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.