It’s not everyday you see hip-hop artist Macklemore on a weekly Presidential address. But that’s just what happened this month, when he surprised viewers by sitting alongside Barack Obama to discuss addiction.
Dressed in an elegant suit, Macklemore spoke candidly about his past struggles with drug abuse and the dangers of the nation’s growing opioid epidemic. He also teased a summer MTV special where he will profile heroin’s impact on the nation’s youth.
“Addiction isn’t a personal choice or a personal failing. Sometimes it takes more than a strong will to get better,” Macklemore explained in the clip. “It takes a strong community and accessible resources. We have to tell people who need help that it’s okay to ask for it and to make sure they know how to get it.”
President Obama echoed that sentiment, sharing some disheartening stats from the Centers for Disease Control.
“Deaths from opioid overdoses have tripled since 2000,” the President added. “And 44% of Americans know someone who is addicted to prescription painkillers.”
We have been very appreciative of the spotlight that is getting shone on America’s opioid problem. Hopefully, with this type of increased attention, measures can be taken to curb the epidemic.
You can watch the full Macklemore/Obama address below…
We are always interested in ways that the tech world can assist with the recovery process. And recently, we came across an article profiling an exciting new app that can help people struggling with addiction.
My New Leaf is still in the testing phases, but it has been building a lot of buzz among techies in the Pennsylvania area. Developed by recent UPenn grad Ryan Brannon, the app will reportedly take advantage of many of the interactive features available on smartphones and tablets. Anonymity will play a large function as well.
According to The Pennsylvania Tribune, My New Leaf allows users to catalog their physical and emotional status using slide bars. They can also record inspirational videos, share stories and enter chats with fellow recovery advocates.
Another interesting features is the “Panic Button,” which will create an alert for family and friends if a user may heading for a relapse or an overdose. Brannon was excited to share all of My New Leaf’s functions with the Tribune and shared some insight on the motivation behind its creation.
“I’ve just witnessed so many of my friends go through those roads that I felt like I could put something new into the marketplace that I don’t see coming from anywhere,” he explained. “It’s going to be specifically for the 14- to 24-year-old age group, the ones who are digitally-minded, like me.”
Did we mention how much we love VICE? After publishing their recent profile of neuroscientist (and former addict) Dr. Carl L. Hart, we felt the time was right to visit them again…This time regarding an expose of sobriety and romance.
Taking data from a Norwegian Institute of Public Health study, VICE zeroed in on two couples. The unique thing about them was that one partner was embracing sobriety, while the other indulged in alcohol. Can such a relationship last?
In most cases, no. Nearly 30 percent of married couples with a sober and non-sober partner divorced. VICE’s look at two specific relationships was fascinating. Chris and Anne were one of the couples and opened up quite a bit about their struggles (Chris being the sober one and Anne being the drinker).
“We got together about a year ago, and I was sober. I’ll be four years sober in July,” Chris said. “When we got together, she was still in party mode and was newly single and was drinking a lot. After about a couple of months or so, I started to develop stronger feelings for her and her behavior with her drinking got progressively more dramatic.”
We are happy to report that Chris’ influence won out in this relationship. Thanks to positive encouragement and some loving support, Anne has remained his girlfriend and let go of her habits.
“Now I’m nine months sober from alcohol and most other things,” Anne revealed at the end of the article.
Being Angelinos, we don’t often get exposure to the papers and magazines of the east coast. But one outlet, definitely stays on our radar. In the past few months, The New York Daily News has been publishing important pieces on heroin, the opioid epidemic and alcoholism across NYC. One recent article that caught our eye had to do with their online assessment of whether or not the reader is at risk for addiction.
Written by Dr. David Samadi, the page-long piece lists several red flags that make one more prone to be an addict. First he asks if there is a family history, something that science has proven to be a link. There are also questions about depression, anxiety and the willingness to give in to peer pressure.
Interestingly some uncommon factors were mentioned as well, which we think deserve attention. According to Dr. Samadi, if you lacked a close bond with your siblings or parents you may be at risk. Another question had to do whether the reader was male, signifying the high percentage of addicted men.
The piece finishes with strict warnings about alcohol and drug abuse. Dr. Samadi emphasizes the risk of increased blood clots, memory loss, seizures and nerve damage (to name a few). It definitely makes for a fascinating read and is worth spreading around, if you know someone who needs help.
To learn more about Dr. Samadi and his medical articles, make sure to visit his official site by clicking here.
It’s no secret that CBS has some of TV’s most impressive journalists. Shows like 60 Minutes and Evening News have won countless Emmys for their exposes and hard-hitting stories. This month, Evening News is tackling the subject of heroin addiction with a gripping two-part series called Jason’s Journey.
Profiling a day in the life of 30-year-old addict Jason Amaral, CBS’ cameras capture some extremely dark moments. There are times when he alienates family members, begging them for drug money. There are times when he smuggles crushed pills into public transit systems. And yes, there are times when we actually see Jason ingest life-threatening drugs.
One of the more gripping moments of the series consists of flashbacks, showing pictures of Jason as a happy teenager in suburban Boston. Soon you hear how sneaking a pill of OxyContin led to Xanax thefts, led to cocaine abuse and ultimately heroin. Sadly Jason’s own brother is also struggling with addiction, creating a roller coaster of emotional turmoil.
But (Spoiler Alert), this story does have a happy ending. Towards the end, Jason comes to terms with his mortality and, through the encouragement of friends, decides to check himself into a rehabilitation facility. What happens next, remains to be seen.
Summer is upon us, which means it’s time for the annual West Coast Symposium on Addictive Disorders (WCSAD) summit in beautiful Palm Springs. Now in its seventh year, this important conference brings together leaders within the recovery industry to discuss topics like Family Addiction, Opioid Dependencies, Unmanageability and Trauma (to name a few). We are proud to be part of this year’s forum, which will take place June 2-5 at the La Quinta Resort and Club.
What we like about this particular event is the diversity of its workshops. Across three days, attendees can sit with doctors, recovery advocates, award-winning authors and groundbreaking therapists for informative, interactive sessions. There are discussions focusing on treatment for seniors, adolescents, suicidal clients and more.
Our location will be at Booth 43 and we will be more than happy to welcome attendees, friends and professionals eager to exchange information. And let’s not forget this is beautiful Palm Springs we’re talking about, which means golf, amazing restaurants and gorgeous spas for evening relaxation.
You can register for the event byCLICKING HERE, or you can always reach out to us at (866) 986-2486 if you would like to connect!
Last week, we had the privilege of attending the 2016 MusiCares Benefit at the Microsoft Theatre in Downtown LA. Blending songs, heartfelt stories and the most talented performers in the industry, it helped to shine a light on the ongoing addiction struggles many entertainers face.
Throughout its 25 years, MusiCares has brought together legendary artists like Pearl Jam, Lionel Richie, Bob Dylan and more. Their mission is to assist singers crippled by addiction through financial, emotional and medical support. This most recent gala highlighted Motown icon Smokey Robinson, who proved to still be a powerhouse at age 76.
We were impressed with Robinson’s candor, particularly because he had been a “closet addict” and not initially gone public with his battles. During the event, however, he spoke openly about what he called, “the darkest days of his life.”
“I’m not ashamed to talk about it because I feel like if I talk about it, then I can help some people,” Smokey told the crowd. “If I’m silent and try to make it a secret then I’m not helping anybody.”
Not surprisingly his words led to a standing ovation, which continued throughout the night via tributes from The Backstreet Boys, “Babyface” Edmonds and CeeLo Green. But Smokey ultimately put them all to shame, performing his greatest hits to rousing applause.
Education is a vital tool in our industry. By letting the people know about the true dangers of specific drugs and alcohol, you can steer them away before they even start using. One such drug that is causing a lot of problems due to its misconceptions is “Spice,” also known as synthetic marijuana.
To a common user, synthetic marijuana may sound like a less harmful version of its cannabis counterpart. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Spice has led to nearly 8,000 poisonings across the U.S. and it has been known to cause hallucinations, strokes, kidney failure and irregular heartbeats.
The reason for this is because Spice is not grown from the ground, it is made in a lab. And anytime a laboratory is added into the equation, the dangers of using dramatically increase. This can open the door to enhanced chemicals, spiked batches and poisonous materials that can lead to an overdose.
The sad thing is, many user don’t even realize the risks they’re taking when they try Spice. One if its so-called “attributes” is that it is much harder to detect in a drug test. But the risks far outweigh the rewards, as UMMC professor Dr. Robert Gallitold TheFix.com.
“This is completely untested,” he explained. “The experimentation on [Spice] is with the American public. It’s not like these are given to animals to see how they respond. These are given to human animals, and they get it on the street.”
And that is something very important to keep in mind the next time you hear about a “harmless” synthetic drug.
Being hooked on painkiller meds is a tremendous challenge unto itself. But imagine how much more damaging it could be if you were a doctor and had the power to write yourself an unlimited amount of prescriptions. That was the challenge facing Dr. Peter Grinspoon M.D., who chronicled his tumultuous addiction experience in the new book, Free Refills.
As part of our ongoing reading recommendation list, Free Refills offers a gritty, unapologetic expose of the prescription painkiller business. Other books we’ve profiled delve into theories and science. But this one is purely narrative, illustrating a harrowing journey that includes arrests, overdoses and the destruction of a once happy family.
Throughout the journey, Grinspoon lays out how he would constantly write fake prescriptions for himself, pilfer drugs from the supply cabinet at his office and horde samples from pharmaceutical companies just for a momentary high. At his worst, Grinspoon admits to “hitting off the tank of nitrous oxide in the neighboring doctor’s office.”
Refiils goes on to chronicle the loss of his medical license, three felony arrests, multiple relapses and a life back in his parent’s basement after his wife threw him out. As we mentioned before, this isn’t a pretty expose. But it is an important illustration of how addiction can destroy even the most “stable” of professions.
Today Grinspoon is 10 years sober, back to practicing medicine and counseling others about addiction. But he openly admits that his battle is not over and the struggle will always continue.
“Over time,” he concludes, “these pills sing to me less, but if I listen carefully they still quietly beckon.”
If you’re interested in hearing more about Dr. Grinspoon’s story, check out Free Refills viathe Amazon website.
We’ve already shared our thoughts on the mistaken way that addiction crimes are classified. And now NPR Radio is taking the concept one step further, highlighting the “broken” prison system and its poor attempts to rehabilitate drug offenders.
NPR’s expose illustrates some scary statistics about drug abusers once they are released from their jail stints. According to their research, incarcerated users are eight times more likely to die from an overdose immediately after release than at other times in their lives.
Many of their numbers were drawn from opioid abusers, who are forced to go into a cold turkey detox once they enter the penal system. As researcher Dr. Heidi Ginter explained, staying away from the drug makes their tolerance go down and their cravings go up. So once released, the likelihood of an overdose is greatly increased.
Ginter called these types of sentences “indirectly fatal” and emphasized the importance of proper treatment programs behind bars. In regards to opioid addictions, she recommended a methadone recovery program that would address the physical dependencies that these types of users suffer from.
“This is a human rights issue,” Ginter emphasized. “If somebody with diabetes eats a piece of cake at a birthday party, they don’t get incarcerated. And their doctor doesn’t say, ‘Now I’m not going to prescribe your insulin because you ate a piece of cake.’ ”
There have been a lot of headlines recently about the struggles facing people who identify as transgender. Though issues like restroom recognition and equality certainly deserve attention, so does the staggering addiction stat that this community is facing. According to recent studies, over 30 percent of transgender Americans are dealing with drug and alcohol abuse.
At face value, that 3o percent statistic is staggering; especially when you consider that only 10 percent of the general population struggles with addiction. Thus, a transgender person is three times as likely to use.
Why? For one thing, this community often deals with a lack of acceptance from friends and family. Teasing, name calling and low self-esteem are common reasons for people to self medicate and a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) emphasized that fact.
“The stress that comes from daily battles with discrimination and stigma is a principal driver of these higher rates of substance use,” it said. “As transgender people turn to tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs, and other substances as a way to cope with these challenges.”
What makes matters even worse is that recovery centers often don’t know how to properly treat people from this community, with therapies that do not cater to unique gender identity issues. While our facility is aimed solely towards men, we have a deep respect for those identifying as transgender and can certainly help guide them to a program best suited for their needs.
If you or someone you love is transgender and suffering from addiction, do not hesitate to give us a call at (866) 986-2486. We’d be happy to help in any way possible.
With addiction continuing to make headlines across the country, news television outlet CNN felt the time was right to host a primetime Town Hall special addressing the issue. Throughout the evening, Dr. Sanjay Gupta (the network’s medical expert) hosted a variety of high-profile recovery advocates who offered real-life stories about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
One highlight came from former NFL quarterback Ray Lucas, who admitted to taking up to 1,400 pain pills a month after suffering a football injury. Though he was a self-admitted addict, Lucas admitted to masking his habit and creating tremendous turmoil for his friends and family.
“I was a functioning addict,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “The day before I would go on TV I would stop taking the pills. I bankrupted my family and I put my wife and kids through hell.”
Later during the special reporters spoke to a grieving mom, who herself began abusing alcohol after her son died from an overdose. There were also real-life accounts of drug addicts thrust into a broken penal system that only precipitated their habits.
Dr. Gupta was on hand to share some very disturbing facts. According to his statistics, two million Americans are currently addicted to opioids and fatal overdoses happen, on average, every 19 minutes in this country.
The special did end on an upbeat note, however, profiling several successful recovery stories and recognizing the action being taken from top national lawmakers.
We’ve seen dozens of profiles on the families of substance abusers and the struggles they have to go through. And within that dynamic, it’s definitely important to highlight the sibling experience. Watching your older brother or sister tear themselves apart can be devastating, which is why we were excited to hear about a new Scholarship Essay Contest that gives these loved ones a voice.
Now in its second year, the My Life as 3D Scholarship Essay Contest is awarding over $2,000 in college money to students who have witnessed sibling addiction in their household. Specifically, it asks for a comprehensive written piece that answers the question:
“How has your sibling’s addiction impacted you and what are your dreams for your future?”
All the entrants need to do is put together the essay and submit it by July 1. After that, a qualified team of judges (including clinical interventionists, authors and recovery advocates) will review it and crown the $1,500 winner by July 31. A $500-winning runner up will also be selected.
Last year, 30 students submitted works (which, with two winners offers a pretty solid ratio of success). We highly encourage any siblings eligible to make their story heard; both with the essay and with the contest’s social media campaign, which uses the hashtag, #SiblingsMatter.
Mental health professionals often disagree on how addiction should be classified. Back in the 1990’s reps from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) labeled it a brain disease, but more recently psychologists are calling it a “disease of choice.” What does that mean exactly? It means, as Yale psychologist Sally Satel puts it, “It is not a problem of the brain…it is a problem of the person.”
In a recent Daily Mail article, Satel laid out comparisons between brain diseases and diseases of choice. Examples like Alzheimer’s we used, signifying how a victim in that situation cannot choose a path to recovery. Addiction, she points out, can be conquered; making it more of a choice-based type of disease.
Obviously these opinions are controversial, particularly because science has shown genetic predispositions to addiction and direct correlations to the brain. In her article, Satel doesn’t disagree with some of those findings; concluding that “Addiction is not a problem of one dimension.”
Our opinion is this: No matter how you classify it, addiction is a devastating epidemic sweeping across this country. It happens to be a very individualistic disease that can strike one person for many different reasons. The science is clearly an important factor, but just as important are the emotional “human” elements that cannot always be so easily generalized.
We’ve always believed that inner peace is essential for conquering an addiction. And that sentiment was echoed this month at a national Transcendental Meditation (TM) summit held in New York. There, recovery advocates like Elizabeth Vargas and Russell Brand shared how TM has helped them stay sober.
“Transcendental Meditation helps you slow down,” Vargas told the crowd. “If you can slow down long enough to think clearly, you can start to not only manage the problem, but understand that what you’re so terrified of isn’t really that terrifying.”
Brand, who appeared via Skype, agreed with the assessment and shared a personal story of how it’s helped him stay off drugs and alcohol.
“I have found it to be an incredibly useful complement and an incredibly useful component to my own recovery and sobriety,” he explained. “It gives me access to a different type of consciousness.”
Brand and Vargas certainly aren’t the only ones benefitting from a TM recovery regimen. The summit included testimonials from dozens of former addicts who credit meditation with keeping them sober. There was also news about clinical trials measuring the effectiveness of TM, with opioid and alcohol abusers.
Stay tuned for more updates about this evolving recovery method and it’s potential incorporation into the VRC schedule!
It’s summer blockbuster time again, which means more Iron Man and Pixar flicks at the cineplex. But buried within the slew of big budget spectacles is the moving film Being Charlie, which offers an open and personal look at addiction.
Charlie is directed by famed moviemaker Rob Reiner and mirrors many events in his own life. The main character is based on Reiner’s own son, Nick, and faces some tremendous struggles with drug and alcohol dependency. Though the son of a prominent politician, Nick (the movie character) finds himself in multiple rehab facilities and ultimately homeless throughout the course of the film.
Nick Reiner admitted to People Magazine that he went through similar struggles, despite having a famous dad.
“If I wanted to do it my way and not go to the programs they were suggesting, then I had to be homeless,” he explained. “I was homeless in Maine. I was homeless in New Jersey. I was homeless in Texas. I spent nights on the street. I spent weeks on the street. It was not fun.”
So far, Being Charlie is receiving wide acclaim for its performances and heart-wrenching storyline. We’re just hopeful it doesn’t get buried amid the Marvel madness happening at the cineplex.
We have to admit, VICE is one of our favorite online publications. Their writers are sharp and brave enough to tackle subjects that many mainstream journalists deem “taboo.” One such topic is the highly-prescribed drug Adderall and its hidden addictive dangers.
Neuroscientist Dr. Carl L. Hartwrote a very open piece about the topic, discussing his own previous battles with methamphetamine addiction and how, in time, he saw its parallels to Adderall. The popular ADHD medication is commonly prescribed to children and teens but, as Dr. Hart points out, it contains a potent combination of amphetamine and d-amphetamine mixed salts.
Once Dr. Hart beat his meth addiction and became a practicing neuroscientist, he revisited this topic through a University study. Monitoring 13 admitted meth addicts, he would alternate their drugs from methamphetamine to d-amphetamine (the ingredient in Adderall). Ultimately, the subjects could not distinguish between the two and, often-times, would choose the drugs over a cash payout.
That is certainly some telling research and, as Dr. Hart put it, informative on two ends. One fact illustrates the destructive and addictive nature of Adderall. The other, he contends, sheds a light on the stigma of meth addiction. Why should shame and criticism be thrust upon methamphetamine users when, in fact, they are no different than people using an FDA-approved Adderall prescription?
Political junkies have heard the name “Paul Ryan” quite a bit in the news recently. But beyond the Trump headlines, the country’s Speaker of the House is getting recognition for his stance on the country’s opioid epidemic. Speaking to the media this past Wednesday, Ryan discussed the passage of 18 opioid-related bills that would aim to protect victims of addiction.
“This is not just about process. This is not just about legislation. This is about saving people’s lives,” he explained. “It is about honoring those that were taken too soon. It is about honoring those who want a second chance. … And it’s also about protecting the next generation. Those of us who are raising the next generation care so deeply about this. That is what this is about.”
Some of the measures were aimed towards children, military veterans, and pregnant women; adding stricter stipulations for doctors who write prescription meds. Law enforcement would also be granted greater authority to disrupt illegal drug trafficking and there would be a limit on the amount of opioid pills a patient can receive from their physician.
While this is certainly a step in the right direction, Ryan’s words did raise some criticism; specifically from people on the left. They believe (as do we) that this particular bill package did not do enough to include treatment and recovery programs. It’s one thing to stop the epidemic from getting worse. But it’s a whole other battle to help the millions who are currently impacted.
Every now and then, we get the opportunity to speak with inspirational people from the recovery field. Whether it’s on the addiction side or the side of mental health, these conversations can provide great insights into the human condition and our industry as a whole. Our most recent chat happened with Blake Brisbois M.A. from Calabasas Behavioral Health, an amazing organization implementing a breakthrough technique called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
“Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has become a focal point of our practice,” he explained. “It’s an FDA cleared treatment for people with major depression. We’ve been doing it since 2011 and have seen some really good results.”
Blake went on to describe the fundamentals of the treatment, which uses Precision Pulse TMS technology to focally stimulate brain functions known to affect mood. It is non-invasive and non-systemic, with typical sessions lasting about 20 minutes.
And though TMS’s primary purpose is for depression issues, Blake revealed that it holds potential for addiction recovery as well.
“There are a lot of clinical trials going on for addiction right now,” he added. “We actually have an M.D. addiction expert in our practice right now, so it is an issue we are very familiar with.”
Brisbois was also excited to share how TMS can hold potential for the Valley Recovery Center regimen.
“We’ve talked to Valley Recovery Center a lot about TMS and there is some strong interest there. I was actually just at the facility last week. Right now things are in the planning stages.”
If you ask us, getting someone to let go of their addiction takes much more than a single type of therapy. It requires a combination of disciplines and a change to the overall lifestyle. That’s why we are proud to offer a diverse palette of recovery methods; be it painting, counseling sessions, journaling, even wolf therapy. And now, we are excited to add one more proven method to the list: Archery.
Believe it or not, archery has helped people overcome obstacles for centuries. In the armed forces, it is used to combat Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). In young adults, it’s used as an outlet for special needs. And in recovery, it provides a true level of satisfaction and accomplishment. Plus, it’s a lot of fun too.
Here are some of the keys to archery’s success. For one thing, it is built around the discipline of focus. If you want to hit that bullseye, your mind needs to be clear and attuned specifically to the task at hand. Exercises like this teach recovery patients to let go and channel energies into clear cut goals. Becoming a true marksman also instills confidence and courage; key elements for overcoming an addiction.
One of the big words used among archers is “Warrior” and we find that fitting for the recovery world as well. Harking back to eras like medieval times and the old west, heroes always carried quivers and used their skills to conquer the enemy. Today the “enemy” is addiction and, with training, the Warrior will always succeed.
To find out more about our new Archery Program, give us a call at (866) 986-2486.
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