Friday, July 12, 2019

Depression and Co-Occurring Addiction Recovery

addiction recovery
A significant number of people who seem put together on the surface contend with something lurking beneath that can upend their lives. It goes by many names but fits under one umbrella: mental illness. Those who struggle with mental health disorders hail from all walks of life. Psychological disorders are pernicious, and they affect men and women regardless of their financial status, race, gender, or upbringing.

More than 300 million people suffer from depression globally. However, many individuals struggle to believe that some men and women battle mental illness. This is partially due to the misconception that symptoms of mental health disorders are circumstantial. People wonder, ‘how could that person, with all their success, battle depression?’

The same is true for addiction! One might muse, ‘what cause does this person have to drink and drug to excess when they have so much going for them in life?’ None of these questions are easy to answer, nor do they need to be. Public perception is rarely rooted in hard science, which contributes to stigmas.

Since one in five Americans will battle with mental illness, it stands to reason that successful people will too. Some of our most beloved actors, musicians, and icons are in recovery from addiction or another psychological condition. Moreover, many celebrities are candid about their issues and what they do to keep them in check.

When a person who is looked up to opens up regarding their trials and tribulations, the effect is enormous. Unreserved disclosure about mental illness and recovery both comforts and inspires average citizens to take action. When John Q. Public learns that they share similar struggles with a person they admire, they feel less alone. He or she becomes empowered to seek recovery!

The Universe Gives Back When You Quit Drinking


Simon Pegg (Shaun Of The Dead, Mission Impossible, and Star Trek) is a British actor who many Americans adore. Not only can he act, but he is also funny. Over the last two decades, his career has gone in one direction—upward. Unfortunately, Pegg’s road to stardom was impacted by depression and addiction.

The English actor, writer, and comedian recently spoke at length with GQ about his battles with mental illness. He discloses how he used alcohol to contend with his depressive symptoms; he shares that drinking helped, at first. However, self-medicating the symptoms of mental illness made his life unmanageable and developed into a co-occurring alcohol use disorder.

“You just can’t rely on any kind of stimulant to make yourself feel better and expect it to solve anything,” said Pegg. “At some point the effects wear off and you need more and more. And so with something like alcohol, you just end up being drunk all the time.”

In 2010, Mr. Pegg hit rock bottom and decided to address his problems fully, according to the article. He sought assistance at a mental health hospital and addiction rehab clinic. The actor learned that the substance he thought was helping was making matters worse. It is a realization that many people come to after seeking help for a dual diagnosis. He tells GQ:

“It’s a strange thing and I have had conversations with other people about this, that when you quit drinking the universe starts to give back to you a little bit. Maybe it’s because I figured out why I was drinking, which was to combat the depression and so I was able to get on top of what was the real issue. I spoke to people and got proper help. That’s when you realise you don’t need to get drunk because you don’t need to escape from things. By actually confronting it, my reward has been these last ten years.”

Chemical Dependency and Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment


Millions of Americans find themselves struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental illnesses. Those who meet the criteria for depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder have a higher risk of also developing alcohol or substance use disorder.

Fortunately, long-term recovery is possible when individuals seek treatment to address each disorder simultaneously. If your or a loved one’s life is negatively impacted by drugs, alcohol, or co-occurring mental health disorders, please contact us today.

Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat is a hospital-based addiction treatment center. Our clients benefit from being treated in a Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH); they have access to more than 185 physicians.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Addiction Recovery: A Freedom to Decide

addiction recovery
On this day, 243 years ago, the thirteen original colonies came together as one resounding voice and declared independence from Great Britain. Each year at this time, Americans are asked to reflect on the importance of freedom. For most people, the 4th of July is a time to celebrate around the barbecue and watch fireworks with friends and family, but for people in recovery, Independence Day can have more than one meaning.

People in recovery acknowledge their varying lengths of sobriety on the date that they began taking steps to be free from the bondage of self. It is a day of significant importance to millions of people across the country. In a sense, recovery is a declaration of independence from the disease of addiction.

Alcohol and substance use disorders hijack the lives of individuals. Breaking the disease cycle and forging a unique path is one of the greatest acts of courage found in modern times. Through hard work and dedication to abstain from drugs and alcohol (no matter what), men and women can find a new kind of freedom.

With the above thoughts in mind, perhaps you will find time today to think about how grateful you are to have sovereignty. No longer confined by the prison of self, so total that it’s hard for most of society to understand, you can decide the kind of person you’d like to be. People working programs of recovery have the freedom to choose how they will affect those around them and their society.

A Freedom to Decide, in Recovery


Addiction recovery is liberating; it opens doors to new worlds of possibility. Sobriety gives men and women the freedom to decide how they will look at things. They can choose to find the positives in life, even though the addict and alcoholic’s natural default setting is the belief that he or she is the center of the universe. They can decide to squash negative feelings about others and see the good. One remarkable aspect of recovery is the freedom to care about other people.

It is freeing to realize that the gift of recovery is something that you have the honor to be able to pay forward. The humanity shown to newcomers is then passed along; it’s a relay of healing involving men and women with a common goal.

Those who are in the grips of the progressive illness that is addiction are forced to focus only on themselves to survive. Once in recovery, they learn that not only can they care about others but that it is a requirement. Being of service and accountable to something higher enables recovering addicts and alcoholics to find independence. No longer bound by the yoke of addiction, they can spread their wings and soar to new heights of existence.

There is a caveat, of course; detox, treatment, and working a program gives people the ability to manage their condition. Action in perpetuity is required for continued progress; recovery has a start date but no end. Through continued service and a commitment to practice certain principles in every aspect of life, men and women learn what it means to be free.

On Independence Day, please find a moment to consider the many gifts in your life today and show gratitude toward those who helped you be free from the bondage of self. If you attend a meeting, maybe there will be an opportunity to be of service; bring cookies, stack chairs, or introduce yourself to a newcomer.

If you have plans with your peers in recovery for after the meeting, invite said newcomer along. It will make their day, and the invite might be the thing that keeps them from picking up a drink.

Addiction Recovery is a Doorway to Independence


Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat is licensed as a Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH). We utilize evidence-based practices to help people take their first steps toward a life in recovery. Our clients significantly benefit from hospital-based care and specialty services that we provide at HVRC. Please contact us today to take the first step toward finding independence from addiction.

At HVRC, we hope that everyone in recovery has a safe and sober 4th of July. Please keep your phone charged and never hesitate to call your support network for assistance.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Opioid Addiction and Overprescribing: A Global Epidemic

opioid
Despite the warnings and some 130 overdose deaths per day in America, surgeons still prescribe painkillers at alarming rates. A new report from Kaiser Health News (KHN) and Johns Hopkins shows that they are prescribing many times the recommended number of opioids.

Surgeons continue to prescribe far more opioids for post-op pain than recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The findings come from an analysis of the latest available data, including 350,000 prescriptions written for patients operated on by nearly 20,000 surgeons from 2011 to 2016.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, together with KHN, found that doctors performing surgeries are ignoring current guidelines from several academic medical centers. The article points out that while opioid manufacturers have received the market share of the blame for the epidemic, the contribution to the crisis by physicians is mostly disregarded.

In some ways, it’s hard to imagine a doctor prescribing massive amounts of opioids for less painful procedures. Physicians know the addictive nature of opiates; they must exercise the utmost discretion when treating minor injuries. Writing smaller prescriptions and then refilling them as needed mitigates the risk of abuse or drug diversion.

In 2016, some coronary artery bypass patients took home upwards of 105 opioid pills, according to the article. The highest prescribing doctors performing a lumpectomy to remove a breast tumor doled out 40 to 70 pills on average. Researchers found that some knee surgery patients received prescriptions for more than 100 pills to take home.

The data being a few years old does not mean that prescribing practices are significantly better today. Dr. Chad Brummett, an anesthesiologist and associate professor at the University of Michigan, says:

“When prescribing may have been five to 20 times too high, even a reduction that is quite meaningful still likely reflects overprescribing.”

 

A Global Opioid Addiction Epidemic


The United States accounts for a small percentage of the world’s population; however, we consume the bulk of all prescription opioids. Still, that does not mean that the crisis we face is specific to America.

Yesterday, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published its 2019 World Drug Report. The UNODC estimates the number of people who’ve used opioids at 53 million globally, up 56 percent from previous projections. The UN estimates that 35 million people are suffering from substance use disorders.

The scourge of opioid use in the USA has had a terrible effect, even though America has the infrastructure in place to address the problem. The same cannot be said for North Africa and the Middle East, where the opioid tramadol is heavily abused. Access to evidence-based treatment services is limited; only one in seven people with drug use disorders receive treatment each year.

Both methamphetamine and cocaine use are on the rise as well. Meth seizures are up both in Asia and here at home. Coca bush cultivation and cocaine production reached record highs in 2017.

“The findings of this year’s World Drug Report fill in and further complicate the global picture of drug challenges, underscoring the need for broader international cooperation to advance balanced and integrated health and criminal justice responses to supply and demand,” said Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director. 

If you would like to read the full UNODC report in full, please click here.

Central California Opioid Use Disorder Treatment


Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat can help you or someone you love detox from opioids and begin a remarkable journey of recovery. We utilize evidence-based therapies to treat opioid addiction and help clients heal. Please contact us at any time to discuss treatment options with our recovery staff. 866-273-0868

Friday, June 21, 2019

California Tests Mental Health Apps

mental health
Smartphones have transformed the way we live in myriad ways. These tiny pocket computers, which give people the power to learn, shop, schedule, organize, and connect with their peers, are invaluable to most people. Young Americans cannot even remember life before the iPhone, nor would they dare to imagine existing without smartphones.

The potential for phones and tablets is seemingly limitless. Each year, developers pack more and more power into the devices which allows users more freedom to create, explore, and communicate in new ways with individuals across the globe. While smartphones and apps can make our lives easier, they can also prevent us from being present. So, it’s essential to find a balance and take steps to limit screen time.

Most application developers do not set out to change the world. An exploration through app stores proves that there are some incredible things people can and will spend $1 on for entertainment. However, several companies have chosen to harness the power of smartphones to help people with their internal struggles. Today, there exist a plethora of apps that are meant to assist people with their mental health.

California is home to some of the biggest tech companies in the world; Silicon Valley is ground zero for the latest in innovation. An experiment is currently underway to determine if smartphone applications can help state and county mental health officials address the needs of people living with mental illness.

Make Mental Health Services More Available


When we use our phones patterns emerge, a picture of who we are and how we go about our day is transposed into data. Observations into how long someone is on their smartphone, the apps used, and what they post could theoretically give experts a window into said person’s mental health.

Last summer, the California Mental Health Services Authority selected two app companies to collaborate with county services, The New York Time reports. Mindstrong, founded by Dr. Paul Dagum, created an alternate keyboard to embed on patient participants’ smartphones. The other company, 7 Cups, cofounded by psychologist Glen Moriarty, is a digital mental health network.

The Mindstrong app monitors users “moment-to-moment screen activity;” its algorithms establish a person’s baseline phone behaviors. If a participant’s usage appears abnormal, the app will sound an alarm that an emotional crisis could be coming. The application also has a diary feature that allows users to chart how they are feeling from one day to the next. Los Angeles County has distributed the technology thus far.

“I like the diary card,” said Skyy Brewer, 30, who has used the diary since to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. “At therapy, you can go through the cards for the week and see the good days and bad ones, and figure out why your moods were off.” 

7 Cups was co-founded by former National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) director Thomas R. Insel—a psychiatrist and neuroscientist. The app pairs participants with company-trained “listeners,” according to the article. A listener will determine if the user is in crisis and connect them with a 7 Cups therapist.

The collaboration between the tech sector and the California Mental Health Services Authority has run into some difficulties (e.g., privacy concerns) since the beginning. However, the findings of the research could end up helping millions of people down the road. It will be interesting to see what the experts determine.

“It’s been a little rough in the beginning, I have to say, and it may take a couple of years,” Dr. Insel said. “The program may have to fail at first.”

California Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorder Treatment


Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat if you are struggling with addiction and a co-occurring mental illness like depression or anxiety. We can help you detox from drugs and alcohol, address your mental health needs, and give you the tools to lead a healthy and productive life in recovery.

Friday, June 14, 2019

New Research on Cannabis Use

cannabis use disorder
Marijuana may not be at the top of the American people’s list of concerns, but it’s vital to stay up to date on current research. The end of cannabis prohibition in many states has led to a surge in scientific studies. There is a whole lot that we do not know about the dangers and benefits of marijuana.

Since cannabis use can lead to addiction and subsequent adverse effects, having all the facts can better inform treatment providers. Marijuana is a polarizing subject matter; as such, there is a lot of misinformation.

Several claims have been made that suggest weed can do wonders for people with severe medical conditions. In some cases, the assertions hold water, but others are unequivocally false. Weeding through all the material to find peer-reviewed research is an arduous task.

Given that more and more states are going to legalize both medical and recreational use, it’s paramount to inform citizens about the science.

New Research on Cannabis


Two new studies published recently present some interesting findings regarding medical marijuana, legalization, and the pathways to a cannabis use disorder. One study contradicts previous research, which claimed that medical cannabis reduces the rate of fatal opioid overdoses. The other seeks to explain why some heavy users become addicted, whereas others do not.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found no evidence that indicates opioid overdose deaths are reduced by the availability of medical cannabis, according to a press release. Moreover, the researchers found that states with medical marijuana had higher overdose death rates. The findings appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“If you think opening a bunch of dispensaries is going to reduce opioid deaths, you’ll be disappointed,” said Keith Humphreys, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “We don’t think cannabis is killing people, but we don’t think it’s saving people.” 

A separate study we’d like to focus on appears in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. Researchers used brain imaging to observe the neural of cannabis users who viewed images associated with use (e.g., drug cues), according to Elsevier. All of the human participants were heavy cannabis users.

The findings indicate that people with heavy marijuana use, with and without cannabis use disorders, had exaggerated responses in a brain region called the ventral striatum. This area of the brain handles reward processing. The scans of those who had a cannabis user disorder also showed more significant responses in the area that forms habits—the dorsal striatum. What’s more, the researchers found that dependent users had increased responses in the regions that attach importance to things.

“Cannabis is now legal for medical and recreational use in many parts of the United States and the health impacts of this development are still being understood,” said Cameron Carter, MD, Editor of Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. “These findings are important insights that can help us better understand why some individuals might be more likely to become addicted to cannabis.”

California Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment


Marijuana addiction can take a severe toll and affect life quality. Those who meet the criteria for a cannabis use disorder tend to struggle in several areas of their life. Many who try to quit experience withdrawal symptoms that, if not managed professionally, lead to relapse.

If you or a loved one is having difficulty with marijuana, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. Our highly trained team of clinicians helps individuals break the cycle of addiction and sets them on a path toward long-term recovery. We invite you to take the first step and call us today for a confidential assessment. 866-273-0868

Friday, June 7, 2019

PTSD Awareness Month 2019

PTSD
Exposure to traumatic experiences can leave lasting marks on a person’s psyche. While mental scars may seem indelible to those affected, evidence-based treatments for trauma exist and recovery is possible. When people are unable to access professional help, they are at significant risk of self-medicating and self-harm. As a result, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often accompanied by alcohol and substance use disorder.

Channeling more people who are living with PTSD to therapeutic and recovery services is a must. Unfortunately, stigma walls off many men and women from accessing recovery resources.

Even though victims are not at fault for the pain they’ve suffered, they can convince themselves otherwise. Vicious cycles of self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors come to life, resulting in the development of addiction and another mood-related psychopathology.

Fortunately, there is help available for individuals living with post-traumatic stress and co-occurring substance use disorders. During June, the National Center for PTSD is asking the general public to help raise awareness and break the stigma of this treatable mental health condition. This is PTSD Awareness Month!

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center, we understand that mood or mental disorders coincide with addiction regularly. Many of our clients, now in recovery, began their journey towards addiction in direct response to trauma and subsequent PTSD. Stigma prevented many of these men and women from seeking help sooner. We have the power to change this common occurrence and empower people to request assistance.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders


Experts have long understood that there is a correlation between adverse experiences and substance use disorder. The connection is especially true when the trauma occurs during childhood before a person has developed effective, healthy coping mechanisms. As a person ages, and is introduced to drugs and alcohol, they discover that the symptoms of PTSD can be alleviated to a degree.

Mind-altering substances have the power to change people’s perception and numb some of the pain that they bear. Occasional use morphs into regular, heavy use; at which point, the substances, that one thinks are helping, become pernicious. In time, self-medicating PTSD symptoms will begin to have the opposite effect, serving only to exacerbate the feelings which men and women are trying to escape.

When co-morbidity or “dual-diagnosis” becomes one’s reality, it is paramount that they receive treatment for both conditions simultaneously. Treating one, while ignoring the other, significantly impedes a person’s ability to recover. In a sense, co-occurring disorders require co-occurring recoveries.

PTSD Awareness Month


When discussing PTSD, people are inclined to attach the condition to combat veterans. However, survivors of sexual assault, serious accidents, natural disasters, or other traumatic events are all eligible for developing the condition too. Anyone dealing with symptoms can benefit from seeking professional assistance. The markers of PTSD include:
  • Re-experiencing the trauma (flashbacks)
  • Avoidance (i.e., staying away from anything that reminds one of the experiences)
  • Arousal and reactivity (feeling tense or being prone to outbursts)
  • Cognition and mood symptoms (negative self-talk, guilt, and blame)
“Even though PTSD treatments work, most people who have PTSD don’t get the help they need. June is PTSD Awareness Month. Help us spread the word that effective PTSD treatments are available.” – National Center for PTSD

There are several ways you can assist the efforts to break the stigma and encourage people to seek treatment. Please click here to learn more.

 

Southern California Dual-Diagnosis Treatment


We invite you to reach out to Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and co-occurring post-traumatic stress disorder. We specialize in treating men and women who have a dual diagnosis. Please contact us today to learn more.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Mental Health Disorders in College

mental health disorders
Families play a critically important role in the lives of young people in recovery. They are often the catalyst for a child seeking professional assistance for mental health disorders, and they also provide support at home.

Upon learning that a son or daughter is experiencing mental health or substance use problems, mothers and fathers struggle to determine the best course of action. They understand that expert help is necessary, but they may not want to derail their child’s life. Urging their kid to take a break from college often comes with a heavy heart.

Parents wanting their children to succeed in life is usually the main priority; they may hesitate to intervene or downplay the severity of the situation. It's both understandable and risky because mental illnesses are not to be ignored.

In recent years it has come to light that college students are subject to significant amounts of stress. Without healthy coping mechanisms in place, such individuals are apt to experience severe anxiety or turn to self-defeating behaviors to weather the storm. Many young people engage in alcohol and drug use to manage their symptoms.

Higher education is extremely competitive, exorbitantly expensive, and classloads are daunting for most students. Given that teens push themselves to the limits in high school to get into a top university, by the time they get into the college of their choice, they are exhausted.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly 32% of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 have an anxiety disorder. The American College Health Association reports that 60 percent of college students suffer from anxiety disorders and psychological distress.

Anxiety in College


Today is the conclusion of Mental Health Month. We want to direct parents and students to an NPR interview with Dr. Anthony Rostain, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and B. Janet Hibbs, a family and couples psychotherapist.

Dr. Rostain and Hibbs authored The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years, a new book about anxiety and stress in college.

“One of the reasons we wrote this book is not to scare parents, but to help them know what they can do to help,” said Hibbs. “When a child, for whatever reason, is hopeless or verging on that, families are incredibly, vitally important in maintaining hope. ... Having the emotional expression of the family convey warmth, support, unconditional support, not judgment, that ... is one of the best medicines.” 

The authors point out that kids today are being pushed extremely hard to succeed. They add that those with preexisting mental health conditions often let up on therapy once in school. Moreover, they point to research that shows only about one in four young people with suicidal ideation seek help. Rostain tells parents:

“Don’t be afraid of getting help from mental health professionals. We’re here to work with you and with your kids and we’re not here to blame you or to condemn you. So many parents face this fear of the shame or the embarrassment or the stigma, and what we think is the most deadly thing of all is not the mental illness, but the stigma around it that leads people to avoid getting the help in time.”

Self-Medicating Mental Health Disorders


Alcohol and substance use and abuse in college is often the result of untreated mental illness. Young men and women will turn to drugs and alcohol to escape their symptoms. The practice can result in the development of a use disorder on top of the mental health condition. It is critical that such people receive help for both issues simultaneously.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we offer a substance use and co-occurring disorder treatment program for young adults. We invite you to contact us today to learn more about our services and begin the journey of recovery.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Patrick Kennedy: On Addiction and Stigma

“Addiction was unimpressed that I came from a famous family.” – Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy 

Mental illness does not discriminate is a sentiment shared among experts in the field of medicine. Each person, if certain conditions are met, can struggle with mood disorders or behavioral health issues. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experiences mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

To complicate matters even further, more than half of individuals who live with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental illness. The fact of the matter is that addiction and other mental health disorders affect tens of millions of Americans. What’s more, despite a modern understanding of the mechanisms of psychological morbidity, stigma and shame remain pervasive.

As long as there have been mental diseases, there has been the stigma that goes with them; sometimes, it comes from strangers and other times, family. Moreover, the American health industry is still guilty of discriminating against people living with mental health conditions. Even though legislative protections exist, insurance providers continue to do everything they can to deny coverage.

Parity is a word of vital importance: the state or condition of being equal, especially regarding status or pay. In health care, the word means providing the same level of care and coverage to everyone regardless of the ailment.

Not too long ago, ante-Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) and Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurers were allowed to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies could also set arbitrary coverage restrictions on those with mental illness.

Despite the enactment of the MHPAEA and ACA, the fight for parity continues, as well as the effort to eliminate stigma.

 

Mental Disorder and Addiction: Legitimate Health-care Issues


addiction
Last December, we wrote about former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy and his “Don’t Deny Me” campaign. The champion of equal coverage and lead sponsor of the MHPAEA continues his effort to ensure every American receives the coverage they deserve.

Patrick Kennedy, some of you will remember, is in recovery. He has a keen understanding of what it’s like to live in silence, to be treated differently by those who you love. Now sober for eight years, he continues to share his story with others and encourage people to seek mental health services.

Over the weekend, Kennedy gave a commencement speech to an audience of 15,000 at the University of Rhode Island, Dispatch reports. He used the opportunity, as one might expect, to talk about his experience with addiction, mental illness, and stigma. Mr. Kennedy also encouraged 3,434 undergraduates to seek help if they experience symptoms of mental disorder.

During his speech, Patrick shared how his father, the late U.S. Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy, lacked compassion for his struggles, according to the article. He said that “when it came to my addictions,” his father’s response was: “Patrick just needs a swift kick in the ass.”

“I spent many years lost in a fog of shame,” Kennedy said. 

Like many people with substance use issues, Kennedy hid his illness as best he could for as long as possible. Stigma will cause people to go to extraordinary lengths to conceal their problems, such behaviors often come at severe costs. When Patrick first sought recovery, he went out of his way to ensure no one knew he was seeking help. Again, such actions are a testament to the shame that looms over mental health conditions.

Seeking Help for Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders


Acknowledging that you have a problem that requires outside assistance isn’t simple, and it takes a tremendous amount of courage. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we understand how challenging it is to ask for help and to look past stigma.

Recovery is possible for all determined to make it their reality. At HVRC, we can help you break the cycle of addiction, address any co-occurring disorders, and give you the tools to realize long-term sobriety. Please contact us today to speak with our admissions staff and to receive a chemical dependency treatment evaluation.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Decriminalizing Addiction in America

addiction
When discussing addiction in the United States, it is hard to ignore the fact that it has not been handled appropriately. On top of being in the midst of a substance use epidemic, we have a long history of punishing people for being ill. Arresting and incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders have led to the largest prison population in the world.

Even though Americans account for merely five percent of the global population, we have more inmates than any other country by far. While steps have been taken in recent years to confront overpopulation in penal institutions, more than two million adults live behind bars.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, one in five incarcerated people is locked up for a drug offense. Moreover, 451,000 Americans are incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses on any given day. Over one million drug possession arrests occur each year in the U.S.

Addiction is a form of mental illness. It is imperative that more be done to put a stop to draconian drug sentencing laws and provide people with treatment instead. Locking people up for the crime of drug use is only a temporary fix. Without access to adequate mental health services, inside jail or out, recidivism is practically a guarantee.

There are other ways lawmakers and enforcement officials can tackle substance abuse in America. Many states and municipalities have changed their stance on drug use, opting for diversion, and addiction treatment over jail and prison.

The American opioid crisis has had an impact on policymakers, many of whom now understand that substance use disorder is a disease. They have witnessed that addiction can impact anyone in their communities. However, we still have a long way to go as a nation regarding the handling of all mental illnesses, but with use disorder especially.

How Portugal Handles Addiction


Making alterations to the criminal justice system is not a simple task. Dispelling bad ideas and implementing evidence-based changes does not happen overnight. While America has excelled at trying to arrest away drug addiction, we are not alone. Many other countries have engaged in similar wars on drugs. Although, some republics have made drastic changes to how they deal with substance use in recent years.

Some of our readers may remember when Portugal decided to decriminalize drugs in 2001. The outcome of the country’s decision to treat drug possession as a public health issue has had mixed results. While more research is needed to better understand these outcomes, there are some interesting items worth mentioning. Statistics show:
  • More people are seeking treatment.
  • New HIV diagnoses reductions.
  • Reductions in drug-related deaths.
  • Drug use among adolescents and problematic users declined.
  • Decreases in drug-related criminal justice workloads.
American prosecutors, in many cases, decide how to handle nonviolent drug offenders. It would seem that they may be able to glean insight from how things are being done across the Atlantic. This month, twenty prosecutors from major cities, like Philadelphia and Baltimore, are touring Portugal to learn about decriminalization.

The Marijuana Moment reports that the contingent of prosecutors will tour courts, prisons, treatment facilities, and health and community service providers. The trip is sponsored by the advocacy group Fair and Justice Prosecution.

“The enormous power of prosecutors to exercise their discretion in ways that ensure outcomes that enhance public safety and reduce recidivism is unparalleled in the criminal justice system,” said Washington, D.C. Attorney General, Karl Racine. “My colleagues and I look forward to learning from countries that have successfully reduced mass incarceration, reintegrated previously incarcerated individuals back into society, and treated drug users and individuals struggling with mental illness with health services and supports that have a high degree of success.”

 

California Chemical Dependency Treatment Center


Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat to speak with our Admissions and Assessment Department. We can answer any questions you have regarding our approach and what you can expect from receiving our care. We can help you stop the cycle of addiction and show you how to take steps toward lasting recovery.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Mental Health Screening During MHM2019

Mental Health Month (MHM) is now 70 years old; the annual observance takes place each May. Mental Health America (MHA) – founded in 1909 – launched MHM in 1949 as a way to reach millions of Americans about mental illness and well-being. A goal of this essential nonprofit is to encourage people to receive screenings and treatment for behavioral health and mood disorders.

One in five Americans face symptoms of a mental disability each year; depression, alone, is the leading cause of poor health globally. The need for screening, diagnosis, and evidence-based treatment is paramount to society.

Throughout May, events are being held across the country to get more people thinking about the importance of mental health. The theme this year is #4Mind4Body, which emphasizes the necessity of both psychological and physical well-being. MHA and its affiliates are exploring how animal companionship, spirituality, humor, work-life balance, and recreation and social connections can improve mental health and general wellness.

There are no cures for mental illnesses; however, symptoms can be managed, and people can recover. Those who prioritize overall well-being can lead fulfilling and productive lives in recovery.

While it’s critical that individuals receive professional assistance, there are things people can do on their own to reign in their illness. MHA offers many tools and helpful guidance for men and women who are struggling. Still, some people are unaware that psychological problems are impacting their lives. Many persons convince themselves that their life issues are circumstantial when it’s likely they meet the criteria for one of several conditions.

Proper screening from primary care physicians (PCP) is crucial, but many people do not have a PCP. Fortunately, there is a quick and easy way to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.

 

Mental Health Screening


Before we proceed, we must point out that digital screenings are not an exact science. A screening is not a diagnosis. However, the result of the MHA screening tool can help individuals begin discussions with mental health professionals.

There are numerous mental health conditions, ranging from addiction to schizophrenia. MHA provides effective, research-proven screening tools for some of the more common psychiatric disorders. You can find a list of available screens below:
  • Depression Screen: for individuals who are feeling overwhelming sadness.
  • Anxiety: for people who feel that worry and fear are affecting their ability to function day-to-day.
  • Bipolar Disorder: for individuals who have mood swings - or unusual or extreme shifts in mood and energy.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): for those who are affected by a traumatic life event.
  • Alcohol or Substance Use Problems: for helping people determine if their use of alcohol or drugs is an area to address.
  • Psychosis: for young people (age 12-35) who feel like their brain is playing tricks on them (seeing, hearing or believing things that don't seem real or quite right).
  • Eating Disorders: for exploring eating-related concerns that have an impact on your physical health and overall well-being.
Following successful completion of mental health screens, MHA provides resources to help steer people toward assistance. Again, the available tests are not diagnoses; they are meant to help people determine if further action is required.

If you or someone you love is exhibiting concerning behaviors, then taking a mental health screening could be of significant value. More than half of people living with mental illness have not undergone treatment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

MHM2019 is an excellent opportunity for people to take steps to improve their mental health. Once a problem is determined, men and women can take action to enhance their psychological well-being.

 

Co-occurring Disorder Treatment


The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that approximately 10.2 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders. In the field of addiction medicine, alcohol and substance use diseases are impacted by other forms of mental illness. It is vital that men and women meeting the criteria for dual-diagnosis receive treatment for all conditions present.

Those who believe they are struggling with addiction and a co-occurring mental illness are strongly encouraged to seek help. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we can provide detoxification and treatment services to people impacted by mental health disorders. Please contact us today to learn more about our Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH).

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Health Complications Affecting People in Recovery

addiction recovery health complications
Men and women who find addiction recovery have an opportunity to rebuild their lives. Millions of Americans in the United States and abroad are working programs of long-term recovery. Any person who is struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder can do him or herself an invaluable service by seeking assistance.

Prolonged, heavy drug and alcohol use takes a significant toll on the human mind and body. The longer a problem persists without intervention, the higher the likelihood of developing further complications. Researchers also associate addiction with a higher risk of experiencing co-occurring mental health disorders and physical health issues.

In previous posts, we mention that more than half of people living with addiction have a dual diagnosis. Common comorbidities include anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Co-Occurring Mental and Physical Health Disorders


Dual diagnosis cases require individuals receive simultaneous treatment for each condition. Treating the addiction, while ignoring the co-occurring disorder, is likely to result in unfavorable outcomes post treatment.

Those who seek professional assistance and begin working a recovery program must continue to monitor their mental health. They need to undergo regular physical health check-ups as well. This is especially true for men and women who find sobriety later in life.

While abstaining from drugs and alcohol and prioritizing mental health is of substantial benefit, there can be lingering damage. Many alcoholics and addicts fail to prioritize healthy eating and exercise when their disease is active. Extended periods of poor diet and minimal exercise can lead to a variety of health issues, such as diabetes.

Long-term alcohol use and IV drug use are associated with several life-threatening health conditions, diseases that must be monitored following addiction treatment. For example, liver diseases, COPD, and hepatitis C impact the quality of life for many people in recovery. These conditions require regular monitoring.

Burden of Disease in Addiction Recovery


Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital Recovery Research Institute analyzed the effect that recovery has on addiction-related illness. Medical News Today reports that some health conditions improve, but others will persist—despite the health benefits of sobriety. The research appears in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

"The prodigious psychological, social, and interpersonal impact of excessive and chronic alcohol and other drug use is well-characterized," said David Eddie, Ph.D., lead author of the study. He adds, "Less well-appreciated is the physical disease burden, especially among those who have successfully resolved a significant substance use problem." 

Of a sample of more than 2,000 adults in the U.S. who were in recovery, 37 percent had received a diagnosis of one or more diseases, according to the article. The conditions affecting the adults in recovery include, but are not limited to:
  • COPD
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Liver disease
  • Tuberculosis
If the listed diseases do not receive treatment while a patient is in recovery, they can affect quality of life and reduce life expectancy, the article reports. Dr. Eddie points out that the health industry must develop better measures to assist people with use disorders and mitigate the risk of disease. Eddie offers:

“The extent to which these diseases and health conditions continue to persist for the millions of Americans who achieve recovery remains to be clarified, but this study highlights the fact that these negative impacts may continue to affect quality of life, even when people achieve addiction recovery."

Addiction Recovery Improves Quality of Life


Men and women who begin the journey of recovery are encouraged to embrace healthier lifestyles. Eating nutritional foods and developing an exercise routine helps the mind and body heal from the harmful effects of drug and alcohol use. Prioritizing annual physicals can help patients identify any conditions that present following addiction treatment, allowing for early interventions.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, our clients benefit immensely from receiving care in our Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH). We can provide patients with programs and specialty services, as well as access to hospital-level diagnostic services and consultations from physician specialists.

HVRC’s unique environment allows clinicians to identify any co-occurring health disorders quickly. Our team can then administer concurrent, evidence-based treatments. Please contact us today to learn more.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Mental Health Advocates Create Docuseries

mental health docuseries
@sussexroyal instagram
Trauma is a reoccurring theme among people living with alcohol, substance use, and mental health disorders. When people lack the tools to cope with the symptoms of the trauma they are apt to make unhealthy choices and are susceptible to mental illness.

Research links Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to various forms of substance abuse and impulse control disorders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that about two-thirds of all addicts previously experienced some type of trauma during childhood.

Traumatic events can come in several shapes and forms. An experience that is challenging for one person may not be for others. But, each person is different; environmental and genetic factors play a role in how an individual can cope.

What’s more, trauma can play a causal role in the development of various forms of mental health disorders. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety are a few conditions that people who undergo significant hardships can face later in life.

It’s safe to say that parental loss is one of the most challenging things a child can face. For most children, their entire world revolves around their mother or father; losing one or the other is an earth-shattering experience. It is paramount that those who experience loss have access to support so that they can learn to process their trauma in healthy ways.

The Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex are two young men who had to deal with traumatic loss at a young age and had to do so in the international spotlight. So it is not surprising that Prince William and Prince Harry are using their status to help others who struggle with mental health problems.

New Documentary Series about Mental Health


An announcement came last week that Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey are working together to create a multi-part series on the subject of mental health and wellbeing. The show, scheduled for release next year, will handle “both mental illness and mental wellness, inspiring viewers to have an honest conversation about the challenges each of us faces, and how to equip ourselves with the tools to not simply survive, but to thrive.”

Prince Harry spoke with The Telegraph a couple of years ago how he ignored his trauma and mental health for nearly two decades. The result of neglecting his mental wellbeing for so long was both anger and anxiety. He told the publication that he was “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.”

At the age of 28, The Duke began receiving counseling to help him process his grief.

Harry was 12 when his mother died tragically in a hospital following a catastrophic car wreck. Twenty-two years later the mental health advocate is doing his part to break the stigma of mental illness and encouraging people to seek help.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex launched a campaign about mental well-being in 2016 called Heads Together. It is a mental health initiative tackling stigma and changing the conversation on mental health.

Regarding his collaboration with Oprah, The Duke of Sussex says:

“I truly believe that good mental health - mental fitness - is the key to powerful leadership, productive communities and a purpose-driven self. It is a huge responsibility to get this right as we bring you the facts, the science and the awareness of a subject that is so relevant during these times. Our hope is that this series will be positive, enlightening and inclusive - sharing global stories of unparalleled human spirit fighting back from the darkest places, and the opportunity for us to understand ourselves and those around us better. I am incredibly proud to be working alongside Oprah on this vital series.” 

The series will premiere on Apple’s new streaming service, Apple TV+ next year.

 

Trauma and Addiction Recovery


At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we understand the relationship between trauma and addiction. We offer a specialty track for individuals who work in fields that often carry the risk of injury or witnessing horrific events. First responders and military personnel take significant risks and can suffer as a result.

Those who lack sufficient coping mechanisms or access to support to learn such skills, often turn to drugs and alcohol to manage their symptoms. PTSD can be a catalyst for the formation of addictive disorders. It is crucial that men and women who struggle with trauma or addiction seek help immediately.

Please contact HVRC if you or someone you love is struggling. With the help of our highly trained staff, healing and recovery are possible.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Binge Drinking in College is Common and Dangerous

In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month, we would like to discuss college drinking. Individuals who drink too much at university are at a higher risk of drinking heavily after graduation. Provided however that alcohol use does not lead to their dropping out ahead of commencement.

Writing for the Harvard University Health Blog, Dr. Marcelo Campos considers when alcohol use is a problem. He asks:

How many times in the past year have you had five (for men) or four (for women) or more drinks in a day? A response equal to or greater than “once” identifies, on average, eight out of 10 people with AUD [alcohol use disorder]. A positive answer should trigger a more thorough evaluation in a doctor’s office, or least stimulate a reflection about one’s drinking behavior. 

Many young people consider drinking in college their right, regardless if they are of legal age. Come the weekend, hordes of young adults descend upon parties to drink the night away. Some will imbibe responsibly, while others will push the envelope. Binge drinking and college life often go hand-in-hand. That is the practice of having four drinks for women and five for men within two hours, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Most men and women who binge drink from time-to-time will not develop an alcohol use disorder. However, a statistically significant number of young people will; intervening while in college could impel some young people to make changes or seek help.

Addressing Alcohol Use Early In Life


binge drinking in college
Alcohol use disorder affects the lives of millions of American adults, and hundreds of thousands of teenagers. It is a progressive mental illness that can have disastrous consequences if left untreated. Unfortunately, twenty-year-olds tend to chalk up heavy drinking as being a part of young adulthood. Those who may have a problem can convince themselves that all their peers have similar relationships with alcohol.

Nearly 60 percent of college students ages 18-22 drank alcohol in the past month, according to SAMHSA. Almost two-thirds of them engaged in binge drinking throughout the same period.

Brushing off blackout drinking as simply college culture is risky. Men and women may ignore the problem because they think that they are no different than other people in their 20s. The result is that AUD persists for many more years, in some cases; and, prolonged heavy drinking leads to more health problems. Research published recently in the British Medical Journal shows that fatal liver disease is on the rise, especially among young people.

As we pointed out last week, more than a third of hospital beds in the U.S. are being used to treat individuals with an alcohol-related illness. We do not highlight such startling statistic to scare young people into abstinence. Instead, we hope to encourage young adults, who think that they may have a problem, to seek professional guidance.

It is vital to keep in mind that binge drinking does not mean a person has an alcohol use disorder. Just that a large number of people with AUDs have a history of risky drinking patterns. Like Marcelo Campos, M.D., notes, those who binge drank in the last year should reflect on their relationship with alcohol and seek assistance from their doctor for evaluation.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment for Young Adults


Young adults whose drinking has become a problem are invited to reach out to Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat for support. Parents of young adult children that drink heavily are welcome to contact us as well. We offer age-specific treatment programming that caters to the unique needs of younger demographics.

At HVRC, we understand that seeking addiction treatment in young adulthood is not a simple task. However, receiving assistance now can position one for achieving their goals later in life. Please do not hesitate; take the first step by contacting our admissions staff to begin the assessment process.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Alcohol Use Disorder Symptoms and Solutions

alcohol use disorder
The month of April is the perfect time to open up a dialogue about a mental health condition that impacts millions of people. April is Alcohol Awareness Month: “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” Sponsored by Facing Addiction with NCADD, the national observance provides communities an opportunity to recognize the problem is severe and take action.

Each year, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (now Facing Addiction with NCADD) equips community organizations with tools to raise awareness. The impact of alcohol on the fabric of American society is monumental. Alcohol use and excessive drinking are a leading cause of illness and premature death.

Alcohol addiction is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the United States. Some 88,000 American deaths can be linked to excessive alcohol use. According to the organization, 40 percent of all hospital beds are being used to treat alcohol-related illness. Despite those troubling figures, alcohol remains legal for adult consumption, and that is unlikely to change.

Alcohol isn’t disappearing, therefore it’s critical that Americans have the facts, so they can make changes before excessive drinking leads to more significant issues. Moreover, communities must encourage millions of adults already in the cycle of abuse to seek assistance.

“Alcohol Awareness Month provides a focused opportunity across America to increase awareness and understanding of alcohol addiction, its causes, effective treatment, and recovery. It is an opportunity to decrease stigma and misunderstandings in order to dismantle the barriers to treatment and recovery, and thus make seeking help more readily available to those who suffer from this disease.”

 

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?


When most people think of problem drinking or about people who have trouble with alcohol, the word alcoholism comes to mind. The majority of Americans are familiar with the mutual-help fellowship known as Alcoholics Anonymous. It is an organization that people turn to when alcohol has a damaging effect on their life.

There are many forms of alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is a somewhat dated term that is still used by most people inside the rooms of recovery and out. Medical professionals today will not typically use the words alcoholism nor alcoholic. Doctors and addiction specialists – following Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) guidelines – use the term alcohol use disorder. There is a list of criterion to help determine the intensity of a person’s problem, i.e., mild, moderate, or severe AUD.

There is a total of eleven symptoms to help determine what type of action is required. Not everyone who drinks problematically requires treatment. For instance, someone who meets 2 or three of the criterion is believed to have a mild AUD. Those who have six or more symptoms are severe. DSM-V symptoms include:
  • Drinking more or for a longer period than intended.
  • Feeling incapable of cutting back on the amount of alcohol consumed.
  • Becoming sick for an extended time as a result of drinking too much.
  • Inability to concentrate due to alcohol cravings.
  • Inability to care for a family, hold down a job, or perform in school.
  • Continuing to drink despite problems caused with friends or family.
  • Decreased participation in activities which were once important.
  • Finding oneself in dangerous or harmful situations as a direct result of drinking.
  • Continuing to drink despite adding to another health problem, feeling depressed or anxious or blacking out.
  • Drinking more as a result of a tolerance to alcohol.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

 

Alcohol-free Weekend Litmus Test


AUD is a chronic, progressive mental health disease. If any of the above symptoms resonate with you or a loved one, please take action. Some individuals may be unsure of what might happen if they abstain from alcohol for an extended period. Not everyone who drinks too much is dependent on the substance. Taking a break for a period can help people learn more about their relationship with alcohol.

April 5-7, 2019, is Alcohol-free Weekend. Facing Addiction with NCADD asks Americans to abstain from alcohol this weekend to help raise awareness about the impact of alcohol. The event can also help people who are on the fence as to whether they have a problem.

Those who are unable to go without drinking for 72 hours, can benefit from calling addiction professionals or speaking with their physician.

 

Seeking Addiction Recovery


At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we strongly encourage men and women who struggle with alcohol to reach out for support. Leading a productive, alcohol-free lifestyle is possible. Our Admissions and Assessment department is staffed with nurses and chemical dependency counselors who can answer questions you have about treatment and recovery.

We invite you to take the first step toward recovery during Alcohol Awareness Month. (866) 273-0868

Friday, March 29, 2019

Fentanyl: Opioid Epidemic's Third Act

fentanyl
The number of overdose deaths involving fentanyl was stable in 2011 (1,663) and 2012 (1,615), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Then, there were 18,335 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in 2016. The dramatic rise is staggering enough to give anyone pause. The opioid crisis in America is far from over despite a national, collaborative effort to stem the tide of use and abuse.

Merianne Rose Spencer, a statistician at the CDC and study co-author, tells NPR that the fentanyl death toll presented in the study is at the low end. She says that it is likely that many fentanyl-related overdose deaths went uncounted.

Fentanyl and its synthetic cousins are extremely dangerous. It boasts potency levels 100 and 50 times stronger than morphine and heroin respectively. Making synthetic opioids, arguably, the deadliest drugs on the planet.

It can be helpful to view the rise in synthetic opioid use as the third act of the decades-old scourge. What began with prescription painkillers, the article notes, followed by heroin and now fentanyl. All three opiate iterations carry a significant risk of addiction and overdose. Given that these powerful narcotics are not going to disappear, public awareness about the promise of recovery is a must.

The Rising Tide of Fentanyl in America


While the American West Coast has been relatively unaffected by the growing ubiquity of synthetic opioids, the East Coast and Midwest has not. Why? The article notes that it may owe to the fact that black tar heroin is more prominent on the Pacific Coast.

In the Midwest and along the Atlantic seaboard heroin typically is sold in white powdered form, sometimes referred to as “China White.” Mixing fentanyl with powdered heroin is easier to do and more natural to disguise. Many overdose victims are caught unaware of the presence of fentanyl in their heroin.

There are several notable findings in the CDC's report, including that far more men are succumbing to synthetic opioids than women. Men are perishing at close to three times the rate. Ricky Bluthenthal, a professor of preventive medicine at USC's Keck School of Medicine, tells NPR that the gender discrepancy likely correlates to men being more likely to use alone, compared to women.

Traci Green, deputy director of Boston Medical Center's Injury Prevention Center, has a slightly alternative explanation. She says that while women are more likely to use with another person, they are also more likely to reach out for help. They are more likely to call 911 or seek treatment.

"Women go to the doctor more," she says. "We have health issues that take us to the doctor more. So we have more opportunities to help." 

Any time a patient presents to a doctor exhibiting signs of an opioid use disorder it is an opportunity to promote recovery. Green says physicians can take the chance and encourage their patients to seek treatment. Many of fentanyl’s victims are not traditional opioid use disorder cases. Men and women using cocaine or methamphetamine are at risk of exposure.

Whether by accident or looking to increase demand, dealers may be purposefully getting people hooked on opioids, according to the article. David Kelley, deputy director of the New England High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, says "That's something we have to consider."

"The fact that we've had instances where it's been present with different drugs leads one to believe that could be a possibility."

 

Increasing Number of Dangers Accompanying Addiction


The CDC report is cause for significant concern for several reasons, to be sure. However, the fact that people using any drug have the potential to be exposed to synthetic opioids is alarming. Addiction has always been risky and will always carry the potential for unfortunate tragedy. The growing prevalence of fentanyl exponentially ups the stakes.

If you or a loved one is battling a substance use disorder, we strongly encourage you to reach out to Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat for support. Unlike most treatment centers, we have a Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH) license. That means we can provide programs and medical services at one location.

Take the first step and by calling 866-273-0868 today for a confidential assessment.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Facing Addiction in America Means Helping Others

addiction recovery
Most people in recovery circles know the names Bill W. and Dr. Bob, the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). A smaller number know the name Marty Mann. While she wasn’t the first female member of AA, she was one of the first to join the Fellowship. Even still, some people refer to her as “The First Lady of Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Those familiar with the basic text of AA – typically referred to as the “The Big Book” – may have read her contribution. The chapter "Women Suffer Too" appears in the second through fourth editions. At a time when alcoholism and drug addiction was primarily considered to be a moral failing, Marty Mann was pushing back. In the 1940s!

Mann’s introduction to AA came in the form of The Big Book; her psychiatrist, Dr. Harry Tiebout, gave her a copy in 1939 and recommended she attend a meeting. Following a rough start, Mann was able to realize long-term recovery. In 1944, she organized the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism (NCEA) to break the stigma and promote the disease model of addiction.

People know the NCEA today as the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) or as Facing Addiction with NCADD. In 2015, NCADD merged with Facing Addiction, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to finding solutions to the addiction crisis. Marty Mann passed away on July 22, 1980, but her legacy lives on – as does the excellent work from the organization she built.

If you are interested in learning more about Marty Mann, there are many great sources to choose from, including texts like Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, A Biography of Mrs. Marty Mann: The First Lady of Alcoholics Anonymous, and In Search of the Mysterious Mrs. Marty Mann.

 

Facing Addiction in America


Unlike many of Mann’s contemporaries, she was not hesitant to share her struggles with alcoholism, her recovery, and her beliefs about what she viewed as a public health crisis. According to In Search of the Mysterious Mrs. Marty Mann, she held that (1) alcoholism is a disease, (2) the alcoholic can be helped and is worth supporting, and (3) addiction is a public health problem and therefore a public responsibility. Mann also believed it was a family disease – her father died of alcoholism.

NCADD reports that 21 million Americans suffer from addiction. This is an unsettling statistic, and the actual figure is probably much higher. However, the organization also points out that there are 25 million Americans in recovery from addiction. The goal is to make the latter number grow exponentially in the years to come.

How Americans view addiction today is much different than when Marty Mann found sobriety. What’s more, many people in recovery – like Mann – are now willing to discuss their experience, strength, and hope openly. Two such people who are sharing their sobriety with the world are Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh and Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. The powerhouse musicians and addiction recovery advocates sat down recently with Rolling Stone.

Last fall, Starr and his wife presented Walsh (25 years sober) with the highest humanitarian award for activism in the addiction recovery community, at a Facing Addiction with NCADD gala in New York City, according to Rolling Stone. An interesting aside is the fact that Starr and Walsh are both brothers in sobriety and brothers-in-law. The two are married to Marjorie and Barbara Bach; the sisters are also in recovery. The publication points out that the two couples have more than a century of sobriety, collectively.

Carrying the Message: There is Life After Addiction


Each day, men and women come together to help each other stay clean and sober. There are hundreds of different programs that one can turn to for help, but they all share a common feature: fellowship. You are invited to read the entire Rolling Stone interview with Starr and Walsh at length. The two musicians have a lot of insights about recovery and helping others find strength. The Eagles guitarist tells the magazine:

I got sober because of a fellowship of men and women who were sober alcoholics. That’s how I got sober. After a couple years, I talked about [my sobriety] with other alcoholics and tried to help them. The only person who can get somebody else sober is somebody who’s been there and done that. 

I realized that I do more good showing people that there’s life after addiction. So I decided it’s okay to go public because everybody knew anyway, and if I save one life showing that there’s life after addiction I feel good about it. I believe that’s part of why I lived.

 You can watch Joe Walsh’s acceptance speech below:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

 

Addiction Treatment with Hemet Valley Recovery Center


At HVRC, our programs utilize the principles of 12 Step Recovery, along with individualized care that includes treating the whole patient: psychologically, socially, spiritually, and physically. Our dedicated team of addiction professionals can help you or a loved one heal and find long-term recovery. Please take the first step by contacting us at your earliest possible convenience to learn more about our programs.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Mental Health in the Hospitality Industry

mental health
In 2015, approximately 14 million people were working within the restaurant industry; by 2026 this number is expected to reach over 16 million, according to Statista. Add millions more hotel staff and caterers into the mix. A statistically significant number of Americans fall under the umbrella of this job sector. More importantly, many service industry workers – from celebrity chefs down to people working in the “dish pit” – are struggling with mental illness.

People working in the field often work long, irregular hours; most people earning minimum wage and hoping to supplement their income with tips. Merely put, working in hospitality comes with significant stressors, not the least of which stem from dealing with people who are - at times – unruly, impatient, and unkind.

Still, there is a natural calling for some to the field. For those who do not love the work, the money makes it more palatable. The other benefit or reason that many individuals choose to work in the field is that employers will hire people with little education and even less experience. For those who can’t pass a drug test too, the appeal is obvious.

Anyone who has ever had the opportunity, or has chosen hospitality as a career choice, knows that it is a hotbed of alcohol and drug use. In a sense, drinking and drugging are woven in the fabric of the service industry. Many employees juggle the job with alcohol dependence, substance use disorder, and other co-occurring mental health disorders. They require support desperately.

 

Addiction, Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in the Service Industry


Last year, millions of people around the globe found themselves mourning the loss of celebrity chef, writer, and television host Anthony Bourdain. The Parts Unknown star was not shy about disclosing his battle with both addiction and depression. On June 8, 2018, Bourdain took his life in France; it was a sad day that sent shock waves across the foodservice industry and beyond.

While a tragic loss, the Kitchen Confidential author's death forced the people working in hospitality to consider mental health seriously. Patrick Mulvaney – proprietor and chef at the farm-to-table sensation Mulvaney’s B&L in Sacramento – views Bourdain’s death as an opportunity to confront a local mental health epidemic, Civil Eats reports. In 2018, Sacramento's hospitality industry lost 12 people to mental health complications. The loss of life became even more personal for Mulvaney when his close friend and former coworker, Chef Noah Zonca who suffered from depression and addiction, died suddenly.

“It was brutal. Just in between middle of December and middle of January, four people died in Sacramento, hospitality people. Three of them were either working or had worked for us before, and one was a long time Sacramentan. So, this is about as ‘home’ as home can get,” Mulvaney told Civil Eats

The hospitality and food industry ranks highest among 19 industries for illicit drug use and third highest for heavy alcohol use, according to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The organization reports that people working in the field are more likely than others to struggle with mental illness and addiction.

Partnering with Kaiser Permanente, the James Beard Foundation, et al., Chef Mulvaney has created a pilot program to break the stigma of mental health in the industry, according to the article. First launched in Mulvaney’s restaurant, “I Got Your Back” is a peer-to-peer or near-peer counseling program that trains select employees to be able to spot the signs of mental distress in a co-worker and check-in to see if they require support.

Suicide happens in bursts or waves; it’s not individual incidents. You need to be cognizant of something called ‘contagion’ and how it manifests after traumatic incidents,” says Mulvaney. He adds that “If we can affect even one person, then we’re good at my restaurant.”

 

California Addiction and Co-Occurring Mental Health Treatment


We invite any adult who is struggling with alcohol, substance use disorder or co-occurring mental illness to reach out to Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. Our highly credentialed hospital-based, recovery center is in-network with most insurance providers. Please call for a confidential assessment today to take the first step toward living in recovery. 866-273-0868.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

First Responders: Trauma, Mental Health, and Suicide

People living in California have seen the rapid rise of wildfires. Millions of acres have burned in the last decade and a half, and more than 150 Californians have lost their lives in such fires — including firefighters. In 2018 alone, 1,035,939 acres burned; in the “Camp” fire, 86 people perished.

Devastating forest fires are not a rare phenomenon in the Golden State. Drought and hotter summers lead to larger, more severe fires. Each time nature or human error results in a natural disaster, millions of people are affected, and a group of some the bravest Americans put their safety on the line to snuff out the flames. It takes a special kind of individual to volunteer to run into an inferno, but such individuals are not immune to the trauma that can accompany such heroic actions.

According to data from the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, at least 115 firefighters and emergency medical service workers committed suicide in 2017. The suicide rate among first responders is estimated at 18 per 100,000 people, compared to 13 per 100,000 with the general population, according to a report by the Ruderman Family Foundation and federal data. More firefighters took their own lives than died in the line of duty between 2014 to 2017.

First Responders Experience Trauma Regularly


Research indicates that the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), binge drinking, and depression is higher among firefighters than the general population, The Los Angeles Times reports. Repeated exposure to traumatic events – whether it be in fires or fatal car wrecks – takes a severe toll on a person’s psyche. Moreover, society expects first responders to be brave and heroic every day; this has the unintended effect of causing the affected to keep quiet about their mental health problems.

“When people call 911, they want someone there who’s going to be brave and heroic and handle the situation,” said Jeff Dill, a retired fire captain in Illinois who is a licensed counselor and founder of the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance. Dill adds that when job-related stress crops up “we bury it.” 

When mental illnesses – anxiety, addiction, depression, or PTSD – are ignored, those suffering are at extreme risk of decline and self-harm. First responders require support. They need to be able to discuss and process their experiences without fear of judgment.

"You can certainly imagine where difficulties within the job, perhaps not having effective coping strategies …would lead to post-traumatic stress or depression, which might result in alcohol use, which could lead to the end of a relationship or loss of a job," said Marc Kruse, clinical psychologist with the Austin Fire Department and Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services in Texas.

Will Mitchell, whose firefighter son Ryan committed suicide in 2017, and Jason McMillan, who fought fires alongside Ryan Mitchell, took part in a trauma retreat to deal with his anxiety and depression recently, according to the article. Now the two men are working to make firefighters more aware of behavioral health problems, the article reports. Equally important, they are fighting to end the shame that first responders associate with seeking help. Throughout the U.S., fire chiefs, labor leaders, and counselors are stepping up their efforts to help firefighters before their despair leads to self-harm.

HVRC “Heroes Program”


At Hemet Valley Recovery & Sage Retreat, we offer a program for first responders struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder and co-occurring mental illness. Please contact us today to receive a complimentary assessment, call us at 866-273-0868. Treatment is available, recovery is possible, and we can help you take the first step toward healing.