Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Finding Recovery Support During Thanksgiving

If you are in recovery, you may be looking forward to Thanksgiving. However, it's also possible that some of you are dreading it, particularly those who are in early recovery. If you fall into the latter camp, we at Hemet Valley Recovery Center understand your concerns. Tomorrow might be your first significant holiday sober, and you may experience a strong temptation to use drugs or alcohol.

It's no secret that emotions and feelings accompany holidays. They can arise from being around family or not; each scenario can be problematic for a person in recovery. However, if you keep doing what you have been doing thus far in sobriety, then it's possible to see the other side of Thanksgiving clean and sober.

The most effective method of getting through significant holidays is by putting your recovery needs first. Treat tomorrow like you would other days of the year; attend your usual meetings, pray and meditate, call your sponsor, and be of service.

We understand that some of you will be away from home, which means that getting to one's homegroup is impossible tomorrow. Still, you can find a meeting of recovery in practically every corner of the country. Go online and seek out meetings in your area; it can be a unique experience checking out meetings in other states.

Wherever you find yourself tomorrow, prioritizing recovery will ensure that you do not slip up. Do what you can to avoid risky situations, i.e., anywhere that people are drinking heavily. It might be hard to avoid a drunk person at family gatherings, but you have the right to leave and go to a meeting if you feel uncomfortable.

No matter the time of the day, chances are a meeting is happening. Due to the high risk of relapse that comes with holidays, there are usually far more meetings occurring than usual. Again, the internet is an excellent resource for finding holiday meeting schedules.

Never Hesitate to Reach Out for Support

Even with diligent planning, it's impossible to predict how tomorrow will unfold. With that in mind, you may find yourself in a situation that can compromise your program. If that happens, then it's essential to pick up your phone and call before you fall. It's much less complicated to reach out for support before a relapse than it is afterward.

Those who are in early recovery do not always excel at knowing the strength of their program. Some men and women think that they can handle being around alcohol for an extended period of time. While that may be true for some individuals, it is not for everyone. It is vital that you do not test your program's strength during Thanksgiving, especially if you are away from your support network.

Talk to your sponsor or a trusted peer in the program before you attend an event where people will be consuming alcohol. They will share if they think that you are placing your program in jeopardy. Discussing the topic with them will also provide you with helpful tips for avoiding probing questions about your sobriety. They can also tell how to steer clear of triggers, and what to do if cravings arise.

It's critical to make sure your cell phone is charged at all times tomorrow. You do not want to find yourself in a position where you require support and are unable to make a call. Your phone is a vital lifeline that is invaluable, particularly if out of state.

An Attitude of Gratitude is Everything

One's mental state and outlook are of the utmost importance during significant holidays. Remember that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks and being grateful for the good things in your life today. Everyone in recovery has plenty to be thankful for, such as the people who have helped you make progress.

Those who maintain an attitude of gratitude will find him or herself better equipped to manage their emotions and feelings tomorrow. Set aside time to make phone calls to those who you are grateful for or pull them aside after a meeting. Ask if there is anything you can do to be of service in their life; you never know, they may be struggling, and kind words could raise their spirits.

From all of us at HVRC, we would like to wish you a safe and sober Thanksgiving. You have the power to protect your recovery, and tomorrow is an opportunity to strengthen your program.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Cannabis Legalization Passes Major Hurdle

With millions of Americans fixated on impeachment hearings, many people missed the news regarding a landmark piece of legislation. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 or MORE Act. The bill would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

After more than two hours of debate, the democratically controlled House Judiciary Committee approved the MORE Act. The bill seeks to accomplish far more than to remove cannabis from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, CNBC reports. With the bill’s passing, lawmakers hope to incentivize states to clear criminal records of people with low-level marijuana offenses.

The American “war on drugs” is most closely associated with marijuana. The American Civil Liberties Union reports that cannabis arrests account for more than half of all drug arrests in the United States. What’s more, draconian drug sentencing laws have disproportionately affected minority communities.

The MORE Act would allow states to enact marijuana policies and create a 5% tax on cannabis products, according to the article. The funds would be utilized to provide employment training and legal assistance to Americans most affected by marijuana-related arrests.

“The criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake,” Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said during the markup of the bill. “The racial disparity in marijuana enforcement laws only compounded this mistake with serious consequences, particularly for minority communities.”

There is a companion bill in the U.S. Senate sponsored by presidential hopeful and junior United States Senator from California, Kamala Harris. However, there is not much optimism that the far-reaching legislation will gain the approval needed in the republican-controlled Senate.

The fate of the MORE Act will likely depend on several concessions being made to garner the necessary support among senators.

Cannabis Use Disorder Must Be Considered

Cannabis use is legal for recreational use in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states and Washington, D.C. The prohibition could soon come to an end; the Pew Research Center reports that a majority of Americans are in support of legalization.

While prohibition and the war on drugs are deemed mainly a failure, doing far more harm than good, new policies must consider the fact that cannabis is not benign. Most Americans would probably agree, accurately, that alcohol and tobacco do far more damage than marijuana. Still, cannabis use disorder (CUD) is a diagnosable condition that affects millions of Americans.

The end of prohibition must coincide with campaigns to educate young Americans about the dangers of marijuana use. What’s more, some of the funds generated from a federal cannabis tax should be used to provide evidence-based treatment for people with limited resources. Many people with CUD require professional help to assist in bringing about lasting addiction recovery.

Heavy, prolonged cannabis use can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Signs of marijuana withdrawal, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, include:
  • Anxiety and Restlessness
  • Depression and Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Physical Symptoms (e.g., tremors)
The above symptoms often lead to relapse before a program of recovery can be adopted. Professional assistance significantly improves one’s ability to achieve long-term addiction recovery from CUD.

Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment

If you are having difficulty abstaining from cannabis use and are experiencing problems at work, school, or at home, then you may meet the criteria for a CUD. Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat to learn more about our full continuum of care, including acute medical detoxification, rehabilitation, partial hospitalization, residential, outpatient, and sober living programs.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Opioid Epidemic: Children Suffering in the Shadows

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their lives due to overdose over the last two decades. The opioid addiction epidemic has impacted millions more; loved ones lost, and families separated – torn apart by substance use disorder – the cost of this public health crisis is steep.

Headlines and research that center on the opioid epidemic typically involve overdose rates, naloxone, treatment, and recovery. As such, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that the fallout of this most severe drug scourge is vast. Many of the men and women currently struggling with prescription opioids and heroin are fathers and mothers.

Over the last twenty years, an overwhelming number of children have grown up in homes plagued by addiction. Many of these same children have lost one or more parent to overdose; many more have been separated from their families by child protective services.

It's challenging to predict what these young people's lives will be like as they age and grow up. A large number of grandparents have become court appointed guardians of their children's children. Tens of thousands of kids are in foster care; some have been adopted.

Simply put, the epidemic has not spared young people by any means. In the coming years, these youths and young adults will require the support of their community and their local and federal government.

In the Shadow of an Epidemic

It's hard to wrap one's head around the scope and scale of the American opioid addiction epidemic. It's even harder to generate a clear picture of the havoc wrought by opioid misuse and abuse across the country.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS is a condition that arises when a child is exposed to opioids in the womb. Withdrawal symptoms present at birth requiring substantial medical supervision to prevent further complications. NAS babies are typically separated from their mother and placed in the care of another.

Hopefully, said new parent seeks treatment, finds recovery, and actively seeks to be reunited with their child. Sadly, that does not always happen; breaking the cycle of addiction takes tremendous effort under the best of circumstances.

The United Hospital Fund (UHF), a health policy nonprofit, conducted a study to determine how the epidemic has impacted young people. The findings of the report are startling, and it's highly likely that far more young people will be affected by this crisis. The UHF found that the epidemic had impacted at least 2.2 million children in the United States by 2017. By the year 2030, the report estimates that 4.3 million children will be affected—at the cost of $400 billion.

"Even if we could stop the epidemic cold in its tracks today, the ripples will last long into the future," says Suzanne Brundage, the study's lead author and director of UHF's Children's Health Initiative. 

The number of affected children varied from state to state, with California having the highest number at 196,000 in 2017. That's 20 kids per 1,000 whose lives have been altered by the opioid crisis.

If the above figures are not shocking enough, the research showed that 170,000 children had opioid use disorder themselves, according to U.S. News & World Report. This demographic will likely experience problems similar to their parent(s) as they age.

"The opioid epidemic is clearly driving forward a wave of children affected by family substance use disorder," Brundage says. "We need policymakers, (the) private sector, community leaders and the general public to … start responding today."

California Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If you or someone you love is in the grips of an opioid use disorder, then please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. HVRC is a licensed Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH); this status allows us to provide programs and specialty services all in one facility—from detox to aftercare. We are also equipped to treat patients who struggle with co-occurring mental health disorders that often present with addiction.

Those who take the first step toward recovery with HVRC stand an excellent chance of turning their lives around. Treatment works, and long-term recovery is possible.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

PTSD and Chemical Dependency Treatment

Two weeks ago we discussed National Depression Education and Awareness Month at length. As we pointed out, data from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide. This week, we would like to discuss post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and co-occurring substance use disorder.

With Veterans Day four days away, now is an ideal opportunity to raise awareness about some of the struggles that the bravest Americans face. PTSD impacts the heroes who risk life and limb to protect America at home and abroad from their experiences. Both veterans and active service members are at a heightened risk of developing mood disorders, most notably PTSD and depression.

Those who are unable or unwilling to seek assistance are predisposed to resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Self-harming and self-defeating behaviors like drug and alcohol use are common among our nation’s heroes. Such practices put men and women at risk of developing alcohol and substance use disorders.

It’s vital to spread the message that PTSD and addiction recovery is possible for those who seek professional assistance. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat, we created a Heroes Program for any individuals whose line of work puts them at risk of experiencing trauma, PTSD, and chemical dependency.

PTSD and Addiction: By the Numbers

Whether one is a civilian fighting fire or responding to medical emergencies or those who see combat, traumatic events place people at enormous risk of experiencing behavioral and mental health disorders.

Encouraging such individuals to seek professional assistance is of the utmost importance. Doing so saves lives and allows men and women to lead a healthy and productive life in recovery.

According to the National Center for PTSD, research shows chemical dependency and PTSD are strongly related in people who served in the military as well as civilians. The Department of Veterans Affairs points out that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after someone experiences:
  • Combat
  • Physical or Sexual Assault
  • Terrorist Attack
  • Serious Accident
  • Natural Disaster
Symptoms of PTSD can include any of the following: feeling keyed up, flashbacks of an event, avoiding reminders of the event, and anhedonia (no longer taking pleasure in the activities you once enjoyed). Those who suffer from one or more of the symptoms listed above should seek professional guidance; this is especially vital if one is self-medicating their symptoms.

The VA notes that almost 1 out of every 3 veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD. Moreover, more than 2 of 10 veterans with PTSD also have SUD. Trying to manage post-traumatic stress disorder with drugs and alcohol is a vicious cycle. Self-medicating leads to addiction often, and the practice has been shown to worsen one’s PTSD symptoms.

Men and women – veterans, active duty, or civilians – who are experiencing PTSD and co-occurring substance use disorder can significantly benefit from seeking treatment. However, choosing the right facility that can cater to one’s unique needs is paramount.

HVRC’s Heroes Program Accepts TRICARE

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center, we are proud to announce that we meet the strict criteria for being in-network with TRICARE. It allows us to offer service members, veterans, and their family members affordable co-occurring disorder treatment.

Our dedicated team of professionals relies on evidence-based treatment modalities to help our clients heal and achieve lasting recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our specialty tract for first-responders, veterans, active servicemen and women, and their families.