Have you ever been drawn into a family medical emergency? Most times the diagnosis is straightforward: The patient is evaluated during an office visit or presents at an emergency room and after reviewing the symptoms and perhaps running a few routine tests a course of treatment is proposed for the patient.
Occasionally the diagnosis is startling, maybe even unbelievable and not only the patient but family members struggle with accepting the diagnosis. When the diagnosis is addictive disorder, perhaps coupled with mental health issues, both the patient and family members may be shocked and a common reaction is denial. No one wants to admit they are an addict or suffer from mood disorders and family members often search for answers of how and why didn’t they “see” what was happening to their loved one. This is when everyone might begin to search for a different diagnosis.
What is a differential diagnosis?
If you have watched television medical dramas, then you may have heard the term differential diagnosis. Over the past four or five decades American TV has offered shows such as Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, Marcus Welby, M.D., Medical Center, M*A*S*H*, St. Elsewhere, E.R., Chicago Hope, Quincy, M.E, Grey’s Anatomy…the list goes on. While each drama presented a new and provocative case with each episode, you can be sure invariably the writers weaved a differential diagnosis into the storyline, if for no other reason than to keep the viewers’ interest. A medical dictionary defines differential diagnosis as:
Determination of which one of two or more diseases with similar symptoms is the one from which the patient is suffering. Also called differentiation.
Here is a simple example: let’s say you are sitting in a crowded restaurant which serves alcoholic beverages. You witness a gentleman staggering and slurring his words, ultimately he collapsing on the floor. The paramedics are summoned. Immediately they begin to evaluate the physical signs of both the patient and the environment, seeking to determine what may have caused the person to collapse. Possible different causes: too much alcohol, diabetic reaction, allergic reaction, stroke, heart attack, seizure, or even basic dehydration. It is helpful if the patient is able to communicate with the first responders, but often times the patient’s family members or friends will be questioned in order to determine the first step in treating the patient.
What is an intervention?
A medical intervention commonly is a planned attempt to convince someone to seek professional assistance with an addiction or other physical or mental health crisis. An intervention can occur between one or more people with the person in need of care. It can also include the services of a professional interventionist. Perhaps you have tuned in to watch the television series Intervention or maybe you have been party to an intervention? If so, then you can appreciate how this process is supposed to work and how difficult it can be to convince someone to take that next step.
When to seek a comprehensive evaluation to assess an individual patient?
Regardless of any agreed upon diagnosis, there are times when a person may not be totally convinced to seek treatment, if they seek treatment they may struggle with the prescribed therapy, and perhaps moving past the stage of denial is difficult. The truth is moving through the recovery steps of any disease can be difficult. Most would argue that the disease of addiction and mental health disorders can be even more tasking for the patient and family, if for no other reason than the perceived shame often associated with the diagnosis of addiction and/or mental health disorders.
What is the Cottonwood Assessment Program (CAP)?
CAP is a four (4) day intensive inpatient assessment program providing a comprehensive evaluation that will focus on the specific needs of the individual. It is designed to meet the needs of the following:
- Cases of complex differentiated diagnosis.
- Individuals with addictions or mental health issues who are not progressing in therapy.
- Individuals who, following an intervention, may be willing to come for a thorough evaluation, without the intention of committing to a full inpatient stay.
- Individuals needing a powerful, yet gentle supportive process to break through denial of substance abuse, behavioral addictions and/or mental health issues.
- Individuals wanting a second opinion to previous diagnosis.
Throughout the process, members of the Cottonwood team meet to discuss and integrate their findings. At the end of the 4 days, a roundtable meeting is held with the patient to discuss strengths, findings and treatment recommendations.
Here’s to health and the miracle of recovery.