking Permits are available free of charge.

10. Weather: Are gray skies and bad weather getting you down? Seasonal depression is real and nothing helps more than sunshine and getting exercise outdoors. Southern California’s weather is legendary and WeHo’s weather is no exception. The summers are warm and the winters are cool and partly cloudy. The temperature averages from 48° to 82° and rarely gets below 42° or above 90°. The last thing you want to worry about is bad weather. Staying in West Hollywood allows you to focus on your recovery, not digging snow out of the driveway or slogging through puddles of rain. 

Ask How CAST Can Help

Finding Safe Addiction Treatment As A Gay Man

By Michael Arndt, Alumni Coordinator, CAST Centers
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I remember realizing when I was gay, and immediately feeling shame because I felt there was something wrong with that. Since its inception, my identity as a gay man has been interwoven with feelings of shame.

I carried this feeling with me most of my life, and found it was only amplified when I started struggling with my relationship to drugs and alcohol. I think the two were probably related. I don’t find it particularly useful to try to find the “answer” to why I developed addiction problems, but it is an interesting question to ask. Did me being gay mean I was more susceptible to addiction? I do not think that my being gay lead to my addiction; instead I believe the societal shame I felt about being gay was a contributing factor. I did not know how to process this feeling growing up. I had no real role models to help me walk through it growing up.

Over the course of my late teens and my 20’s I found myself increasingly dependent on alcohol, opiates and amphetamines to get me through my day-to-day life. I was openly gay to my family and friends, and had been since high school. However, I still had a very difficult time being intimate without drugs or alcohol in my system. I would get drunk and/or high alone before going on dates, etc. The shame and discomfort would be numbed out. I often would be so uncomfortable that I would way overshoot the mark and end up blacking out in the beginning of dates; waking up in strangers apartments, or with strangers in my apartment. Or waking up alone, with no recollection of what happened, and a person who would no longer answer my texts. The shame would set back in, and perpetuated a cycle that over the years became increasingly difficult to manage. I was not alone in this experience. Many of my LGBT friends used alcohol or drugs as a way to manage their anxiety, shame, and discomfort around dating and sex in our community. It was almost a foreign concept to do anything else.

When my life finally began to unravel and it came time to get help, I was confronted with the issue of finding treatment that could also address the damage done not only by addiction, but by growing up in a society that was often hostile to members of the LGBT community. There is real damage done there, whether it be conscious or subconscious, lurking unacknowledged just beneath the surface. I was at least fortunate to have some awareness that it was there, even if I wasn’t able to fully wrap my mind around what it meant.

I entered inpatient and had another uncomfortable experience. Though I knew that the place I was going to was more than just LGBT friendly, I felt that feeling of needing to hide who I was around all the straight men I was going to be spending the next 40 something days living with other guys would proclaim their acceptance of my sexuality in group in front of the staff, and then turn around and make comments like “Oh, I don’t care if you’re gay, just don’t try anything with me.” Or ask invasive and frankly awkward questions about the mechanics of how gay men have sex. And please, I know a bunch of grown men know exactly how gay sex works.  

But all of this brought up those same feelings of not belonging that I had grown up with and was as desperate to shed as I was my heroin and alcohol addiction. The more sober I became, the more aware I became that I had to find outpatient care and sober living that was not just LGBT “friendly” but that was LGBT-affirmative, informed and that would protect me in a society that had failed to do so and in an industry that had so far failed to do so.

So naturally, I came all the way from Philadelphia to West Hollywood for outpatient and sober living after my stint in detox and residential back home. I landed in the perfect sober living for me, but my first outpatient was more of the same awkwardness that I had experienced in residential. They claimed to be LGBT friendly, but I found zero support around my sexuality (which was not what I was told over the phone with their admissions coordinator, nor what their website advertised). It was one of the most well-known and celebrated treatment centers in the world, a leader in addiction treatment, and yet they offered nothing to me to address my sexuality, despite saying they did. Disappointed with their lack of integrity, I decided to go somewhere else. Through my sober living, I was able to find an outpatient center in West Hollywood that finally was the right fit for me.

The staff there were not just LGBT-friendly. The place was LGBT owned and operated, and the staff were LGBT-affirmative. I found a place where I could finally process 20 something years of internalized homophobia, shame, guilt, fear, self-hate, addiction and its subsequent damage. I finally felt protected and safe enough to open up about all those nights getting drunk and high before dates, about going to school where I was physically attacked and called a faggot more times than I could even remember, and all the rest of it. But I got lucky.

As a gay man who just wanted to finally belong and be like everyone else, it was a tough pill for me to swallow that I wasn’t like everyone else and that treatment that worked for others probably wouldn’t be the best fit for me. We face unique challenges in life and in getting sober as members of the LGBT community. We exist in a society that is often hostile to our very existence, let alone to our voices, our lives, and our love. For me it was imperative to find treatment that would address me as a whole person, not just fragmented little pieces that I (or they) were comfortable addressing. I was very fortunate to have found it, and I implore anyone reading this to do their homework. And if you go somewhere where you do not feel safe, there is nothing wrong with going somewhere else. Stand up for yourself, your life and your experiences deserve to be honored in their entirety.

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