Friday, December 29, 2017

New Year’s Eve Addiction Recovery

New Year’s Eve is synonymous with heavy alcohol consumption. People always drink more on major holidays, but the end of the year is a time when people really let loose. That may not mean anything to the average person, but to individuals in recovery, the final hours of the year are trying. We cannot stress enough the importance of staying close to your support network in the twilight of 2017; relapse is a regular occurrence during this particular holiday.

Naturally, you’d like to start the new year on a positive note, so you’ll want to take certain steps to ensure that’s the case. Those of you in your first year of recovery will want to double your efforts by way of meetings, prayer, and meditation. If you make a point of getting to at least one meeting this Sunday, you’ll be exponentially less likely to find yourself in a situation dangerous to your recovery. It’s quite common for people to attend multiple meetings on major holidays, and with that in mind, meeting houses hold “alcathons;” that is, round the clock meetings from 12 AM to 12 AM the following day.

If you get to a meeting in the morning and again in the evening, and stay close to your support network in between, you position yourself to make it through the day without incident.


Addiction Doesn’t Observe Holidays

New Year’s Eve falls on a Sunday, and most people will not be working on Monday; however, one must continue working their program on both days. Just because you have a respite from a job, doesn’t mean you get paid time off from working a program of recovery. Always keep in mind that your disease is ready to strike the second you become complacent about your program. One must remain ever vigilant in keeping their condition at bay.

Cured is not a word in the recovery lexicon; we can only manage use disorders, which are a severe mental illness, through continued spiritual maintenance and a commitment to adhere to the principles of recovery. With that in mind, please treat the coming holiday as you would any other day in recovery. Stick to your usual routine as best as possible; any single deviation could be a slippery slope toward relapse. If you usually pray and meditate in the morning, do so on Sunday. If you attend a specific meeting on a regular basis, be present during the holiday.

Your support network is in recovery too, which means that they will want to stick close to you, just as you will to them during the holiday weekend. Together, you will be better equipped to resist the temptations of the festivities happening all around you. It’s easier to manage cravings when you are in the company of people who are also working to improve their lives. Regular check-ins with your sponsor or recovery mentor are of the utmost importance, as well. What’s more, be sure to have your phone charged and the ringer on (provided you are not in a meeting); you never know, a fellow member might reach out to you for assistance.


Together: We Stay Sober

Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat would like to wish you a happy, safe, and sober New Year’s Eve. All of us are pulling for your continued success, and together with your peers, you can bring in 2018 on a healthy footing. If you find yourself struggling, pick up the phone and reach out for help. The helping hand of recovery is always there for you.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Misusing Sedatives Increases Risk of Substance Use Disorder

Prescription painkillers, or opioids of any kind for that matter, are often used in conjunction with other narcotics, such as benzodiazepines. People drawn to opiates, like heroin, are inclined to use sedatives and tranquilizers, i.e., Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin. When people mix the two families of drugs, a synergistic effect takes place; meaning, the drugs amplify the euphoric feelings of one or both drugs. What’s more troubling, drug synergy increases the risk of overdose, as well.

Doctors prescribe sedatives and tranquilizers to treat anything from anxiety to insomnia. The class of drugs is effective in treating those conditions, but use comes with inherent risks, such as dependence, addiction, and overdose. One need not even mix benzodiazepines with opioids to experience an overdose, but when opioids and “benzos” are combined the dangers are far higher.

The general public doesn’t hear much about sedative abuse in the news, the result of the opioid addiction epidemic taking the spotlight. However, people prescribed drugs like Xanax (alprazolam) should be fully aware of what can happen when these drugs are used and abused. With that in mind, new research suggests that misusing prescription sedatives and tranquilizers puts people at risk of abusing more problematic drugs down the road, MedicalXpress reports. The findings were published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.


Riding a Wave of Sedatives

Researchers from the University of Michigan School of Nursing's Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking and Health analyzed data from almost 35,000 American adults, according to the article. They examined people using sedatives after a one-year period (Wave One) and again after a three-year period (Wave Two). The findings, at first glance, seem promising; however, a closer look reveals concerning results which call for preventive efforts.

The researchers considered misuse as taking:
  • Too much of the medication.
  • A drug longer than prescribed.
  • Medication for reasons other than intended.
  • Someone else's prescription (nonmedical use).
The research showed that 76 percent of participants misusing sedatives and tranquilizers during Wave One stopped by the time they got re-interviewed, three-years later. Unfortunately, 45 percent of those who abused such drugs during Wave One, had developed a use disorder involving other substances by Wave Two, predominantly involving alcohol, marijuana, and opioids.

"We have to retrain clinicians to think differently," said lead author Carol Boyd, professor of nursing and women's studies. "Most drug users are not single drug users. They misuse several substances and often co-ingest them. This puts misusers at risk for overdose, and even death. We must remember that sedatives and tranquilizers contribute to overdose, especially when mixed with alcohol and opioids."


Safer… But Still Addictive and Deadly

Drugs like Xanax, the researchers point out, are Schedule IV medications; they are considered less addictive as other drugs such as opioids. However, less addictive doesn’t mean nonaddictive; the risk of abuse and addiction is high, and patients should be made aware. What’s more, detoxing from benzodiazepine addiction can be problematic; without medical supervision, people attempting to abstain are at risk of potentially fatal side effects.

If you or a loved one is misusing any form of sedative or tranquilizer, we strongly encourage you to seek help—immediately. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat, we can help you safely detox from narcotics and start you on the road of lasting addiction recovery. Please contact us today, recovery is possible.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Safe and Sober Thanksgiving

Tomorrow, we give thanks for all that is good in our lives and ask our higher power for guidance. Gratitude is paramount to long-term recovery, and we must take stock of the people who have helped us up to this point. None of us in recovery made it where we are today on our on, we all had help. If you completed an addiction treatment program, then several people at the center helped you achieve the goal of living life on life’s terms. Those of you who continue your efforts daily by way of going to meetings, working with a sponsor, and extending your hand to newcomers—know that without your family in recovery you would have already used alcohol or drugs.

While Thanksgiving is an opportunity to give thanks to those who’ve assisted your efforts, it’s also a time that requires vigilance. The snares and traps of addiction seem to rise from the depths of our minds more profoundly during important holidays. After all, certain days of the year center around sentiment and emotion, two things that can disrupt one’s program. People in recovery can go through the whole year without thinking about using, only to find an overwhelming desire to use bubbling up during the holidays.

We could compile a list of reasons why people if they are going to relapse, often do so during big holidays; although, it’s more salient to discuss how to get to the other side of the holidays without picking up drugs or alcohol. It’s worth noting, if you’ve gone through treatment and work a program, then you already have tools at your disposal that can assist you. What’s more, there are several people in your life today, undoubtedly, who are committed to supporting your efforts for recovery.


Recovery Support Network

Are you traveling somewhere for Thanksgiving? Those who answer “yes” to that question have hopefully drafted a plan-of-action for keeping your recovery intact this Thursday. You’ve made a list of meetings to attend and schedule a time each day that you are away for talking with your sponsor. Having a schedule in place is a commitment, in effect, which holds you accountable to something other than yourself. Sticking to the plan will give you a sense of accomplishment and strengthen your effort to abstain, while away from home.

Those of you staying local this Thursday should also have a plan established for continued recovery. Even though you have plans to spend time with family, you’d be wise allowing some time for going to a meeting, or several meetings if you are in early recovery. Making a point to be present at your home group at some time over the course of Thanksgiving will help protect your program from jeopardy. In recovery, going to meetings is vital; just because it’s a holiday, doesn’t mean our addiction took a vacation. The disease is just around the corner waiting patiently for your return.

Treating tomorrow like you would any other day of the year is beneficial, as well as staying close to your support network. Even if you’ve been in the program only a short time, there is probably select individuals who you have made a bond. People, like yourself, committed never to feel the way they felt in active addiction, again. Ask them what they are doing tomorrow; you may find that they need your support more than you theirs. In recovery, we have a responsibility to each other. Again, we all help each other stay on the miraculous path of recovery.


Safe and Sober Thanksgiving

At HVRC, we would like to wish each of you in recovery a happy Thanksgiving; for those of you who completed our treatment program, we’d like to share how grateful we are to be a part of your recovery. Holidays too shall pass. Please remember what you’ve learned along the way and stay close to your circle of support; if you do that, there is no reason why Thanksgiving can’t be a beautiful day.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Prescription Opioids Should Be A Last Resort

prescription opioids
Doctors rely heavily on prescription opioids for the treatment of pain, and for a good reason, they work. There is no other form of medication which dulls pains quite like opioids, but that doesn’t mean doctors must turn to opiates as a first resort. Given the state of opioid addiction in America, physicians should only turn to narcotic painkillers after all other options are exhausted.

One way to reduce American reliance on opioids is to offer patients alternative means of managing pain. Naturally, there will always be instances when prescription opioids are the right call; however, more times than not a non-narcotic alternative can be just as effective. What’s more, non-opioid alternatives don’t carry the risk of addiction.

In the United States, the majority of the more than 2 million people with an opioid use disorder began the perilous road of addiction using painkillers. In many instances, physicians prescribe drugs like OxyContin and Percocet for acute pain caused by an injury of some kind. Such people went to an emergency room and were prescribed opioids. When sprained ankles progress to substance use disorder, something’s got to give.


Opting Out of Prescription Opioids

There is a growing body of evidence supporting the belief that prescription opioids are not the only solution to pain. In fact, a new study shows that a cocktail of ibuprofen and acetaminophen provided relief relative to opiates for acute pain patients, The Los Angeles Times reports. The researchers published their report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The research involved 416 patients suffering from acute pain stemming from a variety of injuries. While 20 percent of participants had a bone fracture, others were treated for minor injuries like sprained ankles.

Patients who received the two non-addictive, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs reported pain relief on par with participants who received prescription opioids. Emergency room doctors treating acute pain with prescription opioids was one of the driving forces of the addiction epidemic, according to the article. Interestingly, and despite the ever-mounting death toll linked to painkillers, this kind of study was a first. While Dr. David Clark, a Stanford pain medicine specialist, was not a part of the new study, he said the research, “could shape practice really very profoundly.”

“I would have thought that people who came to an ER with pain that could be managed with just pills wouldn’t be given opioids,” said Clark. “The fact that investigators thought the question needed to be answered is sort of an indicator of how oriented we are to using opioids for pain, even when simpler and safer approaches might work just as well.”

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If an injury led you to prescription opioids and subsequent misuse, you might meet the criteria for an opioid use disorder. Reliance on these types of drugs regularly results in addiction and overdose. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat, we can help you manage your disease and show you how to live a life of recovery. Please contact us today.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Writing in Addiction Recovery

In the field of addiction recovery, we cannot over-stress the importance of putting pen to paper. Addicts and alcoholics, naturally, have a lot going on inside in need of processing. Feelings and experiences that are so raw the thought of saying them aloud might be too much to bear or hear. Alcohol and substance use disorder is a malignant disease, left untreated it almost always cuts short the life of its host. The general public often assumes that people with such disorders use drugs and alcohol to get “high;” the actual reasons are far more philosophical. Addiction strikes at the heart of people who are unable to live life on life’s terms.

Substances are means of escape, regularly confused as a vehicle of elevation. People who use drugs struggle to cope with their existence, their place in the grand cosmic scheme. Unable to reconcile their spiritual connection with the Universe or a higher power, individuals seek the assistance of chemical influences. The result of such behaviors is, more times than not, destructive ends. However, those in the cycle of addiction can extricate themselves from the disease’s sinister clutch. It’s a difficult task to be sure, but it’s possible; if one doesn’t know the way, they need only ask for assistance.

In early recovery, those who’ve committed themselves to working a program typically find it difficult to talk about certain things. In the midst of an epidemic of tragic scale, millions of Americans have seen and experienced things which they would not wish upon their worst enemy. Coming to terms with the wreckage of one’s past is difficult, choosing to face who you were when using is rarely at the top of anyone’s list.


Pen, Paper, and Recovery

Confronting who you were before choosing a different path can, in fact, strengthen one’s resolve to move forward. Taking an inventory of our past transgressions, rather than turning one’s back to them, is part the healing process of recovery. Step Four of the 12 Steps is salient, because it drives one to do something that people with use disorder are wired to have an adverse feeling toward —the act of looking at where you might have gone wrong. The Big Book talks about the inclination:

“Alcoholics especially should be able to see that instinct run wild in themselves is the underlying cause of their de-structive drinking. We have drunk to drown feelings of fear, frustration, and depression. We have drunk to escape the guilt of passions, and then have drunk again to make more passions possible. We have drunk for vainglory— that we might the more enjoy foolish dreams of pomp and power. This perverse soul-sickness is not pleasant to look upon. Instincts on rampage balk at investigation. The minute we make a serious attempt to probe them, we are liable to suffer severe reactions.” 

Now, you may not be at Step Four personally, but if you are serious about long-term recovery, then inventories are in your future. It’s important not to get ahead of yourself or your sponsor regarding Step-work. That does not mean that you can’t begin getting into the swing of things via writing or journaling. You probably have a lot that you’d like to get off your chest. It’s likely that you are not ready to discuss certain things with your support network. Journaling is an excellent way to practice sharing, even if the person you are sharing with is yourself. The act of writing may shed some light on specific areas of your life, mainly those things that have held you back.


Addiction Treatment Light The Way

Improving your ability to process elements of your life with yourself honestly will make it easier to discuss such things with your peers or sponsor. Inauthenticity defines active addiction; recovery is the opposite. In recovery, people face their problems to work through the difficulties of life. Substance use is no longer an option in recovery, so we must learn how to cope with life without heeding the siren of addiction’s deadly call.

Are you ready to take specific steps toward living an authentic, examined life? Do you desire to break the bonds of the disease and step into the sunlight of the spirit? At Hemet Valley Recovery Center Sage Retreat, we can help light the way. While under our care we will give you the tools necessary to unlock the doors of understanding. Please contact us today.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

I’m Into Mental Health: Inspired, Informed, Involved

mental illness
If you are in addiction recovery, then there is a good chance you have dual diagnosis. Otherwise known as a co-occurring disorder. Simply put, when a person meets the criteria for a substance use disorder and also struggles with another form of mental illness—that person is said to have a co-occurring disorder. It could be said that mental health conditions like company, and not the good kind either.

It does not matter if the addiction precedes the other condition, such as bipolar disorder, or vice versa; treating both at the same time is of the utmost importance for recovery. Those who are treated for a use disorder, but not their dual diagnosis, are at high risk of relapse. It cannot be overstated enough. Successful outcomes in recovery depend upon treating the whole patient.

It is important to educate the general public about co-occurring disorders. Whether you have
first-hand experience with addiction, or not, there is a high likelihood that somebody close to you has been affected. And, maybe they have not had any kind of treatment for either addiction, other form of mental illness or both. Encouraging your loved ones to seek the help they desperately need is vital.


Talking About Mental Illness This Week

You may already be aware that this is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). Held in recognition of the good work that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and partners do in the field. Educating the general public, breaking down the stigma of mental illness that prevents people from seeking help and encouraging the afflicted to seek treatment.

The more people who get help, the better we all are for it—as a society. NAMI works hard to spread the message about the harm that stigma does to us all. Throughout the year the organization is committed to helping people better understand that while mental illness has no known cure, it can be treated. People do recover, given the opportunity.

This week, NAMI would like to draw the public’s attention toward five treatable mental health conditions. Disorders that need “better public understanding and stigma-busting.” Such conditions, include:
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Schizophrenia & Psychosis
  • Dual Diagnosis
Naturally, the last condition on that list is of particular importance to the field of addiction medicine. Around 10 million Americans meet the criteria for dual diagnosis, according to a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.


Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you, or a loved one, is struggling with a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. It is also possible that there is a dual diagnosis at play that is unknown, at this time. We can help determine if that is the case and take proven, effective measures to treat both illnesses.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Alcohol Use Disorder On The Rise With Older Adults

alcohol use disorder
Opioid use disorder among older adults continues to be a great cause of concern in the United States. We recently covered new findings showing that while opioid misuse among young people has been declining, it’s been increasing among older Americans. The study dictates that greater emphasis needs to be placed on prevention and treatment efforts among this demographic. Although, opioids are not the only addictive substance impacting older adults. In fact, problematic alcohol use is on the rise, according to epidemiologists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Research published in JAMA Psychiatry, compared data from a national survey taken in 2001 and 2002 and again in 2012 and 2013, The New York Times reports. The data indicates that older adults engaging in “high-risk drinking” rose 65 percent, to 3.8 percent. What’s more, alcohol use disorders (AUD) more than doubled during the same time period among this demographic. With AUD affecting 3 percent of older Americans.


What is “High Risk Drinking”

Most experts define “binge drinking” as when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. The practice has been associated with a number of negative health effects, including dependence and alcohol use disorder. High risk drinking, on the other hand, is when men have five or more standard alcoholic beverages, and when women have four or more in a day — at least once a week.

“The trajectory over time is remarkable,” said Dr. Marc Schuckit, a psychiatrist and addiction specialist at the University of California, San Diego. “You have to say there’s something going on.” 

The causes of the upward swing are varied. Bridget Grant, an epidemiologist at N.I.A.A.A. and study lead author, says that anxiety and the recession likely had a role, according to the article. Aside from heavier drinking leading to alcohol use disorder, the substance can exacerbate chronic health conditions associated with older adults, such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Alcohol misuse has also been associated with several forms of cancer and is a known cause of stroke and heart attack. Many of the medications older Americans take daily, warn against mixing with alcohol. The possibility of deadly synergistic effects, is great.

“Read your drug labels,” said Dr. David Oslin, a psychiatrist specializing in addiction at the University of Pennsylvania. “Alcohol interferes or interacts with literally hundreds of prescription medications.”


Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

Addiction isn’t a good thing under any circumstances. Fortunately, achieving long-term recovery is entirely possible. Dr. David Oslin says that older adults in addiction treatment have the same or better success rates as younger adults. Dr. Oslin conducted a study which found that older adults were much more likely to stick to treatment plans. Alcohol use disorder treatment works.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat we offer an Older Adult Addiction Treatment Program. One that is specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of seniors. Please contact us today to begin the lifesaving process of addiction recovery.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Alcohol Use Alters Brain Functioning

alcohol use disorder
Addiction treatment is in many cases a one-size-fits-all approach. What works for one client is likely to be beneficial for another. Everyone who is actively working a program of recovery using the 12 Step model is expected to follow the same suggestions. That is, work the same steps, following a model that has been passed down for generations. There are no exceptions, there are no differences between what is required from both men and women.

Males and females, to be sure, have different needs which are typically observed in treatment. They both have had experiences that may be unique to one particular sex, but at the end of the day the mechanisms of addiction and subsequent approaches to achieve recovery are similar. However, in recent years scientists have been narrowing in on variations between men and women regarding addiction. We know that both sexes are eligible for addiction. We know that continued use over long periods of time, more times than not, will lead to dependence and use disorders. In both men and women, the havoc that substances, like alcohol, will wreak on the human body is extensive. Both physically and mentally.

It is widely agreed upon that men consume more alcohol than women. When men drink, they tend to imbibe, in what could only be described as, more aggressively. Males binge drink more often and in greater amounts than females, but research has shown that women have stepped up their alcohol use. Especially middle-aged and older women. What is relatively unknown about heavy drinking is how it affects the brains of men and women differently.


How Alcohol Use Alters Brain Functioning

Long-term alcohol use has the propensity to do serious harm, potentially having lasting consequences. Those who engage in heavy alcohol use for long periods of time are at great risk, regardless of sex. Yet, some researchers have wondered if drinking alcohol alters the brains of men differently than women. And, if so, could it mean that methods of treatment (especially treatments involving medication) will be more effective for one sex compared to the other. A group of Finnish researchers found that, in fact, the brains of young men undergo changes which are not the same as young women who engage in heavy alcohol use, Science Daily reports. The researchers used Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) on young heavy drinkers, a method which activates brain neurons; the subjects' brains were then observed using an EEG (electroencephalogram).

"We found more changes in brain electrical activity in male subjects, than in females, which was a surprise, as we expected it would be the other way around,” said Dr Outi Kaarre, a researcher at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, Finland. “This means that male brain electrical functioning is changed more than female brains by long-term alcohol use" 

Dr. Kaarre points out that alcohol use has a more pronounced effect on both electrical and chemical neurotransmission in the brains of men, according to the article. The receptors under the spotlight are the GABA A and B. Men who engage in long-term alcohol use had alterations to both A and B, but in females it was the GABA-A receptors that were affected. Which could explain why the efficacy of a new drug for treating alcohol dependence, Baclofen (a GABA-B agonist), has had varying results.

The findings, presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, could have serious implications for treating male and female patients with an alcohol use disorder (AUD).


Young Adult Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

If you are binge drinking on a regular basis, multiple days per week, then you are on dangerous path to alcohol use disorder. You may already meet the criteria for a use disorder and without treatment things will only get worse. If you are a young adult whose life has become unmanageable due to alcohol use, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. We can help.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Addiction Recovery In College

addiction recovery
The summer is quickly coming to a close. Which means that a number of young adults in recovery are preparing to head back to college. If you are among such people, we commend you for furthering your education whilst working a program of addiction recovery. It is not an easy task and should never be discounted. Staying clean and sober under average circumstances can be a real challenge. Addiction is always jumping at the bit for you to slip up, thus inviting the disease back into your life.

The disease of addiction thrives best when individuals are stressed out or overworked. Two things that go hand in hand with modern college class loads. In the ever-modernizing world, students must go far above and beyond to get ahead in this world. Demanding that students take difficult classes and participate in extracurricular activities. Given that young people in recovery have a most important mission outside of school, already, it can be hard to juggle all that is expected of young collegians today.

However, it is possible to navigate the rigors of college life and not fall back into the cycle of addiction. If you have completed an addiction treatment program, have a sponsor and go to meetings several days a week—you have already acquired many of the necessary coping skills for dealing with stress in recovery. So, when you head off to school, if you can utilize what you have learned, you should be able to get through the semester without incident.


Protecting Addiction Recovery In College

Many young people in recovery attend college outside of their home town, or the area they first got clean and sober. Which means that you will be away from you inner-recovery support circle and sponsor. If that is the case for you, it is absolutely paramount that you get plugged into a recovery community where you go to school. Many students in recovery actually get a second sponsor to work with while they are away. An extra line of defense to protect one’s sobriety.

It is vital that you develop connections with other young people in recovery who are attending the same college as you. People who you can both socialize with in your down time, and turn to when you are having a hard time. A number of colleges even offer sober housing services, which can be super beneficial. When you are living with other people who share your common goal, who are also navigating the stress of college, you will not feel like you are alone. The power of recovery depends on fellowship.

It practically goes without saying that being unable to connect with a recovery community when away at school can be disastrous. It could precipitate spending time with people who are partying or using. In turn, leading to a relapse. Making recovery one’s first priority will help prevent such an occurrence. Please keep in mind that without your recovery, the likelihood of being successful in college is quite slim.


Taking A Semester Off

Some of you reading this may still be in the throes of active addiction, but are still plan to go back to school. Or are heading into your freshman year. If that is the case, you may want to consider holding off on college until after treatment and getting established in a program of recovery. Doing so will not only protect you from the dangers of active addiction, it will help you achieve your maximum potential when working towards your future.

Our young adult addiction treatment program is specifically designed to meet the various needs of young people. Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat today, being the first step in the lifesaving journey of addiction recovery.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Opioid Misuse Among Older Adults

addictionEarlier this summer we wrote about an alarming trend of overdose deaths involving older Americans. Overdose is quite common among opioid users, but people over the age of 50 are far more likely to be on several other medications. Compared to younger adults, that is. The mixture of opioids and other medication can have a synergistic effect, heightening the risk of an overdose. Opioid abuse hospitalizations involving people over 65 quintupled over the past two decades.

“The high rates of [multiple] illnesses in older populations and the potential for drug interactions has profound implications for the health and well-being of older adults who continue to misuse opioids,” Dr. Kimberly Johnson, Director for the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, said in a news release.

When following the various developments of the opioid addiction epidemic, the news is usually concerning. Earlier this week, the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued its first report. Key findings included that around 142 Americans die of an overdose every day in the United States, The Washington Post reports. The report included several recommendations that could help combat the epidemic, starting with the President declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency. The commission believes that by doing so, it will “force Congress to focus on funding” and to “awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”


Older Adult Opioid Abuse

One of the takeaways of a 20-year-long epidemic is that addiction does not discriminate. The quote from above could not be more apt. A poignant reality that will hopefully sway more lawmakers to tackle the addiction epidemic with compassion, rather than punishment. Nobody is safe from the long reach of opioid addiction.

While there have been some positive strides made regarding the epidemic, there is still a staggering amount of work to do yet. A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that opioid misuse among younger has decreased (11.5 percent to 8 percent) from 2002 to 2014, HealthDay reports. Unfortunately, opioid misuse involving heroin and painkillers with adults over 50 rose from 1 percent to 2 percent in the same time frame.

Five strategies for addressing the epidemic have been put forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):
  • Improving access to addiction treatment and recovery services.
  • Promoting targeted availability and distribution of naloxone.
  • Better reporting of public health data on the opioid epidemic.
  • Increasing support for research on pain and addiction.
  • Utilizing safer pain management methods.


Addiction Treatment Is The Solution

The recommendations from the HHS could do a lot of good, but it could easily be argued that expanding access to addiction treatment services will be most effective. Simply making it harder to get certain drugs only addresses a symptom of the much greater problem of addiction.

If you are an older adult struggling with prescription opioids and/or heroin, it is strongly advised that you seek help. Sooner, rather than later. The longer one puts off treatment, the greater the likelihood of premature death. Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat to learn more about our Older Adult Addiction Treatment Program. This is addiction treatment specifically tailored to meet the needs of people over 50 years of age.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Cannabis States Rights Advocates Push Back

cannabis use disorder
We know that marijuana is not a safe drug. However, it is a lot less dangerous than most other drugs, including alcohol. That is not to say that is should be illegal, leading to the imprisonment of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders. But, rather common sense policies should be put in place to ensure that the drug use be minimized especially by teenagers and young adults.

The American marijuana experiment, medical cannabis and legalization, has not been without it’s downsides. As with anything new, there are bound to be some hiccups. A veritable learning curve, to be sure. Although, lightened stances on marijuana has not led to storm of problems in the states that have passed friendly legislation. One could easily argue that ending marijuana prohibition has led to some good, especially with regard to criminal justice.

On the flip side, there is evidence to suggest that more Americans are seeking addiction treatment for cannabis use disorder, voluntarily. Although, It is not a certainty that the cause for the uptick is due to legalization. It has been suggested that because fewer people are being ordered to treatment by the state for cannabis offenses, more people are now seeking help on their own terms. Which is great. Cannabis use disorder is a real condition, not to minimized because it is safer than other drugs. There is a significant number of people in recovery from marijuana addiction.


Federal Government Against Legalization

Despite the fact that the Pew Research Institute has found 57 percent of U.S. adults are in favor of legalization in 2016, the Attorney General has expressed interest in a federal crackdown. A more recent poll has shown that 59 percent of American voters are in favor of legalization and 71 percent say the federal government should not prosecute in marijuana-friendly states, The New York Times reports. As you can imagine, states that have passed medical marijuana and legalization are not thrilled about the prospect of the Attorney General’s intentions. Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey said a Federal cannabis crackdown “will not make our communities safer or reduce the use of illegal drugs.”

“Instead, they will worsen an already broken system,” he said, noting that marijuana-related arrests are disproportionately high for black Americans. 

In an attempt to stymie the Federal Government's efforts, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, including from Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, to Sen. Booker — are dead set on defending states’ rights, according to the article. A group of senators reintroduced legislation that would protect marijuana patients in states where it is legal, without fear of federal prosecution.

“Federal marijuana policy has long overstepped the boundaries of common sense, fiscal prudence, and compassion,” Senator Cory Booker said in a statement about the The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act.


Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment

California is one of the states with both medical and legalized marijuana. There is a significant number of people living across the states that have an unhealthy relationship with the drug. While incarcerating marijuana addicts is not the answer, encouraging people to seek help if their life becomes unmanageable is. If you are struggling with cannabis, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Binge Drinking Can Lead to Alcohol Use Disorder

binge drinking
Binge drinking is a practice that is quite common among teenagers and young adults. The behavior is most often defined as having four drinks for women and five for men, in a two-hour period. Young people often don’t realize the true consequences of their actions early in life, partly because they can bounce back quickly after a night of heavy drinking. They may hear about the risk of alcohol poisoning or making reckless decisions from being inebriated. But, a significant number of binge drinkers don’t realize that they are at risk of developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

That is not to say that binge drinking means that alcoholism will develop, research supports that fact. Most binge drinkers in young adulthood do not go on to be alcoholics. However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that binge drinking during one’s formative years can be a slippery slope to AUD.


The Road to AUD

Alcohol by nature, is the farthest thing from healthy. The list of alcohol related health problems, aside from alcoholism, is long. Many of the conditions that can arise from heavy drinking over a long duration can be deadly. These include cancer, cardiovascular disease and cirrhosis of the liver to name a few. People living with an AUD are at increased risk of developing such problems, so avoiding the condition is of the utmost importance.

Unfortunately, convincing young adults to drink only in moderation and infrequently is difficult to achieve. And while there is no such thing as healthy alcohol consumption, drinking rarely and in limited amounts mitigates the risk of eventually developing a problem. One way to enlighten young people about the risks of binge drinking may be to constantly bombard them with the facts.

A new study published recently, again supports the claim that binge drinking in one’s younger years increases the risk of AUD, The Research Society on Alcoholism reports. However, it is unclear (currently) if intermittent versus regular drinking has an impact on the development of an alcohol use disorder. The findings were published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

AUD Treatment

Preventing young people from engaging in dangerous drinking patterns is paramount. But, equally important is encouraging people who have an AUD to seek treatment for their condition. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat. We have helped a significant number of young people break the cycle of addiction and learn how to a live life, on life’s terms in recovery.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Opioid Addiction Among Older Americans

opioid addiction
The “golden years” of one’s life ideally would be typified by spending time with grandchildren and spending time on the links. After all, you have earned it after decades working towards a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, older Americans are often set back by chronic pain, the lingering symptoms of an injury or just the byproduct of weathering life’s many storms. Back injuries and arthritis is particularly common among people in their 60’s and beyond.

Our interest in the trend of chronic pain among older Americans, as you can probably easily deduce, lies with how pain is managed in America—more times than not the solution rests with opioid painkillers. Given that much of the talk about the opioid epidemic in the United States is focused on young adults overdosing in record numbers, it can become easy to lose sight of the true scale and scope of the epidemic. It is important to understand that people from both ends of the adult spectrum have been touched by both opioid use disorder and opioid overdose death.


Eligible For An Overdose

Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that nearly 14,000 (42 percent of the annual total) people who died from an opioid overdose were over the age of 45. The fact that older Americans are becoming addicted and dying from overdose made up nearly half of the death toll that year is certainly troubling, but what’s just as concerning is that that has not gained much attention.

"The deaths of older people are an untold part of it," Jeremiah Gardner tells AARP, public affairs manager of the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy. 

The reality is that everyone is eligible for developing a dependence to a narcotic - old or young, rich or poor, white or black. Just because someone is experiencing regular symptoms of pain does not mean that the answer is always opioid painkillers. But, in the same year mentioned earlier, almost one-third of all Medicare patients (around 12 million people) received a prescription for opioids like OxyContin (oxycodone), according to AARP. In 2015, 2.7 million Americans over 50 painkillers were used in unintended ways, and in the past 20 years opioid abuse related hospitalizations of people over 65 quintupled.

Please take a moment to watch a video about older Americans affected by opioids narcotics:

If you are having troubling watching, please click here.


We Know How We Got Here, Now What?

The causes of the American prescription opioid addiction epidemic are aplenty. One of the major contributing factors is our over reliance of this class of drugs for practically all severities of pain. Researchers have yet to offer a viable, non-addictive alternative to date—which means prescribing trends will probably remain stable, at least among older Americans, whose health problems are objectively visible. However, what is done when opioid use disorder is identified will make all the difference in the fight to save lives.

Those who seek help in addiction treatment facilities, especially centers with specialty tracks like our own, greatly increase their chance of not becoming a statistic of the morbid side of this epidemic. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we understand that our older clients have specific needs that must be addressed, if successful outcomes are to be achieved. Our 30 day Older Adult Addiction Treatment Program is tailored to meet those needs, providing an intimate setting where clients are surrounded by a non-confrontational group of peers all working towards the goal of long-term recovery.

Please contact us today to begin the lifesaving journey of addiction recovery.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

PTSD Awareness Month 2017

On Monday, much of the nation observed Memorial Day. Historically, the day was a time for honoring the brave American men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. While that is still the case, people who observe the holiday today often take a moment to also remember and honor those men and women who came home from overseas after their tours of duty. To be sure, and thankfully, those individuals are still with us. But one might find themselves wondering what Memorial Day has to do with those who survived? A question that could probably be answered in several ways.

That being said, it is an unfortunate fact that a significant young men and women come home after serving in armed conflict—changed. Some suffered serious physical injuries, and have scars to show what they went through. Whereas, others come back physically unchanged, but a have a hollow look in their eyes; the wounds they suffered are internal, and such injuries are the direct result of witnessing traumatic events. The experience of war can linger on in veterans for years to come, what is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A condition which, for some, makes it almost impossible to have healthy relationships, hold employment and lead a fulfilling life.

Some veterans who come back from war with symptoms of PTSD receive treatment, and with continued maintenance do recover. The reality is that the clear majority of American servicemen and women living with post-traumatic stress are not getting the help they need. Such people often resort to drug and alcohol abuse to mitigate their symptoms. And, as a result, alcohol and substance use disorders are the byproduct of self-medication. Without treatment, the problem continues to untenable points, the substances no longer help and only serve to exacerbate the PTSD. A staggering number individuals with PTSD and a co-occurring substance use disorder, attempt and succeed at taking their own life. All of which could have been potentially avoided with treatment. With all this in mind, one could easily argue that those soldiers lost their life overseas.

PTSD Awareness Month 2017

Mental health disorders of any kind can dramatically disrupt the course of one’s life. Providing access to effective methods of treatment are paramount, not just for veterans but for anyone who has experienced trauma. As was pointed out earlier, left to one’s own devices self-medication often occurs, creating even more problems. It is absolutely vital that people experiencing symptoms of the disorder are encouraged to seek help.

June is PTSD Awareness Month, a time to encourage everyone to raise public awareness about PTSD and the treatments available. As with any form of mental illness, we can all have a hand in showing compassion and support, helping those who have been touched by PTSD.
“Greater understanding and awareness of PTSD will help Veterans and others recognize symptoms, and seek and obtain needed care." - Dr. Paula P. Schnurr, Executive Director of the National Center for PTSD.
June 27th is PTSD Awareness Day. For more information on how you can help people suffering from untreated PTSD, click here.


Holistic Treatment For Mental Health 

The therapeutic drug and alcohol treatment process at the Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat occurs within a holistic, cognitively-oriented framework. It is facilitated through educational, task oriented and process groups. Introduction to the twelve-step program and philosophy is a component of treatment. Our experienced, professional staff fully grasps the need for treating the whole patient, both substance use and any other form of mental illness that may accompany the insidious disorder. Please reach out to HVRC today. Recovery is possible.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Keeping Recovery During the Summer

addiction recovery
Whether you live on the east or west coast of America, summer appears to finally be at our doorstep. Phew! The winter can be a hard time for people in recovery for addiction. Less sunshine, cold days and nights often makes people depressed, particularly people who have a history of mental illness. It can be difficult to muster the strength to work and be active; and idle time for addicts is most certainly the devils…

Not feeling well because of the weather can cause you to think that maybe a drink or drug will improve your state of being. One must constantly be replaying the tape of where that kind of thinking can take you. Reminding oneself of the leaps and bounds you have made in life which you owe entirely to your recovery. If you managed to make it through the winter without a relapse, we at HVRC thank you for being living proof that even in tough times, the practices and principles of recovery work.

If on the other hand, you happen to have relapsed and returned to the program despite the feelings that come with a relapse, you made the right choice. Perhaps you are still in the midst of active addiction post relapse, we implore you to seek treatment immediately.


Addiction Recovery Over The Summer

While the warmer months certainly bring more opportunities to get out of one’s own head, suck the marrow out of life, it is not always a walk in the park. Particularly for alcoholics who long associated warm weather with drinking cold beer. Going to parties on the major holidays, and barbecuing every weekend can also carry a host of triggers.

Recovery is 24/7, 365 day-a-year is a mission to live a life free from drugs and alcohol. In order to experience the gifts that the program can afford you, vigilance is a must. If you find yourself experiencing triggers, then get to a meeting, talk to someone. Call Your Sponsor. Call Your Sponsor, Again. You can never protect your program too much.

Make plans to soak up the sun with others who are working towards your common goal of recovery. It cannot be said enough, we can have fun in recovery. If you are taking trips around the country or world this summer, have a plan in place. Find meetings to go to along the way, before you depart. Going to meetings in different cities, states and countries can be a really fun experience. You never know what kind of interesting people you will meet at foreign recovery meetings. Potentially making lasting connections.


This Could Be A Life Changing Summer

If you are in the grips of active addiction currently, the summer might be the perfect opportunity to address the problem and seek treatment. Many people will tell themselves that they do not have time to go to treatment for three months, worried that it will impact schooling or their job. But the summer may provide you the time you need. Even if it doesn’t, failing to seek help will eventually result in education or career losses. Ultimately, untreated addiction takes everything.

Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat today, to start a new existence. One free from the stranglehold of active drug or alcohol use. Recovery is waiting for you.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cannabis Use Disorder In America

cannabis use disorder
Every couple of years it seems like more states alter their policy regarding marijuana use, whether that be for medical or recreational purposes. While California was the first state to successfully pass and implement a medical marijuana program in 1996, the Golden State would not be the first to legalize recreational pot use for adults. But, nevertheless California voters passed legislation ending the prohibition last November, joining: Alaska, Colorado, DC, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. All told 29 states and Washington DC have medical marijuana programs operating or in the works.

The issue of cannabis use in the United States has historically been a hallmark of political division across the country, but it is clear the gap continues to diminish in size—arguably the result of fewer Americans viewing the plant as inherently dangerous. Even Americans who do not use cannabis products (or plan to) now believe that possession of the drug is not cause for arrest and/or imprisonment. More and more people in the U.S. understand that our prisons have more inmates (by far) than any other country in the world, and that the majority of the people behind bars are there because of nonviolent drug offenses. The product of a seemingly futile war on addiction—masquerading as a “war on drugs.”


The Big Picture

The arguments for legalization of medical marijuana and recreational use are very appealing when you consider the damage done to individuals whose only crime was simple possession of what even members of the government consider to be a fairly benign substance (relatively speaking). Such arrests do not just affect the individual, they impact families and entire communities that are by and large impoverished and mainly populated by ethnic minorities like African Americans and Latinos. Whether you are for or against marijuana use, it is hard to disagree with the statistics of who has been affected the greatest by the war on drugs.

On the other hand, it is important that we take a look at the big picture and what an end to prohibition can bring with it—particularly heightened addiction rates. There is still a lot that scientists do not understand about cannabis, and the drug's impact on humans. We know that it can wreak havoc in the developing brains of teenagers and young adults, and impact cognitive function in older adults. But there is rarely much talk about marijuana addiction, otherwise known as cannabis use disorder. However, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Medical Center have attempted to shed some light on progressive marijuana policies and addiction.


Cannabis Use Disorder

One reason why people do not speak much of weed addiction is because when compared to other substance use disorders it can be hard for people to view the former as being a big deal. Stereotypical representations of pot smokers do not show such people pawning all their belongings so they can inject weed into their arm. Sure, people who smoke pot may have a deficit in motivation, but they are not robbing pharmacies to get their fix. Even in rooms of addiction recovery, some people are prone to look down their nose at those whose life became unmanageable because of smoking marijuana. Yes, even among addicts there is at times what could be called a reverse hierarchy. To be clear regarding recovery programs, people viewing other problems as somehow lacking the credentials for free admission to recovery is not the norm—but rather the exception.

Opinions aside, there is clear evidence that cannabis use disorder is real. It can, and does, negatively impact people's lives. The condition is recognized in the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and furthermore, pot addicts who attempt to quit the drug do in fact experience withdrawal symptoms which can precipitate relapse.

Even though the country is steaming towards an end to prohibition on the Federal level, it is important that people living in states where the drug is now legal understand all the risks. A new study looked at cannabis use and cannabis use disorders before and after medical marijuana laws were passed in certain states, ScienceDaily reports. The researchers found that illicit marijuana use decreased and marijuana use disorder remained flat between 1991-1992 and 2001-2002, but both illicit use and cannabis use disorder rates increased between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013. Naturally, more research is needed to better understand the correlation.

"Medical marijuana laws may benefit some with medical problems. However, changing state laws -- medical or recreational -- may also have adverse public health consequences, including cannabis use disorders," said study author Deborah Hasin, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health and in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. "A prudent interpretation of our results is that professionals and the public should be educated on risks of cannabis use and benefits of treatment, and prevention/intervention services for cannabis disorders should be provided."



If marijuana is impacting your life in negative ways, it is possible that you are dependent on the substance. If you continue to use despite adverse effects, it is a usually a sign that a problem exists. Help is available and there are a significant number of people who are recovering from cannabis use disorder, living productive and fulfilling lives. Please reach out to us at Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat to discuss treatment options and beginning the journey of recovery.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Opioid Addiction and Pain Management

pain management
Rough estimates indicate that some two million Americans are dependent on prescription opioids, though many experts believe that approximation is low. Between painkillers and other forms of opioid abuse, the problem has gained epidemic status. Those who become addicted to this class of drugs are at great risk of overdose and everyday nearly 100 people succumb to the side effects of opioid toxicity.

People who get hooked on powerful painkillers are in a tight spot, especially those who started using opioids as the result of experiencing chronic pain. Such people usually require detoxification and the assistance of an addiction treatment center, followed by working a program of recovery. While such programs are effective at addressing the addiction aspect, it is not as if one’s chronic pain is going to magically disappear. Unabated pain symptoms can, and do, steer individuals back into the cycle of addiction.

To be sure, there are in fact alternatives to opioids. They may not be addictive, but they are hardly as effective. Ibuprofen and the like can only do so much, a lot of people do not respond to acupuncture and holistic treatments. Which is why finding effective measures of pain mitigation could be argued as being just as important as ensuring access to addiction treatment services. Rest assured, researchers are working hard to find non-addictive medical alternatives that mirror the efficacy of opioids.


Complex Pain

One of the reasons treating pain effectively and safely, is that it is hard to measure the adequacy of a drug or procedure, because pain and one’s response to it is subjective. Big pharma has had limited success at developing opioid alternatives for decades, CBS News reports. The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Dr. Nora Volkow, pointed out that drug companies pumped a lot of money into the quest years ago, but “failed miserably.”

Tanezumab is one drug that has proven to be quite effective at treating pain caused by arthritis and bad backs, by targeting outlying nerves, according to the report. The drug blocks pain signals from reaching the spinal cord and brain that originate in the muscles, skin and organs. Unfortunately, tanezumab, pronounced tah-NAZE-uh-mab, has been plagued by setbacks which have kept it from market, even though trial participants experienced great results.

The drug blocks what is known as nerve growth factor—a protein made in response to pain—which might affect joint repair and regeneration in patients needing knee or hip replacements, the article reports. As a result, studies were put on hold in 2010 but have resumed again, results are expected sometime next year.


The Future of Pain Management

Cell therapies, stem Cells and sodium channel blockers are being researched by drug companies. Researchers are considering medicines that can be injected into joints to relieve pain, or grow cartilage. Drugs like Embrel for instance do not act directly on the brain rather targeting the pain pathways and specific types of pain caused by arthritis. There has also been much interest in developing cannabinoid medications that lack the euphoric or addictive properties. For the time being, opioid narcotics will still be the “go-to” painkillers, but it is a good sign that scientists are working hard to stem the tide.

It’s important to keep in mind that there may never be a cure-all pain medication that lacks addictive properties. What’s more, relying on less effective measures of pain management are likely the lesser of two evils when compared to the insidious nature of dependence and addiction. Better to live in some pain, as opposed to putting one’s life at risk of peril.

If you have become addicted to your opioid painkillers, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. Our Chronic Pain and Addiction Treatment Program can help you with the withdrawal process and begin you on the road of recovery. Under the guidance of our medical director, an alternative pain management treatment strategy will be developed. We have helped a significant number of people who have been in the position you find yourself.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Depression: Let's Talk

Addiction is a chronic disease. A form of mental illness that cannot be cured, like all mental health disorders, only treated. It's worth pointing out, before the article proceeds, that people with any form of mental illness are far more likely to experience a substance use disorder, than those without a history of conditions like depression or bipolar disorder. Spun in a different way, it is extremely common for people who meet the criteria for an alcohol or substance use disorder to also have a co-occurring mental illness.

With that in mind, organizations dedicated to treating addiction have a more difficult task when it comes co-occurring cases—also known as a “dual diagnosis.” If treatment is to be successful, that is, resulting in a continued program of recovery, it is paramount that both the addiction and the other form of mental illness is treated at the same time. Treating one without addressing the other, almost always results in relapse.

Recovering from addiction and a co-occurring disorder is not easy, but it is possible with the help of experienced professionals employing the use of science-based methods. It is of utmost importance that people living with a dual diagnosis understand the risks associated with failing to work a continuous program of recovery and keeping the symptoms of other forms of mental illness at bay with the use of medication and/or therapy.


The Prevalence of Depression

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a year-long campaign called, “Depression: let’s talk”. The goal, as you could probably guess, it to open discussion about the disorder, encourage people suffering from depression to seek help and to ensure that they have access to such assistance. The organization points out that, with more than 300 million people worldwide living with depression, the condition is believed to be the leading cause of poor health and disability on the planet. In that light, depression could be considered a pandemic.

“These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves,” said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. 

WHO has made the disorder the main focus of World Health Day this Friday, April 7, 2017. The organization defines depression as having persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities (anhedonia). As a result of which, people are unable to manage daily activities, for 14 days or longer. It is vital that people with depression feel able and safe to talk about what they are experiencing. An inability to do so means that such individuals will be disinclined to seek help, and without help, self-medication with drugs and alcohol typically ensues. People with depression are not only at greater risk of substance abuse, but suicide as well.

“The continuing stigma associated with mental illness was the reason why we decided to name our campaign Depression: let’s talk,” said Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO. “For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery.”


Treatment is the Answer

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat we are committed to helping break the stigma attached to any form of mental illness. Our experienced, professional staff fully grasps the need for treating the whole patient, both substance use and any other form of mental illness that may accompany the insidious disorder. Please reach out to HVRC today, to begin the journey of recovery.

Naturally, people working in the field of mental health can only do so much for the cause. Encouraging people to open up about their mental illness in order to get help can only be accomplished if we, as a society, are committed to ending the stigma of mental health disorders.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Family History Alcoholism and Hangovers

It is widely accepted that people, with a family history of alcoholism, are themselves at a greater risk of developing an alcohol use disorder than their peers, who do not have a similar background. People who have a family history of alcoholism are four times more likely to experience a problem with the substance, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). There are several reasons for the aforementioned case, including genetic factors and exposure to people who are responsible for one’s well-being having unhealthy relationships with the potentially deadly substance. It is easy to normalize things, even when one knows such behaviors are likely to be harmful.

So much of the person we grow up to be is rooted in how we are raised. In many cases, we learn how to process things that are difficult from our parents, especially regarding coping with the trials and tribulations of life. If a child sees a parent drink alcohol when they are upset about something, it can leave a lasting impression that can have serious repercussions down the road. One can equate alcohol with relief. Which, in some respect, that is a true statement; alcohol can ease one's tension about a given situation. However, the use of alcohol to cope with challenges is a slippery slope leading to addiction.

Alcohol use prevention efforts have long focused on instilling young people with the facts about alcohol. Facts that may be the opposite of what they see at home. It is reality that can be very confusing. There is no guarantee that someone who comes from an alcoholic family will develop the same relationship with alcohol that their parents have established. But for those who do drink, it is vital that efforts be made to mitigate the risk of following in the footsteps of their mother and/or father. And, it turns out that hangovers could provide some insight.

What is hangover?

Rather than run through the myriad of theories and highly scientific markers that are likely to be what is behind a hangover resulting, it would be more useful to discuss the symptoms that can accompany the condition that most people who have drank too much are acutely familiar. The morning after somebody engages in heavy alcohol use, the alcohol has pretty much worked its way through one’s system. At which point, a number of uncomfortable symptoms occur—both physiological and psychological in nature.

Symptoms typically include:
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Concentration Problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
Simply put, there is nothing fun about a hangover. Even after the physical symptoms dissipate, emotional distress can linger for some time. A long night of drinking, followed by serious regret. Alcoholics will usually push through a hangover by drinking more, commonly referred to as “hair of the dog.” Such behavior can be sign that you have a problem with alcohol, and potentially an alcohol use disorder.

Countless people in the grips of a hangover have vowed to never drink again, only to renege on what they believed to be a solemn oath to abstain. It turns out that reinforcing the memories of a hangover in people, who have alcoholism in the family tree, may impact the course they themselves eventually take with the substance.


Remembering a Hangover

New research has found that people from families where alcohol has been a problem are more likely to retain lucid and painful memories of hangovers, according to a press release from Keele University. The study, "Does familial risk for alcohol use disorder predict alcohol hangover?", was published in the journal Psychopharmacology. Psychologist Dr Richard Stephens at Keele University said:

“Taken together with findings from prior research it appears that people who are predisposed to develop problem drinking are no more susceptible to developing a hangover after a night of alcohol than people who are not predisposed. However, we found that such people appear to remember their hangovers more lucidly. He adds, “It may be possible to exploit this lucid memory for hangovers to curb excessive drinking. Reminding problem drinkers of the negative consequences of incapacitating hangover, for example, letting down family members due to abandoned plans, may help them to manage their alcohol consumption.”

Getting more answers...

If you have more questions alcohol use disorder, we can help. The therapeutic drug and alcohol treatment process at the Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat is designed within a holistic, cognitively-oriented framework. It is facilitated through educational, task oriented and process groups. Introduction to the twelve-step program and philosophy is a component of treatment. Please contact us.



Thursday, March 9, 2017

Opioid Addiction Among Older Adults

overdose death
Anyone is susceptible to a drug overdose. Anyone! Attempting to wrap one’s head around the opioid addiction epidemic in America can cause one to become apoplectic with rage at the staggering death toll associated with this class of narcotics. After nearly two decades of heightened abuse rates and roughly one hundred people dying each day from a fatal overdose in this country, there are few Americans who don’t know someone who has been touched by an opioid use disorder.

So, how did we find ourselves in this situation. Well, for starters opioid painkiller prescribing practices across the country has been nothing, if not negligent. Americans make up around 5 percent of the global population, but we ingest the vast majority of the prescription opioids global supply. It was not that long ago that you could acquire a prescription opioid for a hangnail. That may seem like a gross exaggeration, but it is not that far off the mark.

Naturally, pain and one’s response to it, is subjective. How you tolerate an injury or chronic ailment is likely to be different from your peers. Since pain is often internal, not even a doctor with high-tech gadgets can quantify the severity of your pain. If you report that your pain, on a scale from one to ten, is a ten—physicians have an obligation to not only take your word on it, but to respond with an effective treatment. Mitigation which usually comes in the form of a prescription opioid. Of course, blind faith in a patient's honesty is not always the best course of action, as is evident by the crisis we face today.

An Obligation to Help With Addiction

In many cases, patients will exaggerate their pain levels in order to continue receiving prescriptions for a drug that they may not even realize they have become dependent upon. With that in mind, doctors today have had to begin utilizing resources to determine “at risk” patients. Such as, using prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) to curb “doctor shopping,” that is visiting multiple doctors to get more of the same drug; performing random drug screens on patients to ensure that other mind-altering substances are not part of the picture; mixing one narcotic with another, or taking too much of a drug, is a sure recipe for an overdose.

One could even argue that doctors have an obligation to ensure that patients who are showing problematic signs, or have become dependent upon opioids have access to necessary resources. While opioid use disorder has affected millions of Americans across the age spectrum, it is middle-aged and older Americans that have chronic pain and require long-term pain management. Keeping in mind that even if you take a drug as prescribed it can lead to dependence and addiction. Over time, more of the drug is required to achieve a desired feeling, thus beginning a journey toward overdose. Doctors who identify problem patients will often cut back or stop prescribing opioids to them all together, hopefully in conjunction with a referral to addiction treatment. If it does not play out like that, such patients will turn to the streets to acquire opioids. Many will not be above using heroin as an alternative.

Older Americans, Opioid Overdose and Treatment

People over the age of forty, are dying from opioid overdoses at an alarming rate. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that adults aged 45 to 54 had the highest overdose related death rate at 30 deaths per 100,000 in 2015. Between 1999 and 2015, drug overdose deaths increased the most for adults aged 55 to 64, from 4.2 per 100,000 to 21.8 in 2015.

"Generation X" and “Baby Boomers” are two age groups that doctors must focus on when it comes to opioid use disorder. Physicians are in a unique position to intervene and provide options that can help patients utilize alternative forms of pain management, break the cycle of addiction and recover before a fatal overdose occurs. What’s more, patients should be made to feel that they can talk to their provider about their dependence on pain medication. Help is often a two-way street.

If you are an older adult struggling with opioid use disorder, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. We can help.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative

Last summer, we wrote at length about the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI). Since that time, we are pleased to report that versions of the program have been adopted all over the country. In case you were not able to read the article about PAARI, otherwise known as the “Angel Program;” it is an initiative which encourages addicts to surrender their narcotics to local authorities and, in return, they will be linked with a substance use disorder treatment center. The program, thus far, has been hailed as a great success. On Tuesday, the PAARI Facebook page posted:

“In just 19 months, over 200 police departments in 28 states have become entry points into treatment for people suffering with the disease of opioid and heroin addiction. Together with our law enforcement partners, we've placed an estimated 10,000 people into treatment.”

Addicts Exercise Blind Faith

The idea that the same people (police), whose job it was to arrest those in possession of illegal drugs, were now addicts' saving grace can be somewhat hard to wrap your head around. Nevertheless, the program has proved to be one of the most effective measures against the scourge of opioid addiction in the United States. It is a sign that addiction is no longer being viewed as a problem that we can arrest away. And it highlights the valuable role police officers can have in providing a great public service of impacting active addiction rates.

Historically, police officers were considered to be enemy “numero uno” by drug addicts, not dissimilar from how lawmakers labeled drug use in order to justify decades of imprisoning nonviolent drug offenders. However, the present situation has required both addicts and law enforcement to exercise some blind faith when it comes to one another. Rather than enemies, both addicts and cops can be allies in putting an end to the epidemic.

PAARI Saves Lives

Programs like PAARI are prime example of the paradigm shift in thinking occurring in America when it comes to addiction. If we can all agree that the disease is not a moral failing, but rather a legitimate mental health disorder, then society can come together to better address the epidemic of addiction. Through continued efforts to chip away at the stigma of mental illness, addicts will not only be “re-humanized,” they will get the help they so desperately require.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we would like to commend the efforts of the various law enforcement agencies and their affiliate addiction treatment centers. The value of helping thousands of people find recovery should not be underestimated. Substance use disorder treatment was, is and will continue to be the best resource available for addicts. If you or a loved one is active in their addiction, please contact us today.