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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Myths and Facts About PTSD

There’s tons of research about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and yet myths abound. Dispelling these myths is important, however. Not only will it help ease the stigma attached to PTSD but it will also encourage those suffering from PTSD to get help. 

In honor of National PTSD awareness month this June, we’re talking about three common myths about PTSD – and the real facts, according to the PTSD alliance.

Myth #1: PTSD only affects military veterans. 
Certainly PTSD is common among veterans, but anyone can develop PTSD and at any age, even children. According to research, 70 percent of Americans will experience some type of major trauma within their lives and, of that group, 20 percent will develop PTSD symptoms. It might also be surprising to discover that women have a higher risk than men. In fact, they are two times more likely to experience PTSD symptoms. One possible explanation: Women are often more susceptible to traumatic events like domestic violence and rape.

Myth #2: PTSD happens immediately after a traumatic event and your risk lessens as time passes. 
PTSD symptoms often happen within three months after the traumatic event and can happen continuously for years. It can also take months or even years for symptoms to arise and these symptoms can come and go throughout the years. PTSD is often tricky as it’s difficult to recognize the symptoms, especially if some time has passed since the trauma, and it’s often mistaken for depression. 

Myth #3: PTSD is just mental weakness. People should just “get over” traumatic events of life.
This is perhaps the most damaging myth that exists regarding PTSD. While many people experience trauma and then return to a normal life after a period of time, some individuals develop PTSD depending on the type, severity and longevity of the trauma experienced. In addition, the following factors play a role:
  • Personality traits
  • How the brain releases chemicals to combat stress
  • Whether the individual experienced childhood trauma
  • Lack of social support 
Treating Addiction and PTSD
Yet another myth may be that drinking and doing drugs can help ease symptoms of PTSD. In fact, this type of self-medicating can worsen symptoms and decrease functioning across many areas of life. Luckily, proper treatment can help. Contact us today to learn more about how The Haven at Pismo can help you or your loved one break the cycle of addiction and manage the symptoms of PTSD without resorting to self-medicating. Call: 805-202-3440.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

PTSD Awareness Month: Encouraging Treatment and Recovery

Most people who struggle with addiction have a co-occurring mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When a person suffers from two conditions simultaneously it is referred to as a dual diagnosis; the symptoms of each problem exacerbate one another, making the prospects of recovery more complicated. People will often use drugs and alcohol to assuage the symptoms of their dual pathology; for a time, self-medication can have the desired effect, but in the end, the ameliorating effects of substance use are always fleeting.

Believe it or not, individuals who make the courageous decision to seek treatment are, in many cases, unaware that they meet the criteria for a separate mental illness. Upon arriving at a treatment center, people maintain that they are just there to nip their alcohol or substance use in the bud. Such people soon find out that there is more to their story than run-of-the-mill addiction; and, if steps are not taken to address a dual diagnosis, lasting progress is unlikely.

It is vital that treatment centers address both mental health conditions simultaneously if long-term recovery is to be made a reality. Multiple psychological health disorders accompany addiction; during June, it is critical that we discuss PTSD in particular. We are now nearly halfway through PTSD Awareness Month; hopefully, you will join us in our efforts to disseminate the message that there are effective treatments available for this most debilitating mental illness.

PTSD Doesn’t Just Affect Veterans

Over the centuries the condition that we now refer to as PTSD has gone by many names; there are a few that you have likely heard of before: melancholy, battle fatigue, and shell shock. Post-traumatic stress has been called a host of things, but one thing that is consistent is the symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, one does not have to experience combat to experience the kind of trauma that can result in post-traumatic stress. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 6 of every ten men and 5 of every ten women experience at least one trauma in their lives; about 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.

Witnessing a horrific event or being assaulted, for example, can leave a lasting mark on people’s psyche. When people experience something too difficult for their mind to handle a change occurs; they may find it difficult to be in certain situations for years to come. PTSD symptoms include:
  • Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms): Memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place.
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event: You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
  • Negative changes in beliefs and feelings: The way you think about yourself and others changes because of the trauma.
  • Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal): You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. You might suddenly become angry or irritable.
Individuals who experience the above symptoms must receive treatment; a failure to address one’s symptoms can lead to self-harm and self-defeating behaviors. As was mentioned earlier, such people are likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms; the practice of self-medication often results in substance dependence and use disorders. Conversely, people with alcohol and substance use disorders often experience traumatic events that can lead to PSTD; alcoholics and addicts find themselves in precarious situations, regularly. It doesn’t matter which condition comes first; what is essential is that both disorders are treated.


Co-Occurring Treatment

The Haven at Pismo can help you or your loved one break the cycle of addiction and assist you in learning how to manage the symptoms of PTSD without resorting to self-medicating. Please contact us today to find out more information about our program.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Reading In Addiction Recovery

It doesn’t take long for people new to a program of recovery to figure out that they will be doing a lot of reading. Whether it’s reading educational handouts from treatment centers and therapists, or program-approved literature, much time is spent flipping through pages. At the end of the day, embarking upon a journey of recovery requires unlearning past behaviors through learning new modalities of being. How one thinks, acts, and sees the world in recovery should be completely different from one’s existence in active addiction; in order to accomplish the task of living for long-term recovery, people need to be committed to changing most things in their life. One way to achieve such goals is to learn from those who came before; you can mine a lot of valuable information from the experiences of others.

In recovery, you are not alone; together you can bring about a paradigm shift for the better. Those who attend meetings of recovery on the regular hear about what others do to say clean and sober; such people learn what works, and more importantly what doesn’t. The goal is to take valuable lessons from other peoples’ experiences and adapt them to suit your needs for leading a productive life.

Of course, you can’t always be in a meeting or on the phone with your sponsor or recovery mentor; after you have read through program-sanctioned literature, you will want to broaden your horizons before rereading those materials. Keeping your program fresh depends on finding insight from other sources; and, the good news is that many people have written on the subject of addiction and recovery.

Reading for Recovery

Two weeks from now marks the beginning of summer which means that some of you will have some time to travel or relax on the beach. You might find that this an excellent time to glean some insight from people in recovery who have written about leading a life in recovery. There is a lot to choose from, some things written by addicts and alcoholics, while others come from parents and experts in the field of addiction medicine.

Those of you in the earliest stages of recovery should exercise some caution when deciding what to read. As you can probably imagine, some books might include sections that are difficult to handle while you are still fragile. What’s more, you don’t want to read anything that might elicit cravings or worse, trigger a relapse. If you are thinking about reading something that delves into the subject of addiction, ask your support group beforehand; they may have some insight to impart to you about the book. On another note, books you read in early recovery do not have to deal with addiction, per se; you can always get a lot out for books that focus on overcoming hardship and the human quest for making sense of existence. Below you will find a few examples that might help you on the road of recovery:

The Precious Present (1984) by Spencer Johnson, M.D.: A short read, this book is perfect for people in recovery who struggle with focusing on the here and now. Staying present is a vital component of recovery, this book could prove invaluable to your program.

"The precious present has nothing to do with wishing. The richness of the precious present comes from its own source. The precious present is not something that someone gives you. It is something that you give to yourself." 

Man’s Search for Meaning (1946) by Viktor Frankl: Another short book with much to offer about overcoming adversity and finding a higher power. While the writing deals with the Holocaust and some of the horrors that made up that chapter of history, the text belongs to a list of the ten most influential books in the United States.

“What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our question must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.” 

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath (2018) by Leslie Jamison: This might be a book more for individuals who have been in the program for some time. Jamison’s book asks and answers some hard questions about getting clean and sober. Many people tell themselves that if they find recovery then they will have to sacrifice their art, Jamison begs to differ. Goodreads writes:

“With its deeply personal and seamless blend of memoir, cultural history, literary criticism, and journalistic reportage, The Recovering turns our understanding of the traditional addiction narrative on its head, demonstrating that the story of recovery can be every bit as electrifying as the train wreck itself. Leslie Jamison deftly excavates the stories we tell about addiction--both her own and others'--and examines what we want these stories to do, and what happens when they fail us.”


Addiction Treatment

The Haven at Pismo can help you or your loved one break the cycle of addiction and assist you in learning how to manage the symptoms of a co-occurring mental health disorder without resorting to self-medicating. Please contact us today to find out more information about our program.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Pot and Opioids Rival Alcohol in Fatal Car Crashes

drug-impaired drivingIf you think driving on opioids or after smoking pot is no big deal, think again. Driving while under the influence of these drugs can be almost as deadly as drinking and driving, according to a new report. 

In fact, the latest figures from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) show that 44 percent of drivers killed in crashes tested positive for drugs in 2016 – with 38 percent having marijuana in their system, 16 percent opioids and 4 percent both.

"Too many people operate under the false belief that marijuana or opioids don't impair their ability to drive, or even that these drugs make them safer drivers," Jonathan Adkins, GHSA executive director, said in an association news release.

"Busting this myth requires states to expand their impaired driving campaigns to include marijuana and opioids along with alcohol, to show drivers that impairment is impairment, regardless of substance," he added.

This is not without challenges, however. For one, drivers need to be tested for a large number of drugs and right now there’s no nationally accepted way of testing drivers for drugs. Also, different drugs have different effects on individual drivers depending on how they act in the brain. For example, marijuana can impair judgment of time and distance, decrease coordination, poor reaction time and increase lane weaving, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). And mixing pot with alcohol can cause even more impairment. 

This brings us to yet another challenge: Many drivers mix drugs and alcohol. In 2016, 49 percent who tested positive for alcohol also tested positive for drugs, according to the news release.

"Alcohol-impaired driving and drug-impaired driving can no longer be treated as separate issues,” Ralph Blackman, president and CEO of, a foundation that promotes responsible use of alcohol, told HealthDay. “To curb impaired driving, we have to think about the combination of substances drivers are often putting into their systems at the same time."

So what’s the solution? For now, the Governors Highway Safety Association and have teamed up to train nearly 1,000 police officers to recognize and deter drugged drivers.

Getting Help for Drug or Alcohol Abuse
The best way to keep yourself and others safe on the road is to get help if you have a problem with alcohol or drugs. The Haven at Pismo provides a continuum of care that includes medical detox, residential programs for men and women, partial hospitalization, and outpatient programs. If you or a loved one is showing signs of a substance use disorder, call today: 805-202-3440. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Raising Awareness About Mental Health and Addiction

mental health disorder
The disease of addiction is not a simple matter; it doesn’t merely affect the addict or alcoholic, the condition impacts the entire family. Healing is possible for anyone who is willing to take proactive steps and seek assistance. However, it is a troubling reality that some individuals are unable to manage a program of recovery; this is especially true for the more than half of all people living with the disease who also struggle with a co-occurring mental illness.

It’s paramount for persons living with alcohol and substance use disorders to receive simultaneous treatment for their use disorder and dual diagnosis to achieve lasting progress. Depression often goes hand-in-hand with the disease of addiction complicating people’s ability to affect change in their own lives. Failing to manage depressive symptoms properly, or lacking the necessary coping skills, significantly increases the likelihood of alcohol and substance use relapse.

Dual diagnosis cases are veritable snake-eating-its-tail scenarios. One may learn how to manage their addiction with the aid of a recovery program only to have their hard work compromised by a co-occurring mental health disorder. Conversely, those using drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms of depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for instance, end up exacerbating their psychological manifestations. Self-medication is never a viable method for managing mental illness.

Raising Awareness About Mental Health, Addiction, and Suicide

On May 18, 2017, the frontman of Soundgarden, Chris Cornell, took his life after battling addiction and depression for years. A couple of months later on July 20, 2017, Linkin Park singer and songwriter Chester Bennington committed suicide, as well. As with Cornell, depression, and addiction were mitigating factors in Bennington’s death. Now, roughly a year later, actions are underway to prevent other people from suffering similar fates.

Chris’ widow, Vicky Cornell, is doing her part to help people living with mental illness by launching the Addiction Resource Center (ARC), Yahoo News reports. ARC is an online resource for anyone living with the disease of addiction and their families; the campaign provides the Addiction Resource Line (ARL), which connects those struggling with mental illness with mental health clinicians and peer recovery support advocates.

"Addiction is a preventable and treatable disease,” Mrs. Cornell said in a statement. "While it’s too late to bring Chris back, it’s not too late for millions of other people who are struggling with addiction."

Talinda Bennington, Chester’s widow, is also using her husband's passing as an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health disorders and suicide via social media, according to the article. “If my husband's death saves one life, then it's not in vain,” says Talinda Bennington. We can all play a role in helping others find recovery.

When we have conversations about mental illness, we break down the stigma that accompanies such conditions, in turn, encouraging people to break their silence and seek help.


Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

The Haven at Pismo can help you or your loved one break the cycle of addiction and assist you in learning how to manage the symptoms of a co-occurring mental health disorder without resorting to self-medicating. Please contact us today to find out more information about our program.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Right Friends for Your Recovery

friends for recoveryA big part of a successful recovery is being surrounded by a solid support group – and this includes the right type of friends. Embracing a healthy life requires making an effort to meet positive people who will support your sobriety and help you to create new exciting memories. 

Putting your new sober self out there socially takes courage, but you can do it. Here’s a little help: 
  • Sign up for a sport or hobby: Check your area for any local running groups, yoga classes, cooking courses or another activity that will allow you to meet like-minded people. You could also consider volunteering, which is a great way to give back to the community and expand your network of friends.
  • Practice, practice, practice: The more you talk to new people, the easier it will become. Try to really make an ongoing effort to make new friends and then keep those relationships going. Like everything else worthwhile in life, creating new friendships takes practice. 
  • Be yourself: It’s likely easier said than done but try to put your best foot forward and be yourself. If you’re worried about getting tongue-tied or saying something stupid, consider doing some role playing with a loved one or trusted friend.
  • Put on your event planner hat: Whether you invite some friends for coffee or a walk in the park, taking the initiative to arrange a get-together will go a long way in showing new friends you’d like to get to know them better. 
  • Be patient: Building friendships is not an overnight process, so be patient and remember each day in recovery is a new chance to become a better friend and a better you! 
Continual Growth at Complete Harmony
Our team of credentialed clinicians helps you explore your own recovery journey while learning to heal relationships and build a sober social network. For more information about our cutting edge treatments, call us today: 866-930-4673.

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.