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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Addiction Recovery: Connecting with Newcomers

Do you attend meetings of recovery on a regular basis? If so, The Haven at Pismo encourages you to make a point of extending your hand to people with less sobriety than you. Reaching out to newcomers helps strengthen your recovery, and it also shows men and women they are not alone.

The British journalist and author Johann Hari says that the opposite of addiction is connection. Anyone who is working a program can agree that without the help of others, their recovery would be impossible.

Nobody finds lasting, long-term addiction recovery on their own. The goal of healing from the disease of addiction requires people to work together with others. Those who attempt to abstain from drugs and alcohol without assistance face significant obstacles that often become the impetus for relapse.

Attending meetings on a daily basis allows men and women the opportunity to connect with people who care about their well-being. Together, you help your peers, and, in turn, they help you when challenges arise. This process begins the instant you check into treatment or start going to meetings.

Newcomers are quickly approached by men or women with more recovery time than them; such people let the fragile newly sober know that everything will be alright. However, there is a caveat: they must commit themselves to give recovery their all for healing to occur. Half measures avail you nothing in sobriety.

Talking to Newcomers in Recovery

Whether you have a month sober or ten years, there is no good excuse for failing to show kindness to the newly sober. You can probably remember how scared and fragile you felt when you first embarked upon a journey of recovery. Then you heard someone share something that resonated with your own story. Maybe they came up to you after the meeting and or vice versa; perhaps that person is now your sponsor.

With a little bit of clean and sober time, you find yourself in a position to pay acts of kindness forward. Keep your eye out for men and women who identify as newcomers when you attend meetings. Do not hesitate to approach those individuals when the meeting concludes. For all you know, that person is on the fence about the business of recovery; they may be thinking of leaving the meeting and not returning.

Extending your hand out to newcomers is a way of showing that life gets better and that you care. Go one step further by inviting them to grab a cup of coffee and let them share what brought them to the rooms in the first place. Sometimes, newcomers need to get things off their chest and may be intimidated about sharing in front of a large group of strangers.

When you listen to what newcomers have to say, they are likely to feel a connection—that a bond is being formed. Who knows, they may ask you to be their sponsor, and you will have an opportunity to take them through the steps. Together, you keep each other clean and sober on the quest toward lasting recovery.

Fellowship is a pillar of addiction recovery. By working together, you keep the disease of addiction at bay. Active addiction is isolation; active recovery is connection!

SLO County Addiction Treatment Center

The Haven at Pismo invites adult men and women who are struggling with alcohol or substance use disorders to reach out. Our premier central coast addiction treatment center is the perfect place to renew to your best today. Our highly-trained staff offers a full continuum of care, utilizing evidence-based therapies to bring about long-term recovery. Please call our confidential hotline today: 1-805-202-3440

Friday, December 6, 2019

Mindfulness: The Precious Present in Recovery

All of us at The Haven hope that you had a serene Thanksgiving and a peaceful weekend. If you read last week’s post, we provided some helpful tips for staying clean and sober over the holiday. If you followed some of our suggestions, then it’s likely that your sobriety is intact.

Please take a moment this week to acknowledge your achievement; relapse is a common occurrence during major holidays. Those who remain grateful and humble and stick to a plan almost always avoid unfortunate incidents during select days of the year.

It’s vital to remember that the recovery work never ends. One must always be on the lookout for ways that they can enhance their program. By now, you may be aware that staying grounded and centered is essential to maintaining one’s recovery. Those who pray or practice mindful meditation are better equipped to deal with life on life’s terms.

Do you pray or meditate on a regular basis? If not, we implore you to talk with your sponsor or trusted peer to learn how you can channel your internal energy for external benefits. One of the best ways to accomplish the said goal is by focusing on the present.

Addicts and alcoholics tend to reminisce about the past or spend too much time thinking about the future. While it’s vital to remember where you came from and have goals for the future, what’s most salient is today. What you do right now for your program will change how your past affects you and will put you in a position to achieve your goals.

The Precious Present in Recovery

Mindfulness or mindful meditation can prove invaluable to men and women in recovery. The practice involves centering your attention to experiences happening in the present moment, without judgment. Even if your life is far from where you want it to be, focusing on your current circumstances will help you stay grounded and reduce the amount of stress that you have.

Each day set aside some time to slow your breathing and focus on the positive things happening in your life today. Even someone with 30 days sober has much to be grateful for, and mindfulness can help them put gratitude into action.

Being present can also help your peers, too; it puts you in a position to engage in selfless acts. The people in your support network rely on you just as you depend on them. If you are more balanced and centered, then you are better equipped to be of service to your peers.

Beginning a meditation routine may sound difficult if you have no experience. Fortunately, there are many resources available online that can teach you techniques for focusing on the precious present. Mindful.org suggests:
  • Sit down in a comfortable position.
  • Have the bottoms of your feet touching the floor.
  • Close or lower your eyelids.
  • Direct your attention to your breath.
  • If your mind begins to wander, return your attention to your breathing.
  • When you are ready to stop, consider how you feel and how you would like to continue with your day.
In time, you will be able to practice mindfulness in almost any situation. Several times a day, emphasize the need for focusing on the present, and it will strengthen your recovery.

SLO County Addiction Treatment

Please contact The Haven at Pismo to learn more about our innovative addiction treatment programs. Our team relies on evidence-based therapies to help men and women begin journeys of lasting recovery. We are available at any time to answer any questions you have about our center. 805-202-3440

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Giving Thanks in Recovery

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and it's a good time for people in recovery to think about gratitude. An attitude of gratitude is beneficial year-round, but tomorrow's holiday calls for some extra effort. Protecting your program from risky situations could come down to keeping the people that have helped you most in the forefront of your mind.

Whether you have a week sober or a year, the progress you've made wouldn't have been possible without the help of others. Men and women who came before you have lent their guidance to you on your quest for a healthy and happy life. Be sure to take time tomorrow to reach out to those who've been instrumental to that end.

One can never be too gracious and appreciative of their support network. Addiction recovery is, after all, a team effort to achieve personal gains. Isolation leads to the progression of alcohol and substance use disorders. Therefore, recovery thrives on the opposite, i.e., connection, togetherness, community, and fellowship.

Each day, men and women around the globe join forces on a common cause: keeping addiction and co-occurring mental illness at bay. Other people lift you when you are down; conversely, you are in a position to do the same when the opposite is true.

In the next 24 hours, think long and hard about who has been pivotal to your recovery. It always helps to make a list so that you can see who has helped you. During and between meetings, sober gatherings, and family dinners, please share with your peers how happy you are to have their support. Doing so will make you feel better, and it will affect them positively. It feels nice to hear that one has made a difference in the lives of others.

Keep Your Finger On the Pulse of Recovery

Tomorrow, you may find yourself dealing with a myriad of emotions; some happy, some sad, some that may produce anxiety. You might be expected to attend a family gathering where alcohol will be present. There is also a good chance of you being around intoxicated people.

While men and women in their first year of recovery should avoid such situations, it is possible to attend without taking a drink. Remember that you have tools to help you cope with triggers and cravings. You have a playbook to turn to if ever you find yourself feeling temptations to use. What's more, there is no shame in forgoing family gatherings if you think it could derail your program. Explain to your loved ones that your recovery calls for taking a different course on Thanksgiving.

Some of your loved ones may not understand, but that is not your problem. What's salient is placing your recovery before anything else; sometimes, that means doing things that are not easy.

If you feel that you must make an appearance, then use today to talk to your sponsor or recovery mentor for guidance. Be sure that you have a meeting lined up to attend before and after the family gathering. Keep your cell phone charged and have an exit strategy in place so that you can depart quickly if the experience becomes too much.

Men and women in their first year must be especially careful tomorrow, particularly if they have never navigated a significant holiday sober. Such people need to prioritize having a plan for the day and sticking to it; deviating from your schedule could put one in a risky situation. Chart out which meetings you will attend; there is no shortage of them during Thanksgiving.

Several places that host meetings of recovery do "alcathons" on significant holidays; from 12 AM Thursday to 12 AM Friday, there is always a group taking place. Go to as many meetings as you need; it will better enable you to keep your recovery intact.

Wishing You a Safe and Sober Thanksgiving

At The Haven, we would like to wish you and those in your support network a lovely holiday. We know that days like tomorrow are challenging, but we are confident that any person can manage if they put their recovery first.

In the event that something unfortunate happens, such as a relapse, call for help immediately. The longer you keep it to yourself, the worse matters get, and the harder it is to get back on track. If more assistance is required, please reach out to The Haven at Pismo for guidance.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Smoking Cigarettes and Relapse Risk

Last week, we shared research indicating that cannabis use is up among young adults and that tobacco use is down. The rise in marijuana use somewhat concerns, especially considering that Congress is planning to vote on legislation to federally legalize cannabis. If or when such legislation comes to pass, then experts must continue disseminating the facts about cannabis and marijuana use disorder.

The news that tobacco use is down among college-age young adults is excellent. What's more, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that cigarette smoking among American adults dropped to its lowest recorded level in 2018, according to CNN. The findings represent a roughly two-thirds decrease in adult smoking since the CDC began compiling data on tobacco use in 1965.

Targeted anti-smoking campaigns during the last few decades have paid off; the allure of tobacco use is waning. Still, there is more that needs to be done in connecting smokers with smoking cessation programs. The CDC reports that an estimated 49.1 million adults (nearly 1 in 5) used any tobacco product in 2018. Almost 50 million smokers aren't a small number and are evidence that efforts to educate people about the dangers must continue.

Tobacco, like alcohol, is both legal and deadly. A myriad of types of cancer and disease are linked to tobacco use. While vaping or the use of e-cigarettes has dominated headlines of late, the CDC found that cigarettes are still the most common method of nicotine absorption at 13.7%.

Cigarettes were followed by cigars, cigarillos, and filtered cigars at 3.9%. E-cigarette use came in third: 3.2% of U.S. adults vaped in 2018; however, 7.2% of young adults 18 to 24 vaped last year.

Smoking in Recovery: Risk of Relapse

Many men and women actively working programs of recovery continue to smoke cigarettes after treatment. While tobacco use creates fewer problems for people compared to other mind-altering substances, people in recovery are strongly encouraged to give up tobacco too.

Setting aside the dangers tobacco poses to one's health, there is published research that indicates smoking increases the risk of relapse. Last year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that people in recovery for substance use disorders (SUD) were more likely to relapse if they smoke. Since abstinence is the mission of people in sobriety, men and women must do whatever they can to increase their chances of sustained recovery.

Researchers found that people who smoked while in recovery were 1.5 times more likely to relapse than those who give up smoking. Heavy smokers were found to be much more significantly at risk of relapse. The data indicates that the odds of relapse increased by 0.7 percent for each cigarette smoked per day.

It's not uncommon for some individuals to pick up smoking while in recovery. This demographic was found to be at the highest risk of relapse; they were five times more likely to report a relapse or return to active SUD. The odds of relapse increased by 2.4 percent for each cigarette smoked per day for this group.

The researchers pointed out that cigarettes may serve as a drug cue and relapse trigger. They also cite other studies that have linked nicotine exposure to cravings for stimulants and opiates.

Giving up tobacco isn't easy under any circumstances, but it's possible to improve one's chances with assistance. Several national smoking cessation programs will provide those who have a desire to quit with free patches, gums, and medications (in some cases).

SLO County Addiction Treatment

The Haven at Pismo can help you or a loved one begin the journey of lasting recovery. On top of providing clients with tools for abstaining from drugs and alcohol, we help men and women with smoking cessation. Please contact us today to learn more about the evidence-based therapies utilized at the Haven. Our team of addiction professionals is dedicated to helping men and women renew to their best today.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Cannabis Use Up Among Young Adults

cannabis use
Cannabis use disorder or marijuana use disorder is a condition that millions of Americans live with each day. While the drug is generally considered benign when compared to harder drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, it is not without risk. Cannabis addiction is real, and it can significantly disrupt people's lives; this is particularly true for young people.

In the United States, we are witnessing a paradigm shift in thinking about cannabis. Even though the drug remains illegal federally, 33 states and D.C. have medical marijuana programs. Patients can request a recommendation from their doctor to use pot for a host of medical conditions.

Medical marijuana gave rise to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Currently, 11 states and D.C., including California, allow adults over the age of 21 to use cannabis recreationally. The writing is on the wall: the prohibition on marijuana may soon come to an end in the near future.

Perceptions about cannabis have been a driving force behind legalization. Despite the fact that there is little available research on the long-term effects of cannabis use, many Americans believe the drug is relatively harmless.

While smoking pot or eating THC-infused edibles may not cause severe problems for most people, that is not the case for everyone. That's not to say the drug should be federally prohibited, but instead that people must have the facts before they begin using America's most popular drug.

Cannabis Use Among Young Adults

Adolescents and young adults are the demographics that experts are most concerned about when it comes to cannabis use. Research shows that frequent marijuana use can wreak havoc on developing brains and put individuals on a path toward addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that people who start using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a cannabis use disorder than adults.

Each year, a survey is conducted to follow drug use trends in America. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) is especially interested in teens and young adult substance use. The American Academy of Pediatrics analyzed NSDUH data from 2002 to 2016 and published a study on their findings recently. The researchers found that exclusive use of marijuana between 18- to 22 -year-olds rose, and exclusive tobacco use among the group fell in 2016, according to U.S. News & World Report. What's more, less than one-third of young adults think frequent cannabis use is harmful—the lowest percentage since 1980.

Interestingly, college students had the most significant increase in cannabis use, the article reports. Exclusive marijuana use was higher among college students than non-college respondents for both the past month and past year; 11.5% compared to 8.6% and 14.6% compared to 10.8%, respectively. Moreover, college students who only used marijuana in the past month increased by almost 8% over the survey period, compared to 4% for non-college young adults.

On the other hand, non-college individuals were more likely to use tobacco than college students in the past 30 days — 17.7% compared to 10.4%. The same was true for past year tobacco use: 17.4% compared to 12.2%.

These findings are essential for several reasons; they show that more needs to be done to impress the dangers of cannabis use upon young people. Not through scare tactics or punishment, but by informing them that cannabis is not benign. Sharing the fact that using pot at a young age increases one's risk of developing an addiction, a condition that could impact work, school, and relationships.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans seek treatment for cannabis use disorder each year.

SLO County Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment

If you are a young adult male or female who has been negatively impacted by marijuana use, then you are strongly encouraged to seek professional assistance. Those who attempt and find that they are unable to quit on their own can benefit significantly from contacting The Haven at Pismo.

Our highly trained staff can help you break the cycle of addiction and give you the tools to lead a healthy and productive life in recovery. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Co-Occurring PTSD and SUD Affects Veterans

Veterans Day is this coming Monday. For some people, the holiday means a three-day weekend, but for others, it is an essential federal holiday in honor of all those who have served in the United States armed forces. There is another facet of the observance that is also important to talk about: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorder (SUD) among veterans.

While PTSD is most closely associated with individuals who have seen combat, it is a mental health condition that can disrupt the lives of civilians as well. Trauma comes in many forms; one does not need to go to a warzone to experience a significant traumatic event.

Civilians aside, it’s vital to discuss veterans and those still on active duty who struggle with PTSD and co-occurring addiction. Both diseases affect far more individuals than you might think. The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs tracks data on the disorders at the National Center for PTSD.

In this post, we would like to raise awareness about both conditions and encourage those who struggle with any mental illness to seek support. At The Haven, we know that treatment works, and recovery is possible for men and women who have PTSD, SUD, or both.

How Common Is Co-occurring PTSD and SUD in Veterans?

One national epidemiologic study found that 46.4% of individuals with lifetime PTSD also met criteria for SUD, according to the American Journal of Addiction. An older study found that 27.9% of women and 51.9% of men with lifetime PTSD also had SUD, according to the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The National Center for PTSD reports that a majority of veterans with PTSD have met criteria for co-morbid substance use at some point. The center adds that more than 2 of 10 veterans with PTSD also have SUD. What’s more, almost 1 out of every 3 veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD. The VA notes that:

“Individuals who have both disorders have poorer treatment outcomes, more additional psychiatric problems, and more functional problems across multiple domains, including medical, legal, financial, and social, than those with just one disorder.”

People who misuse drugs and alcohol are at higher risk of developing PTSD; and, veterans regularly use drugs and alcohol to cope with PTSD symptoms. Those in the latter camp place themselves at high risk of developing co-occurring SUD.

While men and women with comorbidity tend to have a harder time healing, treatment centers that target both conditions simultaneously can help bring about long-term recovery. The Haven at Pismo specializes in co-occurring disorder treatment that addresses both illnesses in one recovery program.

SLO County Evidence-Based Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

Those who still feel the invisible scars of combat and struggle with drugs and alcohol are invited to contact The Haven. You will be pleased to learn that our licensed clinical psychologist and clinical director worked for the Department of Defense/Naval Medical Center San Diego for over eight years as a staff clinical psychologist.

Aleksandra Marinovic, Psy.D., has a vast range of experience treating active duty service members with a wide range of psychological diagnoses and substance use issues, using evidence-based treatment. Dr. Marinovic has received excellent theoretical and practical training over the years in the field in a variety of settings and modalities. She has extensive experience with a range of mental health issues and addiction, including mood and anxiety disorders, military and non-military trauma/PTSD, and other chronic mental illnesses.

In honor of the millions of men and women who have served, The Haven at Pismo would like to extend our utmost gratitude for their sacrifices. We are here to help any veterans in need of assistance.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

"Sesame Street" Tackles Addiction

Since 1969, the beloved television show Sesame Street has helped young people understand and discuss challenging situations. The PBS favorite is now airing on the premium channel HBO. The move to premium television allows the show's creators to explore even more sensitive topics than ever before, such as addiction.

"Sesame Street was built around a single, breakthrough insight: that if you can hold the attention of children, you can educate them," said author Malcolm Gladwell. Given that millions of adults are currently in the throes of addiction, it's prudent to help kids process the problems that their parents face.

Alcohol and substance use disorders affect the entire family; no member is immune to the fallout of addiction. The American addiction epidemic – notably involving opioids – has had a profound impact on our society. High overdose death rates, babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, and as many as six million Americans living with an opioid use disorder is cause for national discourse.

The Sesame Workshop, the organization that produces the show, felt it had to act when it learned that 5.7 million children under age 11 live with a parent with substance use disorder, USA Today reports. The show created a backstory for a character named Karli that involves her mother's battles with addiction; Karli is one of Elmo's friends.

Tackling Addiction on Sesame Street

The new initiative involving parental substance use has two purposes. Firstly, it helps kids who have been impacted by addiction make better sense of what is happening. Secondly, the segments can help parents learn how to talk to their children about this sensitive subject matter.

"There's nothing else out there that addresses substance abuse for young, young kids from their perspective," said Kama Einhorn, a senior content manager with Sesame Workshop. Einhorn adds that "Even a parent at their most vulnerable — at the worst of their struggle — can take one thing away when they watch it with their kids, then that serves the purpose."

Earlier this year, Karli was introduced to viewers as being a puppet in foster care, according to the article. Now, the addition of her mother's backstory will explain to children why foster care was necessary in the first place. The opioid epidemic has led to a staggering rise in children being placed into foster care or having to go live with a relative.

Over the summer, the Associated Press was granted the opportunity to get a glimpse of the upcoming segments on addiction. In one of the segments, Karli was joined by 10-year-old Salia Woodbury, whose parents are in recovery. You can read an excerpt below:  

"Hi, it's me, Karli. I'm here with my friend Salia. Both of our parents have had the same problem — addiction," Karli told the camera. 

"My mom and dad told me that addiction is a sickness," Salia said. 

"Yeah, a sickness that makes people feel like they have to take drugs or drink alcohol to feel OK. My mom was having a hard time with addiction and I felt like my family was the only one going through it. But now I've met so many other kids like us. It makes me feel like we're not alone," the puppet continued. 

"Right, we're not alone," Salia responded. "And it's OK to open up to people about our feelings."  

Sam and Jaana Woodbury, of Orange County, California, are Salia's parents, and they have been in recovery for about eight years, the article reports. They are pleased that the show is focusing on opioid and alcohol addiction.

Please take a moment to watch a short video:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.


SLO County Addiction Treatment


The Haven at Pismo helps men and women who struggle with alcohol or substance use disorder. We provide a full continuum of care for substance abuse and co-occurring illness. Please contact us at any time to learn more about our programs. The Haven is the perfect place to renew to your best today.