A History of California Recovery

This past week, we ran across an interesting article on Curbed.com detailing the history of recovery clinics throughout Southern California. Believe it or not (and we think this is a good thing), our home state has more facilities than anywhere else in the country. That tells us that people here are willing to look for and accept help when it comes to facing their addictions. But perhaps the most interesting portion of the article details the state’s recovery landscape from the last 90 years.


Back in the 1920’s, Pasadena, Altadena and Monrovia were the “go-to” regions if you needed to find a recovery sanctuary. Of course back then, they were known as “health resorts.” These facilities, though, cam with a tragic backstory. Back then, proper diagnoses were not in place to treat people dealing with addiction. Residents were often labeled as having mental illnesses and treated the same as psychiatric patients (which included electroshock therapies and lobotomies).


By the 1950’s, the American Medical Association began to officially recognize alcoholism and newer treatment centers were put in place. A true landmark happened in 1982, when former First Lady Betty Ford established her first recovery clinic in the desert city of Rancho Mirage. Eventually the 12-step method was adopted and areas like Las Encinas and Malibu became a haven for those seeking recovery.


We are proud to be part of this California history and to help it evolve with new, innovative treatments. Thankfully, today’s recovery programs are much more advanced and the stigma that once plagued our industry has evaporated. If a Californian needs help in 2016, it is ready and available.


The Opioid Epidemic

Remember the famous “War on Drugs” declared in the 80’s? Back then narcotics like cocaine were running rampant, leading legislators to issue multi-million dollar campaigns to combat smugglers and educate the public. Well now, several leading politicians are declaring a new drug war. This time, on the growing opioid epidemic.


Opioids are derived from opium and can be found in everything from prescription meds like oxycodone, to hardcore substances like heroin. According to some new statistics, opioids accounted for 61 percent of all U.S. drug overdoses within the last year. That’s a staggering stat…and it comes along with the another new figure. Specifically, 47,000 American O.D’s since 2014.


This obviously deserves some national attention and it’s getting it from the National Governor’s Association. Gathering state leaders from areas like Vermont and Massachusetts, this group has vowed to pass new laws that will regulate some of the out-of-control prescriptions that doctors are giving. There is even talk of a Congressional task force dedicated to overseeing the prescription painkiller industry.


Unfortunately, this isn’t favored by everyone. Pushback is already starting to build from medical professionals who feel the government should not get involved in how they handle their patients. While in theory that may sound true,  the fact is that drug overdose deaths have increased by 140 percent since 2000 (per The New York Times). This is a stat that cannot be ignored, especially when you consider the addictive nature of meds like oxycodone.


President Obama has made some strides with a new treatment and prevention proposal, but there is always more to be done. Being in the business of recovery, we know what an epidemic opioid abuse has become and we will do everything we can to educate, treat and prevent people in our community from being part of this terrible statistic.


Primetime ‘Recovery’

It was only a matter of time before the world of recovery met the MTV generation. And, in our opinion, that’s not such a bad thing. Putting the issue of addiction front-and-center on a TV screen can be very beneficial to those struggling. So the Freeform channel is doing just that, with their new millennial drama series, Recovery Road.


Freeform happens to be an offshoot of the ABC Family network, which has drawn in millions of viewers with teen shows like Pretty Little Liars. In the case of Recovery Road, the audience is still the high school crowd but the message adds a nice layer of maturity. This series is based on a book by Blake Nelson, which dealt with rehabilitation after a battle with alcohol and drugs.


In the kickoff episode, viewers are introduced to Maddie; a popular teen who is starting to ask herself, “Do I have a problem, or do I just like to party a lot?” This is a question that many young people should be asking, especially if hangovers, blackouts and bad behavior are becoming part of their regular weekend regimen.


Recovery Road also tackles the stigma of high school sobriety and how choosing to rehabilitate yourself can alienate you from your peers. These are all important issues and, according to the critics, the series does a great job of addressing them.


“We wanted to make it feel real,” producer Karen DiConcetto recently told The Guardian site. “Maddie’s journey so honest. It’s different when you’re a teenager. It’s a different struggle, because you’re still figuring out who you are, how you fit at school, and in your family and on top of that to deal with addictions.”


If you, or any younger members of your household, are curious about Recovery Road, tune in to the Freeform channel Mondays at 9pm.


The Sobering Power of Yoga

At Valley Recovery Center, we are proud to include yoga as part of our weekly healing regimen. An ancient art with ties to Hinduism and Buddhism, it offers a soothing release to those looking to cleanse their body and mind. But more importantly it’s been proven to be an effective in addiction recovery, as Huffington Post writers Rob Schware and Tommy Rosen explained in a recent article.


Tommy has been clean and sober for over 20 years and attributes much of his success to the power of yoga. He, himself, is now a nationally-renowned teacher, who has created programs that our own facility has adopted.


“My definition of yoga means union, connection and illuminated awareness,” Rosen wrote in the article. “My great hope is that yoga and recovery classes will be taught in substance abuse treatment facilities, half-way houses and sober living environments throughout the country. This is a new format for 12-step meetings, which includes meditation and stronger community building.”


He goes on to explain how bonds are formed between students who let their inhibitions go on the yoga mat. There is also a self-regulation component to the practice, which stresses discipline and goal-setting (two key elements on the road to recovery). Several organizations have built upon the practice of recovery yoga and Rosen listed some great resources for anyone who’s curious about the movement.


As for our facility, we’re proud to offer weekly Yoga Therapy every Friday at 1pm. It’s an excellent outlet to heal the body, mind and soul.

Hard Truths About Teenage Drug Use

It’s no surprise to hear about teens and drug experimentation. Often times, it’s during the high school years when people are first exposed to narcotics like marijuana, alcohol and ecstasy. But according to a new study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, that experimentation is going much further in 2016.


This may be shocking to hear, but currently 8% of all eighth graders are using illicit drugs. And that number nearly triples when they reach the 12th grade. Narcotics like cocaine and acid garnered high percentages among high school seniors, with marijuana topping the list. Apparently 35% of the 44,000 students surveyed admitted to smoking it regularly.


And in today’s world, prescription drugs are playing a big part in teenage addictions as well. Currently, amphetamines are the most popular over-the-counter-pills for 12th graders, followed by Adderall and opioids.


There actually is somewhat of a silver lining in the conclusion of the study. Though drug abuse is still commonplace in high school and middle schools, it has actually lessened since the peak years of the mid-1990’s. Nevertheless, it always important to keep the communication lines open if you have a teenager in your household. If there’s a problem going on, help is available and your teen shouldn’t be afraid to talk to you about it.


We recommend taking a close look at this latest infographic and a closer look at those around you who may be impacted by it. (Click below for a full-sized version)



Bad Bets

We have to admit, it must be tremendously difficult for a recovering gambling addict in this day and age. With events like the Super Bowl and the recent Powerball fever, it feels like news outlets and the media are begging you to place big bets. Well, find comfort in knowing you’re not alone and it is very possible to turn your back on the temptation of easy money.


The good news is, several medical professionals are beginning to recognize the problem of gambling addiction and spreading the word about how easy it is to get sucked into the trappings. Billions of dollars are lost every year on betting, particularly in the world of professional sports.


UCLA recently conducted a study on the reasons why people are drawn to gambling and how big events like Super Bowl enable negative behavior. It’s not surprising to hear that chronic gamblers seek the same sensations that alcoholics and drug abusers do.


“People gamble for many reasons,” UCLA clinical director Dr. Timothy Fong explained. “The most obvious one is to make money, but there are others that stand out, including gambling for entertainment, competition, escape or to relieve boredom. Similar to alcohol or drugs, many gamblers start because gambling either made them feel normal or made them feel euphoric.”


He went on to say that the Super Bowl is most bet upon event of the year and offered some signs to help self-evaluate whether your bets have crossed the line into addiction.


“Gambling addiction is characterized by continued gambling despite harmful consequences,” Fong added. “There are many different possible warning signs that gambling has become a problem, with the most common ones being lying about gambling, not being able to stop or control gambling, spending excessive amounts of time gambling and being preoccupied by gambling.”


The same goes for the so-called “lotto fever” LA recently experienced, as Wayne State University Psychiatrist Dr. Gerald Shiner told the local news.


“What really gets to gamblers is the excitement of buying the ticket, watching the drawing, watching the tension build and when that last number comes out — there’s a sudden release of tension, and people experience that as pleasurable and that’s really what gamblers crave,” he explained.


These are undoubtedly all very serious symptoms and ones you should address if you or someone you care about took a big financial hit recently. Valley Recovery Center has professionals around-the-clock if you feel your betting may be going a bit too far.

Seniors & Substance Abuse

It’s sad to say, but addiction can impact people of all ages. From young teenagers, to new parents, to (believe it or not) senior citizens. In fact, elderly Americans are quickly falling victim to painkiller and drug abuse. According to a recent study, 17% of adults 60 years or older overuse prescription meds.


Often times, these types of addictions begin because of actual medical conditions. Once you reach retirement age, it is not uncommon to need pills to help combat daily ailments. Seniors typically take meds for issues like insomnia, chronic pain or anxiety. But, it becomes very easy for someone to up the dosage if they feel they need a stronger reaction. One thing can lead to another and eventually a parent or grandparent can become an addict.


It doesn’t help that depression has become commonplace among seniors. Feeling less productive in society, losing loved ones…this can all lead to distraught feelings and perhaps, the urge to self-medicate. It is also important to recognize if an older family member has a history of abuse.


“Addiction is a genetic trait,” pain management specialist Dr. Marvin Tark recently told AgingCare.com. “Prescription drug addiction is no different from alcoholism or an addiction to any other substance. If there is a history of alcholism or drug abuse, there is a higher chance that person will abuse prescription medication.”


Dr. Tony Rao, another specialist in the field, put together some great tips on how to gently approach a parent or grandparent, if you sense something’s wrong.


“The approach from a loved one requires a non-judgmental approach,” he explained. “Try using statements like, ‘Mom, I noticed that you don’t get out so much these days and don’t wear makeup anymore. Is everything OK?’ or ‘Dad, you don’t seem to have as much money to spend on food as you used to. Is there anything wrong?”


So if you are sensing an elderly loved one is struggling, make sure to recognize and address the problem. Help is available, no matter the age.

Recovery In The Season Of Lent

In case you haven’t noticed, #Lent has become a popular February trending topic across social media and online news outlets. It, of course, symbolizes sacrifice and the approach of Easter in Catholic and Christian religions. Lent traditionally lasts 40 days and nights, during which practicing parishioners are encouraged to give up a vice or “bad habit.” In theory, that sounds like a great idea and can provide real motivation for people looking to change their lives. But in reality, recovery from a “vice” like alcohol, gambling or drugs requires much more commitment.


In a recent study by The Washington Post, alcohol was listed in the Top 5 Lent sacrifices. Though we commend the pollsters for their honesty and desire to get sober, we do see a problem in the logic.


Let’s say you were able to successfully remove the bottle from your daily life for a month-and-a-half, what exactly happens after that? It’s very common on Day 41 for people to go right back into those bad habits. Heck, even the day before Lent celebrates excessive drinking and partying.


While we salute the concept of Lent, we also take the sacrifices much more seriously. If someone really wants to make a positive change regarding alcohol, gambling or drugs, we recommend a 110% commitment. That means facing your addiction head-on, seeking professional help and continuing the sobriety well past Easter Sunday.


So when it comes to Lent, feel free to remove chocolate or swearing or selfies from your daily activities. But when it comes to the rest of your life, face the real bad habits head on and commit to an all-out recovery program.

Candidates Confront Addiction

The 2016 Presidential Election is fast approaching and, interestingly enough, one of the hot topics on the campaign trail has been addiction and recovery. Everyone from Jeb Bush to Donald Trump has addressed the issue, with their own “personal connections.” So, to help expand on the matter, we’ve put together an interesting breakdown of who’s family has battled what.


Jeb Bush — A member of one the country’s most powerful political families, Republican Jeb Bush has been very open about his daughter’s issues with drugs. Noelle, his second oldest, has been struggling with addiction since the early 2000’s, ultimately getting arrested after filling out a false prescription. She has since gone through rehabilitation and been a focal point of her dad’s campaign. “I have personal experience in this as a dad,” Bush said in a recent ad. “My daughter Noelle was addicted to drugs. It was tough. It was really hard. I can look in people’s eyes and know that they went through the same thing [my wife] Columba and I have.”


Ted Cruz — Republican Ted Cruz has mentioned his half-sister Miriam many times during his campaign and her losing battle with drugs. He explained how he and his father had witnessed her in the depths of addiction, living on the streets and neglecting her own children. Miriam’s demons were so severe, apparently, that she died of an overdose in 2011. “It was heartbreaking,” Cruz wrote in his book. “I loved my sister, and she spent much of her life trapped by the demons of addiction and anger.”


Donald Trump — Many voters are unaware that Republican candidate Donald Trump had a brother who died from alcohol abuse. Per Donald, Fred Trump Jr. struggled for years with the bottle and ultimately lost his battle at the age of 43. “He was a great guy, a handsome person. He was the life of the party. He was a fantastic guy, but he got stuck on alcohol,” Trump said on the campaign trail. “And it had a profound impact and ultimately [he] became an alcoholic and died of alcoholism. He would tell me, ‘Don’t drink ever’ … He understood the problem that he had and that it was a very hard problem.”


It is no surprise that addiction has become a hot topic during the election and we expect it to come up even more frequently before November. Hopefully the next President will make strides to increase awareness about drug and alcohol abuse, building campaigns that alert those struggling to get help.

Santa Clarita Named “Top U.S. City To Live In”

This past November, The Wall Street Journal rated our own Santa Clarita as one of the Top 20 U.S. Cities To Live In.” Of course, that comes to no surprise to the team at Valley Recovery Center. We chose our location very carefully, selecting an area that would be accommodating, nurturing and safe for every resident.


Located just north of busy Los Angeles, our vicinity offers a beautiful blend of mountains, parks and friendly upscale neighborhoods. We are also within walking distance of several amazing restaurants, movie theaters and shopping outlets; which, coincidentally, are some of the exact factors that put our city at the top of WSJ’s list.


And for the record, this list was not something that the Journal took lightly. Using material from the U.S. Census Bureau, WSJ ranked a total of 550 cities across the United States (each with populations of 65,000 or more). Of those, our own Santa Clarita came in at #20; making it the ONLY California city to reach the Top 30. Factors that went into the study included safety, entertainment, education and economics (elements we searched for as well when selecting a Valley Recovery Center location).


We couldn’t be more proud of our city and happily do our part to boost the local economy, with continued employment opportunities and support for local Santa Clarita businesses. If you’d like to learn more about our area and what makes it so special, we recommend visiting the official city website. It’s a fantastic resource and will give you a taste of life in our home town.