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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Millennials Who Know People Living With Opioid Addiction

opioid addiction
Opioid use disorder is a progressive disease affecting more than 2 million Americans. Each day, more than 100 people in the United States die of an opioid overdose. What’s more, given that addiction often goes unreported, there is a high likelihood that an even more significant number of individuals are struggling with either prescription opioids or heroin.

Using and misusing opiates of any kind is inherently dangerous, all of us must do what we can to encourage those who we love and care about to seek addiction treatment services. Opioids are both ubiquitous and pervasive in certain parts of the country; more and more people are finding that they know someone either taking or struggling with prescription opioids. The vast majority of persons procure such drugs from a doctor, friend, or family member; if such channels disappear, many will turn to the black market rather than face withdrawal.

Deciding to turn to the black market, to acquire prescription painkillers or cheaper and stronger heroin, significantly increases people’s risk of synthetic opioid exposure. In recent years, the charts showing the prevalence of illicit fentanyl use only go in one direction, up! Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and can be 50 percent stronger than most heroin. Most individuals, to make matters worse, have no way of knowing that the drug they are about to use contains the deadly synthetic.

It doesn’t matter where you are from or how educated you are; if you're white or black, young or old; opioid addiction can touch anyone. There is a good chance you know someone who is struggling; perhaps you are in the grips of an opioid use disorder? In either case, we implore you to seek help.


Do You Know Someone Dealing With Opioid Addiction?

Opioid addiction affects people from all walks of life and experts suggest that the disorder is impacting overall life expectancy for Americans. While adolescents and young adults are not the demographic at highest risk of opioid use and misuse, a survey shows that nearly half of millennials know someone who has dealt with opioid use disorder, NBC News reports. A new NBC News GenForward millennial poll indicates that more than four in 10 millennials (42 percent) know someone with a history of opioid addiction; 17 percent report knowing someone in their immediate family.

Those up to date with current events relating to the opioid epidemic know that among the various affected demographics, white Americans are most significantly impacted by the epidemic. The survey shows that 54 percent of white millennials know someone who has struggled with an opioid addiction; whereas, only 30 percent of African-American millennials knew an individual with such a history.

Most cases of addiction do not receive any form of treatment or therapy, despite the fact that recovery is an attainable goal. Among young, white Americans, 22 percent know someone in their immediate family who has misused opioids; it stands to reason that many of those same family members are still in the grips of the disease. With that in mind, it is critical that young people compassionately encourage their loved ones to utilize addiction recovery resources.

If you know someone is struggling, please do not keep it to yourself; helping them get assistance could bring about lasting addiction recovery for your mother, father, brother, or sister.


Opioid Use 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 co-occurring mental illness. Please contact us today learn more about our program.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Untreated Mental Illness and Suicide

Whenever someone famous commits suicide, it forces the nation to ask some hard questions about the prevalence of mental illness and access to treatment. The act of taking one’s life doesn’t, after all, occur in a vacuum! People who are wrestling with suicidal ideations are almost always contending with some form of mental health condition, notably depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorder. Of course, any one of the multiple psychological diseases can precipitate self-harm.

There exists a significant barrier to preventing suicide; most people are not apt to discuss their internal struggles with friends and family. We have a long history of sweeping mental illness under the rug in the United States. In the 21st Century, stigma is alive and well; many people fear the real and imagined consequences of talking about their symptoms. As a result, people do not seek assistance even when they have the resources to access effective methods of treatment. Such a reality is never more evident than when a celebrity ends his or her life.

Millions of Americans and millions more around the globe are reeling over the recent loss of two icons in their respective fields. The untimely deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain came as a massive shock to all who are familiar with the two’s contribution to fashion and culinary appreciation. It seems only right that we discuss suicide in some detail; while nothing can be said that will bring them back, we have an opportunity to encourage others who are struggling to seek mental health services. Rose McGowan wrote an open letter after Bourdain’s death; one line stands out particularly:

“There is no one to blame but the stigma of loneliness, the stigma of asking for help, the stigma of mental illness, the stigma of being famous and hurting.” 

Suicide: The Culmination of Untreated Mental Illness

The media is hard at work tossing around opinions and speculating as to why two people at the height of their careers would opt out of life? It is documented that both Kate and Anthony had had a history of psychological issues and at least one of them (possibly both) had unhealthy relationships with drugs and alcohol. There has been some debate regarding Kate Spade's problems; however, Bourdain was no stranger to addiction and reportedly battled depression.

We’ll never glean what finally drove either of them to suicide. Although, most people with even the slightest understanding of mental illness would likely agree that both deaths may have been avoidable. Agree that if people felt that talking about their mental woes was socially acceptable more people would seek assistance. In the rooms of addiction recovery, whenever the subject of suicide comes up, it is almost a guarantee that someone will share that, “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” The statement is cliché, catchy, and contains a nugget of truth. The quasi-axiom can be taken in one of two ways; to the non-suicidal, it is usually met with acceptance; to the someone who is contemplating suicide, it may be viewed as another person’s attempt to minimize their pain. To the suicidal, their mental ache is anything but temporary, even if that isn’t the truth.

Regarding the former, it is true that mental illness or personal problems that find a compassionate forum can be transcended. With the right help and continued maintenance to keep symptoms in check, people can lead a productive and healthy existence. However, we all must be careful, even those in recovery, to avoid saying things to our peers that invalidates a person's feelings. In place of witticisms, let's do better to exude compassion, empathy, and encouragement.



The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention makes clear that suicide in America is more prevalent than most people think. In fact, on any given day of the year, there is an average of 123 suicides in the United States. Men die by suicide 3.53 times more often than women. Each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the US. If you are contemplating suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

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 co-occurring mental illness. Please contact us today to find out more information about our program.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Myths and Facts About PTSD

There’s tons of research about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and yet myths abound. Dispelling these myths is important, however. Not only will it help ease the stigma attached to PTSD but it will also encourage those suffering from PTSD to get help. 

In honor of National PTSD awareness month this June, we’re talking about three common myths about PTSD – and the real facts, according to the PTSD alliance.

Myth #1: PTSD only affects military veterans. 
Certainly PTSD is common among veterans, but anyone can develop PTSD and at any age, even children. According to research, 70 percent of Americans will experience some type of major trauma within their lives and, of that group, 20 percent will develop PTSD symptoms. It might also be surprising to discover that women have a higher risk than men. In fact, they are two times more likely to experience PTSD symptoms. One possible explanation: Women are often more susceptible to traumatic events like domestic violence and rape.

Myth #2: PTSD happens immediately after a traumatic event and your risk lessens as time passes. 
PTSD symptoms often happen within three months after the traumatic event and can happen continuously for years. It can also take months or even years for symptoms to arise and these symptoms can come and go throughout the years. PTSD is often tricky as it’s difficult to recognize the symptoms, especially if some time has passed since the trauma, and it’s often mistaken for depression. 

Myth #3: PTSD is just mental weakness. People should just “get over” traumatic events of life.
This is perhaps the most damaging myth that exists regarding PTSD. While many people experience trauma and then return to a normal life after a period of time, some individuals develop PTSD depending on the type, severity and longevity of the trauma experienced. In addition, the following factors play a role:
  • Personality traits
  • How the brain releases chemicals to combat stress
  • Whether the individual experienced childhood trauma
  • Lack of social support 
Treating Addiction and PTSD
Yet another myth may be that drinking and doing drugs can help ease symptoms of PTSD. In fact, this type of self-medicating can worsen symptoms and decrease functioning across many areas of life. Luckily, proper treatment can help. Contact us today to learn more about how The Haven at Pismo can help you or your loved one break the cycle of addiction and manage the symptoms of PTSD without resorting to self-medicating. Call: 805-202-3440.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

PTSD Awareness Month: Encouraging Treatment and Recovery

Most people who struggle with addiction have a co-occurring mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When a person suffers from two conditions simultaneously it is referred to as a dual diagnosis; the symptoms of each problem exacerbate one another, making the prospects of recovery more complicated. People will often use drugs and alcohol to assuage the symptoms of their dual pathology; for a time, self-medication can have the desired effect, but in the end, the ameliorating effects of substance use are always fleeting.

Believe it or not, individuals who make the courageous decision to seek treatment are, in many cases, unaware that they meet the criteria for a separate mental illness. Upon arriving at a treatment center, people maintain that they are just there to nip their alcohol or substance use in the bud. Such people soon find out that there is more to their story than run-of-the-mill addiction; and, if steps are not taken to address a dual diagnosis, lasting progress is unlikely.

It is vital that treatment centers address both mental health conditions simultaneously if long-term recovery is to be made a reality. Multiple psychological health disorders accompany addiction; during June, it is critical that we discuss PTSD in particular. We are now nearly halfway through PTSD Awareness Month; hopefully, you will join us in our efforts to disseminate the message that there are effective treatments available for this most debilitating mental illness.

PTSD Doesn’t Just Affect Veterans

Over the centuries the condition that we now refer to as PTSD has gone by many names; there are a few that you have likely heard of before: melancholy, battle fatigue, and shell shock. Post-traumatic stress has been called a host of things, but one thing that is consistent is the symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, one does not have to experience combat to experience the kind of trauma that can result in post-traumatic stress. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 6 of every ten men and 5 of every ten women experience at least one trauma in their lives; about 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.

Witnessing a horrific event or being assaulted, for example, can leave a lasting mark on people’s psyche. When people experience something too difficult for their mind to handle a change occurs; they may find it difficult to be in certain situations for years to come. PTSD symptoms include:
  • Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms): Memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time. You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place.
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the event: You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
  • Negative changes in beliefs and feelings: The way you think about yourself and others changes because of the trauma.
  • Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal): You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. You might suddenly become angry or irritable.
Individuals who experience the above symptoms must receive treatment; a failure to address one’s symptoms can lead to self-harm and self-defeating behaviors. As was mentioned earlier, such people are likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms; the practice of self-medication often results in substance dependence and use disorders. Conversely, people with alcohol and substance use disorders often experience traumatic events that can lead to PSTD; alcoholics and addicts find themselves in precarious situations, regularly. It doesn’t matter which condition comes first; what is essential is that both disorders are treated.


Co-Occurring 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 PTSD without resorting to self-medicating. Please contact us today to find out more information about our program.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Reading In Addiction Recovery

It doesn’t take long for people new to a program of recovery to figure out that they will be doing a lot of reading. Whether it’s reading educational handouts from treatment centers and therapists, or program-approved literature, much time is spent flipping through pages. At the end of the day, embarking upon a journey of recovery requires unlearning past behaviors through learning new modalities of being. How one thinks, acts, and sees the world in recovery should be completely different from one’s existence in active addiction; in order to accomplish the task of living for long-term recovery, people need to be committed to changing most things in their life. One way to achieve such goals is to learn from those who came before; you can mine a lot of valuable information from the experiences of others.

In recovery, you are not alone; together you can bring about a paradigm shift for the better. Those who attend meetings of recovery on the regular hear about what others do to say clean and sober; such people learn what works, and more importantly what doesn’t. The goal is to take valuable lessons from other peoples’ experiences and adapt them to suit your needs for leading a productive life.

Of course, you can’t always be in a meeting or on the phone with your sponsor or recovery mentor; after you have read through program-sanctioned literature, you will want to broaden your horizons before rereading those materials. Keeping your program fresh depends on finding insight from other sources; and, the good news is that many people have written on the subject of addiction and recovery.

Reading for Recovery

Two weeks from now marks the beginning of summer which means that some of you will have some time to travel or relax on the beach. You might find that this an excellent time to glean some insight from people in recovery who have written about leading a life in recovery. There is a lot to choose from, some things written by addicts and alcoholics, while others come from parents and experts in the field of addiction medicine.

Those of you in the earliest stages of recovery should exercise some caution when deciding what to read. As you can probably imagine, some books might include sections that are difficult to handle while you are still fragile. What’s more, you don’t want to read anything that might elicit cravings or worse, trigger a relapse. If you are thinking about reading something that delves into the subject of addiction, ask your support group beforehand; they may have some insight to impart to you about the book. On another note, books you read in early recovery do not have to deal with addiction, per se; you can always get a lot out for books that focus on overcoming hardship and the human quest for making sense of existence. Below you will find a few examples that might help you on the road of recovery:

The Precious Present (1984) by Spencer Johnson, M.D.: A short read, this book is perfect for people in recovery who struggle with focusing on the here and now. Staying present is a vital component of recovery, this book could prove invaluable to your program.

"The precious present has nothing to do with wishing. The richness of the precious present comes from its own source. The precious present is not something that someone gives you. It is something that you give to yourself." 

Man’s Search for Meaning (1946) by Viktor Frankl: Another short book with much to offer about overcoming adversity and finding a higher power. While the writing deals with the Holocaust and some of the horrors that made up that chapter of history, the text belongs to a list of the ten most influential books in the United States.

“What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our question must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.” 

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath (2018) by Leslie Jamison: This might be a book more for individuals who have been in the program for some time. Jamison’s book asks and answers some hard questions about getting clean and sober. Many people tell themselves that if they find recovery then they will have to sacrifice their art, Jamison begs to differ. Goodreads writes:

“With its deeply personal and seamless blend of memoir, cultural history, literary criticism, and journalistic reportage, The Recovering turns our understanding of the traditional addiction narrative on its head, demonstrating that the story of recovery can be every bit as electrifying as the train wreck itself. Leslie Jamison deftly excavates the stories we tell about addiction--both her own and others'--and examines what we want these stories to do, and what happens when they fail us.”


Addiction 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, June 5, 2018

Pot and Opioids Rival Alcohol in Fatal Car Crashes

drug-impaired drivingIf you think driving on opioids or after smoking pot is no big deal, think again. Driving while under the influence of these drugs can be almost as deadly as drinking and driving, according to a new report. 

In fact, the latest figures from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) show that 44 percent of drivers killed in crashes tested positive for drugs in 2016 – with 38 percent having marijuana in their system, 16 percent opioids and 4 percent both.

"Too many people operate under the false belief that marijuana or opioids don't impair their ability to drive, or even that these drugs make them safer drivers," Jonathan Adkins, GHSA executive director, said in an association news release.

"Busting this myth requires states to expand their impaired driving campaigns to include marijuana and opioids along with alcohol, to show drivers that impairment is impairment, regardless of substance," he added.

This is not without challenges, however. For one, drivers need to be tested for a large number of drugs and right now there’s no nationally accepted way of testing drivers for drugs. Also, different drugs have different effects on individual drivers depending on how they act in the brain. For example, marijuana can impair judgment of time and distance, decrease coordination, poor reaction time and increase lane weaving, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). And mixing pot with alcohol can cause even more impairment. 

This brings us to yet another challenge: Many drivers mix drugs and alcohol. In 2016, 49 percent who tested positive for alcohol also tested positive for drugs, according to the news release.

"Alcohol-impaired driving and drug-impaired driving can no longer be treated as separate issues,” Ralph Blackman, president and CEO of Responsibility.org., a foundation that promotes responsible use of alcohol, told HealthDay. “To curb impaired driving, we have to think about the combination of substances drivers are often putting into their systems at the same time."

So what’s the solution? For now, the Governors Highway Safety Association and Responsibility.org have teamed up to train nearly 1,000 police officers to recognize and deter drugged drivers.

Getting Help for Drug or Alcohol Abuse
The best way to keep yourself and others safe on the road is to get help if you have a problem with alcohol or drugs. The Haven at Pismo provides a continuum of care that includes medical detox, residential programs for men and women, partial hospitalization, and outpatient programs. If you or a loved one is showing signs of a substance use disorder, call today: 805-202-3440.