Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Start Fresh Recovery, a self-described "revolutionary" treatment program managed by addiction treatment corporation, BioCorRx, is administering Vivitrol, an injectable form of Naltrexone - the drug that reduces alcohol cravings and blocks the effects of opioids. Upon entering the Start Fresh program, the patient receives a surgical implant of two time-released tablets of Naltrexone - good for one year of "addiction-free" living. One doesn't even need to miss a single day of work.

Dr. George Fallieras, Medical Director of Start Fresh Recovery, recognizes alcoholism (in his words) "as a complex, multifactorial disease of the brain." He goes on to acknowledge that there are two components of this disease: physiological and psychosocial. And both components need to be treated. According to Fallieras, most rehabilitation facilities, through a multitude of treatment methods, "only recognize treating the psychosocial component." This is what separates Start Fresh from the rest. This is why they are "revolutionary."

The Fresh Start Recovery Program employs the tagline: Quick - Convenient - Confidential. If you suffer from alcoholism (a complex disease), you can make one office visit, have the surgical implant procedure done in approximately 15 minutes, and not have to return for about a year. No impatient stay. Not even an in-person outpatient treatment plan is necessary (they offer "life coaching" via the phone or Skype). Two tablets, inserted just under the skin, and your once complex brain disease is cured.

Sounds more like what a doctor might prescribe for a common cold or a fever. Take two of these (under your skin) and Skype me in the morning?   

Spending 15 minutes with someone suffering from alcoholism or opioid addiction and sending them on their way - on their own, with an implant of slowly dissolving Naltrexone, doesn't equate to treating a complex disease.

Without proper treatment and medical supervision, patients shouldn't be using Naltrexone at all.

According to the FDA, patients must not have any opioids in their system when they start taking Vivitrol (the injectable form of Naltrexone); otherwise, they may experience withdrawal symptoms from the opioids. Also, patients may be more sensitive to opioids while taking Vivitrol at the time their next scheduled dose is due. If they miss a dose or after treatment with Vivitrol has ended, patients can accidentally overdose if they restart opioid use.

Furthermore, side effects experienced by those using Vivitrol included nausea, tiredness, headache, dizziness, vomiting, decreased appetite, painful joints, and muscle cramps. Other serious side effects included reactions at the site of the injection, which can be severe and may require surgical intervention, liver damage, allergic reactions such as hives, rashes, swelling of the face, pneumonia, depressed mood, suicide, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal behavior. Medical experts in Australia have warned about the dangers of using Naltrexone implants for years.

With appearances on Bloomberg and other business media outlets, BioCorRx CEO, Kent Emry openly expresses his desire to penetrate into the $23 Billion industry "by offering a program that, unlike most of its competitors, can effectively reduce or virtually eliminate the physical cravings associated with addiction in most people." He is rather explicit about capitalizing on his quick - convenient - confidential cure.

Start Fresh even has a celebrity who testifies that the implants "changed his life forever." Jeremy Miller, best known for his role as Ben Seaver on the TV show Growing Pains, appears regularly as an advocate for the program.


Undergoing a painless, quick surgical procedure to wipe away a complex disease such as alcoholism is an appealing solution for anyone struggling. If only other complex diseases, such as diabetes or cancer could so easily be fixed. The treatment goal is to remove the cancer, either through surgery and/or radiation. Once that is accomplished, the patient is taken off the medicine. What about patients who rely on Naltrexone? What happens when they no longer are receiving the drug? What's worse, what happens when a patient drinks or uses with this implanted drug, releasing Naltrexone into their system? 

Without real clinical addiction treatment, a drug-only treatment plan such as Start Fresh may mean more growing pains on the horizon. And they might be fatal.  

Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat recognizes that there is a physiological component as well as psychosocial - it is not a revolutionary concept. The difference is, abstinence-based 12-Step Programs such as ours take the time to treat the whole disease, with medically-based detoxification and licensed clinical care so that our patients recover fully from substance abuse. We don't aim to replace a dangerous dependency with another.

Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.
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Thursday, April 17, 2014


A recent, first quarter 2014 report based on data from the Denver Police Department shows a decrease in violent and property crime rates, just three months after legalizing the sale of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use on January 1st.

This piece of information has pro-legalization groups clamoring. Added tax revenue for the state. Less harm and dependence than alcohol. Less crime... wait, less crime? In that case, why not legalize it everywhere?

Perhaps we're a little blinded by all of the green smoke. Legalization advocates point to Colorado's $2 million in tax revenue in the first month of legal recreational pot sales. They claim that marijuana isn't addictive. And so far, warnings of increased violent and property crimes have been unfounded.

So are they right? Should the country head towards legalization of marijuana and reap the fruits of a new sellable drug?

Although some news headlines depict a smooth and harmless transition for marijuana into legal sales, there are negative effects to consider. It's way too early to call this a success. It's too early to call this a victory for the pro-legalization groups.

What's not making the headlines are the multimillion-dollar private investing groups which are emerging, poised to become, “Big Marijuana.” Many fail to acknowledge its potential effect on America's youth - surely our teens will be bombarded with promotional messages from a new marijuana industry seeking lifelong customers. And that's only what is within the law for those to capitalize on the legalization of the drug.

According to a recent article in the Washington Times, "a popular website is boldly discussing safe routes for smugglers to bring marijuana into neighboring states; and a marijuana-store owner proudly proclaimed that Colorado would soon be the destination of choice for 18- to 21-year-olds, even though for them marijuana is still supposed to be illegal."

Do we really want our country to head down this path? Afterall, heavy marijuana use has been significantly linked to an 8-point reduction in IQ and is strongly connected to mental illness. Is this how we want to foster our youth - to cultivate a nation of unmotivated, less intelligent individuals?

Surely criminal organizations will adapt to the market. Those outside the legal age limit to buy will be the target of "black market" dealers. And what about alternative, illegal ways to make up for their lost sales? This opens the doors for the illegal sales of other drugs, or worse - the profiting of other sources, such as human trafficking and prostitution.

Haven't we learned from history? The costs outweigh the benefits. The $2 million in tax revenue realized in the first month is a pittance compared to the state's overall budget and we know social costs for the state ensuing from increased drug use will greatly outweigh this. Tobacco and alcohol cost society roughly $10 for every $1 gained in taxes.

And let's examine the validity of the "non-addictive argument."

The American Medical Association (AMA) has come out strongly against the legal sales of marijuana, citing public health concerns. In fact, the AMA’s opinion is consistent with most major medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Society of Addiction Medicine. Because today’s marijuana is at least five to six times stronger than the marijuana smoked by most of today’s parents, we are often shocked to hear that, according to the National Institutes of Health, one in six 16-year-olds who try marijuana will become addicted. (Washington Times)

Reports of increased tax revenue and decrease in crime offer the false promise of positive benefits from the legalization of marijuana. And while legalization advocates will accuse their skeptics as being right-winged proponents of "reefer-madness" - type propaganda, perhaps they should open their eyes and look beyond the results of a few months of legalization.

It is wise to be skeptical. Saying with confidence, the legalization of marijuana is a good thing for society is an extraordinary claim, and as Carl Sagan once said, "Extraordinary claims, require extraordinary evidence."

Evidence from more than one quarter of one year. For now, let's be careful ... and skeptical.

Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lindsay Giving the Recovery Process a Bad Name? Let's Reconsider

Lindsay Lohan admitted to having a glass of wine this week on her own reality TV show, "Lindsay." Her Life Coach, A.J. Johnson, quit, after other allegations that she had fallen off the wagon following a recent trip to L.A.

Here we go again. Right?

The headlines in tabloids such as US Weekly are often ferocious and always sensational. If you glean those you might assume that Lohan, who has been in and out of rehab six times over the years, is a wild child who will never learn. She contributes to the stigma of addiction and sullies the name of the 12 Step recovery process.

However, if you read a little further you might find that although Lohan did relapse, she owned it and courageously admitted it. She also seems to understand that facing it, rather than denying it, is part of the healing process. She confessed: leaving her most recent Summer 2013 inpatient stay to go back to L.A. was challenging.

"Being in recovery and leaving a place where you're in this little bubble and everything is safe around you, it's really hard. I jumped right into a relationship where we weren't on the same page," she explained. "I wasn't considering the fact that the person I was seeing does drink, and I had a glass of wine."

Those in recovery know that environment plays a factor. Being around those who drink can be difficult. Environment can make it seem easy and acceptable to take one drink. Those in recovery also understand that the healing process is not a one-shot deal. Much like anything that requires commitment, it takes time, diligence and support. Relapse is around every corner, but relapse does not mean the end of your recovery. It also does not mean you have to start over. Lindsay's words suggest that she too, understands this.

"I just had so much guilt," she added. "It took me a bit to, like, finally just be, like, 'Why am I holding this in? Yeah. F--k it. I screwed up. I screwed up, and that's okay, but now what can I do so that it doesn't happen again?' That's part of the process."

"Yes, of course it's jarring when you've relapsed and you're trying to stay sober," she continued. "That's a scary thing."

The tabloids aren't snapping photos and writing headlines about celebrities who are grounded and secure in recovery. You'll never read, "DOWNEY JR LEAVES SET GOES HOME TO FAMILY AS OTHERS GO TO BAR." It isn't sexy. But let's recall that for Robert Downey, Jr., who is now several years in recovery - relapse was continuously a part of his process. It's never easy and we shouldn't be so quick to judge.

Instead of writing Lindsay Lohan off, let's root for her.Let's give her a little credit for her courage. When we make mistakes, they don't appear on TMZ or the covers of supermarket line tabloids.

Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.
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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Last Thing the Country Needs is Zohydro

The FDA's recent approval of Zohydro, a powerful new opioid have many people wondering why. Why would the agency tapped with safeguarding the American public from misusing dangerous narcotics introduce a new poisonous player in the cast of deadly high-dose drugs that will contribute to a national epidemic?

There is no mistaking. This drug is potent and it can kill people. According to experts, Zohydro is so strong that someone new to opioids could die of an overdose from just two pills, and a child could die from ingesting just one capsule.

According to the FDA's web site, its best-known job is "to evaluate new drugs before they can be prevent quackery... and also provide doctors and patients the information they need to use medicines wisely. The center ensures that drugs... benefits outweigh their risks."

Quackery. Seems like just the word to describe the FDA's approval of Zohydro when applied to their own aforementioned guidelines. It seems that sometimes insular entities - some governmental agencies, operate within a vacuum. With the approval of Zohydro, said to be 5 to 10 times the power of Vicodin, this may be one of those instances.

Do they realize we are in the throes of an addiction epidemic? Have they not read what we've read, recently in a Forbes article - that the US has seen a jump in deaths - 415 percent in women and 265 percent in men, since 1999 from opiate painkillers? And these aren't young people illegally obtaining the drugs. 60 percent of the deaths are from FDA-approved prescription medications and many of the victims are middle-aged men and women legitimately prescribed for chronic pain. Do they not recognize that the release of a stronger, higher-dose drug such as Zohydro can increase these nefarious numbers?

 Mostly everyone but the FDA and the drug maker understands the danger.

In a strongly worded letter that could be titled "Just Say No to Zohydro" more than 40 experts urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reconsider its approval of Zohydro ER, a potent extended release formulation of straight-up hydrocodone, citing its potential to add the growing epidemic of painkiller addiction (Forbes). Andrew Kolodny, president of the advocacy group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing: "It's a whopping dose of hydrocodone packed in an easy-to-crush capsule. It will kill people as soon as it's released."

The clamoring rings from more than one advocacy group. A coalition of Congressional representatives and state Attorney Generals has also urged the FDA to listen to its own advisory panel, which voted 11 to 2 against approving Zohydro.

Deval Patrick - Republican File Photo
One state even decided to place its own ban on distributing the new drug. Declaring a public health emergency, Massachusettts Gov. Deval Patrick last Thursday decided to place an immediate ban on Zohydro. Other states may soon follow suit.

With so many in disagreement and the obvious dangers of releasing yet another tiny pill of plunder, the only thing left to ask to the FDA is... Why?

Hemet Valley Recovery Center's Chronic Pain and Addiction Treatment Program is for those individuals who have relied on narcotic analgesics as their primary strategy in the treatment of chronic pain and have experienced side effects or other untoward consequences that may warrant a change. For many, abnormally high tolerance interferes with therapeutic relief from pain, and for others the side effects of sedation and depression interferes with daily functioning. If you and your treating physician agree that trying an alternative to narcotic analgesics is appropriate, then the Hemet Valley Recovery Center is a good place to start.

Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.
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