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.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Co-occurring Disorders: Substance Use and Eating Disorders

co-occurring disorders
More than half of individuals living with an alcohol or substance use disorder meet the criteria for a dual diagnosis. When mental illnesses like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or eating disorders affect people living with addiction, such instances are referred to as co-occurring disorders.

When seeking addiction treatment, it is vital that men and women choose a center that can address both substance use and co-occurring mental illness. An inability to screen, diagnose, or treat the whole patient will result in poor recovery outcomes for dual diagnosis cases. Treating the entire patient is of critical importance when it comes to facilitating long-term recovery.

If a person begins a program of recovery and does not have a means of coping with the symptoms of their dual diagnosis, it puts her or him at high risk of relapse. At HVRC, our team of highly trained professionals is careful to address each patient's mental health concerns throughout treatment. We rely on several therapeutic activities to help men and women manage their symptoms of mental illnesses, so they can heal and prosper in recovery.

Many individuals who seek substance use disorder treatment are unaware that they are battling with another form of mental disease. Following detox, a clearer picture of the patient emerges; this allows experts to diagnose and determine a course of action for managing any co-occurring psychological disorders affecting the client.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

This week, the National Eating Disorders Association bring disordered eating into the spotlight. The organization's goal is to encourage society to fight back against diet culture, promote body acceptance, and encourage people struggling with eating disorders to seek help. They make clear that conditions like Anorexia Nervosa (AN), Bulimia Nervosa (BN), Binge Eating Disorder (BED), and Avoidant-Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is also about sharing facts with affected people and the general public. The association's goal is to inspire hope in those suffering and let them know that a full recovery is possible. Since psychological disorders often accompany each other, it makes sense that many people battling an eating disorder may also contend with substance use disorder. Moreover, men and women living with eating disorders abuse drugs and alcohol regularly. It is also not uncommon for a person to work a program of eating disorder recovery and then develop an alcohol or substance use problem. The National Eating Disorders Association shares that:  

Up to 50% of individuals with eating disorders abused alcohol or illicit drugs, a rate five times higher than the general population. Up to 35% of individuals who abused or were dependent on alcohol or other drugs have also had eating disorders, a rate 11 times greater than the general population. 

Please take a moment to learn more about eating disorders and co-occurring substance use:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Substances that men and women with eating disorders abuse most frequently include:
  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
During NEDAwareness week, we can all help in getting the word out that both substance use and eating disorders are treatable and recovery is possible. Please click here to join the conversation.


California Chemical Dependency Treatment Program

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we can help you or a loved one make lasting changes. We provide individualized care that prioritizes the psychological, social, spiritual, and physical aspects of the whole person. For more information regarding our program, please contact us today.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Mental Health Benefits Linked to Fruits and Vegetables

mental health
Long-term addiction recovery depends on transforming the mind, body, and spirit. Neglect the brain—the body and spirit will suffer. Ignore physical wellbeing—mental health and a person’s connection to something “deeper” will decline. Merely put, the whole person is only as strong as its weakest link.

When a person enters into a program of addiction recovery for alcohol, substance use, or co-occurring mental illness, they realize that their journey will require more than saying goodbye to mind-altering substances. Men and women discover that lasting transformations and continued progress will hinge on a complete overhaul.

Regardless of the mental disease in question, those struggling with such illnesses are in poor health by the time treatment commences. It is critical that patients adopt changes that go beyond embracing abstinence. Incorporating a healthy diet and a routine of physical fitness significantly increases a person’s ability to heal from that trauma that so often accompanies mental health disorders. Again, the mind, body, and spirit connection is a system; neglecting one aspect can result in systemic failure.

Eating healthily and prioritizing even light physical exercise will assist the healing process of recovery. Moreover, people who embrace such changes can better connect with the spiritual realm—in turn enhancing their ability to achieve the goals they desire.


The Foods We Eat Impact Our Mental Health

In 2016, a relatively small study found that eating more fruits and vegetables led to improvements in mental well-being. A research fellow in behavioral economics and an associate professor of economics at the University of Leeds set out to determine if the same held true with a larger sample. Neel Ocean and Peter Howley shared their findings in a commentary for CNN recently.

The researchers looked at more than 40,000 participants from the UK Household Longitudinal Study, according to the article. They found a link between eating healthy foods and increases in self-reported mental well-being and life satisfaction throughout five years.

The scientists note that their study, “alone cannot reveal a causal link from fruit and vegetable consumption to increased psychological well-being.” But, their “work adds weight to a growing body of evidence that eating fruits and vegetables and having higher levels of mental well-being are positively related, and the signs of a causal link from other recent studies are encouraging.”

Neel Ocean and Peter Howley also point out that consuming healthy foods is not a substitute for medical treatment. The findings of this kind of research is beneficial for both mental clinicians and people working a program of recovery. Making changes to your lifestyle is a process; and, major, notable transformations will not take place overnight. For those in early recovery who are resistant to embracing a healthier diet or physical exercise, please keep in mind that making such changes can happen gradually.

The authors of the study say that “adding just one serving of fruits or vegetables daily may have as many benefits for mental well-being as adding seven to eight walks per month to your physical regimen.” Simply put, achieving mental health recovery benefits doesn’t require men and women becoming vegetarians or gym enthusiasts. Small, incremental lifestyle changes could pay significant dividends.


Chemical Dependency and Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorder Treatment

Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat offer people struggling with mental health the highest degree of medical, psychological, and spiritual expertise. Our team of clinicians can help you or a loved one take the first steps toward healing the mind, body, and spirit. Upon completion of our program, our center continues to prioritize clients’ aftercare as they walk the road to long-term recovery.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

COA Awareness Week: Helping Children Heal

COA Awareness Week
The impact that addiction has on the family is immeasurable. Those who contend with alcohol and substance use disorder put enormous stress on their loved ones. In the field of addiction medicine, experts refer to alcoholism and chemical dependency as family diseases. They do this for two primary reasons 1) the genetic links of the disease and 2) the trauma that individuals inflict on their loved ones requires recovery support services.

It is fair to say that the demographic that feels the effects of a loved one's addiction most is the children. Young people growing up in a household with one or more parent in the grips of mental illness face enormous obstacles. Without intervention, there is a high likelihood of a child experiencing developmental issues. The children of alcoholics and addicts require support, lest the end up walking down similar destructive paths later in life.

Parental alcohol and substance use take an enormous toll on young people. Boys and girls living with parents who battle substance use are the most vulnerable to developing an addiction later in life. When you consider that one in four children resides in a family impacted by use disorder, it easy to see the need for support is high.

COA Awareness Week

National Association for Children of Addiction (NACoA) is an organization that advocates for children and families adversely impacted by alcohol or drug use in the family. For over 35 years, NACoA has envisioned a world that fully supports the children of alcoholics and addicts. At no other time in history has the need been more significant; the insidious opioid epidemic has left many young people especially vulnerable. The staggering overdose death rate has left thousands of children without mothers or fathers.

February 10 - 16, 2019, is COA Awareness Week. The annual observance aims to “break the painful silence and offer hope to the vulnerable kids and teens impacted by parental addiction.” Throughout the week, people in recovery and beyond are compelled to spread the message that:

With the right support, children can begin to heal. With appropriate services, children can learn how to live without shame. With hope, resilience is possible. 

NACoA encourages Americans to spread messages of hope for at-risk children. We can all have a role in supporting young people who are affected by addiction. The organization asks that we take to social media; disseminating posts like:

#COAAwarenessWeek2019 is coming! Join us February 10-16 and raise awareness about children of addiction and join us in #CelebratingHopeAndHealingForALifetime! Learn more at #COAWeek2019 #VoicefortheChildren


Together let’s bring hope and healing to children living with parental addiction! #CelebratingHopeAndHealingForALifetime #COAWeek2019 #CaringAdult #Teachers #SchoolPsychologists #Pediatricians #YouthMinisters #DrugCourt Learn more at

Since addiction is a family disease, loved one must recover too. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat, we encourage our clients’ family members to participate in either our Three Day Intensive Family Week or our Weekly Family Groups. Our lectures and groups address the needs of the family so that everyone can recover.

HVRC Family Program

If your loved one requires addiction treatment, we invite you to contact HVRC to learn more about our approach to bringing about lasting changes. You can also find more information about the Family Program at Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat by reaching out to our Admissions & Assessment Department. 951-765-4903 or 1-866-273-0868.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Older Americans Require Addiction Treatment

age-specific addiction treatment
Most Americans, by now, are acutely familiar with the addiction epidemic disrupting millions of lives. While heroin and fentanyl remain the focus of many news stories, prescription narcotics are still a significant issue. It has become more difficult to acquire such drugs from doctors, but they are still misused at alarming rates.

It is right to say that overdose and addiction headlines almost always focus on younger generations. However, older Americans are not immune from either, and without treatment, the outcomes are the same. It doesn’t matter where a person procures their substances; when misused, such people face clear and present dangers.

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that people over 50 are being especially affected by substance use disorder. Older Americans who think that addiction is a young person’s problem should reconsider their position. Whenever an individual's life quality is severely impacted by substance use – young or old – action is required.

Prescription Drug Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 18 to 25-year-olds are misusing prescription narcotics at the highest rates. However, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that opioid-related emergency room visits were up 74 percent from 2010 to 2015 and opioid-related inpatient stays were up 34 percent among people 65 and older, according to U.S. News & World Report. The article rightly points that opioids are not the only danger affecting older Americans.

JAMA Internal Medicine published a study that shows one-third of older adults prescribed benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety medications), uses them long-term. Like opioids, benzos such as Xanax and Valium are highly addictive. Moreover, when anti-anxiety meds are used in conjunction with opioids, the two types of drugs make for a potentially deadly cocktail.

It is vital that older Americans – who take prescription narcotics long-term – reach out for support if they have concerns about having a use disorder. The stigma of addiction can be paralyzing; it often leads people to suffer in silence. Help exists, including treatment programs and support groups that cater to older adults. If accessing age-specific treatment is not possible, it’s critical that older people understand that evidence-based addiction treatment programs are useful for all ages.

“While substance abuse in older adults often goes unrecognized and therefore untreated, research indicates that currently available addiction treatment programs can be as effective for them as for younger adults,” according to NIDA. 

Age-Specific Addiction Treatment at HVRC

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center, we offer programs that are tailored to specific demographics. Those include, but are not limited to, age-specific addiction treatment. We understand that alcohol and substance use disorder are non-discriminating conditions. Moreover, our experience has taught us that the young and old people have unique concerns. As such, older adults respond better –at times – when they are working together exclusively with their peers.

Addiction treatment can be beneficial for everyone; but, there is ample evidence that certain individuals can benefit more from gender or age-specific programming. At HVRC, we have witnessed this first hand. If you are over 50 and are struggling with prescription drugs, please contact us to learn more about our older adult addiction treatment program.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Spirit of Recovery Award 2018

Spirit of Recovery
Steve Collier, Co-Founder of HVRC, with Dr. Stephen Ey (center)
and previous "Spirit of Recovery" honorees.
Over the decades, people from various backgrounds have dedicated their lives to others to transform their own; each person in recovery owes such individuals a debt of gratitude. Without the countless medical professionals and behavioral technicians working tirelessly to help others heal from mental illness, it’s unlikely that millions of men and women would be in recovery today.

However, it is not just those working in the field of addiction medicine; there also exist many men and women, not working in this area of expertise, who help others day-after-day in their quest for serenity. Every week, persons with significant sobriety time pay forward the gift bestowed upon them gratis to people in early recovery. Such people contribute to the maintenance-side of recovery, while addiction medicine professionals hold up the treatment-side.

In the recovery centers adhering to evidence-based modalities of treatment, one is likely to find M.D.s, Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC), Chemical Dependency Counselors (CADC), Registered Nurses (RN), and so forth. These professionals have an acute and specialized understanding of the nature of addiction and recovery. As so, they can utilize therapeutic tools to help facilitate long-term recovery in people willing to embrace a new way of living.

Working in this tremendously vital field is more than just a job, it is also an exercise in compassion in the face of enormous odds. Struggling with mental disease is not a prerequisite for understanding that recovery is a matter of life and death. The entire nation has come to realize that not everyone makes it to the other side of addiction. Moreover, one thing addiction professionals discover early in their careers is that there are no guarantees. Even with treatment, long-term sobriety is not a shoo-in; but, with guidance, each person can make the lasting changes needed for long-term progress. Successful outcomes depend on what comes after rehab, and whether a person has a strong foundation to build upon.

Spirit of Recovery

addiction medicine
The doctors and therapists who help individuals establish a footprint for recovery, help people to have the best chance at managing mental illness without relying on drugs and alcohol. In modern times, we can look back on a long list of addiction recovery pioneers who laid the groundwork for useful treatment models. Dr. Joseph L. Galletta, for instance, is one example of a vanguard in the field; he was one of the first physicians certified in, what was then, the new field of Addiction Medicine. While Galletta is no longer alive, his contribution lives on, and his excellent work continues to inspire those currently working to enrich the lives of others.

Each year, Hemet Valley Recovery Center has the honor of recognizing individuals who dedicate themselves to foster change in people who struggle with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorder. The Joseph L. Galletta, “Spirit of Recovery” Award is given to leaders in the field of recovery. This year we had the privilege of acknowledging the good works of Dr. Stephen Ey, M.D. (featured in the photo on the right). The 2018 nominee is a physician whose entire career has been in service to helping others find the healing light of recovery.

Dr. Ey is a former director of the California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM). He was certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine in 1996; and, he became a Distinguished Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine in 2003. We invite you to read is full bio here. If you have an interest in putting forward a name for consideration the 2019 “Spirit of Recovery” Award, please click here.

California Addiction Recovery

At HVRC, our professional and experienced team can help you or a loved one end the cycle of addiction and begin a remarkable journey of recovery. Our chemical dependency rehabilitation center offers several specialty services for chronic pain, older adults, young adults, and families. Please contact us to speak with a recovery specialist today.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Treating Mental Illness In The Military Family

military family mental illness
Men and women who serve in the military are entitled to receive adequate medical and psychological care. Those who deploy overseas face significant obstacles, risking both life and limb. The impact this type of existence can have on such people is high. Many servicemen and women who come back to the United States from tours in the Middle East find that they now have a fight of a different kind, mental illness.

At HVRC, we accept TRICARE insurance; and, have created a program designed to address the unique needs of men and women serving in the military. However, we also understand that the entirety of a military family can encounter mental health difficulties. Mothers and fathers, husbands or wives, and sons and daughters can all experience traumas of their own; the symptoms of which can significantly disrupt a person’s life.

These people, after all, have to contend with the thought that they may never see their loved one again after deployment. Such fears can wreak havoc on a person’s mind. Those who lack healthy methods of coping with emotions that accompany having a loved one in the military can develop mental health conditions, including alcohol or substance use disorder.

For the families whose loved ones who do manage to make it home, the reality that the person they love has changed can take a severe toll. An individual does not have to be on the battlefield to become collateral damage.


Military Families Struggle With Mental Illness, Too

Research tells us that service men and women, and their spouses are at a higher risk of developing depression than the general public. Untreated depression, for instance, often results in suicidal ideation and the development of substance use disorder. Simply put, mental illness can be deadly; thus immediate intervention is of the utmost importance.

Naturally, children face obstacles of their own. In 2016, more than 2,200 children had already lost a parent in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to the NCCP. It is also worth noting that of the 1.7 million soldiers who had served overseas by the end of 2008, nearly half were parents, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs reports. A study published in 2010 found that the children of deployed parents are at heightened risk of behavioral, stress, and mood disorders.

The negative emotions that spouses and children experience while their loved ones are away can lead to anxiety and depressive disorders. Such individuals often turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping, only to exacerbate their symptoms and risk developing a substance use disorder. When servicemen or women come home changed, and their loved one is already having trouble coping with their emotions, it can create a perfect storm of dysfunction.

It is vital that military family members experiencing adverse mental health symptoms reach out for support and talk about what they are experiencing. Asking for help prevents mental illness from worsening and is the first step toward recovery.


California Tricare Addiction Treatment

Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat offer high quality, hospital-based care for active duty service members, veterans and their families. We proudly accept TRICARE West insurance to provide affordable, evidence-based addiction and co-occurring mental health disorder treatment. Please contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help family members of active military.

Friday, January 11, 2019

First Responders In Need Of Recovery

First responders work on the front lines of tragedy. Police officers, paramedics, and firefighters routinely put the needs of others ahead of their own; and, such people work in environments that hardly allow them to talk about their own problems. The paradox is that the very same people who disregard their own safety for the sake of others are also some of the most vulnerable to experiencing lasting trauma, substance use disorder, and co-occurring mental illness.

Men and women working in high-risk occupations are at a heightened risk of using drugs and alcohol to cope with their experiences. Witnessing horrific events – such as the loss of family members, children, and co-workers – can leave seemingly indelible scars on a person’s psyche. In many cases, those living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and co-occurring mental illness feel it is unacceptable to reach out for help.

The culture of first responders is made up of heroes, and heroes are not supposed to have weaknesses according to popular belief. The result is that many brave Americans needlessly suffer in silence and fail to get the help they so desperately need. Which is why sometimes a hero's most heroic act involves reaching out for help and starting a journey of recovery.


Helping First Responders Find Recovery

Many people engaged in dangerous fields of work struggle with alcohol and substance use disorders and mental health conditions stemming from untreated PTSD. Those who feel unable or unwilling to seek assistance experience relationship problems, employment setbacks, irritability, and sleep disturbances. It is absolutely vital that first responders feel supported and empowered to seek help; it is critical that they come to believe that seeking help is a sign of strength rather than weakness.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat, we have successfully treated many first responders over the years. Men and women presenting with untreated PTSD, anxiety, depression, and addiction. In many cases, unhealthy coping mechanisms like drinking and drugging become the only way such individuals can make it through the day. Realizing that there was a need for a program tailored specifically for first responders, we designed a Heroes Program. We help firefighters, peace officers, EMTs, and active and retired military personnel learn healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with the symptoms of mental illness.

Our team of professionals utilizes a scientific and holistic approach to help our nation’s heroes confront negative life experiences and the pathologies that trauma can give rise to, such as depression and anxiety. Simply put, we help first responders get better and get back to work, relying on recovery rather than drugs and alcohol.

We understand that there are limited options for this demographic, few treatment centers offer tracks similar to our Heroes Program. We believe that it is worth mentioning that the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) recognized the need for helping more first responders find recovery. The IAFF created the Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health Treatment and Recovery for its member firefighters struggling with mental illness. The facility is located near Washington, D.C.


Helping Heroes At HVRC

Please contact us to learn more about our program for first responders. We can conduct a complimentary assessment and discuss your options, please call us today at 866-273-0868 to take the first step toward living in recovery.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Treating Mental Illness In The Military

Most Americans will never know what it is like to see a good friend die in their arms; grasp the sensation of being shot at; and, we will never understand what is like to get into a military transport with the risk of driving over an improvised explosive device. Trauma, and what follows from it, is not unique to servicemen and women; but, those who serve knowingly put themselves in harm's way for something more significant. A decision to pit courage against fire puts a person at significant risk of losing life, limb, or sanity. For the latter, those who survive war only to fight an internal struggle for years to come potentially, mental illness becomes their enemy.

Mental illnesses, like post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, are all too common in the armed services. Moreover, men and women affected by such ailments are conditioned to keep their illness to his or herself; many understand that acknowledging mental disease, and seeking help, could mean the end of a career or a significant setback at least. The stigma that surrounds mental illness affecting the general public is just as insidious in the military, if not more damaging. Additionally, people who come back from war with indelible scars often have a harder time acquiring evidence-based treatment compared to the average citizen.

So, if you can’t talk about what you are dealing with, and adequate help is difficult to acquire even if you do, then what option does that leave you? For some, the only choice is silence and having to contend with illness in secret; an avenue that is often unsafe to both the individual and those they love. In many cases, the need for relief is so great that active members and veterans alike will turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with symptoms. Substance use, or in this case self-medication, is a sure path to more issues including addiction.

Mental Illness In The Military

Functional impairment, substance abuse, suicidal ideation, impulsivity, and violence are common symptoms of people living with PTSD. The condition manifests differently from one person to the next, but all who are affected do not fare well without treatment. Of the more than 2 million men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly a third of all service-persons are living with a mental health condition, according to data published in JAMA. A recent article appearing in Psychiatric Times written by Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, Chairman of the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons Department of Psychiatry, makes some excellent points about mental illness in the military.

Dr. Lieberman rightly highlights the lack of support provided for individuals coming home from foreign wars and their families. He acknowledges that effective treatments exist, but more research is needed involving not just the military but also the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Lawrence E. Kolb Professor stresses the importance of early intervention and how it can increase functional capacity, rapid symptom recovery, prevention of maladaptive coping behaviors, and prevention of chronic PTSD and other psychopathology.

In his article, Dr. Lieberman lays out why he thinks more has not been done for the brave Americans who are willing to sacrifice everything. Then, he follows his observations with how things can change. Lieberman writes:

I believe there are three reasons why the same has not been done for the psychological wounds of war. First, the idea of psychological weakness is antithetical to military culture with its ethos of strength and invulnerability. Thus, military leaders were disinclined to recognize and accept the possibility of psychic injury. As a result, many soldiers were accused of cowardice and in some cases punished, even executed, for their infirmity. Second, mental disorders are not tangible and have no visible physical signs or diagnostic tests by which they can be confirmed. Hence, they are not seen as real, and are thus minimized—you don’t get a Purple Heart for PTSD. Third, PTSD was considered a military problem and thus the responsibility of the Defense Department and Veteran’s Administration. Consequently, the NIH did not see this as within the scope of their mission and thus the best and the brightest biomedical researchers at academic medical institutions were not engaged in the research effort to address PTSD. 

Dr. Lieberman believes a cure can be found for PTSD and finding it will require a Manhattan Project-esque approach to understand the pathophysiology better and develop more effective treatments. He says it is impossible, but success will hinge on:
  • The government creating “a task force of leading scientists to develop a strategic plan for research on the pathological basis of PTSD and develop treatments.”
  • Congress allocating “funding to support the necessary research to be carried out under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health in partnership with the VA and Department of Defense.”
  • Establishing “a network of medical centers in addition to the VA Hospitals to provide specialized mental health services for veterans, and mechanisms for reimbursement.”


TRICARE Addiction Treatment

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center, we are committed to assisting active duty service members and veterans in achieving long-term recovery. We are proud to accept TRICARE insurance so that those who have dedicated their lives to serving and protecting others can access affordable addiction and co-occurring disorder treatment. Please contact our recovery specialists to get a better understanding of your benefits and to learn more about our programs.