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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Addiction Recovery: Social Media Impacts Well-Being

Men and women working programs of addiction recovery do well to remember that all the pieces matter. Emphasizing physical well-being is just as vital as taking steps to improve mental health, for example. Those who make their way from active addiction to sustained recovery come to understand that drug and alcohol use are symptoms of mental illness. A commitment to abstinence is paramount; but, refraining from use is only one facet of healing.

Remove mind-altering substances from the equation and other forms of mental health illness often plague people. No longer drinking and drugging, men and women learn that they are far from being out of the woods. The saying that ‘the only thing you need to change is everything’ could not be more accurate. Long-term addiction recovery asks individuals to make significant amendments to how they lead their life.

If lasting recovery is one’s goal, purging old behaviors and ways of looking at things are instrumental. Simply put, going to meetings is not enough; success depends upon engaging with the program and practicing principles that are foreign. Sharing in the rooms of recovery is vital, but so is listening. What’s more, the way men and women behave in meetings must continue in the outside world.

Curbing Social Media May Help Your Recovery

People who attend meetings of recovery are no strangers to the fact that many attendees stare at their smartphone while others are sharing. It could signal that addicts and alcoholics are excellent multi-taskers, or it could mean that many people are not emphasizing the importance of connecting with their peers. A disconnect from the community can breed loneliness and isolation, which can beget symptoms of depression. Seeing as depressive symptoms are a common occurrence among persons living with addiction, it’s critical that one do everything in their power to avoid activities that may affect their well-being.

A new study confirms, or at the very least supports, the passage above. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that limiting “screen time” could enhance life quality, mitigating the risk of experiencing depressive symptoms and feelings of loneliness, according to Penn Today. The findings appear in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

Psychologist Melissa G. Hunt and her team found a correlation between Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram use and decreased well-being, the article reports. To be clear, the researchers do not suggest ceasing all social media use, but they believe that screen time reductions can improve life quality.

“When you’re not busy getting sucked into clickbait social media, you’re actually spending more time on things that are more likely to make you feel better about your life,” said Hunt. “In general, I would say, put your phone down and be with the people in your life.” 

Those of you in recovery, who spend a significant portion of your day on social media, may find that limiting use strengthens your program; this may be especially true for addicts and alcoholics with a co-occurring mental illness. Depression is, after all, one of the leading causes of relapse among those in recovery. You can even start small, by turning your phone off when attending meetings.

Addiction Recovery

The Haven at Pismo provides men and women battling addiction top quality treatment. Our safe and serene setting is the perfect environment to renew your best today. Please contact us to learn more about the services we offer and about how we can make the dream of recovery a reality for you or a loved one.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Mental Illness Among Veterans

mental illness
With Veterans Day on the horizon, it is prudent to focus on mental illness. Mental health is discussed more openly throughout society today, thanks in part to science giving the general public a better understanding of the deleterious role stigma plays in seeking help. The reality is that despite available treatments, most people never access care. When mental disorders like addiction, depression, and post-traumatic stress go without treatment, the results are never positive.

Approximately 18.5 percent of service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan have PTSD or depression. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, more than 2 of 10 Veterans with PTSD also meet the criteria for substance use disorder. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that approximately 50 percent of veterans who require mental health treatment, seek it. About half who receive treatment, receive the kind of help they need.

There is an urgent need to encourage our veterans to make the decision to talk about their symptoms, instead of opting for self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. Veterans who use substances to combat their PTSD symptoms are at significant risk of developing a substance use disorder. What’s more, the use of mind-altering drugs worsens one’s symptoms of PTSD; a vicious cycle ensues, and many decide their life is too complicated and they experience suicidal ideations.


Talking About Mental Illness

Making the courageous decision to seek assistance will save your life. Effective, evidence-based therapies are available; those who struggle with more than one disorder benefit from co-occurring disorder treatment. However, the fact that people often feel unable to discuss their problems keeps them from recovery.

If you are a veteran who is battling PTSD and co-occurring mental illness please know, you are not alone. Mental health problems affect millions of Americans, veterans, and civilians alike. Those who seek care have an opportunity to address their conditions, learn tools for coping with symptoms and go on to lead healthy, productive lives. Talking about your problems is the first step toward recovery; mental illness runs riot in silence.

At The Haven, we understand the negative impact stigma has on a person’s ability to open up and seek a solution. Reminding yourself others are in the same boat can be empowering; in fact, over 44 million American adults are experiencing a mental health illness. Mental Health America reports that 7.93 percent of adults have a substance use disorder. As you can see, no small number of people in this country battle the same kind of issues that you do; thankfully, access to insurance and treatment is increasing owing to reforms.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

The Haven at Pismo provides a continuum of care for clients with co-occurring disorders. From medically supervised detox to aftercare planning & treatment coordination, we are there for you every step of the way ensuring that you have the tools to achieve lasting recovery. Please contact us to learn how you can begin the recovery process today.

We want to express our gratitude to the men and women who’ve served bravely in the armed forces, and those who continue to do so. Thank you for your service!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Opioid Epidemic Treated Like A Natural Disaster

In 2014, a landslide in Oso, Washington, claimed the lives of 43 people. Each day, more than 100 people lose their lives to an overdose in the United States. Both are disasters, one natural and the other is something entirely different; however, there is evidence that the response to either situation should be roughly the same. That is, to effectively tackle a daunting crisis what’s needed is coordination.

Rightly, some individuals may find it trying to draw parallels between natural disasters and public health epidemics. Because, no one chooses to be part of a mudslide; what’s more, most people would not decide to go back to a dangerous area after surviving nature’s wrath. Conversely, it is not uncommon for a person with an opioid use disorder to overdose on multiple occasions. Addicts – left with few options – will continue down the destructive path they are on unless there be some form of intervention.

When disaster strikes, communities come together in service to a common goal, most notably the mission is to protect life. Local governments team up with Federal agencies to rescue victims, repair the wreckage, and bring the affected back to some sense of normalcy. While there are efforts underway on the local, state, and Federal level to combat the American opioid addiction epidemic, making headway has proven to be a monumental challenge. So, as the nation scrambles to find solutions people continue to suffer and perish; in 2017, more the 70,000 Americans died of an overdose.

Tackling Addiction Requires A Coordinated Effort

The reason for bringing up the Oso Landslide owes to what the devastating event led one local Sheriff to do about the heroin problem in his rural community. The former police chief of Stanwood, WA, (pop. 7,000), and now sheriff of Snohomish County, Ty Trenary, is using natural disaster response as a model for addressing addiction in his community, NPR reports. Trenary’s county is now treating the opioid epidemic like a natural disaster, calling for the same kind of response.

"It took becoming the sheriff to see the impacts inside the jail with heroin abuse, to see the impacts in the community across the entire county for me to realize that we had to change a lot about what we were doing," said Trenary. 

The novel idea was born in the mind of the director of communications for the sheriff's office, Shari Ireton, from what she saw when visiting the Oso disaster, according to the article. In the wake of the 2014 landslide, Ireton was witness to a coordinated effort across government agencies. Her memories of the collective to deal with the shared objective of life safety would impel Ireton to pitch her idea to the Sheriff and county leaders. The suggestion was well received, and the Multi-Agency Coordination group or MAC group was created.

Members of the group meet every two weeks at the special emergency operations center to discuss the epidemic and MAC’s over 100 items long to-do list. The task force has several significant goals including reducing opioid misuse, distributing needle cleanup kits, and training people in the community on reversing overdoses. Arguably, MAC's most important efforts have to do with recovery; the group is providing transportation for people in drug treatment, while police officers and social workers are going into homeless camps to assist addicts.

The effort continues, but hundreds of people now have housing and are in treatment thanks to MAC.


Opioid Use Disorder Recovery

Addiction is a treatable mental health disorder and recovery is possible. The Haven is a Joint Commission (TJC) accredited addiction treatment facility; we rely on evidence-based modalities to help people break the cycle of substance use disorder and go on to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. Please contact us if you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with an opioid use disorder, we can provide you with possibilities to renew to your best today.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Prescription Opioids of Tomorrow

prescription opioids
Tomorrow is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day; Saturday, October 27, 2018, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, please click here to find a location near you. Safely disposing of all unused or unwanted medication can prevent diversion, misuse, abuse, addiction, and overdose. Any person who is holding on to prescription narcotics is invited to visit a collection site and help combat the addiction crisis we face today.

The majority of Americans understand that the addiction epidemic raging across America – stealing more than a hundred lives each day – is inextricably linked to prescription opioids. For many years, doctors doled out drugs for just about anything pain, from a sore back to palatial care. Prescription painkillers are effective for acute pain, but research indicates that few of the millions of Americans living with chronic pain benefit from drugs like OxyContin.

Research appearing in JAMA this year indicates that prescription opioid relievers demonstrated no advantages over non-opioid painkillers for treating common types of chronic pain. What’s more, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that patients with severe discomfort can benefit from alternative forms of pain management. However, such findings have done little to slow the rate of opioid prescribing, despite recommendations and guidelines from public health organizations.

Prescription Painkiller Controversy

Many years after it became apparent that the nation was in the midst of a prescription opioid epidemic, lawmakers and experts alike called for big pharma to make some changes. Companies like Purdue Pharma – the makers of OxyContin – were compelled to reformulate their drug to make it more tamper-resistant. Other companies were asked to do the same. Simultaneously, pharmaceutical companies were in the midst of developing stronger, more deadly narcotics.

Despite a public outcry over the years to rein in big pharma, the agency tasked with looking after public’s use of medication, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), almost always sides with and approves new drugs. Regardless of the glaring risks of supporting Zohydro® ER (hydrocodone bitartrate) – Vicodin sans Acetaminophen – the FDA went ahead and approved the narcotic—with no abuse-deterrent features. Some may find it hard to believe, but the drug was greenlighted against the recommendation of the agency’s own advisory committee. Attempting to make sense of such decisions can be dizzying. Nonetheless, Americans should be made aware of the controversies surrounding prescription opioids.

In 2012-13, Zohydro’s approval gained significant attention from the media, but the drug still went to market. Now five years later, the FDA is in the process of signing off on a new drug that is 500 times stronger than morphine, Market Watch reports. For reference, the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl dominating the news cycle of late is 100 times more potent than morphine.


Prescription Opioids of Tomorrow

The FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee recommends Dsuvia for U.S. approval; a final decision could come as soon as Nov. 3, 2018, according to the article. The narcotic – which is roughly five times as powerful as fentanyl – comes in a preloaded plastic applicator; the medication is intended for sublingual use (under the tongue). Moreover, the chair of the agency’s committee, Dr. Raeford Brown, says that design makes it more divertible; Dr. Brown is against approving the drug. Still, the panel voted 10-3 in favor of Dsuvia.

“This drug offers no advance, in my mind, over previously available opioid formulations, but provides great risk of harm to patients and the general public health,” says Brown, a professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics at the University of Kentucky. He adds, “I just don’t believe at this point in the U.S. that there is any good reason to put another potent opioid on the streets.” 

AcelRx, the maker of Dsuvia, states that the drug would only be found in medically supervised settings, like a hospital, the article reports. However, Dr. Brown points out that preventing diversion of prescription opioids – even in specific environments – is challenging.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

If you are struggling with prescription painkillers or another form of opioid, please contact The Haven. We offer medically supervised, top quality care for those living with a use disorder or coöccurring mental illness. The Haven at Pismo is the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Recovery Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors This Fall

Spending time outdoors this fall can be a big boon to your mental and physical health as well as your overall recovery. This is because it can help with stress management, sleep, socialization and more. Here’s a closer look at the benefits along with some ways you can get more fresh air this autumn.
  • You’ll boost your mental health. Nature and outdoor activities are a natural way to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Just think about how you felt the last time you strolled through the park or even stepped outside and inhaled the crisp air.
  • You’ll feel more relaxed.  Nature has been linked with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and reduced blood pressure and heart rate. This is partly because of the colors and scents found in nature. Bonus: If it’s sunny outside, you’ll get some mood- and immune-boosting vitamin D.
  • You’ll have sunnier thoughts.  Stanford scientists discovered that walking in nature can reduce obsessive, negative thoughts. And if you’re walking vigorously or jogging, you’ll reap these benefits even more.
  • You’ll have better slumber. Even if you only get outdoors in the a.m., the effects can last until nighttime. In fact, studies show that a healthy dose of fresh air can help you fall and stay asleep.
  • You’ll expand your social network. Walking the same route each day or heading to the dog park is a great way to meet new people and possibly expand your network of sober friends.
Outdoor Recreation for a Better Recovery
It certainly can’t hurt to try to sneak a little fresh air into your recovery schedule – even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes each day. Try one of these ideas:
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Outdoor walk, jog or run
  • Gardening
  • Meditation or journaling outdoors
  • Pick-nicking in the park
  • Playing tennis, soccer or golf
  • Horseback riding
Get Nurtured in Nature
At Haven, we know that spending time outdoors reduces anxiety and depression, encourages healing, enhances creativity and promotes gratitude. Our Central Coast location is blessed with year-round sunshine, making it the perfect place for outdoor recreation as part of your recovery. To learn more about our location and programs, call today: 805-202-3440.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Remembering an Addiction Medicine Pioneer

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a federal-government research institute whose mission is to "lead the Nation in bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction." Many Americans are familiar with NIDA and its director Dr. Nora Volkow; however, the majority of those with knowledge of the organization are unaware of its origins. NIDA is the offspring of the Addiction Research Center, part of United States Public Health Service (PHS), established in Lexington, Kentucky.

One of the pioneers in addiction treatment got his start in the field after college by volunteering for the United States Public Health Service. In 1964, Dr. Herbert Kleber thought he would fulfill his military obligation by working for the USPHS, but he didn’t know he would be assigned to the Public Health Service Prison Hospital at Lexington, Ky, The New York Times reports. He couldn’t have known then that that position would result in a career in addiction medicine.

Upon completing his two-year obligation Kleber had plans to go into psychiatry; but, he would soon realize that his work with the Addiction Research Center caused others to think he had a better understanding of addiction than most doctors, according to the article. Pleas for help on the subject matter from not just doctors but also parents led Dr. Kleber to become an expert and pioneer in the field.

Pioneer in Addiction Treatment

Dr. Herbert Kleber died at the age of 84 on October 5, 2018, while vacationing with his family in Greece. He suffered a heart attack on the island of Santorini. Over the course of his career, Kleber’s work led to several advancements in the field of addiction medicine; he developed treatments that would make withdrawal more comfortable for patients. His methods would also help people avoid relapse and maintain programs of recovery, the article reports. His work transformed the study of addiction into a medical discipline.

“He was at the vanguard of bringing scientific rigor to the area of addiction,” said Dr. Frances R. Levin, director of the division on substance use disorders (started by Dr. Kleber) at Columbia University Medical Center. 

When Kleber began work at the prison hospital in Lexington, a facility that “treated” many celebrities over the years including William S. Burroughs (“Junky,” 1953), the approach to addiction treatment was punitive. In contrast, Dr. Kleber designed “evidence-based treatment” methods rooted in science rather than the moral turpitude of such conditions. He co-founded the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, now the Center on Addiction).

“His legacy,” Joseph Califano, Jr., the former secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under President Jimmy Carter, said in a statement, “will be the trained generations of professionals who will carry on his work and the thousands of lives that have been saved.”

Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment

Everyone working in the field of addiction today owes Dr. Kleber a debt of gratitude for his tireless efforts in the area of addiction. Who knows how different things would be today if it were not for the advancements he helped bring about, he was one of the catalysts who helped create the paradigm shift in society viewing addiction as a disease. When asked how he kept his head up after working with alcoholics and addicts for so long, Dr. Kleber quoted the Talmud:

“The day is short. The task is difficult. It is not our duty to finish it, but we are forbidden not to try.” 

Please contact the Haven at Pismo if you are struggling with drugs and alcohol, and would like to begin the journey of recovery. We provide medically supervised top-quality care that utilizes evidence-based treatment modalities. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Mental Illness Awareness Week: Cure Stigma

cure stigma
Have you been tested for stigma? Yes, there is a test to see if you harbor misconceptions about mental illness and if you may be inadvertently contributing to other people’s reluctance to seek treatment. The fact is that, of the millions of Americans struggling with mental health disorders, many carry a lot of shame about their illness. Shame and guilt about living with the symptoms of psychological distress keep people in silence, unable to share with others about their problems. While stigma contributes to mental illness being a guarded secret among some, the good news is that unlike the disorder, stigma is 100 percent curable.

It is a fact that humans are afraid of what they don’t understand. Men and women fear that which they lack knowledge about and as a result do and say things that keep others from reaching out for help. Nobody wants to be known as someone who struggles with a disease of the mind due to the pervasiveness of stigma; most people’s solution to the dilemma is to keep quiet and pretend that everything is under control. Meanwhile, symptoms worsen; life quality becomes dire. Moreover, when people feel like they have nowhere to turn for help, they are prone to make rash decisions that can be disastrous.

The National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) would like to set the record straight about mental health and help society grasp the dangers of ignoring the mental afflictions affecting people in the community. NAMI encourages everyone to help Cure Stigma; the organization points out that we can all help save lives by exercising compassion, empathy, and understanding.


Ending Stigma, Encouraging Treatment

Evidence-based treatments for addiction and other forms of mental illness are effective. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those living with such conditions feel discouraged about asking for help. In fact, almost 60% of adults with a mental health disorder didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year.

NAMI asks that we all take time to spread the message that stigma is curable and that treatment works during Mental Illness Awareness Week or MIAW. You are invited to follow this link and take a test to learn if you have been infected by stigma. The organization asks that you take to your social media accounts to share facts about diseases of the mind and exhibit compassion for those whose lives are in chaos. NAMI states:
There’s a virus spreading across America. It harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives. What virus are we talking about? It’s stigma. Stigma against people with mental health conditions. But there’s good news. Stigma is 100% curable. Compassion, empathy and understanding are the antidote. Your voice can spread the cure. Join NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Together we can #CureStigma.


Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Today is a perfect day to take action if you haven’t already, seeing as it is World Mental Health Day, October 10, 2018. Together, we can spread the message that no one is at fault for his or her mental health condition. It is worth noting that of the 20.2 million adults in America who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5 percent (10.2 million adults) had a co-occurring mental illness.

The Haven at Pismo is fully equipped to treat men and women living with an alcohol or substance use disorder and co-occurring mental illness like depression or bipolar disorder. Please contact us to learn more about our program. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today!