24/7 Confidential Hotline

Monday, May 28, 2018

Raising Awareness About Mental Health and Addiction

mental health disorder
The disease of addiction is not a simple matter; it doesn’t merely affect the addict or alcoholic, the condition impacts the entire family. Healing is possible for anyone who is willing to take proactive steps and seek assistance. However, it is a troubling reality that some individuals are unable to manage a program of recovery; this is especially true for the more than half of all people living with the disease who also struggle with a co-occurring mental illness.

It’s paramount for persons living with alcohol and substance use disorders to receive simultaneous treatment for their use disorder and dual diagnosis to achieve lasting progress. Depression often goes hand-in-hand with the disease of addiction complicating people’s ability to affect change in their own lives. Failing to manage depressive symptoms properly, or lacking the necessary coping skills, significantly increases the likelihood of alcohol and substance use relapse.

Dual diagnosis cases are veritable snake-eating-its-tail scenarios. One may learn how to manage their addiction with the aid of a recovery program only to have their hard work compromised by a co-occurring mental health disorder. Conversely, those using drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms of depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for instance, end up exacerbating their psychological manifestations. Self-medication is never a viable method for managing mental illness.

Raising Awareness About Mental Health, Addiction, and Suicide

On May 18, 2017, the frontman of Soundgarden, Chris Cornell, took his life after battling addiction and depression for years. A couple of months later on July 20, 2017, Linkin Park singer and songwriter Chester Bennington committed suicide, as well. As with Cornell, depression, and addiction were mitigating factors in Bennington’s death. Now, roughly a year later, actions are underway to prevent other people from suffering similar fates.

Chris’ widow, Vicky Cornell, is doing her part to help people living with mental illness by launching the Addiction Resource Center (ARC), Yahoo News reports. ARC is an online resource for anyone living with the disease of addiction and their families; the campaign provides the Addiction Resource Line (ARL), which connects those struggling with mental illness with mental health clinicians and peer recovery support advocates.

"Addiction is a preventable and treatable disease,” Mrs. Cornell said in a statement. "While it’s too late to bring Chris back, it’s not too late for millions of other people who are struggling with addiction."

Talinda Bennington, Chester’s widow, is also using her husband's passing as an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health disorders and suicide via social media, according to the article. “If my husband's death saves one life, then it's not in vain,” says Talinda Bennington. We can all play a role in helping others find recovery.

When we have conversations about mental illness, we break down the stigma that accompanies such conditions, in turn, encouraging people to break their silence and seek help.


Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

The Haven at Pismo can help you or your loved one break the cycle of addiction and assist you in learning how to manage the symptoms of a co-occurring mental health disorder without resorting to self-medicating. Please contact us today to find out more information about our program.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Right Friends for Your Recovery

friends for recoveryA big part of a successful recovery is being surrounded by a solid support group – and this includes the right type of friends. Embracing a healthy life requires making an effort to meet positive people who will support your sobriety and help you to create new exciting memories. 

Putting your new sober self out there socially takes courage, but you can do it. Here’s a little help: 
  • Sign up for a sport or hobby: Check your area for any local running groups, yoga classes, cooking courses or another activity that will allow you to meet like-minded people. You could also consider volunteering, which is a great way to give back to the community and expand your network of friends.
  • Practice, practice, practice: The more you talk to new people, the easier it will become. Try to really make an ongoing effort to make new friends and then keep those relationships going. Like everything else worthwhile in life, creating new friendships takes practice. 
  • Be yourself: It’s likely easier said than done but try to put your best foot forward and be yourself. If you’re worried about getting tongue-tied or saying something stupid, consider doing some role playing with a loved one or trusted friend.
  • Put on your event planner hat: Whether you invite some friends for coffee or a walk in the park, taking the initiative to arrange a get-together will go a long way in showing new friends you’d like to get to know them better. 
  • Be patient: Building friendships is not an overnight process, so be patient and remember each day in recovery is a new chance to become a better friend and a better you! 
Continual Growth at Complete Harmony
Our team of credentialed clinicians helps you explore your own recovery journey while learning to heal relationships and build a sober social network. For more information about our cutting edge treatments, call us today: 866-930-4673.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

NPW: Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana

National Prevention Week
May is Mental Health Month, and this is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Prevention Week (NPW). With summer closing in, SAMHSA is using this opportunity to raise awareness about behavioral health issues and to implement alcohol and substance use prevention strategies. There are several ways that organizations, communities, schools can join forces to educate young people about the value of abstaining from drugs and alcohol.

Addiction can develop in individuals when they are young; research shows that those adolescents and young adults who initiate substance use are at a heightened risk of use disorder. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that young people have several misconceptions about drugs and alcohol, particularly regarding the use of marijuana. For instance, a statistically relevant number of teens believe that cannabis use carries little risk; a mindset that is reinforced by states relaxing their stance on marijuana.

Teenagers, young adults, and parents alike, must understand that "legal" doesn’t mean safe. Cannabis can have a detrimental effect on developing brains, and regular use of the drug can result in cannabis use disorder or marijuana addiction. It is not widely known that habitual “pot” smokers often experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to abstain. It is vital that efforts are taken to disseminate the facts on cannabis use and implore teens to exercise caution.

Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana

The primary theme of National Prevention Week is: Action Today. Healthier Tomorrow. The steps that communities will take today to prevent substance use and reinforce positive mental health, will pay off exponentially down the road. The events this week include a variety of sub-themes, including:
  • Monday, May 14: Promotion of Mental Health & Wellness
  • Tuesday, May 15: Prevention of Underage Drinking & Alcohol Misuse
  • Wednesday, May 16: Prevention of Prescription & Opioid Drug Misuse
  • Thursday, May 17: Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana
  • Friday, May 18: Prevention of Suicide
  • Saturday, May 19: Prevention of Youth Tobacco Use
Today’s theme is: Prevention of Illicit Drug Use & Youth Marijuana. Among 18 to 22-year olds, research shows that first-time use of marijuana spikes during the summer months of June and July. Right now, teens and college students are still in class; but, they will not be for much longer. National Prevention Week is a perfect opportunity to talk with American youths about drug use and encourage them to take part in the NPW Prevention Challenge: Dear Future Me. SAMHSA asks young people:

“What would you say to your future self about what you’re doing today to ensure a healthier tomorrow?"



Taking part in the challenge is fairly straightforward; and, those who get involved not only help themselves, they encourage others to take action today for a healthier tomorrow. You can find the guidelines below:

  1. Write a letter or draw a picture about the choices you’re making to live a healthy, happy life.
  2. Take a picture of your letter or record a video of yourself reading your letter.
  3. Share it on social media using the hashtag #DearFutureMe and #NPW2018.
  4. Tag a few friends so they can participate and add their Dear Future Me letter to the NPW conversation.
  5. Share any or all of the Dear Future Me videos on social media to encourage others to participate as well.
Please watch a short video below to get a feel for the challenge:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

The more you can do to protect your future, the better! It is likely that some people are not comfortable with sharing their thoughts on this critical subject matter, and that is OK; however, there are still myriad things you can do today for your future's sake. Even if you have begun experimenting with drugs and alcohol, you can take steps to pivot away from such behaviors and ensure that an unhealthy relationship with substances doesn't develop.


Young Adult Addiction Treatment

If you are a young adult who is struggling with an alcohol or substance use disorder, please contact The Haven at Pismo. We can help you begin a life-saving journey of addiction recovery. We provide a continuum of care, including medical detox, gender-specific residential programs, and outpatient programs.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Strengthening Your Addiction Recovery Through Service

addiction recovery
In early recovery, many people often find themselves with more time than they know what to do with; thanks to no longer having to dedicate nearly every waking hour to fueling their disease. No longer having to figure out how you're going to keep from going into withdrawal frees up a massive chunk of your day allowing you to focus on making progress. Having some downtime is not inherently dangerous, provided however that people in recovery use those hours productively, i.e., going to meetings, socializing with others in one’s support network, and exercising. Of course, it is unrealistic to expect those who are working a program will always be at a meeting, so it's vital that individuals in recovery seek out new ways to fill their time.

If you are a person committed to keeping the disease of addiction at bay, then you have probably come to the realization that your head isn’t the safest place in which to loiter. Meaning, when you have nothing “to do” you might be apt to ruminate about the past or the future unless you find ways to stay busy. Since most people's recovery history is laden with painful experiences, spending too much time thinking about it can be risky. On the other end, spending inordinate amounts of time dreaming of what the future holds can lead to restlessness and impatience; after all, the gift and blessings of recovery can take a stretch to manifest. Simply put, it is paramount for those in the program to stay in the here-and-now, the “precious present.”

Once in the program, it can take some time for individuals to figure out how to stay productive, even when it seems like you don’t have to occupy time. A good number of people will choose to fill up free space in their schedule, particularly in the evening, with television. Others might opt to read some recovery-related material, which is always a healthier choice than TV. There is a number of things that you can choose to do that will help you stay present, although some activities can strengthen your recovery.

Staying Present in Recovery

In the first six months to a year of peoples’ sobriety, it is wise to adhere firmly to the suggestions proffered in treatment and from your support group. Recommendations which could include doing step work (e.g., Fourth Step Inventory), reading your Big Book, meetings, prayer, and meditation. The goal is to immerse yourself in living an entirely new way, leading a life that doesn’t revolve around selfish and self-defeating behaviors. Dedicating yourself to following the lead of others will better protect you from doing anything that could jeopardize your program.

After months of doing many of the same things repetitively, your actions become second nature. The things you do day-in-and-day-out for recovery will commence without having to think about it. While such a reality is a good thing, there are some who may start to feel like their life today is a touch mundane and tedious; this is a feeling that many people share after being clean and sober for a time. If you've begun feeling that way about your life today, it is critical that you take steps to invigorate your program and one of the best ways to accomplish this is through being of service to others.

There are a good many ways that you can help your program and add color to your life through helping others, both inside the “rooms” and out. If you have a significant amount of idle time during your week, perhaps you might look for volunteering opportunities in your area. Giving back to your community is an excellent way to break up the monotony of the week. Another way you can give back is by volunteering to offer a ride to a "newcomer" who finds it difficult to get to a meeting; or, invite somebody new to get coffee after attending your “homegroup.” Whenever you are in service to others, you are not in service to your addiction.

Addiction Treatment

During National Nurses Week we would like to honor every nurse who has selflessly volunteered their time, caring and showing compassion for those struggling with addiction. Nurses are an invaluable asset to the field of addiction medicine. At The Haven, we thank you for your service!

The Haven at Pismo can help you or a loved one begin a life-saving journey of addiction recovery. We provide a continuum of care, including medical detox, gender-specific residential programs, and outpatient programs. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs. 805-202-3440.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Mental Health Month: The Gut-Mental Health Link

gut-mental health linkMay is Mental Health Month and, as part of its Fitness #4Mind4Body theme, Mental Health America (MHA) is spreading awareness about the gut-brain connection. Or, simply put, how a happy gut translates into a happier you. More and more research is revealing the mental health benefits of a healthy gut population of beneficial bacteria. One theory is that healthy gut bacteria increases blood levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that increases brain levels of the mood-boosting chemical serotonin (which are often low in people with depression).

And, in fact, there’s a strong relationship between having mental health problems and having gastrointestinal symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, pain, constipation and/or diarrhea. This is because anxiety and depression can cause changes in the gut microbiome, according to MHA. 

Several factors contribute to the health of your gut microbiome – like your environment, exercise, sleep and stress – but eating a balanced and nutritious diet is the most important thing you can do to keep your gut healthy.

Start with these gut-friendly diet tips from MHA: 
  • Eat a diet full of whole grains, lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables.
  • Skip sugary, fried, or processed foods and soft drinks.
  • Fill up on prebiotic foods like asparagus, bananas (especially if they aren’t quite ripe), garlic, onions, jicama, tomatoes, apples, berries and mangos.
  • Add probiotic foods to your diet, including yogurt (live or active cultures), unpasteurized sauerkraut and kimchi, miso soup, kefir, kombucha (fermented black tea), tempeh (made of soy beans) and apple cider vinegar.
  • Consider probiotic supplements. Make sure the type of bacteria is listed on the bottle – Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are common – and that the label says that the bacteria are live and there are billions of colony forming units (CFUs).
Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment
The Haven at Pismo offers clients with co-occurring addiction and mental illness a continuum of care in one recovery program. To learn more about our integrated dual-diagnosis treatment program, call us today: 805-202-3440. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Treating Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

co-occurring disorders
April was an important month regarding alcohol use disorder, treatment, and substance misuse prevention. The month of April was Alcohol Awareness Month, last week was National Addiction Treatment Week, and this past Saturday Americans did their part to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs safely. It should go without saying that the effort to combat stigma and encourage people to seek treatment is a year-round mission; millions of people are still struggling and don’t feel that they can reach out for help without consequence. Even though the events of April have come and gone, this is an equally critical month; in fact, May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Alcohol and substance use disorders are forms of mental illness; and, like any mental health condition, there isn’t a cure for addiction. Fortunately, there are effective, science-based treatments that can help individuals break the cycle of addiction and learn ways to cope in life without resorting to drugs and alcohol. Adopting a program of recovery is not a simple task, it is an enormous commitment; yet, with help, the burden becomes lighter and long-term recovery is possible.

As was pointed out above, addiction is a mental illness; it is worth mentioning that a vast number of people suffering from addiction, also contend with a co-occurring mental health disorder. As a matter of fact, of some 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder in 2014, 50.5% (10.2 million adults) also met the criteria for dual diagnosis. Persons affected by both addiction, as well as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, require treatment that addresses both conditions simultaneously. Treating one illness and not the other, significantly impacts treatment outcomes.

Mental Health: Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

Long-term alcohol and drug use take a severe toll on both mind and body. In many cases, addiction precedes the onset of a condition such as depression; however, in other cases, individuals began using substances in order to cope with the symptoms of their mental illness. Self-medication may help people contend with their symptoms initially but over time the reverse is seen, and addiction often develops. Drug and alcohol use exacerbates the symptoms of mental illness in the long run.

The order, addiction before depression, or vice versa, is important insofar as how clinicians go about treating one individual from the next. What’s most salient though is that both the use disorder and dual diagnosis receive concurrent treatment. In some situations, people struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder learn that they meet the criteria for another mental health condition while in treatment.

Learning that another disease is at play, and may have been all along, can be an illuminating realization. Such discoveries help clients understand some of the reasons for their use and abuse. Knowing why you feel the way you do gives one the ability to take nondestructive steps to cope with their symptoms of depression, anxiety, et al.; in turn, mitigating the risk of acting on cravings and experiencing a relapse. Managing both illnesses together is the best path to lasting recovery.


Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

The Haven at Pismo offers an integrated dual-diagnosis treatment program that addresses clients’ addiction and co-occurring disorder in one recovery program. Mental Health Month is a perfect opportunity to reach out for help and begin the remarkable, life-saving journey of recovery. We provide a continuum of care, including medical detox, gender-specific residential programs, and outpatient programs. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs. 805-202-3440.