Take the First Step


Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat
 Chemical Dependency Treatment & Rehabilitation Center

Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat Blog

California Medical Detox, Hospital Detox, Drug Rehab for Older Adults


Monday, November 30, 2015


For millions, it is the happiest time of the year. The holiday season is a time when Americans spend time with family and loved ones showing appreciation, gratitude, and love through gatherings and gift giving.

It is also the time of countless parties and excessive consumption. For most, it is an impossible task to fulfill every party invitation. The obligations are plentiful and calendar overlap often occurs. Some take priority. Some are even mandatory. So you pick and choose. Sounds like a problem hardly worth complaining.

However, for the addiction recovery community, the holiday season is a loaded gun. In fact, it's more like a minefield. And the first leg of this deadly obstacle course is Thanksgiving.

"Turkey Day" is so high-risk for over-indulgence in alcohol that it has been named as the single highest alcohol-consumption day of the year. But Thanksgiving is only the first in a series of potentially high-risk situations the the addict must face. Shortly after comes the holiday work party, then the party of a friend. As Christmas Day approaches, more social gatherings - most of which serving alcohol - fill the calendar.

"Around the holidays, alcohol abounds at parties and family gatherings," said David Buys, health specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. "Being around alcohol and others who might be 'old drinking buddies' could drive temptation higher."

Not only is the socially-accepted abundance of alcoholic beverages during the season presenting a high-risk situation, but so can the prospect of seeing family members.

"Some people may be estranged from family and friends, leading to a sense of loneliness," said Buys, who is also a researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. "If families are together but have strained relationships, arguments and underlying stress may cause people to drink at unhealthy levels," explains Buys.

The time of year isn't only risky for relapse, it is also responsible for far too many deaths.

According to the CDCexcessive drinking is responsible for 88,000 deaths in the U.S. each year; 3,700 of those deaths were linked to alcohol dependence. The holiday season is the superbowl of excessive drinking.

For all of these reasons, the addict must enter the season with a plan.

"A person in recovery from an alcohol use disorder should avoid situations where alcohol is present," says Kim Kavalsky, a licensed professional counselor and coordinator of mental health outreach at Mississippi State University. "If one can't avoid a party with alcohol, plan to leave early before the drinking begins or attend with others who do not drink or who also are in recovery. It is also a good idea for those in recovery to talk with a member of their support system before and after attending an event where alcohol is present."

Other ways to manage holiday stressors include observing quiet time to reflect on self-care and recovery, spending more time with a support group or therapist, creating new ways to celebrate, finding a spiritual base in the holidays and volunteering.

History has shown that this time of the year is dangerous and even deadly for many. Our thoughts and prayers this holiday season are with all of those struggling with the disease of addiction.

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.

Related articles

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


Hillary Clinton has always been a major proponent of treatment over criminalization when it comes to addiction. Now, she is making a priority in her presidential campaign.

CBS News has reported that Clinton unveiled a $10 billion plan in September, designed to fight drug and alcohol addiction. Her plan involves goals for prevention, treatment and recovery, youth drug and alcohol education, increased funding for rehabilitation centers, and improved first responder training. “Tough on crime” laws and policies regarding drug addiction have been tried and they failed.

Clinton has recognized we need a more progressive solution.

“It’s time we recognize that there are gaps in our health care system that allow too many to go without care — and invest in treatment,” wrote Clinton in an op-ed for the New Hampshire Union Leader. “It’s time we recognize that our state and federal prisons . . . are no substitute for proper treatment and reform our criminal justice system.”

Mental health and addiction have been a major part of Clinton’s presidential platform. Her campaign staffers have reached out to experts and leaders in the health community to help Clinton create her plan. That plan also includes building a closer relationship between correctional and public health facilities.

As drug and alcohol addiction remains a problem in America, the country needs plans and programs intended to solve and treat addiction. Currently, the system merely punishes and marginalizes the disease of addiction.


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.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, October 26, 2015


In an undoubtedly industry-changing move, Cigna has announced they are pulling Health plans offered in the state of Florida when the federal Health Insurance Marketplace opens for business on November 1st. They are citing "an exponential increase in fraudulent and abusive" substance abuse treatment practices.

Florida is home to countless drug and alcohol rehab centers and the move will mean that residents of the state will have to choose another insurance provider for their treatment needs - an estimated 30,000 Floridians are currently with the insurance giant. Cigna was known to provide the best in substance abuse insurance. Starting in 2016, they will completely pull out of the state.

“What is certainly going to happen as a result of this is the (addiction treatment) industry is going to get that the payday is going to come to a standstill if they don’t police themselves,” said John Lehman, president of the Florida Association of Recovery Residences. “It’s certainly going to send a pretty loud message that something needs to be done.”

Cigna claims that the largely unregulated South Florida treatment industry has led to a wide range of abuses.

In one scam, for instance, brokers would go out of state to find addicts in need of assistance and arrange to bring them to Florida, sources told The Post. Claiming they were “residents,” they purchased a Florida policy on the exchange.

In some cases, treatment providers and brokers not only guided the addicts through the process but provided them with Florida addresses to prove their residency and paid their deductibles, sources told The Post.

The insurer almost always was Cigna. When the policy kicked in, the addict would be admitted to a treatment center.

But in some cases, no premiums would be paid after that first month, leaving the addict, who might not have known about the deal, the treatment center and Cigna all holding the bag for what could be tens of thousands of dollars in treatment charges.

Some believe Cigna’s explanation for pulling out of Florida’s insurance exchange. This contingent believes Cigna is using accusations of insurance fraud to cover the real reason, which is deflecting blame for their decision not to participate in the Affordable Care Act in Florida.


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.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Relationships that start off great often lead to despair and tears. Sometimes letting go of someone you love seems like the hardest thing to do. However, holding on to something that isn't working will eventually just make matters worse. When things sour in our relationships, it can catch us by surprise and it can be devastating.

While we are in romantic relationships, we get comfortable with the other person. Being together becomes a second nature, a given. We can't envision being without that person. We create a reality centered on that person and when a future with that person becomes an impossibility, we crumble.

Letting go of someone who changed who you are in a drastic way is extremely difficult. However, holding on to something that no longer can exist, is unhealthy and detrimental to your emotional and psychological health.

But letting go is necessary for you to get better and to move on to living a meaningful and happy life.

What you need to do is realize that it is necessary to let this person go. It may be the hardest thing you have to do, but it is the only thing to do. Acknowledging that it is over is hard, but in the long run, healthy. Staying active, finding new things to do such as hobbies - physical fitness, reading, whatever it may be can help, but it isn't going to replace what you felt for that individual who you thought would be there with you forever.

An important step in letting go of someone you love is to acknowledge the reasons why you had to part ways. This is also difficult. You may dwell on the positive memories, the moments of love and laughter. But what you also need to do is remember the bad times. The lowest times in your relationship. Do not IDEALIZE it. It was NOT perfect.

Another thing to do in coping with loss, is reminding yourself that it is absolutely necessary to let this person go. If you don't make this clear in your mind, you will attempt to get this person back. By this time, you should know and understand that is not going to happen by pushing things. You will just do things you'll regret. It can get very ugly.

When you're ready and can truly let the person go, you need to love yourself. Think of the things you love about yourself - not the person you were in the relationship that has ended, but what you love about yourself and only you.

Then you can move on and love someone else again. You need to let go and know that you need to let go. That'ts the first step. Accept it.

The same applies to addiction. Let it go and work on you. Then you can love again.


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.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 10, 2015


As far back as anyone alive today can remember, alcoholism and drug addiction has been a polarizing issue. Is it a choice, a personality defect? Or is it a disease, which requires professional treatment? 

I recently came across an interesting article in the New York Daily News. It details a conversation about whether or not alcoholism is a disease. To this author, it seems archaic to think that the disease model of addiction is still up for debate. However, the dialogue below illustrates the mindset of many.

I've posted it here:

------- Start of Article -------

BILL: ”You know what's wrong with men in America?” a just-divorced woman I will call Louise recently said to me. “All this talk about alcoholism or drug addiction being a ‘disease’ - which is just politically correct blue sky crap put out by people like you and my ratty ex-husband. Why can’t they Just Say No?”

DR. DAVE: What did you tell her?

BILL: Well, Dave, she caught me in a kind of moral bind. I have nothing against calling alcoholism or drug use a disease. Shame and guilt never got anyone sober. But I prefer the term "addiction" - maybe it’s deadly, but you did it to yourself. You didn’t catch it by kissing the bartender. So let me turn the question around. Why do you call it a disease?

DR. DAVE: In l956, the American Medical Association officially said alcoholism met three standard criteria for being declared a disease. First, it had an identifiable set of symptoms. Second, it followed a predictable and malignant progression if not treated, and third, it did respond to treatment. What this meant was that the insurance industry - not markedly a bastion of politically correct blue sky crap - agreed to pay for treatment, just as if you came down with diabetes.

Today, Disease Concept Treatment, or “DCT," is the overwhelming therapy of choice in the health care professions. On top of that, ongoing research studies in top line medical journals consistently show that DCT outperforms other approaches.

BILL: But Dave, even Alcoholics Anonymous itself says alcoholics suffer from a “character defect.” What’s so scientific about that? Doesn’t that sound like we suffer from a moral flaw, a weakness of will power and/or character?

DR.DAVE: I’ve learned never to get into an argument with any of you AA Big Book Thumpers when you quote steps to me. The actual language is a mish-mash of Jungian psychology, the Episcopal Church and 100 newly sober Midwestern drunks. Bill, your quote from Step Six has no medical meaning.

BILL: Doc, you just made my point. If the 12 Steps of AA are not medical science, why should anyone enter a long-term counseling program built on this Midwest spiritual beef stew model?

DR. DAVE: Well, let’s put the argument in terms of everyday life.

BILL: Where wives like Louise finally tell the drunk husband, “We all love you, but your boss is going to fire you and I am taking the kids and filing for divorce - unless you go to rehab for alcoholism.”

DR. DAVE: Right. Now, let's say I have 904 spouses and/or employees just like Louise and her husband. And after rehab, I require all of them to continue to go to AA meetings, weekly aftercare counseling and submit to random urinalysis.

BILL: And if they drink or use, they are fired on the spot?

DR. DAVE: No, we know at least 10% will relapse and need longer or more intensive treatment.

BILL: Most of whom - I remember from my days working at a rehab - would welcome help so as not to lose family or jobs

DR. DAVE: Right. Now, after 5 years, how many of the 904 do you think would successfully complete their treatment - following weekly health counseling and whatever you want to call AA meetings?

BILL: Five years? I have heard most programs are lucky if half are still in recovery after six months! Hardly a kind of medical treatment I would be proud of.

DR. DAVE: Whoa there, the right answer is that over 75% are in recovery. That statistic comes from the McClellan Study and was done on a national sample between 2000 and 2007.

BILL: Impressive! But let’s go back to where we began: What is there about this study of 900 drunks that would lead Louise (or me) to believe that requiring rehab, AA and group counseling is a scientifically valid medical decision?

DR. DAVE: Because those 904 drunks and drug addicts came from referral programs in 49 states - and every one of them was a physician going through their state’s required medical intervention process. I don’t think the definition of a medical program can be any better than one wherein all the subjects are physicians and surgeons themselves.

---------- End of article ---------------

It's a shame that everyone who perpetuates the stigma of addiction, due to a lack of understanding, doesn't have Dr. Dave to patiently educate them on the disease of addiction. Treatment isn't our only challenge, awareness and education are paramount in the bigger-picture battle against this complex disease.


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.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Being diagnosed with any disease or disorder is at the very least troubling and can be utterly devastating. Most of the time it is rather definitive and you prepare yourself for health maintenance or full recovery. The doctors tell you what you need to do to "win the battle."

Alcoholism and Addiction do not have such clear instructions. You aren't given odds. You aren't given a manual. In fact, the diagnosis is extremely tricky. The trip to the doctor isn't triggered by new symptoms, it's only spawned by a self-admission. An admission by someone whose judgement has been clouded by the substance they are abusing. It's extremely complicated. 

If you are able to admit this very difficult reality to yourself and family, how do you get better? If your doctor has diagnosed you with Diabetes, you take insulin and watch your diet. If you have cancer, you prepare yourself for the battle of your life and undergo whichever treatment plan that will help you survive.

When you're an addict, you don't always have the support from friends and family. What's more is that there is no judging cancer. Nor does anyone belittle diabetes. But people often judge addiction. There is a stigma - it is the black sheep of diseases. Many still believe it is a matter of choice, despite what the research has shown us regarding the disease. Many do not regard it as a serious medical condition, despite the declaration by American Medical Association (AMA) that alcoholism is a disease, all the way back in 1956.

About a week ago, I was contacted by a college friend, named Becky. She was expressing concern for a mutual friend, Chris, who she and some others suspect has a drug problem. She reached out to me on the basis of my experience working in the substance abuse field.

She told me the stories and described the shifts in his behavior. Based on what I heard, it seemed reasonable to think there was merit to her suspicions. So I decided to have a closer look.
I asked Chris to coffee. He blew me off three times. I wasn't surprised.

I then reached out to a few friends of his. They agreed that he has been acting strange lately and suspect some form of drug abuse.

Ok, now what? I really don't know his level of problem, nor am I close enough to him to definitively say whether or not he has a problem. I don't feel I have a right to call his parents and I don't really know who should confront him on this recent change in behavior.

Not long after, I had another conversation with Becky, the friend who originally expressed concern. She asked me to look into an intervention and since I know plenty of folks who work in this field, I said I would.

I spoke to a reputable interventionist who described the process and it is exactly what he and his family and friends need. Then the interventionist described the checklist for the intervention (you can view it here). And then the price. That was the moment, We had to ask ourselves, "now what?

None of us involved in the discussion is blood-related to Chris. In fact, most of us have drifted apart since college. It wouldn't be my place nor Becky's, to organize such an undertaking. The friends who are close, don't seem as concerned, or perhaps lack understanding of the serious nature of addiction.

The interventionist described things such as having an admission date, travel fees, writing letters, and of course the overall cost of the intervention and rehab. That's not exactly how it usually goes on television, where a group of friends arrange a circle of chairs, guy walks in and they express their feelings. He listens and agrees to stop abusing alcohol and they live happily ever after.

Nope. The real process is well-orchestrated, intensive and reliant on several factors. One of those factors involves a price tag ranging from $4,000 - $10,000, plus travel expenses. That's not even including the scheduled admission date into inpatient rehab, which can cost as little as $18,000 for the recommended length of stay, and up to $70,000 at 'luxury' facilities.

So again I ask, we know it's a problem, now what? 

My only conclusive advice to Becky, is to reach out to his parents. It's difficult, but a good start. We're lucky Chris has caring parents, who if informed about this issue, will do everything they can to get their son the help he needs. It's a complex disease and even more complicated to self-recognize symptoms. For others who do not have family support, it can be an endless cycle of denial.

If you see a friend or family member losing control of alcohol consumption or drug abuse, don't be shy. Talk to a family member, or call for help. Take the first step for the ones you love.

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.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, July 6, 2015


Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat has been recognized as Platinum by Optum for a second year in row. 

HEMET, CA, AUGUST 9th, 2015 — The acute inpatient behavioral health unit of Hemet Valley Recovery Center (HVRC) & Sage Retreat has once again been recognized by Optum as a Platinum acute inpatient behavioral health facility as measured in Optum’s Achievements in Clinical Excellence (ACE) program. Of the more than 650 acute inpatient facilities participating in ACE, HVRC & Sage Retreat was one of only 69 to receive the Platinum recognition for 2015, and one of only the 23 to achieve the Platinum distinction for a second consecutive year.

Begun as a pilot program in late 2013, ACE is a measurement program that correlates Optum’s vast resources of claims and admissions data to help identify and recognize those acute inpatient facilities that deliver both effective and efficient care.
“There is a tectonic shift occurring in healthcare today in which the emphasis is being placed on improving the quality of patient care while reducing overall costs, especially within acute inpatient facilities,” said Deb Adler, Senior Vice President, of Optum’s Specialty Network Services. “What we’re seeing is momentum away from the traditional fee-for-service model and toward a pay-for-value system,” she said. According the Adler, the shift to a pay-for-value system is why Optum, with its vast resources of data, has been able to position itself out front of the curve with programs such as Achievements in Clinical Excellence, or ACE. 

HVRC & Sage Retreat was presented with Optum’s Platinum distinction based on clinical data collected by Optum throughout all of 2014. Optum looked at specific criteria, such as readmission rates and average length of inpatient stay, and compared Shawnee Mission’s data to that of other regionally-based facilities. Of the several key data points examined, HVRC & Sage Retreat's exceeded all metrics.

“I believe HVRC & Sage Retreat truly represents the epitome of what outstanding behavioral health care services can and should be,” said Dr. Rick Jimenez, National Medical Director, External Health Plans at Optum. “Recognition of this type is not handed out lightly, and it’s really a credit to the staff of HVRC & Sage Retreat that they are part of this very elite class of inpatient facilities - for a second year in a row, in fact.

Steve Collier, RN
“We are extremely proud and honored to have received this second consecutive Platinum distinction,” said Steve Collier, Executive Director and Co-Founder of HVRC & Sage Retreat. “I think it’s truly a well-deserved acknowledgement of the great work being performed by our team here at HVRC & Sage Retreat. “When a provider refers a member to our facility, they know that client is going to receive excellent care. That’s the bottom line. And that is the kind of trust we’ve built with our referring sources over the years. And receiving Optum’s Platinum award for a second time in two years serves to underscore our commitment to both our referring providers and members seeking treatment. 

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.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,