Two-pronged approach to counseling aims to solve drug addiction

Regina Caeli launches substance abuse program

Every day people can walk away from addiction, and Mark Sanders is there to help them take the first step.

“Many people struggle with addiction, and a lot have a hard time getting away from it, but the reality is that people stop every day,” said Sanders, a licensed professional counselor for Sacred Heart Counseling (formerly Regina Caeli Clinical Services). “There is definitely hope.”

Sanders, who is also a certified addictions counselor, offers an approach to counseling many may not have experienced. Through Catholic Charities’ counseling services at Sacred Heart Counseling, clients can receive treatment for both substance abuse and mental health—two areas that are often tied, he said.

“It’s something that wasn’t looked at too deeply before,” Sanders said. “If someone is struggling with depression or anxiety or another mental health issue, you’re not going to be able to help that person if you’re not addressing the addictions, which are often an underlying issue.”

The new substance abuse program was launched by Sacred Heart Counseling in August 2016 to help address and treat clients of all ages facing both mental health and substance abuse issues. Sanders also counsels families touched by relatives struggling with addiction and gives presentations at churches. He meets with parish priests to share insights about counseling from a Catholic perspective.

“We provide the opportunity for clients to be in line with their faith,” Sanders said. “We see people because we’re Catholic, not because they’re Catholic. So we’re willing to work with anybody who comes to us, but we also focus on counseling from a Catholic perspective.”

In addition to offering substance abuse counseling, Sacred Heart provides clinical counseling for individuals, married couples, youth and those impacted by abortion. Counselors also are available at eight Catholic schools, and psychological assessments are provided for religious discernment and the seminary. It offers services at locations in Littleton, Denver, Northglenn, Boulder, Fort Collins and Loveland.

Sanders said there’s a great need in Denver because its location makes it a hub for drug trafficking and because of state legalized marijuana. But drug usage can affect anyone.

“It cuts across racial lines, gender lines and age lines,” Sanders said. “It is there affecting every family. Even if it’s not affecting you, it’s affecting a family or friend or neighbor.”

Denver Public Health reported that 27 percent of high school students used marijuana within 30 days, higher than the 23 percent across the United States in 2013. Across Colorado, the state Department of Public Health and Environment found in 2016 that one in four adults ages 18-25 reported past-month marijuana use and one in eight used on a daily or almost daily basis.

The key is to address substance abuse early and to be open to change.

“The challenge becomes taking that first step because you can’t make the change if you don’t put yourself out there,” he said. “But I wouldn’t be in this field if didn’t think that people get better.”

Sanders is available to present to groups and meetings about the new program and for confidential appointments and counseling. Sacred Heart Counseling works with clients to identify affordable ways to pay for treatment. More information is available by calling the office at (720) 377-1359.


Substance Abuse Program

Learn more and get a free consultation by calling (720) 377-1359. Visit the website at



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