WestBridge Expert, Mary Woods, to Discuss Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders

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The Council on Alcohol and Drugs in Houston, Texas, will sponsor two events in January featuring Mary Woods, CEO of WestBridge Community Services, who will share the newest findings in treatment of co-occurring substance use disorders and severe mental illness. As CEO of WestBridge, with locations in New Hampshire and Florida, Woods brings more than two decades of expertise to “An Evening with Mary Woods,” held January 8, and a two-hour workshop held January 9 at the Hamill Foundation Conference Center.

“Every individual who experiences treatment for co-occurring disorders defines recovery uniquely. By giving voice to these experiences, we can decrease the misconceptions and stigma faced by individuals in recovery...

One of the nation’s leaders in treating people with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illness, will be sponsored for two events in January 2015 by the Houston Council on Alcohol and Drugs. Mary Woods, CEO of WestBridge Community Services, headquartered in New Hampshire, will share her expertise with health care professionals at “An Evening with Mary Woods” at 7 p.m. Thursday, January 8 and at a behavioral health workshop Friday, January 9 at 9:30 a.m. The workshop will count for two continuing education units for health care providers. Both events will be held at the Hamill Foundation Conference Center.

The first event, titled “Engaging Families in Early Treatment,” will focus on the WestBridge philosophy that treatment of substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illness must include family members in order to be successful. Woods will use her book, "When the Door Opened", as the basis for discussing the importance of individuals and families developing skills to manage chronic mental illness and recover from substance use disorders. "When the Door Opened" addresses the fact that co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders are brain diseases. The book tells the recovery stories of 12 men who suffered from the combination of diseases. Woods gathered her data through interviews with participants in the WestBridge program. One goal of the book is to help dispel the stigma attached to individuals who are recovering from mental illness and substance use disorders.

“Every individual who experiences treatment for co-occurring disorders defines recovery uniquely,” Woods said. “By giving voice to these experiences, we can decrease the misconceptions and stigma faced by individuals in recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders.” According to one reviewer, the stories are “particularly relevant in informing the national discussion about mental illness and addiction. They put a human face on disease.”

Registration for either one of the free events can be made online at http://www.council-houston.org or by telephone at (281) 200-9335. Check-in will begin at 6:30 p.m. on January 8, 2015. Coffee and dessert will be served in the evening. The following day’s behavioral health workshop will include information about treatment of traumatic brain injury and fetal alcohol effects syndrome in conjunction with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders. The goal of the workshop is to educate the audience on chronic brain disease and to help increase the assessment skills of attendees. Wood will also discuss treatment methods used by WestBridge. Cost of the workshop varies, depending on advance or walk-in registration.

Woods is a licensed registered nurse and licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor with more than 35 years of experience in substance abuse services and community mental health programs. She has presented numerous workshops across the country working with behavioral health care providers. The workshops center on the WestBridge philosophy of treating co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders.

About WestBridge:
WestBridge, a private, nonprofit organization, provides well-researched family-centered treatment. A key component of treatment at WestBridge is family education and support. By using evidence-based practices and designing customized plans for each client, WestBridge has helped people learn symptom management and develop skills for living productive lives. For more information, visit http://www.westbridge.org.

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Jay Beausoleil
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