Friday, December 12, 2014

THE MOST DANGEROUS TIME OF YEAR

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 CDC, excessive 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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

SEO PRACTICES REMINDS US OF OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ETHICS

From the the TV Series Mad Men 
The world of advertising, marketing and public relations have been criticized for years for being deceptive. It's depicted in television and movies. Always the same. The adman is a sleazy character, selling lies to the public to push product. He smokes in his office, drinks old timey cocktails and charms his clients with deception. To an extent, the dubious labels are warranted - persuasive messages are indeed, often developed and disseminated based on appealing to human emotions -
often insecurities, and fears.

I used to think that the Recovery Community was somewhat immune to this. We are dealing with overcoming a disease - a winnable one, and so our messages are of hope, courage, and restoring the family unit. There really isn't much room for deception (for the most part).

But then, along came the Internet and search engine rankings. Everyone wants to be at the top of Google's search and companies will do just about anything to do it. Even if it's highly unethical.

A recent Addiction Professional article entitled,"Accusations of unfair play: Utah center attacks bait-and-switch marketing,"tells the story of Cirque Lodge director Gary Fisher.

From the article:
"Twice learning in recent months that his facility's name was being used to divert consumers to information about others' nationally prominent treatment chains, Fisher decided he had had enough. Last week he shared his frustration via e-mail with a number of his peers, including leaders at the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) who have debated how aggressively they should work to enforce the association's code of ethics for member treatment centers."
It takes a lot for an individual or a family to come forward and admit that there is a problem - one which requires professional help. When someone in need seeks help for something this important, this sensitive, they most likely spend a good amount of time researching their options and program choices. The fact that facilities are deceiving these people is downright egregious.

According to Fisher, when searching for "Cirque Lodge" on Google, the top results led to an advertisement that when clicked revealed an 800 number for a well-known national treatment center, not Cirque Lodge.
“When our person [who placed the call] said he thought they were calling Cirque Lodge, they said, 'No, this is [Other Treatment Center], we are much better than Cirque Lodge,'” Fisher wrote in an Oct. 28 e-mail to the NAATP. He went on to say: “Capitalizing on someone else's brand is wrong. I don't think there is any debate about this.”
Couldn't agree more. 

The center in question's response was to cancel the contract of the marketing firm they claimed was responsible. I suppose certain search engine optimization companies do not make their clients aware of the tactics they're using to achieve results? Most would obviously have their doubts.
“They all want to say they have nothing to do with it,” Fisher says of his peers in treatment administration. “But we all know how these companies harvest beds—there is always some kind of sleight of hand, some bait and switch.
Eventually the tactic was traced to a marketing consultancy by the name of Recovery Brands, which operates directory sites such as Rehabs.com. He said Cirque Lodge contacted Recovery Brands' co-founder, Abhilash Patel, who replied that he would fix the problem. But after several weeks had passed with no action taken, Fisher said he went directly to the CEO and the problem was ultimately resolved.

A couple of weeks later, a Cirque Lodge Google search led to an advertisement called "rehab-review." That link led to, you guessed it - the same well-known national treatment provider. I guess it's time for them to blame another vendor and cancel another contract.

When these types of practices exist and are not being policed, families in need are suffering. These people are distressed at the time they place the call - it's a time when all they want is for the lying, deception, and manipulation in their own lives and of their families' to end.

When the call they place is a bait and switch - another lie, another manipulation... in a time when what they really need is courage, hope and the truth - we are not practicing ethics. We not being responsible to our patients and to the recovery community as a whole.  

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.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

NANCY WAITE-O'BRIEN RECEIVES "SPIRIT OF RECOVERY" AWARD

NANCY WAITE-O'BRIEN, Ph.D., OF WIND HORSE CROSSING, INC., has been named the 2014 Joseph L. Galletta “Spirit of Recovery” Award winner. Nancy received multiple, heartfelt nominations for the esteemed, fifth annual award.

Formerly Vice President of Clinical Services at the Betty Ford Center, Nancy directed inpatient, residential, day treatment, outpatient, and family programs - as well as training programs for professionals and medical students countrywide. She currently owns and oversees Wind Horse Crossing, Inc., devoted to providing training and therapeutic experience to individuals and groups wanting to increase self-awareness through the practice of equine-assisted psychotherapy.

Dr. O'Brien is also a founding director of Shaky Acres; a half-way house in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, and former faculty member of Prescott College’s Master’s Degree program in Equine Assisted Therapy. Currently, along with operating Wind Horse Crossing, she has a private practice in Palm Desert, CA and is a consulting psychologist at the Betty Ford Center, a part of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

Waite-O'Brien began her association with the Betty Ford Center in 1989 and played a pivotal role in the design of the center's unique women's program. She is a frequent lecturer on issues related to women's recovery.
"Nancy's willingness to help, no matter the situation or capacity, reflects her professionalism and genuine interest in the field. She is a champion for women, showing great compassion and insight," explains Joan Connor Clark, editor, Betty Ford Center. "I have known Nancy since her internship at Betty Ford Center over 20 years ago, and she still radiates the same aura of comfort and willingness to help."
Waite-O'Brien has more than 20 years of experience in addiction treatment both in the United States and in the Caribbean. She has co-authored articles on adolescent treatment and women's treatment issues, taught at Chapman University and published research on shame and depression in early recovery.
"Nancy is one of the most honored and respected women in the field of addiction and recovery, " said Juliana Weed, Director of Operations, Desert Palms. "Nancy has an impeccable reputation. She personally and professionally appears from a place of integrity and honesty and upholds high ethics and standards."
Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat named Nancy Waite O'Brien, Ph. D., as its recipient of the 2014 Spirit of Recovery Award because she embodies the spirit of the award’s namesake, the late Dr. Joseph Galletta. Like Dr. Joe, Nancy is a noted, respected, trained professional in the field of addiction and has assisted and touched thousands of people over the years, helping them find the courage to recover.

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.

Friday, October 3, 2014

NY TIMES FEATURES HVRC & SAGE RETREAT'S SYLVIA DOBROW

Below is the full article from the October 3rd, 2014 edition of the New York Times. 

More Older Adults Are Struggling With Substance Abuse
By Abby Ellin Oct. 3, 2014
Sylvia Dobrow, 81, now works as a counselor at the rehabilitation center in Hermet Valley, Calif., where she was treated for alcohol abuse. CreditJ. Emilio Flores for The New York Times
Before her drinking spiraled out of control, Sylvia Dobrow “drank like a lady,” as she put it, matching her wine to her sandwiches: “Tuna and chardonnay, roast beef and rosé.” But soon she was “drinking around the clock,” downing glasses of vodka and skim milk.

“When you try to hide your drinking from your grandchildren, you do whatever you can,” said Ms. Dobrow, 81, a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother living in Stockton, Calif.

A former hospital educator, Ms. Dobrow’s alcohol consumption became unmanageable after she lost her job and subsequently “lost my identity,” she said.

One night in early 2007, after a particularly excessive alcohol binge, Ms. Dobrow fell out of bed and suffered a black eye. That was when her two daughters, one of whom was a nurse, took her to Hemet Valley, a recovery facility in Hemet Valley, Calif., that caters to adults age 55 and older. Ms. Dobrow, who was 73 at the time, stayed for 30 days, which cost roughly $20,000, about $13,000 of which was covered by insurance. When she returned home, she continued with a 12-step program. She has been sober ever since.

An estimated 2.8 million older adults in the United States meet the criteria for alcohol abuse, and this number is expected to reach 5.7 million by 2020, according to a study in the journal “Addiction.” In 2008, 231,200 people over 50 sought treatment for substance abuse, up from 102,700 in 1992, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency.

While alcohol is typically the substance of choice, a 2013 report found that the rate of illicit drug use among adults 50 to 64 increased from 2.7 percent in 2002 to 6.0 percent in 2013.

“As we get older, it takes longer for our bodies to metabolize alcohol and drugs,” said D. John Dyben, the director of older adult treatment services for the Hanley Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. “Someone might say, ‘I could have two or three glasses of wine and I was fine, and now that I’m in my late 60s, it’s becoming a problem.’ That’s because the body can’t handle it.”

Many, although certainly not all, of these older individuals with alcohol problems are retired.

Over the course of 10 years, Peter A. Bamberger and Samuel B. Bacharach, co-authors of “Retirement and the Hidden Epidemic,” conducted a study funded by the National Institutes of Health on substance abuse in older adults. They found that the impact of retirement on substance abuse was “anything but clear cut, with the conditions leading to retirement, and the economic and social nature of the retirement itself, having a far greater impact on substance use than simple retirement itself,” said Mr. Bamberger, who is also research director of the Smithers Institute at Cornell University.

But events that arise in later life often require coping skills older adults may not possess. Some retirees are lonely and depressed, and turn to alcohol or drugs to quell their anxieties. Others may drink to deal with late-life losses of spouses, friends, careers and purpose.

“In retirement there can be depression, divorce, death of a spouse, moving from a big residence into a small residence,” said Steven Wollman, a substance abuse counselor in New York, . “For anyone who’s an addict, boredom’s the No. 1 trigger.”

Sandra D., 58, who works in the financial services industry in Toronto, said that her father’s drinking increased so much after he retired that she often took the car keys away from him.

“He and his friends meet for cocktails at about 3 or 4 and then he passes out, which he calls a ‘nap,’ ” said Ms. D., who asked that her full last name not be used. “My dad didn’t plan out his retirement well. My mom was very ill for many years before she passed away, and my dad was a caregiver. He was pretty well looking after the house and taking care of her. When she passed away, there was a very big void for him.”

Ms. D. said her father, an 82-year-old former maintenance worker, doesn’t believe he drinks too much, a common perception among many seniors.

“People are really good at redefining things,” said Stephan Arndt, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa and director of the Iowa Consortium for Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation. “They say, ‘I don’t have a problem, I just like to drink.’ Or, ‘I’m a big guy, I can handle it.’ In the case of prescription drugs, it’s, ‘Well, I got it from my doctor, and it’s for my pain. It’s medication.’ Consequently, they don’t seek help.”

Physicians often aren’t trained to talk to their older patients about chemical dependency — or, perhaps more pointedly in an era of managed care, they often don’t have the time to thoroughly screen a patient. Also, many signs of chemical dependence like memory loss and disorientation resemble normal symptoms of aging. “Is this person confused because they’re messing up their meds, or is it dementia?” said Brenda J. Iliff, the executive director of Hazelden, a residential treatment center in Naples, Fla., that offers special programming baby boomers and older adults for about $21,000 a month. “Is their diabetes out of control, or did they fall and break their hip because they were woozy from Atavan?”

Another misconception is that older adults don’t benefit from treatment. “There’s this lore, this belief, that as people get older they become less treatable,” said Paul Sacco, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, who researches aging and addiction. “But there’s a large body of literature saying that the outcomes are as good with older adults. They’re not hopeless. This may be just the time to get them treatment.”

Pamela Noffze was 58 when she arrived at Hazelden‘s center in Naples for treatment. At her worst, she was drinking a case of light beer a day, but she didn’t think she had an issue until her daughter threatened to ban her from seeing her grandsons again unless she sought help. “That’s when I knew I had to do something,” said Ms. Noffze.

On her first night at Hazelden, she discovered that she was also addicted to Klonopin, an anti-anxiety medication that her psychiatrist had prescribed in 2009 to help her cope with a divorce. Weaning herself off prescription medications was harder than stopping drinking, she said. Still, she has not had a sip of alcohol or any pills since rehab.

Ms. Noffze, now 61, who lives in Naples and is unemployed, regularly attends 12-step meetings. She said she was astonished at the number of people who “have their cocktails every night, and the next thing they know they find themselves addicted because some doctor gave them Ambien to sleep or they were on pain pills for arthritis or whatever,” she said. “You put those two together and you put yourself over the edge.”

As for Ms. Dobrow, she was so emboldened by her recovery that in 2010 she went back to school to get a credential as a substance abuse counselor. She now works part time counseling older adults at Hemet Valley.

“Losing your purpose in life is the singular thing that hurts people,” said Ms. Dobrow. “We involve so much of our ego in our career, but these last seven and a half years have been the most fulfilling of my life, because I can help people. What is when people used to wear a sandwich board and walk around in a commercial? I feel that mine says ’Hope’ on the front and on the back.”

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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

Saturday, September 20, 2014

HVRC & SAGE RETREAT RECEIVE OPTUM'S PLATINUM STATUS

HVRC & Sage Retreat has been honored as a Platinum status facility by Optum, formerly known as United Behavioral Health

HEMET, CA, SEPTEMBER 19th, 2014 —With the continuing escalation of costs and the myriad issues surrounding the delivery of health care, it seldom seems there’s a positive story about health care that is newsworthy. But one local substance abuse facility has been recognized for delivering highly effective inpatient care while doing so in a cost-efficient manner, and is having a great impact benefitting patients. HEMET VALLEY RECOVERY CENTER & SAGE RETREAT (HVRC.COM) has recently been awarded the Platinum designation by Optum, formerly known as United Behavioral Health, for the remarkable work the facility does here in Hemet Valley, working with those recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction.
“I believe HVRC & Sage Retreat truly represents the epitome of what outstanding substance abuse treatment can and should be,” said Dr. Rick Jemanez, National Medical Director, External Health Plans. “They are a credit to their community and to the addiction treatment profession at large.” 
HVRC & Sage Retreat was honored with the Platinum distinction based on clinical data collected by Optum over the course of an entire year. Optum looked at specific criteria, such as readmission rates and average length of inpatient stay, and compared HVRC’s data to that of other regionally-based facilities. Of the several key data points examined, HVRC exceeded nearly all.
“We are extremely proud and honored to have received this Platinum distinction,” said Steve Collier, Executive Director and Co-Founder. “I think it’s truly a well-deserved acknowledgement of the great work being performed by our team here at Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat. “When one of our providers refers a patient to our facility, they know that patient is going to receive excellent care. That is the kind of trust we’ve built with our providers over the years. And receiving Optum’s Platinum award serves to affirm that our providers’ trust is well placed with HVRC."

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.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

HVRC'S GORDON SCHEIBLE TO PRESENT AT US JOURNAL CONFERENCE

("Spirituality: From the Negative to the Positive" Among Friday 's Agenda at the 5th Western Conference on Behavioral Health Addictive Disorders)

Scheible
Friday, September 5th, 2014 (SAN FRANCISCO, CA) - Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat is sponsoring "Spirituality: From the Negative to the Positive," a workshop conducted by Gordon Scheible, MDiv, CADC-II, ICADC.

Gordon manages and facilitates the Older Adult Program at Hemet Valley Recovery Center. He is trained in Critical Incident Stress Management and developed and implemented an extensive Suicide Prevention Training Program.

Spirituality is often described as a connection to yourself, others, society and the world around you, and for many, with a God of their own understanding. It is ultimately a dynamic of relationship. To heal addiction, which is a process of disconnection from self, others and God, people must embrace recovery, which is a process of re-connection. This presentation will explore the true nature of spirituality, how addictive thinking and behavior has replaced it, and what steps one can take to begin to reclaim a positive spirituality which is crucial to building a new, meaningful and happy life in recovery.

The workshop will be held as part of the 2014 5th Western Conference Conference on Behavioral Health and Addictive Disorders, in San Francisco, CA, September 4-6th at the Hotel Nikko San Francisco

The workshop takes place on Friday,September 5th 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm at the Hotel Nikko San Francisco. 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.


US JOURNAL TRAINING, INC - 5th WESTERN CONFERENCE ON BEHAVIORAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIVE DISORDERS
Hotel Nikko San Francisco, San Francisco, CA | September 4-6, 2014
Program Focus: 

The 5th Western Conference on Behavioral Health and Addictive Disorders is a premier training event, specializing in mental health and the addictions field. It is where a unique combination of nationally recognized faculty address a wide variety of today’s most relevant topics. The result is a highly acclaimed national training event featuring customized training opportunities for developing new t  reatment strategies and the sharing of research advances for clinicians and counselors. US Journal Training, The Institute for Integral Development and COUNSELOR Magazine present an exceptional combination of inspiring speakers and trainers, addressing today’s most relevant topics.

This year’s Western Conference tackles the issues of behavioral health and addictions using an integrated approach which considers the complex emotional, social and spiritual dimensions of each individual.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A WEEK'S WORTH OF TRAGIC AFTERMATH

It has been one week since the tragic suicide death of actor/comedian Robin Williams. And while there has been a groundswell of support from his loved ones and fans taking to social media, the death has also exposed a dark side to these outlets.

Among the highlights of Facebook and Twitter: Fans expressing thoughts and prayers, as well as commemorative messages, quoting his infamous movie quotes, such as "Oh Captain My Captain!"
A Scene from the movie, Dead Poets' Society

The bad: Well, the bad has just been flat out ugly.

Williams' daughter, Zelda, was bullied off of Twitter by Internet trolls, who decided to post phony photos of her father with bruises around his neck. Her signoff: "I'm sorry. I should've risen above. Deleting this from devices for a good long time, maybe forever. Time will tell. Goodbye."

There are also reports of scammers trying to take advantage of the situation.

"Social media posts are being provided linking to video claiming its unreleased police footage from the time of his death or information where you can see is last words before he died," said Caitlin Driscoll with the Better Business Bureau.

They call it “click-jacking,” because if you click on the links, it takes you to somewhere you don’t expect. “If you do click, it will either likely lead you to a video player – where it asks you to download the latest version in order to view the information – you’re really just downloading a virus,” said Driscoll.

Robin Williams, circa 2013
“Or it may take you to a survey that you have to complete.” “By doing that – they’ll have your information that they can sell to companies for solicitations and you’ll just end up being put on a number of different spam lists,” Driscoll added.

As if the news of one of the greatest comedic actors of our time taking his own life wasn't sad enough.

One week later and many of us are still reeling from his shocking death. However, the media attention is loathsomely centered on Cyber-pariahs - those who choose to spew hate and look for ways - any way to pilfer data and dollars from people.

What we should be remembering, what we should be taking from this tragedy, is a message of awareness and recovery. Our good friends at Pavilion Recovery said it best in a recent Facebook post:
"Tonight we learn about the passing of Robin Williams. It strikes us once again how this disease doesn't care how talented, famous, beautiful or rich a person is. We do not know what caused his passing....but we do know that this is a man who was strongly committed to his sobriety. After 20 years sober, he relapsed - and sought help. When he felt himself slipping again - he sought help before he picked up that first drink. He was open and honest about his recovery. As his family asks that people think about the laughter and joy of his life, it seems only appropriate that the recovery community celebrate his recovery and his willingness to share his journey with others. Williams said he had spent years thinking he could handle his alcohol problem on his own.
"But you can't. That's the bottom line," he said. "You really think you can, then you realize, I need help, and that's the word."
So instead of searching for grotesque footage, images, or unreleased information for the purpose of rumor mill and gossip, think of your loved ones. Think of those who may need your help. No matter how much they seem to have, depression and addiction never discriminate. What they really may need is support from those whom they love.

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.Related articles

Thursday, August 7, 2014

DECRIMINALIZATION: IS IT THE ANSWER?

America used to engage in wars that had a clear beginning, end, and most importantly, purpose. Remember that? Then there was Vietnam. Then there was Iraq. The war on terror. I can't begin to identify the familiar components of something linear in these examples. Even more befuddling is the almost century long War on Drugs

We have heard the declaration from Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II. War on Drugs. War on Drugs. War on Drugs. War on Drugs. (yawn).

By now, we should recognize that this is a war that we cannot win. Drug abusers are crowding our courts, hospitals, and prisons. They should be in the care of treatment experts. Learning. Understanding their disease. However to no avail, we have spent years and billions of dollars incarcerating the user. We have focused most of the effort on criminalizing drug use. This blogger is NOT in favor of legalization of drugs. This blogger is in favor of focusing more effort and more funding on treatment, rehabilitation, education, prevention and reinsertion of the user into society. Our efforts to eradicate the supply of drugs have failed. Drugs are still readily available. In fact, many would argue the only beneficiaries of our longstanding war on drugs are members of organized crime, traffickers, and drug dealers.

Let's examine at another approach... The Portuguese Plan.

The following is an excerpt from an online New York Times article from March 17th, 2014:
(read the article)

"In 2000, Portugal decriminalized the use of all illicit drugs, and developed new policies on prevention, treatment, harm reduction and reinsertion. Drug use is no longer a crime, but it is still prohibited. Possession of what a person would use in 10 days or less is no longer a matter for the courts. Users are referred to Commissions for Drug Addiction Dissuasion, which educate them, discourage them from consuming drugs and help them find treatment. The idea behind the new law is that drug addiction must be addressed as a health or social condition. While critics of the law warned that drug use would swell, it has not risen. We have seen significant reductions in H.I.V. infections and in overdoses, as well as a substantial increase in new patients seeking drug treatment. Much of this reduction in the harm suffered by drug users, I believe, is due to the commissions' outreach, treatment programs and measures to protect users' health. Police and customs authorities continue to suppress trafficking, but they now have added resources that were once allocated to pursuing users."
Again, this blogger is NOT in favor of legalization. Decriminalization as you have just read, is NOT legalization. However is it necessary to have such stiff penalties for the user? Drug trafficking and drug dealing should remain a serious criminal offense, but going to jail for a small amount of marijuana is excessive. And costly. The punishment does not match the crime.


It's time America stops looking at the drug user as sinful and morally defective. The government has publicly acknowledged that addiction is a disease, so it's time to implement a drug policy which reflects this concept. Focus on the demand side. This war may have no clear beginning or end - but it's time we focus our purpose. To help our addicts get well again. We can only better our society through the prevention, education, and treatment of the user.



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.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

GORDON'S TROUBLES DEMONSTRATE NFL'S ADDICTION AWARENESS STRIDES

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.

Monday, July 7, 2014

CRAVINGS: THE SYMPTOMS WHICH PROVE THE DISEASE

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

HVRC & SAGE RETREAT'S SYLVIA DOBROW FEATURED IN COUNSELOR MAGAZINE

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.

Friday, June 20, 2014

WORLD CUP CONSUMERISM BOOSTS DRUG TRADE

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.