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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Don’t Let Nostalgia Harm Your Recovery

Especially during the holiday season, it’s pretty easy to start feeling nostalgia – or wistfully longing for a return to past times or places. 

While summoning loving memories of family and friends is helpful – and it may even give you that added push to get through some tough days – reminiscing about partying or bar hopping is a slippery slope to relapse. 

This is partly because nostalgia can cause you to romanticize your addiction – and forget about those embarrassing moments, destructive relationships, sick feelings, damaged friendships and/or emotional wounds that also came with drinking or drugging. And this can work on the mind to tempt you back to addiction.

  • Be selective about your nostalgia. Make a conscious choice to let go of any memories that can be harmful to your hard-won recovery. For example, be sure to keep any favorite bar tunes off of your playlist.  
  • Keep a journal. And be sure to detail all of the negative aspects of addiction a well as all of the positives of recovery. 
  • Focus on your sober life. Remind yourself daily why you choose to commit to sobriety and dwell on the exciting and new experiences, people, and activities you now have thanks to your recovery.
  • Take time to make new memories. This is the perfect time to put all of your efforts into the present – do extra recovery work, repair past relationships, form new friendships with peers, and create new sober memories. You’ll be too busy to be nostalgic for the past. 
Aftercare for Lifetime Sobriety
Aftercare plans are invaluable additions to your addiction recovery toolbox. At The Haven at Pismo, our team of addiction specialists will help you to develop relapse strategies to help identify triggers and maintain sobriety once returning home. Call us today: 805-202-3440.






Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Surviving the Holidays With Disordered Eating

The holidays can be extra challenging if you’re recovering from a dual diagnosis of addiction and disordered eating. After all, ’tis the season for high-fat, calorie-laden, sugary foods – and they seems to be everywhere. This can certainly cause stress and anxiety – and even the urge to return to destructive habits like overeating, purging, or restricting calories. 

It may take a little thought and preparation, but you can enjoy the holidays and stay on the path toward healthful eating and sobriety. Start by following these helpful do's and don'ts adopted from the National Eating Disorder Association. 

Do…
  • Devise a holiday game plan. Together with your healthcare provider you can predict and prep for any overwhelming situations or harmful behaviors. 
  • Count your blessings. The holiday season is a time to enjoy family and friends and give back, so try to focus on your heart instead of your hips.
  • Line up support. Alert one or two friends that you may need them to provide extra support this season – and then don’t hesitate to reach out when you’re in need. 

Don’t…
  • Skip meals. Instead, maintain a regular and moderate eating pattern, even if you feel like you overindulged.
  • Overcommit. You don’t have to attend every holiday event, especially if it will lead to more stress and less self-care. Consider turning down an invitation to spend time on self-reflection or relaxation. 
  • Be too rigid or hard on yourself. A little flexibility can go a long way in helping you enjoy the season without excess worry about what or how much you eat. Plus, you deserve a holiday from self-imposed criticism and rigidity. 

Seeking Support at Haven
The Haven at Pismo provides a continuum of care for clients with co-occurring chemical dependency and mental illnesses like disordered eating. To learn more, call 805-202-3440.



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

5 Reasons to Add Reading to Your Recovery Toolbox

Sometimes it’s the not-so-obvious acts that can make the biggest difference in your recovery. For instance, did you know that the simple act of reading a good book may do wonders for your mental and physical well-being? To really reap the health benefits, reach for a printed book over an e-reader, however. 

Here’s why you should consider getting lost in a good tome today. 
  1. You’ll be more empathetic. By reading other people's emotions via literary fiction, you'll better understand what others are thinking, according to research published in Science.
  2. You’ll feel less stressed. A good page-turner can help tame those tensions – and by a whopping 68 percent, according to a study by Sussex University researchers.
  3. You’ll be more motivated to move. A riveting read may be just the tool you need to keep you going as you walk on that treadmill or ride that stationary bike, notes Weight Watchers magazine. It’s important to be aware of your posture, however, to prevent neck or shoulder injuries.
  4. You’ll be motivated to meet your goals. A book is the perfect source of motivation and inspiration. In fact, identifying with a character (fictional or nonfictional) who overcomes adversity and life obstacles can inspire you to do the same, according to research. 
  5. You’ll get better shut-eye. Reading before lights out is a great way to signal to your body that it’s time to relax and get some sleep. Avoid reading on an e-reader or tablet, however, as bright screens can disrupt your sleep cycle and keep you awake.
Looking for More Addiction Recovery Tools?
At The Haven at Pismo, we offer clients aftercare strategies designed to give them the tools to manage stress, time, and more as they return to their careers. To find out more, call today: 805-202-3440.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Stress-Gut Connection

What does your digestive health have to do with stress? Well, more and more research shows a link between your stomach health and mental health. The bacteria in your gut can play a key role in how you think and feel. 

Similarly, stress and anxiety can kick your digestive system into overdrive and make you more susceptible to the following stomach woes:
  • Stress can cause your esophagus to go into spasms. 
  • Stress can an increase the acid in your stomach causing indigestion.
  • Stress can make you feel nauseous.
  • Stress can cause diarrhea or constipation. 
  • Stress can worsen stomach ulcers, celiac disease, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).
Managing Stress to Maintain Healthy Digestion
Regular physical activity has been found most effective when it comes to keeping stress under control to aid digestion. Exercise relieves tension and stimulates the release of feel-good endorphins to improve mood. Other stress reducers that serve double-duty include: 
  • Practice relaxation therapy. This can include yoga, meditation, massage, hypnotherapy, progress muscle relaxation, and sound therapy. 
  • Try talk therapy. A mental health professional can teach you new coping skills for dealing with stress. After 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy, 70 of people with IBS saw improvement in their symptoms, according to one study.
  • Stick to a gut-friendly diet. Aim to eat fiber-rich foods (vegetables, legumes, and fruits), probiotics found in food like yogurt and kefir, and drink plenty of water.
  • Scale back on bad habits. Coffee and cigarettes, which are both stimulants, can cause anxiety and interfere with your digestive system, leading to stomach ulcers and heartburn.
Ease Anxiety to Help Addiction Recovery 
Stress inhibits progress in your addiction recovery journey. To combat this, The Haven at Pismo Beach offers a variety of holistic therapies that relieve tension and complement your customized treatment plan. To learn more, call: 805-202-3440.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Why You Should Practice Gratitude Daily

What are you most grateful for today? Whether you just started rehab or are already on the road toward lasting sobriety, taking the time to answer this question daily can do wonders for your recovery. Hence the AA recovery slogan: “Have an attitude of gratitude.” 

The great thing about gratitude is that it can help you become more aware of what truly makes you happy and it also serves as a great reminder of why you’ve committed to sobriety in the first place. 

In addition to helping prevent relapse, a daily dose of gratitude comes with a slew of big health payoffs, including: 
  • Improved slumber
  • Enhanced self-care
  • Fewer toxic emotions 
  • Greater willpower
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Better stress management
3 Ways to Practice Gratitude 
It’s OK if you don’t automatically have an “attitude of gratitude.” It may take a bit of practice before it becomes part of your every day.  Start with one of these helpful hints.


  1. Rise and shine with gratitude. Before you even get out of bed, take a few minutes to think about what you’re grateful for. This simple step can put you in the right frame of mind and set a happy, positive tone for the day ahead. 
  2. Jot it down. Start a “gratitude” journal and keep track of the things, events, and people to whom you are grateful. Try to list one or two things daily. 
  3. Watch your words. If you put positive energy out into the world, you’ll automatically feel more grateful in life. In other words, instead of complaining or focusing on regret or loss, talk up your blessings and good fortunes. And, similarly, don’t shy away from telling loved ones how much you care for them or expressing your passion about a new hobby or project. 

Making Mental Health Matter
The Haven at Pismo can help you achieve inner harmony. Our dual diagnosis programs are designed for those experiencing the doubly damaging effects of addiction and mental illness. To speak with a caring and understanding admissions counselor, call today: 805-202-3440.





Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Alcohol Abuse: Not Always Obvious

In a mere two months, Louise Delage racked up more than 48,000 Instagram followers who clicked on her smiles, sunsets, and spontaneous photos – but there’s a catch. Delage is just a model posing in each photo and her Instagram account was created by a Paris ad agency called BETC, which was hired by Addiction Aide to bring light to addiction.

The goal of the clever campaign was to show people how easy it is to “like” someone’s addiction on social media and how addiction isn’t always obvious. In every photo, the model was surrounded by at least one alcoholic drink – whether a cocktail, wine, or beer. If you look close enough, you’ll even notice that she’s holding an entire bottle of half drunken wine in one of the photos.  

Signs of Alcohol Abuse
Problem drinkers aren’t always who you’d think, and in fact, it’s actually the over-65 age set that drinks most often, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Perhaps what’s more alarming is that nearly one-third of American adults have an alcohol use disorder at some point in their life – and only 20 percent seek treatment, noted a recent report published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Are you or someone you love secretly battling with an alcohol problem? Here are some telltale signs, according to The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence:
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability, depression, or mood swings
  • Use of alcohol to relax, cheer, sleep, deal with problems, or to feel "normal"
  • Headache, anxiety, insomnia, nausea when one stops drinking
  • Flushed skin and broken capillaries on the face; husky voice; trembling hands; chronic diarrhea
  • Drinking alone, in the mornings, or in secret
Alcohol Detox in Pismo Beach
Looking to stabilize your physical health, cleanse your body of toxins, and lay the groundwork for long-term sobriety success? Many of our residents start their stay at our residential detox home. To learn more, call: 805-202-3440.



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Are You Eating Good-Mood Foods?

Can an apple a day keep the psychiatrist away? Well, perhaps not, but experts say the right brain-friendly foods can minimize mental illness. 

One possible explanation is because people with depression are more likely to suffer nutritional deficiencies – and a lack of certain vitamins can cause drops of mood, cognitive ability and physical functionality, Drew Ramsey, MD and author of Eat Complete and co-author of 50 Shades of Kale, told BigThink.com.

Luckily, a few diet tweaks can easily correct these deficiencies and help restore your mood, say experts. This is especially good news for those of you who are struggling with addiction and depression, which both wreak havoc on your physical and mental health.

Try adding these good-mood foods to your recovery diet today:
  • Dark leafy greens: Spinach, kale, and swiss chard are chock-full of vitamins A, C, E, and K, known to fight inflammation which has been linked to depression.
  • Walnuts: They’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support brain function and reduce depression symptoms.
  • Avocado: This superfood is full of so-called healthy fat, or monosaturated fat, that your brain needs to run smoothly.
  • Berries: Whether blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or blackberries, these gems are rich in antioxidants, which have been study-proven to lessen depressive symptoms.
  • Apples: These fall favorites are full of soluble fiber, which balances blood sugar swings and stabilizes your mood.
  • Bananas: Bananas pack a lot of mood-lifting power due to a combination of vitamins B6, A, and C; fiber; tryptophan; potassium; phosphorous; iron; protein; and healthy carbohydrates.
  • Sweet potatoes: They’re loaded with depression- and anxiety-fighting nutrients like copper, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, and potassium.
Fuel Your Recovery
With our in-house chef, the Haven at Pismo helps you create dietary patterns that support your sobriety and correct nutritional deficiencies. Residents learn how to replace sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods with healthy fiber, quality proteins, and antioxidant-rich vegetables. Call today to speak confidentially with an intake specialist: 805-202-3440.



Wednesday, September 7, 2016

3 Reasons to Choose Medical Detox

The process of detoxification is a critical step in your journey toward recovery from substance abuse disorder – and going “cold turkey” isn’t the only option. In fact, numerous treatment facilities specialize in providing you with a safe and comfortable detox.

These programs not only help demystify the detox process, but they provide coping strategies to help you during this phase of recovery. Other benefits of medical detox include: 

Round-the-clock support. In contrast to going it alone, a medical detox provides 24/7 medical care and supervision. Without proper supervision, individuals trying to detox can experience serious and long-lasting physical and mental repercussions. For example, when stopping heavy alcohol consumption, there can be severe complications like dehydration, vomiting, and abnormal heart rhythms as well as a condition called delirium tremens.

A healing environment. In an inpatient setting, you're surrounded by an experienced and caring team of addiction specialist to help you better manage physical and mental withdrawal symptoms and start your journey toward a sober life. In addition, you are protected from stress factors that may serve as triggers. And an absence of stress lets you focus exclusively on getting and staying sober.

Personalized nutrition guidance. Alcohol and drug abuse can deplete your body of essential nutrients – thiamin, folic acid, and zinc, to name a few. During medical detox, you’ll have a team of specialists who can monitor vital stats and fuel your recovery with the right supplements.  

Medical Detox at Haven at Pismo
The goal of The Pines detox residence is to stabilize your physical health, cleanse your body of toxins, and lay the groundwork for long-term sobriety success. The road ahead of you will no doubt be difficult, but supervised detox provides the support, resources, and camaraderie you need to pursue a motivated, fruitful recovery. To learn more, call 805-202-3440.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Do You Need a Complaining Detox?


Did you know that as little as a half hour of complaining every day physically damages a person’s brain? According to Stanford University researchers, it actually peels away neurons in the brain’s hippocampus. This is the part of your brain responsible for problem solving. And this holds true even if you’re listening to someone indulge in these negative emotions.

Constant griping also weakens the immune systems, triggers physical symptoms like increased blood pressure, and makes you more anxious. And, perhaps most scary, it rewires our brains so overtime complaining becomes yet another bad habit to break.

So how do you stop the cycle? It’s pretty unrealistic to completely cut out complaining altogether — and venting from time to time can even be healthy — but you can learn to cut back. Start with these steps. 
  • Focus on the silver lining. In other words, ask yourself how you can reframe your complaints in a more positive way. So instead of wining about cooking dinner, for example, think about how a healthy meal will give your mind and body the strength to stay sober. 
  • Time yourself. Since it's unlikely to think that you’re never going to complain again, try to avoid making it an all-day affair. Give yourself a time limit, say 15 minutes, to acknowledge your frustration or anger and to vent about it — and then try to let it go. 
  • Find a healthy distraction. Force yourself to do something else more positive to help get your mind off of complaining. For instance, take a walk or call a notoriously optimistic friend.  
Your Path to Better Mental Health
The Haven at Pismo can help you achieve inner harmony while building the skills to maintain it over the long term. Our dual diagnosis programs are recommended for those experiencing the doubly damaging effects of addiction and mental illness. To connect with a caring and understanding admissions counselor, call today: 805-202-3440.



Monday, August 15, 2016

Warning Signs of Stress

Finding a job. Managing finances. Making amends. Minding your health. Rebuilding trust. Avoiding triggers. Staying sober. Recovering from addiction means dealing with the garden-variety stressors – and then some.

Stress isn’t always a bad thing; in small doses it can be beneficial, helping you conquer fear or giving you that extra motivation and endurance to finish a project. Unchecked or poorly managed chronic stress, however, can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. It’s been linked to a variety of health hazards, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even suicide. And it can also threaten your sobriety. Multiple studies have shown that stress plays a major role in your risk of relapse.

In addition to finding ways to manage stress on a daily basis – think exercise, proper nutrition, sleep, meditation, yoga, etc. – your best defense against stress is to be able to hone in on your body’s warning signs. In other words, to be able to recognize when your body is telling you that it’s time to slow down, take a deep breath, and start regaining control over those inevitable stressors of your new sober life.

Your Body's Stress Cues
According to the American Psychological Association, the most common symptoms of stress include:

  • Headaches, muscle tension, neck or back pain 
  • Upset stomach 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Chest pains, rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep 
  • Fatigue 
  • Loss of appetite or overeating “comfort foods” 
  • Increased frequency of colds 
  • Lack of concentration or focus 
  • Memory problems or forgetfulness 
  • Jitters 
  • Irritability 
  • Short temper 
  • Anxiety 
Stress Management at The Haven 
Our team of addiction specialists recognizes the critical relationship between physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional wellness. As you transform your diet, exercise regime, and stress-relieving habits, your body begins to heal itself — and that's what we want for you. To learn more: call now: 805-202-3440.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Breakfast Foods to Fuel Recovery

What you eat for breakfast can set the tone for what you eat and how you feel for the rest of the day. In general, the best morning meals have a healthy mix of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. This power combo helps keep you full and prevents blood sugar dips so you can avoid mood swings and cravings.

While it can take years to reverse some of the damage that substance abuse inflicts on your body, adding certain foods to your diet can help jumpstart the healing process. To get started, stock up on these four breakfast staples:

Yogurt: Addictive substances like alcohol and opiates have been shown to have harsh effects on the stomach. Starting your day with yogurt will help increase your intake of probiotics, or healthy bacteria shown to restore the functioning of your digestive tract. Though preliminary, researchers have also found that probiotics can have a positive affect on your mood and functioning of your brain.

Oatmeal: A steaming bowl of oats is full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, folate, and potassium – all essential recovery nutrients. Oatmeal is also study-proven to lower levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol and help keep arteries clear.

Eggs: This super food is a convenient and affordable source of protein. Eggs are rich in vitamin B2 (which helps support cell growth and regulate metabolism) and sulfur (which aids vitamin B absorption and liver function). If you opt for organic eggs, they’ll also be higher in omega-3 fatty acids.

Citrus fruit: Limes, lemons, and oranges are high in vitamin C and help to flush out toxins in the body and cleanse the liver. Adding a slice or two to some ice water in the morning will serve double-duty: It’s a great way to cleanse and stay hydrated.

Healthy Eating at the Haven
In addition to providing a memorable, nutritious dining experience, The Haven staff helps you create dietary patterns that support your sobriety and correct nutritional deficiencies. To learn more, call 805-202-3440.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

4 Steps to Stick With Exercise

By now, you likely know that there are numerous benefits of exercise in addiction recovery. To recap: Physical activity activates the brain’s “pleasure circuit,” reducing substance cravings and boosting your mood. It also helps your body rebound from the damage of substance misuse and reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other health conditions.

But knowing how good exercise is for you doesn't necessarily mean that you’ll be motivated to move. Starting and sticking to a fitness routine is tough, especially when you’re also trying to get a handle on your recovery. These simple strategies can help.

  1. Reframe your thinking. If the gym just isn’t for you right now, try finding more ways to move throughout the day. Fitness can mean any type of physical activity, from taking the stairs to cleaning the house to gardening. 


  2. Plot it out. Having a workout plan can help you stick to your routine. But it’s also important to be flexible and willing to shuffle this schedule, if, say, you’re not feeling up to it or are faced with an unexpected work event.

 
  3. Track your moves. Jot down what you did and for how long (including chores) and add it up at the end of each day. You might also want to note how the movement made you feel; for example, energetic, relaxed, limber. Documenting your progress will help strengthen your motivation.


  4. Make a date. Whether you plan a morning walk with a friend or sign up for a yoga class, setting an appointment will keep you accountable. 
Finding Fitness Motivation

The best form of fitness during addiction recovery is the kind that motivates you and includes a mix of social, heart-healthy, and meditative recreation. The Haven at Pismo helps you develop an exercise program tailored to your health needs, lifestyle preferences, and addiction history. To learn more, call: 805-202-3440.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Is Rehab in the Central Coast of California Right for You?

Choosing the right rehab facility is not an easy decision, and amongst the many considerations is location. Not only do you have to think about whether you want a rehab that’s out of your state or region (to distance yourself from old friends, haunts, and triggers that threaten your sobriety), but you also need to evaluate whether the location will provide the peace and quiet you need to focus on the hard work of recovery.

In other words, will the location of the facility help you refocus, rejuvenate, and renew yourself as you embark on your journey toward lasting sobriety?

The Benefits of Addiction Treatment in the Central Coast of California
The Central Coast of California has been touted for years for its glorious beaches, crystal clear air, and serene landscapes. “It’s an ideal place to relax, slow down, and appreciate the abundant natural beauty,” wrote Fodor’s Travel. The travel experts specifically noted the following features.

Nature: The Central Coast of California is home to beaches, two national marine sanctuaries, state and national parks, protected bays, harbors, and coves, graceful waterfalls, and the rugged Los Padres National Forest.
Outdoor activities: Whether you’re looking for adventure or to simply escape in nature, the Central Coast of California offers a host of options. These include beach strolling, bicycling, hiking, bird watching, camping, fishing, surfing, golfing, kayaking, and horseback riding.
Edible bounty: Countless farmers’ markets and restaurants help you get your fill of regional foods from land and sea, including grapes, strawberries, olive oil, and seafood.
Small-town charm, big-city culture. You may be away from the hustle and bustle of L.A. or San Francisco, but you’ll still find plenty of cultural opportunities in the Central Coast of California – from museums and theater to music, festivals, and more. The region also offers world-class attractions, including Hearst Castle and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Outdoor Recreation During Rehab
The Haven at Pismo in the Central Coast of California provides the perfect backdrop for your recovery with a host of outdoor activities proven to have therapeutic benefits ranging from reducing anxiety to promoting gratitude. To explore our location or to learn more about our comprehensive addiction treatment programs, call today: 866-930-4673.

Monday, July 11, 2016

7 Reasons to Add Walking to Your Recovery Plan

We’ve all heard that walking is good for you – especially when it’s a sunny day and you get a nice dose of mood-boosting vitamin D – but do you know how good it is for your recovery and lasting sobriety?

A brisk walk can do wonders when you’re attempting to rebuild a healthy, sober lifestyle and reverse the ill effects of long-term drug or alcohol use.

Here are just a few of the many health benefits of walking: 

Helps your heart. This includes warding off heart disease, increasing your heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and strengthening your ticker, which has likely taken a pounding from drugs or alcohol. 

Shores up your bones. It can stop the loss of bone mass, especially important since alcohol and drug addiction ups your risk for osteoporosis.

Lightens your mood. Walking releases natural painkilling endorphins to the body – one of the emotional benefits of exercise. “Just 10 minutes of walking at the pace you would use if you were late for an appointment — but obviously without that stress of being late — can boost your mood for two hours,” said Robert Thayer, PhD, author of Calm Energy: How People Regulate Mood With Food and Exercise, in a Real Simple interview.

Aids in weight loss. On average, a brisk 30-minute walk burns 200 calories – especially good news if you’re among the 65 percent who will gain weight after rehab.

Strengthens muscles. Walking is a free way to tone your legs, abdominal muscles, and arms (if you pump them as you walk). And the better you look, the better you’ll feel about yourself and ability to stay sober!

Improves sleep. This is especially true if you walk in the a.m.; morning walks have been study-proven to relieve insomnia and encourage deeper sleep.

Helps your body repair damage. Walking increases your breathing rate, which causes oxygen to travel faster through bloodstream. This helps to eliminate toxins, increase your energy levels, and enhance your body’s ability to heal from the damage of addiction.

Get Sober, Get in Shape
The Haven at Pismo works with you to develop a tailor-made fitness program based on your needs, lifestyle preferences, and addiction history. We offer a variety of indoor and outdoor activities that repair the physical and psychological damage caused by drug and alcohol abuse. For more information, call 805-202-3440.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

Practicing Patience for Recovery

One of the many challenges of recovery is having patience – the patience to heal and to reclaim your life. In active addiction, you’ve likely become accustomed to an instant-fix mode; using drugs, alcohol, sex, eating, or any other substance or behavior to quickly alter the way you feel. 

In recovery, on the other hand, there is no quick fix. Staying sober is a lifelong journey that requires having patience on a daily basis – patience with the process, patience with yourself and with loved ones. 

We’re not born with it. Like any worthy skill, learning to become a more patient person takes a fair amount of practice. Here are five tips to get you started:  
  • Make yourself wait. Whether you intentionally hold off for 10 minutes to eat dessert or to cue your favorite Netflix series, practicing patience with small tasks will help you realize your willpower and ability to withstand the recovery process. 
  • Embrace being uncomfortable. “We need to become comfortable with the uncomfortable in order to cultivate a little more patience,” wrote Jane Bolton, PsyD, in a blog for Psychology Today. There will inevitably be times during recovery that you’re outside your comfort zone – and during these times it’s easy to become impatient about the circumstances. Try to power through and remind yourself that it’s just uncomfortable, not intolerable. 
  • Practice gratitude. People who are able to be thankful for what they have are more mindful – and this leads to being more patient, according to studies. Try it: Jot down three things for which you are thankful and three people to whom you are grateful. 
  • Discover a healthy outlet for your emotions. Even the most patient person becomes frustrated now and again – but learning to release this frustration will make room for patience. Find what works for you: Is it a walk, meditation, venting to a good friend, or watching a funny YouTube video? 
  • Just breathe. Count to 10 and take a deep breath – and repeat a few times if necessary. This simple act will help you slow down and focus on being more patient.
Recovery: A Phone Call Away
If you have been putting off addiction recovery, make a decisive move today. To reach a recovery counselor at The Haven at Pismo, call 805-202-3440.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sleep-Proof Your Recovery

Did you know that the incidence of insomnia is up to five times higher in early recovery than in the general population? Moreover, substance abusers get an average of 5.5 hours total nightly sleep — less than the seven to nine hours per night recommended by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

The most common sleep problems linked with addiction, include:
  • Poor sleep quality       
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Narcolepsy
  • Depression 
Why Sleep Matters
Healthy sleep habits, or practicing good sleep hygiene, can make a big difference in your recovery. A lack of adequate, restorative sleep can cause daytime sleepiness, “fuzzy” thinking (common in early recovery), anxiety, depressed mood, and poor emotional control. On the other hand, a good night’s sleep can help restore and heal the bodily damage caused by addiction – and enable you to make sound decisions in favor of your lasting sobriety.

6 Steps for Better Sleep
These tips from the NSF can help make sound sleep part of your recovery plan:
  1. Practice a regular sleep-wake routine. Try to wake up every morning and go to sleep every night around the same time, even on weekends. This helps to regulate your body's clock and make it easier for you to fall and stay asleep for the night. 
  2. Know your bedroom’s role. Limit your bedroom for sleeping and intimacy only — no TV, Internet, etc.  
  3. Set a good sleep environment. Keep your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Consider window coverings to block light or invest in an eye mask. Your bedroom should be cool — between 60 and 67 degrees. 
  4. Establish a relaxing ritual. Each night before bedtime, practice meditation or yoga. Or do something relaxing, such as soaking in the tub, reading a book, or listening to some mellow music. The idea is to stay away from any activities that can cause excitement, stress, or anxiety, which can make shut-eye more difficult. 
  5. Watch your nighttime diet. Being too hungry or too full can disrupt your sleep. It’s also important to avoid nicotine and caffeine later in the day; both substances interfere with sound slumber. 
  6. Make exercise a daily priority. Sticking to a regular exercise routine — even a brisk daily walk — will help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly through the night. Vigorous exercise too close to lights out, however, could cause you to feel too energize, disrupting your sleep cycle.
Stress Relief for Recovery
Like poor sleep habits, unmanaged stress can also inhibit progress in your addiction recovery journey. To combat this, The Haven at Pismo Beach offers a variety of alternative therapies that relieve tension and complement your customized treatment plan. To learn more, call: 805-202-3440.

Friday, June 24, 2016

8 Warning Signs of Relapse

The road to recovery is far from a straight path; instead, there’s lots of curves and bumps and even backsliding or relapse. 

The most important thing to remember, however, is that you’re not a failure if you relapse – and, in fact, it’s pretty normal for patients in recovery to return to using. 

Up to 60 percent of people being treated for substance abuse will relapse within one year, according to the to the Journal of the American Medical Association — and, according to the National Center for Responsible Gambling, about 50% to 75% of problem gamblers resume the addictive behavior after attempting to quit.

So how can you tell if you’re slipping and need to grab on to those relapse prevention tools? Of course, it’s different for everyone, but here are some common signs that it’s time to reach out for help and support.  

You’re easily set off. Does everyone and everything seem to get on your nerves and make you angry or annoyed? This short fuse is a red flag for relapse.

You’re letting self-care and recovery tasks fall by the wayside. This may mean that you need to take some time to reinvest in your recovery. No matter how long you’ve been sober, becoming complacent is never a good sign.

You’re stressed to the max. Managing stress, without the crutch of your addiction, is essential for lasting recovery. If you’re drowning in worries, you’ll need to revisit some coping strategies that have worked well in the past.  

You’re ignoring triggers. You may even find yourself gravitating toward risky situations, like old haunts or around friends you used to use with.

You’re questioning the validity of your addiction. Wondering if you ever really had a problem? This is a slippery slope into addictive patterns.

You’re isolating yourself from the outside world. Doing so also means not surrounding yourself with the support system you need more than ever right now. 

You’re withdrawing from family, friends, and activities. In other words, you begin to shy away from the people and activities that once excited you. This is a sign of trouble.

You’re experiencing a sense of hopelessness and despair. These feelings may spark relapse and need to be addressed right away.  

Reaching Out for Help at The Haven
When you need to get back to basics or recover after a relapse, call our team of credentialed addiction specialists: 805-202-3440. Our proven continuum of care includes outpatient treatment for every phase of your addiction recovery journey.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

7 Facts About Mental Illness and Addiction

Unfortunately, addiction and mental disorders often go hand and hand. So what does this mean for you? 

If you or a loved one suffers from a mental illness, including depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, or an eating disorder, the risk for addiction is much higher. 

There’s even several terms used to describe this overlap: co-occurring disorders, dual diagnosis, or co-morbid disorder. They are all defined as having an addiction(s) and a mental disorder(s).

Here are some more facts about the link between mental health and addiction:

  1. About one in 17 U.S. adults suffer from serious mental illness, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities, like performing work duties.
  2. You can’t simply overcome mental illness through willpower nor do mental disorders have anything to do with intelligence or a person’s character. 
  3. Nearly one-third of people with a mental disorder and one-half of people with severe mental illness also struggle with substance abuse disorder (SUD), according to the NAMI. 
  4. Nearly 50 percent of people diagnosed with severe mental illness also have substance abuse disorder (SUD), with depression and bipolar disorder among the most common mood disorders.
  5. Roughly 53 percent of people addicted to drugs and 37 percent of alcoholics suffer from at least one serious mental illness, according to the Journal of American Medical Association.
  6. A large percentage of Americans fail to get help for co-occurring disorders. In fact, only 7.4 percent receive treatment for both the addiction and the mental illness -- and 55.8 percent receiving no treatment at all.
  7. An integrated approach that treats both the addiction and the mental illness is the preferred treatment for co-occurring disorders. The reason: It’s nearly impossible to achieve good mental health while struggling with addiction. 
Treating Co-Occurring Disorders
Your best chance of recovery lies in integrated dual-diagnosis treatment that addresses both conditions in one recovery program. The Haven at Pismo provides a continuum of care for clients with co-occurring chemical dependency and mental illnesses. To learn more, call 805-202-3440.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Unleash Your Inner Artist: Art Therapy and Addiction Recovery

You don’t have to be Picasso to reap the health benefits of art therapy. In fact, tapping into your creativity may be just the ticket to ease anxiety, express emotions, and stay on the right track in your recovery.

And don’t worry if you don’t have any previous art experience; even a couple of uneven strokes of colors can help you feel calm and confident.

What Is Art Therapy?

Art therapy, which has been around since the 1940s, has become an integral part of the counseling and support services in many addiction centers. The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as “the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma or challenges in living, and by people who seek personal development.”

By drawing, painting, and using other creative media like sculpture, you can increase self-awareness and express emotions (both conscious and unconscious) about your addiction and recovery -- and even the meaning of life.

In general, art therapy is usually guided – for example, you may be asked to draw what a craving looks like or to paint the first thing that comes to mind. Once you’re finished you may be prompted to think or talk about your creation. 

How Can Art Therapy Help Addiction?

Whether you choose pastels, watercolors, or a #2 pencil, art therapy alongside evidence-based addiction treatments, can help you:

• Increase self-awareness and self-esteem
• Express fears and emotions difficult to verbalize
• Communicate better about recovery/addiction experiences
• Process traumatic events
• Manage destructive behaviors
• Reduce stress and anxiety
• Gain greater comfort, freedom, and hope
• Heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually

Art Therapy at The Haven

Through holistic modalities like art therapy, clients at The Haven at Pismo use creative practices to explore grief, anger, or loss in a constructive way. To find out more about our many specialized treatments and customized holistic therapies, call today: 805-202-3440.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

3 Stop-Smoking Excuses (And 3 Simple Solutions)

Lots of people in recovery still smoke cigarettes and, at one point, it was even encouraged as a way to prevent relapse. Today, however, we know better – and it may just be the opposite. One study showed that kicking your nicotine habit can make it easier (not harder) to recover from a substance use disorder as well as from depression or anxiety disorder.

Okay – so easier said than done. To help, we’ve identified three common obstacles among smokers and some simple solutions to keep you on track.  

1: Oral fixation: The hand-to-mouth ritual of smoking is a tough habit to break, and you may even find yourself fidgeting with your hands, biting our fingernails, or snacking more often. 

It may help to hit the grocery store and load up on healthful snacks – carrots, celery, brown rice cakes, grapes, sugar-free lollipops, sugarless chewing gum, etc. Bonus: Studies show that gum chewing can boost memory, which may help ease the mental fogginess commonly associated with addiction withdrawal symptoms.

2. Weight gain: Packing on the pounds is unfortunately pretty common for those in recovery – and quitting smoking won’t help. Nicotine has been shown to suppress appetite and may even boost metabolism. But the threat of a few extra pounds shouldn’t derail your stop-smoking plans. 

Instead, perhaps it can serve as extra motivation to incorporate some strength training into your addiction recovery exercise routine. Three months of pumping iron curbed cigarette cravings, minimized withdrawal symptoms, and decreased weight gain risk, according to a study funded by the National Cancer Institute.  

3. Stress: How can you possibly cope with the stress of recovery without at least having a cigarette now and again? Well, you can, and in fact quitting may even help tame that tension, according to a study in the journal Addiction.

Even so, the road to quitting will undoubtedly be filled with stressors. Make sure to spend time with loved ones who tickle your funny bone or cue up your favorite sitcom on NetFlix. Laughter increases the feel-good endorphins released by the brain and cools the body’s stress response. Exercise is also a great stress buster, so find a walking buddy and lace up those sneakers.

More Ways to Stop Stress
We know that stress inhibits progress in your addiction recovery journey. To combat this, The Haven at Pismo Beach offers a variety of alternative therapies that relieve tension and complement your customized treatment plan. To learn more, call today: 805-202-3440.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Do You Know Your Personal Triggers?

Triggers are a very real part of addiction — and, unfortunately, they are seemingly everywhere. Whether external (people, places, things, situations) or internal (memories, thoughts, feelings), triggers hijack your brain and make you want to use again.

You can’t avoid them, but you can learn to identify your own unique triggers. This is a crucial step in relapse prevention.

For instance, does seeing an old drinking, drugging, or gambling buddy do it? Or, will stress from an argument with your partner or parent set you off? Maybe it’s the time of day when you used to drug, drink, masturbate, or do another compulsive behavior? The acronym “H.A.L.T.” — which stand for Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired — is often used to describe some of the more common situations that spark temptation.

13 Common Relapse Triggers 
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) cites the following as the most common triggers:

  1. Anniversary dates of losses or trauma
  2. Break-ups
  3. Loneliness 
  4. Being judged, criticized, teased, or put down 
  5. Financial or job worries 
  6. Frightening news events
  7. Feeling overwhelmed
  8. Family friction
  9. Exposure to things that make you feel uncomfortable
  10. Smells, tastes, or noises that remind you of using
  11. Physical illness
  12. Sexual harassment
  13. Being yelled at or being around someone who has treated you poorly 
Do any of these addiction triggers strike a chord with you? As part of your relapse prevention plan, it’s essential to jot them down and then identify the steps you’ll take to fight back. And don’t be afraid to talk to others about what has (and hasn’t) worked for them. Together, you can take action against any triggers that threaten your hard-won sobriety.

Aftercare for Lifetime Sobriety
Aftercare plans are invaluable additions to your recovery toolbox. At The Haven at Pismo, our team of addiction specialists will help you to develop relapse strategies to help you maintain sobriety once returning home. Call today: 805-202-3440.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

5 Ways Exercise Can Help Addiction Recovery

Physical exercise is an essential part of your recovery toolbox — and it also lays the foundation for your new sober lifestyle. Even if you hate to exercise, it’s hard to dispute the many post-workout benefits, including more energy, less stress, better mood, and clearer thinking.

Perhaps, most importantly, making exercise part of your treatment plan can increase your chances of staying clean and sober, according a study published in Mental Health and Physical Activity. Researchers found that exercise helped patients being treated for substance abuse gain greater confidence in their ability to recover. 

Still not convinced? Here are some more reasons to make fitness part of your short- and long-term recovery plan.

  1. You’ll reduce cravings. Physical activity activates the brain’s “pleasure circuit,” reducing substance cravings and elevating the production of “feel-good” neurotransmitters.
  2. You’ll keep boredom at bay. You’ve likely heard the adage, idle hands do the devil's work. Well, this can ring true in recovery, which is why filling your day with healthy and supportive activities is crucial.
  3. You’ll sleep better. Sleepless nights may be all-too familiar if you’re in recovery. This is because addiction messes with your circadian rhythms. Regular exercise can help restore your normal sleep cycle, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.
  4. You’ll work out your anger, frustrations, and stress. Part of your post-addiction lifestyle will include finding a healthy way to manage your emotions — and a good sweat session may be just what you need.  
  5. You’ll get stronger and more confident. When you exercise, you’ll have more energy and feel more fit and trim – and, in turn, you’ll improve your self-perception. And the new-and-improved you will be ready to meet the many challenges you’ll face in recovery!
Finding Fitness That’s Right for You
The Haven at Pismo helps you develop a fitness program tailored to your health needs, lifestyle preferences, and addiction history. In an idyllic, beach-town setting, Haven clients have the opportunity to participate in indoor and outdoor activities that repair the physical and psychological damage caused by substance abuse. For more information, call 805-202-3440.



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

6 Tips for a Healthy Recovery Diet

6 tips healthy recovery dietDuring recovery your body can use all of the nutritional support it can get. That’s because addiction –- especially in the form of a steady diet of alcohol and drugs –- can deplete your body of vital vitamins and nutrients. In fact, alcoholism is one of the major causes of nutritional deficiency in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.

You may not be able to reverse all the damage done by your addiction. But proper nutrition can help speed the healing process, giving your body energy to repair damage to tissues, organs, and the brain’s reward centers. A solid recovery diet can help improve sleep and mental focus, too. The result: You’ll be better equipped to fight cravings, make smart decisions, and handle the hard work of recovery!

This doesn’t mean that you have to overhaul you're entire diet overnight; you just have to start being a bit more conscious about what and when you eat.

Healthy Eating During Recovery 
Get started by following these tips for a smart recovery diet:

• Don’t skip breakfast. A morning meal, especially one that includes a mix of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, can control blood sugar levels and keep you full and energized throughout the day.

• Stick to regular mealtimes. Years of addiction can cause you to mistake hunger cues for cravings – and that’s just a recipe for relapse. To prevent this and to train your body to tell the difference, do your best to maintain a consistent eating schedule. You may want to start with six small meals instead of two or three large ones.

• Choose the right fats. Not all fat is equal and, in fact, the so-called “good” fats (avocados, nuts, olives, flaxseed) can help with cellular pair and your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and nutrients. A deficiency of essential fatty acids can also lead to a host of health issues, including depression.

• Load up on fiber. Alcohol and drug abuse can wreak havoc on your digestive system, leading to constipation, diarrhea, and indigestion. Slowly adding fiber-rich foods – like brown rice, black beans, artichokes, peas, pears – back into your diet can help minimize these effects as your body heals.

• Skip the sugar. Cakes, pastries, ice cream, and candy were once staples in the recovery community. But these so-called “hyperpalatables” — sugary, fatty, salty food combinations – have been shown to trigger a similar rush as drugs or alcohol. The result: a new form of dependence. And, when you skip the sweets, you’ll have more room in your budget for fresh produce and quality proteins.

• Cut back on the coffee. Whether coffee, tea, or soda, caffeine-filled beverages can increase the anxiety and insomnia you may already be suffering from in early sobriety. Again, you’ll likely have a hard time ditching that diet soda cold turkey, so start slowly and try swapping one of your caffeinated beverages for a refreshing glass of water. You might also switch to decaf, which does have a little caffeine.

• Consider supplements. Talk to your healthcare professional about whether vitamin and mineral supplements will be helpful during recovery. This may include B-complex, zinc, and vitamins A and C.

Start the Healing Process


With our in-house chef, the Haven at Pismo helps you create dietary patterns that support your sobriety and correct nutritional deficiencies. Residents learn how to replace sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods with healthy fiber, quality proteins, and antioxidant-rich vegetables. Call today to speak confidentially with an intake specialist: 805.202.3440.