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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.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Saves Lives

opioid use disorder
People suffering from an opioid use disorder are mostly aware that the drugs they use carry several risks. While such people may know that recovery is achievable, the vast majority of people living with opioid addiction have not had any therapy. A severe lack of individuals being unwilling or unable to seek treatment needs to change, especially when one considers that fentanyl becomes more ubiquitous with each passing year.

Fentanyl is an extremely potent pain medication. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes the use of fentanyl for treating cancer pain or palliative care. While doctors prescribe the drug off-label quite regularly – for unapproved conditions like back pain – the fentanyl showing up in batches of other narcotics doesn't come from the same place as what you find in hospitals. With relative ease, drug cartels can both acquire the precursors and make the substance. The synthetic opioid – 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin – is then mixed with other drugs to boost potency.

It is highly likely that the majority of Americans who succumb to an overdose involving fentanyl didn’t know that their heroin was mixed with the deadly substance. What’s more, public health officials need to make people who use cocaine and anti-anxiety drugs, like benzodiazepines, aware that fentanyl is combined with those drugs as well. There is little indication that the trend of mixing synthetic opioids with other narcotics is going to wane; which is why it is so critical – perhaps now more than ever – that more is done to encourage addicts of any kind to seek treatment.


Opioid Overdose Deaths In America

If the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has it right, one American dies from an overdose every eight minutes. The agency states that in 2017 more than 72,000 people lost their lives to an overdose, roughly 200 per diem; the death toll is up almost 10 percent from the 12-month period before. While heroin continues to be one of the deadliest drugs abused, the culprit behind rising mortality rate is synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and its analogs, The Washington Post reports. Provisional estimates show that synthetics had a hand in almost 30,000 overdoses last year.

To say that the CDC's report is troubling is probably an understatement. Annual data from one year to the next shows us that fatal overdose rates continue to go in one direction: UP! Increasing access to the life-saving drug naloxone, while helpful, can only do so much; and, in many cases, naloxone is ineffective in reversing fentanyl-related overdoses. Opioid use disorder is a treatable mental health condition, with professional assistance men and women can recover from the disease of addiction. The CDC report shows that the states hardest hit by the epidemic have reduced the number of fatal overdoses, the result of (in part) expanding access to treatment. For instance, Vermont and Massachusetts saw significant reductions in overdoses, according to the article. Still, millions of Americans are continuing down the deadly path of opioid addiction.

More than 2 million Americans are living with opioid use disorder according to a 2016 phone survey; however, Dr. Dan Ciccarone, a professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, tells The New York Times that the number is much higher. Dr. Ciccarone has reason to believe around 4 million Americans are living with opioid addiction.


Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Here at The Haven, we offer people, caught in the vicious cycle of addiction, detox and residential treatment. Located on the Central Coast of California, our center is in the ideal setting to begin the journey of recovery and healing. Please contact us to learn more about our programs.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

5 Forms of Active Meditation to Strengthen Your Recovery

active meditationDoes the idea of sitting still, closing your eyes and meditating make you feel uncomfortable? If so, take heart. You can still reap the many recovery benefits of meditation, including less stress, better emotional control, more energy and motivation and improved sleep. Start by trying one of these active approaches today: 
  1. Journaling. Making journaling a daily activity – when you wake up and before bedtime – is a great way to check in with your inner dialogue as you observe and express your thoughts and feelings without judgment. 
  2. Coloring. Adult coloring books are all the rage and for good reason. Coloring is a great way to relax, find peace and quiet your mind as you learn to focus on the present. Find a quiet place – inside or outside – and take 10 minutes to get absorbed in the vibrant colors and designs. 
  3. Yoga. Similar to meditation, yoga brings balance to the mind and body. It teaches you to become acutely aware of your breath and physical sensations while letting go of any mental clutter. 
  4. Cooking. It’s more than a hobby, but an act of self-care. Beyond nourishing your body and mind, cooking healthy foods can help keep the brain occupied and teach you the art of staying in the moment. 
  5. Walking. Walking meditation can be just as powerful as sitting meditation and it doesn’t matter if it’s formal or informal, as long as it helps you bring greater awareness to this everyday activity.
Nurturing Your Mind, Body and Spirit
The Haven at Pismo is set apart from other California addiction recovery facilities by our unique blend of multi-modal therapies. We believe that the most successful addiction treatment programs take into account the body, mind and spirit, which are all impacted by the disease of addiction. To learn more about our specialized treatments and customized holistic therapies, call today: 805-202-3440.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Addiction Science People Can Understand

If substance use disorder or SUD is a part of your or a loved one’s life, please do not wait to seek help. Like any health condition that can result in premature death, the longer a person remains unchecked, the worse the symptoms become. When it comes to the progression of addiction, it isn’t a question of if but rather when — fortunately, evidence-based therapies exist to help people recover. Those who seek addiction treatment have an opportunity to lead a wholly new existence, and repair both physical and mental damage caused by prolonged substance use.

While researchers and doctors have a reasonably comprehensive understanding about the disease of addiction, the same cannot be said for the general public. Everyone has an opinion about the mechanisms of addiction; some consider it a mental health condition whereas others view it as a lack of willpower — despite evidence to the contrary. Misunderstandings and misconceptions about mental illness have long played a role in contributing to the age-old stigma of addiction. It’s vital that policymakers and health experts do what they can to educate the public about this most severe disorder and encourage those living with SUD to seek help.

Conceptualizing addiction in the brain isn't easy to wrap one’s head around. After all, neurochemistry isn’t a prerequisite for most college degrees. Many people know what the disease looks like symptomatically from firsthand experience or what one sees a loved one go through. Even still, such people may have a hard time making sense of substance use disorder development and progression. A new cartoon series produced by the Addiction Policy Forum aims to bring the disease into more precise focus.

APF Turns The Science of Addiction Into Stories That Stick

The Addiction Policy Forum is a community of organizations, policymakers, and stakeholders working together to educate the public about substance use disorder. What’s more, the Washington DC-based collective takes substance use disorder discoveries and turns them into methods that can help people struggling with, or in recovery from addiction.

Over the course of a month, the Addiction Policy Forum is releasing short info-toons about addiction and recovery. Now in its third week, viewers can learn more about the disease as long as YouTube is accessible. “Addiction” is animated by artist Patrick Smith and the episodes are as follows:
  1. Episode I: The Hijacker, or How addiction changes brain function.
  2. Episode II: Whirlpools of Risk, or Risk factors for developing substance use disorder (SUD)
  3. Episode III: Understanding Severity, or Why addiction treatment can’t be one-size-fits-all.
  4. Episode IV: Don’t Wait for ‘Rock Bottom,’ or Why engaging in treatment as early as possible is so important.
“There’s so much misinformation about this disease, everything from this being a choice and not a disease, the misunderstanding about how treatment works, misunderstandings about medications, about lengths of treatment and recovery support, how you develop this disease in the first place,” Addiction Policy Forum president, Jessica Hulsey Nickel, tells The Chicago Tribune. “We are surrounded and drowning in misinformation and myths.”

Please take a moment to view the available segments:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.


Addiction Recovery Support

The Haven at Pismo offers clients a multi-faceted, outcome-focused program for treating substance use and/or co-occurring disorders. If you would like to learn more about our specialized therapies and what sets us apart from other treatment centers, please contact us today. The Haven is the perfect place to renew you to your best today.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Relapse Prevention In Early Recovery

People who complete an addiction treatment program understand that they must do everything humanly possible to avoid relapse. Such individuals grasp that if they do not take steps each day to keep their addiction at bay, the disease will creep back to the forefront. In treatment, addicts and alcoholics are taught many skills and are introduced to various tools to help them cope with the stressors and difficulties of life. A failure to utilize such resources can quickly turn a molehill into an actual mountain.

Addiction is a complex disorder; and, like any mental illness, symptoms can manifest in unsuspecting ways. In many cases, people who relapse are those who thought they were doing everything right only to end up with a drink or drug in their hand. Merely put, the disease can sneak up on individuals, and in practically no time at all old behaviors can spring up. When signs of an imminent relapse become apparent, it is critical that efforts are made to nip selfishness, dishonesty, and addictive thinking in the bud.

If you finished an addiction treatment program of late, it is likely you learned some of the warning signs of relapse. Of course, people learn a lot in rehab, and it can be easy to forget about some the hazardous markers that can throw a wrench in the gear-works of recovery.


Some Signs Imminent Relapse

Meeting makers, make it, a recovery saying that makes a lot of sense. Those who make a point of getting to their support group as much as possible are far less likely to act in ways discordant with recovery. Early on, many recovering addicts attend meetings with enthusiasm; and, for some people, their zest for attending meetings begins to wane as the months pass. Attending meetings may not be the most fun, there are probably some other things many people would instead be doing. But, making a point of getting to the group is an opportunity, or rather an exercise in accountability; both to other persons and most importantly to one’s recovery.

If the amount and frequency of attendance slip, it is critical that such people make efforts to correct course. The value of opening up and listening to others on a regular basis cannot be overestimated. Attending meetings is one of the few opportunities to get feedback about problems and glean insight on how to overcome a particular situation. Last week, we covered the topic of utilizing your support group; naturally, meetings are an example of times that you can foster recovery relationships and protect against relapse. If you see that you are losing interest in meetings and spending time with people who share the goal of progress, then you are at risk of reconnecting with people from your past. Naturally, reaching out to people whom you used with is a precursor of relapse.

Your environment and the company you keep plays a significant role in recovery. Spending time with old friends or frequenting old haunts may not bring on a relapse right away, but if the behavior doesn't change immediately, a slope back to use is almost guaranteed.


Keeping On In Recovery

Addiction recovery asks a lot from individuals, notably a daily commitment to working a program. Those who go through treatment put in a lot of work and invest much time in service to turning one’s life around. If you are not going to as many meetings, avoiding your support group, or rekindling old relationships, then please act now to prevent losing that which you worked so hard to achieve—freedom from drugs and alcohol.

For those who have yet to seek help for alcohol or substance use disorder, please reach out to The Haven at Pismo to discuss treatment options. Our team of addiction professionals provides clients with medically supervised and top-quality care.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Utilizing Your Support Group In Recovery

People in early recovery may find it difficult to make connections with others in their support group. Even if you know that making progress is a joint effort between yourself and individuals who are also committed to working a program, you may have the urge to isolate from your peers. It is strongly advised that you avoid the temptation to exclude yourself from the recovery community.

Some individuals have a challenging time understanding why perfect strangers show an interest in their wellbeing. Those with a history of addiction are accustomed to being manipulated or taken by others, and the concept of selflessness is relatively foreign to addicts and alcoholics. And yet, upon entering the rooms of recovery newly sober persons see men and women going out of their way to help and guide their fellows—paying it forward.

When recovery is in its infancy one has to do everything in their power to trust in the process. Trust in the fact that the reason people you barely know want to help you is that it helps them stay clean and sober too. The men and women who are reaching out to you, asking how you are doing or if you need assistance with anything, are merely following the guidelines laid down by those who came before. Guiding the newcomer down the road of recovery is one of the best ways to safeguard against relapse; when people are plugged into the community, they are far less likely to be doing something that is counterproductive to recovery.


People Recover Together

If you are relatively new to the program and have had a difficult time connecting with your peers, it is OK, and it’s pretty natural. The vestiges of one’s past substance use can linger for a long time after treatment. In time, you will find it much easier to establish bonds and foster healthy relationships with the caring individuals around you.

As was mentioned above, being skeptical about your peer's motives for showing concern for you isn’t abnormal. However, it is essential that you disregard your doubts about others' intentions and keep moving forward. Following the directions of your support group is what is going to help you stay afloat when the seas of recovery become turbulent. Your connection to others is a blessing worth being grateful for and should not be discounted in the least.

The next time somebody shows interest in how you are doing or asks if you’d like to grab a cup of coffee after the meeting, please take them up on their offer. Socializing with your peers outside of the meeting is an excellent opportunity to foster lifelong relationships. Such people will be who you reach out to when insatiable cravings for drugs or alcohol develop; they are who is there for you when some unforeseen obstacle arises that may jeopardize your recovery. It’s vital to remember that keeping to yourself isn’t an asset to healing and progress. Resist the temptation to isolate, and again, trust in the process.


Central Coast Addiction Treatment Center

The Haven at Pismo can help you or a loved one begin the most important journey of recovery. If chemical dependency or co-occurring mental health disorders are making life unmanageable, we can help you take the necessary steps to heal and recover. Please contact us today to learn more about our evidence-based addiction treatment programs.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Using Listening Skills in Recovery

listening skills
Learning to be a good listener is a crucial recovery skill. Listening fully will help you glean essential tools to physically and mentally heal and to safeguard yourself from triggers and cravings. It will help you to stay motivated and feel inspired and supported by recovery peers. It will also enable you to build trust and friendships and better understand your own strengths, weaknesses and needs. 

Listening isn’t just hearing or waiting for your turn to talk. It involves absorbing, processing and engaging in what another person is saying. To be a good listener, you’ll need to use more than your ears; an open mind and heart are also key. 

And, in fact, there are many types of listening. Here we take a look at a few of the listening skills that may help you make the most of your recovery: 

There are different types of listening in recovery, and you'll probably use several types of listening skills as you work through treatment. Here are a few to keep in mind.
  • Critical listening: This involves taking in the words and information in an attempt to gain knowledge and make decisions. For example, when you’re learning skills to better manage cravings, stress, nutrition or emotional and behavioral control.
  • Discriminative listening: By paying attention to body language and the tone and volume of the person’s words, you'll be able to build a fuller picture of what’s being said. For example, when others are sharing testimonies and recovery stories.
  • Sympathetic listening: This type of listening can make your recovery peers feel more at ease as they share their emotions and experiences with you. 
Counseling for Addiction
Listening skills are especially important during psychotherapy, group and individual counseling, which are cornerstones of treatment for a substance use disorder or dual diagnosis. To learn more about our group therapy services and how they can enhance your recovery, call us today: 805-202-3440.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Recovery: A Pathway to Serenity

Staying calm and collected are invaluable modes of being, in early recovery. Life isn’t always going to be smooth sailing, that is a fact; how you manage trying situations can make or break your ability to stay on track. Serenity is a watchword in recovery! While the word is inextricably linked to 12 Step programs, peace is something that everyone can benefit from regardless of the modality of recovery.

  1. the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.
Most people who undergo treatment are acutely familiar with the importance of keeping an even keel to stay on course in addiction recovery. People’s disease is always making an effort to reassert itself in one’s life; one must strive for peace-of-mind and tranquility to prevent such an eventuality from taking place. If you went through a rehab program, it is likely the facility taught you some techniques for finding serenity in the tumultuousness that can be a part of early recovery. If not, below you will see some tools that can assist you in staying grounded in the program so that you can navigate through to the other side of trials and tribulations.


Finding Serenity in Recovery

Working through difficult times can be a real challenge, especially when you have responsibilities and commitments beyond recovery. Throughout your day, you may find it beneficial to engage in some inner-discourse. It is helpful to remind yourself of the “3 C’s” — I didn't cause it, I can't cure it, and I can't control it. Addicts and alcoholics often find aspects of their life bothersome; they are also good at convincing themselves that how things are now is the way it is always going to be. Those who have been in the program a little longer know that isn’t the case, life gets better the longer recovery persists. People new to This will learn how vital it is to be aware of that which you can control and that which you can't. When unfortunate aspects of your life are beyond you, chant the 3 C’s, it can help.

Another way to manage adversity in one’s recovery is to meditate. Clearing your mind as much as is humanly possible can bring you back down, or close to zero (equilibrium). When you are grounded, it is less likely you will react or overreact to a challenge. Meditation may come easier to some compared to others in the program, so it is critical that you don’t allow yourself to become discouraged. With practice, you will find it easier to center yourself; and, if you need assistance in adopting meditative routines ask your support group for guidance. The internet is a treasure trove of helpful tools for people looking to have serenity in their life.

Mindful breathing is one other technique that can foster calmness in your life. At its core, being aware of your breathing is just that: focusing your attention on your breath. With your mind’s eye on the inhale and exhale, you will find afterward that your frustrations disappeared for a time. While you minded the inward and outward flow of respiration, the things that were bothering you didn’t seem as defeating. Again, you can find resources online for honing your mindful breathing technique.

Recovery is Path Toward Serenity

Most people currently struggling with addiction find it hard to remember the last time they had calmness in their life. Use disorders are synonymous with chaos, dysfunction, and unmanageability. Recovery, on the other hand, is a mechanism for physical restoration and spiritual healing. The Haven at Pismo Beach can assist you in breaking the cycle of addiction and give you the tools for bringing serenity back into your life. Please contact us today to begin the journey.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Curbing Your Inner Critic

inner criticHarsh words against yourself are harmful to your recovery. That’s because negative self-talk – or calling yourself things like “worthless,” “selfish” or “underserving of love” – can cause you to spiral into negative thought patterns. The result: an increased risk of relapse. 

Controlling your inner critic takes a bit of practice, but it is possible. You can start by paying attention to your positive traits and behaviors – even small stuff – and you may even consider keeping a running list. For example, did you carve out time to cook a healthful meal or mediate for 10 minutes today or volunteer this week? Focusing on things that make you feel proud will result in a much more positive and productive dialogue with yourself. 

Here are some other ideas to tame your inner critic and create an inner dialogue that fuels your recovery success: 
  • Treat yourself like a good friend. You certainly wouldn’t judge or berate a good friend, so why is it OK to do it to you? Give yourself the gift of gentleness, kindness and forgiveness as you journey toward sobriety.
  • Find an affirmation. Some examples: “I can do this” or “I deserve a better life” – whatever you choose, make it short so it can quickly replace negative thoughts. 
  • Counter overly critical thoughts. If you find yourself thinking, “I’m not good at anything” stop and replace it with a more realistic statement like, “I’m good at some things and need to work more on others.” Making an ongoing effort to convert pessimistic thoughts into more accurate statements.
Let Us Support Your Sobriety
At Haven, we can help you gain self-confidence and create a sober life worth living. To learn about our cutting edge treatments, call us today: 805-202-3440.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Combating Stress in Recovery

The Haven at Pismo hopes that everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July and that you managed to find some shade during this blisteringly hot week. Major holidays are also notoriously difficult for people in recovery, especially for individuals in their first year. So, if you were able to get from one side of Independence Day to the other without picking up a drink or drug, you have accomplished a remarkable feat!

During every holiday, there are always some who find themselves unable to stay the course. If you struggled yesterday and had an unfortunate relapse, please recommit to your program of recovery immediately. Relapse is a part of many people’s story, but it doesn’t need to be the end of recovery. One of the reasons that relapse occurs more frequently on celebratory days of the year is the stress that accompanies holidays. If one’s program isn’t active and healthy, it can be easy to fall victim to temptation and craving. It’s always vital to stay close to your support network on days that disrupt the usual routine of life. Again, if you slipped up on the 4th of July, please get to a meeting as soon as possible and begin the process of rising from the troubling experience.

It is beneficial to look at significant holidays as a reminder of how fragile recovery is, and why it is so important to remain ever vigilant. Each day, individuals working a program must take measures to ensure they keep their level of stress to a minimum. There are many ways to accomplish stress mitigation, all of which can prove especially useful if you are one of the millions of Americans contending with the blistering heat of late.

Stress Isn’t Good for Recovery

In recovery, most people strive for serenity. Affecting change whenever possible and accepting the aspects of one’s life that you have no control over is of the utmost importance. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves—throughout the day—of that which we have no power over; doing so is a valuable tool for staying grounded in recovery. We must do everything we can to remain calm and collected, doing so allows you to stay focused on your priorities. Below you will find several methods that can help keep your stress in check, and by default, avoid certain pitfalls.  

Prioritize Sleep: Getting enough rest is paramount to any program of recovery. Staying away from caffeine in the evening and engaging only in activities that have a calming effect on you is crucial. Prayer and meditation in the evening can help relax your mind and prepare you for repose. Instead of watching television, perhaps you can read a few pages of a book before bed. Establishing a bedtime routine will help you develop a sleep schedule. In time, falling asleep and staying asleep will prove to make you significantly more comfortable. The more rested you are, the less stress you will have throughout the day.  

Physical Activity: Making a point each day to do some form of exercise will promote good physical and mental health. When you feel better physically, it pays off mentally. This time of year, swimming is an excellent way to make you more relaxed, and right now it will undoubtedly keep you cool. So, if you discover yourself experiencing more stress than usual, find somewhere to take a dip. It is worth noting that studies indicate that those who exercise regularly sleep better.  

Share Your Feelings: One of the pillars of recovery is opening up to others about both good and bad aspects of your life. When a person struggles with a problem, they typically feel better after getting it off their chest. Today, you have a support network of men and women who share similar goals with you; if you are stressed out, talk to your peers about your feelings. More times than not, you will receive useful feedback for overcoming an issue you face. Remember, you are not alone in recovery.


Addiction Treatment

If drugs and alcohol negatively impact your life, it is possible that you meet the criteria for a use disorder. Recovery is possible, and The Haven at Pismo can equip you with the tools for coping with life without mind-altering substances. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you break the cycle of addiction and give you the skills for achieving lasting recovery.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Millennials Who Know People Living With Opioid Addiction

opioid addiction
Opioid use disorder is a progressive disease affecting more than 2 million Americans. Each day, more than 100 people in the United States die of an opioid overdose. What’s more, given that addiction often goes unreported, there is a high likelihood that an even more significant number of individuals are struggling with either prescription opioids or heroin.

Using and misusing opiates of any kind is inherently dangerous, all of us must do what we can to encourage those who we love and care about to seek addiction treatment services. Opioids are both ubiquitous and pervasive in certain parts of the country; more and more people are finding that they know someone either taking or struggling with prescription opioids. The vast majority of persons procure such drugs from a doctor, friend, or family member; if such channels disappear, many will turn to the black market rather than face withdrawal.

Deciding to turn to the black market, to acquire prescription painkillers or cheaper and stronger heroin, significantly increases people’s risk of synthetic opioid exposure. In recent years, the charts showing the prevalence of illicit fentanyl use only go in one direction, up! Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and can be 50 percent stronger than most heroin. Most individuals, to make matters worse, have no way of knowing that the drug they are about to use contains the deadly synthetic.

It doesn’t matter where you are from or how educated you are; if you're white or black, young or old; opioid addiction can touch anyone. There is a good chance you know someone who is struggling; perhaps you are in the grips of an opioid use disorder? In either case, we implore you to seek help.


Do You Know Someone Dealing With Opioid Addiction?

Opioid addiction affects people from all walks of life and experts suggest that the disorder is impacting overall life expectancy for Americans. While adolescents and young adults are not the demographic at highest risk of opioid use and misuse, a survey shows that nearly half of millennials know someone who has dealt with opioid use disorder, NBC News reports. A new NBC News GenForward millennial poll indicates that more than four in 10 millennials (42 percent) know someone with a history of opioid addiction; 17 percent report knowing someone in their immediate family.

Those up to date with current events relating to the opioid epidemic know that among the various affected demographics, white Americans are most significantly impacted by the epidemic. The survey shows that 54 percent of white millennials know someone who has struggled with an opioid addiction; whereas, only 30 percent of African-American millennials knew an individual with such a history.

Most cases of addiction do not receive any form of treatment or therapy, despite the fact that recovery is an attainable goal. Among young, white Americans, 22 percent know someone in their immediate family who has misused opioids; it stands to reason that many of those same family members are still in the grips of the disease. With that in mind, it is critical that young people compassionately encourage their loved ones to utilize addiction recovery resources.

If you know someone is struggling, please do not keep it to yourself; helping them get assistance could bring about lasting addiction recovery for your mother, father, brother, or sister.


Opioid Use 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 co-occurring mental illness. Please contact us today learn more about our program.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Untreated Mental Illness and Suicide

Whenever someone famous commits suicide, it forces the nation to ask some hard questions about the prevalence of mental illness and access to treatment. The act of taking one’s life doesn’t, after all, occur in a vacuum! People who are wrestling with suicidal ideations are almost always contending with some form of mental health condition, notably depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorder. Of course, any one of the multiple psychological diseases can precipitate self-harm.

There exists a significant barrier to preventing suicide; most people are not apt to discuss their internal struggles with friends and family. We have a long history of sweeping mental illness under the rug in the United States. In the 21st Century, stigma is alive and well; many people fear the real and imagined consequences of talking about their symptoms. As a result, people do not seek assistance even when they have the resources to access effective methods of treatment. Such a reality is never more evident than when a celebrity ends his or her life.

Millions of Americans and millions more around the globe are reeling over the recent loss of two icons in their respective fields. The untimely deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain came as a massive shock to all who are familiar with the two’s contribution to fashion and culinary appreciation. It seems only right that we discuss suicide in some detail; while nothing can be said that will bring them back, we have an opportunity to encourage others who are struggling to seek mental health services. Rose McGowan wrote an open letter after Bourdain’s death; one line stands out particularly:

“There is no one to blame but the stigma of loneliness, the stigma of asking for help, the stigma of mental illness, the stigma of being famous and hurting.” 

Suicide: The Culmination of Untreated Mental Illness

The media is hard at work tossing around opinions and speculating as to why two people at the height of their careers would opt out of life? It is documented that both Kate and Anthony had had a history of psychological issues and at least one of them (possibly both) had unhealthy relationships with drugs and alcohol. There has been some debate regarding Kate Spade's problems; however, Bourdain was no stranger to addiction and reportedly battled depression.

We’ll never glean what finally drove either of them to suicide. Although, most people with even the slightest understanding of mental illness would likely agree that both deaths may have been avoidable. Agree that if people felt that talking about their mental woes was socially acceptable more people would seek assistance. In the rooms of addiction recovery, whenever the subject of suicide comes up, it is almost a guarantee that someone will share that, “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” The statement is cliché, catchy, and contains a nugget of truth. The quasi-axiom can be taken in one of two ways; to the non-suicidal, it is usually met with acceptance; to the someone who is contemplating suicide, it may be viewed as another person’s attempt to minimize their pain. To the suicidal, their mental ache is anything but temporary, even if that isn’t the truth.

Regarding the former, it is true that mental illness or personal problems that find a compassionate forum can be transcended. With the right help and continued maintenance to keep symptoms in check, people can lead a productive and healthy existence. However, we all must be careful, even those in recovery, to avoid saying things to our peers that invalidates a person's feelings. In place of witticisms, let's do better to exude compassion, empathy, and encouragement.



The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention makes clear that suicide in America is more prevalent than most people think. In fact, on any given day of the year, there is an average of 123 suicides in the United States. Men die by suicide 3.53 times more often than women. Each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the US. If you are contemplating suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

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 co-occurring mental illness. Please contact us today to find out more information about our program.

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.