Thursday, January 24, 2019

Spirit of Recovery Award 2018

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

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

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

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

Spirit of Recovery

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

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

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

California Addiction Recovery

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Treating Mental Illness In The Military Family

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

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

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

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


Military Families Struggle With Mental Illness, Too

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

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

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

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


California Tricare Addiction Treatment

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

First Responders In Need Of Recovery

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

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

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


Helping First Responders Find Recovery

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

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

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

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


Helping Heroes At HVRC

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

Friday, January 4, 2019

Treating Mental Illness In The Military

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

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

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

Mental Illness In The Military

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

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

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

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

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


TRICARE Addiction Treatment

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