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Thursday, July 24, 2014


Josh Gordon may be forced to miss the entire 2014 season 
Last week, while Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon was awaiting a late July suspension appeal hearing for a failed drug test, he was arrested on a DUI charge. Another troubled athlete who just can't seem to figure things out. Arrest on top of arrest. Ho hum. Business as usual in the NFL.

However, a number of stories have arisen due to Gordon's most recent incident. Several athletes and public
figures are commenting. In the past, one might expect these comments to follow a theme of disappointment, frustration, or even anger. But today, the soundbytes carry a much different tone. Support. Redemption. Understanding. Awareness. These are the words of the new NFL. When one of its brethren falls victim to substance abuse, expect to be now be enlightened.

For instance, former NFL player Cris Carter released a statement, drawing on his own his experience when he too battled addiction early in his career. He feels that the Browns, like the Eagles did to him, should release Gordon.

"My situation was very, very similar. If I'm the Cleveland Browns -- and it's gut-wrenching for me to say this -- I really think that the only thing that's going to help the kid is if they release him."

"We're dealing with addiction. We're dealing with a disease," Carter continued. "If Josh had cancer we'd put him in a treatment center. And right now that's what we need to do for him. But no one wants to do the hard thing. Everyone wants to keep coddling him, the same way they did him in high school, the same thing they did him at Baylor, where he had problems. Eventually it's going to blow up. Now it's blowing up in the National Football League, and his career is in jeopardy."

If Josh had cancer... Cris Carter just REALLY let us know that addiction is a serious disease.

Soon after, Michael Irvin chimed in. He disagreed with Carter's recommendation but too is highly supportive of the treatment process:

l-r: Cris Carter, Michael Irvin

"The people start thinking that you have insight on the situation or the issue or the problem so when you come out and make those kinds of comments and you're not in his sessions with his professional help, you don't know what's going on in those sessions, then you're being irresponsible," Irvin said. "I was a bit disappointed Cris Carter made that statement."

He went on to add:

"Now, isolation for Cris may have been the best thing. Separation, for Cris, may have been the best thing. For Josh, maybe it's the worst thing."

Treatment sessions. Isolation and separation. Disease of addiction. These are former NFL players, using the words of a clinician. Today's NFL is very aware of this complex disease.

Even the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu, a rookie last season, had pearls of experienced wisdom to share:

"No one could tell me anything when I was going through it; I had to figure it out for myself. Hopefully he will get the point," Mathieu said. "Hopefully he will get the message, but most of the time it takes for people to hit rock bottom for them to start believing in their self and start seeking help. A lot of people can reach out to you but that doesn't mean you always take that help and take that advice. He just has to want it for himself."

They say Honey Badger fears no man (well at least hall of fame broadcaster Brent Musburger thinks so). His comments, however sound very much like Step One - Admission. Powerless. Help. These are the words of a new addiction aware NFL. We have come a long away from an awareness standpoint.

Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

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Monday, July 7, 2014


The addiction professional community is sick and tired. We don't want to hear about how addiction is a choice - because it isn't.

I want my readers to step outside their normal patterns of thinking. Take a moment to remember your last Fourth of July Holiday. How did it go? I'll illustrate mine: We gather around a pool, we barbeque - it's a celebration of independence, meat, various salads and of course alcohol. It's clockwork - it happens every year. It's familial. It's America.

Now imagine you're an addict. I am. So if you're not I'll describe it for you. My Uncle Billy mans the grille. He's a master - he can cook for 50 hungry folks and get the temperatures correct. He isn't a chef. He's a plumber by trade; but the man can navigate a BBQ. These type of events are typically centered on three things: Food, Family and Fun. The last component largely depends on who you are and where you are in your life. Kids have fun with games and splashing around in the pool. The adults - at my family gatherings, anyway - have fun by drinking alcohol and catching up. Again, I'm an addict and I'm no kid. I can't take my eyes off of the cooler and I feel like my entire family knows it. They know I have a problem. Most of them don't know I have a disease. Most of them wouldn't look twice if I grabbed a cold one.

The lack of understanding addiction isn't their fault. For those who are not directly affected by this disease - that is, those who are not addicts, usually aren't exposed to the research on addiction. Take the grillmaster, Uncle Billy. He can have a drink, two drinks and stop for the rest of the afternoon. He's perfectly content. That's how alcohol should be used -like anything else, in moderation. But me, I have no "off switch." I've tried to have one or two drinks. I usually wind up in a dangerous situation after countless libations.

My Uncle Billy has said things to me such as, "have a drink with me, what's the big deal. Have one and we'll go home." He doesn't understand it doesn't work like that. That once triggered, the disease needs to be fed incessantly. That the first drink is never the only drink. It is only the first... of many.

What I am experiencing right now as I stare at this cooler are the symptoms of the disease of addiction - otherwise known as cravings. For people like Uncle Billy, cravings do not exist. He makes a choice and can stick to the limitations he sets. For me, I think about the substance often. I obsess over it when it's around. Cravings tell me that I know I'm an addict and I need to be aware of how to control and treat my symptoms. Uncle Billy knows he has a cold when his throat is sore, he is congested and develops the sniffles. My symtoms are my cravings. They let me know I'm an addict.

Nearly 23 million Americans - almost one in 10 - are addicted to alcohol and other drugs. I wonder how many understand their cravings and how they work? I'm lucky that I know I have a disease. I'm lucky I understand my cravings. I'm lucky I know how to answer the question: "Why not just have one drink?" 

Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014


The May/June edition of Counselor Magazine is featuring an article written by Sylvia Dobrow, BS, MPH, ABD, Group Facilitator and Chemical Dependency Counselor, Hemet Valley and Sage Retreat.

The article is entitled, "The Hidden Epidemic: Substance Abuse in the Elderly." In this interesting four page piece, Sylvia discusses The Four Subsets of Aging Addicts (Early-Onset Alcoholics, Late-Onset Alcoholics, The Baby Boomer Generation, & Prescription Drug Abusers), Barriers to Diagnosis (both Endogenous and Exogenous), Screening, and Types of Treatment.

A sneak preview:

There is a secret epidemic that targets those who are alone in their homes, suffering from health problems associated with both age and drug use: the elderly. Today, 13 percent of the total United States population is over sixty-five years of age and 17 percent of this population abuse drugs (Blow, 1998). In 1998, the US Department of Health & Human Services predicted that by 2030, 20 percent of the US population will be over sixty-five and as many as one in four of those older adults will be addicted to drugs.

To read the full article, visit https://www.counselormagazine.com.

Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

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Friday, June 20, 2014


Much like the Super Bowl here in the U.S., the FIFA World Cup can take over a city for its duration. The Super Bowl is one game held on one Sunday. The World Cup runs for an entire month and for that period the host city (in this case Rio De Janiero) is transformed into a Dionysian agora of constant partying. It also brings tourism and consumerism and with that, increased drug trafficking.

The world cup is no different than other blockbuster commercial events - it brings out the best in performance, talent, and fandom and the worst in human behavior. Sex, drugs and well, you know the phrase. The widespread hysteria can be overwhelming and cause people to do very stupid things. For instance, Jose Diaz Barajas, a known Mexican drug lord, purchased plane tickets in his own name to go view world cup soccer. He was arrested. A man accustomed to hiding so much that he is undoubtedly an expert, got caught up in the moment and got sloppy.

That may have been the only positive with regards to the World Cup's effect on the drug trade.

Although he was caught, there are thousands getting away with capitalizing on the event to fuel the drug trade in Brazil. They are making money - as much green as perhaps the Brazilian rainforest can boast.

Namely it's the drug cartels in Peru and Bolivia - two of the world's top producers of cocaine. They have been drooling over the bountiful market being served up next door by the World Cup in Brazil and they are sending huge amounts of the drug to their giant South American neighbor.

"Brazilian traffickers know that during the World Cup, controls are lax and they are preparing for a veritable festival of cocaine consumption," said Jaime Antezana, an expert at the Catholic University of Peru.
Since the start of the year there has been a huge increase in the number of so-called "drug flights" by small planes from Peru carrying cocaine to Bolivia. From there, it is transported over land to Brazil.

"Brazil is now the world's second largest consumer of cocaine, but during the World Cup, it is expected to overtake the United States and become number one," Antezana said.Brazil has Amazon frontiers with Peru, Colombia and Bolivia that are virtually impossible to control. These are the world's top three producers of coca leaves, the drug's raw material, and cocaine itself.

It's good to know we're still number one in the world at something.

Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014


Last week, we read the story of Frank and his struggle with chronic pain and addiction to painkillers due to fibromyalgia. When Frank suffered his injury and was later diagnosed with the chronic disorder, he did what most of us would do - he waited for the doctor to tell him what's next.

A day after chronicling Frank's battle, I read the story of Katie Pumphrey. Katie just swam 15 miles across the Potomac River. Katie also suffers from chronic pain, stemming from fibromyalgia. However, Katie chose to stop waiting for the doctor. Maybe the magazines in the waiting room are outdated. Whatever reason, Katie isn't taking her instructions from a doctor, nor a clinician.

She now prepares to cross the English Channel in August of 2015 - something that fewer people have crossed than have climbed Mount Everest. It has been a long strokepath to get here.
Washington Post

When she was about nine, Katie's right shoulder began to hurt. Everyone thought it was tendinitis from swimming. But the pain would mysteriously appear in different parts of her body - one day in her back, another in her hips, another in her ankles. It traveled up and down her spine, making it difficult to breathe. It left her nauseated.

There were countless MRI exams, visits to rheumatologists, physical therapy, massage. She spent her teen years on a regimen of painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and anti-seizure medication.

When she was finally diagnosed, it had little to no meaning; this mysterious disorder isn't curable. It is one which can only be managed. Pumphrey decided to handle the pain her way and stopped waiting for doctors to tell her what to do.

"I kind of made this pact with myself," she said. "And I just said: 'Okay, it's not going to be in control anymore. I'm not going to be in pain anymore."

Pumphrey decided to take her pain and push it to its limit and manage it through overcoming it - through mind, body and spirit. She focuses her energy on her training and open-swim events. She isn't dependent on pain medication and she is living her life on her terms.

"This is someone who has taken quality of life into her control," said Christopher L. Edwards, a medical director at Duke Pain Medicine, "She's not waiting on a doctor. She's not waiting on a clinician. Shes taking it upon herself to give herself quality of life."

Katie is an exception to the rule. Most of us wait for the doctor. We aren't naturally inclined to swim channels or climb mountains. My friend Frank listened to the doctor - it's what you're supposed to do. He got hooked on painkillers. Although he's ok today, he had a long road back and still does. Recovery, as we know, is a process.

At Hemet Valley & Sage Retreat we aim to help everyone with addiction to pain medication manage their pain through a multitude of treatment methods and activities. We try to help everyone find their own inner Katie Pumphrey... and live life on their own terms.

Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014


It has become our society's latest cliche'. Person suffers injury. Injury causes chronic pain. Doctor prescribes pain medication. Patient gets hooked. We all know someone, and we usually lose that person to their addiction, temporarily or permanently.

An Institute of Medicine report found that more Americans live with chronic pain than with cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined. It is a growing epidemic. About 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, defined as pain that lasts longer than six months. Chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating.

But for those of us who do not experience chronic pain, we sometimes see the victims as lazy, drug-seeking liars. We know that medicine alone is not the answer to chronic pain. Psychological treatment and social support are critical to pain management. The stigma associated with those suffering chronic pain - the perception that these folks are complaining of pain to obtain prescription drugs or too lazy to attend physical rehabilitation only makes their condition worse.

Consider the story of my friend Frank. I first met Frank at age 14, the first day of High School. From the first moment, I knew this guy was special. He stood out. He was affable, funny - he attracted a crowd and knew how to make anyone laugh. Then I saw this kid play basketball in gym class. Wow. He moved across the court with the speed of a cheetah and the grace of a swan (not to mention the showmanship and plumage of a peacock). Frank was a popular guy and everyone looked forward to his company.

When we graduated high school, some us went on to college and some of us went into trades. Frank started his own business, opening and cleaning in-ground pools. He quickly built a successful business - no surprise to anyone who knew him. He asked his longtime girlfriend to marry him. She probably said to herself, "it's about time." He was a guy for worth waiting.

Then one day Frank hurt his back severely while on a job. He didn't think much about it at the time - perhaps a muscle pull or strain. He'd rest a few days and get back to work. That next day back at work Frank couldn't do the things he'd normally do, without experiencing pain. So he went to the doctor. His doctor gave him medicine for the pain. It provided some relief, but without it the pain worsened. He opted for surgery. The surgery didn't provide the long term relief he had hoped for. So he went back on the meds. He now doesn't know how to live without them. His fiance decided that she can't live with him (well, this version of him). His pool business went under (not a fair pun). The rumors around various friend circles characterized him as a lazy, manipulative drug-addict. That he was always on sedatives and always scheming. For those who really knew him, this was an unacceptable label. There was obviously more to the story.

Frank suffers from a disorder known as Fibromyalgia. It is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. It is usually caused by a physical trauma or surgery. It can be debilitating.

The last time I saw Frank we were at a mutual friend's wedding. He didn't resemble the popular fun-loving guy I knew in highschool. The years of pain medication addiction had obviously taken its toll. However, he told me he was in recovery and managing his pain through quality clinical treatment. He was lucid and even showed some of the humor he was known for in our high school days. He was human again.

We all know a Frank. People suffering from chronic pain should not be ostracized or unfairly labeled. Their characters have already been assassinated by the pain they suffer and their subsequent addiction to pain medication. They need support from their family and friends, not whispers of judgement.

Hemet Valley Recovery Center's Chronic Pain and Addiction Treatment Program is appropriate for those individuals who have relied on narcotic analgesics as their primary strategy in the treatment of chronic pain and have experienced side effects or other untoward consequences that may warrant a change. For many, abnormally high tolerance interferes with therapeutic relief from pain, and for others the side effects of sedation and depression interferes with daily functioning. If you and your treating physician agree that trying an alternative to narcotic analgesics is appropriate, then the Hemet Valley Recovery Center is a good place to start.

Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.
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Thursday, May 29, 2014


("It's Never Too Late to Grow a New Life" Among Saturday's Agenda at the 5th Annual West Coast Symposium on Addictive Disorders)
Saturday, May 31st, 2014 (LA QUINTA, CA) - Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat is sponsoring "It's Never Too Late to Grow a New Life," a workshop conducted by Gordon Scheible, MDiv, CADC-II, ICADC & Sylvia Dobrow, BS, MPH, ABD. The Introductory/Intermediate workshop will offer a hands on approach for treatment solutions for specifically older adults. The workshop will be interactive throughout and will be followed with an audience question and answer session.

The good news is that Older Adults can learn how to effectively break free from the past, grow more self-confident and claim a new life in recovery. There are ways to help Older Adults discover healing and renewal after addiction treatment that lead to the restoration of hope for a positive future. This workshop will explore some of the issues that led the Older Adult into addiction and present strategies to assist them in making positive life changes.

The workshop will be held as part of the 2014 West Coast Symposium on Addictive Disorders, in La Quinta, CA, May 31st - June 1st at the La Quinta Resort and Club.

Theworkshop takes place on Saturday, May 31st, 10:30 a.m. at the LaQuinta Resort and Club To register for the event visit the conference web site

Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website.

Innovations in Recovery Conference
La Quinta Resort and Club, La Quinta, CA | May 31, 2014 – June 1st, 2014

C4 Recovery Solutions (C4) is honored to present the 5th Annual West Coast Symposium on Addictive Disorders (WCSAD). C4 is a 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to promoting the design, provision, and monitoring of outcomes-based addiction services and providing platforms to integrate varied academic disciplines and professional activities within the fields of addiction and behavioral health. C4 is run by a volunteer board, three staff persons, several invaluable consultants and the graciousness of many volunteers and friends. This two-and-a-half-day event is dedicated to continuing education and networking in the field of addictions, draws hundreds of regional, national, and international participants, lecturers and faculty. WCSAD combines workshops and seminars on timely industry topics with an unmatched showcase of the industry’s products and services. 
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