Thursday, May 18, 2017

Keeping Recovery During the Summer

addiction recovery
Whether you live on the east or west coast of America, summer appears to finally be at our doorstep. Phew! The winter can be a hard time for people in recovery for addiction. Less sunshine, cold days and nights often makes people depressed, particularly people who have a history of mental illness. It can be difficult to muster the strength to work and be active; and idle time for addicts is most certainly the devils…

Not feeling well because of the weather can cause you to think that maybe a drink or drug will improve your state of being. One must constantly be replaying the tape of where that kind of thinking can take you. Reminding oneself of the leaps and bounds you have made in life which you owe entirely to your recovery. If you managed to make it through the winter without a relapse, we at HVRC thank you for being living proof that even in tough times, the practices and principles of recovery work.

If on the other hand, you happen to have relapsed and returned to the program despite the feelings that come with a relapse, you made the right choice. Perhaps you are still in the midst of active addiction post relapse, we implore you to seek treatment immediately.


Addiction Recovery Over The Summer

While the warmer months certainly bring more opportunities to get out of one’s own head, suck the marrow out of life, it is not always a walk in the park. Particularly for alcoholics who long associated warm weather with drinking cold beer. Going to parties on the major holidays, and barbecuing every weekend can also carry a host of triggers.

Recovery is 24/7, 365 day-a-year is a mission to live a life free from drugs and alcohol. In order to experience the gifts that the program can afford you, vigilance is a must. If you find yourself experiencing triggers, then get to a meeting, talk to someone. Call Your Sponsor. Call Your Sponsor, Again. You can never protect your program too much.

Make plans to soak up the sun with others who are working towards your common goal of recovery. It cannot be said enough, we can have fun in recovery. If you are taking trips around the country or world this summer, have a plan in place. Find meetings to go to along the way, before you depart. Going to meetings in different cities, states and countries can be a really fun experience. You never know what kind of interesting people you will meet at foreign recovery meetings. Potentially making lasting connections.


This Could Be A Life Changing Summer

If you are in the grips of active addiction currently, the summer might be the perfect opportunity to address the problem and seek treatment. Many people will tell themselves that they do not have time to go to treatment for three months, worried that it will impact schooling or their job. But the summer may provide you the time you need. Even if it doesn’t, failing to seek help will eventually result in education or career losses. Ultimately, untreated addiction takes everything.

Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat today, to start a new existence. One free from the stranglehold of active drug or alcohol use. Recovery is waiting for you.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cannabis Use Disorder In America

cannabis use disorder
Every couple of years it seems like more states alter their policy regarding marijuana use, whether that be for medical or recreational purposes. While California was the first state to successfully pass and implement a medical marijuana program in 1996, the Golden State would not be the first to legalize recreational pot use for adults. But, nevertheless California voters passed legislation ending the prohibition last November, joining: Alaska, Colorado, DC, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. All told 29 states and Washington DC have medical marijuana programs operating or in the works.

The issue of cannabis use in the United States has historically been a hallmark of political division across the country, but it is clear the gap continues to diminish in size—arguably the result of fewer Americans viewing the plant as inherently dangerous. Even Americans who do not use cannabis products (or plan to) now believe that possession of the drug is not cause for arrest and/or imprisonment. More and more people in the U.S. understand that our prisons have more inmates (by far) than any other country in the world, and that the majority of the people behind bars are there because of nonviolent drug offenses. The product of a seemingly futile war on addiction—masquerading as a “war on drugs.”


The Big Picture

The arguments for legalization of medical marijuana and recreational use are very appealing when you consider the damage done to individuals whose only crime was simple possession of what even members of the government consider to be a fairly benign substance (relatively speaking). Such arrests do not just affect the individual, they impact families and entire communities that are by and large impoverished and mainly populated by ethnic minorities like African Americans and Latinos. Whether you are for or against marijuana use, it is hard to disagree with the statistics of who has been affected the greatest by the war on drugs.

On the other hand, it is important that we take a look at the big picture and what an end to prohibition can bring with it—particularly heightened addiction rates. There is still a lot that scientists do not understand about cannabis, and the drug's impact on humans. We know that it can wreak havoc in the developing brains of teenagers and young adults, and impact cognitive function in older adults. But there is rarely much talk about marijuana addiction, otherwise known as cannabis use disorder. However, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Medical Center have attempted to shed some light on progressive marijuana policies and addiction.


Cannabis Use Disorder

One reason why people do not speak much of weed addiction is because when compared to other substance use disorders it can be hard for people to view the former as being a big deal. Stereotypical representations of pot smokers do not show such people pawning all their belongings so they can inject weed into their arm. Sure, people who smoke pot may have a deficit in motivation, but they are not robbing pharmacies to get their fix. Even in rooms of addiction recovery, some people are prone to look down their nose at those whose life became unmanageable because of smoking marijuana. Yes, even among addicts there is at times what could be called a reverse hierarchy. To be clear regarding recovery programs, people viewing other problems as somehow lacking the credentials for free admission to recovery is not the norm—but rather the exception.

Opinions aside, there is clear evidence that cannabis use disorder is real. It can, and does, negatively impact people's lives. The condition is recognized in the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and furthermore, pot addicts who attempt to quit the drug do in fact experience withdrawal symptoms which can precipitate relapse.

Even though the country is steaming towards an end to prohibition on the Federal level, it is important that people living in states where the drug is now legal understand all the risks. A new study looked at cannabis use and cannabis use disorders before and after medical marijuana laws were passed in certain states, ScienceDaily reports. The researchers found that illicit marijuana use decreased and marijuana use disorder remained flat between 1991-1992 and 2001-2002, but both illicit use and cannabis use disorder rates increased between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013. Naturally, more research is needed to better understand the correlation.

"Medical marijuana laws may benefit some with medical problems. However, changing state laws -- medical or recreational -- may also have adverse public health consequences, including cannabis use disorders," said study author Deborah Hasin, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. "A prudent interpretation of our results is that professionals and the public should be educated on risks of cannabis use and benefits of treatment, and prevention/intervention services for cannabis disorders should be provided."



If marijuana is impacting your life in negative ways, it is possible that you are dependent on the substance. If you continue to use despite adverse effects, it is a usually a sign that a problem exists. Help is available and there are a significant number of people who are recovering from cannabis use disorder, living productive and fulfilling lives. Please reach out to us at Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat to discuss treatment options and beginning the journey of recovery.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Opioid Addiction and Pain Management

pain management
Rough estimates indicate that some two million Americans are dependent on prescription opioids, though many experts believe that approximation is low. Between painkillers and other forms of opioid abuse, the problem has gained epidemic status. Those who become addicted to this class of drugs are at great risk of overdose and everyday nearly 100 people succumb to the side effects of opioid toxicity.

People who get hooked on powerful painkillers are in a tight spot, especially those who started using opioids as the result of experiencing chronic pain. Such people usually require detoxification and the assistance of an addiction treatment center, followed by working a program of recovery. While such programs are effective at addressing the addiction aspect, it is not as if one’s chronic pain is going to magically disappear. Unabated pain symptoms can, and do, steer individuals back into the cycle of addiction.

To be sure, there are in fact alternatives to opioids. They may not be addictive, but they are hardly as effective. Ibuprofen and the like can only do so much, a lot of people do not respond to acupuncture and holistic treatments. Which is why finding effective measures of pain mitigation could be argued as being just as important as ensuring access to addiction treatment services. Rest assured, researchers are working hard to find non-addictive medical alternatives that mirror the efficacy of opioids.


Complex Pain

One of the reasons treating pain effectively and safely, is that it is hard to measure the adequacy of a drug or procedure, because pain and one’s response to it is subjective. Big pharma has had limited success at developing opioid alternatives for decades, CBS News reports. The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Dr. Nora Volkow, pointed out that drug companies pumped a lot of money into the quest years ago, but “failed miserably.”

Tanezumab is one drug that has proven to be quite effective at treating pain caused by arthritis and bad backs, by targeting outlying nerves, according to the report. The drug blocks pain signals from reaching the spinal cord and brain that originate in the muscles, skin and organs. Unfortunately, tanezumab, pronounced tah-NAZE-uh-mab, has been plagued by setbacks which have kept it from market, even though trial participants experienced great results.

The drug blocks what is known as nerve growth factor—a protein made in response to pain—which might affect joint repair and regeneration in patients needing knee or hip replacements, the article reports. As a result, studies were put on hold in 2010 but have resumed again, results are expected sometime next year.


The Future of Pain Management

Cell therapies, stem Cells and sodium channel blockers are being researched by drug companies. Researchers are considering medicines that can be injected into joints to relieve pain, or grow cartilage. Drugs like Embrel for instance do not act directly on the brain rather targeting the pain pathways and specific types of pain caused by arthritis. There has also been much interest in developing cannabinoid medications that lack the euphoric or addictive properties. For the time being, opioid narcotics will still be the “go-to” painkillers, but it is a good sign that scientists are working hard to stem the tide.

It’s important to keep in mind that there may never be a cure-all pain medication that lacks addictive properties. What’s more, relying on less effective measures of pain management are likely the lesser of two evils when compared to the insidious nature of dependence and addiction. Better to live in some pain, as opposed to putting one’s life at risk of peril.

If you have become addicted to your opioid painkillers, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. Our Chronic Pain and Addiction Treatment Program can help you with the withdrawal process and begin you on the road of recovery. Under the guidance of our medical director, an alternative pain management treatment strategy will be developed. We have helped a significant number of people who have been in the position you find yourself.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Depression: Let's Talk

Addiction is a chronic disease. A form of mental illness that cannot be cured, like all mental health disorders, only treated. It's worth pointing out, before the article proceeds, that people with any form of mental illness are far more likely to experience a substance use disorder, than those without a history of conditions like depression or bipolar disorder. Spun in a different way, it is extremely common for people who meet the criteria for an alcohol or substance use disorder to also have a co-occurring mental illness.

With that in mind, organizations dedicated to treating addiction have a more difficult task when it comes co-occurring cases—also known as a “dual diagnosis.” If treatment is to be successful, that is, resulting in a continued program of recovery, it is paramount that both the addiction and the other form of mental illness is treated at the same time. Treating one without addressing the other, almost always results in relapse.

Recovering from addiction and a co-occurring disorder is not easy, but it is possible with the help of experienced professionals employing the use of science-based methods. It is of utmost importance that people living with a dual diagnosis understand the risks associated with failing to work a continuous program of recovery and keeping the symptoms of other forms of mental illness at bay with the use of medication and/or therapy.


The Prevalence of Depression

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a year-long campaign called, “Depression: let’s talk”. The goal, as you could probably guess, it to open discussion about the disorder, encourage people suffering from depression to seek help and to ensure that they have access to such assistance. The organization points out that, with more than 300 million people worldwide living with depression, the condition is believed to be the leading cause of poor health and disability on the planet. In that light, depression could be considered a pandemic.

“These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves,” said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. 

WHO has made the disorder the main focus of World Health Day this Friday, April 7, 2017. The organization defines depression as having persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities (anhedonia). As a result of which, people are unable to manage daily activities, for 14 days or longer. It is vital that people with depression feel able and safe to talk about what they are experiencing. An inability to do so means that such individuals will be disinclined to seek help, and without help, self-medication with drugs and alcohol typically ensues. People with depression are not only at greater risk of substance abuse, but suicide as well.

“The continuing stigma associated with mental illness was the reason why we decided to name our campaign Depression: let’s talk,” said Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO. “For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery.”


Treatment is the Answer

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat we are committed to helping break the stigma attached to any form of mental illness. Our experienced, professional staff fully grasps the need for treating the whole patient, both substance use and any other form of mental illness that may accompany the insidious disorder. Please reach out to HVRC today, to begin the journey of recovery.

Naturally, people working in the field of mental health can only do so much for the cause. Encouraging people to open up about their mental illness in order to get help can only be accomplished if we, as a society, are committed to ending the stigma of mental health disorders.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Family History Alcoholism and Hangovers

It is widely accepted that people, with a family history of alcoholism, are themselves at a greater risk of developing an alcohol use disorder than their peers, who do not have a similar background. People who have a family history of alcoholism are four times more likely to experience a problem with the substance, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). There are several reasons for the aforementioned case, including genetic factors and exposure to people who are responsible for one’s well-being having unhealthy relationships with the potentially deadly substance. It is easy to normalize things, even when one knows such behaviors are likely to be harmful.

So much of the person we grow up to be is rooted in how we are raised. In many cases, we learn how to process things that are difficult from our parents, especially regarding coping with the trials and tribulations of life. If a child sees a parent drink alcohol when they are upset about something, it can leave a lasting impression that can have serious repercussions down the road. One can equate alcohol with relief. Which, in some respect, that is a true statement; alcohol can ease one's tension about a given situation. However, the use of alcohol to cope with challenges is a slippery slope leading to addiction.

Alcohol use prevention efforts have long focused on instilling young people with the facts about alcohol. Facts that may be the opposite of what they see at home. It is reality that can be very confusing. There is no guarantee that someone who comes from an alcoholic family will develop the same relationship with alcohol that their parents have established. But for those who do drink, it is vital that efforts be made to mitigate the risk of following in the footsteps of their mother and/or father. And, it turns out that hangovers could provide some insight.

What is hangover?

Rather than run through the myriad of theories and highly scientific markers that are likely to be what is behind a hangover resulting, it would be more useful to discuss the symptoms that can accompany the condition that most people who have drank too much are acutely familiar. The morning after somebody engages in heavy alcohol use, the alcohol has pretty much worked its way through one’s system. At which point, a number of uncomfortable symptoms occur—both physiological and psychological in nature.

Symptoms typically include:
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Concentration Problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
Simply put, there is nothing fun about a hangover. Even after the physical symptoms dissipate, emotional distress can linger for some time. A long night of drinking, followed by serious regret. Alcoholics will usually push through a hangover by drinking more, commonly referred to as “hair of the dog.” Such behavior can be sign that you have a problem with alcohol, and potentially an alcohol use disorder.

Countless people in the grips of a hangover have vowed to never drink again, only to renege on what they believed to be a solemn oath to abstain. It turns out that reinforcing the memories of a hangover in people, who have alcoholism in the family tree, may impact the course they themselves eventually take with the substance.


Remembering a Hangover

New research has found that people from families where alcohol has been a problem are more likely to retain lucid and painful memories of hangovers, according to a press release from Keele University. The study, "Does familial risk for alcohol use disorder predict alcohol hangover?", was published in the journal Psychopharmacology. Psychologist Dr Richard Stephens at Keele University said:

“Taken together with findings from prior research it appears that people who are predisposed to develop problem drinking are no more susceptible to developing a hangover after a night of alcohol than people who are not predisposed. However, we found that such people appear to remember their hangovers more lucidly. He adds, “It may be possible to exploit this lucid memory for hangovers to curb excessive drinking. Reminding problem drinkers of the negative consequences of incapacitating hangover, for example, letting down family members due to abandoned plans, may help them to manage their alcohol consumption.”

Getting more answers...

If you have more questions alcohol use disorder, we can help. The therapeutic drug and alcohol treatment process at the Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat is designed within a holistic, cognitively-oriented framework. It is facilitated through educational, task oriented and process groups. Introduction to the twelve-step program and philosophy is a component of treatment. Please contact us.