Addiction Trauma And ‘Seeking Safety’

At Valley Recovery Center, we have a wide variety of services, therapies and methods to help get people on the path to recovery. Some are typical withdrawal programs (such as detox) and others a bit more unconventional (like Wolf Therapy or Archery). For us, the sum is greater than the parts and having a diverse mix of treatments has proven to be very effective. One of our more interesting counseling models is called Seeking Safety. Seeking Safety is an important part of our regimen and can really help patients dealing with trauma or difficult addictions. For this blog feature, we thought we’d share a little about the practices behind Seeking Safety and why we feel it’s so important.


What Is Seeking Safety?

In clinical terms, Seeking Safety is an evidence-based model of recovery treatment that can be used for group or individual counseling. It was developed in 2002 under a grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. At its core, Seeking Safety is a coping therapy specifically designed for people with painful pasts. Combative households, PTSD, sexual abuse…these are all prime examples of traumatic events and can be very influential in the formation of an addiction. To help get a patient to let go of their substance habit, we sometimes have to explore the early issues that led them there. Seeking Safety helps to do just that, by working as a concurrent treatment that explores the addiction habit and the traumas that may have been the catalyst. Counselors trained in this method work to create “safe” zones, helping patients envision what safety would look like in their lives and how to cope with it.


Seeking Safety also focuses on the present, teaching specific coping strategies that may never have been learned during a dysfunctional childhood. Trauma and addiction are treated simultaneously and unique topics are set up to build trust and engagement with the patient.


Defining The Topics

One of the ways Seeking Safety works is by setting 25 defined topics, rotated into a weekly therapy regimen. It is important to understand each one and how they play into the recovery method. Topic 1, for example, is called Taking Back Your Power. Here, compassion is brought into the therapy, helping patients to accept their past, let go of anger and take control of their lives. Grounding is another key method, which teaches patients to detach from emotional pain. The intent, is to shift attention toward the external world and away from negative feelings. When Substances Control You is a cognitive topic, which uses unique exercises to help let go of addiction. “Climbing Mount Recovery” is one very effective component of Substances, which uses visualization as a tool.


Topic exercises like Red and Green Flags help identify “dangerous” scenarios in everyday life, while Self Nurturing allows patients to imagine rewarding “gifts” and the concept of pleasurable sobriety. There is also The Life Choices Game, Coping With Triggers and Setting Boundaries in Relationships, just to name a few. As patients move along in their recovery, they ultimately surpass the Topics and, with time, learn to let go of their trauma.


To us, Seeking Safety is a fascinating, comprehensive method for recovery. There are no limitations to how a counselor can build the topic list and patients, often times, help structure the itinerary themselves.


To dig deeper into Seeking Safety, we highly recommend reading Dr. Lisa M. Najavits’ book on the subject. Or reach out to Valley Recovery Center at (800) 986-2486 to learn about our classes and counselors.



Addiction Article Recap: Week Of August 29

Having trouble keeping up with the headlines and breakthroughs happening in the recovery world? Our weekly Addiction Article Recap aims to solve that problem, with a comprehensive list of important stories related to our industry. We invite you scroll through these top trending topics and click the links therein to explore each one further. We believe that knowledge is power; so stay educated on the articles that matter.


Headline #1: The Surgeon General Speaks Out On Addiction

If you’ve been following our blogs, then you’re well aware of the respect we have for current U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Dr. Murthy has made tremendous strides in bringing the opioid crisis to the forefront, via press and media campaigns. This past week, he wrote a personalized letter to all U.S. physicians, urging them to treat opioid abuse as “a chronic illness and not a moral failing.” That is an amazing step forward in destigmatizing the negativity that surrounds addiction. Over 2.3 million prescribers received Dr. Murthy’s note, which emphasized the opioid death toll at 78 Americans per day. In part, he wrote: “I think this is one of our greatest public health threats and it’s one that we have to respond to with speed and with urgency,. All of us have had a role to play.” Wise words from a very important recovery advocate.


Headline #2: Stanford Bans Hard Alcohol

Though it’s regarded as one of the finest colleges in the country, Stanford University has received some very negative headlines in recent months; primarily related to alcohol abuse and student assaults. As we reported back in June, coed Brock Turner is facing a very serious rape trial after allegedly getting drunk and attacking a young female student. In response to that, the campus has now issued a initiative banning all hard alcohol from university grounds. Titled the “Harm Reduction Strategy,” the policy dictates that all undergraduates will face serious consequences if they are found with alcohol that is more than 40 proof.  They are also banning all containers larger than 750 millimeters in size. Ralph Castro, director of Stanford’s Office of Alcohol Police and Education, calls it “a targeted approach that limits high-risk behavior and has the backing of empirical studies on restricting the availability of and access to alcohol.” We, for one, are proud of the school for taking a stand against underage college drinking and are hopeful that other universities will take note and do the same.


Headline #3: John Legend’s #FREEAMERICA Campaign

Music superstar John Legend made headlines this week for using his celebrity clout to launch a new and important campaign. Though his #FREEAMERICA initiative isn’t solely focused on substance abuse, it does address the damage it can cause and the legal system’s mishandling of addicted Americans. Legend’s social media hashtag is actually directed towards the country’s broken prison system and is based, in part, on his own experiences as a child of an addicted parent. In a new online video, he openly discusses his mother’s battle with drugs and the tremendous damage her arrest caused his family. “As a teenager growing up in Ohio, I watched my mother deal with depression and drug abuse. My mother’s addiction didn’t just tear her life apart. It tore me and the rest of our family apart, too. My mother didn’t need punishment, she needed help.” John certainly isn’t the only #FREEAMERICA participant with an addiction story to tell. We highly recommend visiting the campaign’s official site and joining its important mission.


Sober SoCal Weekend: Aug 26-28

Friday is upon us once again, which means more beautiful California sunshine and more ideas for a Sober SoCal Weekend! Just like in previous weeks, we’ve rounded up a fantastic variety of local activities that can be enjoyed without the temptation of drugs or alcohol. So grab your day planner and start plugging in these events!



The end of August marks National Parks Week, which means FREE admission to some of California’s most beautiful resources. One semi-close locale is the gorgeous Joshua Tree National Park located just outside of Palm Springs. There will be no-cost admission all weekend, with unlimited access to gorgeous trails and great photo opps. Plus, outings like this promote health and fitness. Load up on water and take advantage of this amazing freebie (if you can).



If you’re looking for an exciting evening activity, we highly recommend visiting “Roaring Nights” at the L.A. Zoo this Friday. This event is completely family-friendly and runs from 7p-11p near the historic Griffith Park. There are games, rock bands, tours and, of course, great examples of nocturnal wildlife for anyone who loves animals (like we do). A truly great way to celebrate sobriety under the stars.



The L.A. City birthday ride is a great outing for anyone looking fit some exercise regimens into their Saturday. Starting at the famed San Gabriel Mission, the three-hour bicycle tour takes participants through historic landmarks across the city. You can get up-close glimpses of El Sereno’s Buddhist Foundation, Lincoln Park, the Cesar Chavez Bridge and ultimately Olvera Street in Downtown L.A. Educational guides will provide context at every stop and the grand finale will feature music and tasty eats! Just keep in mind that this excursion kicks off early, with a 6:30am start time.



If you can make your way to Long Beach this Saturday night, we highly recommend visiting “Night Dive” at the Aquarium of the Pacific. There will be art presentations, live music and conversations with some of SoCal’s most legendary surfers. Not only that, you’ll have access to the whole facility, which truly is one of the Southland’s most amazing sea life exhibits. Night Dive kicks off at 7pm, with a ticket cost of $14.95.



No, this isn’t for kids. This Saturday night, L.A.’s famed Natural History Museum is opening its doors for an Adult Only Sleepover.  Dubbed “nerd-chic,” it includes evening science discussions, interactive games, scavenger hunts and a special Secrets and Legends Tour. There will also be live music and a morning buffet on Sunday. Guests even have the option of sleeping under real fossils (and taking some amazing selfies). Just keep in mind that this sober activity runs $119 a head.



Laughter is a great way to keep people’s minds off using. And if you’re looking for a sobering (and hilarious) way to spend Sunday afternoon, we recommend dropping by The Paley Center in Beverly Hills for their South Park Experience. Here you can celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary, with episode screenings, art displays and tons of photo opps featuring Cartman, Kenny and the rest of the crew.

Celebrity Recovery Spotlight: Demi Lovato

If you’ve been following our Valley Recovery Center Spotlight Series, then you’re well aware of the local heroes, trailblazers and advocates leading our industry. But this week, we thought we’d shine the light on someone out of our inner circle. A world-renowned celebrity who has impacted millions of young people battling addiction through her music, her outspoken interviews and her charitable work. This week, we are highlighting the one-and-only Demi Lovato.


First, a little history on Demi. A former Disney Channel star and pop princess, she started with a squeaky clean pre-teen image, far removed from substances and alcohol. But after her family-friendly Sonny With a Chance series ended, Demi chose to go public about her very serious battle with drinking and drugs.


In 2011, at the age of 19, Lovato openly entered her first treatment program. This was a condition that she later revealed was kept hidden and existed for years. It all came to a head during a Jonas Brothers concert tour, where she allegedly attacked another dancer.  Speaking with Seventeen Magazine after the very public incident, Demi began her public campaign of recovery advocacy.


“I’m not going to lie,” she told the mag. “I was self-medicating. I was doing things like drinking and using [drugs], like a lot of teens do to numb their pain.”


But that wasn’t all. Demi began educating teens about the benefits of sobriety and not giving in to peer pressures. Proudly touting her new life, Lovato added,


“I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I don’t throw up after my meals, I don’t starve myself. There’s nothing that I do that I feel ashamed of. Personally, I think that sober is sexy. It’s cool. I think it’s way cooler to be above the influence than under the influence.”


Imagine that. An influential young celebrity sharing the news that “sober is sexy.” It was certainly not a trait a lot of her 20-something peers were touting. We found Demi’s words incredibly refreshing. She owned her mistakes and provided comfort for others who were dealing with the same pain.


From there, Demi moved into philanthropy. She became a spokesperson for the PACER anti-bullying campaign. (Fast Fact: Bullying has been known to be a catalyst for drug use and escapism). Lovato also publicly shared her struggles with mental illness and its impact on her urges to use. For that work, she was honored at the 2013 National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Washington.


And just last month, Demi brought her crusade to the stage at the Democratic National Convention. Speaking to an enormous crowd, she exclaimed, “”Like millions of Americans, I’m living with mental illness — but I’m lucky. I had the resources and support to get treatment. Unfortunately, too many Americans don’t get help, either because they fear the stigma or cannot afford treatment. Untreated mental illness can lead to devastating consequences, including suicide, substance abuse and long-term medical issues.”


Lovato noted that representatives from her treatment program are joining her on her current music tour and setting up concert kiosks for recovery support and information. Demi truly is a shining example of how recovering celebrities can use their clout for the greater good. We are proud to Spotlight her accomplishments and encourage everyone to follow her inspirational Twitter page for more uplifting words.


To learn more about recovery advocates in our community or to nominate someone for our Spotlight Series, please reach out at (866) 986-2486.


Addiction Article Recap: Week Of August 22

It’s time for another Valley Recovery Center Addiction Article Recap. This is where we round up the week’s biggest headlines related to drug and alcohol abuse. Some stories can be inspiring, while others are tragic examples of how not getting help can lead to tremendous pain. Each of these articles are important however, so take a read and share them with people who can benefit from their messages.


Headline #1: Alcohol and the Olympics

Undoubtedly, the Olympic Games in Rio dominated the front pages for the past two weeks. And one of the more prominent headlines was not about a championship sport. Instead, it involved alcohol, bad behavior and a major tarnish against the U.S. Swimming Team. Most likely, you’re aware of the Ryan Lochte scandal; which led to property damage at a Brazil gas station, falsified stories about a robbery and a tremendous amount of shame for the celebrity swimmer. Though he denied an addiction problem, Lochte blamed his actions on alcohol abuse. “‘I was intoxicated,” he told NBC reporters after the incident. “I was under that influence. And I’m not making – me being intoxicated – an excuse. I’m not doing that at all. I mean, it was my fault.” In our opinion, drinking certainly played a big role in the situation and it created horrible headlines for our home country. Clearly it’s another example of substances interfering with success and we are hopeful that Ryan takes a long, hard look at his actions and works on getting help.


Headline #2: The Death Of 3 Doors Down’s Matt Roberts

2016 is turning into a terrible year for music deaths and this past week, it was reported that drugs most likely claimed the life of 3 Doors Down founder Matt Roberts. The talented guitarist was found dead in the hallway of a Wisconsin Hampton Inn. Though an autopsy is still pending, Matt’s father Darrell admitted to the press that his son had a serious addiction problem. Apparently prescription pills were his drug of choice, which were initially fueled by genuine anxiety. “I know he had prescription drug addiction,” Robert’s father explained. “He suffered greatly from anxiety. It’s crazy as a performer; he never liked crowds or liked places he didn’t know about as a baby, as a child, and this was his way of dealing with it and me and him talked about it often.” There had been reports that Matt was trying to get help towards the end of his life, but alas it was ultimately too late.


Headline #3: The Downfall Of Quarterback Todd Marinovich

Sports, as we all know, is far from immune from the throws of addiction. This past week, a former college football superstar was found unrecognizable; naked and squatting in a stranger’s backyard. Todd Marinovich was once a Heisman Trophy candidate at USC, leading the Trojans to a Rose Bowl championship. He was ultimately drafted to the Raiders, but developed a serious drug habit which led him to his current state. Now he was found allegedly high on meth, looking like a shell of his former self. Marinovich was promptly arrested for tresspassing and is facing criminal possession charges. Truly a tragic story, though thankfully one that did not end with a lost life.






The Importance Of Aftercare

We wish we could say that once a recovery treatment is complete you can walk away and never think about using again. In some instances that is actually the case, but for a large portion of former addicts aftercare is an essential. At Valley Recovery Center, we provide a host of aftercare services, as well as an Alumni Program which allows prior patients to become role models and mentors to new people battling addiction.


What is “Aftercare?”

Technically, aftercare refers to any subsequent counseling that follows an initial recovery treatment. After a patient leaves Valley Recovery Center, our mission is to maintain contact and help re-introduce them to the life that they put on hold. Aftercare can take the form of support groups, booster sessions, followup meetings or Life Coaching classes. Coping strategies are another part of the regimen, as people learn to re-establish relationships and potentially re-enter the workforce.


Risking A Relapse

Another big reason aftercare is important is because of what we call the “relapse component.” It’s sad to say, but up to 50 percent of people who make it through recovery will later experience a relapse. We are proud that at our facility, that number is far below the average (partially thanks to aftercare services). But the hard truth is that relapses happen and they can do tremendous damage to a former patient’s self-esteem. The highest chance of a relapse occurring is within the first 60 days following a discharge and the risk remains high throughout the first five years of recovery.


So the question becomes, how can aftercare reduce these odds? One thing it can do is alleviate temptation. Leaving a treatment program and returning back to “normalcy” opens up the door to things like happy hours, party invites and easy avenues down another dark path. Also, the shock of not having the facility surroundings 24 hours a day creates vulnerability and fear. These are all normal emotions and emotions that can be validated through aftercare treatment programs. It is important to remember what drove you to a treatment program in the first place, something that aftercare always emphasizes.


Emphasizing The Alumni Program

Clearly aftercare is a necessity and positive step toward complete and total sobriety. But there is also one more redeeming component that we emphasize at Valley Recovery Center. The Alumni Program at our facility works in two ways. As you graduate into aftercare, “Alumni,” or former addicts, make themselves available for support. These are shining examples of people who had hit rock bottom and literally turned their lives around to become recovery advocates. Seeing treatment from their perspective can help humanize the experience and provide an example of sobriety success.


The flipside of that is when you have successfully gone through aftercare, you have the opportunity to do the same thing. One of the great rewards of recovery is paying it forward. As an alumni success story, you can provide guidance and support to someone else who is struggling to turn their life around. It is an enriching experience and truly brings the recovery journey around full circle.


If you have been through the recovery journey and are interested in learning more about Valley Recovery Center’s aftercare or Alumni groups, give us a call at (866) 986-2486. We would love to invite you into the program.


Dr. Chaz Austin And The Importance Of A Life Coach

It’s time for another Valley Recovery Center Spotlight Session and this week, we’re proud to profile our own Dr. Chaz Austin. This time, however, we’re shining a light not just on Dr. Austin, but on his role and the importance of having a recovery Life Coach.


First a little bit about Chad. He brings a tremendous amount of experience to our organization. Not only does Dr. Austin hold a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine, he is also a best-selling author, a professor, a public speaker and a podcaster. He conducts weekly career workshops at VRC, which have proven to be tremendously successful for patients looking to re-enter the workforce.


We like to think of Dr. Austin as our resident Life Coach. His motivating personality has helped countless people get back on their feet. Implementing a user-friendly roadmap, his techniques teach our patients how to rise above their past addictions and “re-brand” themselves. It’s a fantastic exercise for self-esteem and works to improve articulation, presentation and attention-spans when it comes to applications and interviews. Chad also works with our patients on the steps after securing a new job. Using his “14 Actionable Tips,” Valley Recovery Center alumni can learn to thrive in new professional settings, putting them on the path to success.


We highly recommend visiting Dr. Austin’s website and social media channels for regular updates on his practices. There are also great YouTube clips and full podcasts of his philosophies. He has been doing phenomenal work for us and we are lucky to have him on the team!


But, as we mentioned before, this Spotlight is going a step further; exploring the essence of Life Coaching and why it has become such a powerful recovery tool. What the Life Coach really does is provide direction and guidance on a personal level. This is an intimate relationship, where patients can ask questions, build self-esteem and receive one-on-one advice from people who (often times) have been through the same experiences as them.


We have seen Life Coaches work to repair broken marriages, provide encouragement for physical fitness and much, much more. They also are great at providing clarity and focus for a patient. People coming off of a serious addiction can have trouble figuring out what exactly they want to do next. With a Life Coach, they can go through specific exercises that help identify career goals and positive future choices.


To be clear, a Life Coach is not a licensed therapist. They serve different, yet vital, purposes. We like to think of the therapist as someone who can help a patient work through big-picture problems such as psychological trauma or mental illness. The Life Coach assists with the day-to-day activities, helping to add direction for decisions that come into play after the recovery journey is complete.


At VRC, we believe in instilling help on both the large-scale and granular levels. What patients need is a complete, comprehensive recovery experience so they can both maintain and have confidence in their sobriety. To learn more about our programs (and Dr. Chaz’ amazing work) give us a call at 866-986-2486.

Sober SoCal Weekend Aug 19-21

T.G.I.F.!  The time has come for another beautiful summer SoCal weekend and, as per usual, we’ve got a long list of activity ideas you and friends can enjoy without the influence of substances. Here are a few top suggestions that embrace sunshine and sobriety.



Music is a perfect way to soothe the soul before the weekend begins and the LACMA Museum is offering a jazz show this Friday on its premises. With piano setups, soulful singers, guitarists and more, this substance-free outing is a great way to spend an outdoor weekend evening. Plus, you never know which legends may show up. Famed maestros Arturo Sandoval and John Clayton have sat in for these lively FREE performances.



Art is a fantastic way to shift one’s focus away from using. In fact, art therapy is one of our most successful treatment classes. That being said, we are huge fans of the recent London Calling exhibit that opened at the Getty. Here, famed British painters from the late 20th century are displaying their most personal works. Themes of abstraction and conceptualism are vividly portrayed in these pieces, making them a “must see” for creative SoCal minds.



Adding a little culture into your weekend can do wonders for your spirit. This weekend marks the final portion of the ongoing Japanese Festival Celebration in Downtown Los Angeles. Its “Nsei” title refers to the first generation of Japanese to be born into America and the events reflect a bit of both cultures. There are martial arts displays, tea tastings, flower arranging and a parade finale full of amazing sights and sounds. This one is family-friendly too, which makes it a great outing for anyone with kids.



Burning calories is a great way to get your mind off of addiction. This weekend, LA’s famed Runyon Canyon is back open after a spring renovation. This amazing hike features gorgeous views of the Southland and selfie photo opps near the Hollywood sign. There are levels for beginners, intermediates and experts depending on your fitness routine and pets are welcome! The trails open from dawn to dusk and parking (though hard to find) is free.



Great food can certainly heal the soul and this Sunday, Smorgasboard LA is hosting an amazing BBQ food fair at Alameda & Bay near downtown. Featuring rich smoked meats, the all-day event will house everything from ribs, to chimichurri, to oysters, all from top chefs across the city. It’s certainly a great way spend a beautiful sunny day and it’s economical too. Free admission and parking!



It’s hard to believe, but the fall television season is just about here. And one nice small screen excursion is happening this Sunday at the Rooftop Cinema Club atop The Montalban in Hollywood.  The FOX network is previewing two of its most anticipated new shows, Lethal Weapon and Pitch, in their entirety. This event also happens to be free and is a great way to enjoy entertainment under the stars without the aid of substances. Doors open at 7pm on August 22!




It’s not surprising to see an increase of addiction-related articles overtaking the country’s news sites. Some may be inspirational recovery stories, some may be tragic overdoses and others can offer insights into recent studies and policy making. We at Valley Recovery Center always keep a close eye on all of the timely stories and every week, we’ll be sharing the biggest headlines in our ADDICTION ARTICLE RECAP.


Headline #1: Opioids and Newborns

One of the most viral (and upsetting) stories of the week pertains to the nation’s opioid epidemic and how it is impacting newborns. A recent study from The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention claims that babies born dependent on drugs have grown by 300 percent in the past 17 years. Typically when an addicted infant comes out of the womb, they experience all of the same withdrawal signs as a heavy user; such as respiratory distress, seizures, vomiting and feeding difficulties. The lead author of the study has directly correlated opioids to this drastic increase. “[This] is an indicator of the nation’s broader opioid epidemic,” researcher Jean Ko wrote. “It is a concerning condition and trend.”


Headline #2: The Death Of Marion Barry Jr.

Back in the 1980’s, former Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry earned infamous headlines after he was recorded on film abusing crack cocaine. And now, we are sad to report that his 36-year-old son has lost his life because of a similar addiction. Marion Barry Jr. apparently overdosed after smoking K2 synthetic marijuana (an epidemic we’ve previously written about). Barry Jr. had publicly battled addiction in his 20’s and also touted his sobriety in recent years. He even entered politics and ran for his father’s Ward Council 8 seat. Close friend Trayon White told, “He had the intelligence his father had, the ambition his father had. He was a great guy, a great brother, a great friend. He had his struggles, but we all have our struggles.” Rest in Peace, Marion.


Headline #3: Lisa Marie Presley Enters Recovery Program

It’s actually rather ironic that this week marks the 39th anniversary of pop legend Elvis Presley’s death and the week his only daughter entered a recovery program. Elvis’ passing was related to drug and alcohol abuse and we are actually quite relieved to hear Lisa Marie Presley is getting help early. The 48-year-old country singer checked in to the $400,000-a-month Hills Treatment Center in Los Angeles for help with an ongoing painkiller addiction. Apparently, a recent divorce (and perhaps memories of her late father) may have triggered the downward spiral. “She’s doing OK but needed to get this under control,” a source told magazine, Us Weekly. Let’s hope she gets a clean bill of health very soon.


Headline #4: The Return of “This Is Your Brain” Anti-Drug PSA

We proudly support any public service announcements that educate young people about the dangers of abusing narcotics. And in the 1980’s, one of the most popular promos featured a frying egg with the phrase, “This is your brain on drugs.” Well, nearly 30 years later the famed spot has returned…with a bit of a revamp. Now the PSA encourages parents to take that conversation one step further and have a serious talk with their kids about addiction. You can watch the complete commercial below…


Identifying And Overcoming Addiction Stereotypes

Sadly, despite growing national attention, addiction still carries a heavy stigma. People often feel that they need to hide their habits or withdraw because of the judgment and negative stereotypes cast upon those who use. One of our first mantras at Valley Recovery Center is to shatter those misconceptions in the hopes that patients will open up and feel comfortable in their own skin. We believe it’s important to educate others (particularly those have never battled an addiction) about the inaccuracies that plague our industry.


STEREOTYPE #1: Addiction Is A Problem Of Willpower

Thinking that someone “chooses” to keep using is a blatant myth that even the medical community will recognize. Plain and simple; these are diseases that can be inherited and should be treated as such. Bringing willpower into the equation can cause tremendous damage to an addict’s self-esteem. Many times, they wish they could just no…But chemical and neurological urges tell them otherwise. Much like other diseases, medication is necessary to turn things around. Be it Methadone, Nalaxone or what have you, recovery is a slow healing process which can’t be turned off at the snap of a finger.


STEREOTYPE #2: People Addicted To One Drug Are Addicted To Many

Stigmas of a “druggie” often assume that a heroin addict is also an alcoholic or a cocaine abuser. That just isn’t the case. While addiction overlap can happen, it’s more rare than you think. Brain chemistry and science play a big role in the vice a person becomes addicted to. Drinking, for example, can be a very singular disease brought about someone’s genetic makeup. Children of alcoholics are more likely to carry down the disease and get engulfed by that and that alone, versus a myriad of other chemicals.


STEREOTYPE #3: Relapsing Is A Recovery Failure

Relapses happen and they should never discourage someone from continuing their recovery journey. Often times, people mistakenly judge a relapse as a sign of weakness or failure. IT IS NOT. The true failure is not getting back on the sobriety track. Nobody is perfect and these urges can be quite common (especially for people who have years of addiction behind them). Let go of the guilt, let go of the negative thoughts and do your best to put the issue behind you. We are big believers in looking forward and encourage anyone who has experienced a relapse to accept what has happened, learn from it and move on.


STEREOTYPE #4: Treatment Programs  Don’t Work

This is our industry and believe us, we have seen a large share of doubters and cynics when it  comes to recovery. Many people (men especially) have a hard time swallowing their pride and admitting that they need help. It doesn’t matter  if you’re physically strong, highly educated or what have you; addiction is a disease and it takes trained professionals and a proper treatment program to conquer. The odds of someone getting sober increase dramatically once they are enrolled in a recovery program. Not only that, it can improve relationships, help  get a career back on track and, most importantly, SAVE A LIFE.


We are more than happy to discuss treatment options and statistics with people impacted  by this disease. If you or someone you know needs  help, please reach out to Valley Recovery Center at 866-986-2486.

Sober SoCal Weekend Aug 12-14

Congratulations, we’ve made it to another beautiful Southern California weekend! And, as part of our ongoing series, we at Valley Recovery Center are excited to share some sober-friendly activities to keep you happy, healthy and away from harmful substances.


Perseid Meteor Shower

Enjoying nature is one of the best things about sobriety. Breathing in clean air, appreciating Mother Earth and taking time to reflect away from the bars and bad temptations. This Friday evening is a great excuse to get outdoors.  NASA scientists have reported that the beautiful Perseid Meteor Shower is set to arrive that night, so grab some friends, find a clear vantage point and soak in the night sky.


Beach Movie Night

If you’d prefer to spend your Friday night admiring the crashing waves, there happens to be another superb substance-free event. Dockweiler Youth Center over in Playa Del Rey is hosting a family-friendly Beach Movie Night! This weekend, it will be Pixar’s critically-acclaimed Inside Out. Not only do you get to enjoy a great flick FOR FREE, you can be around positive influences and the soothing SoCal sand.



Want to get your mind off of an addiction? Try spending an afternoon burning calories at the trendy CicLAvia bicycle event in Koreatown. This Sunday, the city is opening up a 3.5-mile stretch down Wilshire Boulevard for a community ride. It’s a great way to stay in shape and make health-conscious new friends!

Recovery And Broken Relationships

We firmly believe that anyone can conquer their addiction with enough recovery treatment and therapy. But even after you’ve successfully beaten your demons, there is still unfinished business with the damage your habits may have caused. If your addiction created fractures in your personal (and romantic) relationships, there are ways to make amends.


Accept That Some People Will Not Forgive

It’s a sad fact, but some people you may have hurt because of your addiction will not be ready to accept your apology. If your drug or alcohol problem caused a spouse to leave, left a friend empty-handed or embarrassed a co-worker, they may have a hard time letting you back into their lives. THAT IS OK. The important thing is that you reach out and at least ask for forgiveness.


Start With A Letter

We always recommend putting your thoughts to paper. Not only is it therapeutic, it’s an easy non-confrontational way to send out an apology. If there is someone you hurt who you have a hard time facing, try putting a heartfelt letter in the mail. It may seem old-fashioned, but it shows them that you’re making an effort.


Face-To-Face Forgiveness

Usually, people from your past are willing to give you a second chance (or at least hear you out). If a forgiveness letter leads to a phone call or a reconnection, we encourage you to take the next step. Visit the person you hurt face-to-face and try your best to work out the differences. We know it won’t be easy, but trust us, you will feel a lot more relieved when it’s over.


If you’ve gone through recovery and are looking for support before reconnecting with a loved one, give us a call at (866) 986-2486. We would be happy to lend a hand.

Summer Weather May Pose Dangers For Fentanyl Patches

Sadly, abusing prescription medications is becoming commonplace across the country. But what a lot of these users don’t understand is that a simple pharmacy refill can become just as fatal as an illicit narcotic. Painkilling fentanyl patches are the latest life-threatening problem, with news that they can lead to increased overdoses in warmer weather.


According to, emergency room visits are on the rise because of stronger summer patch absorption. People who already abuse the pain reliever are putting themselves in harm’s way, but as one’s body heat rises (a common occurrence in July and August) and dilation occurs, the chemicals react at a much faster rate.


“In chemistry, if we want to speed up a reaction, you apply heat,”  National Medical Services rep Robert Middleberg told the site. “It’s silly for us to believe that heat wouldn’t play a factor in a drug-delivery device that works with the skin.”


Statistics have shown that if someone’s body temperature were to rise to 102 degrees, a fentanyl patch’s absorption rate could quadruple.  This is extremely dangerous for someone who is already abusing the drug.


Doctors have begun issuing warnings to avoid patch usage while sunbathing or using a sauna. Education is essential when it comes to these matters and we are more than happy to walk people through the specific dangers.


If you or someone you love is abusing their fentanyl patches, give us a call at (866) 986-2486 for advice and support.



Signs Of Heroin In The Home

Discovering your child is addicted to drugs is one of the most painful issues a parent can deal with. Unfortunately, we see it far too much and always do our best to encourage moms and dads to get their kids into treatment. Though behavior may vary depending on age, gender and level of dependency, their are a few telltale signs to look out for if you suspect someone in the house is hiding an addiction.


Physical Symptoms

Often times, if you start noticing sudden weight loss in your child, there is reason to be concerned. Other physical symptoms can include bruises or scabs from skin picking, an increase in slurred or garbled speech and decreased attention to hygiene.


Clutter and Chaos

Certain identifiable items should also raise flags about heroin abuse. Tin foil with burn marks, for example, is often used by heroin smokers. Black smudges or fingerprints on furniture are another signal, as is an increase of lighters and matches around the house. Shoelaces are often used as tie-offs for injection sites, so keep an eye for those as well.



Addictions almost always carry shame and secrecy. If you really suspect something is going on, don’t be afraid to snoop around. Items like sunglasses cases make prime hiding spots for drug kits.


If you think there’s a problem, Valley Recovery Center is here to help. Reach out to us at any time via phone (866-986-2486) or email.


Cameron Douglas Released After Seven-Year Drug Stint

Often times, people believe that celebrities get off easy when it comes to arrests and jail stints. Well that certainly isn’t the case for the son of legendary movie actor, Michael Douglas. 37-year-old Cameron made major headlines last week after completing a seven-year prison term over a drug arrest.


We’ve brought up many times before how the criminal justice system tends to over-punish people suffering from addiction. While it is true that abusing narcotics is against the law, most of the time recovery is the true rehabilitation…not multiple years locked up in a cell.


In Cameron’s case, methamphetamines were what put him in a New York prison. His initial sentence actually was increased a few years in, when it was discovered that a girlfriend tried to smuggle him heroin. This led to solitary confinement and pleas from his famous dad for leniency.


“[My son] has spent almost two years in solitary confinement, despite his being a nonviolent offender,” he told reporters back in 2013. “Right now, I’m being told I can’t see him for two years. It’s been over a year now, and I’m questioning the system.”


The good news is, recently-freed Cameron is now clean and sober and, according to a family spokesman, looking to start a charity that helps other former addicts.

Recovery And Resume Building

Two of the key factors in a successful recovery are discipline and, interestingly enough, distraction. Channeling the energies a patient used to put into substance abuse towards more productive means can be very rewarding. It can also teach the brain to focus on tasks other than getting high. That is why we have found Resume Building to be an important milestone of our recovery regimen.


In many cases, addiction can hurt people professionally. Alcoholics and drug abusers often find themselves losing jobs and alienating co-workers. So, after sobriety, when the time comes to re-enter the workforce, a polished resume is essential.


At Valley Recovery Center, we have made Workforce Rehabilitation part of our weekly schedule. Not only do our facilitators sit with patients and help them craft compelling resumes, we also give them guidance on re-learning the steps behind a job application. If someone is a student, or hoping to re-enter the academic world, we provide hands-on assistance on that process as well.


We have found this regimen to be an essential tool for the post-recovery process. It also works as a major confidence booster. Starting over in the workplace brings a sense of accomplishment and shows a patient that they can repair whatever damage addiction has caused to their lives.


If you are interested in learning more about our Resume Building program (or any of our other treatment methods), reach out to Valley Recovery Center at (866) 986-2486.

Festivals Like Lollapalooza Learn To Embrace Sobriety

As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, concert festivals tend to be prime destinations for drinking and drug abuse. But one the flipside, several major events, like this summer’s Lollapalooza, have begun encouraging attendees to steer clear of substances.


Prior to the Palooza kickoff, their organization launched a special new division called Lolla Cares. Here, organizers dedicated portions of their website and programs to environmentalism, education and, more importantly, sobriety.


Titled “Sober Side,” the Lolla Cares anti-substance initiative set up tents and support systems at the concert for anyone struggling with addiction.


“[Sober Side’s] simple purpose is to provide support and information to those who seek the comfort and camaraderie of other clean and sober people at Lollapalooza,” they wrote on their site. “The only requirement is a desire to stay drug and alcohol free at the festival. Though we consist mostly of people in recovery from alcoholism and addiction, Sober Side exists for anyone wishing to stay clean, sober and those seeking serenity and fellowship at Lollapalooza.”


The Sober Side Lollapalooza tent proved to be a huge success, welcoming concertgoers from all backgrounds. There, drug and alcohol-free patrons were encouraged to mingle, share sobriety stories and find people to lean on in case temptation struck.


We, for one, were thrilled with the organizers’ decision to create this initiative and are hopeful that more major festivals continue to do the same.

Did Addiction Play In A Role In Recent Balloon Tragedy?

We have always emphasized the dangers of driving while intoxicated. And, as a recent trending news story proves, inebriation can cause fatalities in many other mediums as well. In Texas, there is mounting evidence that alcohol played a role in a tragic hot air balloon accident that took 16 lives.


CNN is reporting that balloon pilot Alfred “Skip” Nichols (who also perished) had been previously convicted of 4 DWI’s and lost his license twice. He also spent time in jail for drug offenses and was responsible for at least one additional balloon crash.


In fairness however, there is still no solid evidence that Nichols was intoxicated at the time of this crash. But, toxicology tests are currently underway to see if he was under the influence.


According to news outlets, the final toxicology reports won’t be completed for several weeks. We certainly hope Nichols had successfully beaten his demons and that substances did not play a role in the crash. But it still clearly illustrates that intoxicated piloting (or driving) can be extremely deadly.


If you or someone you know is a licensed pilot and has a problem, reach out to Valley Recovery Center or urge them to get help immediately.

Sober SoCal Weekend Ideas

TGIF! With another summer Friday upon us, we thought this would be a perfect occasion to kick off  a new blog series called Sober Socal Weekends. Here, we’ll share fun activity ideas happening in our own backyard and, most importantly, ones that do not involve drugs or alcohol.


The OC Fair

Though it’s a little out of the Los Angeles vicinity, the Orange County Fair is a great Saturday or Sunday excursion. There are rides, live music and tons of amazing eats. If you have an extended family or a significant other, it makes the trip that much more fun. Tickets run just $12 and can be purchased through the official site.


Suicide Squad

Up for a big comic book movie? This weekend, the highly-anticipated Suicide Squad opens in theaters, featuring over-the-top performances from Jared Leto and Will Smith. This is a great way to escape from a hot day and enjoy high-rollicking entertainment that doesn’t involve bar hopping. You can find more on the movie here.


Nike 3 On 3 Basketball

In case you’re unaware, we’re BIG FANS of 3 on 3 basketball tournaments. And this weekend, Nike is hosting a major hoops event in the center of Downtown’s L.A. Live. Over 5,000 players are expected to attend so, if you have time, make sure to put it on your sober To-Do List!



Helping The Children Of Addiction

Tragically, statistics have shown that one in every four kids grows up with an alcoholic parent. Witnessing the ravages of drinking at a young age can be traumatizing and potentially lead to adulthood addictions. If this is happening to someone close to you, don’t think you shouldn’t interfere. There are many ways to help alcoholic families before it’s too late.


Speak Up


Mary Beth Collins, a program and operations director at the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA), gave some important advice about speaking up for young ones without a voice.


“Research shows and continues to reinforce that it only takes one caring adult to change the trajectory of a child’s life. I understand the idea of ‘it’s none of my business’ because that’s what’s been ingrained in our society for generations. But you can have your care and concern coexist without providing forthright conflict.”


This can refer to aunts, uncles, grandparents or caring friends.


Explain Things To The Child On Their Terms


We know that children are far too young to comprehend the disease of addiction. But there are kid-friendly resources that can break down the basics without instilling fear or complexity. Books like The Brown Bottle by Penny Jones and Courage To Be Me by Al-Anon Family Group are prime examples, say NACoA.


Contact A Qualified Professional


If an addiction is leading to physical abuse on the homefront, don’t be afraid to reach out to a law enforcement professional. NACoA also recommends church leaders and school guidance counselors as starting points for households dealing with addicted parents.


We at Valley Recovery Center have seen this scenario many times and are happy to report that the problem is fixable. Getting a parent into a recovery program may seem difficult at first, but it can make a world of difference on spouses and, most importantly, children who are suffering.