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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

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.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Sound Health: Music and Mental Illness

mental illness
Music is part of the fabric of life. The medium has the power to inspire, enrage, calm, and heal. It is safe to say that most individuals would have a challenging time living without music in their lives. While people need to be cautious about which artists they listen to in early recovery (i.e., avoiding triggers), there is ample evidence suggesting the art form has therapeutic value.

When people enter treatment for mental illness, clinicians advise clients to avoid any music that may trigger cravings and symptoms that can derail their mission. If you listened to a lot of Grateful Dead before attempting recovery, it makes sense that you’d steer clear from their sounds. At least early on in the process.

Those new to recovery often discover that their taste in music has changed, perhaps the result of drugs and alcohol no longer influencing their thoughts. The healing mind may develop new preferences, which is a good thing. Adopting new behaviors and traditions aids the process of recovering from mental illness significantly. The life one leads in recovery is likely to be a complete change from their prior existence.

Many individuals find out who they “really” are upon being in recovery for even a short time. Changing interests and preferences is, in many ways, a natural progression of the healing process. And, music can become a source of comfort when stress takes hold; it can even be a method of coping with the symptoms of mental illness. Neuroscientists are taking a closer look at the healing power of music right now.

Sound Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found evidence that music can have a profound effect on a vast range of health conditions, from depression to pain management. Such discoveries, et alia, has led the NIH to partner with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to enhance our understanding of the bond between music and mental health, The New York Times reports. The project is called Sound Health.

“The payoff,” says Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, is to “improve mental health. We know music shares brain areas with movement, memory, motivation and reward. These things are hugely important to mental health, and researchers are trying to use this same concept of an alternate pathway to address new categories of mental disorders.” 

The late Dr. Oliver Sacks, writing in Musicophilia, noted that music can “calm us, animate us, comfort us, thrill us, or serve to organize and synchronize us at work or play, [but] it may be especially powerful and have great therapeutic potential for patients with a variety of neurological conditions.”

Music Heals Minds and Counters Stigma

Musicians, with a history of mental illness, have proven Oliver Sacks words to be accurate in many ways. Orchestral conductor, Ronald Braunstein, a former winner of the prestigious Karajan International Conducting Competition, has had struggles with mental illness in adulthood, according to the article. Mr. Braunstein has bipolar disorder, a severe mental health condition if left untreated. His mental illness almost spelled the end of his career until he met Caroline Whiddon, the chairwoman of the Youth Orchestra Division of the League of American Orchestras. Whiddon contends with depression and anxiety disorder.

The two accomplished musicians both understood the positive impact that music had on their mental health disorders. A realization that led Braunstein and Whiddon to create an orchestra in Vermont in 2011 that would essentially counter the stigma of mental illness. The Me2/Orchestra (not affiliated with the Me Too Movement) brings musicians with mental illnesses together to perform. Since the inception of Me2/Orchestra, affiliate orchestras have popped up all over the country.

To be sure, the music venture helps musicians with mental illness, but it also provides a forum for the public to discuss diseases of the mind. Audience members are invited to ask the musicians questions about mental illness at each performance, the article reports. All the professional musicians involved in the project are volunteers.

“Instead of thinking people with mental illnesses are lazy or dangerous, they see what we’re capable of,” Mr. Braunstein said. “It has a positive effect on all of us.”

Pismo Beach Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

The Haven at Pismo offers clients living with addiction and co-occurring mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety a full continuum of care. Please take the first steps toward a life in recovery by contacting us today to learn more about our programs.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Is Perfectionism Interfering With Your Recovery?

Many people view perfectionism as a positive trait – it’s a hallmark of high achievers, after all. Yet being a perfectionist is not always a good thing – and it may even have played a role in your addiction.

The Link Between Addiction and Perfectionism
Struggling to be “the best” can create anxiety, depression and social alienation – all which can lead to a desire to “self-medicate” with drugs or alcohol.

Perfectionism can also prevent you from seeking proper treatment. If you’re a perfectionist, for example, you might not accept the fact that you lost control to your addiction. Or, you might view asking for help as a sign of weakness. Denial is common among many with a substance use disorder and it’s even stronger in those with perfectionist tendencies.

How Perfectionism Can Hinder Your Recovery
Because perfectionists often beat themselves up over the slightest failure, recovery can be an especially challenging time. Holding yourself to unrealistic, high standards can even sabotage your recovery. Let’s take a deeper look.

  • You expect to get it right the first time. Setbacks are a normal part of recovery and perfectionists may reject this idea and believe they should get it right the first time or not face any roadblocks. This can interfere with learning and lead to impatience with the recovery process. It can also make it that much harder to recover from a slip-up.
  • You set unrealistic goals. Recovery is a process that requires setting a lot of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely or Time-sensitive) goals to help build confidence and rediscover your strengths. This can be a hard concept for a perfectionist, who is used to setting the bar too high, to grasp.
  • You don’t need help. The road to sobriety is a long one and definitely not one best traveled alone. Most perfectionists will tell themselves that they can overcome addiction alone and with sheer willpower. Yet this is not a healthy (or successful) approach for overcoming a substance use disorder.
Help for Perfectionism and Addiction
Don’t let perfectionism stand in the way of a healthy, fulfilling, sober life. At Haven at Pismo, we provide clients with the tools and strategies needed for early recovery and beyond. To learn more about our addition treatment programs, call today: 805-202-3440.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Alcohol Use Disorder Impacts Mind and Body

alcohol use disorder
Alcohol use disorder or AUD plagues the lives of millions of Americans. Drinking beer, wine, or liquor can do irreparable damage to mind, body, and spirit. If treatment is not sought in a timely fashion, the consequences can be dire. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that around 88,000 Americans succumb to alcohol-related illness and injury each year. Furthermore, upwards of 16 million people in the United States meet the criteria for AUD.

Too many young adults fail to realize the impact of having a dangerous relationship with alcohol. Without intervention, such people stand to lose more than jobs and relationships. For men and women whose lives are being disrupted by alcohol use, it is critical that assistance is sought immediately. The sooner addiction treatment is found, the less harm alcohol will have on one’s vital organs.

Teenagers and people new to adulthood often think that heavy drinking will not do much damage in the short term. The majority of people associate alcohol-related illness with older adults who have been consuming alcohol for decades. In a sense, such a mindset might fall in line with conventional wisdom. While it is true that older habitual drinkers are at significant risk, so too are young adults who make a practice of binge drinking or daily consumption.

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week

Since this is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week or NDAFW, a health observance linking young people to science-based facts to Shatter the Myths® about drugs and alcohol, it is prudent that The Haven joins the effort. Research shows that a litany of potentially fatal conditions can arise from an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Young adults struggling in California, who would like some examples of the impact alcohol can have are welcome to click here; in short, notable alcohol-related illnesses include, alcohol-related liver disease, pancreatitis, and a litany of cancer types.

In fact, fatal liver disease is on the rise, according to research appearing in BMJ last year. Moreover, the demographic hardest hit by the increase is young people. The findings, boiled down from CDC data, show that the number of 25- to 34-year-olds who died annually from alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) nearly tripled between 1999 and 2016 (259 in 1999 to 767 in 2016).

It is also worth noting that findings from research at University of California-San Francisco show that 36.7 percent of almost 33,000 studied liver transplants patients since 2002, had ALD in 2016, NBC News reports. More young people struggling with AUD and subsequent ALD means it is not uncommon for young adults to require a transplant.

Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.


Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

If you are struggling with alcohol use, then our team of dedicated addiction professionals can help. We can assist you in safely detoxing from the substance and provide you with the necessary tools for working a program of long-term sobriety. Please contact us today to learn more about our evidence-based addiction treatment. The Haven at Pismo is the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Methamphetamine Addiction in America

stimulant use disorder treatmentThere is an epidemic that is quietly tearing lives apart while being overshadowed by opioid addiction in the United States. Before the nation, including lawmakers and medical professionals, began voicing severe concerns about opioids, the primary topic of drug-related discussion focused on methamphetamine. Not too long ago, American public service announcements and national headlines drove the dangers of meth home for every citizen. And then, seemingly overnight, the conversation about the “scariest drug in America” went silent.

Opioid use disorder – conditions involving the use of prescription painkillers or heroin – is a life-threatening mental health condition. More than 70,000 Americans perished in 2017 from an overdose, and opioids were involved in about two-thirds of all cases. The efforts to address this most severe crisis must continue on every applicable front, but it is vital to remember that just because there is little mention of meth these days doesn’t mean the country isn’t in the midst of a devastating and emerging problem. Methamphetamine is, in fact, a more serious dilemma than opioids in many parts of the United States.

Unfortunately, clinicians lack medications for assisting meth addicts in transitioning from addiction into recovery unlike what is available for opioid use disorder. Moreover, there is not a drug like naloxone to reverse the effects of a methamphetamine overdose. While stimulant use disorder recovery is possible, there are few pharmacological solutions to aid people in early abstinence. Since most addiction researchers are focused on curbing the opioid epidemic, it is critical that more people start talking about this deadly drug. The fact is that meth use has done anything but decrease since the U.S. government began cracking down on homegrown meth labs in the 2000s.


Combating Methamphetamine Addiction in America

When laws were passed to make it more difficult for Americans to acquire the necessary precursors (i.e., pseudoephedrine) meth lab explosions and busts decreased dramatically. This led some to believe that the problem was mostly solved. However, wherever there is a demand someone will find a way to supply; and that someone turned out to be Mexican drug cartels.

Not only is there more methamphetamine than ever in the U.S., what is available today is more potent and is less expensive. The price is the lowest the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has witnessed in years and the product being consumed is more than 90 percent pure, ABC News reports. Meth-related overdose deaths more than tripled from 2011 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The University of Texas at Austin found that meth use led to 813 deaths in Texas, compared 591 heroin-related deaths in 2017.

While traditional treatment therapy models are useful in facilitating long-term recovery, experts in the field express a need for drugs, like buprenorphine or naltrexone, to aid people with stimulant use disorders. Such medications help men and women in the earliest stages of recovery stay on track and avoid relapse.

“We’re realizing that we don’t have everything we might wish we had to address these different kinds of drugs,” said Dr. Margaret Jarvis, a psychiatrist and distinguished fellow for the American Society of Addiction Medicine. 

Fortunately, there may be solutions on the horizon! The National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network is testing the efficacy of combining naltrexone and the antidepressant bupropion (e.g., Wellbutrin), according to the article. Researchers at the Universities of Kentucky and Arkansas created lobeline, a molecule that may be able to counter methamphetamine’s effects in the brain.


Stimulant Use Disorder Treatment in Central California

The short-term effects of meth use carry significant risks to one’s health. Any person finding him or herself battling meth addiction should reach out for assistance immediately to begin the recovery process. Immediate intervention can help individuals avoid the impact of long-term meth use. Methamphetamine wreaks significant havoc on both mind and body.

Please contact The Haven at Pismo to learn more about our innovative substance abuse treatment center. We have extensive experience in bringing the light of recovery into the lives of people living with stimulant use disorders. Our commitment to integrity and excellence makes our inpatient addiction rehab the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Addiction Recovery Following An Overdose

addiction recovery
People who experience an overdose risk experiencing another if there isn’t an intervention. It is not uncommon for an individual to suffer multiple overdoses before ultimately succumbing to their disease. In fact, having more than one overdose in a single day is not unheard of in the United States.

The time immediately following an overdose is crucial. When someone is most vulnerable it is believed to be an ideal opportunity to encourage addiction treatment services. A new study shows that most overdose victims who receive naloxone – an overdose reversal drug – can safely be released from hospitals in just one hour, HealthDay reports. Which can cause a person to wonder, are overdose victims ready to go back “out there” shortly after near-death experiences?

It is no secret that a lack of substance use disorder treatment is one of the most significant obstacles to curbing the American opioid addiction epidemic. As the crisis continues to devastate many states and countless families, people living in rural areas continue to struggle to acquire the help they require.

While some progress has been made, we continue to fall short as a nation. Only 10 percent of people with a substance use disorder get specialty treatment, due to an inability to access care, according to a 2016 surgeon general report.

Addiction Recovery Following Overdose

Drug overdoses – the majority of which involved opioids – took the lives of more than 70,000 Americans in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the final tallies are not available yet for 2018, the death toll is likely to be in the same range as previous years.

Experts agree addiction recovery is the most useful means of reducing the death toll. Naloxone can prevent drug toxicity from becoming fatal, but it does little to address the substance use disorder. Addiction treatment works, and recovery is possible provided however that a person is willing to surrender and make specific changes in their life. What’s more, recovery does not happen in a vacuum; individuals suffering from the disease require the assistance of professionals and continued support.

For men and women who recently experienced an overdose, the reality is that now is the best opportunity to embrace addiction recovery. The stakes of opioid use disorder are overwhelmingly high. If you are a person who is using again, post overdose, we strongly encourage you to embrace a new path. At The Haven, we ask that you look past the stigma of addiction and the humility that comes with accepting that outside help is needed.

We implore you to keep in mind that nothing changes if nothing changes, as people frequently say in the rooms of recovery. Those who continue down a self-defeating and self-destructive path are guaranteed to witness their disease progress; such individuals are also at extreme risk of history repeating itself by way of an overdose.

The Haven at Pismo Can Help

Any individual can find recovery and lead a fulfilling and productive life. Please contact The Haven to learn more about the programs we offer. Men and women who choose our center benefit from highly credentialed counselors and therapists practicing exclusively in the field of addiction. At The Haven, we help to Rebuild Lives and Restore Hope.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Healing Hobbies for Recovery

healing hobbies for recovery
Hobbies can have many healing powers when it comes to recovery and your overall good health. In fact, having a hobby as an adult has been linked with numerous health perks including increased self-confidence and reduced stress and depression.

A big part of a successful recovery is rediscovering sober fun and finding activities that provide a fulfilling, productive use of our free time. And the right hobby can do this and more.

Here are some activities that you may enjoy – and that can help give you the tools to fend off stress and depression, stay in the moment and focus on building a new sober life for yourself.

  • Visual arts (photography, painting/drawing): The process of creating art can bring greater awareness of the beauty in your life and have a positive impact on your emotions.
  • Writing: Writing has been linked to a number of mental and physical health benefits, including better memory, sleep and stress management.
  • Playing or listening to music: Music has been found to boost the body's immune system, lower levels of stress and anxiety and ease depression.
  • Cooking: Not only can cooking teach you about the right foods to fuel your recovery, but the repetitive tasks inherent to prepping meals (washing, chopping measuring) can become meditative and teach you to stay in the present.
  • Yoga: This ancient practice can do wonders for stress and anxiety by increasing the brain chemical Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which plays an important role in behavior, cognition and the body's response to stress.
  • Running: This is perhaps the best hobby for blowing off steam, managing depression and dealing with cravings. Running increases the production of the feel-good hormone dopamine as well as other neurochemicals that are vital to the recovery process.
  • Gardening: Not only are you soaking up mood-boosting vitamin D, but gardening helps to slow the mind and remind you that you’re just one small part of the greater universe.
Healing at The Haven
Our Central Coast location is blessed with year-round sunshine, making it the perfect place to explore some outdoor hobbies as part of your recovery. To learn more about our location and programs, call today: 805-202-3440.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Benzodiazepine Use and Abuse Concerns

Prescription opioids and the substance use disorder that can result has dominated national news cycles for more than a decade. Practically every American adult understands the dangers accompanying opioid use. When addressing addiction stemming from prescription drug use, it is critical to remember that other pharmaceuticals carry significant risk as well. This fact is especially true when two forms of narcotics are used simultaneously.

During the period when opioid prescribing surged dramatically, so too did prescription sedatives. Benzodiazepines are one type of drug that is commonly used to treat anxiety and depression in the United States. Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin are prescribed the most; and, such drugs can also lead to addiction. What’s more, when benzos are misused or mixed with other drugs like opioids, patients can experience a potentially fatal overdose.

"The risk of poisoning from benzodiazepines alone is very high, but is compounded for those who misuse benzodiazepines -- a central nervous system depressant -- along with opioids, which suppress respiration,” said Linda Richter, director of policy research and analysis with the Center on Addiction. “When combined with alcohol, also a depressant, the effects can be similarly severe." 

Those patients who become dependent on benzodiazepines can also face complications when attempting to stop. It is vital that people struggling with use disorders resulting from the use of sedatives seek professional attention when making efforts toward recovery. One of the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal is seizures, which can be fatal if they occur unsupervised.

Benzodiazepine Use Is On The Rise

While studying current U.S. data, Dr. Donovan Maust, an assistant professor with the University of Michigan's department of psychiatry, found that about one in five people prescribed benzodiazepines are misusing the substances, HealthDay reports. Moreover, Dr. Maust found that misuse was as common as prescribed use among young adults. The findings of the research appear in Psychiatric Services.

Most experts agree that opioid misuse and overdose in America began steadily increasing in the late 1990s. Disturbingly, a report in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that annual benzodiazepine overdose deaths rose from 1,135 to 8,791 between 1999 and 2015. The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) finds that almost one in three opioid overdoses involve a drug like Valium or Xanax.

Even though benzodiazepines are of little to no value in treating anxiety, panic disorders or insomnia, according to Maust, the data indicates that nearly 13 percent of adults used these types of drugs in the past year. He points out that cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT and psychotherapy is typically more effective at treating symptoms than sedatives. Dr. Maust adds that benzos may be more of a hindrance than a help.

"Benzos for anxiety is like opioids for chronic pain. There's a small subset of patients with treatment-resistant conditions where use may be appropriate," Maust said. "The current amount of use way, way exceeds what the evidence would support."

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If your use of benzodiazepines to treat symptoms of mental illness resulted in developing a use disorder, please reach out to The Haven. We provide medically supervised and top-quality care for addressing both the addiction and co-occurring mental illness like depression and anxiety. Our premier central coast addiction treatment center is the perfect place to renew your best today.