Sober SoCal Weekend: Rock To Recovery

Greetings Valley Recovery Center friends and welcome to another Sober SoCal Weekend blog. This time out, we’re doing things a little differently. Rather than profile a variety of Saturday/Sunday activities that do not involve drugs and alcohol, we’re profiling just one. Specifically, this Sunday’s first annual Rock To Recovery concert. If you can focus your energies on one major outing this weekend, do this. Not only will you be able to see amazing live music from the artists behind Korn, Sugar Ray and Jane’s Addiction, you’ll be supporting a cause that benefits people beating their addictions.


The Event

First, let’s get started on the actual concert. Set to take place at Hollywood’s Fonda Theatre this Sunday, Rock To Recovery kicks off at 7pm. Tickets run from $27.50 – $50.00, with proceeds going to the Rock To Recovery Foundation (which we discuss down below). If you arrive early, you can participate in the red carpet ceremony; which will highlight a variety of music and metal stars who have successfully beaten their addictions. You can expect other special celebrity guests as well, spreading a message of positivity and sobriety.


Once inside, we are pleased to share that there will be absolutely NO BARS and NO ALCOHOL. This is a 100% clean event, so you do not have to worry about any temptations (which is usually a common occurrence at rock concerts).


And what about the actual lineup? Expect to see all-star jams featuring Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens, Jane’s Addiction’s Chris Chaney and Franky Perez from Apocalyptica. Now that’s just the first “jam.” Jam #2 will feature Korn’s David Silveria, Nate Lawler from Death on Wednesday, Scott Ellis from She Wants Revenge and Kill Radio’s Brandon Jordan.



There will also be a special ceremony honoring Social Distortion guitarist Mike Ness and the work he’s done to help his fellow musicians through sobriety. The bottom line is, Rock To Recovery will be an absolute blast and a great opportunity to see talented musicians.


The Mission

Now, beyond this weekend’s Sober SoCal event is an amazing organization that we feel deserves a spotlight. Rock To Recovery exists 365 days a year and basically takes Music Therapy treatment to a whole new level. Founded by former Korn guitarist Wesley Greer in 2012, it actually gives people in recovery the opportunity to sit and play with their favorite artists. Along the way, they can hear real stories about musicians who have beaten addiction and turned their lives around.


Rock to Recovery also encourages aspiring musicians in recovery programs (whether professional or amateur) to form impromptu bands and write new songs. This can work as a release and allows patients to focus their energies on positive outlets, rather than using.


As their website describes,

“Music is a powerful tool, proven to help soothe the soul. For someone in recovery, learning to have clean and sober fun, feeling a part of, connecting to a group, and quieting the mind are keys to a successful new life. It’s time to feel good in all that we do. Rock to Recovery gives people, such as recovering addicts/alcoholics, a chance to have fun expressing themselves, working as a group, and experiencing the natural high only music can produce.”


We definitely believe in this cause. For more info on this weekend’s event (including ticket purchasing), click here.




Marijuana’s Role In Addiction

This November, Californians voters will be facing topics well beyond Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday the 8th, the state is proposing a measure that would expand legal access to marijuana; ultimately making it accessible to the masses. Currently, pot is pretty commonplace across our state. Doctors offers prescriptions for chronic pain, dispensaries are scattered throughout L.A. and many of our friends and neighbors carry “cards” giving them access to the drug. So…would this new law create problems for people with addictive personalities? In our opinion, it just might.


Now for the record, we at Valley Recovery Center believe strongly in freedom and civil liberty. If the public votes to legalize marijuana, so be it. However, there are risk factors to this which we believe are worth exploring.


Increased Usage Statewide

Let’s start with the growth factor. According to recent stats, since the laws have lessened on marijuana use, open weed smokers have increased from 22 million Americans to 32 million Americans. And per Web MD, daily weed use has doubled between 2002 and 2014. Not only that, daily U.S. smokers total roughly 8 million.


U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse deputy director, Dr. Wilson Compton, addressed the stats with Web MD. “This increase has corresponded with the legal and social acceptance of marijuana, and so it is not such a surprise. We need to think about how to do appropriate prevention messaging to make sure people aren’t putting themselves at risk for becoming dependent and other problems associated with the drug.”


Is Marijuana Addictive?

Now we have heard the argument that marijuana is not addictive. And certainly it doesn’t grip people the same way a narcotic like cocaine or heroin would. But just like anything in life, for certain personalities, it can definitely cause damage. Many people say that “too much of anything is bad” and, in the case of marijuana, that is very true. Web MD’s research showed that frequent pot use among teenagers can lead to lower grades and delinquent behavior. Marijuana has also gotten the label of “gateway drug,” meaning it’s where young experiment before moving on to heavier substances.


There have been additional studies (including a 2016 analysis by the American Journal of Psychiatry) that associate depression with weed. As American Journal researcher, Dr. Deborah Hasin, explained, “An increasing number of American adults do not perceive marijuana use as harmful. While some can use marijuana without harms, other users do experience negative consequences, which can include mental and physical problems, and impaired functioning.”


Legalization Consequences

So what does it mean for Californians if this law passes? For one, expect plenty of new industries to emerge capitalizing on weed. A current big trend among fans includes “edibles” and reports are already circulating about foods and candies being laced with marijuana. Sure they’ll be properly packaged, but products like these make the drug much more accessible to pre-teens and impressionable young people. There are also concerns about more people driving while under the influence of marijuana. In Denver, where it is more legalized, traffic fatalities have seen an uptick.


We will definitely be following this movement closely and, currently, we have plenty of trained staff ready to treat anyone who is struggling with too much marijuana use. Today (or two months from now) if you feel like weed is holding you back from success or creating depressing feelings, do not be afraid to reach out. (866) 986-2486.



The Process Of Making Amends

Most of us are aware of the success of the 12-step method of recovery. Structured as a task list, these clear-cut objectives add focus to a former addict’s journey and create a “goal-setting” experience that is both therapeutic and rewarding. Well, two pivotal steps in the process involve Making Amends; which is a treatment method we heartily embrace at Valley Recovery Center.


In the 12 Steps, Step Eight and Step Nine reflect making amends. Clearly spelled out, they read:

  • Make a list of all persons you have harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.


Who Have You ‘Harmed’?

So, making amends truly involves two components. The first is identification. We know how harmful an addiction can be for family, friends and even acquaintances. It is not uncommon for you to lash out verbally or physically to those close to you. Perhaps it’s a parent or friend trying to intervene. It can also be a co-worker, a boss, or even someone you encounter at the grocery store. Substances like cocaine and alcohol can make a person very volatile, leading to difficult confrontations.


If your addiction had gone on for years (or even decades), the list of people you “harmed’ can be a long one. We encourage our patients to dig deep and carefully look back at every big and small encounter they may have had under the influence. This, in itself, is a very therapeutic process. It allows for reflection, remorse and helps people come to terms with the damage their addiction may have caused.


How Can You Repair The Damage?

It’s interesting to note that the word “amends” differs greatly from the word apologies. Sure we think of making amends as saying sorry to those you’ve hurt, but it actually goes much further than that. Amends can be more closely aligned with the word “restoration.” What you’re doing when you make amends is restoring damage that has been caused. This could mean repaying financial debts spurned by your addiction. It could mean fixing damaged property. The purpose of this process is to handle unfinished business, which can prove to be very challenging at times.


If you notice, there is also a slight caveat in this Amends Step; namely, to avoid hurting the person you hope to rectify a relationship with. What does that mean exactly? Well, sometimes coming too clean can cause even more pain to a loved one. If your addiction led to you cheating on a spouse, for instance. Think deeply before revealing that after the fact. If you know it will cause more heartache and, on your recovery journey, you have stopped any and all affairs, then be selective in what you choose to reveal.


We understand that this can be a difficult process and a very personal one. At Valley Recovery Center, we use trained counselors and life coaches to guide each patient through the identification and reparation process. Every journey is unique, but it cannot be fully complete without revisiting the damage of the past. To learn more about our Amends Programs, give us a call at (866) 986-2486.


Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Sept 26

It certainly is a busy time for news this week. With Presidential Debates dominating the headlines, it is far too easy for important addiction-related stories to get lost in the shuffle. That is part of what makes our Article Recap series so handy. Here, you can catch up on recovery stories you may have missed, as well as policy updates and even entertainment news touching the topic of addiction. This week, we’re profiling a dangerous new trend that mixes cocaine with opioids. We’re also sharing headlines about a new government program aimed to help prisoners battling substance abuse AND an anticipated new film tied to alcoholism.


Enjoy the skimming and make sure to click each link for further details on the individual stories. And, as always, if you have newsworthy addition to our Recap, email it to us at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com!


Headline #1: Opioid-Laced Cocaine Overdoses

Abusing one drug is bad enough. But when you begin to blend substances, things can get increasingly dangerous. Such is the case in Canada this week, with local outlets reporting about opioid-laced cocaine overdoses happening in Surrey, British Columbia. More than 40 people were hospitalized in a span of just a few days after smoking crack cocaine that had been contaminated with the opioid, fentanyl. According to LiveScience.com, multiple deaths resulted from the epidemic; with patients passing out and never regaining consciousness. Police reports following the incidents labeled the deaths as “the first reported cluster of overdose events caused by crack cocaine contaminated with furanyl-fentanyl in North America.” As a result, many local hospital workers and first responders are being alerted about red flag opioid overdose symptoms. At first these groups were misinformed, believing they were treating crack cocaine OD’s. The fentanyl component requires a different treatment and the administration of naloxone. This saddens us deeply and only echoes the point that street drugs come with an incredibly high risk. Users never know which chemicals have been added and how much more deadly each “hit” can become.


Headline #2: Justice Department Pledges $10 Million For Addicted Inmates

Please don’t get us started on the broken recovery programs happening in America’s prison system. Tragically, many of the inmates themselves are non-violent offenders and serving lengthy sentences for simply suffering from disease of addiction. This week, the Justice Department did try to take a positive step forward; pledging $10 million to 162 government agencies to, as they put it, “improve substance abuse treatment programs for incarcerated inmates.” According to the press release, the funds will also help former addicts as they complete their sentences and prepare to re-enter society. Something is certainly better than nothing, but we believe a lot more change is needed to repair the substance habits happening behind bars.


Headline #3: New ‘Godzilla’ Movie Touches Upon Alcoholism

It’s not often you hear about a monster movie blockbuster tackling the subject of addiction. But Anne Hathaway’s upcoming Colossal film may be doing just that. According to early reports, the flick uses a giant Godzilla creature as a symbolic representation of Anne’s character’s drinking problem. Interestingly enough, Colossal is getting lots of early awards buzz for its unique portrayal of the “monstrous” affects of alcohol. As a Mashable reviewer put it, “In Colossal, alcohol is the scariest monster. It is a cautionary tale about the monsters that people become when they drink.” Sounds like it’s definitely worth a look!




Sober SoCal Weekend: Sept 23-25

Boy, are we glad it’s Friday again! After five long days of working hard, we now get a well-deserved break to relax, visit friends and enjoy a host of L.A. activities (without the temptations of drugs or alcohol). That is, and will always be, the mantra behind this ongoing series. Remember, that you do not have to use to have a good time. And as this latest list of ideas illustrates, there are tons of fun, SOBER ways to celebrate a Saturday-Sunday stretch in SoCal.


Don’t forget…If you have upcoming substance-free events you want Valley Recovery Center to mention, shoot us an email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com. Now, on with the list!


The Italian Feast of San Gennaro

Full disclosure: There will be certain vendors that sell wine at this event. BUT, we felt like we had to include the Feast of San Gennaro because its emphasis has always been families, fun and food. This is not a cultural festival built around alcohol. Rather, it is a three-day celebration of the amazing flavors of Italy. There are authentic musicians from the old country, along with rides and kid’s entertainment stations. We recommend going during daylight hours and indulging in the pasta, pizza and hearty calzones made from international chefs. The alcohol stations open up during evening events, so if the temptation is too great, drop by for an afternoon feast and call it a day. Click here to learn more.


Dino Fest

Another great event for families, the Natural History Museum’s Dino Fest highlights everything a “Jurassic Enthusiast” would like to know. World-renowned paleontologists will be on hand, giving lectures and answering questions. There will also be fossil displays and special new dinosaur exhibits that guests can get up close and interact with. Movie fans will get to meet some of the filmmakers behind the Jurassic Park sequels and handle famous props. This event runs all weekend, with ticket prices starting at $12. Click here for more details.


Paramount Pictures ‘After Dark’ Tour

Last week, we mentioned how Halloween activities would be making their way into our SoCal list. Well, on Friday you can get your sober scares on once again at the After Dark Tour on the Paramount Pictures lot. Here, guests will go on a guided tour of the legendary studio; visiting sound stages that are allegedly haunted. Old Hollywood ghost tales will be part of the experience as well, with Paramount historians sharing backstories on creepy classics like The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. It all culminates with a trip to the famed Hollywood Forever Cemetery and a special private horror movie screening. This outing runs $99 and, truth be told, comes with one champagne glass, which can be swapped out for sparkling water.


Surf City Surf Dog

Perhaps our favorite activity of the weekend (which you can tell by our header picture), Huntington Beach’s Surf City Surf Dog competition is a great way to spend a sober Sunday afternoon. We are big-time animal lovers, so getting the chance to see four-legged friends enjoy themselves on the beach (and the water!) really got us excited. For this event, you can see trained pets take on waves and surf their way onto the shore. There will also be a Canine Expo and PETCO reps on hand, sharing tips on how to properly care and pamper your pets! Click here to learn more.

Spotlight On Attorney Lisa Smith

Welcome to another blog in our ongoing Spotlight Series. Here, we profile notable recovery advocates in our industry. Sometimes they’re celebrities. Sometimes they’re political leaders. And sometimes they’re members of our own Valley Recovery Center staff. For this week, we thought we’d shine the light on Lisa F. Smith. Not only is she a shining beacon of sobriety, she is also an accomplished attorney and a prime example of a successful professional who was once crippled by addiction. Her story is incredibly inspiring and her work today is just as impressive, with vlogs and workshops devoted to helping those battling substance abuse. We invite you to read her profile below. And if someone in your community deserves the VRC Spotlight, send us an email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com. We’d be more than happy to share their story!


Lisa’s Sobriety Journey

Lisa F. Smith is a prime example of someone who, on the surface, appeared to have it all. A distinguished graduate of Northwestern University and Rutgers School of Law, she had a glowing career in the corporate legal world, working on cases at a leading international firm. But she had been hiding a drug and alcohol addiction for decades, stemming back to her teen years.


As Lisa explains in her recently released book, Girl Walks Into A Bar, the “party lifestyle” caught her attention early. Highly intelligent and highly functional, Lisa was able to balance drinking and drug use with the demands of college and even law school. This pattern continued well into her legal years, though (as it always does) the addiction eventually spiraled out of control.


“I knew I was an alcoholic 10 years before I got sober, but I was terrified because I couldn’t imagine what life would be like without alcohol,” she explained in a recent interview. “I had managed to hide my addiction from everyone around me. From my family, from my [colleagues], from my friends; meanwhile, behind closed doors, I was drinking and using cocaine 24/7 for about the last year. I couldn’t get out of bed without drinking.”


In the same interview, Lisa went on describe how a full detox became her first step toward recovery. “I had been so desperate, and so sick, and so tired when I checked in, and just in five days, in the detox, the physical transformation I experienced and just what my body felt like was so unreal after 10 years of constant abuse and hangovers, that I was willing to keep trying and keep doing this, and stay away from drinking.”


Becoming An Advocate

So what did Lisa do after letting go of a 20-year habit? Help others in her field. Lisa is now outspoken advocate for professionals and attorneys battling addiction. While promoting her book, she began gathering data about how prominent drug and alcohol abuse is in the legal profession.


In a recent survey she shared, Lisa revealed that more than 20% of interviewed practicing lawyers abuse alcohol. She revealed some of those findings in a recent YouTube clip, which we posted below.



We are big fans of the work that Lisa is doing and encourage followers to visit her website. It’s an inspiring testament of addiction’s blind nature. Rich or poor, attorney or high schooler…This truly is a disease that can damage anybody.


Heroin And Opioid Awareness Week

It gives us a good feeling when government officials continue to acknowledge the growing addiction problems plaguing our country. And this past Monday, President Obama took things a giant step forward by declaring September 19-23 National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. Now we know that’s a mouthful, but it’s actually a very important initiative and one we feel deserves attention.


For starters, let’s discuss what President Obama actually wrote about this new campaign. In his own words, POTUS (as he’s affectionately called) offered a six paragraph proclamation outlining the seriousness of addiction and what we, as citizens, can do to combat the deadly affects opioid and heroin abuse.


“Each year, more Americans die from drug overdoses than in traffic accidents, and more than three out of five of these deaths involve an opioid,” Obama wrote. “Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids, including prescription opioid pain relievers, heroin, and fentanyl, has nearly quadrupled.”


Startling facts, we know. This is a great way, however, to grasp the public (and press’) attention. Delving further into his writings, Obama declared,


“During Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, we pause to remember all those we have lost to opioid use disorder, we stand with the courageous individuals in recovery, and we recognize the importance of raising awareness of this epidemic.”


This too is an important statement, as it illustrates this week is about much more than prevention and education. This week is also about recognizing the millions who have succumbed to the disease of heroin and opioid abuse. Obama’s last few paragraphs highlight where he intends to take this initiative and how his administration (and hopefully the next one) has contributed in the fight against addiction.


“My Administration is steadfast in its commitment to reduce overdose deaths and get more Americans the help they need,” he concludes. “That is why I continue to call on the Congress to provide $1.1 billion to expand access to treatment services for opioid use disorder. We are also working to improve opioid prescribing practices and support targeted enforcement activities. Although Federal agencies will continue using all available tools to address opioid use disorder and overdose, the Congress must act quickly to help more individuals get the treatment they need — because the longer we go without congressional action on this funding, the more opportunities we miss to save lives.”


The good news is, since Obama’s declaration the media and all of the social networks have begun promoting the campaign. Hashtags like #OpioidAwareness are now commonplace among Twitter and Instagram. Radio and television commercials have also begun to be broadcast, encouraging the audience to stay educated about heroin and opioids.


As we’ve mentioned in may of our previous blogs, this is an epidemic that will not go away overnight. Opioids, in particular, have posed a new threat because, as prescription pills, they appear less threatening than a narcotic like heroin. But remember…Just because something isn’t a “street drug,” doesn’t mean it can’t kill you.


We encourage everyone to spread the word about National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week and, if you do have a problem, please reach out and get help.




Addiction Article Recap: Week of Sept 19

Happy Autumn from Valley Recovery Center! This week, we are welcoming a new season and lots of important headlines from the world of addiction. As temperatures cool, don’t be surprised to hear more stories about using. Studies have shown that as the year comes to a close, more people tend to “escape” through substance abuse and alcoholism. Less active weather and holiday loneliness are strong contributors. Expect more political addiction headlines as well, with the November 8 presidential election right around the corner.


On that note, we’ve got more Addiction Article Recaps to share, highlighting topics like music, heroin abuse and (you guessed it) politics. Read on and make sure to share your addiction/recovery stories with us by emailing valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.


Headline #1: Jay-Z’s ‘War On Drugs’

We love when big-name celebrities use their star power to speak out about addiction. This past week, iconic rapper Jay-Z brought the issue to the forefront with a four-minute music video titled “War On Drugs.” Aimed directly at law enforcement and government officials, Hova called their anti-addiction campaigns an “epic fail.” And after watching the clip, it’s hard not to agree with him. Using animated visuals, he narrates a list of statistics showing how some of Ronald Reagan’s 1980’s initiatives led nowhere. Examples include drug addiction NOT being a moral failing and too-harsh sentences handed down to addicted users. “Long after the crack era we continued our War on Drugs,” Jay-Z narraetes. “Judges’ hands were tied by tough-on-crime laws and they were forced to hand out mandatory life sentences for simple possession and low-level drug sales … Forty-five years later, it’s time we rethink our policies on the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs is an epic fail.” You can watch the full clip below.



Headline #2: Drug Use At Public Libraries

Another recent headline that caught our attention had to do with drug use at local public libraries. According to recent reports, heroin addicts have begun using those facilities as locations to shoot up and experience their “highs.” Things have gotten so bad, that in Virginia and Illinois, dead bodies are starting to be discovered in library restrooms. One reason for this is because libraries are free to the public and easily accessible to people off the street. A recent initiative has been proposed to fight this: Namely, providing librarians with Narcan, a substance proven to combat overdoses. While several public officials have debated that this “supports” heroin use, we disagree. Any precaution to save a life should be taken, in our opinion. Clearly these people need help and it should not reflect negatively on the organizations. As Josie Parker, a national library director, stated, “People need to know that this is happening everywhere and that public libraries haven’t done anything wrong to cause it to happen.”


Headline #3: ‘Mr. Robot’ Wins At Emmys

Last night’s Emmy Awards honored the best of the best in the television genre and we were happy to see Rami Malek take home Best Actor for his role in Mr. Robot. One of TV’s hottest new shows, Robot covers many topics…with addiction at the top of the list. Malek’s character is struggling with an opiate battle (ripped from today’s headlines) and his portrayal is both honest and brave. We are excited to see a show like this bring the opiate epidemic to the forefront and congratulate Rami on his big win!



Back To School Addiction Issues

Believe it or not, timing and seasonality contribute to addiction. Winter, for example, when it’s cold and family holidays arrive, can be a depressing time for many people. This in turn, leads to the urge to use or potentially relapse. Autumn (where we are right now) can contribute to substance problems as well, particularly for those entering their first year of college. That’s why we thought we’d explore some of the correlations between academia and addiction.


For the record, young 20-somethings are at an extremely heightened risk of addiction. These are the ages of experimentation, where “gateway drugs” can lead to full-blown habits. Students living away from home (with peer pressures and new temptations) are even more vulnerable. In fact, those enrolled in a full-time college program are twice as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than those who aren’t. Now keep in mind, WE ARE ALL FOR EDUCATION. College is a fantastic experience and undoubtedly sets teens up for success. But it is important to know the facts and see the addiction warning signs if they appear.


Why Do Students Use?

There are a variety of factors that can trigger a student’s addiction habits. As we mentioned before, curiosity plays a big role. If you are young, living on a faraway campus and exploring your newfound “freedom,” drugs and alcohol are an easy way to fit in. Experimentation is commonplace, but it can quickly lead to a serious problem.


Peer pressure is another big component. For many young students, trying to make friends in a new environment can be challenging. Bonding over beer or weed seems like an easy “in,” or so they think. And don’t get us started on fraternities and sororities. Hazing is a dangerous gateway into the world of addiction and we encourage those pledging to stand up for their sobriety.


Stress plays a big role in college addiction as well. Students tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves, especially if they’re dealing with loans and financial hardships. Many young people mistakenly think that using can be a way to escape that pain. Well, in fact, it only leads to more heartache.


And let’s not forget the studies themselves. You’d be amazed to see how common prescription drugs like Adderall are on college campuses. If you’re taking a double major or buried in term papers, meds or stimulants can be easily abused for “all nighter” study sessions. Believe us when we say that this is not the answer. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, lessen the class load and maintain a healthy schedule.


What Do Students Use?

We also feel it’s important to share the types of addiction issues most prominent on college campuses. Alcohol, not surprisingly, dominates the list because it’s accessible and a staple of frat houses and dorms. As we mentioned previously, Adderrall is also hugely popular at schools and is even labeled internally as the “Study Drug.” Marijuana and ecstasy are third and fourth on the list, contributing to the party lifestyle that tends to happen on weekends.


If you’re experiencing freshman year temptations or recognizing a problem on your campus, we encourage you to reach out to Valley Recovery Center at (866) 986-2486. We have experience helping people of all ages and can work with you (and/or your parents) to help push through the pain.


Sober SoCal Weekend: Sept 16-18

It may be hard to believe, but Friday marks the official start of Fall. Days are getting shorter, the weather is getting cooler and new (sober) seasonal adventures are starting to emerge. This weekend, we invite you to partake in a wide variety of fun outings that can be celebrated without the aid of drugs of alcohol. If you prefer holiday scares, Universal Studios is a great option. We’ll also be profiling eco-friendly activities, comic cons and a soothing Saturday yoga expo. Enjoy…And don’t forget to email your Sober SoCal ideas to valleyrecovercenter@gmail.com!


Halloween Horror Nights At Universal Studios

Totally scary and totally substance-free, Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights officially kick off this weekend. This is a great way to get out with friends and offers just as much fun now, as it did during those teenage years. Guests can explore haunted mazes built around films like The Exorcist, as well as “Hauntified” versions of the park’s most famous attractions, like the Tram Tour and Jurassic Park: The Ride. Prices run around $60, with the event going every weekend night until Halloween.


Green Festival Expo At The L.A. Convention Center

Now this is a Sober SoCal activity we can DEFINITELY get behind. The Convention Center’s Green Festival Expo returns this Friday, with kiosks promoting healthy and sustainable lifestyles. Highlighting everything from electric cars, to vegan cuisine, Green Fest is filled with inventiveness. Guests can explore where ecology is headed and test a variety of innovative, non-toxic products. There will also be screenings of informative documentary films and celebrity guests like Moby and Ed Begley Jr. Tickets are available at the door for $12.


Long Beach Comic Con

If you want to switch things up and move from the L.A. to the Long Beach Convention Center, you can step inside an all new SoCal Comic Con. This weekend’s event celebrates comic books, art, pop culture and your favorite fanboy films and TV shows. Voiceover actors from the famed Batman: The Animated Series will be on hand, as will the cast from the former Fox show, Firefly. There will also be dozens of notable illustrators and writers, holding workshops about their craft. This daytime outing is completely drug and alcohol free (plus, it’s an excuse to dress up like your favorite superhero). You can visit the official site for tickets, which run about $45.


Yoga Day At Loyola Marymount University

Did we mention that we love healthy lifestyles? Well, one other way to do a weekend cleanse is at Loyola Marymount’s annual Yoga Day. From 10a – 7pm on Saturday, the campus will be converted into a “Namaste” haven, with experienced teachers and classes on hand. Guests can try out Beginner’s, Intermediate and Advanced level courses, as well as onsite lectures delving into the history and artistry of yoga. Yoga Therapy happens to be one our proven methods of recovery, so we highly recommend checking this one out. Plus, there will be a live evening concert and healthy food trucks! This event is totally free, but an RSVP is requested.


Grief And Loss In Recovery

Throughout our weekly blogs, we like to explore some of the methods we use in the Valley Recovery Center treatment regimen. Previously, we explored the philosophies behind “Seeking Safety” and now, we thought we’d share some details about our Grief and Loss program. We know what you’re thinking…”Grief and Loss? That seems more fitting for people who have seen a loved one pass away.” Well truth be told, kicking an long term addiction can be like a death in the family because of the regular routines that are now out of your life.


To us, Grief and Loss can mean a multitude of things. Death and addiction are closely intertwined. Even if a user survived their habit, they may have seen close friends succumb to the disease. In other instances, a death can trigger the start of an addiction. If a parent, for example, abruptly passed during adolescence, drugs and alcohol may have been used as coping mechanisms. Our therapy sessions explore all of that.


At Valley Recovery Center, we also take Grief and Loss to an aftercare level. If you are a family member of someone who died from an overdose, we do have counseling options. We invite those impacted by an addiction death to visit our facility and sit in on sessions. Survivors are also included in group therapies, illustrating to those recovering how painful it is when they are ripped from their loved ones’ lives.


Going back to the loss of using; yes, this is part of the regimen. No matter how grateful a patient is that they are sober, there is now a new void in their lives. Patients can often miss the “thrill” of getting high. We are only human, after all, and counseling and support are necessary to push through those feelings.


Rituals are a big part of addiction as well. Patterns that were built in to everyday life are no longer present. Many do look at their habit as a relationship of sorts, turning to a drug or drink for comfort. We work to wean our patients off of that mindset because, as we all know, addiction is not just a physical need, it’s emotional.


The Symptoms Of Grief

So, what can one expect if they are “grieving” the loss of their addiction? Feeling overwhelmed is a common reaction, which can create confusion and disorientation. Typical examples of this may include forgetting where you left something, missing an appointment or difficulty maintaining a schedule.


Grief can also manifest through tears and emotional spells. As tough as our male patients think they are, losing a habit can easily lead to weeping sessions. That is totally normal and we actually encourage it as a way of expressing yourself.


A general loss of interest is one more grief symptom to watch out for. Without the regular high, people tend to feel an ongoing void. Therapy and redirection can repair that and we have the tools to help.


If addiction has created a sense of emptiness in your life or your family’s life, we encourage you to reach out. Our counselors have years of training in the areas of grief, loss and depression. Call us today and see how we can help. (866) 986-2486



Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Sept 12

These past few weeks, we’ve been getting some great responses to our Addiction Article Recap series. In our opinion, summarizing the week’s top addiction and recovery stories can be a helpful tool to educate people curious about our industry. We also work to keep things short, so you get a quick understanding of an important topic and then click the link therein if you want to explore it further. This time out, we’re profiling the story behind a scary viral photo. Ohio’s “Overdose Couple” are a stern reminder of how dangerous heroin can be and why addiction is a terrible habit for parents. Nocturnal Wonderland is also profiled, which proved to be one of most dangerous concert experiences in recent memory (thanks to illicit drugs). And finally, we’ve got an update about our former Celebrity Spotlight, Demi Lovato. She is doing great and actually getting into the recovery business!


Headline #1: Ohio’s “Overdose Couple”

Being a parent is such an important responsibility, which is why were horrified to hear the story about James Acord and Rhonda Pasek. This East Liverpool, Ohio couple were recently photographed passed out in their minivan after overdosing on heroin. To make matters worse, their four-year-old child is pictured in the back in his car seat, traumatized by the experience. The pics were shared on the city’s Facebook page; a grave reminder of how serious drug addictions can be. “We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug,” East Liverpool wrote on its page. “We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess. This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.” James and Rhonda literally looked like two dead bodies, slumped over in the driver’s and passenger’s seats. Their son, whose face was blocked out for protection, sits strapped into his seat clearly unnerved by the situation. Thankfully, both Acord and Pasek were arrested (after being revived via Narcan) and the child was put in protective custody. Though it’s a grim scene, we believe East Liverpool made the right decision by publicizing the photo.


Headline #2: Arrests And Overdoses At Nocturnal Wonderland

As much as we love music, certain concerts seem to focus more on narcotic enhancements than the artists on the stage. That is a philosophy we do not agree with, but it hasn’t stopped San Bernardino’s Nocturnal Wonderland from pushing the boundaries of legal raves, with imagery and messaging about pure intoxication. To that effect, SBPD officers arrested 176 attendees of the festival this month, primarily for drug and alcohol offenses. Not only that, there were five hospitalizations; relating to overdoses and violent assaults fueled by substance abuse. Thankfully there were no fatalities, but it does clearly illustrate that anyone suffering from addiction should best steer clear from this franchise.


Headline #3 Demi Lovato Becomes Co-Owner Of Recovery Facility

Singer Demi Lovato definitely likes to practice what she preaches. After spending the past several years praising sobriety, the former Disney star decided to take things one step further by purchasing a stake in the rehab facility where she once received treatment. As of this week, Lovato is a co-owner of CAST Centers; which helps those struggling with drug and alcohol issues. Demi’s manager, Phil McIntyre, spoke to CBS about the new purchase and praised her work as a recovery advocate. “How many 24-year-olds own their own treatment center?” he said. “But then to leverage her position in pop music to do so much good is just incredible.” Job well done, Demi.




Spotlight On Dr. Gregory Jenkins

We are proud to say that at Valley Recovery Center, we truly have some of the best recovery professionals in the business. In previous spotlights, we’ve talked about our Nutritionists David and Kristie, as well as our resident Life Coach, Dr. Chaz Austin. Now, we’re proud to shine the spotlight on the brilliant work of our medical consultant, Dr. Gregory Jenkins M.D.


Dr. Jenkins happens to be one of Santa Clarita’s most highly-regarded physicians. He is a proud UCLA grad and has been part of the Newhall community for over two decades. He has also served in multiple capacities as a medical staff leader at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and works as a member of the Medical Staff Executive Board. Locally, he has been recognized as one of the Best in Family Practice, Best in Internal Medicine and Best Urgent Care. Dr. Jenkins also participates in multiple charitable causes, including the Flying Samaritans of Mercy which involves providing medical care to needy patients in Mexico.


Is it any wonder why we’d be so proud to have him on our team? To us, having an accessible, qualified M.D. is essential. Treatments like detox and withdrawal can have serious physical repercussions and you’d be surprised to learn how many other recovery facilities lack the proper medical expertise to treat a situation like that.


The True Benefits Of A Medical Consultant

To help fully flesh out the recovery process, we feel it’s important to explain each role in detail. As we mentioned before, there were informative blogs on the roles of Nutritionists and Life Coaches, but where does the doctor fit in?


Assessments – For starters, a qualified medical professional like Dr. Jenkins can be brought in to assess a new patient’s condition and level of physical dependence on drugs or alcohol. Routine screenings can be put in place, which measure a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure and vital signs. Though on the surface a new patient can seem functional, underneath they could be in need of immediate medical attention. If Dr. Jenkins were able to see some untreated physical trauma during his evaluation, a hospital admittance may precede the recovery program.


Prescriptions – Yes, it certainly sounds counter-intuitive to think of prescriptions for someone in a recovery program. But the truth is, hardcore withdrawals can be an intense process and sometimes light medication is needed to soothe the experience. Despite popular belief, a “cold turkey” approach to quitting severe dependencies can be traumatic and even dangerous for the body. A qualified doctor can help ease that process with light dosages of anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications. Prescriptions like Clondine are also accepted within the recovery community as a tool to relieve sweating, cramps and muscle spasms during opiate withdrawals.


We understand how delicate these types of diagnoses can be, which is why we feel so lucky to have Dr. Jenkins as part of the team. His expertise has saved countless lives and we encourage you to visit his official website for info on his background and private practice.


Always remember that at Valley Recovery Center, you are in the hands of caring, capable professionals. For more information about our staff and treatment programs, reach out at (866) 986-2486.



Sober SoCal Weekend: Sept 9-11

Happy Friday! We hope all of our followers enjoyed a slighter shorter week (thanks to Labor Day). Now with another Saturday/Sunday stretch ahead, we thought we’d share several unique, recovery-friendly activities as part of our Sober SoCal Weekend series. This time, we’ve got a little bit for everyone. Whether you’re a “Trekkie,” a lobster lover or a fan of gorgeous sunset swims, set your sights on these local ideas that support the clean lifestyle.


Annenberg Beach House Sunset Swim

Don’t let last weekend fool you. Labor Day does not officially mean the end of summer. In fact, September continues to be one of our calendar’s hotter months. That’s why Santa Monica’s Annenberg Beach House is opening up it’s pool this Friday for a gorgeous Sunset Swim. From 6:30pm onward, guests can enjoy dunking in their Olympic sized pool and relaxing on lounge chairs across from the gorgeous Pacific coast. There will also be games, s’mores cooking and a fruit bar, supporting a healthy, sober lifestyle. Admission is just $10, with more details on their official site.


Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration

This Saturday you can live long and prosper with hundreds of devoted “Trekkies” at the American Cinematheque’s Star Trek At 50 Celebration. Fans can enjoy screenings of the first three Trek movies and sit in on conversations from some of the people behind the series. The late Leonard Nimoy’s son will also be on hand to debut a new documentary called For The Love Of Spock. It’s a great way to escape into the world of science fiction and it runs just $11. American Cinematheque’s site has all the info.


Long Beach International Lobster Festival

What better way to soak in a SoCal Sunday than with steamed lobsters on a sandy beach? From noon-10pm, Long Beach’s Rainbow Lagoon will be hosting the 20th Annual Original Lobster Fest. Guests can indulge on juicy tails and a variety of home cooked seafood, as well as karaoke entertainment and a live band. The event is also completely family-friendly, with costume contests and great souvenirs for the kids in the family. This one is highly recommended for all of our “foodie” fans, with ticket info available on the official Fest site.


Paley Fest Fall TV Preview

If you love TV and celebrities, the Paley Center’s annual Fall Preview Event is a great Sober SoCal option. Guests can watch full episodes of upcoming shows from ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. They can also sit with the stars and creators of the programs, as they discuss production details. Headliners who will be participating this weekend include Damon Wayans, Mandy Moore and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Seats vary in price and they move fast, so if you’re a TV lover we highly recommend visiting their Tickets Page.


Are you involved in any recovery-friendly events happening in the next few weeks? If so, shoot us an email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com and we’ll make sure to include them in our next Sober SoCal list!




Revisiting Recovery And Understanding The ‘Tune-Up’

This week, legendary comedian Chevy Chase made headlines after checking into a recovery program nearly 30 years after successfully completing a stint at The Betty Ford Center. Chase, through his rep, was completely honest about his sobriety slip and called his return nothing more than a “tune up.” We, for one, admire Chevy’s bravery with the press and his openness to revisiting a recovery program after decades of being clean. In our minds, this opens a much larger issue: Returning to a recovery program years after the fact.


We’re the first ones to admit that recovery isn’t perfect for everyone. We’d love to think that once you complete a treatment program you’re set for life, but for many that just isn’t the case. Recovery is, for many people, a work in progress and slip-ups can occur (sometimes decades later). Chevy Chase certainly isn’t the first celebrity to openly check into rehab for a tune up. Newsroom star Jeff Daniels recently revealed that he returned to recovery at age 56, after 14 years of being clean and sober. Celebs like Steven Tyler and Lisa-Marie Presley have openly gone through recovery multiple times. The key, of course, is not letting pride get in the way and embracing the fact that certain temptations still exist. Never let a relapse or an unexpected bender shatter the progress you have made. Just get back on the wagon and continue the fight for sobriety.


The Decision To Return To Recovery

If any of the symptoms above describe feelings you’ve gone through, it’s important to do a self-evaluation. There are a few checklist indicators you can do to see if returning to a recovery program is the right move. First, come clean about any relapses that may have occurred. Even if it was a quick night of drinking, it breaks the cycle of sobriety and can lead to a downward spiral. It’s important to remember that relapse rates can reach over 50 percent during the first four years of being clean, so an incident like this is not uncommon.


One other term commonly used in recovery is “slip.” Not as severe as a relapse, a “slip” can include a brief moment of using or a glass of wine after beating alcoholism. Most people can immediately recognize a slip and abruptly stop themselves. Regardless, this should at least merit a meeting; where triggers can be discussed and identified.


Differentiating The Second Round

If indeed it is appropriate to return to a recovery program, keep in mind that new methods and treatments will be put in place. At Valley Recovery Center, we tailor all of our programs based on the individual. If you are back for a “tune up” or second visit, new counseling sessions will be put in place, as well as explorations into trigger points and post-recovery events.


It’s hard for people to hear, but addiction truly is a lifelong disease. Struggles will never disappear with the snap of a finger and guilt should never hinder your sobriety. We understand how hard it is to come to terms with a relapse, a slip or even a new temptation. Just understand that these feelings are completely normal and completely treatable. If you were able to successfully beat your cravings once, we are certain you can do it again.


If you or someone you love is in need of a “tune up,” please give us a call at (866) 986-2486.


Addiction Article Recap: Week of Sept 5

Happy post-Labor Day from Valley Recovery Center! Despite the holiday weekend, plenty of addiction-related headlines are continuing to draw attention. This week, President Obama made an effective statement against drug convictions, synthetic marijuana (aka K2) created more emergency room havoc and a notable movie star publicly celebrated 48 years of sobriety.


We invite you to scroll through all of these important (and fascinating) stories in latest edition of our Addiction Article Recap!


Headline #1: President Obama Commutes Sentences For Non-Violent Drug Offenders

As he winds down his presidency, Barack Obama is becoming more and more vocal about addiction tolerance within the U.S. One new way he accomplished this was by granting clemency for more than 111 non-violent offenders in America’s prison system. This only adds to Obama’s total list of 673 commuted sentences, which is more than the past 10 previous Presidents combined. Speaking about Obama’s clemency for drug offenders, White House spokesperson Neil Eggleston explained, “Today’s 111 commutation grants underscore the President’s commitment to using his clemency authority to provide a second chance to deserving individuals. We must remember that these are individuals—sons, daughters, parents, and in many cases, grandparents—who have taken steps toward rehabilitation and who have earned their second chance.” Eggleston went on to add that the work to free non-violent drug offenders is still far from over and that greater legislation needs to be put in place to ensure that those accused great proper treatment instead of lengthy prison terms.


Headline #2: K2 Causes More Hospitalizations

Labor Day Weekend was certainly not all fun and games for doctors at Austin Texas emergency rooms. According to reports, more than 90 people were hospitalized throughout the past week because of synthetic marijuana (or K2) overdoses. At its worst, 52 patients were treated within  a course of 24 hours; primarily from the city’s homeless population. Local police have revealed that there have 526 K2-related 911 calls this year alone, far surpassing 2015. The issue at hand (which we’ve covered before) has to do with extra potent batches of the drug and users unknowingly taking more than their bodies can handle. Unlike typical marijuana, K2 includes a myriad of chemicals and additives which can have strong reactions when taken in large quantities. All we can say is those 90 Austin residents were actually quite lucky. They happened to survive. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently revealed that the synthetic marijuana death rate has tripled within the last year.


Headline #3: Danny Trejo Celebrates 48 Years Of Sobriety

In a recent interview with The New York Post, cinema icon Danny Trejo offered a very telling statement. “I consider myself 48-years-old,” he said. “That’s when my life started.” Keep in mind that Trejo is actually 72. His sobriety has been for the past 48 years. A star of hits like Machete and From Dusk Til Dawn, Trejo was once a convicted felon serving hard time. It was during his prison stint that he gave up drugs and alcohol, choosing to focus his energies on his career and his family. Since becoming a star, Danny has chosen to use his fame to help others battling addiction. “I help at-risk kids, I go to high schools. I do whatever I can,” he added. “I will get their attention before you or a doctor or a nurse or a plumber or anybody. It helps me with what I love doing.” Congratulations Danny and keep up the good work!


Understanding Cocaine Cravings

You’d be surprised to hear how many patients we’ve worked with who have battled cocaine abuse. Highly addictive and commonplace across all walks of life, it is a deadly drug that is actually quite prevalent throughout Southern California. Though “coke” tends to get glamorized in action movies and crime dramas, it is, in actuality, a lethal stimulant that requires an intense recovery treatment to kick. For this blog we thought we’d explore the habit further, emphasizing cocaine’s deadly nature and the steps needed to rid it from your life.


The Truth About Cocaine

Cocaine is classified as a stimulant, extracted from the leaves of the Erythroxylon coca plant most common in South America. Laboratories process the drug into a powder and quite often blend it with an array of chemicals and substances before it hits the streets. This actually makes it even more dangerous because addicts never know exactly what gets cut into their batch. One bag, for example, could be much more potent than another, risking the chance of a heart attack or overdose on first use.


The Lethal Consequences

Science has proven that cocaine users are put at a much higher risk for heart attacks and strokes. Constant abuse can harden arteries, raise blood pressure and thicken the walls of the heart muscle. Truth be told, chronic coke abusers are 35 percent more likely to have permanent heart problems at some point in their lives.


And let’s not forget the OD component. Snorting too much cocaine in one sitting can cause seizures, respiratory failure, cerebral hemorrhaging and/or a stroke. And even people who survive cocaine overdoses can suffer long term brain damage and impaired cognitive abilities.


What Can Be Done?

When we admit heavy cocaine users, the immediate first step is a detox treatment. As we mentioned before, this is a highly addictive drug which can trigger intense cravings. So how does the process work?


For starters, we always need to evaluate how much time it will take for the cocaine to leave a person’s system. People who have been using for years (also known as “extreme dependence”) will usually experience a much more intense withdrawal process. Sometimes it can even take weeks to resolve.


If you were a cocaine abuser and began the detox/withdrawal process, it’s common to feel sever remorse and depression within the first 72 hours. Irritability is common too, as is a bit of confusion. By day seven however, the intense cravings begin to decrease. Tiredness often ensues, as do returning feelings of anxiety and paranoia. Keep in mind that this is very normal, as the body learns to process daily life without the drug.


We believe the first week of withdrawal is critical. Patients who survive that tend to have a much easier time with the remaining portion of the recovery process. Some don’t of course, which means more intense detoxing and a regimen that is supportive and strict.


Living Without It

Life beyond the initial detox includes counseling sessions, group discussions and dietary changes that encourage health and wellness. We know how challenging it is to let go of this addiction and we know cocaine temptations will always be out there. But with proper support and a strong recovery regimen, success is achievable.


Sober SoCal Weekend: Labor Day Edition

Followers of our Valley Recovery Center blog are well aware of our Sober SoCal Weekend series. Here, we proudly profile great local activities that do not promote drug or alcohol use. And this time around, we’ve a got a bonus day to work with as we head into the last “official” break of summer…better known as Labor Day Weekend!


Los Angeles Fleet Week

The Port of Los Angeles will be holding an amazing Fleet Week festival for the entire Labor Day Weekend. There will be everything from aircraft carrier tours, to high-flying plane demonstrations. Guests will also be able to explore the city’s legendary Maritime Museum and listen to lectures from decorated U.S. Naval Officers. Music and food will be on hand too, complete with patriotic themes. And the best part? Ticket sales go towards the armed services, which means you’ll be supporting the men and women who are putting their lives on the line to protect the country.


The L.A. County Fair

A local tradition for decades, the L.A. County Fair offers a wide variety of activities for sober thrill-seekers. There are high-rising carnival rides, fantastic live bands (including a lineup of 70’s “old school” heroes on September 2) and some of the tastiest eats in SoCal. This year is also bringing some brand new exhibits, including Historic Trains, Drought Tolerant Farms and Jurassic Planet. A great outing for families or first dates, it packs a lot of adventure for a reasonable price. Kickoff weekend tickets run just $20. Make sure to visit their official Fair site for all of the details.


Union Station Concerts

Fans of Downtown L.A. should definitely check out Saturday’s Union Station Concert. This ongoing series is absolutely free and features tasty food and amazing live jams from artists like Spencer Ludwig and Bryce Fox. Guests can also tour the city’s historic Olvera Street located right across from the Station. And if you’re feeling extra ambitious, check out their train schedule and perhaps book a day trip to San Diego or Ventura County.


Fishing On The L.A. River

Though it may sound strange, there are actually Labor Day fishing expeditions happening around our own L.A. River near San Fernando Road. Titled “Off Tha Hook,” this Saturday outing is now in its third year and lets guests participate in a supervised catch and release competition. Pay $35 and you’ll get bait, a basket and your own fishing pole. Experts will be on hand to measure what you reel in and classify every fish caught. Kids can participate too (for free) and several seafood stands will be set up to provide tasty eats throughout the afternoon.


Labor Day Pet Adoptions

At Valley Recovery Center, we have seen tremendous success with our pet therapy programs. And for anyone new to sobriety, having a four-legged friend can be extremely beneficial. They provide love, support and can even serve as an inspiration during challenging times. That’s why this weekend, we are proud to tout Mission Hill’s Best Friends Animal Society. They’ll be open Saturday and Sunday, with special pet adoption events highlighting both cats and dogs. It could make for a great excursion and a great opportunity to bond with a new BFF.