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Thursday, May 17, 2018

NPW: Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana

National Prevention Week
May is Mental Health Month, and this is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Prevention Week (NPW). With summer closing in, SAMHSA is using this opportunity to raise awareness about behavioral health issues and to implement alcohol and substance use prevention strategies. There are several ways that organizations, communities, schools can join forces to educate young people about the value of abstaining from drugs and alcohol.

Addiction can develop in individuals when they are young; research shows that those adolescents and young adults who initiate substance use are at a heightened risk of use disorder. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that young people have several misconceptions about drugs and alcohol, particularly regarding the use of marijuana. For instance, a statistically relevant number of teens believe that cannabis use carries little risk; a mindset that is reinforced by states relaxing their stance on marijuana.

Teenagers, young adults, and parents alike, must understand that "legal" doesn’t mean safe. Cannabis can have a detrimental effect on developing brains, and regular use of the drug can result in cannabis use disorder or marijuana addiction. It is not widely known that habitual “pot” smokers often experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to abstain. It is vital that efforts are taken to disseminate the facts on cannabis use and implore teens to exercise caution.

Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana

The primary theme of National Prevention Week is: Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow. The steps that communities will take today to prevent substance use and reinforce positive mental health, will pay off exponentially down the road. The events this week include a variety of sub-themes, including:
  • Monday, May 14: Promotion of Mental Health & Wellness
  • Tuesday, May 15: Prevention of Underage Drinking & Alcohol Misuse
  • Wednesday, May 16: Prevention of Prescription & Opioid Drug Misuse
  • Thursday, May 17: Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana
  • Friday, May 18: Prevention of Suicide
  • Saturday, May 19: Prevention of Youth Tobacco Use
Today’s theme is: Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana. Among 18 to 22-year olds, research shows that first-time use of marijuana spikes during the summer months of June and July. Right now, teens and college students are still in class; but, they will not be for much longer. National Prevention Week is a perfect opportunity to talk with American youths about drug use and encourage them to take part in the NPW Prevention Challenge: Dear Future Me. SAMHSA asks young people:

“What would you say to your future self about what you’re doing today to ensure a healthier tomorrow?"



Taking part in the challenge is fairly straightforward; and, those who get involved not only help themselves, they encourage others to take action today for a healthier tomorrow. You can find the guidelines below:

  1. Write a letter or draw a picture about the choices you’re making to live a healthy, happy life.
  2. Take a picture of your letter or record a video of yourself reading your letter.
  3. Share it on social media using the hashtag #DearFutureMe and #NPW2018.
  4. Tag a few friends so they can participate and add their Dear Future Me letter to the NPW conversation.
  5. Share any or all of the Dear Future Me videos on social media to encourage others to participate as well.
Please watch a short video below to get a feel for the challenge:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

The more you can do to protect your future, the better! It is likely that some people are not comfortable with sharing their thoughts on this critical subject matter, and that is OK; however, there are still myriad things you can do today for your future's sake. Even if you have begun experimenting with drugs and alcohol, you can take steps to pivot away from such behaviors and ensure that an unhealthy relationship with substances doesn't develop.


Young Adult Addiction Treatment

If you are a young adult who is struggling with an alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact The Haven at Pismo. We can help you begin a life-saving journey of addiction recovery. We provide a continuum of care, including medical detox, gender-specific residential programs, and outpatient programs.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Strengthening Your Addiction Recovery Through Service

addiction recovery
In early recovery, many people often find themselves with more time than they know what to do with; thanks to no longer having to dedicate nearly every waking hour to fueling their disease. No longer having to figure out how you're going to keep from going into withdrawal frees up a massive chunk of your day allowing you to focus on making progress. Having some downtime is not inherently dangerous, provided however that people in recovery use those hours productively, i.e., going to meetings, socializing with others in one’s support network, and exercising. Of course, it is unrealistic to expect those who are working a program will always be at a meeting, so it's vital that individuals in recovery seek out new ways to fill their time.

If you are a person committed to keeping the disease of addiction at bay, then you have probably come to the realization that your head isn’t the safest place in which to loiter. Meaning, when you have nothing “to do” you might be apt to ruminate about the past or the future unless you find ways to stay busy. Since most people's recovery history is laden with painful experiences, spending too much time thinking about it can be risky. On the other end, spending inordinate amounts of time dreaming of what the future holds can lead to restlessness and impatience; after all, the gift and blessings of recovery can take a stretch to manifest. Simply put, it is paramount for those in the program to stay in the here-and-now, the “precious present.”

Once in the program, it can take some time for individuals to figure out how to stay productive, even when it seems like you don’t have to occupy time. A good number of people will choose to fill up free space in their schedule, particularly in the evening, with television. Others might opt to read some recovery-related material, which is always a healthier choice than TV. There is a number of things that you can choose to do that will help you stay present, although some activities can strengthen your recovery.

Staying Present in Recovery

In the first six months to a year of peoples’ sobriety, it is wise to adhere firmly to the suggestions proffered in treatment and from your support group. Recommendations which could include doing step work (e.g., Fourth Step Inventory), reading your Big Book, meetings, prayer, and meditation. The goal is to immerse yourself in living an entirely new way, leading a life that doesn’t revolve around selfish and self-defeating behaviors. Dedicating yourself to following the lead of others will better protect you from doing anything that could jeopardize your program.

After months of doing many of the same things repetitively, your actions become second nature. The things you do day-in-and-day-out for recovery will commence without having to think about it. While such a reality is a good thing, there are some who may start to feel like their life today is a touch mundane and tedious; this is a feeling that many people share after being clean and sober for a time. If you've begun feeling that way about your life today, it is critical that you take steps to invigorate your program and one of the best ways to accomplish this is through being of service to others.

There are a good many ways that you can help your program and add color to your life through helping others, both inside the “rooms” and out. If you have a significant amount of idle time during your week, perhaps you might look for volunteering opportunities in your area. Giving back to your community is an excellent way to break up the monotony of the week. Another way you can give back is by volunteering to offer a ride to a "newcomer" who finds it difficult to get to a meeting; or, invite somebody new to get coffee after attending your “homegroup.” Whenever you are in service to others, you are not in service to your addiction.

Addiction Treatment

During National Nurses Week we would like to honor every nurse who has selflessly volunteered their time, caring and showing compassion for those struggling with addiction. Nurses are an invaluable asset to the field of addiction medicine. At The Haven, we thank you for your service!

The Haven at Pismo can help you or a loved one begin a life-saving journey of addiction recovery. We provide a continuum of care, including medical detox, gender-specific residential programs, and outpatient programs. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs. 805-202-3440.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Mental Health Month: The Gut-Mental Health Link

gut-mental health linkMay is Mental Health Month and, as part of its Fitness #4Mind4Body theme, Mental Health America (MHA) is spreading awareness about the gut-brain connection. Or, simply put, how a happy gut translates into a happier you. More and more research is revealing the mental health benefits of a healthy gut population of beneficial bacteria. One theory is that healthy gut bacteria increases blood levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that increases brain levels of the mood-boosting chemical serotonin (which are often low in people with depression).

And, in fact, there’s a strong relationship between having mental health problems and having gastrointestinal symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, pain, constipation and/or diarrhea. This is because anxiety and depression can cause changes in the gut microbiome, according to MHA. 

Several factors contribute to the health of your gut microbiome – like your environment, exercise, sleep and stress – but eating a balanced and nutritious diet is the most important thing you can do to keep your gut healthy.

Start with these gut-friendly diet tips from MHA: 
  • Eat a diet full of whole grains, lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables.
  • Skip sugary, fried, or processed foods and soft drinks.
  • Fill up on prebiotic foods like asparagus, bananas (especially if they aren’t quite ripe), garlic, onions, jicama, tomatoes, apples, berries and mangos.
  • Add probiotic foods to your diet, including yogurt (live or active cultures), unpasteurized sauerkraut and kimchi, miso soup, kefir, kombucha (fermented black tea), tempeh (made of soy beans) and apple cider vinegar.
  • Consider probiotic supplements. Make sure the type of bacteria is listed on the bottle – Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are common – and that the label says that the bacteria are live and there are billions of colony forming units (CFUs).
Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment
The Haven at Pismo offers clients with co-occurring addiction and mental illness a continuum of care in one recovery program. To learn more about our integrated dual-diagnosis treatment program, call us today: 805-202-3440. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Treating Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

co-occurring disorders
April was an important month regarding alcohol use disorder, treatment, and substance misuse prevention. The month of April was Alcohol Awareness Month, last week was National Addiction Treatment Week, and this past Saturday Americans did their part to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs safely. It should go without saying that the effort to combat stigma and encourage people to seek treatment is a year-round mission; millions of people are still struggling and don’t feel that they can reach out for help without consequence. Even though the events of April have come and gone, this is an equally critical month; in fact, May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Alcohol and substance use disorders are forms of mental illness; and, like any mental health condition, there isn’t a cure for addiction. Fortunately, there are effective, science-based treatments that can help individuals break the cycle of addiction and learn ways to cope in life without resorting to drugs and alcohol. Adopting a program of recovery is not a simple task, it is an enormous commitment; yet, with help, the burden becomes lighter and long-term recovery is possible.

As was pointed out above, addiction is a mental illness; it is worth mentioning that a vast number of people suffering from addiction, also contend with a co-occurring mental health disorder. As a matter of fact, of some 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder in 2014, 50.5% (10.2 million adults) also met the criteria for dual diagnosis. Persons affected by both addiction, as well as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, require treatment that addresses both conditions simultaneously. Treating one illness and not the other, significantly impacts treatment outcomes.

Mental Health: Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

Long-term alcohol and drug use take a severe toll on both mind and body. In many cases, addiction precedes the onset of a condition such as depression; however, in other cases, individuals began using substances in order to cope with the symptoms of their mental illness. Self-medication may help people contend with their symptoms initially but over time the reverse is seen, and addiction often develops. Drug and alcohol use exacerbates the symptoms of mental illness in the long run.

The order, addiction before depression, or vice versa, is important insofar as how clinicians go about treating one individual from the next. What’s most salient though is that both the use disorder and dual diagnosis receive concurrent treatment. In some situations, people struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder learn that they meet the criteria for another mental health condition while in treatment.

Learning that another disease is at play, and may have been all along, can be an illuminating realization. Such discoveries help clients understand some of the reasons for their use and abuse. Knowing why you feel the way you do gives one the ability to take nondestructive steps to cope with their symptoms of depression, anxiety, et al.; in turn, mitigating the risk of acting on cravings and experiencing a relapse. Managing both illnesses together is the best path to lasting recovery.


Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

The Haven at Pismo offers an integrated dual-diagnosis treatment program that addresses clients’ addiction and co-occurring disorder in one recovery program. Mental Health Month is a perfect opportunity to reach out for help and begin the remarkable, life-saving journey of recovery. We provide a continuum of care, including medical detox, gender-specific residential programs, and outpatient programs. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs. 805-202-3440.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Your Recovery Support Network is Vital

Those who complete a residential or intensive outpatient program are taught valuable lessons and learn how to use tools for navigating through life in recovery. Steering clear of drugs and alcohol is no easy feat to accomplish; those set on long-term progress must be ever-vigilant, and recovery has to come first. Always! Triggers are everywhere, after all; how you react to them is of critical importance. In early recovery, picking up the phone and calling for assistance versus acting on a craving is extremely difficult. With that in mind, it is crucial that you take steps to avoid any and all things that can precipitate a relapse.

One of the surest ways to distance yourself from risky situations is to stick close to your support network on a daily basis, particularly in your first year of recovery. Those who are apt to succeed at achieving lasting recovery are people who communicate each day with at least one person who is also working a program; such people could be your sponsor, recovery coach, or one of your peers who is walking the Path with determination, too. Communication is a pillar of progress; when you talk about what is going on mentally and emotionally with another person it is less likely that you will act on an impulse to use. What’s more, through discussing your issues you are better able to find a resolution.

It is worth reminding yourself on a daily basis that success rests on altering, adjusting, or correcting anything in your life that is not conducive to recovery. After treatment, many people find that they still have desires that are not in accord with their goal, i.e., making contact with old friends or visiting places that one associates with past alcohol and substance use. Such urges are people’s addiction trying to return to the spotlight, the disease vying for your attention. Please resist the temptation to make any form of contact with the people with whom you used drugs and alcohol; today, you are charting a different course than those individuals, interaction with such people with only bring trouble.


Acting In Accord With Recovery


In early recovery it is only natural to have many questions; remember, after living in active addiction for “X” years it stands to reason that most of what you are doing today is foreign. You learned many valuable teachings in treatment, but some of the most salient lessons have yet to occur. When the protective guard rails of rehab are no longer beside you, then you must depend on others in recovery to keep from veering off course.

If you find yourself unsure if a given behavior or action will jeopardize your program, just ask someone with more time than you—they too have been in your shoes. There is no such thing as a wrong question in recovery; however, those who are unwilling to ask questions set themselves up to make the wrong decision. There are many uncertainties in early addiction recovery and a plethora of obstacles that can stand in your way; reaching out to others and heeding their suggestions will help you stay grounded and on track.

Are you getting to enough meetings? Have you spent time with or made a phone call to someone in recovery lately? If not, please take steps to engage with your peers and be a part of recovery. You get as much out of a program as you invest; there is not a cure for the disease of addiction, continued maintenance is a non-negotiable requirement for progress.


Addiction Treatment

The Haven at Pismo can help anyone struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder. We provide a continuum of care, including medical detox, gender-specific residential programs, and outpatient programs. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs. 805-202-3440.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

prescription opioids
It’s been nearly two decades since the American opioid addiction epidemic began. The crisis is the result, most experts agree, of changes made in how physicians treat and manage patient pain. Up until the late 1990s doctors were extremely reticent about prescribing high doses of opioid painkillers for extended periods of time. Then, concerns about patient comfort and subsequent quality of life led primary care providers to literally “flip the `script;” overprescribing became less of a rarity and practically the rule.

Most people are aware of the dangers of prescription narcotics today, thanks in part to constant media coverage of the devastation wreaked upon the nation from the use of drugs like OxyContin. More than 64,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Wonder database. It probably will not come as a surprise to learn that the majority of overdoses stem from prescription opioids.

It can be easy to conclude that the people dying prematurely from overdose are “hardened” drug addicts; this is due to the ever-persistent stigma of addiction. However, and in many cases, overdose victims are young adults who had the misfortune of being introduced to the substances via a friend or a family member. While opioids are the number one offender in the home medicine cabinet, the general public must not lose sight of the fact that any narcotic a doctor prescribes can precipitate disastrous consequences, such as addiction and overdose. More than 30 percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines like Xanax or Ativan.


National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The medicine cabinet is often a repository of some of the most harmful drugs, to be sure. The good news is that WE all have the power to help prevent addiction and save lives. This Saturday is the 15th DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Given that the majority of abused prescription drugs are acquired from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet, it is clear that the onus is on everyone to help stem the tide.

Please take a moment to watch a short PSA on the subject:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Do you know that:
  • The non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as the most common form of drug abuse in America.
  • The majority of teenagers abusing prescription drugs get them from family and friends — and the home medicine cabinet.
  • Unused prescription drugs thrown in the trash can be retrieved and abused or illegally sold. Unused drugs that are flushed contaminate the water supply. Proper disposal of unused drugs saves lives and protects the environment.
Prescription narcotics are a public health issue that must be a priority. If you have unused or unwanted drugs that carry habit-forming potential, please use the DEA’s collection site locator to find out where to go in your area. If you are unable to get to a drop site this Saturday, don’t worry, there are year-round locations you can find here.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

The Haven at Pismo can help anyone in the grips of opioid use disorder, whether it be OxyContin or heroin. We provide a continuum of care, including medical detox, gender-specific residential programs, and outpatient programs. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs. 805-202-3440.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Your Spring Recovery To-Do List

Springtime is full of fun and sober activities that can help your recovery and overall health. Here are a few good ones to add to your recovery to-do list this season.
spring recovery to-dos
  • Start your day with a morning walk or jog. When you exercise outdoors you get the mental health benefits of the physical activity itself as well as nature. Whether you choose to walk or jog – or a combination of both – adding outdoor exercise to your spring recovery routine is a great way to fend off stress, be more upbeat and heal your physical and mental self from past trauma. 
  • Plant a garden. Not only is gardening a great form of physical exercise – one hour is equivalent to roughly 35 minutes of jogging – but it’s also a great mental workout. And you don’t even need a green thumb to reap the recovery benefits, which include more patience, persistence and better planning.
  • Head to your farmer’s market. Stock up on spring produce – asparagus, fava beans, strawberries – to fuel your brain and body for the hard work of recovery. And while you’re there, why not treat yourself to some beautiful fresh flowers or herbs to spice up your cooking.
  • Go for a hike. There’s nothing quite like an afternoon with Mother Nature to reduce your mind’s propensity to “ruminate” — or focus on negative, self-focused patterns linked with anxiety and depression. 
  • Read under a tree. Building a better sober life means finding activities that keep your mind busy and strong and a good book can certainly do that and more. Reading has been linked to many recovery benefits, including better sleep and less stress.
  • Spring clean your mental cobwebs. It’s the perfect season to open the windows, let the sun shine in and let go of all of those negative thoughts and worries cluttering your mind. You can start by jotting down three things you can do today to free up your mental space. 
Begin Holistic Addiction Treatment Today
Haven offers its clients a long list of holistic therapies that emphasize body, mind, and spiritual healing. To learn more about our alternative treatment avenues, call our admissions team at 805-202-3440.