Thursday, February 22, 2018

Recognizing People Who Encourage Recovery

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we invite our readers to suggest nominees for our Joseph L. Galletta “Spirit of Recovery” Award. In the field of addiction medicine there is no shortage of individuals who’ve made an enormous difference; for example, those whose good works and tireless dedication to treatment and addiction recovery affect significant change in the lives of others. Each year, we select an individual to honor who is committed to the 12 Step philosophy and exhibit leadership in the field of recovery field. We salute exemplary men and women who encourage addiction recovery in others and promote the merits of sobriety.

Dr. Joseph Galletta was the actual embodiment of everything outlined above. Over the course of many decades, he had a hand in bringing the miracles of recovery into the lives of others. The eponymous “Spirit of Recovery” Award goes to people who, like Galletta, advocate for the addict and inspire people to recover from mental illness.

All around the world, countless men and women selflessly give back through helping others break the cycle of addiction. They are those who teach individuals how to work a program of recovery openly and honestly; they show others how to embrace spirituality and open the mind to endless possibilities. Many of the people worthy of recognition are in recovery themselves; they know first-hand the tremendous courage required to rebel against the disease.


Who Was Dr. Galletta?

Joseph Galletta (1935-2004) is the author of the "ABC's of Addictive Behaviors;" he is also dear to us here at HVRC. In 2000, Galletta became the Medical Director of Hemet Valley Recovery Center. He was a selfless man who stressed the importance of the team, fellowship, and community. An impressive resume preceded his tenure with us.

He was one of the first 160 physicians in the U.S. certified in Addiction Medicine in 1983. He served as Medical Director for Hemet Valley Medical Center's Outpatient Chemical Dependency Center until 1986. Later, he served (1993-1996) as Medical Director at the Chemical Dependency Unit at Loma Linda's Behavioral Medical Center. In 1997 Dr. Galletta began serving as the Medical Director of Addiction Medical Specialists.


Spirit of Recovery 2017

The Spirit of Recovery honor went to Reverend Leo Booth in 2017. He is the author of 10 publications, and his writing appears in Counselor Magazine regularly. Rev. Booth is a lecturer, training people in many different areas, including spirituality, depression, addictions, compulsive behaviors, and low self-esteem.

Booth’s published works include: Say Yes to Your Life, Say Yes to Your Spirit, Spirituality and Recovery, The Wisdom of Letting Go, The Angel and the Frog. You can learn some more information, here.

If you believe someone should receive the honor of the Joseph L. Galletta “Spirit of Recovery” Award, you’re welcome to submit your candidate for 2018.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Why Are First Responders So Susceptible to Addiction?

first responders addictionPolice officers, firefighters, military personnel, paramedics and other first responders are trained to be calm in the face of chaos, but the amount of stress and trauma they experience on a daily basis isn’t just “part of the job.” It adds up over time, and the effects can be devastating.

We count on first responders to be sober and in control, but they are the very people who are most vulnerable to slipping into a cycle of isolation, avoidance and addiction due to work-related trauma.

Common Mental Health Issues Among First Responders

Exposure to images most of us can’t fathom----violence, accidents, injury and destruction--and working long shifts alongside people who are also grappling with stress and trauma take a toll. First responders often turn to substances to self-medicate, which only exacerbates mental health issues.

Common mental health disorders that affect first responders include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Co-occurring disorders

First responders experience significantly higher rates of mental illness, including substance abuse, addiction and, in particular, suicide. According to one study of approximately 4,000 EMS workers published in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, 37% of respondents had contemplated suicide, and 6.6% had attempted suicide. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation reports that a fire department is three times more likely to experience a suicide in any given year than a death in the line of duty.

The transition into retirement is an especially vulnerable time. It can reveal underlying mental health or substance use disorders that were previously covered up while the former first responder was working in the field.

Overcoming the Stigma

Although society as a whole has made great strides in discussing mental health more candidly in recent years, there is still a considerable stigma surrounding the topic in a field where people are expected to be tough and resilient. Many first responders who are struggling with mental health or substance use disorders are apprehensive to acknowledge their need for treatment or that their symptoms may be interfering with their ability to do their job. Given that a first responder’s duty is put others’ needs before their own, it’s easy to understand why.

It’s unfortunate that stigma could prevent someone from getting the help they deserve, because addiction can be overcome and mental health disorders can be managed with a combination of therapy and medication.

Hemet Valley Recovery Center offers a dedicated program for first responders. We can steer you or someone you love toward the path to recovery with a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation and individualized treatment plan that connects clients with the most effective mental health and addiction treatment services based on their needs. We also believe that treatment for mental health and substance use disorders should be accessible to all, which is why we accept a wide range of insurances, including Medicare and Tri-Care.

Contact HVRC to verify your benefits and learn more about our services.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

"The Trade:" A Five-Part Opioid Epidemic Doc

Some people would argue that the American opioid addiction epidemic originated in the late 1990s when the health care system began placing a more significant emphasis on patient pain. Treating pain is especially tricky because it is a "subjective concern;" everyone handles discomfort in different ways, injuries and conditions affect people in varying ways. Determining the best course of treatment depends on each case.

Pain management changes at the turn of the century came when a new drug was lauded as an addiction-free opioid. Both patients and doctors were sold a bill of goods from the pharmaceutical industry that made some bold claims. Owing to financial incentives for doctors, and patients desiring pain relief, it was easy for OxyContin to sink its teeth into the patient population.

The epidemic, as we know it, is hard to comprehend fully. Society must be careful to avoid pointing the finger at one group or industry as the sole cause of the crisis. Many factors played a role in creating the problems we face today. Prescription opioids may have opened the door to heightened opioid use rates involving heroin and a skyrocketing overdose death toll, but there is much more to the story than greedy pharmaceutical companies.


Making Sense of the Addiction Epidemic

You are probably aware that it is now more challenging to access prescription painkillers; particularly in quantities enough to maintain an addiction. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way! Prescription opioid abuse rates haven't declined commensurately with all the talk of curbing abuse by health experts and lawmakers. Each day, many Americans die of a prescription opioid overdose. People who needed treatment, but never received it, paid the ultimate price for the disease of addiction.

The epidemic today has spilled over from emergency rooms and primary care offices; Mexican heroin, fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids have quickly become significant concerns. Fully grasping the scope and scale of the opioid scourge isn’t an easy endeavor; far too much for one person to make sense of, assistance is required. Even still, having a better grasp on the opioid problem doesn’t mean it will lead to solutions, but we need to start somewhere.

In recent years, television and media programming giants made documentaries to help explain how we got where we are today with opiates. Both HBO and Netflix have some essential docs worth watching, i.e., “Heroin (E),” “Warning: This Drug May Kill You,” “Frontline: Chasing Heroin,” and “Heroin: Cape Cod, USA.” All of which covers an aspect of the epidemic and serve to give viewers an inside look at the severity of issues we face.

Last week, Showtime put some skin in the opioid-documentary enterprise, with the premiere of “The Trade,” The Boston Globe reports. The five-part series, directed by Matthew Heineman (“Cartel Land”), looks at the opioid epidemic from several angles. From small Mexican villages growing poppies for the cartels, to overburdened law enforcement officers in the Midwest. You can see the second installment this Friday at 9 pm.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with painkillers or heroin, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat. Opioid use disorder is treatable, and recovery is possible; we can help you begin the process of lasting addiction recovery.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Educating Young People About Addiction

It’s best to be informed when it comes to making decisions that could dramatically impact the course of your life. Doing your research gives you the ability to make choices that foster progress, failure to do so can result in severe consequences down the road. The more you know, the better off you are, in all things life: knowledge is power; we can apply this idea to drug and alcohol use. The fact that you are reading this blog means that you have some idea of where substance use can lead, most notably resulting in addiction.

Modern science has given all of us a more enlightened understanding of mental illness. It’s widely agreed upon that use disorders are mental health conditions with no known cure; while that may sound dismal, the good news is that experts also agree that people can manage the disease of addiction. With help, those afflicted by mental health disorders of any kind can recover; if such people stay committed to the path of recovery, they can lead fulfilling and productive lives.

As with many problems that people battle with in life, they often arise when we are young. The brain, scientists contend, is still developing into one’s mid-20’s; this means that a lot of chemical and physical changes are underway, and the substance people introduce to their bodies can result in the development of severe problems. It’s not a coincidence that teenagers who drink heavily in high school often experience issues later in life. There is no way of identifying (currently) which teenagers are susceptible to behavioral health conditions, which means is best for young people to play it safe and abstain.


National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week

Of course, we all know that teens are prone to obstinacy and invincibility complexes; they are not keen on being told what to do, let alone being led to think that they are not in control. Parents and teachers begin instilling adolescents with the facts about substance use at a young age, yet come high school countless teens across the country imbibe alcohol and consume various narcotics. The reasons for careless disregard in this area are varied; some don’t see the harm, many don’t grasp the gravity of what they are doing, while others know the danger but like the risk.

Those working in the field of addiction know that young people are extremely susceptible to developing substance use problems. The effects of drugs and alcohol on developing brains are many, including substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. We must do everything in our power, as a society, to give teens and young adults an accurate picture of substance use and addiction.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) launched National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week in 2010 to “stimulate educational events in communities so teens can learn what science has taught us about drug use and addiction.” In 2016, NIDA was joined by their sister agency, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), to include alcohol into our discussion with young people. Alcohol and drugs are birds of a feather, after all.

NIDA and NIAAA understand that young people make decisions without having all the facts, especially regarding alcohol and substance use; the agencies want to Shatter the Myths ® of about drug and alcohol use. You can help them in their efforts by spreading the word about the risks of addiction on social media or by attending one of the many events taking place this weekend.


Alcohol and Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Addiction can develop during adolescence leading to problems in all areas of a person’s life in high school and down the road. In other cases, the seeds of use disorder are sown as a teen, only to blossom in college; in both cases, addiction treatment is of the utmost import. When the disease is left untreated, individuals live in clear and present danger; drugs and alcohol wreak serious havoc on both mind and body, and certain drugs carry the potential of causing a fatal overdose.

If you’re a young adult struggling with addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. Our Young Adult Addiction Treatment Program was specifically designed to meet the unique needs you young adults plagued by alcohol and substance use disorders. Recovery is more than possible, and it’s entirely vital; HVRC can help you stem the tide and give you the tools to make the journey of lasting recovery.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Protecting Your Recovery: Cigarettes, Relapse, and Zombies

Maintaining a program of addiction recovery is not an easy task, to be sure; one’s disease is always looking for an opportunity to resume control. Relapse prevention is the watchword of the addiction treatment industry; committed to helping people achieve lasting recovery. There are things that people can do to mitigate the risk of relapse, such as staying away from dangerous environments and practicing the principles of recovery in all one’s affairs. However, there is one suggestion that many recovering addicts and alcoholics either question or choose to ignore; the recommendation to quit smoking or using tobacco products at the onset of recovery.

You only have to attend a few recovery-related meetings to realize that a lot of individuals hold on to the habit of smoking. Cigarettes are addictive to be sure, but in some cases maintaining the practice could be chalked up to being one of the last bastions of a person’s disease. Such people know that their cigarettes despite gilded packaging, are in fact trying to kill them, slowly. The habit persists in spite of the warnings and a noticeable detriment to people’s health.

Whatever the reasons for continued use are, any justification for maintaining cigarette use is not backed by reason. What’s more, studies indicate that tobacco use leads to an elevated risk of relapse. Maybe the health risks don’t concern you, but returning to the depths of despair hopefully will lead to a course correction. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got 30 days sober or 30 years, you don’t want your hard work to go up in smoke.


Promoting Health Paradoxically

Some of you may remember when CVS Pharmacy put the kibosh on selling tobacco products. While they cited promoting healthy behaviors as a driving force in the decision to can cigarettes and their ilk, there were financial incentives for making the switch. After all, if health were the motivating factor CVS would have quit selling alcohol too, they did not. Nevertheless, ceasing tobacco sales was a healthy move, and maybe one day only a few places in the country will sell cancer sticks.

CVS’s decision to go smoke-free wasn't echoed by other major pharmacies, leading anti-smoking advocates to push the issue. If you were in Washington D.C. filling a prescription at Walgreens flagship store a couple of days ago, you probably thought you were on the set of "The Walking Dead." However, the humans wearing zombie garb were not trying to eat the pharmacy's clientele, instead they were hoping to encourage the chain to stop selling cigarettes, The Huffington Post reports. Protesters are at odds with a company promoting health while simultaneously peddling death. Remember, cigarettes are still one the nation’s leading causes of preventable death.

"Simply put, tobacco and pharmacies don’t mix,” said Robin Koval, CEO, and President of Truth Initiative. “Our zombie protest underscores that while Walgreens continues to drag its feet on removing tobacco products from its shelves, more people are getting sick and dying from tobacco-related diseases."

Walgreens company leaders will meet in Arizona for its shareholder meeting next week; you can bet cigarettes will be a topic of serious discussion.


Protect Your Recovery

Those of you in recovery still smoking are strongly encouraged to seek assistance in the name of your program. Please talk to your doctor or pharmacists about smoking cessation products and their efficacy. Research shows the using patches or drugs like Chantix have the most significant success when used in conjunction with behavioral therapies.

If quitting proves too challenging to manage on your own, Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat can assist you in your effort to manifest the dream of lasting recovery.