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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!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Mental Health Treatment Prevents Suicide

mental illness
Right on the heels of announcing National Recovery Month, we have National Suicide Prevention Week; September is both Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Month. Various public health organizations, people working in the field of mental health, and millions of people in recovery are using this opportunity to start conversations about mental illness, treatment, and recovery. The hope is that more individuals will draw strength from men and women who have come out on the other side of mental diseases and are now managing their symptoms via therapy, medication, and support groups.

The vast majority of males and females living with mental health disorders like depression and addiction, never receive any treatment. What happens – as you probably know – is that people's conditions worsen over time and many individuals are then at risk of making drastic decisions. Some despairing men and women start to convince themselves that treatment and recovery are not possible, and as a result, they begin entertaining suicidal ideations rather than continuing living this way. Untreated anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, OCD, PTSD, and substance use disorder significantly increases a person’s risk for suicide.

In the depths of despair people struggling with mental illness develop the mindset that they are utterly alone in this world, that no one else can understand what they are experiencing. If such people knew that there are millions of people just like them – a statistically significant number of whom are actively working programs of recovery – they may find the strength to reach out for assistance. The truth is that far more people are affected by mental illness than most would think; according to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 300 million people around the world are living with depression.


Suicide Prevention Month

Mental health disorders have the power to isolate men and women from their family and friends, which is why we all have to work together to spread the message that recovery is possible; in the process, it is paramount that everyone exercises compassion for his or her fellow-persons in the throes of mental illness. When people access treatment, they receive instruction on how to manage their conditions and lead productive and fulfilling lives. The longer society continues to ignore and ostracize those struggling with psychological disorders, the less likely people will be to talk about their illness and ask for help.

On average, there are 123 suicides per day, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide, and for every person who commits suicide there are 25 attempts. Throughout the week and month, the AFSP asks that we all do our part to help reduce the startling figures above by talking with each other. When we have open, honest, and non-judgmental conversations with our friends, family, and co-workers, we have an opportunity to affect life-saving change. The organization writes:

“Although there is no single cause of suicide, one of the risks for suicide is social isolation, and there’s scientific evidence for reducing suicide risk by making sure we connect with one another.” 

Those of you with an interest in helping the cause to fight suicide this month should take a look at the AFSP website for more information on how to take action. There are several ways you can help even if you have limited resources or time, such as sharing about suicide prevention on your social media accounts. The AFSP also invites people to help #StopSuicide by sharing their connection to suicide prevention. Please follow the link to learn more.

Alcohol and Substance Use Disorder Treatment

One in four people who die by suicide are intoxicated at the time of their death. It stands to reason that many such individuals were struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder. Addiction is a treatable mental health condition; and, like any form of mental illness, sadly only 4 out of ten people receive mental health treatment. Addiction and co-occurring mental health disorder treatment work, people can and do recover from diseases of the mind when they believe it is possible and they learn how to manage their condition.

Please reach out to The Haven at Pismo if you are or a loved one is battling a use disorder or dual diagnosis. At our private haven, we are committed to integrity and excellence. We offer the perfect place to renew your best today!  

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Don’t Let Shame Stand in the Way of Your Recovery

While it’s perfectly normal to experience feelings of shame and guilt from time to time, it’s detrimental to your overall recovery (and your mental health) to dwell on those pesky feelings. 

According to a University of British Columbia study, those in recovery from alcohol use disorder who were ashamed of earlier drinking behaviors were more likely to relapse during recovery. Overcoming issues of shame and guilt will not only help safeguard your sobriety but it can increase your self-esteem and give you a better understanding of your addiction.

The first step in overcoming shame is to remind yourself that addiction is a disease; not a choice. While understanding this may not completely eliminate feelings of shame and guilt, it can be a good first step toward self-forgiveness for any past actions or behaviors that occurred during active addiction. 

4 Steps to Stop the Shame
Here are a few more tips to help prevent feelings of shame and guilt from interfering with your recovery: 

  1. Give it a positive spin. Positive affirmations are pretty powerful when it comes shifting negative thought patterns and stopping shame. Try it: Look in the mirror and say: “Today is a new chance for a better, sober life,” or whatever helps eliminate shame and strengthens your recovery. 
  2. Write it down. A journal is a great outlet to let go of any feelings of shame and focus on how far you’ve come in your recovery. There are no rules, so just start writing. 
  3. Focus on your breath. Feeling overwhelmed by guilt, shame or self-doubt? Close your eyes and inhale slowly and deeply for the count of 7. Now exhale slowly and let go of these negative emotions to make room for more positive ones. 
  4. Helping someone else. Volunteering is a great recovery activity that can help squash any negative feelings about yourself and turn your attention to the needs and feelings of others.  
Dealing With Emotions During Addiction Treatment 
Meditation is just one of the many holistic approaches we teach clients to help them stay positive, motivated and mentally strong as they journey toward sobriety. To learn more, call 805-202-3440.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Recovery Month: Confronting the Stigma of Addiction

Every year at this time, all of us at The Haven observe National Recovery Month. Throughout September the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) invites people working a program and recovery service providers to have a hand in breaking down the stigma of addiction and spreading the message that treatment is effective and people recover.

It is a well-known fact that the overwhelming majority of people living with any form of mental illness never receive the care they require. Paralyzed by the fear of social repercussions, many languish in their addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions for far too long. As a result, some never have the opportunity to embrace the gifts of recovery; instead, they succumb to the physical consequences of their disease. It should go without saying that this reality must change, should change, and can change if we all work together to promote the benefits of reaching out for help.

Seeking addiction recovery takes remarkable courage. Those in the grips of mental illness are often victims of their terrible affliction for years—decades even. As a result, the chaos of addiction becomes the norm and turning one’s back on their condition and accepting assistance can seem like an impossible challenge. No one can predict what the future holds, but people with alcohol and substance use disorder convince themselves of the opposite; such individuals resign to thinking that recovery isn’t possible, even when all the evidence says otherwise. Those in recovery know this to be true, they are living testaments of the power of change and all the possibility that comes with it—proving that recovery in all its forms is possible.

Stigma Busting

Stigma thrives on ignorance; addiction thrives on shame. It’s a vicious cycle that has the power to kill, which is why it is paramount that as many people as possible let it be known that there is a different way. There is scientific evidence proving the efficacy of addiction treatment and working a program of recovery. While relapse is always a possibility, as with any life-threatening disease, remission doesn’t always last; however, just because some members slip and fall from time to time, doesn’t mean long-term recovery is impossible. Right now, a statistically significant number of people around the globe have found it possible to accrue decades of clean and sober time. And, such people can serve as an authoritative source of inspiration for the individual who is celebrating 24 hours of sobriety.

SAMHSA, which is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), asks people to heed their call and promote the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance use disorders. When we come together and talk about the disease, we take some of the power of stigma away; when those less informed develop a better understanding of mental illness, society as a whole is healthier. Those suffering are more likely to seek treatment if they don’t feel like they are at fault for their mental illness—when they don’t perceive themselves as a social pariah.

Spreading the Message of Recovery

This month, everyone touched by addiction and recovery – including men and women working in the field – can take to social media and spread positive messages. SAMHSA would like to get the word out: behavioral health is essential to overall health. Those who feel comfortable are even invited to share their personal story of recovery with the hope of empowering others to give recovery a shot. Depending on where you live, it's possible that a Recovery Month event is occurring in your area. If attending is not possible, the HHS is live streaming several of the more notable events throughout the month.

The Haven at Pismo celebrates people in recovery and appreciates the contributions of all the treatment and service providers committed to helping people make recovery possible. If you or a loved one are currently battling alcohol, substance use, or a co-occurring mental health disorder, please contact us at your earliest convenience. We offer clients medically supervised detox and addiction treatment on California’s Central Coast. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Recovery Fun With Your Friends

Finding ways to have a good time with people in recovery is difficult for many individuals. It is a particular challenge for some persons who are new to the program. Anyone in recovery will tell you that maintaining an addiction is a full-time job, acquiring one’s drug of choice used to take up a significant portion of their day. Once such people began living life in a new way, it became critical to find methods of filling their time that didn’t revolve around substance use.

To be sure, working a program takes up a good part of a person’s day. Attending meetings, working with a sponsor or mentor, reading approved literature, and practicing prayer and meditation consume a good number of the available hours in each day. However, there is another facet of recovery that is oft left unmentioned. That of fun! What’s more, the need for enjoying one’s self is an aspect of healing that the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous emphasize in the “Big Book.” A sentiment that even people working a different recovery program than A.A. can see the importance of; on page 132 of the Big Book it states:

“We absolutely insist on enjoying life …. So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness. Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn't we laugh? We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”


Enjoying Recovery to the Fullest

For most people in recovery, having fun often involves socializing with each other before and after meetings. Coffee houses across the country have long catered to individuals who no longer drink or drug. A good number of people plan recovery retreats, go for group hikes, lay around on the beach in an attempt to enjoy their sobriety. Some even go bowling, an activity that most addicts never could’ve imagined being a part of their lives just a short time ago. In early recovery, it’s a wise practice to stay away from wet environments, places where alcohol is likely to be on tap. However, for people whose recovery is robust and the risk of relapse less likely, there exists a desire to have some kind of nightlife. That’s not to say that they want to be in a bar; instead, they would like to confab with adults not sitting at a table across from students typing their thesis.

For Elissa Emery, the daughter of an addict, the desire to create just such a space was real. Along with Sarah Wehnau, Emery opened 'Unbreakable Nutrition' on August 1st, CBS6Albany reports. Instead of cocktails, they serve healthy beverages reminiscent of what you might find at a bar, sans alcohol of course. The idea for a sober bar came about when Emery’s friend started working a program of recovery and two could not find anywhere to hang out that was alcohol-free.

“Trying to find a space we could both go where we both felt like this is a great place where we can go and hang out, that wasn't like a Dunkin’ Donuts or a Starbucks, there really wasn't anywhere,” says Emery. “We hope we're setting the new standard to include everybody, including those in recovery.”


Addiction Treatment

Please keep in mind that while the above idea is novel and could be beneficial for some people in recovery, visiting such an establishment may present problems for people in early recovery. Even a “mocktail” can cause feelings to arise that could trigger a person. It is hard to know how you will respond to feeling like you are back in the bars again after being sober for a stint. Before attending alcohol-free bars and nightclubs, please talk it over with your support group.

If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, The Haven at Pismo can assist you to begin the journey of recovery. Please reach out to us today, to learn more about our innovative addiction treatment programs.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Cannabis Use Disorder In America

Cannabis Use Disorder
If you live in California, or Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, then you live in a state that allows for adult recreational marijuana use. Perhaps you smoke pot or eat edibles? Maybe you maintain an opinion that there are worse vices that a person can have? You wouldn’t be inaccurate having such a mindset; after all, compare the host of other mind-altering substances that are ripe for misuse. Cannabis ranks reasonably low on the list of drugs that can ruin a person's life. However, safer doesn’t imply safe; and since states began adopting less harsh pot laws, more people than ever are seeking treatment for cannabis use disorder. Approximately 4.0 million people aged 12 or older in 2016 had a marijuana use disorder in the past-year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

Many people in the United States have a challenging time wrapping their heads around marijuana addiction. People rarely hear about reefers destroying lives; the headlines don’t indicate pot overdoses as being a thing worth concern. The majority of marijuana users, like that of alcohol imbibers, never face any consequences due to using the drug. In reality, more people have a problem with the drug – experience repercussions – than you would think; and, believe it or not, dependence is real and far from a walk-in-the-park to quit.

“Cannabis is potentially a real public-health problem,” Mark A. R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University, tells The Atlantic. “It wasn’t obvious to me 25 years ago, when 9 percent of self-reported cannabis users over the last month reported daily or near-daily use. I always was prepared to say, ‘No, it’s not a very abusable drug. Nine percent of anybody will do something stupid.’ But that number is now [something like] 40 percent.” 

Cannabis Use Disorder Isn’t Benign

Any substance that is used in excess can result in dependency and, for some, addiction. And, just because a drug carries inherent risks isn’t necessarily cause for prohibition. You are probably more likely to find research supporting the inefficacy of waging war on drug use than you are to discover incontrovertible evidence about dangers of marijuana. Still, if a drug is going to be bought and sold out in the open with levels of government oversight, there also needs to be a campaign to educate Americans about the potential harm that can come from smoking weed.

Cannabis is a mind-altering substance that people form unhealthy relationships with over the course of varying lengths of time. A significant number of people, who attempt to quit, experience withdrawal symptoms that often lead to relapse before recovery has a chance to take hold. Symptoms which include but are not limited to mood changes, irritability, insomnia, and headaches; the list is far longer, but these are some of the more common experiences. In 2012-2013, nearly 3 of 10 marijuana users manifested a marijuana use disorder, according to research appearing in JAMA Psychiatry.

“In large national surveys, about one in 10 people who smoke it say they have a lot of problems. They say things like, ‘I have trouble quitting. I think a lot about quitting and I can’t do it. I smoked more than I intended to. I neglect responsibilities.’ There are plenty of people who have problems with it, in terms of things like concentration, short-term memory, and motivation,” Keith Humphreys, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, reports to The Atlantic. “People will say, ‘Oh, that’s just you fuddy-duddy doctors.’ Actually, no. It’s millions of people who use the drug who say that it causes problems.”


Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment

The Haven at Pismo inpatient addiction treatment is the ideal location to begin your journey of recovery from marijuana addiction. If cannabis use is negatively affecting your life, it is possible that you require assistance to break your cycle of self-defeating behavior. Please contact us to learn more about how our programs can assist you in living a substance-free life. The Haven provides you with possibilities to renew to your best today.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

4 Benefits of Traveling for Addiction Treatment

traveling for addiction treatment
Once you’ve decided to seek addiction treatment, you might be wondering whether you should travel or stay close to home. Traveling for addiction treatment isn’t for everyone. But if your community doesn’t have high-quality treatment available and/or you’re looking for a fresh start away from triggers in your home environment, traveling for addiction treatment might be a worthy consideration. 

Here, we take a look at some of the key benefits of traveling for treatment:
  1. You’ll have more choices. Obviously, expanding your rehab search to others cities and states means you’ll have more choices when it comes to finding the right treatment fit for you – depending on type of addiction treatment, insurance, financial situation, interests, goals, etc. 
  2. You’ll gain perspective. The physical distance between yourself and your triggers can help you look at your old habits through a more objective lens. It may even help further reduce your desire to use.
  3. You’ll have fewer distractions. Traveling for treatment makes it easier to completely immerse yourself in the recovery process – without family, friends and stressors of daily life. Removing yourself from triggering people and situations has been shown to improve treatment outcomes and help those in recovery better manage these triggers once they return home.
  4. You’ll have more privacy. If you’re worried about privacy or protecting your reputation, attending treatment outside of your community may be the right choice.  Although, any reputable addiction treatment center will mostly place a premium on privacy. 
Traveling to The Haven at Pismo
We pride ourselves on being a haven for men and women looking to heal from addiction –whether they’re traveling for treatment or not. We are the only residential detox and addiction treatment center on California’s Central Coast and offer clients a multi-faceted, outcome-focused program that includes traditional and complementary therapies. To learn more about how our programs and services can help you or someone you love, call us today: 805-202-3440.