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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mental Health Influenced by Genetics

mental health
Last week, we covered at length the persistence of stigma when it comes to addiction and other forms of mental illness. There is no legitimate reason for shaming people who face mental health problems in the 21st Century. The science is irrefutable; people living with use disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder do not choose to be affected.

Researcher tells us that multiple factors play a role in the development of mental health issues. Scientists have yet to provide a formula for predicting who will face behavioral health or mood disorders. A method for determining when someone will begin experiencing problems is not available. However, it is possible that science will provide a means of foretelling mental illness in the near future.

Again, we do know some of the underpinnings of mental illness. Family history, for instance, is believed to increase one’s risk or protect an individual from dealing with issues in the future. However, a person’s genetics is not the sole cause of having mental health problems. Studies show that there are biological and emotional components, as well.

Those who struggle with mood disorders or behavioral health problems, by and large, have inadequate or underdeveloped coping mechanisms. With the hope of feeling better, people will resort to unhealthy actions in an attempt to alleviate their symptoms. People who engage in the practice of self-medication exacerbate their symptoms and put themselves at risk of developing a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis.

Environmental factors must be considered too when striving to explain the causes of mental health problems. Both nature and nurture, along with genetic predisposition, have a hand in the development of psychological illnesses.

“The exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, but genetic and environmental factors interact to increase (or decrease) the risk of mental illness for any particular individual,” said Ravi N. Shah, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.


The Genetic Underpinnings of Mental Health Disorders

As we move through May at The Haven, we feel it is essential to continue the discussion on mental illness. Being Mental Health Month, we would like to draw your attention to some exciting research out of Australia. The findings of a recent study could help experts determine which individuals are at the highest risk of experiencing a mental health disorder.

Identifying who is at most significant risk could lead to earlier interventions, and potentially prevent some adverse experiences. Scientists at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland, Australia, discovered genes linked to common forms of psychiatric morbidity, ABC News reports. Lead researcher Professor Eske Derks and colleagues identified 70 previously unknown genes linked to severe mental illnesses, including:
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
“There’s a lot of stigma surrounding mental health disorders and again our findings show that genetic risk factors play a large role and that these disorders have a biological component,” said Professor Derks.

The research team observed the activity or expression of more than 300 genes, according to the article. Previous research had already found associations between 261 genes and mental illness. The discovery of 70 new genes could provide a more accurate road map for experts to follow in diagnostics and treatment.

“The important finding is that we now have a better understanding of what these genes are doing in patients with a mental health disorder,” Professor Derks said. “So what we want to do next, and what will be one of our future studies, is to see if there’s any existing drugs that target these genes that we have now found — if they can normalize the activity of these genes and hopefully make the patients better.” 

SLO County Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

Mental health disorders, addiction or otherwise, are treatable through a combination of evidence-based therapies. It is often the case that patients living with substance use disorder also experience a co-occurring disorder. Simultaneous treatment of both conditions is vital to successful treatment outcomes.

Our Pismo Beach co-occurring disorder treatment provides a continuum of care for individuals with co-occurring chemical dependency and mental illnesses. Please contact The Haven at Pismo today to learn more about the services we offer.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Confronting Stigma: Going Public with Recovery

Talking about addiction isn’t an easy task. We live in a society that does not always look favorably on behavioral health problems. Even in recovery, people with use disorders still face stigma; members of the general public often view those with substance use issues as being broken souls.

Individuals who have never struggled with drugs and alcohol have a hard time making sense of why others would continue using despite the consequences. The same people wonder about the appeal of using substances in spite of the heartache attached to the practice. Many men and women look down on persons living with addiction.

Those who work a program of recovery are often bombarded by a salvo of questions as to why they no longer drink or drug. One’s addictive history is not anyone else’s business. However, it seems like a few people cannot help but inquire.

Some men and women have no issue talking about why they gave up on drugs and alcohol. Still, many others feel the need to hide the fact they are in recovery. No one (for example) wants to be viewed as being different. Those in recovery are committed to rejoining society; they hope to leave their shame in the past.

The Persistent Stigma of Addiction

Active addiction affects millions of Americans. With assistance, such people can find the path to long-term recovery. Alcohol and substance use disorder treatment helps people break the cycle of addiction, and it introduces them to programs for managing their illness.

12 Step recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are relied on by people around the globe. The word “anonymous” is in the name for a reason; AA was founded in the 1930s. At that time, alcoholics were treated horribly by society. Those affected by addictive disorders were viewed as being morally weak or lacking willpower—even in sobriety.

Today, scientists tell us that addiction is a form of mental illness. No one wakes up and decides they are going to drink and drug until their life is in ruins. Individuals touched by the disease of addiction do not lack moral fiber or a strong constitution. Instead, those affected have a treatable disorder. With assistance, men and women can lead happy and healthy lives.

Despite having a better understanding of the mechanisms of addiction, people still keep their disease to themselves. Stigma persists in the United States to this day. It is unfortunate that society doesn’t view mental health conditions the same way they would diabetes. Both types of illness are not a choice; they are treatable and must be managed in perpetuity.

Everyone Has a Chance at Recovery

Everyone is eligible for recovery, provided that they have support and compassion. In recent years, a significant number of books are available on the subject of addiction. Many others openly write about what they went through with addiction and their progress in recovery.

Autobiographies about use disorders have the power to inspire some to seek help and provide others the strength to no longer keep their sobriety a secret. Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction, a new book by Peter Grinspoon, MD, confronts stigma and discusses the argument for going public with sobriety.

Dr. Grinspoon is in recovery from opioid use disorder and has gone public about his struggles. In an article for the Harvard Health Blog, he points out that “secrets make you sick.” The fact that people in his social network know he is in recovery means they can step in to support him if he begins to struggle again.

Going public also prevents him from having to keep track of what he told each person about why he is sober. While alcohol was not his primary concern, Dr. Grinspoon was required to abstain for five years to get his medical license reinstated. During that time, you can probably imagine how many people asked him why he no longer drinks. The third reason he went public is as follows:

“Finally, I was increasingly intolerant of the blatant discrimination directed at my brothers and sisters in recovery. Contrary to popular wisdom, we are people too. Not only that, but we have a lot to teach the rest of society, knowledge forged out of struggle and remorse (and therapy). Addiction memoirs are crucial windows into the lives of those who have fought and overcome this scourge. I thought that with my memoir Free Refills, I could make a statement against stigma, by confronting head-on the taboo subject of physicians and addiction. I wanted to demonstrate that anyone can get addicted, even (or especially) your well-meaning doctor, and that, provided they have some ability to grow and change, they are afforded the treatment they deserve, and — most importantly —no one gives up on them, everyone has a chance at recovery.”


Central Coast Addiction Treatment Center

The Haven at Pismo offers evidence-based, addiction treatment for adults impacted by alcohol or substance use disorder. Please contact our team to learn more about the services and programs we provide. The Haven is the perfect place to renew your best today.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Mental Health Month Inspires Change

Mental Health Month
Mental health is of vital importance to living a stable, productive, and fulfilling life. Those who neglect their psychological well-being are at considerable risk of experiencing significant problems. Fortunately, there are small acts people can do each day that can pay off in the long run. It’s not always simple, but a little bit of effort towards prioritizing mental health is essential.

On the heels of Alcohol Awareness Month, millions of people are focusing on mental well-being. May is Mental Health Month: a national observance that is now 70 years strong. There are many facets to the annual awareness campaign, including educating, speaking out, and encouraging people to share their successes.

In the rooms of addiction recovery, those with lengths of sobriety share what works with the newcomer. The hope is that those with less time will incorporate what they learn into everyday practice. Those who can take suggestions, follow direction, and be honest with themselves can achieve long-term recovery. In doing so, individuals carry these message into the future, and the cycle of recovery continues.

Since use disorders are a form of mental illness, it stands to reason that the same model applies to other conditions. Millions of Americans take steps each day to manage and cope with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Such people accomplish this through various methods. Different techniques work for each person. Still, there is power in sharing about how to make progress; each success is an opportunity to help others.

Mental Health America is asking people who live with mental illness to share their strategies for maintaining overall health. During Mental Health Month, individuals can provide hope and affect change in people who are struggling.

Mental Health Month 2019: Helping Others

Physical and mental well-being depends on taking the time to prioritize eating healthy, exercise, and balance between work and play. The theme of MHM2019 is #4Body4Mind; all month, men and women are speaking out via social media. Mental Health America offers several tools to help guide those who have an interest in sharing their personal experience. Individuals who take part in the annual observance can help others:
  • Understand how lifestyle factors impact the health of the mind and body.
  • Start talking about mental health before Stage 4.
  • Assess their mental health through the use of screening tools.
  • Share their strategies for maintaining overall health by tagging social media posts with #4Mind4Body.
It is worth mentioning that untold millions of people are struggling with mental illness. Many of those who suffer have found it challenging to seek assistance. The stigma of psychiatric issues persists, and the shame that results from it bars people for reaching out for support.

Evidence-based screening tools and treatments exist—recovery is possible. Men and women can benefit significantly from hearing from those who have learned how to thrive in recovery. Sharing about your experience may result in a person finding the courage to seek treatment, recover and lead full, productive lives.

Inadequate social support makes it harder to recover from mental illnesses, while a strong social support system improves overall outcomes, according to research published in Psychiatry (2007). When those who are struggling with mental health find people to relate to, they are more likely to take steps to improve their mental health.

The sense of fellowship is one reason why persons in mutual help groups can break the cycle of self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors. If you’d like to get involved with MHM2019, please click here.

SLO County Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

The majority of men and women living with addiction have a co-occurring mental health disorder. When a client arrives at a rehab center, concurrent treatment for each form of mental illness is paramount to a successful outcome.

We provide a continuum of care for clients with co-occurring chemical dependency and mental illnesses. Please contact The Haven at Pismo today to learn more about our Central Coast treatment center.

Mental Health Month is an excellent time to reach out for support and begin the journey of recovery. Our dedicated team of professionals is standing by to answer any of your questions. 805.202.3440

Thursday, April 25, 2019

DEA Take Back Day: Preventing Prescription Drug Misuse

Prescription Drug MisuseWhat is prescription drug misuse? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), it is taking more than the recommended dose or using medicine without a prescription. Nonmedical use is when a person uses a pharmaceutical without a doctor's permission.

Individuals who take a prescription drug for its euphoric effects are engaging in nonmedical use. Prescription drug misuse can quickly lead to abuse. People need only scan the headlines to observe what can happen when a person takes too much. Over the last two decades, we have seen an alarming rise in overdose deaths relating to prescription drug misuse.

There are inherent dangers in using prescription opioids and sedatives in unintended ways. Most Americans understand that prescription drug misuse can lead to addiction and overdose. However, many of the patients with prescriptions remain willing to divert their medicines to friends or family members.

More than half (53.0 percent) of people, ages 12 or older, who misused pain relievers in 2016 reported obtaining the drugs from a friend or relative, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6 million Americans engaged in nonmedical prescription drug use.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a total of 70,237 overdose deaths in 2017 in the United States. Opioids of any kind were involved in 47,600 deaths; of which, 17,029 involved a prescription painkiller. Drug theft, misplacement, and diversion are still significant issues even though overdose deaths involving prescription drugs have leveled. Heroin and synthetic opioids (i.e., fentanyl) are now two of the leading causes of fatal overdoses.

National Take Back Day

Combatting nonmedical prescription drug use and abuse is a must. The majority of current heroin users are introduced to opioids via prescription painkillers. Mitigating diversion opportunities can prevent initiation, addiction, and overdose.

In 2010, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched the National Take Back Initiative. Each spring and fall, the DEA provides opportunities for Americans to dispose of their unused or unwanted medication safely. Since the program’s creation, National Rx Take Backs have collected 10,878,950 pounds of drugs.

The federal agency reports that its safe-disposal sites collected more than 900,000 pounds of unused or expired prescription medication during the last Take Back Day. The DEA writes that:

“Too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands. That's dangerous and often tragic. That's why it was great to see thousands of folks from across the country clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in - safely and anonymously - a record amount of prescription drugs.” 

The Take Back is scheduled for this weekend; the organization encourages participation from everyone in possession of unused prescription medications. Please take a moment to watch a short PSA about the biannual event:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Please follow the link to find a collection site near you.


Central Coast Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Any person who is in the grips of opioid addiction can benefit from seeking detoxification and residential treatment. Severe withdrawal symptoms make it challenging for men and women to break the cycle of addiction long enough to develop a program of recovery. Relapse rates are particularly high in the first week of abstinence.

Seeking professional assistance for an opioid use disorder can significantly increase a person’s ability to adopt a recovery program. Please contact The Haven at Pismo to learn more about The Pines, our Central Coast residential detox home. Our team of credentialed addiction professionals can safeguard your health and manage withdrawal symptoms.

Once detox is complete, our Central Coast inpatient addiction treatment will help you rebuild your life and restore hope. We invite you to renew to your best today.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Finding Employment Following Addiction Treatment

Working After Addiction Treatment
Following the completion of addiction treatment, most adult clients or patients return to work. Unemployed workers who are new to recovery are advised to seek job opportunities once their program is stable enough. The kinds of employment such people will gravitate towards depends on one’s level of education or skill set.

Addiction treatment experts and sponsors encourage newcomers, or those on the earlier end of the recovery spectrum, to stay busy. Too much idle time at any point in a person’s sobriety is rarely beneficial. Occupying each day with activities is a useful method for staying out of one’s head; rumination can lead to poor decisions, which can lead to relapse.

Men and women new to recovery can also benefit from finding employment that is, relatively, free from stress. Those fresh at working a program may not have robust coping mechanisms in place to cope with complications at work. Even if a person is overqualified for a particular job, there is something to be said for applying for a less demanding position in early recovery. People in recovery circles sometimes refer to the scenario above as finding a 'get well job.'

There will be plenty of time in the future to utilize one’s full potential and anything a person can do to mitigate stressors is critical. Generally speaking, a get well job is one that is part-time and not overly demanding; typically a position that doesn’t require taking the work home. Simply put, it’s about clocking in, doing the work, and clocking out. Such work positions can go a long way in re-teaching the merits of accountability and responsibility—two vital life skills for achieving long-term recovery.

Working After Addiction Treatment

Each case is different; following treatment some people have more employment options than others. A good many people have their financial situation to think about; money mismanagement accompanies years of active addiction quite frequently.

Clients preparing for discharge must weigh their options carefully and discuss their plans with a case manager or sponsor. Addiction treatment professionals have sufficient knowledge on the subject of working after treatment. When deciding the kind of work that will suit life in early recovery, men and women must ask and answer important questions. Such as:
  • Should I seek part-time or full-time employment?
  • Should I commute to a job or work from home?
  • Can I keep my recovery intact working in a position held previously?
Living in recovery means that the program comes first. Sobriety must be the foundation that supports everything else in life. A barkeep, new to abstinence, may find that bartending will jeopardize his or her hard work. Early recovery demands that people do whatever they can to preempt their exposure to people, places, and things that elicit a relapse.

While stress can severely impact an individual’s mission to achieve long-term recovery, so too can loneliness and isolation. In the 21st Century, there are plenty of jobs one can work from home, on the computer or over the phone. Such tasks may not be the most stressful or put people at risk of being around drugs and alcohol, but they can still impact mental well-being.

Males and females who recently completed treatment or those preparing to discharge should discuss the pros and cons of remote employment. With that in mind, a recent survey sheds some light on how working from home might affect one’s recovery.

Remote Employment Can Affect Wellness

People who undergo addiction treatment for alcohol or substance use disorder learn that they struggle with mental illness. Use disorder is a form of mental disease that is vulnerable to environmental factors. Clients learn that they must protect their sobriety by making choices that are conducive to well-being.

Individuals who are new to recovery and are considering working from home may find the 2019 State of Remote Work survey interesting. Respondents were asked about the struggles they faced from working remotely:
  • 49 percent struggled with wellness.
  • 19 percent with loneliness.
  • 8 percent with motivation.
Dr. Amy Cirbus, Ph.D., LMHC, LPC, and Manager of Clinical Quality at Talkspace, tells Forbes that:

“Remote workers often experience symptoms of anxiety and depression at a higher rate than people commuting into traditional office spaces. Specifically, they report feelings of isolation and loneliness and high rates of worry about job performance and stability. Insomnia and sleep disturbance are common, along with increased fatigue, irritation, sadness and feelings of disconnection. Remote workers report a lack of concentration and focus that can compound and exacerbate these mental health challenges. It can lead to a loss of self-worth and a questioning of one’s abilities. Combined together, these symptoms can have a significant impact on job performance, job satisfaction and the efficiency of productive work.” 

The report does not imply that working from home is an impossibility for people with mental health illness. However, types of work that can result in loneliness, anxiety, and depression should be taken into consideration when finding employment in recovery.

SLO County Addiction Treatment

The Haven at Pismo works with clients to develop a plan to reduce the risk of relapse following addiction treatment. Please contact us today to learn more about our proven continuum of care. We are confident that you will find that our Central Coast addiction treatment is the perfect place to renew to your best today. (805) 202-3440

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Alcohol Use: Relapse Prevention

alcohol use affects white matter
Alcohol Awareness Month continues, and it’s vital to keep the discussion about the most heavily used substance alive. Today, we would like to cover an alcohol-related topic that people in recovery, or not, should find interesting — the subject of relapse and the importance of remaining abstinent despite how a person feels.

Early recovery from alcohol, or any substance for the matter, is a challenging time. Once alcohol is no longer in the picture, the body begins a transition process of varying lengths of time. The substance may be out of an individual’s bloodstream, but the effects of heavy use can linger for months and years even.

The detoxification stage of recovery is meant to stabilize a patient. Medical professionals utilize medications to prevent any health complications that might arise, such as seizures. Anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and discomfort can drive a person to want to abandon ship before reaching destination recovery. Keeping detox patients comfortable during this period is critical to helping them see the process through.

Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol use can last differing lengths of time. It depends on the person. On average, symptoms diminish within five to seven days of taking the last drink. While physical symptoms can subside in a week, psychological ones can continue for variable lengths depending on the case. Extended care following detox is critical due to this reality.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and long-term use can have lasting ramifications. Heavy drinking impacts brain white matter, which disrupts how different regions in the brain communicate. The alterations, according to new research, can last at least six weeks, MNT reports. The implication being that removing alcohol from the equation does not mean everything is back to “normal.”

Alcohol Use Affects White Matter

residential treatment
Owing to post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), some patients can experience emotional and psychological symptoms for months or longer. Without a secure support network in place or a safe environment to process emotions, an individual may act on cravings. Deciding to head home following detoxification often proves too much for some people, resulting in relapse.

Healing takes time, three to five days of abstinence isn't a panacea. The brain needs time to readjust and balance itself out. Finding equilibrium is akin to a rollercoaster ride, but life becomes a little easier to handle with each day sober.

The brain is a complicated organ; there is still much that experts do not understand about how drugs affect the mind. However, a new study shows that alcohol use disorder disrupts brain function long after the last drink. Research published in JAMA Psychiatry indicates that AUD patients had a generalized change in the corpus callosum and the fimbria.

The fimbria is responsible for communication between the hippocampus, the nucleus accumbens, and the prefrontal cortex. These regions of the brain play a central role in addiction being the pleasure centers of the brain.
  • The hippocampus is responsible for agreeable memory formation.
  • The nucleus accumbens is the reward-circuit (i.e., desire, satiety, and inhibition).
  • The Prefrontal Cortex handles complex thinking and planning, executive function, decision making, and appropriate social behavior.
Substance use changes how the above structures function. The fact that how pleasure centers communicate is still affected during abstinence is of crucial importance. Dr. Santiago Canals, co-author of the study, said that:

“Until now, nobody could believe that in the absence of alcohol, the damage in the brain would progress.”


Central Coast Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment Center

Residential treatment is the safest route for anyone hoping to achieve long-term recovery. Once detox is complete, beginning a course of rehab for either 30, 60, or 90 days can significantly strengthen one’s program of sobriety thus preventing relapse.

Residing in a distraction-free, safe environment is the ideal place for a person’s brain function to normalize. While such changes are underway, individuals learn tools and coping skills for living in recovery.

The Haven at Pismo is the perfect place to renew to your best today. Please contact us to learn more about our detox, residential and outpatient treatment, and transitional living programs.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Alcohol Awareness Month 2019

Across the country, people from all walks of life are living with alcohol use disorder and alcohol dependence. This is true for one in every 12 adults, as a matter of fact, according to Facing Addiction with NCADD. What’s more, an estimated 623,000 adolescents ages 12–17 had AUD in 2015; one's age has little effect on alcoholism.

In the US, alcohol use is legal for people over the age of 21. However, legality does not imply that drinking is safe. Since the practice of drinking often begins in high school, it is critical that experts do more to educate young people to be cautious about their alcohol consumption. Those who start drinking at a young age are more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder and alcohol-related health problems.

The association between drinking and significant life issues is crystal clear. The list of alcohol-related health disorders is lengthy and is likely to become longer. Scientists can now link excessive alcohol use with:
  • Addiction, anxiety, depression, and suicide
  • Cardiovascular problems, such as myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Gastrointestinal problems, i.e., pancreatitis and gastritis
  • Liver diseases, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis
  • Several types of cancers, including but not limited to liver, mouth, throat, larynx (voice box) and esophagus
Facing Addiction with NCADD shares that 40 percent of all hospital beds in the U.S are being used to treat health conditions that are linked to alcohol use. The life-threatening health risks of hazardous alcohol use call for action – to break the stigma of addiction. In doing so, we encourage people struggling to seek treatment and embrace life in recovery.


Alcohol Use Disorder is Treatable, Recovery is Within Reach

April is Alcohol Awareness Month! Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has worked tirelessly to break the stigma of addiction with facts. Information is one of the most useful tools in promoting change! The organization helps communities organize events to educate people about addiction, treatment, and recovery.

Many people living with alcohol and substance use disorder don’t know that there is a solution to their problem. Such individuals do not realize that recovery is possible, and it is within reach.

Since alcohol use disorder is a chronic and progressive mental health disease, time is of the essence. Men and women who believe they have a problem cannot afford to delay their recovery. While making significant life changes to recover isn’t easy, it is possible, especially with professional assistance.

For example, NCADD estimates that as many as 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery from alcohol use alone. Millions more are recovering from other types of addiction.

It is also worth mentioning that many Americans may not realize that some of their problems are the result of drinking. Screening for alcohol use disorder has become more common, but we still have a long way to go. Again, since alcohol is legal and intertwined with many men and women’s lives, people risk ignoring the signs. Or, they link employment, family, and social issues to something other than alcohol.

One method of gauging a relationship with alcohol is to abstain for a period. Conveniently, Alcohol-Free Weekend is coming up (April 5-7, 2019)! NCADD encourages all Americans to engage in three alcohol-free days. People who attempt and are unable to refrain from drinking this weekend should reach out for further guidance.

SLO County Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment Center

We must point out that just because someone isn’t able to abstain for three days doesn’t mean they have an alcohol use disorder. Moreover, people can have an addiction to alcohol and still forgo for the entire weekend.

There are diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder, and an inability to abstain is just one criterion. Anyone who has concerns or is uncertain about their drinking can benefit from speaking with an addiction professional.

Please contact The Haven at Pismo if you believe alcohol is disrupting your life. We are available 24/7 to answer any questions and to help you determine if action is required. Our Central Coast addiction treatment center can assist you in bringing about long-term addiction recovery. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Benefits of Life Skills Training

life skills training
Building a new normal for yourself without the crutch of drugs or alcohol requires learning life strategies and coping skills that you can use long after you leave rehab. From eating healthy to managing your free time to finding employment,  life skills are essential for sustaining your sobriety and enhancing your quality of life.

While different facilities offer different life skills programming, some of the things you can expect to learn include:
  • Job search and career development
  • Stress management
  • Health and fitness
  • Emotional and behavioral control
  • Social skills
  • Personal development

6 Must-Learn Life Skills for Sobriety

Here’s a closer look at some essential life skills to learn during recovery – and how they can benefit your health and long-term sobriety:

  1. Routines: The right routine can provide structure and familiarity to your day and make use of your downtime in a healthy way. Do your best to prioritize your daily tasks and don’t take on too much, too fast. Keep your routine simple and revolve it around the activities and tasks that will strengthen your recovery.
  2. Self-care: A great deal of time goes into using drugs and alcohol. So much so, that you likely need to relearn simple self-care acts like proper grooming and hygiene, establishing a sleep routine, healthy eating, exercise and making time for sober hobbies. Now that the focus is on living healthy in life after addiction, more time should be spent on looking and feeling your best.
  3. Nutrition: Chronic drug and/or alcohol use robs the body of the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Eating the right foods during recovery can help repair this damage and ensure that your organs and tissues work properly. It can also help keep you physically and mentally strong. This is why it’s essential to learn how to avoid or limit processed foods and stick with a well-balanced diet that includes fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and lean proteins.
  4. Job skills: Financial well-being is an important part of lasting sobriety. As part of your life skills training, you may learn how to write a resume, conduct a job interview, dress for the workplace, manage on-the-job stress and more. 
  5. Stress management: Learning to recognize and manage stress is a critical skill for people in recovery. This includes finding ways to relax and alleviate stress without the crutch of drugs and alcohol. Unmanaged, chronic stress can lead to anger, anxiety, hunger, fatigue, loneliness – which are all know triggers for relapse.
  6. Social skills: An essential life skill is saying what is meant and meaning what is said. Clear communication skills are important for building and maintaining healthy relationships with family, friends, recovery peers, coworkers and employers. Learning to communicate properly will also help you to maintain healthy boundaries and better manage your emotions.

The Haven’s Life Skills Program

Our life skills program can help you create a clear vision of the drug- and alcohol-free life you'd like to see for yourself. You’ll receive support to take the necessary steps to stay grounded as you move forward in your new sober life. Consider us your safety net as you establish healthy patterns and habits for sustained sobriety. To learn more, call today: 805-202-3440.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Mental Illness: New Foundation Raising Awareness

mental illness
In December of last year, Netflix released a documentary about the Swedish musician Tim Bergling. Known to his fans as Avicii, the DJ landed his first record deal at the age of 16, became a hit sensation in 2011, and took his own life at 28 years old. Throughout his relatively short-lived career, the growing phenomenon struggled with substance use and severe anxiety.

Avicii: True Stories gives viewers a candid look at how fame, exhaustion, and stress can take a terrible toll on someone lacking the tools to cope. The documentary, shot over four years ending six months before his suicide, is a cautionary tale in many ways. It is partially about people with mental illness listening to what their mind and body need, and taking action before it’s too late.

Mental illness requires constant attention. Individuals must not ignore their symptoms of conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. When people put career and relationships before their health, it often results in tragedy. It is safe to say that many men and women in California are putting their dreams of “making it” ahead of mental, physical and spiritual wellness.

A number of things stand out in the story of Avicii that are relevant to people who battle mental illness. One is how people in the music industry knew that Tim was struggling, but continued to prod him onstage regardless. Such actions put profits above the mental health of the performer. Much like a lot of people who struggle with psychiatric conditions, Mr. Bergling self-medicated with alcohol. It caused severe health problems for the performer and likely exacerbated his anxiety.

Self-Medicating Mental Illness

Earlier this year, we shared some startling statistics with readers about excessive alcohol use. Life-threatening health conditions arising from alcohol use are more commonly associated with older people. However, new data indicates that a trend in alcohol-related liver disease is on the rise. Moreover, the fatal condition is affecting 25- to 34-year-olds at unprecedented rates. Another study indicates that acute pancreatitis is increasing among young people too.

Mr. Bergling’s excessive alcohol use resulted in the development of acute pancreatitis in 2012, according to Billboard. He was 22! The painful disease can cause complications with the gallbladder; he had his removed in 2014, The Guardian reports. His health continued to deteriorate influencing his decision to retire from stage performing in 2016. On April 20, 2018, the musician died of self-inflicted wounds in the country of Oman.

“He really struggled with thoughts about meaning, life, happiness,” said Bergling’s family at the time. “He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace.” 

The world lost a talented young soul, and his parents wish for Tim’s legacy to help others who have similar struggles. The superstar’s family have launched The Tim Bergling Foundation; the goal is to raise money and awareness for mental illness and suicide prevention, Rolling Stone reports. The foundation will tackle many other global issues the family deems are of great importance.

“Tim wanted to make a difference — starting a foundation in his name is our way to honor his memory and continue to act in his spirit,” the family said in a statement. 

If you would like to learn more about the artist and his life, you can catch it on Netflix. The trailer is available below:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.


Addiction Treatment in SLO County, California

The Haven at Pismo, located on California’s serene Central Coast, is the “perfect place to renew to your best today.” More than half of people living with addiction also have a dual diagnosis, another form of mental illness that accompanies the use disorder. Whether your addiction preceded co-occurring illness or the opposite, our team of dedicated professionals can help.

Please contact us to learn more about the programs we offer at our Central Coast Rehab and begin your recovery today.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Addiction Treatment: Deciphering the Good, Bad and Ugly

finding a reputable rehab
Getting up the courage to get help for a substance use disorder is hard enough without having to weed out the good, bad and ugly when it comes to addiction treatment centers. Yet knowing how to tell the difference between a reputable rehab and shady practices that put profit before patient care is a crucial step on the road to recovery.

Unfortunately, even a simple online search has proven not so simple over the years. Misleading ads and unethical online business practices have led to dishonest businesses appearing higher in search results than legit ones. Luckily, Google implemented new restrictions for addiction treatment providers, mutual support groups and crisis hotlines looking to advertise on websites, search pages and apps.

These businesses are now required to undergo an intense vetting process overseen by Portland-based LegitScript, a company created to make the internet and payment ecosystems “safer and more transparent.” To become LegitScript certified, a business has to pass criminal background checks, show that they’re fully licensed and carry valid insurance and submit “written policies and procedures” demonstrating their commitment to industry best practices, effective recovery and continuous improvement.

Choosing a Reputable Rehab

When finding a reputable rehab for yourself or for someone you love, consider the following questions:

Is there a screening or pre-admissions questionnaire?
The best type of addiction treatment will be tailored to your individual needs and depend upon your overall health and history of substance abuse. Along these lines, the in-take coordinators should take into consideration your medical history and addiction severity as well as any co-occurring mental illnesses prior to planning your course of treatment. If they don't, you may be speaking with a patient "broker" who is paid to place you in a specific facility, whether or not it's the right fit. To be sure, ask the person if he or she gets paid any type of referral fee.

Are they touting a 100 percent success rates or a “cure”? Here’s the reality: at least 40 to 60 percent of people will relapse at least once in their lifetime following a stint at rehab. Addiction is a chronic disease that requires lifelong management. A reputable rehab will never promise a “cure,” but it will offer a strong program along with services and support, even after you’ve completed treatment.

Are they offering you anything for free? If a treatment center pushes their "free" goods or services, including travel to the rehab or insurance, this likely indicates foul play. Especially be aware of those who offer free rent in sober living homes in exchange for attending a particular drug treatment program.

Are they accredited? Rehabs are not required to be accredited but the ones that are have much higher standards. Check for an accreditation seal on their website, including the coveted Joint Commission seal, which is recognized universally as a stamp of legitimacy, and indicates a facility’s philosophy and standards of care are far above the industry norm.

Are they giving you vague answers about their treatment program? Asking specific questions will help you differentiate between trustworthy addiction treatment centers and scammers. It will also help you determine whether you're talking to a "broker".
  • What evidence-based therapies do they offer?
  • Do they offer psychiatric services?
  • Do they offer medication-assisted treatment?
  • Do they have a clinical team comprised of certified doctors?
  • Do they have wellness therapies?
  • Do they offer long-term planning or relapse prevention?

We're One of the Good Guys

Fortunately, there are many high-quality, ethical treatment programs looking to help families and their loved ones overcome addiction and lead sober lives. The Haven is an industry leader in organizational management, facility safety and thoroughness of communication with a client’s family and loved ones. We are LegitScript certified and have met Joint Commission standards for facility quality and management, treatment practices and quality of care. To learn more about how we provide you or someone you love with quality and comprehensive addiction treatment, call us today: 805-202-3440.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Addiction Medicine Fellowships Grow In Number

addiction medicineDoctors have the potential to change lives, for better or worse; the American addiction epidemic makes that abundantly clear. On the one hand, we have doctors who continue to overprescribe despite the potential for addiction and overdose. While on the other, physicians are working on the frontlines of the epidemic at treatment centers across the country.

While the crisis facing America involves the misuse of any mind-altering substance, most people recognize that prescription drug use is a major contributing factor. Since the late 1990s, primary care physicians have flooded American medicine cabinets with highly addictive painkillers and sedatives. Skyrocketing addiction and overdose rates were the result. Even though many doctors now acknowledge that they had a hand in creating this scourge, only a few are equipped to provide patients with solutions.

Fortunately, there is evidence of a new generation of medical students that see an opportunity to affect significant change. A growing number of medical institutions (more than 60) now offer addiction medicine fellowship programs, NPR reports. A young doctor can now learn evidence-based treatment approaches to help the more than 20 million people living with a substance-use disorder.

"We have got an enormous gap between the need and the doctors available to provide that treatment," Dr. Anna Lembke, medical director of addiction medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, tells NPR. She adds that "At least the medical community has begun to wake up to consider not only their role in triggering this opioid epidemic but also the ways they need to step up to solve the problem."


The Path to Addiction Medicine

Dr. Lembke points out that a career in addiction medicine is now less complicated to pursue. She highlights how psychiatry was once the only door into the field; and that it changed in 2015 when the American Board of Medical Specialties recognized addiction medicine as an official sub-specialty, according to the article. Which means physicians in other fields of medicine could get into to fellowship training programs.

Dr. Hillary Tamar says that in her fourth year of med school she was assigned to a rotation at a treatment center. Her experience changed her perception of substance use disorder, and she saw an opportunity to improve people’s lives, the article reports. Now, Dr. Tamar tells NPR she plans to do a fellowship in addiction medicine when she finishes up her family medicine residency.

"They [addicts] can go from spending all their time pursuing the acquisition of a substance to being brothers, sisters, daughters [and] fathers making breakfast for their kids again," Tamar says. "It's really powerful."

Dr. Lembke shares that she couldn’t find a medical student or resident who wanted to learn about addiction ten years ago. Today, she says that there are many med students and residents enthusiastic about the field. Dr. Lembke adds that social justice is a driving force behind many young doctors' desires to learn more about addiction.

Confronting an epidemic that takes more than 100 American lives each day requires more doctors who are skilled in evidence-based addiction treatment. Addiction medicine fellowships could slowly impact the deficit seen today.


SLO County Addiction Rehab

The Haven at Pismo helps men and women, from all walks of life whose lives are being impacted by alcohol, substance use disorder, and co-occurring illness. Located on California’s beautiful Central Coast, our addiction treatment center in the County of San Luis Obispo (SLO) is the “perfect place to renew to your best today.”

The Haven offers a distinctive approach to recovery that includes a multi-model approach, a focus on the family, world-class amenities, and exceptional cuisine. Please contact us today to learn more about our private, addiction recovery center.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Senior Acohol Use in SLO County and Beyond

alcohol use
During National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (January), The Haven at Pismo shared some startling data related to alcohol use. Fatal alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) is on the rise in the United States. What’s more, 25- to 34-year-olds succumbing to ALD almost tripled between 1999 and 2016. The takeaway is that drinking can do irreparable damage in a short duration; unhealthy relationships with alcohol can steal a life before an attempt at recovery is made.

Heavy drinking and the practice of binge drinking is common among many young adults. Keg parties and “blackouts” are a part of many twenty-something-year-olds’ lives. Binge drinking is often defined as women consuming four or more drinks in about two hours, and men consuming five or more.

While most people will curtail their drinking as they transition from college to the workforce, a statistically significant proportion will not. Those who continue to drink hazardously are bound to experience adverse effects. However, risky alcohol consumption is not merely a young person’s problem, nor is binge drinking; older Americans struggle too.

As more and more “baby boomers” transition into retirement across the country and throughout San Luis Obispo County, some seniors are fostering new relationships with alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that baby boomers – people born between 1946 and 1964 – are binge drinking at an alarming rate. What is even more concerning, the NIAAA says that AUD is on the rise among this demographic as well.

The most recent available data indicate that an estimated 2.5 million older Americans are living with alcohol or substance use problems, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD).


Older Adults Struggle with Alcohol in SLO County and Beyond

SLO County Addiction Treatment
When people who battle substance abuse from a young age don’t find treatment, their disease often results in premature death. As a result, older demographics make up only a small portion of the number of individuals seeking treatment each year. However, with more older Americans drinking additional significant amounts than they ever did before, some are developing alcohol use disorder.

How does one make it through their whole adult life, only to form an unhealthy relationship with drugs and alcohol as a senior? First off, baby boomers or children of the 1960s on, are known to have reasonably liberal outlooks about substance use, when compared to other generations.

As people age and settle into their golden years they can be struck by the loss of close friends, loved ones, and spouses. Idle time (boredom) in combination with grief is a recipe for loneliness resulting in a desire to anesthetize. And, deteriorating health conditions add to those factors. Substance use may alleviate some of the pain that comes with aging, but it’s is guaranteed to bring about new problems.

"You become more sensitive to [alcohol and drugs] as you get older," Colin Quennell, program supervisor for the County of San Luis Obispo Health Agency's Drug and Alcohol Services Department. "It can make health conditions worse."

Even though more and more seniors are becoming dependent on drugs and alcohol, Quennell points out that only 43 out of the thousands of clients who went to treatment in SLO County from January through August of 2018 were seniors, according to New Times. Recovery is possible for older adults, and it is likely that more and more will seek it in the coming years. Quennell spoke at the SLO County Veterans Memorial Building recently; he shared that he has a family member who got sober in his 80’s.

"There's no age limit for a person starting out getting clean and sober," said Quennell. 

Nancy Gottlieb, clinical director for the Santa Barbara branch of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, serving the California Central Coast, stresses the importance of primary care physicians (PCP) screening their elderly patients for alcohol and substance use problems. While older Americans are relatively liberal when it comes to drinking, they are still susceptible to the stigma that looms over addiction. Gottlieb says that they may not be willing to contact an addiction treatment center for help, but they may respond honestly to questions from their PCP.

"There's a big percentage of people who will answer honestly and get help if you just ask," Gottlieb said. "So there's been a real push to get primary care physicians to ask these kinds of questions."


SLO County Addiction Treatment

If you are a senior who has an unhealthy relationship with drugs and alcohol, then The Haven at Pismo can help. Our Central Coast private, addiction recovery center is equipped to treat men and women, old and young adults alike. Please contact us today to learn how we can help you live a life free from drugs and alcohol.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Dispelling Myths About Alcohol Use

alcohol use
Alcohol is the most heavily used mind-altering substance on the planet. More than 88,000 Americans lose their lives to alcohol-related causes each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC reports that over 15 million Americans struggle with an alcohol use disorder or AUD; however, less than eight percent of those people receive treatment.

Several studies conducted over the years have linked alcohol use to myriad, life-threatening health problems. Such conditions include, but are not limited to:
  • Liver Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Breast, Mouth, Throat, Esophagus, Liver, and Colon Cancer
The above list presents the physical problems that can arise from drinking. However, the substance can wreak havoc on the brain as well. Researchers associate several mental health problems with alcohol use, including addiction, anxiety, and depression. Despite experts agreeing unequivocally that alcohol use, in any amount, carries inherent risks, myths about the substance persist. It is of the utmost importance that we work to dispel some the common misconceptions about alcohol. Particularly the idea that using alcohol moderately has health benefits.


No Safe Level of Alcohol Consumption

A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 found that nearly 3 million deaths globally can be attributed to alcohol each year; and, about 1 in 10 deaths is linked to alcohol use among people ages 15 to 49. The authors conclude that there's no "safe" level of alcohol consumption.

"The widely held view of the health benefits of alcohol needs revising," the researchers wrote in their paper, published in the journal The Lancet. "Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none." 

The massive study did find a slight correlation between moderate drinking and reduced risk of ischemic heart disease. However, the researchers acknowledge that the health risks of alcohol eclipse such benefits.

The authors of a new study point out that the previous studies confirming the benefit – alcohol can protect against ischemic heart disease – are faulty. Support data for the above finding usually involved people ages 50 and older; it fails to consider the people who have perished from alcohol use at younger ages, LiveScience reports. The observation is important because one-third of deaths from alcohol consumption occur among people ages 20 to 49; and, the authors write that "deceased persons cannot be enrolled in" medical studies.

The research, published last month in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, shows that only 4.5 percent of estimated deaths said to be prevented by alcohol consumption occurred among those ages 20 to 49, compared with 80 percent among those ages 65 and older. The study authors, led by Dr. Timothy Naimi of Boston Medical Center's Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit, conclude:

“Because of premature mortality, alcohol-mortality associations based on cohort studies may underestimate negative health consequences compared with those observed among the general population.”

California Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

Alcohol use disorder is a treatable mental health condition, and addiction recovery is possible for you or a loved one. The more extended treatment is postponed, the worse a person’s symptoms become; alcoholism is a progressive, life-threatening disease with no known cure. With professional assistance, however, men and women can learn how to manage their illness and lead a productive life in recovery.

We invite you to contact The Haven at Pismo to learn more about our sanctuary for those seeking recovery. Our dedicated team of addiction professionals can help you find physical restoration, spiritual reawakening, and freedom from chemical dependency. You are welcome to submit a confidential online request or call 805.202.3440 today to speak with a recovery counselor.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Study Links Fruits and Veggies to Better Mental Health

Taking care of your mental health is a big part of recovery, especially if you’re dealing with a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness. Your mental health is crucial for whole-body healing – it’s one part in the process of healing your mind, body and spirit for lasting sobriety.

There are many things you can do to safeguard your mental health during recovery – for example, meditation, journaling, exercise and proper rest. And, according to a new study, loading up on fruits and veggies might help, too.

The study: Researchers from the University of Leeds based their study on a smaller 2016 study from Australia that found that eating more fruits and vegetables led to improvements in a person’s psychological well-being. They wanted to determine whether the findings would hold true with a larger pool of study participants, so they evaluated the habits of more than 40,000 individuals from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. The results: The higher fruit and veggie consumption, the higher self-reported rates of mental well-being and life satisfaction.

While the researchers noted that healthy eating can’t replace proper mental health treatment, they did say that “adding just one serving of fruits or vegetables daily may have as many benefits for mental well-being as adding seven to eight walks per month to your physical regimen.”

Eating Better for a Better You
One of the reasons we chose to talk about this study is that March is National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help people make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits.

It’s the perfect time to commit to small changes in your diet – like eating an extra piece of fruit or side salad with your meal – that can eventually lead to big changes in how you feel and how your body and mind function. You don’t need to overhaul your entire diet, but prioritizing proper nutrition and physical exercise can help assist with the healing process. It can also provide you with increased energy and focus so you’re able to do the hard work of recovery.

In honor of National Nutrition Month, here are a few more healthy eating tips adopted from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
  • Balance your plate: A great way to increase your veggie intake is to double up your veggie servings. In general, a healthy, balanced diet should include whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, fiber-rich fruits and veggies and a small amount of healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, eggs).
  • Remove energy zappers: Skip the soda, sugary coffee and energy drinks – which can cause energy crashes – and instead opt for water, fat-free or low-fat milk or unsweetened decaf tea.
  • Honor fullness cues: Portion control is an important part of a healthy diet. If your meal carries you five to six hours without hunger pangs, it's likely that you're overeating. Try to eat so you’re comfortably full or not stuffed – this means reaching a 5 or 6 on a scale of 0 (starving) to 10 (painfully full).
  • Don’t skip snacks: The right snack can help keep energy levels high and prevent any cravings. Try to choose snacks with a combo of protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates. Consider an apple with a handful of nuts, or a serving of carrots and string cheese.
Nourish Your Recovery at The Haven
Our staff helps you create dietary patterns that support your physical and mental health and correct any nutritional deficiencies due to years of substance abuse. To learn more about our nutritional education and chef-prepared meals, call us today: 805-202-3440.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Connecting Families to Resources

haven at pismo seminarA family-friendly seminar on Contemporary Principles of Addiction Treatment will be presented by Dr. Michael D. McGee, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of The Haven at Pismo on March 7, 2019 in Arroyo Grande.

This educational support group will be held at CafĂ© Andreini in the village of Arroyo Grande, located at 131 E Branch Street, from 6:00pm-7:30pm on Thursday, March 7th. If you have a loved one suffering from addiction, this is an alternative that will provide you with the knowledge and responses needed to empower yourself and motivate your loved one into seeking treatment.

By providing an expert like Dr. McGee, The Haven of Pismo hopes to connect families with resources aimed towards healing and recovery from drug and alcohol addiction through Dr. McGee’s evidence-based principles of contemporary addiction treatment.

“These principles include a commitment to safe, compassionate and respectful care that is both recovery and discovery oriented,” says Dr. McGee. “This care is patient-centered, network-oriented and sees patients and families through a long-term process of healing and recovery.” Dr. McGee’s CRAFT approach has approximately 70% success rate compared to other approaches.

This seminar is free and open to the public with seating on a first-come, first-serve basis. It will also cover frequently asked questions about recovery support from addiction.

The Haven at Pismo is the only detox and rehab center on the Central Coast of California that provides medically supervised and top-quality care for people needing assistance from substance abuse. The Haven at Pismo specializes in restoring hope and rebuilding lives after the trauma of substance abuse through a five phase program. Dr. McGee is Board Certified in General Psychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry, and Psychosomatic Medicine. He has also directed several treatment programs, conducted government-funded outcomes research and has published in the areas of spirituality, clinical treatment, performance management, care management and health information technology. 

Reserve your seat today! Seating is limited so please RSVP by March 1st. This is a free event but please RSVP to 805-202-3440. For more information about The Haven at Pismo and its resources, visit www.thehaven.com.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment for Women

alcohol use disorder
In January, during National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, we reported that some 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes each year. We also pointed out on our blog that more than 16 million people in the United States meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder or AUD.

Those struggling with alcohol use can benefit significantly from seeking help; however, most people never access care. The reasons why people avoid reaching out for help are many; some people don’t think they have a problem, others do not know they do—still, more people fail to access care because of the stigma of addiction. There are other reasons why people are unable to get the help they need, but those mentioned above are some of the most common, the latter cause in particular.

The evidence is clear and overwhelming—addiction is a life-threatening mental illness. Fortunately, treatment exists, and recovery is possible. And still, many remain unwilling or unable to reach out for help, even individuals who have health insurance. The above fact is especially true among women who have insurance coverage, according to a new report from the Research Society on Alcoholism.

“The study confirms what anyone who is in the practice of managing patients with liver disease already knows — that while alcohol cessation treatment programs can improve outcomes, very few patients avail themselves to it,” said Dr. Robert Brown, a hepatologist and director of the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.


More Women Have AUDs, But Few Seek Treatment

Alcohol use disorder can affect men and women alike. While more males contend with the disease than females, the number of women who do too is climbing. High-risk drinking rose almost 60 percent for women from 2001-2002 to 2012-2013, according to research appearing in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. Moreover, the rates of women diagnosed with drinking-related cirrhosis increased by 50 percent from 2009 to 2016.

Cirrhosis of the liver is a life-threatening condition; but, addiction treatment and a program of recovery can prevent the disease from worsening. Of 66,053 privately insured female patients, ages 18 to 64, diagnosed with alcohol-associated cirrhosis from 2009 to 2016, only 10 percent of the group received in-person mental health or substance abuse treatment, Healthline reports. Interestingly, people who go to rehab or take medication to prevent relapse are 15 percent less likely to see their cirrhosis worsen, as opposed to those who never receive substance abuse treatment.

Deni Carise, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist with expertise in addiction and an Adjunct Clinical Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Psychiatry, says the reason for the gender disparity is attributable to societal and social challenges, according to the article. Carise is in recovery, with more than 30 years clean and sober.

“Women face additional barriers to treatment for substance abuse. They have family pressure not to admit they have a disorder or seek treatment, they generally have less financial freedom, and they tend to have more childcare responsibilities than men, making it harder to get treatment,” said Dr. Carise. She adds that “Effective treatment works, and people can go on to have great lives. The recovery can be so transformative for someone, so we need to keep pushing people to get the care they need.”


Stigma Doesn’t Have to Stand In The Way of Addiction Treatment

Seeking help can change one’s life dramatically. While it can be challenging to admit you have a problem and seek assistance, courage can be found—even in the most despairing of times. At The Haven, we understand how punishing the stigma of addiction can be; and, we know the guilt and shame that can accompany any form of mental illness. However, reaching out for support, considering our gender-specific treatment, and working a program of recovery is not a sign of weakness—it is a marker of strength.

Please contact us to learn how we can help you embark on an unforgettable journey of healing.  

February 25 - March 3, 2019, is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness). For more information about how we can change the conversation around food, body image, and eating disorders, please click here! Join the movement, and #ComeAsYouAre, not as you think you should be.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Neuroscientist In Recovery Sheds Light On Addiction

Neuroscience is a fascinating field of study; the findings that derive from research on the mind can save lives. Those who dedicate their careers to developing a more concise understanding of how the brain works, help others find solutions to some science's most puzzling questions. The study of mental illness is no exception. Those in recovery, who began their journey in treatment, have benefited from advancements in neuroscience.

Naturally, taking the requisite steps to become a neuroscientist is a monumental task. Years of education is necessary before one can proudly put the letters PhD behind his or her name. So, those who choose to go into the field, require steadfast dedication to seeing their goal realized. It is also fair to say that people who become qualified to study and provide guidance to patients about mental disease need to steer clear of distractions.

Today, hundreds of millions of people around the globe struggle with mental illness like depression and substance use disorders. But, there are only a handful of individuals studying mental health disorders; and, there is an infinitesimally small number of neuroscientists with personal experience with mental diseases. One such example of the latter is behavioral neuroscientist and professor of psychology, Judith Grisel.

Professor Grisel’s experience with drugs and alcohol, beginning at a young age, was the impetus for her interest in the neuroscience of addiction. Not only is Grisel working to understand better how drugs and alcohol affect the brain, but she can also serve as an inspiration for all those who have struggled or still struggle with addiction.


Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction

Judith Grisel’s primary focus is on determining the root causes of drug addiction. She teaches psychology at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. She is a renowned behavioral neuroscientist and she is also in recovery. In her new book, Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction, she draws from her decades of research and personal battle with substance use disorder to give readers a better understanding of how addiction happens.

Professor Grisel spoke about her life, work, and the book on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross recently. She explains that after experiencing her first bout of drunkenness at the age of 13, her life changed in more ways than one. Like other people who had a profound first experience with a mind-altering substance, she struggled in the following years.

"It was so complete and so profound," she told NPR. "I suddenly felt less anxious, less insecure, less inept to cope with the world. Suddenly I was full and OK in a way that I had never been." 

With more than 30 years clean and sober, Grisel continues to light the road to recovery for people still “out there.” Her work is also helping policymakers make more informed decisions regarding a field of medicine that is largely misunderstood.

"I'm always interested in the mechanisms of things," she said. "And when I heard that I had a disease, I kind of felt naturally that that would have a biological basis, and I figured that I could study that biological basis and understand it and then maybe fix it."

If you have the time, listen to the interview; it may be enlightening:

If you are having trouble listening, please click here.


Addiction Treatment

Please contact The Haven at Pismo if you are in the grips of addiction or a co-occurring mental disorder. Our team of highly trained professionals relies on evidence-based practices to provide medically supervised and top-quality care. We help men and women recover from alcohol or substance use disorder. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Social Media Impacts Mental Health

mental health
Individuals in early recovery do well to remain focused. Naturally, staying present and grounded in sobriety is not simple. Each day requires a commitment to putting the best foot forward and doing the next right thing in service to well-being. There is clear evidence that when people put recovery first, any progress made can last a lifetime.

Those who work a program understand that they must do certain activities every day to stay on task. It is a realization that is often easier said than done, but taking daily steps to become the best version of “you” is possible. For instance, such people know that attending meetings of recovery is vital; and, that participating in one’s recovery is paramount. That means sharing, checking in with a support group, and remaining in a state of accountability.

People who merely go through the motions of working a program but do not engage are likely to encounter problems. Each person must be an active participant in the continual journey called addiction recovery. Staying tuned-in to a program is made challenging at times by the myriad distractions unique to the 21st Century. It was not long ago when seeing a cellphone in a
meeting-goer's hand was unheard of, let alone a smartphone.

Today, most adults in recovery have the Internet and social media at their disposal. Moreover, it is not uncommon for recovering addicts and alcoholics to be staring at their phone while in a meeting. With just a few clicks or swipes, an individual can find themselves virtually transported into the lives of others, reading news flashes, and snickering at memes. While social media is not inherently bad for people, there is a growing body of research that is causing some men and women pause.

For those who already struggle to maintain mental, physical, and spiritual equilibrium, rethinking social media may be prudent.


Deactivating Facebook May Affect Mental Health

A new study, conducted by researchers at Stanford University and New York University, indicates some benefits of deactivating Facebook. In just 30-days, study participants reported “improvements in well-being, and in particular on self-reported happiness, life satisfaction, depression, and anxiety." Without social media to turn to for distraction, the subjects spent less time online and engaged in real-life activities, i.e., spending time with friends and family.

While the findings may not appeal to the average citizen, who use social media, for those people with a history of mental illness the results should be cause for consideration. And, especially true for individuals in recovery who have a penchant for checking their “timeline” in meetings.

Addiction recovery is a collective pursuit, those in the program heal by listening, sharing, and working together to keep their disease in remission. When a person’s attention is lacking, they risk missing something they may need to hear. Or worse, squandering an opportunity to help another who may be struggling. It is always worth reminding ourselves that recovery works through paying it forward. Again, the researchers are not suggesting that everyone does away with social media, but it seems that limiting screen time could have positive effects on our lives. The authors conclude:  

Our results leave little doubt that Facebook produces large benefits for its users …. Notwithstanding, our results also make clear that the downsides are real …. We find that four weeks without Facebook improves subjective well-being and substantially reduces post-experiment demand, suggesting that forces such as addiction and projection bias may cause people to use Facebook more than they otherwise would. 

If you look at your phone in meetings regularly, perhaps try turning the device off and instead tune into your recovery. The results are likely to be positive.

California Central Coast Addiction Treatment

We invite people struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder to renew their best today with The Haven at Pismo. Please contact us to learn more about the medically supervised and top-quality care we provide.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Foods Your Liver Will Love

Chronic use of drugs and alcohol can take a toll on many organs in your body, including your liver. The liver filters, processes and breaks down what passes through your body and produces glucose and bile, two important substances your body needs to stay healthy.

When the liver becomes overwhelmed with toxins and pollutants – from alcohol, drugs and even processed and fried foods – its natural working cycle slows down. Luckily, certain foods can help naturally cleanse your liver. Consider adding these 10 foods your liver will love to your recovery diet.

  1. Apples: This fruit contain high levels of pectin, a chemical that helps the body cleanse and release toxins from the digestive tract so the liver can better cleanse the rest of the body. 
  2. Avocado: This super food helps the body produce glutathione, a compound that helps the liver rid itself of toxins. 
  3. Beets: Beets are high in both fiber and Vitamin C, both known as natural cleansers for the digestive system. 
  4. Carrots: Not only are these orange gems high in plant-flavonoids and beta-carotene, which support overall liver function, but they’re loaded with vitamin A, which has been found to help prevent liver disease. 
  5. Citrus fruits: Grapefruit, oranges, limes and lemons have cleansing powers that help the liver flush out pollutants. 
  6. Garlic: Garlic is rich in selenium, a mineral that helps to detoxify the liver and enable your body to flush out toxins naturally. 
  7. Green Tea: This beverage is rich in plant-based antioxidants, or catechins, which help improve liver function.
  8. Turmeric: This herb not only helps the enzymes that flush out toxins but it also contains antioxidants that repair liver cells. 
  9. Vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) contain glucosinolate, which aids the liver in producing detoxifying enzymes. Leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, Swiss chard) are high in chlorophyll, which helps protect the liver by leaching toxins out of the blood stream. 
  10. Walnuts: Rich in the amino acid arginine, glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts help cleanse the liver and assist the organ in detoxifying ammonia.
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.