Freedom from addiction and hope for a brighter future at The Changing Pointe

It takes courage to seek help for addiction. The team at The Changing Pointe at CenterPointe Hospital in St. Charles celebrates courage every day as a key step to freedom from addiction.

“The good news is that addiction is treatable,” says Dr. Raafea Malik, the medical director of The Changing Pointe, which has been helping folks break the cycle of addiction—whether it’s prescription drugs, street drugs or alcohol—for more than 10 years.

Dr. Malik is board certified in both addiction and psychiatry. She and her team have the tools to diagnose and treat patients for both their addictions and the underlying and interwoven mental health issues that often accompany addiction. This is called dual disorder treatment.

“It’s not uncommon to find that people suffering with substance addictions also often have other mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety,” Dr. Malik says. “It’s not always clear which came first, but both need to be treated in order to provide the best scenario for recovery.”

It’s vital to treat both issues simultaneously and to educate patients about their mental health and their addiction, she says. Untreated, mental illness may repeatedly trigger relapse to substance use.


Treating addiction and mental health is not a one-size-fits-all solution. At The Changing Pointe, clients find a range of care levels as well as the understanding and nonjudgmental care to help them develop coping skills and alternative behaviors and find a new path to a healthier future.

Treatment levels include inpatient detoxification, residential and outpatient treatment programs. The Changing Pointe also provides aftercare to support clients as they work to maintain a substance-free lifestyle.

When a patient is able to recognize warning signs and help themselves, they can more successfully avoid relapsing, Dr. Malik says.

“Life-long sobriety can be maintained by using effective coping and relapse prevention skills with the support of a 12-step recovery model,” Dr.Malik says. This is at the core of The Changing Pointe’s curriculum: as patients begin their recovery process, they also learn about addiction as a disease and the ways it affects not only their own lives but the lives of their families.


Dr. Malik says addiction has affected humans throughout history. Research on genetics and the brain indicates 10 percent of the population is at risk for addiction to mood-altering drugs.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse says 40 million Americans age 12 or older — more than one out of every seven people—abuse or are addicted to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs.

And while addiction is a chronic, progressive and sometimes fatal disease, it is also adept at destroying families and relationships.

“Addiction is a family disease,” says Adrienne Linck, Clincal Supervisor of The Changing Pointe. “We work with the family to help them understand the disease. They have a lot of healing to do, too.”


As with other diseases, people suffering from addiction often need intensive, long-term treatment. But too often people think they need to head out of town for treatment, when in reality quality care is not only available but more convenient and affordable right here. The Changing Pointe Addiction Treatment Center is located on the campus of CenterPointe Hospital, a 150-bed full service behavioral health care center located in a private, serene and comfortable setting.

At the Changing Pointe, each patient’s treatment is tailored to their needs. They may start with a one-week inpatient detoxification period with 24-hour medical  supervision. A four week residential treatment program is offered, as well as outpatient treatment, addiction education and counseling in a group setting.

A team of licensed professionals from multiple disciplines, including physicians, nursing, social work, counseling, dietary services and activity therapy, work closely with the patient to develop an individualized treatment plan. Staff members follow each client’s progress closely and adjust the plan when needed.

Another unique aspect of The Changing Pointe is that medication-assisted treatment is available at every level of treatment. Medication-assisted treatment reduces the symptoms of withdrawal and cravings and frees the client from thinking about drugs and alcohol so they can focus on their recovery.

“The Changing Pointe taught me I was not defined by my addiction and I could beat this disease. Now I’m living a drug-free and happy life – the life I deserve,” one client says.


Aftercare is offered for life through weekly support groups at CenterPointe. Dr. Malik says peer support is a crucial component to a drug- or alcohol-free life. “AA, NA or other peer support groups help individuals achieve and maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs,” she says.


Drug abuse affects people from all walks of life and all socioeconomic statuses.

Whatever the reason a person starts taking drugs, tolerance and dependency can develop quickly, before the user even realizes the pattern of addiction taking hold. When tolerance becomes full-blown addiction, it can be extremely difficult to stop the pattern of abuse.

Breaking free from the hold of addiction often requires outside help. Drug abuse wreaks havoc on the body and mind and can eventually kill. When you realize that you or someone you love has a problem, it’s essential to get help right away. If you or someone you know needs treatment for drug abuse, CenterPointe Hospital can help.

Abuse of most substances will produce noticeable signs and symptoms. These may include physical or behavioral symptoms, most likely both.

Some of the most noticeable symptoms of drug abuse are those that affect the body’s inner workings. For example, your body’s tolerance to a drug occurs when a drug is abused for long enough that increased quantities or strengths are required to achieve the previous effects. This desire for a more intense high, achieved through these means, is extremely dangerous and can easily lead to overdose.

Changes in appearance can be additional
clues to possible drug use and
may include:

  • Bloodshot or glazed eyes
  • Dilated or constricted pupils
  • Abrupt weight changes
  • Bruises, infections or other physical signs at the drug’s entrance site on the body

Disruption to normal brain functioning, changes in personality, and heart and organ dysfunction can be signs of long-term drug abuse.

Drug abuse negatively affects a person’s behavior and habits as he or she becomes more dependent on the drug. The drug itself can alter the brain’s ability to focus and form coherent thoughts, depending on the substance.

Changes in behavior, such as the following, can indicate a problem with drug abuse:

  • Increased aggression or irritability
  • Changes in attitude/personality
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Sudden changes in a social network
  • Dramatic changes in habits and/or priorities
  • Financial problems
  • Involvement in criminal activity

Learning to recognize the physical or behavioral signs of drug abuse can help prevent the problem from progressing further.


The Changing Pointe Addiction Treatment Center is part of CenterPointe Hospital, a state-of-the art, private psychiatric hospital serving the behavioral health needs of adolescents, adults and senior adults.

A highly trained staff provides comprehensive inpatient and outpatient treatment at its main location in St. Charles and outpatient services at several satellite locations.

Intensive psychiatric acute care may be needed to stabilize an immediate crisis and help provide patients with the skills to prevent future crisis situations. Inpatient psychiatric care is a highly structured crisis stabilization model with emphasis on identifying crisis symptoms, stabilizing behaviors, identifying environmental supports and increasing coping skills of each patient.

When round-the-clock care is not required, patients may be admitted to an outpatient program as their point of entry for treatment or as a progression from inpatient care.

In either case, treatment is based on the belief that through a combination of medically managed care and therapeutic intervention and education, patients can learn to effectively manage their illnesses and cope with the effects on their lives.

CenterPointe Hospital treats a variety of mental illnesses, including depression. One newer tool being used at CenterPointe is called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulations. TMS is a noninvasive technology offering hope to some people for whom commonly prescribed antidepressants are not working.

TMS uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain and improve the symptoms of depression. The FDA-approved therapy is designed to help depressed individuals who have not achieved relief through pharmacotherapy return to their routine activities and feel like themselves again.

In some cases,patients have achieved full remission from their symptoms. Since CenterPointe initiated the therapy in 2014, providers have observed marked improvement in more than 66 percent of patients and remission in 44 percent.

Another treatment option offered by CenterPointe is tailored specifically for older adults, who often are dealing with emotional problems related to declining health or other stressors.

CenterPointe’s senior adult program, Silver Lining, is specifically designed to help older adults cope with emotional problems or stressors they may be experiencing in life. For example, many seniors experience severe depression, anxiety, fears, confusion, disorientation, memory loss, medication issues and distress related to decline in health.

Our environment and programming are tailored to meet the specific needs of older adults and we offer a comfortable, homelike atmosphere with caring, compassionate staff to help the senior through each step of their treatment.

For more information about The Changing Pointe, click HERE.