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Friday, July 19, 2019

Rethinking the Language of Addiction

Combating stigmas has proven to be one of the most significant challenges of our time. The way society views and talks about people with mental health conditions have a cost. When people with potentially deadly health disorders are looked at differently than others, it makes them less likely to open up and seek help. The longstanding labels placed on men and women living with alcohol and substance use disorders are harmful to us all.

People in recovery for alcohol use disorder tend to refer to themselves as alcoholics. They identify in meetings by saying, "Hi, my name is..., and I am an alcoholic." It's a long-held tradition in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous to start sharing in that manner. However, the term alcoholic is dated; the medical community no longer uses the word alcoholism, instead opting for alcohol use disorder or AUD.

It's hard to change the way we talk about disorders with symptoms that include chronic, hazardous drug and alcohol use. How we refer to men and women with use disorders may seem of little importance in the grand scheme of things, but there is evidence that it matters.

Not too long ago, the medical community still viewed people who drank or drugged to excess as being short on moral fiber, willpower, and constitution. Not surprisingly, the public continues to utter harmful stereotypes about people with use disorders. Caustic sobriquets too are often attached to individuals who have been compartmentalized by the public.

"Boozehounds," "winos," "drunks," "sots," and "lushes" are several common monikers for people who struggle with alcohol. The bynames for persons with a substance use disorder are even more vitriolic. They include "junkie," "dope fiend," "cokehead," and "druggie;" the list is far too long to recount in full.

What to call someone who uses heroin?

Much like the rooms of AA, those who attend Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings usually identify as addicts. They use that word in the company of safe and supportive people who are less likely to judge like the general public. However, using the words addiction and addict has come into question in recent years. The medical community is rethinking how they refer to individuals who have been social pariahs for time immemorial.

As many of you know, America is amid a heroin scourge; use of the drug has risen exponentially during the last decade. More people are seeking treatment for opioid use disorders involving heroin, but there is some debate as to how to talk about those who use heroin when in medical settings. A new study, published in the journal Addiction, shed some light on this subject.

The survey indicates that people entering substance use disorder treatment for heroin use, usually called themselves "addicts," ScienceDaily reports. Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health and the University of Massachusetts Medical School asked 263 people in treatment and detox how others should refer to those who use heroin.

Scientists found that such individual's preference was that others called them "people who use drugs." Respondents said that they never wanted to be called a "heroin misuser," "heroin-dependent," and "junkie." 

"Persons who use heroin often [sic] complain about interactions with healthcare providers, due at least in part to the unfortunate language providers use -- which is taken, sometimes rightly, as a sign of disrespect," says senior study author Dr. Michael Stein, professor and chair of health law, policy & management at BUSPH. "Such antagonism can't be good for clinical outcomes." 

SLO County Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

We invite adults who are struggling with alcohol or substance use disorders to reach out to The Haven at Pismo. We offer a safe and serene setting to begin a remarkable journey of recovery. Our team of professionals relies on evidence-based therapies to help clients break the disease cycle and heal. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Turning Your Life Around Through Addiction Recovery

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer team swept the World Cup for their second consecutive victory. Naturally, Megan Rapinoe (co-captain) and the rest of her teammates are elated, as is the rest of the country. For Rapinoe and her family, 2019 has been a great year. Aside from taking home the cup, the family has something else to be proud of: Megan’s older brother, Brian, has been clean for 18 months after a long battle with addiction.

Megan, 34, is an inspiration to people around the world; the powerhouse midfielder is the oldest player to score in a World Cup final. Her list of achievements is long, and she is an outspoken advocate for gender equality and LGBTQ rights. Like many star athletes, there is some controversy attached to her name; but, she seems to do everything with good intentions in her heart.

The soccer star stayed focused on athletics in school, but her brother found himself on a very different path, far from the soccer pitch. Brian began smoking marijuana at age 12; three years later, he was arrested for bringing meth to school, ESPN reports. Moving forward, Brian would be in and out of jail and prison for the better part of his life.

“Right from the start, I was hooked,” he says. “One drug always led to the next.” 

Heavy drug use and crime would take over Brian Rapinoe’s existence. At 18, he was using heroin and breaking laws that landed him in prison, according to the article. Behind bars, he aligned himself with a white prison gang and got swastika tattoos. He told ESPN that the symbols were not about prejudice—he got them to survive. Supporting his addiction demanded that he be “an active participant in prison culture.”

Addiction Recovery and Hope for a Brighter Future

There is not enough time to run through Brian’s long list of misdeeds and personal struggles. After spending about half his life in prison and battling active addiction, Brian had a moment of clarity. In 2017, Mr. Rapinoe had what many people call an epiphany while serving time in California’s notorious Pelican Bay prison. A botched injection angered Brian so severely that his cellmate said something that clicked.

“I freaked out on him, really lost it,” Brian says. “And he said to me, ‘Look at how you are acting right now.’” 

Ostensibly, that was the moment when Brian Rapinoe, the brother of a world-famous soccer star, decided he had enough. Many addicts and alcoholics have a similar instance in their life that led to a paradigm shift in thinking. His experiences and all its heartaches came to the surface of his mind, as did all the good his sister had accomplished in her life. Making drastic changes for the better would become his single mission, moving forward; today, he wants to make a difference.

Brian enrolled in self-improvement and rehabilitation classes; his sentence was reduced with each completed course, according to the article. He is now 18 months clean and sober after 24 years of using drugs. Toward the end of June, Megan’s brother started the Male Community Reentry Program in San Diego, CA. He is taking classes, and he is hoping to work with kids in the juvenile delinquency program after he is released.

“I want to make a difference,” he says. “I want to be like Megan.” 

In recovery, there are not any guarantees, but if men and women keep doing the next right thing, then anything is possible. The Rapinoe family is not much different than millions of other families; siblings whose lives take divergent paths despite the same upbringing. Brian Rapinoe’s story is proof that no matter how destructive one’s journey is, there is always hope for a brighter tomorrow thanks to recovery.

SLO County Addiction Treatment

The Haven at Pismo can help you or a loved one get on a path toward long-term addiction recovery. Our commitment to excellence and our use of evidence-based treatment modalities assist clients in many ways as they begin an unforgettable journey of healing. Please contact us today to learn more about our program. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Prioritizing Recovery on the Fourth of July

The Haven at Pismo would like to wish everyone in recovery a safe and sober Fourth of July. We grasp that holidays are not always the most pleasurable times of the year for many people who work a program. For newcomers or men and women in their first year, a significant holiday can present considerable obstacles.

Feelings and emotions accompany special days of the year. Such sentiments can elicit happiness; they can also bring melancholy. The program teaches people how to cope with uncomfortable sensations and memories, but it’s not always easy to implement one’s tools during holidays that are typified by heavy alcohol use.

Across the country, millions of adults find themselves beer-in-hand on July 4th. Men and women in recovery do their best to avoid situations that involve copious amounts of alcohol, which isn’t easy on Independence Day. Taking steps to mitigate one’s exposure to booze can reduce temptations to use.

If you are in your first year of recovery, then sticking close to your support network today is strongly advised. It’s worth reminding yourself that the disease of addiction is cunning, baffling, and powerful. Always best to err on the side of caution, even if you think you can handle being around drinking. Triggers can happen in an instant, and there is always the possibility that urge will become too potent to resist.

Conversely, shutting yourself in for the day is not beneficial either. Like any day in recovery, striking a balance between program and pleasure is the best course of action. One’s sobriety must be the priority number one; each person has a responsibility to safeguard their progress.

Prioritizing Recovery on the Fourth of July

On days of the year when Americans overprime their drinking pumps, some men and women in recovery are inclined to isolate. They would do just as well to avoid exposure to the one thing on the planet they cannot have; on the surface, checking-out for the day appears sound. However, a closer examination reveals the opposite; avoidance via isolation can compound the feelings of exclusion. The sensation that one has when they feel like they are missing out can be depressing.

Sadness can lead people down unfortunate lines of thinking that could result in even stronger desires to use drugs or alcohol. In an effort to avoid the risks of solitude, people in recovery are best served by taking action on the Fourth of July. Attend meetings, be of service, and seek out pleasurable opportunities to bond with one’s support network.

Attending parties that involve drinking is not conducive to furthering people’s goals; but, going to recovery-sponsored gatherings today is beneficial. Men and women in recovery like to have a good time, just like everyone else. However, they can enjoy themselves in such a way as to not jeopardize all their hard work.

During significant days of the year, sober people host dinners, cookouts, and dances. Recovery asks people to work a program and have fun too; shutting the door on life is not a viable option. A good recipe for holidays is to listen to the needs of your program and take part in sober festivities. If you do not already have plans, then go to a meeting and ask your support network what they are doing for the rest of the day. There is a good chance that something fun will follow.

We hope that you will resist the temptation to isolate and avoid taking unnecessary risks. Staying sober during a holiday can be just like any other day of the year, with the help of your support network and a plan of action.

SLO County Addiction Treatment

It is not uncommon for men and women to decide to seek the help of recovery services during a major holiday. Stand-out days of the year can be excellent times to turn people’s lives around. Please contact The Haven at Pismo if you are struggling with addiction; our center is the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Summer-Onset Seasonal Affective Disorder

seasonal affective disorder
The seasons and weather have an effect on us all in myriad ways. For most people, the summer and the warm, sunny climes that come with it elicit feelings of joy. Conversely, the colder winter months tend to bring men and women down emotionally.

The days are shorter in the winter which means we are exposed to less sunlight thus depriving us of vitamin D. Researchers believe that vitamin D deficiency impacts our mood; if true, people in recovery need to be cautious from fall to spring.

Many individuals eagerly await the arrival of more welcoming weather. Day after day of being cooped up inside can take a toll on humans. Come summertime, Americans descend upon the great outdoors eager to soak up all the rays possible.

As the summer comes to a close, it’s only natural that men and women begin to dread the return of brisk weather. While the majority of people prefer summer over winter, some do because of psychological reasons. Perhaps you are familiar with seasonal affective disorder or SAD? It is a type of depression that arises from changes in seasons.

The subject of seasonal affective disorder is typically discussed during the colder months of the year. However, SAD can strike during the warmer months as well! With the summer solstice behind us, it is vital that men and women who are susceptible to weather-related changes in mood take steps prioritizing their well-being.

Those in recovery need to keep watch of their feelings. Symptoms of depression that are left unchecked can disrupt one’s program and potentially lead to a relapse. The sections below will cover the characteristics of SAD and what you can do to protect your sobriety from the “summertime blues.”

Seasonal Affective Disorder in Recovery

Regardless of the time of year, experts associate depression, anhedonia, hopelessness, and sleep problems with SAD. The Mayo Clinic points out that there are symptoms specific to winter-onset and summer-onset SAD.

People who struggle during the winter months are more likely to experience:
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy
The symptoms that are specific to summer-onset SAD include:
  • Insomnia
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Agitation or anxiety
During the summer, the days are significantly longer; the sun creeps around the edges of the bedroom window shade much earlier. Lack of sleep affects people’s mood, and that can negatively impact the day. Those who are sensitive to light can benefit from purchasing blackout curtains. Naturally, hot temperatures can also influence both sleep and one’s overall comfort throughout the day. Persons with a low tolerance to heat should take steps to stay cool.

Sleep deprivation and general discomfort may not be a big deal to the average individual, but that is not the case for those in recovery. Since many people with substance use issues also contend with co-occurring mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, it is crucial that the effects of SAD are not ignored.

Seasonal affective disorder can be even more punishing to men and women living with mental health disorders. SAD can induce or amplify symptoms of anxiety, depression, and mania. It’s vital when feeling uncomfortable, irritable, or sleep deprived, to talk about it with therapists, sponsors, and support networks. Keeping things to one’s self isn’t beneficial.

SLO County Addiction Treatment Center

Talk with your support group if you are struggling right now. A peer is likely dealing with the same issues, and they can offer some helpful advice. Most importantly, stick to your regular routine as best you can to avoid causing further complications by letting your program slip. Meeting with a professional to talk about summer-onset SAD can also yield effective methods of countering and coping with symptoms.

Please contact the Haven at Pismo if you require assistance for alcohol or substance use disorder. Our highly trained staff can also assist individuals who are struggling with co-occurring mental illnesses.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Change Direction on Mental Health

mental health
Nearly two years ago, the vocalist of the band Linkin Park committed suicide at his home in Southern California. Despite the band’s massive success, Chester Bennington, 41, had struggled beneath the surface with trauma, depression, and addiction.

May and June are great months for raising awareness about mental health disorders. June is PTSD Awareness Month and May was Mental Health Month. Bennington’s struggles and ultimate suicide are tragic; however, both serve as a catalyst for encouraging more people to talk about the importance of mental health.

Depression is the number one cause of poor health around the world. It affects millions of people in the United States and hundreds of millions around the globe. Substance abuse affects an estimated 25 million Americans. Post-traumatic stress disorder disrupts the lives of about 7.7 million Americans.

When addiction and co-occurring mental illness present in a patient, the result can be deadly. Imploring celebrities and average Americans to talk about mental health can save lives. When people disregard the stigma attached to mental illness and open up, it erodes some of the fear men and women have about seeking help.

Raising Awareness of Addiction, Depression, and PTSD

During PTSD Awareness Month, we can use social media to reach large audiences about the treatable mental health condition. The National Center for PTSD provides resources for anyone who would like to spread the message that treatment works. The organization states that:

“Everyone with PTSD—whether they are Veterans or civilian survivors of sexual assault, serious accidents, natural disasters, or other traumatic events—needs to know that treatments really do work and can lead to a better quality of life.”

This month, Chester Bennington’s widow Talinda is calling on everyone to share with the world why mental health is essential. She has asked for and received the support of many celebrities and some experts in the field.

The Campaign to Change Direction is “a collection of concerned citizens, nonprofit leaders, and leaders from the private sector who have come together to change the culture about mental health, mental illness, and wellness.” Last week, Talinda challenged people to take part in the campaign’s “A Week to Change Direction.”

“I challenge you to do a 30-second video on why mental health is important to you,” Bennington said on Instagram. “For me it’s very personal. And I’ve dedicated my life to change the culture surrounding mental health.” 

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Even though the Week to Change Direction Challenge is over, many individuals are still posting videos with the #ChangeDirection. Notable figures who have published videos about mental illness include Dr. Jennifer Ashton (ABC Chief Medical Correspondent), actor Ken Jeong (“Hangover”), and bassist Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses).

SLO County Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

If you are struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental illness, then we invite you to reach out to The Haven at Pismo. Conditions like depression and PTSD accompany alcohol and substance use disorders regularly. It is vital that men and women living with mental illness seek evidence-based treatment immediately.

At The Haven, we can help you or a loved one lead a productive, fulfilling life in recovery. Begin recovery today: 805.202.3440.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Addiction and "Deaths of Despair" in America

In 2015, a paper was published regarding rising mortality rates in the U.S. involving drug overdose, alcohol, and suicide. The groundbreaking article appeared in the National Academy of Science’s magazine.

The research paper, interestingly, did not come from leaders in public health, but instead from two economists. Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton found that the mortality rate was most pronounced in one specific demographic: middle-aged non-Hispanic whites without a college degree.

In 2017, Case and Deaton followed up on their findings; they suggested that a large portion of America never recovered from the 2008 recession, The Guardian reports. Families that were no longer able to earn a living without a college degree were linked to rising overdose, suicide, and substance use-related deaths. In their update, Case and Deaton coined a phrase that stuck: “deaths of despair.”

While drugs, alcohol, and mental illness are driving forces in premature death, the crisis many people face is that of despair. When someone experiences the complete loss or absence of hope, they are likely to want to escape. Others too, have conducted similar research on why people turn to drugs and alcohol when life becomes exceedingly harder and harder to bear.

The author Johann Hari published a book called “Chasing the Scream” that dealt with drivers of addiction. He writes that environment and life-circumstances (e.g., stable home life and employment) play a significant role in the development of addiction.

When men and women feel cut off from society and the American Dream, they are more likely to engage in self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors. Naturally, this subject matter is nuanced—many factors play a role in the alarming trends.

Deaths of Despair are Up Nationally

Alcohol and substance use disorder and other forms of mental illness are treatable. Millions of Americans are working programs of addiction recovery and receiving mental health services. However, accessing care continues to be a severe problem in several areas of the United States.

The Commonwealth Fund, which tracks health performance in each state, found a correlation between deaths of despair and poor scorecards. The data shows that suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol-related deaths have reached an all-time high; and, understanding why could lead to solutions.

The organization analyzed 47 factors that have an impact on health outcomes for a new report, NBC News reports. Insurance coverage and access to doctors were two of the elements. Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, Connecticut, and Vermont ranked the highest. Arkansas, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi received the lowest rankings.

“When we look at what’s going on in mid-Atlantic states — West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania — those are the states that have the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the country,” said David Radley, a senior scientist for the Commonwealth Fund. “The rate of growth in drug overdose deaths in West Virginia is absolutely mind-boggling.” 

Health care coverage is what separates the states with the highest score from those with the lowest, according to the article. The states at the bottom of the list all had the highest number of uninsured residents. California ranked 14th.

 “We really think of health care access of being the foundation of a high-performing health care system,” Radley said.

SLO County California Addiction Treatment


The Haven at Pismo can assist men and women who are struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental illness. We offer many different programs to cater to the unique needs of each client. Our evidence-based addiction treatment center is the perfect place to renew your best today.

Please contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about The Haven difference.

Friday, June 7, 2019

12 Step Recovery: Founders Day

12 Steps
Millions of Americans and many more people around the globe are grateful for the birth of 12 Step recovery. While there are several different modalities (e.g., SMART Recovery), programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have the largest following by far.

There is a reason why most evidence-based addiction treatment centers encourage their clients to work the 12 Steps while in rehab and after. Having a fellowship of men and women who share a common goal is exceedingly beneficial. A support network is of the utmost importance to any person desiring to heal from alcohol or substance use disorder.

What’s more, unlike many therapists and counselors, each person in the rooms of recovery has first-hand experience with the disease. Having the common bond of past experiences enables people to relate, and they can guide each other through the challenges of life. Since there are not any hard mandates short of abstinence, men and women have the freedom to work their own program.

Even a casual observer has to acknowledge the remarkable nature of 12 Step recovery programs. Those who were at the brink of total despair and looking up at the bottom can rebuild their lives by practicing a set of principles. Member of Alcoholics Anonymous take what they learn, leave what they don’t need behind, and carry the message to newcomers 365 days a year. This is the way it has been for 84 years since the founding of AA.

84th Anniversary of 12 Step Recovery: Founders Day

Most of those working a program in 12 Step recovery know a little history about its origins. They know the names Bill W., Dr. Bob, and Ebby T.; even some are familiar with the Oxford Group, a precursor to AA. For those who are not familiar with the humble beginnings of Alcoholics Anonymous, we’d like to share some the program's lineage.

AA was the brainchild of two seemingly hopeless alcoholics who met in Akron, Ohio in 1935: Bill W., a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob S., an Akron surgeon. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services writes:

“Bill had gotten sober and had then maintained his recovery by working with other alcoholics, though none of these had actually recovered. Meanwhile, Dr. Bob’s Oxford Group membership at Akron had not helped him enough to achieve sobriety. When Dr. Bob and Bill finally met, the effect on the doctor was immediate. This time, he found himself face to face with a fellow sufferer who had made good. Bill emphasized that alcoholism was a malady of mind, emotions and body. This all-important fact he had learned from Dr. William D. Silkworth of Towns Hospital in New York, where Bill had often been a patient. Though a physician, Dr. Bob had not known alcoholism to be a disease. Responding to Bill’s convincing ideas, he soon got sober, never to drink again. The founding spark of AA had been struck.” 

If you would like to read more about the lifesaving fellowship’s origins, please click here.

This weekend is Founders Day Weekend, an annual observance to acknowledge the birth of AA. There could be as many as 12,000 who will descend upon Akron in the coming days to celebrate the program. Events will be held at the Gate Lodge, which is where the founders first met to lay out the steps for recovery.

Across the country, events are being held this weekend and next week. For example, in our area there will be a Founders Day event on June 16, 2019.


Addiction Recovery

The Haven at Pismo would like to wish everyone in recovery a happy Founders Day Weekend. Each day in recovery is a remarkable achievement worth being proud of; we hope that you have time to celebrate with your support network.

Please contact us if you are struggling with drugs and alcohol and would like to take steps to improve your life. At The Haven, our team of experts utilizes evidence-based therapies to help people make necessary changes and learn how to excel in recovery.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Relapse Prevention: Quitting Tobacco

relapse prevention
Nicotine is often the first addictive substance people in recovery ever try and the last to quit. Many people who work programs of recovery continue to smoke long after they put down their last drink or drug. Treatment centers have varying and divergent opinions about permitting nicotine use. Some allow it, and some don’t; but, practically every center is determined to encourage cessation.

While quitting tobacco may not be at the top of an addict or alcoholic's list of problems, there are many good reasons to quit. The list of health disorders, including cancers that afflict smokers, is long.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Almost 40 million American adults smoke cigarettes.

Ideally, people in recovery will tackle their addiction to tobacco while addressing their other use disorders. However, the thought of giving up cigarettes while learning to cope with life without drugs and alcohol is too much for some people. Some addiction professionals even endorse that kind of thinking, believing it best to deal with the more severe disorders first.

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests addressing smoking while a person is in addiction treatment is the most beneficial. Below we will discuss some of the reasons people in recovery might want to prioritize giving up nicotine.

Preventing Relapse is Priority Number One

Men and women who seek addiction treatment receive instruction on how to live life on life’s terms. They learn how to cope with their feelings without having to turn to mind-altering substances. Relapse prevention is a significant facet of addiction recovery; anything people can do to protect their program is essential.

Those who are addicted to nicotine will usually smoke more when they are feeling stressed. Cigarettes serve as an unhealthy crutch during times of difficulty. While nicotine may alleviate a person’s stress, it also reinforces the belief that there is a chemical solution to one’s problems.

“Even though various substances have different pharmacological mechanisms, all drugs of abuse ultimately affect the same reward pathway,” said Dr. Heather L. Kimmel, Health Scientist Administrator of NIDA’s Epidemiology Research Branch. “Abstinence from all of them will help the patient move to a new physiological state and, hopefully, a new mental state as well.” 

Sure, it may not be as bad as having a drink, but it still does a disservice to men and women’s recovery. What’s more, current research suggests that smoking in recovery increases the risk of relapse. The findings appear in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Researchers analyzed data provided by 5,515 people recovering from substance use disorder, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). They found that those who still smoked three years after the initial interview were about 1.5 times more likely to relapse. Heavy smokers were at even higher risk of relapse; the likelihood of relapse increased by 0.7 percent for each cigarette smoked per day.

“So far, the bulk of evidence suggests that concurrent smoking cessation and substance use treatment is the most beneficial approach,” Dr. Renee D. Goodwin of the Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, CUNY, said.

On May 31st, the World Health Organization (WHO) observes World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). The event is meant to raise awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco use. Smokers in recovery may want to take the opportunity to learn more about cessation options tomorrow. Smoking cessation can protect your recovery and overall health.

SLO County Addiction Rehab

Please contact The Haven at Pismo if you or someone you love is struggling with drugs or alcohol. We provide a full continuum of care to help rebuild lives and restore hope. We are available at any time to answer your questions about our program.

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.