At SunCloud Health, we treat those with addictions and disorders simultaneously. We do not classify one group as eating disordered and another as substance addicted; clients are never labeled by a diagnosis. Instead of identifying by their disease, we want people to identify as human beings who deserve to live a balanced, healthy life. As such, we view every single client as a distinct individual, a unique human being.

While in our care, we strongly encourage everyone to abstain from drugs or alcohol. This includes those with eating disorders, mood disorders, process addictions, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.


Kim Dennis, MD, CEDS, MD, Medical Director, CEO and Co-founder at SunCloud Health, answers the question, why do we ask our patients to be abstinent when at SunCloud Health?

Our stance on abstinence often leads to a question such as this: “Why must I forgo cannabis at night when I am only in treatment for a gambling addiction?”
As with all program components, our commitment to abstinence is well thought out and very intentional due to the following reasons:

1. Diagnostic Implications
Pharmaceuticals are frequently instrumental in the treatment process. In order to determine the value of any medication, we must start with a clean slate, one that is not tainted by other substances. Say a person is prescribed medication to counteract depression, then consumes wine every evening. Because alcohol is a known depressant, it is nearly impossible to get an accurate read on the pharmaceutical’s efficacy.

2. Community Commitment
SunCloud offers a level playing field. No addiction or disorder is more important than another. Everyone is on the same team in the quest for recovery. A cohesive group is a powerful group. One of our uniting principles is that no one self-medicates in order to mitigate unpleasant feelings and emotions. Everyone presents as their authentic self, ready to relate to one another in truth and honesty. This is how healing begins.

3. Emotional Access
Psychiatric illness manifests in myriad ways. However, each disease typically contains one shared commonality: underlying trauma. Whether emotional, physical, or sexual, a traumatic event or lifetime of trauma often fuels the disease. By definition trauma is associated with pain. In order to effectively address, work through and move beyond the pain, each person must be absolutely available to go deep inside and explore the trauma. This simply cannot happen if a person is impaired or disconnected by drugs or alcohol. The truth is, access to feelings is imperative for true recovery.

While not everyone who comes to SCH struggles with addiction, adherence to our abstinence commitment is integral to success in our program.  This enables us to achieve the best possible outcome for our patients and their families.