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Hybrid Counseling Online Diversion Program

Hybrid Counseling Online Diversion Program

What is a Diversion Program?

The local County Prosecutor’s Office may offer a Diversion Program to criminal defendants without significant prior records or who have been charged with certain offenses, and upon completion of the specific requirements, the charges will be dismissed. Depending on circumstances of a case, in addition to paying court, clerk, program fees, defendants must meet additional obligations. Requirements range from varying degrees of alcohol and drug education to substance abuse evaluations and the resulting treatment or therapy. Sometimes defendants are still required to do community service, and pay restitution where appropriate but the reduction in sentence is a good reason to look into Hybrid Counseling’s Online Diversion Program. We can fulfill requirements in any state, and in any county.

Hybrid Counseling uses the E*Version program which is client directed towards their goals, as well as their obligations to court, etc. Using a variety of online resources to communicate with their teacher and demonstrate they are making changes, clients are given a variety of incentives to meet their goals including financial, peer accountability, and early graduation as a means to keep clients engaged. This program is innovation at its best, as it uses numerous evidence-based counseling approaches and theories around forming new habits.

How do I apply for Online Diversion Program?

There is no application process for our Online Diversion Program. Arresting agencies such as police, sheriff or highway patrol forward reports from arrests and citation tickets to the County Prosecutor’s Office for charging. Prosecutor staff must examine each case report and the circumstances surrounding them to determine whether a defendant qualifies for ODP. Defendants cannot apply for ODP.

How much does Online Diversion Program (ODP) Cost/What do I have to do for ODP?

The costs and fees associated with ODP vary depending on the requirements a defendant must complete for the program. Requirements are determined based on the charges filed, circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal background.

What happens if I decline Diversion Program and go to court instead?

If a defendant does not participate in DP, he/she will have an initial hearing, in which he/she appears before the Judge and enters a plea of either “guilty” or “not guilty.” If a defendant pleads “guilty”, then a conviction will be entered on his/her record and he/she will be sentenced accordingly. If a defendant pleads “not guilty,” then the case will be set for a pre-trial conference and a trial date; the defendant may be evaluated for a public defender (if one is requested) or may hire a private attorney, and the case will continue in court.

Hybrid Counseling is not located in my county. Can I still do Online Diversion Program?

Most often, yes. We will work with you to fulfill your requirements whichever state and county you need your requirements satisfied. It is not uncommon for DP defendants to need to try and complete their DP requirements outside of your County. DP staff will try to assist defendants who are eligible and willing to do ODP but would find it a hardship to return to the county after they have been offered DP at their initial court date. It does, however, become chiefly the defendant’s responsibility to work out where and how he/she will complete the requirements, and he/she must verify with ODP staff before completing requirements that everything is satisfactory. 

Will Online Diversion Program keep this incident completely off of my record?

ODP is designed to help a defendant keep a criminal conviction off his/her record with regard to the offense charged. If he/she successfully completes the program, the court record will show that the charge was dismissed. The benefit of ODP is that there is no criminal conviction and the defendant does not plead guilty. When asked if he/she has ever been convicted of or plead guilty to a criminal offense, a defendant may answer “no” with regard to the charge in a successfully completed ODP case. However, a record that an arrest occurred, or that the charge was filed in court, will not be expunged or erased. Police records of an arrest or citation are beyond the control of the Prosecutor’s Office. If a defendant is asked if he/she has ever been charged with a criminal offense, he/she must always answer “Yes.” Upon successful completion of the program, a defendant may specify that the charge was dismissed. In that case, when a background check is run the court record will show that an order of conditional dismissal was issued and the case was closed.

If you have the option of our Online Diversion Program, contact Hybrid Counseling here or call us at (877)437-9399 with any questions you may have. Let us help.

Is Addiction a Disease?

What is drug addiction?

Is addiction a disease or simply a lack of willpower? Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is a disease, and is also considered a brain disorder, because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control, and those changes may last a long time after a person has stopped taking drugs.

Addiction is a lot like other diseases, such as heart disease. Both disrupt the normal, healthy functioning of an organ in the body, both have serious harmful effects, and both are, in many cases, preventable and treatable. If left untreated, they can last a lifetime and may lead to death.

Why do people take drugs?

In general, people take drugs for a few reasons:

  • To feel good. Drugs can produce intense feelings of pleasure. This initial euphoria is followed by other effects, which differ with the type of drug used. For example, with stimulants such as cocaine, the high is followed by feelings of power, self-confidence, and increased energy. In contrast, the euphoria caused by opioids such as heroin is followed by feelings of relaxation and satisfaction.
  • To feel better. Some people who suffer from social anxiety, stress, and depression start using drugs to try to feel less anxious. Stress can play a major role in starting and continuing drug use as well as relapse (return to drug use) in patients recovering from addiction.
  • To do better. Some people feel pressure to improve their focus in school or at work or their abilities in sports. This can play a role in trying or continuing to use drugs, such as prescription stimulants or cocaine.
  • Curiosity and social pressure. In this respect, teens are particularly at risk because peer pressure can be very strong. Teens are more likely than adults to act in risky or daring ways to impress their friends and show their independence from parents and social rules.

If taking drugs makes people feel good or better, what’s the problem?

When they first use a drug, people may perceive what seem to be positive effects. They also may believe they can control their use. But drugs can quickly take over a person’s life. Over time, if drug use continues, other pleasurable activities become less pleasurable, and the person has to take the drug just to feel “normal.” They have a hard time controlling their need to take drugs even though it causes many problems for themselves and their loved ones. Some people may start to feel the need to take more of a drug or take it more often, even in the early stages of their drug use. These are the telltale signs of an addiction.

Even relatively moderate drug use poses dangers. Consider how a social drinker can become intoxicated, get behind the wheel of a car, and quickly turn a pleasurable activity into a tragedy that affects many lives. Occasional drug use, such as misusing an opioid to get high, can have similarly disastrous effects, including overdose, and dangerously impaired driving.

Do people freely choose to keep using drugs?

The initial decision to take drugs is typically voluntary. But with continued use, a person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired; this impairment in self-control is the hallmark of addiction.

Brain imaging studies of people with addiction show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision-making, learning and memory, and behavior control. These changes help explain the compulsive nature of addiction.

Why do some people become addicted to drugs, while others do not?

As with other diseases and disorders, the likelihood of developing an addiction differs from person to person, and no single factor determines whether a person will become addicted to drugs. In general, the more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs will lead to drug use and addiction. Protective factors, on the other hand, reduce a person’s risk. Risk and protective factors may be either environmental or biological.

What biological factors increase risk of addiction?

Biological factors that can affect a person’s risk of addiction include their genes, stage of development, and even gender or ethnicity. Scientists estimate that genes, including the effects environmental factors have on a person’s gene expression, called epigenetics, account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s risk of addiction. Also, teens and people with mental disorders are at greater risk of drug use and addiction than others.

What environmental factors increase the risk of addiction?

Environmental factors are those related to the family, school, and neighborhood. Factors that can increase a person’s risk include the following:

  • Home and Family. The home environment, especially during childhood, is a very important factor. Parents or older family members who use drugs or misuse alcohol, or who break the law, can increase children’s risk of future drug problems.
  • Peer and School. Friends and other peers can have an increasingly strong influence during the teen years. Teens who use drugs can sway even those without risk factors to try drugs for the first time. Struggling in school or having poor social skills can put a child at further risk for using or becoming addicted to drugs.

What other factors increase the risk of addiction?

  • Early Use. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, research shows that the earlier a person begins to use drugs, the more likely he or she is to develop serious problems.31 This may be due to the harmful effect that drugs can have on the developing brain.32 It also may result from a mix of early social and biological risk factors, including lack of a stable home or family, exposure to physical or sexual abuse, genes, or mental illness. Still, the fact remains that early use is a strong indicator of problems ahead, including addiction.
  • How the drug is taken. Smoking a drug or injecting it into a vein increases its addictive potential. Both smoked and injected drugs enter the brain within seconds, producing a powerful rush of pleasure. However, this intense high can fade within a few minutes. Scientists believe this starkly felt contrast drives some people to repeated drug taking in an attempt to recapture the fleeting pleasurable state.

The brain continues to develop into adulthood and undergoes dramatic changes during adolescence.

One of the brain areas still maturing during adolescence is the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that allows people to assess situations, make sound decisions, and keep emotions and desires under control. The fact that this critical part of a teen’s brain is still a work in progress puts them at increased risk for making poor decisions, such as trying drugs or continuing to take them. Introducing drugs during this period of development may cause brain changes that have profound and long-lasting consequences.

*National Institute of Drug Abuse


Understanding Addiction and Mental Illness

What Is Mental Health?

According to, mental health refers to a person’s emotional, psychological and social well-being, affecting how we think, feel and act. Many factors impact a person’s predisposition for mental health problems, including biology, family history, trauma or abuse. Many times, these factors of mental health also often lend to addiction and mental illness. For maintaining mental health, you need a delicate balance between social interactions, stress levels, sleep, nutrition and more. Adding drugs and other addictive substances into the mix often has negative implications on overall health.


Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders

For many, addiction and mental health go hand in hand. In a clinical setting, it can be difficult to identify which came first once a person is in the throes of a substance use disorder.  Because mental health is such an integral part of a person’s overall health, both addiction and mental illness need to be treated when both are at play. Co-occuring disorders are medically identified combinations of addiction and mental illness, like alcoholism alongside depression.

There are a variety of combinations of drug and alcohol use disorders and mental illnesses. While an estimated 8.4 million adults in the United States suffer from both mental and substance use disorders, only about 7.9 percent of people are treated for both. Oftentimes, addiction is treated on its own, without identifying the underlying cause or contributing factors. Substances are often used to soothe pain from abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can also contribute to mental illness. These disorders are all intimately intertwined and should be addressed as such. That’s why it’s so important to understand and identify mental health problems before, during and after an issue arises with substance use.

If addiction is an issue, it cannot be treated alone. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 53.7 percent of people with co-occurring disorders are not treated for their addiction or mental health problems, creating a never-ending cycle of substance use and mental illness. Hybrid Counseling will help you understand and work with you to treat both addiction and mental health problems in tandem, ensuring that both are addressed for a more successful recovery. When issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and eating disorders are identified by a professional, it is much easier to understand triggers for addiction.

Mentally Healthy Habits

Maintaining mental health starts in childhood and is a lifelong endeavour. But having an untroubled childhood doesn’t necessarily ensure a lifetime of mental stability. A balanced family life and caring environment are the foundations of mental health, but prolonged health requires individual maintenance and constant awareness. Just as anyone is susceptible to the flu, everyone is prone to addiction and mental illness without proper checks and balances in place.

Because so many turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with major struggles, it is important to have alternative coping strategies to maintain both physical and mental health. Studies show that those facing significant mental health challenges are far more likely to develop a substance use disorder. In fact, compared to others, people with severe mental illnesses are about four times more likely to drink alcohol in excess and 4.6 times more likely to use other drugs at least 10 times in their lives. These odds stress the importance of mental health as a priority, as mental illness can often lead to substance use disorders.

There are simple steps that you can take to avoid a mental health crisis and decrease the chances of misusing substances to cope with illness. Mental Health America outlines the following 10 tools to help you live well:

  1. Connect with others
  2. Stay positive
  3. Get physically active
  4. Help others
  5. Get enough sleep
  6. Create joy and satisfaction
  7. Eat well
  8. Take care of your spirit
  9. Deal better with hard times
  10. Get professional help if you need it

While some of these tips are simple, like eating well or getting enough sleep, others may seem more subjective and difficult to manage, especially if you are already experiencing depression or other mental challenges. “Staying positive” is certainly easier said than done in many instances, but building an optimistic outlook is a daily practice, just like any other skill. Keeping a gratitude journal, savoring sweet moments in life and sharing good news with others are all small steps toward optimism. While it is natural to feel a fluctuation in emotion, an overall practice of positivity can put things into perspective and help you differentiate between true tragedy and daily inconveniences.

Understanding how to cope with a change in your mental state is also key. Changes in energy levels, loss of interest in otherwise enjoyable activities, disruption of normal eating habits and extended feelings of emptiness, sadness or guilt can all be symptoms of mental illness. Seeking professional help is a responsible way to manage your emotions and improve your mental health. Hybrid Counseling offers both mental health and chemical assessments to help determine if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and mental illness. Identifying a problem is the first step toward healing and preventing further issues like drug or alcohol addiction.

Changing Views on Mental Health

Despite the importance of mental health, especially as it relates to addiction, a strong stigma still surrounds the issue. This prevents many from seeking the help they need. By working to shed the negative stereotypes associated with mental health, we can begin a new narrative and help people cope with life’s challenges in a productive way without drugs and alcohol.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of mental illness or using drugs or alcohol to cope, reach out to Hybrid Counseling to learn more about treatment options for co-occurring disorders and healthy living.

A Neurobiological Link Between PTSD and Addiction

A neurobiological link between PTSD and addiction: Remembering a traumatic experience may increase sensitivity to the rewarding effects of drugs.

Recalling traumatic memories enhances the rewarding effects of morphine in male rats, finds new research published in JNeurosci. These findings may help to explain the co-occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction.

More than half of PTSD patients also struggle with substance abuse, yet the underlying neural mechanisms of their addiction are not clear. Dopamine receptors in the prefrontal cortex may play a role, as they are involved in the processing of both fear- and reward-related memories.

Steven Laviolette and colleagues examined the involvement of two dopamine receptors in the recall of a traumatic experience — a footshock — and subsequent preference for morphine. Rats that were reminded of the troubling experience by an associated scent showed a greater freezing fear response and spent more time in an environment where they previously received a dose of morphine that ordinarily does not produce a preference for a morphine-paired environment. This effect was blocked by activation of the dopamine receptor D1R. A different dopamine receptor, D4R, increased freezing behavior and reward sensitivity after the recall of a minor footshock that does not produce a traumatic memory under normal conditions. The results suggest that abnormal dopamine signals in the prefrontal cortex may underlie the ability of traumatic memories to predispose individuals to addiction by increasing their sensitivity to the rewarding effects of drugs such as opioids.

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Summary: Recalling traumatic memories enhances the rewarding effects of morphine in male rates, finds new research. These findings may help to explain the co-occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction.

Substance Use and Mental Disorders

Mental and substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life and all age groups. These illnesses are common, recurrent, and often serious, but they are treatable and many people do recover. Hybrid Counseling in Minnesota can assist you by administering your mental and chemical health assessment (or Rule 25), online or in-person. Learn about some of the most commonmental and substance use disorders can help people recognize their signs and to seek help.

According to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) (PDF | 3.4 MB) an estimated 43.6 million (18.1%) Americans ages 18 and up experienced some form of mental illness. In the past year, 20.2 million adults (8.4%) had a substance use disorder. Of these, 7.9 million people had both a mental disorder and substance use disorder, also known as co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.

Our mission is to reduce the impact of mental and substance use disorders on America’s communities. Hybrid works to prevent and treat mental and substance use disorders and provide supports for people seeking or already in recovery.

Mental Disorders
Mental disorders involve changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior. These disorders can affect how we relate to others and make choices. Mental disorders take many different forms, with some rooted in deep levels of anxiety, extreme changes in mood, or reduced ability to focus or behave appropriately. Others involve unwanted, intrusive thoughts and some may result in auditory and visual hallucinations or false beliefs about basic aspects of reality. Reaching a level that can be formally diagnosed often depends on a reduction in a person’s ability to function as a result of the disorder.

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental disorders, followed by depressive disorders. Different mental disorders are more likely to begin and occur at different stages in life and are thus more prevalent in certain age groups. Lifetime anxiety disorders generally have the earliest age of first onset, most commonly around age 6. Other disorders emerge in childhood, approximately 11% of children 4 to 17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as of 2011. Schizophrenia spectrum and psychotic disorders emerge later in life, usually in early adulthood. Not all mental health issues first experienced during childhood or adolescence continue into adulthood, and not all mental health issues are first experienced before adulthood. Mental disorders can occur once, reoccur intermittently, or be more chronic in nature. Mental disorders frequently co-occur with each other and with substance use disorders. Because of this and because of variation in symptoms even within one type of disorder, individual situations and symptoms are extremely varied.

Serious Mental Illness
Serious mental illness among people ages 18 and older is defined at the federal level as having, at any time during the past year, a diagnosable mental, behavior, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, and other mental disorders that cause serious impairment. In 2014, there were an estimated 9.8 million adults (4.1%) ages 18 and up with a serious mental illness in the past year. People with serious mental illness are more likely to be unemployed, arrested, and/or face inadequate housing compared to those without mental illness.

Serious Emotional Disturbance
The term serious emotional disturbance (SED) is used to refer to children and youth who have had a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder in the past year, which resulted in functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits the child’s role or functioning in family, school, or community activities. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) review of population-level information found that estimates of the number of children with a mental disorder range from 13 to 20%, but current national surveys do not have an indicator of SED.

Substance Use Disorders
Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.

In 2014, about 21.5 million Americans ages 12 and older (8.1%) were classified with a substance use disorder in the past year. Of those, 2.6 million had problems with both alcohol and drugs, 4.5 million had problems with drugs but not alcohol, and 14.4 million had problems with alcohol only.

Co-occurring Mental and Substance Use Disorders
The coexistence of both a mental health and a substance use disorder is referred to as co-occurring disorders.

According to SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 7.9 million adults had co-occurring disorders in 2014. During the past year, for those adults surveyed who experienced substance use disorders and any mental illness, rates were highest among adults ages 26 to 49 (42.7%). For adults with past-year serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders, rates were highest among those ages 18 to 25 (35.3%) in 2014.

Learn more about co-occurring disorders and available treatment by visiting Hybrid Counseling at or calling (877) 437-9399.

*Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Can telemedicine impact addiction?

How is telehealth being used to fight against addiction? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 11.5 million people misused prescription opioids, and 116 people passed away every day due to opioid-related drug overdoses in 2016. Fast forward a year later, and the HHS declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

Because this epidemic raised major concerns on a federal level, it forced the HHS to strategize how to fight the issue. The organization developed the following five priorities:

  • Improve access to treatment services.
  • Better target overdose-reversing drugs.
  • Survey public health data to grasp a better understanding of the epidemic.
  • Support cutting edge research on pain and addiction.
  • Encourage and advance pain management best practices.

Health care providers across the nation are not interested in sitting around and waiting for a miracle. From a physician’s standpoint, there is a way to stop the opioid crisis and aid America back to health based on several of the priorities the HHS laid out. Telemedicine may be the solution the country is looking for.

Using telemedicine for addiction treatment
While telehealth solutions won’t replace in-person services, this technological method can act as a complementary resource to those in need. As a clinical professional working with addiction patients, it’s important to establish that relationship face to face, but telemedicine can be used to maintain and strengthen the connection between the two of you.
Logistical obstacles often impact whether your patients can reach you during times of need. If telemedicine plays a role in addiction treatment, however, you can remove such barriers like time, distance and cultural stigma to provide care as desired. Here are a few of the many benefits that telehealth plays in addiction control and therapy:

  • Privacy – Patients are often worried about the social and cultural stigma that comes with attending rehab. By offering telemedicine visits, patients don’t have to interact with office staff and other peers and can instead attend therapy sessions privately.
  • Schedule flexibility – Patients can feel like rehabilitation puts their entire life on hold, and this sentiment could be the reason that some are not willing to put forth the effort. With remote care options, however, patients find the flexibility to fit therapy sessions into their schedules.
  • Access to treatment – Driving long distances for care is taxing on time and money. If patients have remote care access available at a nearby clinic, they can reap the benefits of addiction treatment without the hassle that comes with commuting.

Partnering with a trusted telemedicine vendor
If you want to improve the addiction treatment resources at your hospital or facility, it’s time to consider telemedicine. Now more than ever, the country needs service options that cater specifically to patients’ wants and needs and can beat logistical barriers holding them back from receiving proper treatment.

For more information on our telehealth services, please contact Hybrid Counseling at (877) 437-9399

*Mar 7, 2018 / Telemedicine in the news / AMD Global Telemedicine

Chemical Dependency Assessments: Is Everything Moving Online?

The answer to that question is yes, everything is moving online. In the majority of industries, you will see an aspect of what they do move online, or at least a version of it. From clothing sales to doctor visits each industry is desperate to harness just a little more of the online power. At Hybrid Counseling we have realized that we can reach more people this way.

  • One in three American adults have gone online to figure out a medical condition.*
  • 72% of Internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year*
  • 47% of Internet users search for information about doctors or other health professionals.*
  • 38% of Internet users search for information about hospitals and other medical facilities.*

Unfortunately, many people and companies in the mental health and especially chemical health industry have been slow to make changes in using mobile technology to increase access to services. With the growing research that treatment works and individuals in long-term recovery benefit from continued support it is important to grow and changes as well.

Calling your county to schedule an assessment a month away, or getting an assessment from a treatment program only for them to refer their program as only option compound the first challenge, getting an un biased assessment. Addiction is a disease, a complex one, it should be treated that way. One of the complex elements is time. Organizations that move toward mobile and online assessments are simplifying that complexity.

At Hybrid Counseling, we integrate in-person and online solutions for individuals and families whom substance abuse and mental health disorders affect their lives. We strive to use cutting edge research, evidence-based best practices methods and technology you help you save time and money reaching your goals for yourself or a loved one.

Our Hybrid Assessments are among our most innovative services we offer! Whether it is a requirement for court or wanting to know what treatment options are best for you or a loved one, or a treatment referral, our goal is to have your assessment ready to be sent to wherever you need within 48 hours of you calling and as soon as 1 hour after the appointment ends.  Our clinicians are independent of any treatment providers

Providers who offer mobile chemical health assessment are extremely rare, especially ones who use the highest standards of assessment and screening for substance abuse and dual disorders. We will do the assessments on your time and work hard afterwards to provide whatever other service you need to move forward.

Our assessors are all licensed clinicians in chemical dependency. Our substance abuse counselors are held to the highest standard of practice in the country. Therefore, if you are seeking an assessment for a legal concern, they will be accepted. If there is concern that for some reason they may not we will do our due diligence first and if, in the rare case where they do not, a full refund will be given.

If you are a service provider we encourage you to partner with us. If you know someone that is in need of an assessment, we would be honored to meet them, in person, or online.

Thank you for reading.

Pew Research

Telehealth: The Future is At Our Doorstep

A recent article in the Open Access Journal on healthcare highlights the amazing opportunities telemedicine for mental health can have in opening access to mental health care. There are many advantages and applications videoconferencing and other telecommunication for mental health and chemical health clients. According to the article there is a growing body of research that has shown that telemedicine is effective and increases access to mental health care! Imagine the possibilities this  can have for the accessibility of chemical health and mental health services.