Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving in Recovery: Staying Connected

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, which marks the beginning of the holiday season. This time of year can be taxing for men and women in recovery for a number of reasons. Stress can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression; it's crucial to cope with unwanted feelings and emotions in a healthy way. 


Many people in recovery need to double down on the program between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. Most individuals associate holidays with alcohol use, and it's critical to do everything in one's power to abstain. One must be mindful of their relapse triggers and avoid situations that might be an impetus for drinking or using. 


The 2020 holiday season is going to be different for tens of millions of Americans due to COVID-19. Public health agency guidelines recommend that every American stay at home this Thanksgiving—celebrating the holiday only with people in one's household. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions against traveling or avoiding gatherings with people who do not live with you. 


If you have plans to spend the holiday with individuals you do not live with, the CDC recommends that you wear a mask and, if you can, bring your own food and utensils. It's also vital to practice social distancing—6 feet or about two arm lengths from others. Be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer regularly. 


Adhering to CDC guidelines could find you spending Thanksgiving by yourself. With that in mind, there is a high potential for feeling lonely because of isolation. Hopefully, everyone in recovery has a plan for combating loneliness tomorrow. 


Staying Connected With Your Peers In Recovery


If you plan to spend Thanksgiving at home alone, then it's essential that you take steps to connect with the recovery community. There will be no shortage of meetings you can attend virtually. You may decide to participate in multiple meetings tomorrow to share your experience, strength, and hope. Making an effort to attend meetings will break up your day and help you get out of your head. 


"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." —JFK— 


Tomorrow, it will be helpful to maintain an attitude of gratitude. Take time to express your thanks by picking up the phone and reaching out to members of your deep bench of support. Naturally, your support network is critical to achieving lasting recovery. You are not alone and you cannot do this alone; let others know how grateful you are to have them in your life. 


No matter how you choose to spend your day tomorrow, your recovery must always be your first priority. Balance the holiday with your recovery needs. If you find yourself in a situation that feels unsafe or something triggers you, please pick up the phone and reach out to your support network. It's also vital to get to a safe place; there is no shame in leaving a gathering early. 


Thanksgiving 2020 is bound to be unlike any other before it; remember, we are all in this together. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. We hope that you put your recovery first tomorrow; if you do, then you will make it through the holiday clean and sober.


California Addiction Recovery Center


We invite any adult struggling with drugs or alcohol to reach out to Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat for support. HVRC is a chemical dependency rehabilitation hospital. We can help you or a loved one get on the path toward lasting recovery. Take the first step by calling 866-273-0868 to speak to our highly trained admissions staff.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act

cannabis use disorder
More and more Americans favor legalizing marijuana, a drug that is illegal on the Federal level. Tens of millions of adults consider cannabis use safe, as evidenced by the number of states that have legalized medical and recreational marijuana use. 


Earlier this month, more states passed cannabis initiatives, including conservative states like Montana and Mississippi, according to the AP. Voters in the former approved recreational marijuana, whereas the latter voted in favor of a medical cannabis program. 


Recreational cannabis use is now legal in 15 states, and medical marijuana is allowed in 36. A new Gallup poll shows that 68 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing cannabis federally. The significant number of supporters – double the approval rate from 2003 – could mean that marijuana will become legal in the near future. 


Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act


The U.S. House of Representatives will soon vote on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. In a letter to his colleagues, Hoyer wrote:

"The House will vote on the MORE Act to decriminalize cannabis and expunge convictions for non-violent cannabis offenses that have prevented many Americans from getting jobs, applying for credit and loans, and accessing opportunities that make it possible to get ahead in our economy."

If legislators approve the MORE Act, it would be one step closer to ending a nearly century-long prohibition disproportionately affecting minority and impoverished Americans. Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said: 


"One of the biggest winners of the 2020 election was cannabis reform. Americans in five very different states voted overwhelmingly to liberalize their cannabis policies, and it is clearer than ever that the American people are demanding a change to outdated cannabis laws." 


Cannabis Use Disorder in America


Approximately 4.1 million American adults over the age of 12 had a cannabis use disorder in 2017. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the majority of such individuals were between the ages of 12 and 25. 


"Cannabis use disorders are often associated with dependence—in which a person feels withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug. People who use marijuana often report irritability, mood and sleep difficulties, decreased appetite, cravings, restlessness, and/or various forms of physical discomfort that peak within the first week after quitting and last up to two weeks," said Nora Volkow, M.D., the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). "When dependence and other factors escalate to cannabis use disorder, a person cannot stop using the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life." 


Many men and women seek addiction treatment for cannabis use each year. Marijuana causes problems in many people's lives, and such individuals are encouraged to seek evidence-based addiction treatment. Even though a drug is legalized doesn't mean that it's safe for everyone. It will be interesting to see how the House votes on the MORE Act; we will continue to follow the legislation closely.


California Addiction Treatment Center


Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat if you are battling with cannabis use disorder. We can help you break the cycle of addiction and show you how to lead a life in recovery. Please call 866-273-0868 to learn more about our programs and services.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Suicide and Substance Use Disorders Among Veterans

Veterans Day is a time to acknowledge the service of the brave men and women who served in our country and overseas. We cannot thank such individuals enough for their bravery. During Veterans Day 2020, we would also like to draw your attention to some startling statistics. 


Hopefully, you are aware that veterans are some of the most vulnerable Americans. Those who have served in combat are at a significant risk of struggling with behavioral and mental health disorders. Many turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with life; some struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. 


About one in 10 veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seen in a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital have a problem with alcohol or other drugs, according to the National Center for PTSD. More than two of 10 veterans with PTSD also have a substance use disorder (SUD), according to the National Center for PTSD. 


Almost one out of every three veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD. A new report from the VA reveals that nearly 20 veterans a day commit suicide. Those who take their own life are often struggling with mental illness. Many have been diagnosed with mental health conditions at the time of their death. 


Suicide and Substance Use Disorders Among Veterans


The VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention reports that among veterans who died by suicide in 2017, 58.7 percent had a diagnosed a mental health or substance use disorder in 2016 or 2017. 


In 2017, patients with any mental health or substance use disorder diagnosis had a suicide rate of 56.9 per 100,000. Suicide rates were highest among Veteran VHA patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder and those diagnosed with opioid use disorder. 


Between 2005 to 2017, suicide among veterans in the 18-34 age group increased 76 percent. In 2019, veterans made up as much as 20 percent of all suicides nationally—about 1.5 times the rates for non-veterans. 


Treating Co-Occurring Mental Illness


The prevalence of addiction and co-occurring mental illness is exceptionally high among veterans. However, those who struggle with PTSD and addiction can and do recover. With help, a fulfilling and productive life in recovery is possible. 


Men and women who bravely serve in the United States military have options. Those with TRICARE coverage can access current, evidence-based addiction and mental health treatment like that offered at Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat. What’s more, TRICARE coverage extends to both service members and their families. 


Serving in the military is stressful for family members too. It can be traumatic worrying about the safety of a loved one. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance abuse are common among the family members of active-duty and retired service members. Please reach out to HVRC if you or a loved one struggles with addiction, mental illness, or dual diagnosis. 


Our expert clinical and medical staff creates individualized treatment plans for each client. Please contact us today to speak with our admissions team at 866-273-0868. Each assessment is confidential and can help you determine which course of treatment is best for you or a loved one. TRICARE covers a long list of programs and services, including our track for military families and our Heroes Program.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

In Search of Me

in search of me

We do not have to live our lives based upon someone else’s story. We all have the power to rediscover, reflect and repair to create our own lives of recovery.

Many addicts and alcoholics have experienced a sense of loss of self from a very young age. As a result of experiencing an emotionally unsafe upbringing, many have had to adopt survival skills that required a halt in the exploration and nurturing of our true selves. This false identity gets adhered to well into adulthood, thus creating a deep void that becomes seemingly impossible to fill. 
As human beings, one tries many avenues to fill this void including through chemical and process addictions. Such addictions include drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, pornography, gambling and eating disorders just to name a few. After a while, it is realized that the void remains constant and ever growing. 
Stopping the drugs, alcohol or behavioral addiction is just one part of recovery. Rediscovering and re-parenting one’s self is the other part, the crucial part. When done in conjunction with each other, long term substantial recovery is attainable and maintainable.

Fortunately, one never has to go through this journey alone. As one works on distinguishing between society’s creation of self and one’s own true self, the false stories that are adhered to as reality become more and more evident. This allows one to reprocess experiences and self-definitions and identify and establish one’s own genuine reality.

This journey begins with getting to know one’s self, ensuring that inner child that it is safe to emerge and explore. One starts by truly listening to that inner voice inside, that childlike voice, the innocent and vulnerable voice. Sitting still and truly actively listening; to listen without judgement, without labeling and without reprieve. Then, being mindfully still to learn who that voice belongs to and what that child within needs – identifying what that inner child needs, but never received, and being confident that one can finally provide all of it – the nurturing, the soothing, the unconditional love and the expression of joy, without fear. Allowing one’s self to explore, sit on the floor and play, blow bubbles, finger paint – reconnecting with the innocence that once was, but quickly became lost in the chaos and dysfunction of the world around.

Think of the mindset of a young toddler. That child’s main goal in life is to be happy – just be happy. That child forgives often, perceives the positive in everything, refrains from labeling and judging and finds wonder and adventure all throughout the day. This all happens prior to society instructing that child who he or she should be, THAT becomes the end of the innocence. 

The loyalty or false sense of security that some put within familial cultures and patterns of behaviors are what allow the toxic cycle of intergenerational trauma to continue. The loyalty must be to one’s true self. Empowerment must be sought in order to reach goals along the journey. And the pain and the fear that one will experience along this journey must be accepted and embraced in order to reach higher planes of growth, wellness and true love for self.

Written by Christina Wood, MS, LMFT, LAADC-CA

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

A Restful Addiction Recovery

addiction recovery
In early addiction recovery, men and women learn that it's necessary to replace old, unhealthy behaviors with new, beneficial ones. This will look different for each individual, of course, but some things are relatively consistent. 


Once you are on the more comfortable end of your detox, specific actions are required to stay on course. Attending meetings and beginning to work with a sponsor or mentor is one aspect of the new path you are setting out on in recovery. 


There is also the need for the mind and body to heal from drugs and alcohol's harmful effects. In treatment, clinicians will recommend that you eat a balanced diet and introduce an exercise routine into your day to day life. Both actions will speed the recovery process along and make men and women feel better inside and out. 


It's best to take things slowly regarding exercise, do not go full tilt from the get-go; add new, healthy behaviors slowly or piecemeal. Remember, you are still healing in the first months of recovery; the last thing you want to do is injure yourself. 


If you would like to start jogging, consider starting by taking a walk in the morning before attending the first meeting of the day. Later, add an evening walk to your schedule; in time, a walk can progress into a jog and then a run later on down the road. The point is not to bite off more than you can chew—everything in moderation. 


Exercising and eating nutrient-rich foods will help your body heal and will even help with another challenging part of early recovery—sleep. Most people in early recovery find it difficult to get a full night's rest. Some will have broken sleep or have irregular sleeping hours. Expending some energy exercising during the day can help with sleep. 


A Restful Addiction Recovery


Sleep can be a frustrating aspect of early recovery. Either too much or too little sleep can impact how you feel during the daytime. Feeling exhausted makes it harder to adopt a program of recovery; it's challenging to establish a routine when you are up all hours of the night and never feel entirely rested. 


You can take actions to help with the sleeping aspect of early recovery, a time when you may still be experiencing post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Exercise and eating healthy will help you sleep better, and there are a few other behaviors you can adopt that will help you have more restful evenings. 


While coffee and other caffeinated beverages are a mainstay of early recovery for many people, they can impact your sleeping patterns. If you swear by consuming caffeine to function during the day, please consider having a cut-off time: a point in your day when you stop consuming mild stimulants like tea and coffee. 


Having caffeinated drinks late in the day and into the evening can impact your sleep patterns. It may take a little while to learn to abstain from coffee or energy drinks after the morning has passed, but it will pay off in the long run. If your goal is to feel more rested, then you will find it useful to part ways with caffeine after a specific point in your day. 


Many people who struggle with sleep in early recovery also have the habit of watching television or browsing app feeds on their phones at night. Research indicates that the blue light emitted by your TV or smartphone restrains melatonin production, a hormone that manages your sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm. A study published in the journal Nature and Science of Sleep concludes


"Using the mobile for at least 30 minutes (without blue light filter) after the lights have been turned off results in poor sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, sleep disturbances, and increased sleep latency." 


You can benefit from avoiding caffeinated drinks and technology in the evenings, especially in hours closest to bedtime. When adopting a recovery program, you'll find it useful to have all the extra energy possible that comes with having restful evenings. One technique to break the habit of staring at the television or cell phone is making it a practice to read before bed. 


Chemical Dependency Recovery Hospital


Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat if you are in the grips of alcohol or substance use disorder. Our team of professionals can help you break the cycle of addiction and begin the journey of lasting recovery. Our admissions team is standing by to answer any questions you have about our programs and services.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Prescription Painkillers to Opioid Addiction

opioid addiction
Prescription opioids are not to be taken lightly. Drugs like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin are prescribed at unbelievably high rates, even amid an opioid addiction epidemic. While such drugs can alleviate pain, they are highly addictive and can dramatically alter the course of one's life. 


Last week, we shared the uplifting news that alcohol use disorder among college-age adults decreased by roughly half between 2002 and 2018. Research shows that the number of aged 18-22-year olds abstaining from alcohol is increasing. 


The research was conducted at the University of Michigan (U-M) and Texas State University and was welcome during these challenging times. However, it's critical that we remember that the United States contends with two public health crises: COVID-19 and an opioid addiction epidemic. What's more, another study out of U-M confirms that heroin users first used prescription opioids. 


Researchers found that nearly one-third of individuals who used prescription opioids non-medically in their senior year of high school later used heroin by age 35, according to a university news release. The findings appear in the Journal of Addiction Medicine


From Prescription Opioids to Heroin


The U-M study also found that seniors who were prescribed opioids were at risk of using heroin later in life. The researchers found 21 percent of high school seniors who reported misusing prescription opioids and later received a prescription used heroin by age 35. Lead researcher Sean Esteban McCabe, professor and director of the Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking and Health at the U-M School of Nursing, says


"There are several generations who were overprescribed controlled medications with high misuse potential, such as opioids. Prescribing fewer opioids and the correct dosage is only one piece to the puzzle. The solution requires a much more comprehensive plan that includes better education, screening and interventions to reach high-risk individuals who often fly under the radar in many health care settings. We all played a role in creating the opioid crisis and we owe it to these individuals to address the problem." 


An earlier study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy found that 86 percent of young IV drug users had used opioid pain relievers non-medically before using heroin. While it's more difficult to acquire prescription opioids in large quantities, diversion remains a severe problem. Many people still obtain opioids for misuse from friends and family members. 


As an aside, Purdue Pharma agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges related to its OxyContin marketing practices. The pharmaceutical company faces $8.3 billion in penalties, The New York Times reports. The Sackler Family, which owns Purdue, agreed to pay $225 million in civil penalties. 


Many people associate OxyContin's introduction to the market in the mid-1990s as the beginning of the opioid addiction epidemic. Some people may remember that for many years the drug was marketed as being non-addictive. OxyContin or oxycodone was anything but non-addictive. 


Millions of Americans living with an opioid use disorder can trace their addiction back to prescription opioids like oxycodone—the active ingredient of both Percocet and OxyContin. Young people who have the opportunity to misuse prescription opioids must be made to understand the dangers. Again, the risk of becoming dependent or addicted is exceptionally high, as are the overdose risks. If you are misusing prescription opioids or heroin, please reach out for assistance immediately. 


Opioid Addiction Treatment Program


Even though prescription opioid abuse has declined in recent years, it is still a significant problem. Many people who use drugs for chronic pain become dependent and addicted to prescription opioids. Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat to learn more about our chronic pain and opioid addiction treatment program.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Fewer Young Adults Abuse Alcohol

alcohol use disorder
Alcohol and marijuana are mind-altering substances that can significantly impact the course of one's life. Both are legal for adults to use, but they are not without their risks. Moreover, those who begin using at a young age are apt to experience a myriad of consequences. 


Disordered drinking is one of the leading causes of premature death, and more than 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes each year. Marijuana use, like alcohol, affects people's cognition and is addictive. Protracted use can lead to a cannabis use disorder later in life. 


While marijuana is often termed the gateway drug to "harder" substances, alcohol is more commonly used first. Alcohol is the preferred substance of young people who attend parties. Alcohol use can result in life-altering consequences, such as DUIs and fatal car wrecks. 


Teenagers and young adults who use alcohol regularly are at risk of developing an alcohol use disorder and other health problems associated with heavy alcohol use. It's not uncommon for heavy drinkers to develop conditions like pancreatitis in their twenties; some thirty-year-olds have cirrhosis of the liver. Both conditions are not to be taken lightly. 


Those who begin drinking at a young age place their developing brains at risk. Some may struggle with cognitive problems that will make it more challenging to finish high school and transition to college. It's worth remembering that the brain is not fully developed until a person's mid-twenties. 


Each person is unique, and there is no way to predict how alcohol will influence one's life. No amount of alcohol is safe; the longer one can abstain from alcohol, the better. Those who abstain from alcohol into adulthood tend to experience fewer negative consequences associated with drinking. 


It’s Possible to Abstain from Alcohol


Drinking alcohol in high school and college is a common occurrence. Getting drunk during the weekend is often viewed as a right of passage, but it need not be. It's possible to traverse one's formative years without imbibing; many young people are proving that to be true. 


A new study from the University of Michigan (U-M) and Texas State University found that the number of college-age Americans who are abstaining from alcohol is increasing, according to a university news release. Moreover, alcohol abuse among young adults in college and non-college students decreased by roughly half between 2002 and 2018. The findings are published in JAMA Pediatrics


Researchers found that the number of young adults – aged 18-22 – who abstained from alcohol increased from 20% to 28% for those in college and from about 24% to 30% for those not in college. Unfortunately, the data indicate that marijuana use and co-use of alcohol and marijuana increased. 


"We're encouraged by the significant decreases in alcohol use disorder—for both college and non-college students," said lead author Sean Esteban McCabe, director of the Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking and Health at the U-M School of Nursing. "The prevalence of alcohol use disorder in both groups in 2018 was roughly half of what it was in 2002. We are excited to learn about these drops in disordered drinking, as alcohol-related consequences are one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity for young adults." 


Young Adult Addiction Treatment Program


Alcohol use disorder is a treatable condition, and long-term recovery is possible for all who are willing to take the first step. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center, we offer age-specific addiction treatment programs. Our Young Adult Addiction Treatment Program focuses on the specific needs and sensitivities of the emerging adult. 


Please contact us today if you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol use disorder. Take the first step by calling us at 866-273-0868 for a chemical dependency treatment evaluation.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Prescription Opioid Abuse Declines

prescription opioids
Opioid use disorder most often begins with prescription painkillers, either prescribed by a doctor or diverted from a friend or family member. Opioid narcotics like oxycodone and hydrocodone are highly addictive. The former medication has made a lot of news in recent years owing to the litany of lawsuits filed against the maker of OxyContin. 


While the practice of prescribing opioid painkillers for all types of pain is still a significant concern, there is evidence that abuse is on the decline. More than 168 million total opioid prescriptions were written by doctors in 2018. 


The above number is much better than six years earlier when, in 2012, more than 255 million opioids were prescribed. That's 81.3 prescriptions per 100 persons compared to 51.4 prescriptions per 100 persons in 2018. 


Prescription opioid reductions from 2012 to 2018 is likely the result of more discerning prescribing guidelines, alternative methods of pain management, and the use of prescription drug monitoring programs. The reduction in opioids prescribed is worth acknowledging, but several counties in the U.S. are not faring so well. 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 11 percent of U.S. counties, doctors wrote enough opioid prescriptions for every person to have one. The finding is a testament that a more significant effort is needed to educate physicians on the dangers of prescription painkillers. In 2018, two-thirds of drug overdose deaths involved an opioid. 


Prescription Opioid Abuse Declines


An analysis of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicates that prescription opioid abuse decreased by more than one-quarter between 2007 and 2018, HealthDay reports. The annual NSDUH survey involves roughly 70,000 Americans. Individuals who take part are asked about their use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. 


"Prior research has shown slight reductions in abuse rates, but our analysis shows we're tracking statistically significant year-to-year declines in abuse, indicating that the decrease is not an anomaly and truly represents a trend in falling prescription drug abuse levels," said study author Mario Moric, a biostatistician at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. "We believe the message of the dangers of opioid use without supervision of a medical professional is finally getting through and changing people's mindset and behavior." 


Data indicates that 4.9 percent of participants reported misusing prescription opioids in 2007. According to researchers, in 2018, 3.7 percent of respondents abused opioid narcotics, a 26 percent reduction. The findings will be shared at the American Society of Anesthesiologists' annual meeting, which will occur virtually due to COVID-19. 


"Pain medications such as opioids are an important resource in the treatment and care of patients, but they are not a cure-all," said study co-author Dr. Asokumar Buvanendran, chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Committee on Pain Medicine and executive vice chair of anesthesiology at Rush University Medical Center. 


Prescription Opioids Are Not a Panacea


People who undergo surgery may require prescription opioids for a time following the procedure. However, such drugs are not the best choice for long-term, non-palliative pain management. Research suggests that opioids are not optimal for managing chronic pain, even though they are often the go-to option. 


Studies have shown that long-term opioid use can worsen one's pain. Patients who are given the option of opioid-alternatives may fare better. Physical therapy, yoga, and acupuncture have shown to be useful measures against chronic pain. They may help individuals who are about to undergo surgery. 


A new study involving veterans who are about to have hip-replacement surgery has some interesting findings. Researchers found that acupuncture before surgery could reduce the need for opioids following the procedure. Veterans receiving acupuncture before surgery reported less pain and needed far fewer opioids after the operation. 


"Six percent of patients given opioids after surgery become dependent on them, and Veterans are twice as likely to die from accidental overdoses than civilians," said Brinda Krish, D.O., lead author of the study and an anesthesiology resident at Detroit Medical Center, "Clearly it is crucial to have multiple options for treating pain, and acupuncture is an excellent alternative. It is safe, cost effective and it works."


Chronic Pain & Addiction Treatment Program


At Hemet Valley Recovery Center, we have a program for men and women who struggle with chronic pain and prescription opioid addiction. We help clients break the cycle of addiction and create an alternative pain management treatment strategy that doesn't involve using opioids. Please contact HVRC today to learn more about our programs and services.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2020

Mental Illness Awareness Week
This year has been challenging for hundreds of millions of people across the globe. Even those who have not been directly affected by COVID-19 can still struggle with issues beneath the surface. The pandemic's mental health impact will likely be lasting, and it's crucial that we have open and honest discussions about mental illness. Otherwise, individuals will suffer in darkness. 


Last month, we wrote about addiction, mental illness, and suicide at length. Our readers may remember that September was both National Recovery Month as well as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. At HVRC, the above topics are of particular importance, as we specialize in the treatment of addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. 


September has come and gone, but the conversation about mental illness must continue year-round. We cannot forget that one-fifth of American adults face the reality of mental health concerns each year. We must also remember that mental health disorders are treatable, and that stigma needs no longer stand in the way of recovery. 


An open and honest dialogue about conditions like major depressive and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) erodes stigma and inspires people to seek help. Recovery is possible with professional assistance; it's vital to spread the message. In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week 2020 (MIAW), the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shares that: 

"We believe that mental health conditions are important to discuss year-round, but highlighting them during Mental Illness Awareness Week provides a dedicated time for mental health advocates across the country to come together as one unified voice." 


Mental Illness Awareness Week


Acknowledging the reach and prevalence of mental illness is the first step in fighting stigma. Mental health disorders affect members of every community and practically each family. NAMI points out the annual scope of mental illness:

  • Anxiety Disorders: 19.1% (estimated 48 million people)
  • PTSD: 7.2% (17.7 million people)
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD: 3.6% (estimated 9 million people)
  • Bipolar Disorder: 2.8% (estimated 7 million people)
  • Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.4% (estimated 3.5 million people)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: 1.2% (estimated 3 million people)
  • Schizophrenia: less than 1% (estimated 1.5 million people)


Mental Illness Awareness Week 2020 begins Sunday, October 4, and ends on the 10th. Throughout the week, you are encouraged to share the facts on mental health disorders. You can also take part in the You Are Not Alone campaign. NAMI shares stories from people who are living with mental illness with the public. Such experiences serve as a beacon of hope for the tens of millions who are still struggling. 

"NAMI continues our year-long awareness campaign, You Are Not Alone, to feature the stories of people affected by mental illness to fight stigma, inspire others and educate the broader public. Now more than ever, the mental health community must come together and show that no one is ever really alone. No one should be without the information, support, connection and help they need." 


Those in recovery who are not ready to share their personal story with the world can still fight stigma and inspire others. NAMI has created social media graphics and logo files to be shared. The organization has drafted targeted messaging that can be used in social media posts, such as:  


Mental health is a huge part of overall health and should be a priority for everyone, whether you have a mental health condition or not. #MentalIllnessAwarenessWeek #MIAW 


The salient dates to remember next week include:

  • Tuesday, October 6: National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding
  • Thursday Oct. 8: National Depression Screening Day
  • Saturday Oct. 10: World Mental Health Day
  • Saturday Oct. 10: NAMIWalks National Day of Hope


Trauma and PTSD Treatment


Hemet Valley Recovery Center is here for men and women who are struggling with addiction and co-occurring PTSD. Many first-responders have a challenging time coping with trauma in a healthy way. Some turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with what they experience. 


Please contact HVRC during Mental Illness Awareness Week if you would like help beginning a journey of recovery. We invite you to take the first step toward healing with our dedicated team of professionals.

Friday, September 25, 2020

An Attitude of Gratitude During Recovery Month


Recovery Month ends in less than one week, and we hope that you have taken time to acknowledge the progress you've made since you began the journey. It's easy to lose sight of the things you have to be grateful for in recovery. It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. 


Addiction recovery – no matter the length of sobriety or clean time – is a remarkable achievement. It's hard to forget how challenging life was before beginning the journey of recovery. Even tasks that seem insignificant today, like paying bills on time, were likely difficult before you found recovery. Showing up to work on time or at all was probably arduous too. Today in recovery, you probably don't have to worry about such things. 


Working a program with a sponsor or mentor gives men and women the tools to surmount any obstacle. Recovery gives people the keys to open doors to new opportunities—both personally and professionally. There is no limit to what can be accomplished if one stays on course. 


Not only do you have the chance to help yourself by working a program, but you also get to help others realize their own aspirations. Recovery, simply put, is the gift that keeps on giving. 


In early recovery, it's challenging to believe that you will one day have the sense of freedom you see your fellows exhibiting. Thinking that you will, at some point, have all your affairs in order may seem like a miracle. However, what once seemed like far-etched dreams will unfold in front of you the longer you stick around. 


Those who stay on the path of recovery improve with each passing day—mentally, physically, and spiritually. They "comprehend the word serenity, and we will know peace." 


Stay the Course of Recovery


If this is your first National Recovery Month, then you may be piecing your life back together still. You may not have experienced most of the promises of recovery that you hear about time and again at meetings. However, there is still much to be grateful for in your life today. Acknowledge the changes in your life today, and be proud of all your accomplishments. 


Staying sober from sunup to sundown for another day is worth appreciating. It was probably not long ago that such a milestone was unthinkable. It's an excellent practice to write down all that you have to be grateful for at the end of each day. Refer to your list the following morning; the procedure will enable you to go through the day with an attitude of gratitude. You will feel more positive and be less bothered by aspects of your life that you would hope to be different. 


A positive attitude makes staying the course of recovery that much easier. With each passing day, you will see subtle changes happening before your eyes. In time, small changes will add to up to more significant alterations. 


Working the Steps is a formula for living a fulfilling and productive life. Working a program keeps you on track to seeing anything you put your mind to come to fruition. Such goals can include paying off debt, finishing school, or landing employment that you enjoy waking up in the morning for each day. 


No matter the obstacle, you will be able to navigate through the problem. Gone are the days of feeling like you need drugs and alcohol to cope. When people ask for your assistance, you will be able to be there for them. It feels good to know you are a reliable person who people can turn to for support. Recovery teaches you how to handle any situation—big or small. 


Before Recovery Month comes to an end, take stock of where you are today because of your program. Doing so will help you set your sights on achieving future goals. 


California Addiction Recovery Program for Adults


Hemet Valley Recovery Center is a Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH) located in Central California. Our CDRH license allows us to provide programs and specialty services all in one facility. Our patients have access to Hospital level diagnostic services and physician specialists. Take the first step toward a life in recovery by contacting us today at 866-273-0868 for a confidential assessment.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Substance Use Disorder and COVID-19

Many people who begin journeys of recovery also contend with co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. What's more, many individuals working programs also have physical health problems linked to years of alcohol or substance misuse. While it's still possible to achieve lasting recovery, such individuals must address comorbidity; successful outcomes depend on managing any illnesses that might jeopardize one's efforts. 


Drugs and alcohol affect both mind and body. Part of the recovery process is about no longer neglecting one's physical health. Eating healthy and prioritizing physical fitness is strongly encouraged by addiction professionals, as both help with the recovery process. Healthy foods nourish the mind and body. Making eating right a priority can help repair the damage caused by prolonged use of mind-altering substances. 


Learning how to lead a healthy lifestyle is a crucial facet of addiction recovery—the mind, body, and spirit are connected. Choosing to eat nutrient-rich foods and establishing an exercise routine pays off, especially in early recovery—when one's neurological and physiological systems are off-balance. A healthy diet can boost your immune system, which helps the healing process in turn; it can also help ward off sickness. 


People in early recovery also benefit from choosing to give up tobacco products. There is evidence that smokers are at a higher risk of relapse. Moreover, tobacco can slow down healing, and the long-term damage that cigarettes and smokeless nicotine products cause is well documented.


Substance Use Disorder and COVID-19


There are individuals in early and long-term recovery who have compromised immune systems. A large cohort of recovering alcoholics and addicts have heart, liver, and lung conditions. As such, men and women with physical health problems benefit from doing whatever they can to improve their health. 


In the year of a novel coronavirus that has infected nearly 7 million Americans and taken almost 200,000 lives, the term immunocompromised is part of the national lexicon. Those with pre-existing health conditions are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, and they may be less likely to recover. Naturally, the above should be concerning for many men and women in recovery for the reasons stated above. 


New research appearing in the journal Molecular Psychiatry confirms that people with substance use disorders (SUD) are more susceptible to COVID-19 and related health complications. The National Institutes of Health-funded (NIH) study found that individuals with a SUD diagnosis on record were more likely to contract COVID-19, be hospitalized, and die from COVID-19 than people without a SUD. 


The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Dr. Nora Volkow and Rong Xu, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University, analyzed non-identifiable electronic health records (EHR) of millions of patients in America. While patients with a SUD accounted for 10.3 percent of the total study population, they represented 15.6 percent of the COVID-19 cases. The correlation was strongest among people with an opioid use disorder or tobacco use disorder. 


"The lungs and cardiovascular system are often compromised in people with SUD, which may partially explain their heightened susceptibility to COVID-19," said study co-author, Dr. Volkow. "Another contributing factor is the marginalization of people with addiction, which makes it harder for them to access health care services. It is incumbent upon clinicians to meet the unique challenges of caring for this vulnerable population, just as they would any other high-risk group." 


According to the study authors, the research confirms that health care providers should closely monitor men and women with SUDs. The researchers also recommend that doctors "develop action plans to help shield them from infection and severe outcomes." 


Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital


Please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat if you or a loved one struggles with drugs, alcohol, or a co-occurring disorder. HVRC is still fully-functional during these unprecedented times, and we are strictly adhering to CDC guidelines to safeguard our patients' well-being. Our admissions team is standing by to answer any of your questions about our programs and services. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Recovery Month 2020: Celebrating Connections

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day! September 10th is an excellent opportunity to show your support for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Together, we can encourage men, women, and teenagers to seek help and get on the path toward recovery.

Each Mind Matters would like you to show your support by placing a burning candle in your window at 8 pm as a symbol of hope and support for suicide prevention and remembrance of those we've lost to suicide. If you don't have a candle, no problem; you can post an image or GIF of a candle on Facebook or another social media platform. You can use #SuicidePreventionWeek 2020 #SuicidePrevention or #StigmaFree to expand your post's reach.

As we shared last week, Each Mind Matters would like us to shine a light on "the intersection between suicide prevention, alcohol, and drug use and efforts that foster resilience and recovery." Substance use and addiction often play a role in suicides; the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shares that more than one in three people who die by suicide is under the influence of alcohol. It's also worth noting that many drug overdose deaths are intentional.

September is a salient month. Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and National Recovery Month coincide. Throughout the month, organizations and individuals join forces and voices to educate the public and those still suffering that recovery is possible. Faces and Voices of Recovery writes:

"National Recovery Month is now in its 30th year. It is an annual event sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) with the goal of letting Americans know that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with mental and substance use disorders to live healthy and fulfilling lives." 

Recovery Month

recovery month

There are many ways to participate in Recovery Month, such as attending virtual events and webinars. SAMHSA is hosting a webinar series during Recovery Month. Today’s (Thursday, September 10, 2020) webinar is Transforming Lives Through Supported Employment at 1:30PM (ET). The webinar highlights the salient role that employment can play in recovery.

While SAMHSA is still involved with Recovery Month, this is the first year that the recovery community is guiding the observance. This year's theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Connections.

"Recovery Month works to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible."

All month, individuals and organizations around the country are celebrating the millions of men, women, and teens who have transformed their lives in recovery from mental health and substance use disorders. We have an opportunity to break the stigma of addiction by acknowledging the gains made by people in recovery.

Each day, those working a program are living examples that recovery works—that it's possible to rejoin communities and society at large. Moreover, members of the recovery fellowship give hope to the tens of millions of individuals who are still in the grips of their disease.

California Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital

National Recovery Month is an ideal opportunity to reach for support and begin your journey of healing. Hemet Valley Recovery Hospital & Sage Retreat are fully operational and continue to accept new patients during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Please rest assured that our highly qualified team of clinicians are following all CDC protocols to protect our clients' well-being.

We invite you to take the first step toward a life in recovery by calling our admissions team for a confidential assessment today at 866-273-0868. HVRC is a Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH), which means that we can provide programs and specialty services all in one facility. Please contact us to learn more about the HVRC difference.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month 2020

suicide prevention
Summer is coming to an end, and life is still far different than it used to be in many parts of the country. While we've made gains concerning COVID-19, the number of new cases and deaths continues to rise. What's more, many Americans are struggling with trauma, mental illness symptoms, and substance use is on the rise at an alarming rate.

Natural disasters like a public health crisis are bound to impact people's psyche severely. Unlike a hurricane, only a handful of men and women are alive today who have lived through a global pandemic. As such, there wasn't any way to prepare for COVID-19, nor any guidance on how to handle 6.13 million friends and neighbors contracting a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus.

These last several months have been extremely challenging for men and women from all walks of life. Those who work a recovery program have had to deal with unprecedented adversity, while having to learn to cope in isolation hasn't been a simple endeavor. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that the crisis isn't over yet. Hot spots continue to flare up, the latest being in the Midwest.

While many researchers are tasked with finding a cure or vaccine for the virus, others have their attention on the pandemic's hidden impact. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released some troubling data about mental and behavioral health disorders. CDC researchers found that living through a pandemic has – perhaps not unsurprisingly – had a deleterious effect on an untold number of Americans.

Anxiety, Depression, and Trauma

Many Americans are living in a heightened state of fear and anxiety. Without healthy mechanisms for coping, some are using drugs and alcohol to manage the discomfort. Moreover, symptoms of mental illness among our people have exponentially increased compared to the same time last year, according to the CDC study. So much so that many individuals (11 percent) are dealing with suicidal ideations.

Combating COVID-19 is a top-tier priority among public health experts, but there is little energy or financial resources left to address mental health. The psychological toll of the pandemic may exceed the cost of reigning in the virus.

A survey of 5,412 Americans showed that 41 percent had at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition. Of the responding pool of participants, 31 percent reported symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder. Compared to the same time last year, anxiety symptoms tripled in incidence, and the prevalence of depression symptoms quadrupled. The findings explain why 13.3 percent of respondents reported having started or increased alcohol and substance use.

Many men and women lack the tools to cope with the stress and emotions related to COVID-19. Those working in hospitals and as first-responders could be at even higher risk of trauma. After all, medical professionals are not immune to COVID-19 either; such people are an exponentially higher risk of contracting the deadly pathogen.

CDC researchers found that 26.3 percent reported symptoms of trauma- and stressor-related disorder (TSRD) related to the pandemic. TSRDs include acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The difference between the two is that PTSD lasts for more than one month, being either a continuation of acute stress disorder or a separate condition that starts up to 6 months after the initial trauma.

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

suicide prevention

The CDC study is not unusually large, but it could be a prognostication of what's to come in the coming months and years. It's vital that state and local governments direct resources toward helping people struggling with mental illness, whether they are related to COVID-19 or not.

Given the percentage of respondents reporting that they had seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey (June 24–30, 2020) was over ten percent, public health experts should be concerned. Moreover, the CDC found that serious suicidal ideations were significantly higher among respondents aged 18–24 years (25.5%).

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10; National Suicide Prevention Week is the Monday through Sunday surrounding World Suicide Prevention Day.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) encourages everyone to "share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic." Those who are struggling right now need to be reminded that they are not alone. You can #BeThe1To remind them on social media and beyond.

The California Mental Health Services Authority's "Each Mind Matters" campaign is another resource you can utilize for spreading the message. There are many ways you can get involved, even if you are pressed for time. The initiative writes:  

This year, in support of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week, World Suicide Prevention Day and National Recovery Month, all held in September, we are encouraging a special focus on the intersection between suicide prevention, alcohol, and drug use and efforts that foster resilience and recovery. 

Those looking for mental health resources during COVID-19 can visit the Each Mind Matters Resource Center here.

California Recovery Program for Addiction and PTSD

If you are struggling with addiction and co-occurring PTSD, then you have come to the right place. Our Chemical Dependency Recovery Hospital is fully equipped to address all your mental and behavioral health needs. We also offer a program specifically for those who place their lives at risk in their country's service.

Hemet Valley Recovery Center remains open and accepting patients; we will continue to follow the CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19. Please call us at 866-273-0868 to receive a complimentary assessment and discuss treatment options.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Hyperalgesia: Opioids Actually Worsen Pain

opioid-induced hyperalgesia and chronic pain

Opioids are most often prescribed for the management of chronic pain. However, new research suggests that these medications may actually increase a person’s sensitivity to pain over time. This phenomenon, called hyperalgesia, provides further caution to healthcare providers about the long-term prescription of opioid pain medication.

Opioid-Induced Hyperalgesia

The word hyperalgesia literally translates to over (hyper) + pain (algesia), and it refers to an increased sensitivity to painful stimuli, which may be caused by damage to nociceptors or peripheral nerves. Hyperalgesia may take several forms, including occurrences in focal, discrete areas (primary), or diffused over all areas of the body (secondary). It can be caused through injury or, as recent research now shows, long-term use of opioid painkillers.

When a person experiences increased pain response due to opioids, their condition is referred to as opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH). Reports of this disorder have increased with the nationwide surge in opioid prescription over the past decade.

This condition may seem counterintuitive. How can medication meant to reduce pain actually result in worsened pain? While opioids work by blocking pain, the body reacts to their action by increasing the number of pain receptors. Acclimation to these medications also results in lower levels of endorphins, which serve as natural soothers for pain. When your endorphin levels dip, it is more difficult to deal with injuries and stimuli on your own.

Put simply, due to neural changes, something that wouldn’t normally result in pain will generate a pain response in a person with hyperalgesia, and painful occurrences will be stronger than normal.

Symptoms of Opioid-Induced Hyperalgesia

This condition has three main symptoms. The first, as stated above, is an increase in the intensity of pain felt over time. Second, people with hyperalgesia will experience spread of the pain to another location other than their point of injury. Finally, OIH results in an increase in the discomfort felt from external stimuli.

These symptoms present themselves even when a person increases their dosage of pain medication, with or without the advice of a physician. In fact, they will likely worsen with a heightened opioid dosage.

OIH is assessed through bedside tests, which include the pain intensity response to a cotton swab, finger pressure, pinprick, and cold or warm stimuli.

Other Side Effects of Opioids

Hyperalgesia is not the only health issue caused by long-term opioid use. These drugs have been the source of America’s opioid epidemic, a massive health crisis characterized by rapid dependence and addiction. Even with prescribed use, these drugs are incredibly habit-forming, meaning that people recovering from surgery or seeking help for chronic pain may find themselves reliant on opioids (and affected by OIH).

Signs of opioid addiction include…

  • Drowsiness or nodding off mid-conversation
  • Significant weight loss
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Financial problems
  • Craving the drugs or increasing one’s dosage
  • Worsened work performance
  • Stealing money, items, or medication
  • Sleep problems

Addiction is a disease that affects the entire person, physically and mentally. People who develop a dependence on opioids may find themselves unable to function without them. They may exhibit drug-seeking behavior, cravings, and compulsive use. Over time, these behaviors may damage a person’s life, personally and professionally. It is vital for people with OIH to seek professional help as soon as possible.

Treatment for OIH

The best approach for the treatment of hyperalgesia is the tapering and even eventual discontinuation of opioid pain medications. This process may take a long time and will require the advisement of a physician and addiction specialist, who together will oversee the patient’s progress and response to the tapering. People who discontinue their opioid prescriptions may experience withdrawal, but with proper medical supervision, it is possible to limit one’s discomfort, symptoms, and existing pain while overcoming a dependence on these drugs.

Find Recovery from Opioids

Fortunately, evidence-based treatment is available. If you or a loved one have developed a dependence on opioids which has resulted in OIH, there is hope. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat, our team of clinicians can help you to overcome hyperalgesia and opioid dependence.

Our California Chronic Pain and Addiction Treatment Program is designed to help individuals who rely on narcotic analgesics to seek alternative pain management solutions. We provide medically managed detoxification and chemical dependency treatment supplemented by targeted therapeutic groups.

Through our biopsychospiritual model, patients learn alternative pain management strategies in group therapy, breathing techniques, music, poetry, yoga, acupuncture, exercise, physical therapy, massage, and other tailored programs.

To learn more about our services, contact us today.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

What is a Case Manager? | Case Management Explained

case manager providing case management services
As a person finishes their time in an inpatient or residential treatment program, the transition back to “real life” requires careful consideration. This is when case management services become important. A case manager provides guidance, support, and much-needed resources to program alumni, while also ensuring that they remain on track after leaving HVRC. Today, we’ll discuss what a case manager is and what they do on a daily basis.

Case Management Explained

A case manager serves as your advocate in the early stages of recovery. They will gather information about each client’s situation – including their history of substance use, home life, and more – during the screening or assessment phase of intake. After learning as much as they can about each person’s addiction and daily life, they work with the client to create a fully individualized treatment plan. Addiction treatment is not one-size-fits-all; in fact, it requires a tailored approach in order to be successfully addressed. As a client goes through the program, case managers frequently check in to monitor progress and modify the treatment plan as needed.

Case management also involves caring for a patient after they have left a residential program. There are many individuals who require an additional level of support after treatment, including ex-convicts, people with mental illness, those with co-occurring health conditions, and the homeless. A case manager advocates on the client’s behalf, ensuring access to medication, follow-up care, and services like job training, housing opportunities, and doctors’ appointments.

The Duties of a Case Manager

The daily responsibilities of a case manager are varied and require several core competencies. These individuals have a history of education and training on the subject of addiction treatment, and they are prepared to support individuals at all phases of recovery.

Case management tasks include:
  • Supporting and providing case management services to existing clients and alumni
  • Developing personalized treatment plans for each client
  • Ensuring that treatment plans align with each person’s needs
  • Monitoring client progression and revising case management as needed
  • Participating in meetings with each client
  • Continuing to attend trainings and educational seminars to advance education in the field of addiction treatment
  • Creating outcomes reports and highlighting success stories
  • Helping clients to access much-needed resources during and after treatment
  • Documenting each person’s needs and progress based on state and local requirements
  • Conducting crisis intervention as needed

Does This Service Help You Stay Sober?

Ultimately, each person is responsible for their own sobriety. No one can ensure that an individual never picks up a drink or drug again. However, ongoing support from a case manager can make a difference in a person’s risk of relapse.

By contacting agencies like insurance providers and community partners, it is possible for case managers to make the transition from rehab to home life an easier one. These support services can allow former clients to access important financial help, trainings, and childcare services, which lessen their stress on a daily basis. Through these resources, an individual will feel more supported in the early stages of their journey.

Additionally, case managers can help clients to access benefits they may not have known about. By working with social security and disability offices, it is possible to arrange for a client to have food stamps, Medicaid coverage, low-cost health insurance, and more. They can also create a network of support that is waiting for someone after treatment in the form of AA or NA meetings, local church groups, or support groups specific to a co-occurring condition or past trauma.

In short, case management can make an enormous difference in a person’s life, during and after treatment. If you have been to treatment before and are struggling, we encourage you to reach out for case management services today. Our team is standing by to help you access the financial and support services you need.

Find the Support You Need

At Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat, we understand that navigating the world after treatment can be complex and intimidating. This is why we offer a robust array of case management services. Our team of experts will work with you at all phases of recovery, ensuring that your fully individualized treatment plan is tailored to your needs every step of the way. From intake to aftercare, we’re here for you.

To learn more about our case managers and how they can help you to recover, please contact HVRC today.

Monday, August 10, 2020

What Drug is Most Commonly Abused by Older Adults?

Whether it’s problem drinking or the misuse of prescription medication, substance use is a significant problem for older adults – in fact, it is one of the fastest growing health issues in the United States. This pattern of behavior often goes unchecked because people are unlikely to confront older relatives about their drinking or drug use. Today, we’ll analyze substance use in the elderly, answering the question: What drug is most commonly abused by older adults?

Substance Use and Older Adults: The Statistics

While illicit drug use is normally associated with risk-taking young people, research shows that more than one million Americans over the age of 65 have a substance use disorder. According to SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, alcohol remains the most common drug of misuse. Their research demonstrated that 978,000 older adults had an alcohol use disorder, while 161,000 could be diagnosed with an illicit drug use disorder.

Combined data from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH 2007-2014) indicate that during the past month, six million older adults drank alcohol, 132,000 used marijuana, and 4,300 used cocaine. On an average day in 2011, there were over 2,000 drug-related emergency room visits for older adults; of these, 290 involved illegal drug use, use of alcohol combined with other drugs, or nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals.

These numbers are staggering, and experts warn that they will grow. They warn that the baby boomer generation faces relatively higher drug use rates compared with previous generations. This cohort will experience the negative consequences of substance use, which include legal trouble, incarceration, physical and mental health issues, social and family problems, and potential death from overdose.

The dangers are known, and researchers must ask: If their risk is lower, how do older people become addicted to drugs and alcohol?

How and Why Do Older People Become Addicted?

The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services divides older adult substance abuse into two discrete categories: individuals who have used substances for many years, and those who formed addictions later in life. People in each of these groups face different obstacles that create a perfect storm in which addiction can form.

Individuals who began misusing drugs and alcohol earlier in life probably did so as a result of environmental conditioning, genetic predisposition, or as an attempt at self-medication. As one uses substances over time, they develop a tolerance; as such, they require more and more of the drug or drink to achieve the same effect. Because addiction is a progressive, chronic disease, it is possible for someone to begin using drugs or alcohol recreationally, only to find themselves dependent on that substance in the long run.

Older adults who begin drinking or using later in life may be triggered into this pattern of behavior. Individuals who are diagnosed with an illness, dealing with chronic pain, severely injured, or coping with mental illness may find themselves struggling to get by. Older people go through a lot of transitions in their age – they retire, friends and family members pass away, or they may be relocated to an assisted living facility. These troubling instances can serve as a catalyst to substance abuse.

Finally, older adults who are prescribed highly addictive medications may struggle to adhere to label instructions. Even when used under the supervision of a medical professional, ongoing use of opioid pain relievers can result in chemical dependency.

No matter how an older adult finds themselves addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is vital to identify that they have a problem as soon as possible.

Signs of Addiction

It can be challenging to identify substance abuse in older adults. As we age, our health deteriorates. Because of this, health care providers may overlook the signs of addiction entirely. Its symptoms can overlap with the effects of medical or behavioral disorders like depression, dementia, or diabetes.

Signs of addiction in older adults include…
  • Changes to eating and sleeping habits
  • Unexplained injuries or chronic pain
  • Irritability or depression
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Becoming isolated and secretive
  • Experiencing financial difficulty
  • Worsened personal hygiene
If you believe that a senior citizen in your life has developed an addiction, it is vital to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Treatment for Older Adults

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that older adult treatment plans involve age-specific programming, a focus on coping with depression and loss, a pace appropriate for older individuals, staff members who are experienced in working with this population, linkages with other supportive services, and a focus on rebuilding one’s social network. We provide these services and more at our well-appointed, single-floor facility. At HVRC, we have created a track specifically tailored to the needs of older adults.

To learn more about our age-specific addiction treatment services, contact HVRC today.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

How to Explain Addiction to a Child: A Guide

explaining addiction to a child
In America today, more than eight million children live with parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Living in a home with parental substance abuse can be frightening and confusing for anyone, but especially so for the very young. A child may struggle to understand why their parents behave a certain way, as they face unclear communication and erratic, unpredictable behavior from the adults in their life. This often results in kids making up their own explanations for what is happening; unfortunately, they may even blame themselves for parental substance abuse.

To make matters worse, family members are often hesitant to bring up addiction, or they may ignore the problem altogether.

Experts recommend being honest and up front with children whose parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol. This openness and shared understanding can pave the way for personal growth and common-sense next steps. Today on the blog, we’ll share with you our top tips for how to explain addiction to a child.

Why Should I Tell Them?

When a parent, sibling, or other family member is addicted to drugs or alcohol, a child’s entire life changes.

Children living in homes with people who abuse drugs and alcohol may find their lives unpredictable and scary. They may even think their parents’ substance use is their fault, or they can feel guilty or ashamed while trying to protect family secrets. It’s also common for children of addicts to feel abandoned, since their loved ones are not emotionally available to engage with or support them.

Young people who feel unsafe or unwanted tend to withdraw or act out, which can put them at greater risk of becoming addicts themselves. In order to break this cycle, it is necessary to be honest with them about their loved one’s substance use.

Remember above all else that the goal is to help a child better understand the disease of addiction. The conversation should be a way for them to have questions answered, assuage themselves of guilt, and know what’s going on with their loved one. It can also aid them in knowing their own predisposition to addiction later in life. The conversation should not be a chance to get the child on someone else’s side, turn them against their loved one, or scare them.

How Much is Appropriate to Explain?

There are some topics that are very difficult for children to understand, and addiction is one of them. When telling a child about the substance use of a parent, sibling, or more distant relative, it’s important to consider their age. By tailoring your conversation to their cognitive level, you will avoid overwhelming them and can help them to understand the issue at hand.

For very young children, this age appropriate conversation may involve describing addiction as being “sick.” Consider using books or other aids to guide you through this process. The older the child is, the more you can share; however, be careful not to provide too much upsetting information. Additionally, monitor your attitude while talking about this particular topic. The child may already resent the addicted family member. Instead of upsetting them further, seek to help them understand their feelings and the situation without creating prejudice or anger.

The Disease Model of Addiction

Be sure that the child understands that addiction is a disease. By letting them know that their parent is sick just like a person with any other condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you can significantly decrease the stigma around substance abuse. Tell them that they are not alone, and that millions of families are in the exact same situation.

You do not need to use this opportunity to launch into a full explanation of addiction; instead, focus on addressing the child’s concerns and helping them to develop a general understanding around the topic. This conversation is the time to tell them that their parent is sick and that it is not their fault. Later, you can talk to them at length about the disease model of addiction if necessary.

The Seven C’s

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics is an organization whose purpose is to eliminate the adverse impact of substance use on children and families. They recommend using the seven C’s to help young people better understand and cope with addiction in the home. They are…

  • I didn’t cause it
  • I can’t cure it
  • I can’t control it
  • I can care for myself
  • By communicating my feelings
  • Making healthy choices
  • And celebrating myself

These seven C’s are useful for combatting helplessness, guilt, shame, and other negative feelings that may arise throughout a loved one’s recovery or continued drug use.

Finding Support

In addition to providing an age-appropriate explanation, adults should find ways to support the children of addicts. Perhaps the simplest approach to this is to ask the child how they feel in a situation – for example, if they’ve seen Daddy get angry and throw things, or if Mommy has fallen asleep while talking to them. Having these conversations brings family secrets to light and allows the child to feel seen, heard, and supported through difficult times.

Teenagers may benefit from participation in Alateen, a version of Al-Anon for younger people dealing with a loved one’s addiction. In a group setting, participants may share experiences, discuss difficulties, and provide encouragement for one another.

Do You Need Help Explaining Addiction to a Child?

Telling children about addiction is a difficult task. However, with the right level of preparation, it is possible to use this conversation to help the child to feel supported, loved, and informed. At HVRC, our Family Program can help young people to better understand their parents’ drug and alcohol misuse, strengthening the family unit. To learn more about our evidence-based approach to addiction treatment and family healing, contact us today.