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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!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

It's World Mental Health Day

Mental Health DayTomorrow is World Mental Health Day, held each year on October 10 to highlight issues of global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against the social stigma of mental health illnesses, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

If you or someone you care about is struggling with mental illness, then you know just how important it is to shine a spotlight on the issue. And this is especially important if you’re in recovery from a co-occurring addiction and mental illness. Individuals with a substance use disorder are twice as likely as the general population to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders, notes the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And many of these co-occurring disorders predate the start of drug or alcohol use.

This year’s theme of World Mental Health Day is young people and mental health. Half of all mental health conditions begin by age 14, and most cases are undetected or untreated. This could lead self-medication, addiction and even suicide. In fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death in young adults age 15–19.

According to WHO, mental health promotion and prevention are key to helping both adolescents and adults thrive. So what can you do to take part in World Mental Health Day? Well, first and foremost carve out time to check in with yourself. How are you feeling emotionally? Are you taking enough time to nourish your mind, body and spirit? Think about what you can do today – and every day – to ensure your caring for your mental health. 

And then reach out to someone else who may be struggling with depression, anxiety or addiction. No one should have to navigate mental illness alone. Let your friend or loved one know that "it's okay not to be okay," and that you are there for them and take time to really listen to how they’re feeling. 

Seeking Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders
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. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Opioid Addiction Legislation Finalized

opioid addiction
In a rare instance of bipartisan support, lawmakers in the U.S. Senate has finalized a version of a package of bills written to address the American opioid addiction epidemic, The Washington Post reports. It would seem that putting an end to the more than 100 overdose deaths each day is one of the only things that our elected officials can agree upon, and not a moment too soon. Last year, more than 70,000 men and women lost their lives to a fatal overdose. More than two million individuals are in the grips of an opioid use disorder, and millions more are wrestling with substance use-related problems.

While the Senate is right to hail their collective achievement to tackle opioid addiction, there are some doubts among experts that the package will accomplish its goal; we will address such concerns later in this article. The vote to pass the Senate opioid package came in at 98-1; last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of legislation 393 to 8, according to the article. All that remains left to do is for POTUS to sign the package, which is likely to happen any day now as lawmakers step up their efforts for reƫlection.

In the following passages, we will discuss some of the critical points of the legislation, what’s there and what is missing. A collaborative effort to address the Nation’s most severe public health crisis is crucial, especially concerning the ever-growing prevalence of synthetic opioids like fentanyl.


Tackling Opioid Addiction Requires Funding

First, let’s take a look at some of the most notable features of the package of legislation to address the opioid epidemic. The package calls for $8.5 billion for opioid-related programs this year to expand and reauthorize programs and policies across almost every federal agency. The primary targets of the various bills are prevention, treatment, and recovery. The key pieces of legislation include:
  • A measure creating a grant program for addiction treatment centers that include housing, life skills training, and mental and physical health care.
  • A bill altering a decades-old rule prohibiting Medicaid from covering patients with substance use disorders being treated in a mental health facility with more than 16 beds. 30 days of residential treatment coverage are now permissible.
  • Legislation requiring the U.S. Postal Service to screen packages for synthetic opioids coming from overseas, particularly China.
  • A bill increasing access to medication-assisted treatment, or MAT.
Even though some public health advocates support the package of bills, several experts have significant concerns over funding, the article reports. The $8.5 billion for opioid-related programs is for just one year and no assurances that the bills will find financing in the years to come. Some lawmakers have called for an exponential funding increase commensurate with what Congress appropriated to address the HIV and AIDS epidemic; interestingly, the opioid package is modeled on Congress’ response to HIV/AIDS in the 1990’s.

“This legislation edges us closer to treating addiction as the devastating disease it is, but it neglects to provide the long-term investment we’ve seen in responses to other major public health crises,” said Lindsey Vuolo, Associate Director of Health Law and Policy at Center on Addiction. “We won’t be able to make meaningful progress against the tide of addiction unless we make significant changes to incorporate addiction treatment into the existing health care system.”


Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

The Haven at Pismo can help you break the cycle of opioid addiction and give you the tools for leading a productive, meaningful life in recovery. Please reach out to us today to learn more about our medically supervised and top-quality care. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Finding Support In Recovery

It is probably fair to say that early recovery is a confusing time for everyone. Not only are men and women grappling with living without the crutch of drugs and alcohol for coping, newfound recovery demands that people make sense of how to best live for recovery. People can no longer maintain the status quo of existence they are familiar with; they must instead forge a different path, associate with new individuals, and entertain ways of looking at things that are unfamiliar.

Simply put, early recovery asks much of people, including eternal vigilance to adhere – as best as possible – to the principles of a program for living life free from mind-altering substances. Dedicating oneself to recovery is possible and maintaining a program of long-term sobriety is within reach for those willing to subscribe. Support networks and fellowship ameliorate the process of changing nearly every aspect of one's life in service to recovery.

Men and women in early recovery are not alone. Unlike when one is in the grips of active addiction, people with a commitment to sobriety have others in their corner willing to be of service. When old thinking crops up in a person’s mind, they do not have to bear it in solitude, hoping they can resist the temptation to use. Instead, those whose recovery comes into jeopardy can turn to their support group for guidance. Together, we can work through individual problems; by working the problem, we can find collective solutions.

Looking Outward for Inward Guidance in Recovery

Anyone in treatment, inpatient or otherwise, and transitional living learn to rely on their peers for guidance on navigating the often-turbulent waters of early sobriety. Such people are encouraged to turn to those who have been on the path longer than them, to learn how they handled situations that could upend one’s program. An excellent suggestion to adhere to in recovery: whenever a person is unsure of how to handle a situation, ask for advice. A support group, including one’s sponsor or other forms of recovery mentors, can impart valuable bits of wisdom that can help people decide, for instance, whether something can imperil a program.

Relapse is a fact of life, but it does not have to be a part of your story. Those who’ve recently embarked upon the Journey are sometimes inclined to keep things to him or herself; it is common to fear what others might think about you if you open yourself up, for varying reasons. We all have a natural desire to present ourselves as having it all together to our peers; some worry that if they are thinking incorrectly about some facet of the program, then they will be judged. Such fears are real in recovery. While an inclination to keep thoughts to oneself is understandable, they do little good. That’s not to say men and women should share with the entire group about sensitive subjects or things that confuse them about recovery; instead, it is paramount that each person has at least one other individual they can confide in for how to do the next “right” thing.


Transitioning Into Recovery

Early recovery is the perfect embodiment of transition. Moving out of the pernicious darkness of active addiction into the empowering light of recovery is a process. Healing doesn't happen overnight and does not make perfect that which is flawed; what it does do is provide a vehicle for men and women to manage the symptoms of mental illness so that may lead a fulfilling and productive life. Those who stay on track, follow direction and heed the wisdom of others have an opportunity to change their lives and affect change in the lives of others.

It is salient that each person new to sobriety set him or herself to task and establish a rapport with people they can confide in within their immediate support group. When in meetings or at groups in treatment or sober living, look for individuals who share a commensurate dedication with you to avoid the trappings of selfish thinking. Again, whenever there is uncertainty about what the next right move is in life—ask. Someone else has undoubtedly dealt with a similar situation. Together, lasting recovery is possible for all.

The Haven at Pismo strongly emphasizes to our clients the vital importance of supporting one and another, working together to lay a strong foundation for long-term sobriety. We offer detox and residential treatment on the Central Coast of California. Please contact us to learn how we can help you renew to your best today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Why Self-Confidence is Key to Your Recovery

Building self-confidence is core to a successful recovery. In short, when you feel good about you and your abilities, you’ll be better able to stick with your recovery and build a happy, fulfilling and sober life. 

Here’s a look at some of the many ways self-confidence plays a role in your recovery: 
  • You’ll have less fear and anxiety. The more confidence you gain, the better you’ll be at calming your inner critic and/or any negative thoughts and feelings that could cause anxiety or depression or prevent you from sticking with your recovery. 
  • You’ll be more motivated. As your confidence grows – and as you meet your recovery goals – you’ll find yourself more driven to stretch your abilities. Certainly, you may still experience doubt from time to time – What if I fail? – but your doubt will no longer prevent you from trying. Instead, you’ll feel energized by your progress and more apt to push yourself to reach your goals. 
  • You’ll be more resilient. Self-confidence helps you better cope with any setbacks (small or big) in your recovery. This is because confidence makes it easier to accept that mistakes happen and that you can learn and grow from any mistakes you make on the journey toward lasting sobriety.  
  • You’ll have better relationships. The more self-confidence you have, the less preoccupied you’ll be with your own self-doubt. This will prevent you from comparing yourself to others and/or feeling worried about how others view you. In turn, you’ll have more energy to focus on the interactions and bonds you can form with others and be a more present friend, family member or recovery peer.   
Let’s Work to Build Your Confidence Together
At Haven, we can help you gain self-confidence and learn the skills needed to create a sober life worth living. To learn about our cutting edge treatments and addiction services, call us today: 805-202-3440.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Calling Alcohol A Drug

The optics on alcohol are quite tricky. On the one hand, the substance is legal for adult consumption and sold practically everywhere; on the other, no amount of alcohol is safe, and prolonged use can cause a host of medical problems. People who use alcohol in hazardous ways often attempt to distance themselves from those who use drugs. After all, many people in recovery via Alcoholics Anonymous still frown upon people at meetings mentioning drug use. For many decades, those seeking recovery were encouraged only to listen at meetings, if their problems stem from drug addiction.

While many AA meetings around the country and ostensibly abroad take a more enlightened approach when it comes to the members with a history of substance use, there exists a pervasive mindset that drugs and alcohol are somehow diametric. While each person probably has their reasons for viewing whiskey differently than heroin (including the general public), at the end of the day alcohol can bring individuals to abysmal lows just like any drug that carries the risk of addiction.

Changing how the public looks at drugs and alcohol is a progressive step worth discussing. One could easily argue that the stereotypes that follow addicts around are far more vitriolic than those tied to alcoholism. Most people hear about "functioning" alcoholics, few people hear about functioning heroin addicts. Despite the disparity in optics, more people succumb to alcohol-related illness each year than from drug use. An estimated 2.8 million deaths every year can be attributed to alcohol use, according to the British Medical Journal. A new editorial in the BMJ says it’s time to start calling alcohol what it is, a drug.


Treating Alcohol As a Drug

The experts writing in the BMJ argue that recognizing alcohol as a drug could have important benefits for public health, serving to strengthen policy responses to harms caused by addiction industries. Professors Kypros Kypri of The University of Newcastle and Jim McCambridge of The University of New York wrote:  

Alcohol, actually ethanol (C2H5OH), is a psychoactive molecule ingested by 2.4 billion people globally. A central nervous system depressant, it exists naturally and can be produced in people’s homes. Any alcohol consumption confers health risks, including for a range of cancers, and any possible cardiovascular benefits are smaller than was previously understood. Alcohol harms users through intoxication, organ toxicity, and addiction, which cause an estimated 2.8 million deaths every year. In a recent systematic review and meta-analysis the Global Burden of Disease Alcohol Collaborators concluded that the “the level of alcohol consumption that minimised harm across health outcomes was zero.”

Policy aside, it’s possible that lumping all mind-altering substances that carry the potential for addiction under one umbrella could help people in addiction recovery. Many people over the years have erroneously thought that they could continue using alcohol while in recovery for drugs, and vice versa. On a regular basis, newcomers will relapse on their substance of choice after first using something they never had problems with in the past. What is more, the disease excels at convincing men and women that dispensations can be made in recovery.


Addiction is Addiction is Addiction

Programs specific to assisting people recover are of vital importance and play an essential role in society. The way they operate is not the focus of this article. The salient focal point is the benefit of setting legality and stereotypes aside and helping more people see that alcohol is deadly addictive substance, the same as drugs. Helping people new to recovery understand that, no matter what program they subscribe to for guidance or what is spelled out in the name of such modalities, alcohol is a drug. If drugs bring a person to recovery, alcohol use must discontinue. If alcohol use results in needing outside help, the use of any mind-altering substance must stop too.

Please contact The Haven at Pismo if you are unable to stop drinking or using another kind of drug on your own. We can help you break the cycle of addiction and provide you with the skills and tools necessary for leading a productive and fulfilling life in recovery. The Haven is the perfect place to renew your best today!