Chemical Dependency

Chemical dependency is a compulsion to take a mood-altering chemical such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, methamphetamines, and prescription drugs such as opioids and other medications. Chemical addiction is also known by other terms, such as drug 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, economic, professional, legal, moral, and social consequences.

Without treatment, chemical dependence is a chronic and progressive disease that can be fatal because the body is weakened by the physical effects of substance abuse. Sobriety is the only cure, but even after sobriety is achieved, withdrawal from chemicals can lead to physical, mental and emotional symptoms. Withdrawal can be dangerous if not under medical supervision.


Substance abuse and dependence can be caused by several factors. These include genetic predisposition, environmental stressors, social pressure, and individual personality traits.

Dual diagnosis or multi-occurring substance use disorder

Chemical dependence is considered a primary disease, but a person may have begun to use mood-altering substances to manage a psychiatric illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is called "self-medication," and it can lead to chemical dependence.

"Double diagnosis" or "multiple substance use disorder" are terms used to describe a person who has coexisting problems with drugs and/or alcohol. Treatment of the psychiatric disease does not cure addiction and treatment of addiction does not cure psychiatric disease. Individuals with dual diagnosis require concurrent treatment for both conditions.

Treatment and recovery

Recovery from chemical addiction goes beyond detoxification and abstinence. It is a life-long process that requires personal, interpersonal and lifestyle changes. People need to learn to recognize and manage high-risk situations, develop a support system and a relapse prevention plan.

At CHI Health, our Chemical Addiction Care Model includes the 12-step models and approach to traumatic care that recognizes and validates traumatic experiences of patients who may have been substance misused to support 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. These treatment centers 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

The Lasting Hope Recovery Center in Omaha, NE offers a full range of treatment and prevention services to meet the needs of adult patients with multiple substance use disorder.

The St. Francis Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center (ADTC) in Grand Island, NE offers residential and outpatient treatment services for substance use disorders.

Partial Hospitalization/Intensive Outpatient Programs

Partial Hospitalization helps individuals 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 as being in a hospital. Partial Hospitalization is offered at the 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