Thursday, May 16, 2019

Decriminalizing Addiction in America

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

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.

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.