Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Mental Health Disorders Amid a Pandemic

mental health
Physical and mental health are interconnected; both require maintenance during these challenging times. The COVID-19 pandemic has put the lives of millions in jeopardy. On the one hand is the real risk of contracting a potentially fatal virus, on the other is the havoc wrought on the minds of people who fear contraction.

Two demographics that are especially vulnerable during these troubling times is the addiction and mental health recovery community. The last few months have been hard on millions of people who heavily depend on support groups to manage life every day. People with alcohol, substance use, and co-occurring mental health disorders are no longer able to access their support networks the way they would historically.

Computers and smartphones are now a lifeline for countless Americans. Video and teleconferencing platforms are two safe methods of interacting with your peers for daily support and recovery guidance. It's critical that you take advantage of the available communication methods that allow you to interact with your support network.

With a dramatic rise in new coronavirus cases in recent weeks, it's clear that we are far from being out of the woods. We have no way of knowing how much longer we will all have to continue practicing social distancing and observing stay at home orders.

Some 2,593,265 Americans have contracted COVID-19, which is an 11 percent (262,780) increase from one week ago. More people have died in the United States from the coronavirus than the Americans who fought in World War I (116,516 deaths). As of June 30th, 2020, the virus has stolen the lives of 124,567 men, women, and children.

From Mental Health to PTSD Awareness Month

The new normal of living in relative isolation has led to a dramatic spike in loneliness across the United States. Mental health and addiction experts can agree that separation is one of the worst things for people in mental and behavioral health recovery. Navigating life is a significant challenge of late for people living with mental illness.

Fear and anxiety are stressful for individuals living with pre-existing mental health disorders. Loneliness can be a catalyst for experiencing mental illness symptoms, and isolation can trigger people in addiction recovery. There is no available data on the number of relapses since the beginning of the pandemic, but it stands to reason that there has been a spike.

While we all do our part to keep ourselves and families safe from the virus, it's of the utmost importance that we support people living with mental health conditions. Both those in and out of the recovery community can help their fellow citizens during these isolating times. May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and June is PTSD Awareness Month. Both observances are essential, and we can all play a role in supporting those affected by mental illness.

The National Center for PTSD writes:

Even though PTSD treatments work, most people who have PTSD don't get the help they need. June is PTSD Awareness Month. Help us spread the word that effective PTSD treatments are available. Everyone with PTSD—whether they are Veterans or civilian survivors of sexual assault, serious accidents, natural disasters, or other traumatic events—needs to know that treatments really do work and can lead to a better quality of life.

The consequences of failing to reach out to members of our community who struggle with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder could be dire. As mentioned previously, isolation takes an enormous toll on people with mental health conditions. Without support, the suffering are apt to turn to self-destructive behaviors like drinking, drugging, or worse—suicide.

Physicians from Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School published a commentary in the Annals of Internal Medicine reminding us that we were already amid a loneliness and suicide epidemic before COVID-19. The doctors warn that social distancing and stress, and the recent rise in firearm sales could worsen matters in America.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment for First Responders

Over the last few months, first-responders, nurses, and doctors have put themselves at significant risk in caring for those who contract the coronavirus. Men and women working on the frontline of this pandemic are heroes, and they are also vulnerable to post-traumatic stress and alcohol or substance use disorder.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we specialize in treating first-responders who struggle with addiction and co-occurring PTSD. Please contact us today to learn more about our Heroes Program.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Understanding PAWS: Early Recovery


When you decide to seek treatment for your addiction to drugs or alcohol, you will find that the first step toward recovery is usually detoxification. The detox process cleanses your body of the substance you have been using so you can start the path toward a healthier body and mind. Since you have been addicted to the drug or alcohol, you will experience withdrawal from the substance in the detox stage. This can lead to post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Understanding PAWS can help you through the early recovery stages.

What is PAWS?

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is something you may encounter in early recovery as your brain and your body start to heal. You can experience PAWS as you get used to being without the drugs or alcohol you were addicted to, physically and emotionally. Sometimes the symptoms are more than uncomfortable and may last for some time after you have detoxed.

The Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior at UCLA states that it is “estimated that 90 percent of recovering opioid users experience the syndrome to some degree, as do 75 percent of recovering alcohol and psychotropic abusers.” Symptoms of PAWS most commonly show up after a withdrawal period from alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids, as well as other psychoactive substances.

While researchers are still not certain about the precise mechanisms behind PAWS, they believe that the physical changes to the brain that occur during substance abuse and that are responsible for an increased tolerance to the substance are also responsible for the recurring withdrawal symptoms.

PAWS Causes

Most recreational drugs and alcohol can cause the symptoms of PAWS; however, some drugs are more likely to produce symptoms than others. Marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, opiates, and benzodiazepines are among those more likely to cause PAWS symptoms after you begin your early recovery.

PAWS may result from physiological changes that occur in the brain as a result of a substance use disorder. Researchers believe that prolonged substance abuse can reduce the brain’s capacity to deal with stress. During the period of time in which you are using drugs, your brain adapts to accommodate for the changes in your neurotransmitters. These changes can cause increased excitability as your neurotransmitters make the change in your early recovery stage.

PAWS can manifest after withdrawal from almost any abusive substance, but those abusing benzodiazepines seem to be the most at risk. There have been reports of benzodiazepine abusers experiencing symptoms of PAWS for years after final cessation of drug use.

The PAWS Timeline

In early recovery, you will typically begin your treatment with the detox process. After the detox is complete, the second phase of the withdrawal process, PAWS, may begin. Depending on how long and how intense your addiction was, — that is, how frequently, how much, and for how long you used mind- and mood-altering substances — this second phase can last from a few days to years after you stop using drugs or alcohol.


The Semel Institute lists common symptoms of PAWS that tend to fluctuate in severity. These symptoms may actually disappear at some point, only to reoccur later in the recovery period. PAWS symptoms may increase in severity when triggered by stressful situations, especially as you are experiencing the stress and challenges of early recovery:
  • Difficulty with cognitive tasks, such as learning, problem solving, or memory recall 
  • Irritability 
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic 
  • Depressed mood 
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors 
  • Difficulty maintaining social relationships 
  • Craving originally abused substances 
  • Apathy or pessimism 
  • Disturbances in sleep patterns 
  • Increased sensitivity to stress

Professional Treatment

Safely, successfully recovering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol takes the help of professionals who can guide you through the stages of early recovery. Managing the symptoms of PAWS is critical to your continued success in addiction treatment to ensure that you can move forward with a healthier life, physically and mentally.

Contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat for Help with Your Addiction

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, our professionals in medical detoxification are certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). We assist you in all aspects of your care, from acute medical drug and alcohol detoxification through addiction rehabilitation and aftercare. Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat for help with your addiction. We are open during the COVID-19 pandemic, following all CDC guidelines for your health and safety. Take the first step with HVRC.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Key Life Skills for People in Addiction Recovery

Key Life Skills for People in Addiction Recovery
In addiction, your focus is usually on where to get your next drug or drink. In addiction recovery, your focus needs to be on developing life skills that will help you be more successful in improving your quality of life after treatment. Key life skills for people in addiction recovery can make the difference in the ability to secure a job, maintain positive relationships with others, properly manage your finances, and live a healthy, productive life.

Developing New Skills

Being addicted to drugs or alcohol can truly take over your life. You are not necessarily worried about eating well, opening a bank account, or developing interview skills. In fact, you may not have learned how to do these things that are basic to a fully functional life. Drug and alcohol abuse, particularly when it begins in early life, can stunt the addict’s emotional maturity which in turn can prevent the addict from learning appropriate life skills. There are some key life skills for people in addiction recovery to learn now so they can move forward toward a healthy and productive future.


One of the most important life skills to learn in recovery is self-care. Replacing addictive urges with healthy habits can form the basis of a successful recovery and a productive life. Personal hygiene, nutritional eating habits, and physical and mental fitness are all important aspects of self-care.

Finding productive ways to manage your stress as well as your cravings can help you to be healthier, mentally and physically. Taking better care of yourself can help you focus on other life skills you will need to develop.

Learning how to prepare healthy meals can help you become more self-sufficient as well as physically healthier. While in addiction, you may not have thought much about what kind of food you ate – or whether you ate at all – in recovery, you can take the time to learn about nutritious foods and how to prepare regular, filling meals.

Personal hygiene is an essential life skill for you in recovery. When you take better care of yourself and are properly dressed, you will feel better about yourself. Maintaining appropriate personal hygiene is also important for sustaining important relationships and when searching for a job.

Self-care skills can also include proper physical and mental exercises. You might try yoga, meditation, or mindfulness exercises to help improve your mental health. Simple physical exercises such as walking or swimming can also help you feel better about yourself in addiction recovery.

Job Search Skills

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains that unemployed clients in substance abuse treatment programs face many challenges and obstacles in obtaining and keeping jobs. Developing job search and job-related skills, including interviewing skills, punctuality, regular attendance, appropriate dress, and responsiveness to supervision can help you in finding and keeping a relevant position in the workplace.

Financial Skills

One of the key life skills for people in addiction recovery is knowing how to manage finances. When you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you probably were not concerned about opening a bank account or properly managing credit cards. In recovery, as you develop new skills, a new job, and possibly a new place to live, you will need to be able to understand how to pay your bills on time and not overextend yourself financially.

Money may become a trigger for you in recovery. However, financial responsibility can contribute to your sense of self-worth as you learn how to live within your means and actually save money. Learning the skill of financial management can help you transition to a more positive and stable lifestyle.

Relationship Skills

Knowing how to communicate and connect with others is one of the key life skills for people in addiction recovery. Whether in your social circles, among your family members, or in the workplace, relationship skills are critical to developing and maintaining positive personal relationships. You may have severely damaged these important relationships when you were using drugs or alcohol. In recovery, you can develop skills that help you to overcome social anxiety and to communicate effectively with the important people in your life.

Addiction Recovery Starts at Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we assist you in all aspects of your care, from acute medical drug and alcohol detoxification through addiction rehabilitation and aftercare. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol, substance use, or a co-occurring mental health disorder, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. Our treatment center and medical detox is the ideal environment to begin a journey of lasting recovery. Take the first step with HVRC.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

PTSD Awareness Month | Helping Heroes and Military Family Members

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect anyone who experiences a traumatic event in their lives. PTSD Awareness Month is a good time to learn more about the disorder, what causes it, and who can be affected by it. First responders, members of the military, and military family members experience a significant amount of trauma in their jobs as well as in their personal lives. Helping heroes and military family members learn new healthy coping mechanisms is an important step toward working through their trauma in a positive way.

Trauma and PTSD

PTSD is “a serious potentially debilitating condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist incident, sudden death of a loved one, war, violent personal assault such as rape, or other life-threatening events. There are currently about 8 million people in the United States living with PTSD,” according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

When you experience PTSD, you can have physical as well as behavioral symptoms. You might have flashbacks or bad dreams in which you re-live the event. You could develop negative thoughts about yourself or others. Symptoms can also include increased irritability, not being able to sleep, and avoiding people or places that remind you of the event.

First Responders

When you’re on the job as a firefighter, police officer, or member of the military, dealing with PTSD from a traumatic event takes on a more challenging face. Career firefighters, for example, report a much higher level of PTSD than do volunteers. When it’s your job to deal with trauma every day, it can be especially difficult to recover from those experiences.

PTSD symptoms for first responders, including police officers, firemen, military personnel, and medical workers can include anxiety, depression, and emotional numbing, resulting in relationship problems and job failures, among other issues.

Helping heroes such as first responders involves helping you overcome the memories and nightmares that may haunt you. An emphasis on resolving and healing traumatic events that occurred as part of your work is especially important to your recovery from the effects of PTSD as a first responder.

Military Families

PTSD is often associated with the military. In fact, the term has morphed from the use of phrases such as “shell shock” during World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II. However, military family members also experience PTSD. Being in a military family is not easy. Service members can go on deployment for many months at a time. The stress and worry can be unbearable for their families. Bad news or the strain of fear and worry can lead to PTSD in military family members.

In addition, being a military family member of a service member who is experiencing PTSD can present its own challenges. About 20% of military members who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD and approximately 50% of the total number of military members who suffer PTSD do not get help. Often, military members and their families are concerned about how it might look if they asked for help with the disorder. However, when they don’t seek help, the complications build and the results can be devastating.

PTSD and Addiction

Drug and alcohol abuse are very common in people who are suffering from PTSD. You may be tempted to self-medicate to alleviate the symptoms associated with PTSD, such as depression, panic, or anxiety. Helping heroes and military family members involves working with you through therapeutic activities to help you confront your negative life experiences and any resulting depression, anxiety, trauma, anger, stress, or grief, so that you don’t have to turn to drugs or alcohol.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we focus on helping you through our Heroes Program and our specialty area of military families. We want to see you succeed and will work with you on positive ways to address your mental health and addiction issues so you can lead a productive life in recovery.

Contact Us for Help with Your PTSD and Addiction

Helping heroes and military family members is a huge part of our mission at Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. We tailor our services to your individual needs, including services for psychiatric inpatient and outpatient treatment, residential treatment services, and substance use disorder treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD and addiction to alcohol or drugs, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat today. Our treatment center and medical detox is the ideal environment to begin a journey of lasting recovery.

Detoxification: Individualized Approaches for Each Case

One-size-fits all works well for many things. It's convenient when measurements aren't required for fitting. However, when it comes to detoxing from substance abuse, medical assessment and treatment is paramount. One size does not fit all.

Detoxification, the period when substances are purged from the body, is always the first step in the recovery process. It is also one of the most critical. It is in this timeframe when a patient is most likely to experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. It is also for this reason that "cold turkey" methods can lead serious complications.

detoxificationThere are two detoxification models: social model detox and acute medical detox. Is one more effective than the other? It is important to examine each model before arriving at a decision.

First, social model detox involves monitoring the patient in a non-medical residential inpatient setting, and is frequently administered narcotic and non-narcotic medications by non-medical personnel, in conjunction with counseling and therapy. Social model detox can be effective in instances when the potential of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms are not an issue.

Conversely, acute medical detox is a detoxification model combined with medical care, which generally occurs in a hospital setting. Medical personnel carefully monitor and supervise the patient, administering the necessary medication to ensure a safe detoxification process.

Both methods require careful monitoring, with therapy to be safe and effective. With medical detox, it is guaranteed - medical professionals monitor the process throughout, all of which take place in a hospital setting. The pain and risks associated with withdrawal are scientifically managed. Each treatment plan is uniquely.

Social model detoxification is not always as regimented. Social model detox as described above can be successful - and compared to medical detox, highly cost-effective. However, the pitfalls lie in the interpretation. Not all facilities have the same definition of social detox. Some believe that social detox can be successful in an outpatient setting, making checkup visits while essentially independently. Depending on the length of time and level of substance abuse, this method can be a recipe for death; it may mean life-threatening withdrawal. Similarly, lack of 24/7 monitoring often means higher risk of relapse, and overdose.

When deciding what the best method of detox, many factors are at play - level of dependency,  type of substance(s), current health status/ medical problems, and previous response to the detoxification process - just to name a few. It is always best to seek consultation from a medical professional - one who is licensed in addiction medicine, when embarking on this process.

Whether social model or medical detoxification is recommended, it is important to remember that 24/7 monitoring and supervision is important. Detoxification should never be handled outside of an inpatient or hospital setting. When it comes to detoxification, one size does not fit all; each plan should be uniquely designed and administered by medical professionals. 

Take the First Step.

Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat
 866.273.0868 or visit us at www.hvrc.com

We look forward to seeing you!!

Friday, May 29, 2020

COVID-19, Addiction, and "Deaths of Despair"

Amid a global pandemic, it can be challenging to remember that America was already facing a national addiction epidemic before COVID-19 washed ashore. Now the country is faced with two public health crises; one is two decades old, and the other just a few months. However, in a short time, 1,713,775 Americans have tested positive, and at least 100,446 have lost their lives to the health complications related to the coronavirus since February.

It's not much of a surprise that the focus has shifted from the addiction epidemic to the COVID-19 pandemic. With more than 40 million Americans out of work (roughly one in four), it's hard to think about anything other than the pandemic. Still, it's vital that we do not lose sight that the two public health crises we face will impact one another.

First, those living with drug addiction and alcohol use disorder are immunocompromised, which means they are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Second, the anxiety, depression, and uncertainty plaguing millions of Americans will lead to an increase in self-destructive behaviors as people try to cope.

Alcohol sales are soaring; deadly synthetic opioids are being used to make up for the shortages in heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Containing the virus has made it much more challenging to get illicit drugs across the border. There is already evidence of a spike in overdoses due to synthetic opioids like fentanyl and a new – which is uncontrolled by the DEA – designer opioid called isotonitazene.

Millions of Americans are in a bad way, and they have no idea when things will change for the better. After making some strides in recent years to level the curve of "deaths of despair," there is a high likelihood that the pandemic will cancel out those gains.

COVID-19 and Addiction

Since 1999, overdose deaths rose annually across the country. In 2017, there were 46.6 deaths per 100,000 Americans, according to the Well Being Trust. Then, surprisingly, there was not a marked increase in overdose deaths in 2018; researchers again found the annual death rate was 46.4 deaths per 100,000. A slight reduction, but worth taking note of considering that at least 630,000 people died of drug overdoses between 1999 and 2016.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is almost certainly going to lead to a rise in deaths of despair in 2020. The Well Being Trust conducted a new study that shows that more than 150,000 Americans could die due to drugs, alcohol, and suicide. Without significant action and funding from federal, state, and local governments, the predictions could come to fruition in the coming days and months.

"We see very troubling signs across the nation," said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA). "There's more substance abuse, more overdoses, more domestic violence and neglect and abuse of children."

SAMHSA is asking for more funding to address the predicted increase in people's need for mental health and addiction treatment, USA Today reports. McCance-Katz adds:

"The impetus is COVID-19, but the need was there before and it's just been increased by what's happened as a result of the virus."

California Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital

Addiction and mental health treatment is an essential service that saves lives. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol, substance use, or a co-occurring mental health disorder, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. Our treatment center and medical detox is the ideal environment to begin a journey of lasting recovery. Take the first step with HVRC.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the tens of millions of people around the globe who have been impacted or lost a loved one from COVID-19.

Friday, May 22, 2020

A Memorial Day for Recovery and Remembrance

In a typical year, Americans would gather to pay their respects to the brave men and women who courageously made the ultimate sacrifice for our country this Sunday. Naturally, this is the most unusual year in living memory, so the thought of Memorial Day parades happening in town and cities across America is unthinkable.

The COVID-19 pandemic prevents us from gathering in large groups, lest we spread or contract the coronavirus. It is sad that we will not be able to honor our fallen heroes in a typical fashion, but the risks of parades are too significant to ignore.

On September 28, 1918, despite the warning of a deadly flu sweeping across the country and abroad, the City of Philadelphia decided to throw the Fourth Liberty Loan Drive parade to raise money for the war effort (WWI). Sources report that as many as 200,000 people lined the streets to show their support and watch the floats.

According to the Smithsonian Magazine, three days after the parade, every bed in Philadelphia’s 31 hospitals was occupied. Around 2,600 people in Philadelphia died from the flu in the week ending October 5. The number of deaths nearly doubled in the following week.

We can learn a valuable lesson from the Liberty Loan Parade. Today, with 1,570,154 Americans infected and 93,436 men, women, and children lost to the coronavirus, it is imperative that we continue taking extreme precautions.

Veterans Struggle with Memories of Those Lost

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we treat a number of veterans each year who struggle with addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A myriad of causes can lead to PTSD, but many people battle with the memories of seeing a fellow soldier and friend die.

We have been fighting wars in the Middle East for nearly twenty years now, following 9/11. Thousands of our troops struggle with PTSD, and many of them cope with their symptoms by using drugs and alcohol. Self-medicating may provide some relief at first, but it will do more harm than good ultimately.

Many veterans get on the road to addiction by self-medicating their post-traumatic stress. Fortunately, both addiction and PTSD are treatable and long-term recovery is possible with professional assistance. As with any co-occurring disorder, it is critical to treat both the addiction and dual diagnosis simultaneously.

If you lost a friend while serving overseas and have trouble coping with the loss in a healthy way, we strongly advise you to seek help immediately. Drugs, alcohol, and co-occurring mental illness is hugely detrimental to your health and must be treated.

Memorial Day could be an ideal opportunity to seek assistance and begin healing mentally and physically. Addiction and mental health treatment is an essential service, and help is always a phone call away.

A Memorial Day for Recovery

At HVRC, we offer a "Heroes Program" that specifically caters to the needs of veterans and first responders who have co-occurring PTSD. Our team of highly trained professionals can give you the tools to lead a productive life in recovery. Please contact us today to learn more.

This Memorial Day, our staff would like to honor all the men and women who have fought and died for our freedoms. We also hope that men and women in recovery have safe and sober remembrance.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Older Americans Month and Addiction Treatment

Older and immunocompromised Americans are at the most significant risk of contracting and succumbing to the coronavirus. Seeing as many people in addiction recovery are elderly, many of whom have compromised immune systems from misusing drugs and alcohol, older individuals in the program are at even higher risk.

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities across the globe. America now has the highest number of cases and deaths by far, and the elderly are the most likely to be hospitalized and die during this pandemic. As of May 7, 2020, 1,244,465 Americans have been infected, and 74,413 have died.

Almost half of men and women in their golden years, 55 to 64, have at least one pre-existing health condition, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Current data shows that people with pre-existing conditions, particularly involving the respiratory and pulmonary systems, are at the most significant risk of death.

Older Americans who misuse alcohol are also at substantial risk when it comes to COVID-19; alcohol weakens the immune system, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Older adults with alcohol problems can protect their life by seeking help immediately.

Older Americans Month and Addiction

Older Americans Month
Last week, we informed our readers that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. However, May is also Older Americans Month; the theme for 2020 is "Make Your Mark." The Administration for Community Living writes:
"This theme was selected to encourage and celebrate countless contributions that older adults make to our communities. Their time, experience, and talents benefit family, peers, and neighbors every day. Communities, organizations, and individuals of all ages are also making their marks. This year's theme highlights the difference everyone can make – in the lives of older adults, in support of caregivers, and to strengthen communities."
While it is excellent to observe Older Americans Month, the fact that it's Mental Health Month dictates that we raise awareness about alcohol and drug misuse in the elderly communities as well.

As we mentioned above, alcohol use and misuse compromise the immune system; a healthy immune system is needed now more than ever. You may find it concerning to learn that a significant number of older Americans are binge drinkers and have problems with alcohol, according to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

A study published in 2019 showed that more than one in 10 older Americans binge drink, CBS reports. Having five or more drinks at a time for men, and four or more drinks at a time for women is considered binge drinking.

Researchers discovered some even more concerning findings. The study showed that an estimated 70 percent of all hospitalized older persons had problems with alcohol; the same was true with residents at nursing homes—50 percent alcohol-related problems in general.

During a pandemic, it's essential to lovingly and compassionately encourage older Americans struggling with alcohol to seek help. Addiction treatment can save an older person's life in more ways than one.

Older Adult Addiction Treatment Program

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we have found that age-specific treatment programs can produce better patient outcomes. HVRC offers a program for older adults struggling with addiction. If you or someone you love require assistance for alcohol or substance use disorder, then please contact our Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH).

Friday, May 1, 2020

Mental Health Awareness Month: "You Are Not Alone"

mental health
The national coronavirus epidemic and the global pandemic have taken a significant toll on those who live with mental illness. Stressful situations impact mental health disorders of any kind, and the same is true for people with behavioral health disorders involving drugs and alcohol.

The new normal has led to an uptick in calls to national mental health crisis hotlines. Millions of Americans are doing their best to cope with social isolation, stress, and fear, while also attempting to keep their mental health stable–. It's not easy to manage depression and anxiety when you are feeling alone and are fearful that a deadly virus can steal your life.

Members of the addiction recovery community – many of whom contend with co-occurring mental illnesses – are having to adapt to a new way of life. None of us have ever had to confront a public health crisis of this magnitude.

Given the ever-rising death toll and number of confirmed cases, sheltering in place will likely continue through the summer. Each state is handling the matter in their own way, so it's hard to say when you will be able to return to 12 Step recovery meetings and meet with your therapist in person.

Johns Hopkins University reports that there are 1,094,640 confirmed cases in the United States. The American coronavirus death toll has surpassed that of the Vietnam War (58,220); 64,177 people have succumbed to the virus. As such, you have every right to harbor fears regarding COVID-19.

Those who are living with behavioral and mental health disorders must stay connected with their support networks. Protecting one's recovery and mental well-being is of the utmost priority.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Every May, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and other organizations observe Mental Health Awareness Month. The observance has many goals, which include: fighting stigma, providing support, educating the public, and advocating for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.

Men and women with mental illness are one of the most vulnerable demographics during this pandemic. Such people require support now more than ever before. Please keep in mind that one in five Americans is living with a mental health disorder. 47.6 million adults battle the symptoms of mental illness each day. Many of those millions of people feel cut off and alone right now. However, NAMI would like to remind such individuals that "You Are Not Alone."

NAMI has launched the "You Are Not Alone" campaign to remind those who struggle with mental illness that resources are available even during a public health crisis. Treatment centers are still operating because they are essential to combating the mental health disorder epidemic in America. The organization reminds us of the importance of staying connected during these troubled times. NAMI writes:

"NAMI's "You are Not Alone" campaign features the lived experience of people affected by mental illness to fight stigma, inspire others, and educate the broader public. Now more than ever before, it is important for the mental health community to come together and show the world that no one should ever feel alone. The campaign builds connection and increases awareness with the digital tools that make connection possible during a climate of physical distancing. Even in times of uncertainty, the NAMI community is always here, reminding everyone that you are not alone." 

You are invited to share graphics on social media to help raise awareness about mental illness. You can also share your story and help other people feel connected while in isolation. We can all have a hand in breaking the stigma of mental health disorders and addiction.

Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

Hemet Valley Recovery Center is a Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH) for adults and young adults. We also specialize in treating men and women with a dual diagnosis for conditions like depression, bipolar, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Please contact our admissions team to learn more about the HVRC difference and take the first step toward a life in recovery.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Coping with Stress in Recovery

The global pandemic has proved to bring billions together in a common cause to eradicate COVID-19. However, it has also led to an exponential rise in calls to mental health crisis hotlines, and alcohol sales are through the roof. Members of the recovery community are cut off from the physical lifelines like in-person 12 Step meetings.

The whole country is stressed out, to put it mildly, fears of contracting the virus, and in the past five weeks, 26.5 million workers have already filed for unemployment. Each day the number of new cases rises, as does the death toll. A staggering 193,039 people around the globe have lost their life due to COVID-19, and some 2,745,525 are infected.

You're most likely aware that the United States is at the top of the list when it comes to coronavirus infections and deaths. As of 9:19 a.m. on April 24, 871,970 Americans are infected, and 50,103 have perished since February 6, 2020.

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center, we offer our condolences to every person who has lost a loved one, and we are praying that the infected make a speedy recovery. We understand that words cannot assuage the pain that many of you are going through, but we will continue to keep you in our thoughts.

Dealing With Stress In Recovery

These are stressful times, and it's vital that members of the recovery community do their best to cope in non-destructive ways. A relapse will only worsen an already challenging situation. We understand that many people are anxious to return to how things were before, but it will be some time before that comes to fruition. So, then it's critical that you utilize every tool in your recovery toolbox for managing and maintaining the progress you've made.

Even before there were whispers of an ensuing pandemic, many Americans were stressed out. Did you know that data indicates that Americans are among the most stressed people in the world? It's true!

In 2018, about 55 percent of adults said they had experienced stress during "a lot of the day" prior, compared with just 35 percent globally, according to the Gallup 2019 Global Emotions Report. Nearly half (45 percent) felt worried a lot, and more than one in five (22 percent) felt angry a lot.

With the above information in mind, Stress Awareness Month couldn't have come at a more opportune time. Yes, that's right, every April since 1992, people around the world observe Stress Awareness Month. While the observance started in the United Kingdom, it has since branched out to other nations. National Today writes:
Stress can be debilitating, and it can cause and/or aggravate health problems. And since stress is a normal part of human existence — nobody is immune to it — it's important to arm ourselves with knowledge so that we recognize when stress rears its ugly head...It's important to learn some strategies for coping with this particular silent scourge.
Men and women who've gone through treatment or have worked the 12 Steps already have mechanisms for coping with stress throughout the year. However, this year is proving to be vastly different than 2019; the next Gallup polls will probably show that Americans were more stressed than ever before in 2020.

Remember, you can counter stress and mitigate the risk of relapse by practicing breathing techniques, meditating, and reciting mantras like the serenity prayer throughout the day. Take walks; the fresh air is good for you. Exercise if you are physically able; it will release endorphins that will make you feel better. Always remind yourself, this too shall pass.

California Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital

Despite the pandemic, addiction recovery services are essential. Alcohol and substance use disorders are epidemics of their own and must be addressed. Please contact us to learn more about our programs and what our team is doing to keep our current and prospective clients safe. You can reach us today at 866-273-0868 for a confidential assessment.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Alcohol Relapse Increases Risk of Contracting Coronavirus

alcohol relapse
Billions of people fear contracting the coronavirus known as COVID-19, and for rational reasons. Millions of people in addiction recovery have the same concern, but they are also worried about the strength of their program. Such individuals lack the resources they could always rely on and are forced to meet with their support network online or by phone.

With 672,303 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, attending a meeting in person is risky. Even if a meetinghouse is diligent about sanitizing surfaces, requiring face masks, and social distancing, contracting the virus is still possible.

The recovery community must be exceptionally cautious about attending meetings in person. Moreover, many members can benefit from eating nutritious foods, exercising, and possibly taking supplements to boost one's immune system. COVID-19 preys upon people with weakened immune systems.

Years of heavy active drug and alcohol use have left a large number of the recovery population with compromised immune systems. Physical health problems are a common vestige of one's addictive past. For instance, if you have a lung condition or respiratory issues, then please do not gamble with your health and safety. Take full advantage of online 12 Step meetings to mitigate the risk of contracting a virus that has led to the death of 33,898 Americans.

Keeping your recovery intact can also protect you from becoming vulnerable to the virus. A relapse, followed by a continued drug and alcohol abuse, will weaken your immune system. Sadly, the state of each of our lives almost guarantees a rise in relapse rates.

"The rises in anxiety and [depression] being anticipated are also accompanied by an expected increase in substance misuse as people cope with loneliness, isolation and potential unemployment," said a spokesperson for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMHSA).

Alcohol Use Compromises Your Immune System

No amount of alcohol is good for human beings despite some myths about drinking wine. Ethanol is a poison that can clean surfaces and power motor vehicles; it has the power to wreak havoc on the mind, body, and spirit.

While this is not a good time for people to do anything that could jeopardize one's health, Americans are drinking more alcohol than ever. Sheltering in place and social distancing can be depressing and boring, and millions of Americans are opting to respond to our new way of life by consuming alcohol.

There is a mind-boggling rise in the sale of alcohol in America due to "stay at home" orders. When you add in the fact that 22 million more Americans find themselves out of work, it's little wonder that alcohol sales rose 55 percent in the first week (ending March 21) that sheltering in place went in effect, according to the market research firm Nielsen.

Below, you will find a breakdown on how alcohol sales differ from the same week last year:
  • Spirits sales increased by 75 percent.
  • Beer went up by 66 percent
  • Wine rose by 42 percent.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reaffirms the dangers of increased alcohol use amid a pandemic. WHO states that alcohol weakens the body's immune system and lowers one's inhibitions, which can lead to risky behaviors, according to a press release. Both increase a person's risk of contracting COVID-19. WHO states:
"Alcohol consumption is associated with a range of communicable and noncommunicable diseases and mental health disorders, which can make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19. In particular, alcohol compromises the body's immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes. Therefore, people should minimize their alcohol consumption at any time, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic."
The organization reminds us that alcohol use contributes to 3 million deaths each year. Now, they want the world to know it can put you at risk of contracting a deadly pathogen.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment in California

With the above information in mind, those in recovery for alcohol use disorder will want to protect their program. Relapsing with alcohol does not only derail your recovery, but it also places you at a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19. Please do everything in your power to safeguard your health and recovery during these trying times.

Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage retreat if you are in the grips of an alcohol use disorder. Our Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH) is following CDC coronavirus guidelines. We can help you break the cycle of addiction and set you on the path toward lasting recovery.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Mental Health Crisis Hotline Calls Spike During the Pandemic

mental health
At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we continue to provide you with information about life in recovery during a pandemic. Since last week, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in America has nearly doubled from 245,573 to 467,184 cases. We now have by far the most cases of the potentially deadly coronavirus compared to any other country.

Sadly, the COVID-19 related death toll continues to rise around the globe; 97,264 people have died worldwide, and 16,736 of those deaths happened in America. Again, our hearts go out to all the families who have lost a loved one to the pandemic.

Thankfully, there is some evidence that the number of new cases may begin to slow because of preventive measures taken by millions of people. Social distancing, sheltering in place, and self-quarantining have proven to be effective in the fight against the spread of coronavirus. Regular hand washing/sanitizing and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks has helped too.

If you are taking the above measures, then please continue to do so; we are far from being in the clear of this severe public health crisis. As we mentioned last week, it is essential for people in recovery and those living with anxiety disorders to safeguard their mental well-being.

Attending meetings and constant contact with your support network is essential to coping with this new way of life. COVID-19 is scary, and it's natural to feel extremely vulnerable; you must be vigilant about protecting your recovery and tending to your mental health needs.

The Pandemic is Affecting People’s Mental Health

It may not surprise you to learn that the Disaster Distress Helpline – a service run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – has been inundated with calls of late. In February, there was a 338 percent increase in call volume compared with last February, according to CNN. Moreover, the helpline saw an 891 percent increase in calls this March, compared to that time last year.

Millions of Americans cope with mental and behavioral health disorders, and their well-being has been understandably compromised of late. When you consider people's heightened anxiety and feelings of uncertainty, it can be too much for some individuals to handle. Add in the fact that an untold number of Americans are grieving, and at least 17 million men and women have lost their jobs; it's no wonder why there has been a spike in calls for support.

SAMHSA's Disaster Distress Helpline – launched in 2012 – provides counseling for people facing mental health symptoms during natural and human-caused disasters. The program's website reads:

"This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor." 

Addiction Recovery and Mental Health Services

While speaking with a counselor over the phone is beneficial, some individuals are in need of more comprehensive care. Addiction and mental health treatment are essential services under any circumstance, which is why Hemet Valley Recovery Center is continuing to care for patients.

At HVRC, we are following every Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 guidelines to protect the health and safety of our clients and staff members. We invite you to reach out to us if you are battling addiction or have a co-occurring disorder. Take the first step toward recovery with HVRC & Sage Retreat by calling 866-273-0868 for a confidential assessment.