Chemical Dependency

Chemical dependency is a compulsive need to use a mood-altering chemical, such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, methamphetamines and prescription drugs, such as opioid painkillers and other medications. Chemical dependency is also known by other terms, such as substance abuse, alcohol abuse, addiction or habit. It is a disease that affects people of all ages.

A chemically dependent person is unable to stop drinking or taking a mood-altering substance despite physical, emotional, economical, vocational, legal, moral and social consequences. He or she experiences physical or mental withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not taken.

If not treated, chemical dependency is a chronic and progressive disease which can be fatal, as the body becomes weakened by the physical effects of substance abuse. Sobriety is the only cure, but even after sobriety begins, withdrawing from chemicals can result in physical, mental and emotional symptoms. Withdrawal can be dangerous if not done under medical supervision.


Substance abuse and dependence can be caused by multiple factors, including genetic predisposition, environmental stressors, social pressures and individual personality characteristics.

Dual diagnosis or multi-occurring substance use disorder

Chemical dependence is considered a primary disease; however, an individual may have started using mood-altering substances to cope with a psychiatric illness, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is known as self-medication and can lead to chemical addiction. "Dual diagnosis" or "multi-occurring substance use disorder" are terms used to describe a person who has coexisting problems with drugs and/or alcohol. Treating the psychiatric illness does not cure the addiction and treating the addiction will not cure the psychiatric illness. Individuals with dual diagnosis require concurrent treatment for both conditions.

Treatment and Recovery

Recovery from chemical dependency is more than de-tox and abstinence. It is a life-long process, requiring personal, interpersonal and lifestyle changes. Individuals must learn to recognize and manage high-risk situations, develop a support system and a relapse prevention plan. 

At CHI Health, our chemical dependency care model includes the 12 step-models and Trauma-Informed Care approach, in which patients' traumatic experiences which may have led to substance abuse are recognized and validated to aid in their emotional healing.

Treatment Options and Facilities

CHI Health offers the region's most comprehensive range of inpatient, partial hospitalization and outpatient chemical dependency for patients of all ages.

CHI Health has three treatment centers providing acute, partial and residential services for children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. They are specially designed to care for Chemical Dependency and multi-occurring disorders. After discharge, Partial Hospitalization allows individuals to transition back into a normal routine with the added counseling support. Outpatient therapy is continued as needed.

Inpatient Services

Lasting Hope Recovery Center, in Omaha, offers an entire range of treatment and prevention services to meet the needs of adult patients experiencing multi-occurring substance use disorder.

Partial Hospitalization /Intensive Outpatient Programs

Partial Hospitalization helps individuals make the transition back into their daily routines, in a structured environment while learning coping skills and practicing positive behaviors. Although the program is based on hospital campuses, it is not the same experience as being in a hospital. Partial Hospitalization is offered at CHI Health Immanuel and CHI Health Mercy Council Bluffs campuses.

Outpatient Services

Through individual and/or group therapy clients will learn and understand what causes or contributes to their alcohol and drug abuse issues. As they explore abstinence-centered alternatives, improve coping skills and demonstrate their ability to remain abstinent, they will gain a greater insight into their personal spirituality, with the ultimate goal of leading a healthier life. Psychiatric Associates clinic locations provide outpatient care for patients of all ages in the Omaha/Council Bluffs metropolitan area and its surrounding communities. 
Outpatient services that are available include:

  • Intervention Counseling
  • Family Treatment
  • Outpatient Chemical Dependency Treatment
  • Outpatient Chemical Dependency Continued Care
  • Outpatient Relapse Treatment