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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.