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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Mental Illness: New Foundation Raising Awareness

mental illness
In December of last year, Netflix released a documentary about the Swedish musician Tim Bergling. Known to his fans as Avicii, the DJ landed his first record deal at the age of 16, became a hit sensation in 2011, and took his own life at 28 years old. Throughout his relatively short-lived career, the growing phenomenon struggled with substance use and severe anxiety.

Avicii: True Stories gives viewers a candid look at how fame, exhaustion, and stress can take a terrible toll on someone lacking the tools to cope. The documentary, shot over four years ending six months before his suicide, is a cautionary tale in many ways. It is partially about people with mental illness listening to what their mind and body need, and taking action before it’s too late.

Mental illness requires constant attention. Individuals must not ignore their symptoms of conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. When people put career and relationships before their health, it often results in tragedy. It is safe to say that many men and women in California are putting their dreams of “making it” ahead of mental, physical and spiritual wellness.

A number of things stand out in the story of Avicii that are relevant to people who battle mental illness. One is how people in the music industry knew that Tim was struggling, but continued to prod him onstage regardless. Such actions put profits above the mental health of the performer. Much like a lot of people who struggle with psychiatric conditions, Mr. Bergling self-medicated with alcohol. It caused severe health problems for the performer and likely exacerbated his anxiety.

Self-Medicating Mental Illness

Earlier this year, we shared some startling statistics with readers about excessive alcohol use. Life-threatening health conditions arising from alcohol use are more commonly associated with older people. However, new data indicates that a trend in alcohol-related liver disease is on the rise. Moreover, the fatal condition is affecting 25- to 34-year-olds at unprecedented rates. Another study indicates that acute pancreatitis is increasing among young people too.

Mr. Bergling’s excessive alcohol use resulted in the development of acute pancreatitis in 2012, according to Billboard. He was 22! The painful disease can cause complications with the gallbladder; he had his removed in 2014, The Guardian reports. His health continued to deteriorate influencing his decision to retire from stage performing in 2016. On April 20, 2018, the musician died of self-inflicted wounds in the country of Oman.

“He really struggled with thoughts about meaning, life, happiness,” said Bergling’s family at the time. “He could not go on any longer. He wanted to find peace.” 

The world lost a talented young soul, and his parents wish for Tim’s legacy to help others who have similar struggles. The superstar’s family have launched The Tim Bergling Foundation; the goal is to raise money and awareness for mental illness and suicide prevention, Rolling Stone reports. The foundation will tackle many other global issues the family deems are of great importance.

“Tim wanted to make a difference — starting a foundation in his name is our way to honor his memory and continue to act in his spirit,” the family said in a statement. 

If you would like to learn more about the artist and his life, you can catch it on Netflix. The trailer is available below:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.


Addiction Treatment in SLO County, California

The Haven at Pismo, located on California’s serene Central Coast, is the “perfect place to renew to your best today.” More than half of people living with addiction also have a dual diagnosis, another form of mental illness that accompanies the use disorder. Whether your addiction preceded co-occurring illness or the opposite, our team of dedicated professionals can help.

Please contact us to learn more about the programs we offer at our Central Coast Rehab and begin your recovery today.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Addiction Treatment: Deciphering the Good, Bad and Ugly

finding a reputable rehab
Getting up the courage to get help for a substance use disorder is hard enough without having to weed out the good, bad and ugly when it comes to addiction treatment centers. Yet knowing how to tell the difference between a reputable rehab and shady practices that put profit before patient care is a crucial step on the road to recovery.

Unfortunately, even a simple online search has proven not so simple over the years. Misleading ads and unethical online business practices have led to dishonest businesses appearing higher in search results than legit ones. Luckily, Google implemented new restrictions for addiction treatment providers, mutual support groups and crisis hotlines looking to advertise on websites, search pages and apps.

These businesses are now required to undergo an intense vetting process overseen by Portland-based LegitScript, a company created to make the internet and payment ecosystems “safer and more transparent.” To become LegitScript certified, a business has to pass criminal background checks, show that they’re fully licensed and carry valid insurance and submit “written policies and procedures” demonstrating their commitment to industry best practices, effective recovery and continuous improvement.

Choosing a Reputable Rehab

When finding a reputable rehab for yourself or for someone you love, consider the following questions:

Is there a screening or pre-admissions questionnaire?
The best type of addiction treatment will be tailored to your individual needs and depend upon your overall health and history of substance abuse. Along these lines, the in-take coordinators should take into consideration your medical history and addiction severity as well as any co-occurring mental illnesses prior to planning your course of treatment. If they don't, you may be speaking with a patient "broker" who is paid to place you in a specific facility, whether or not it's the right fit. To be sure, ask the person if he or she gets paid any type of referral fee.

Are they touting a 100 percent success rates or a “cure”? Here’s the reality: at least 40 to 60 percent of people will relapse at least once in their lifetime following a stint at rehab. Addiction is a chronic disease that requires lifelong management. A reputable rehab will never promise a “cure,” but it will offer a strong program along with services and support, even after you’ve completed treatment.

Are they offering you anything for free? If a treatment center pushes their "free" goods or services, including travel to the rehab or insurance, this likely indicates foul play. Especially be aware of those who offer free rent in sober living homes in exchange for attending a particular drug treatment program.

Are they accredited? Rehabs are not required to be accredited but the ones that are have much higher standards. Check for an accreditation seal on their website, including the coveted Joint Commission seal, which is recognized universally as a stamp of legitimacy, and indicates a facility’s philosophy and standards of care are far above the industry norm.

Are they giving you vague answers about their treatment program? Asking specific questions will help you differentiate between trustworthy addiction treatment centers and scammers. It will also help you determine whether you're talking to a "broker".
  • What evidence-based therapies do they offer?
  • Do they offer psychiatric services?
  • Do they offer medication-assisted treatment?
  • Do they have a clinical team comprised of certified doctors?
  • Do they have wellness therapies?
  • Do they offer long-term planning or relapse prevention?

We're One of the Good Guys

Fortunately, there are many high-quality, ethical treatment programs looking to help families and their loved ones overcome addiction and lead sober lives. The Haven is an industry leader in organizational management, facility safety and thoroughness of communication with a client’s family and loved ones. We are LegitScript certified and have met Joint Commission standards for facility quality and management, treatment practices and quality of care. To learn more about how we provide you or someone you love with quality and comprehensive addiction treatment, call us today: 805-202-3440.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Addiction Medicine Fellowships Grow In Number

addiction medicineDoctors have the potential to change lives, for better or worse; the American addiction epidemic makes that abundantly clear. On the one hand, we have doctors who continue to overprescribe despite the potential for addiction and overdose. While on the other, physicians are working on the frontlines of the epidemic at treatment centers across the country.

While the crisis facing America involves the misuse of any mind-altering substance, most people recognize that prescription drug use is a major contributing factor. Since the late 1990s, primary care physicians have flooded American medicine cabinets with highly addictive painkillers and sedatives. Skyrocketing addiction and overdose rates were the result. Even though many doctors now acknowledge that they had a hand in creating this scourge, only a few are equipped to provide patients with solutions.

Fortunately, there is evidence of a new generation of medical students that see an opportunity to affect significant change. A growing number of medical institutions (more than 60) now offer addiction medicine fellowship programs, NPR reports. A young doctor can now learn evidence-based treatment approaches to help the more than 20 million people living with a substance-use disorder.

"We have got an enormous gap between the need and the doctors available to provide that treatment," Dr. Anna Lembke, medical director of addiction medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, tells NPR. She adds that "At least the medical community has begun to wake up to consider not only their role in triggering this opioid epidemic but also the ways they need to step up to solve the problem."


The Path to Addiction Medicine

Dr. Lembke points out that a career in addiction medicine is now less complicated to pursue. She highlights how psychiatry was once the only door into the field; and that it changed in 2015 when the American Board of Medical Specialties recognized addiction medicine as an official sub-specialty, according to the article. Which means physicians in other fields of medicine could get into to fellowship training programs.

Dr. Hillary Tamar says that in her fourth year of med school she was assigned to a rotation at a treatment center. Her experience changed her perception of substance use disorder, and she saw an opportunity to improve people’s lives, the article reports. Now, Dr. Tamar tells NPR she plans to do a fellowship in addiction medicine when she finishes up her family medicine residency.

"They [addicts] can go from spending all their time pursuing the acquisition of a substance to being brothers, sisters, daughters [and] fathers making breakfast for their kids again," Tamar says. "It's really powerful."

Dr. Lembke shares that she couldn’t find a medical student or resident who wanted to learn about addiction ten years ago. Today, she says that there are many med students and residents enthusiastic about the field. Dr. Lembke adds that social justice is a driving force behind many young doctors' desires to learn more about addiction.

Confronting an epidemic that takes more than 100 American lives each day requires more doctors who are skilled in evidence-based addiction treatment. Addiction medicine fellowships could slowly impact the deficit seen today.


SLO County Addiction Rehab

The Haven at Pismo helps men and women, from all walks of life whose lives are being impacted by alcohol, substance use disorder, and co-occurring illness. Located on California’s beautiful Central Coast, our addiction treatment center in the County of San Luis Obispo (SLO) is the “perfect place to renew to your best today.”

The Haven offers a distinctive approach to recovery that includes a multi-model approach, a focus on the family, world-class amenities, and exceptional cuisine. Please contact us today to learn more about our private, addiction recovery center.

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 www.thehaven.com.