Sober SoCal Weekend: Halloween Edition

Here we are, just a few days from the end of October and the always eventful Halloween night. As we mentioned in a previous blog, All Hallow’s Eve can certainly bring dangerous temptations. So if you need some quick sober words of wisdom, we recommend checking it out. Beyond that, we’re happy to share a variety of clean weekend activities as part of our Sober SoCal series. Whether you’re into dressing up, letting loose with live music or avoiding the holiday altogether, we’ve got plenty of options to choose from.

 

So Enjoy! And don’t forget, if you have your own Sober SoCal ideas; share via email to valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

Now Hear This Podcast Festival

Let’s start things off with an idea for those who do not enjoy the costumed shenanigans. If you’re looking for a fright-free Friday night, we recommend heading out to the Anaheim Convention Center for the Now Hear This Podcast Festival. Gathering a who’s who of online radio personalities, this outing includes meet and greets with the likes of Marc Maron (who happens to be a big recovery advocate), Scott Aukerman and Paul Scheer. Plus there will be live broadcasts of the Criminal and Comedy Bang! Bang! shows. Tickets are a tad pricey for this event, with single day passes running $50 to $100.

 

Stan Lee’s L.A. Comic Con

Now, for those who DO enjoy dressing up (particularly during the day), Stan Lee’s Comic Con is a great weekend excursion. This event runs Friday through Saturday at the L.A. Convention Center and features, you guessed it, legendary Marvel founder Stan Lee. There will also be dozens of famed comic book artists and writers, as well as sci-fi actors and even Taboo from the Black Eye Peas! As with all Comic Cons, superhero outfits are almost a requirement and (happily) drugs and alcohol are not. Click here to get more info about this event.

 

Dia De Los Muertos At Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Another great family-friendly event that is absolutely alcohol free. Hollywood Cemetery’s Dia De Los Muertos Celebration has been a Los Angeles tradition for years. Plus, it offers some fantastic cultural elements; honoring the traditions of Mexico and Latin America. This year’s event features a wide variety of Spanish artists on the music stage, as well as colorful altars and crafting stations. Painted faces are welcomed too, so if you’re feeling festive; give it a try. Tickets run $20 and can be purchased at the door.

 

Huntington Gardens Plant Festival

Bringing things back full circle, we’re offering one more non-Halloween option for the readers. In our sessions, we have seen gardening as a very therapeutic outlet for those on the clean and sober path. That’s why we’re recommending the Huntington Gardens Plant Event for a great Sunday activity. From 10:30am – 5:00pm, the famed Library and Garden center will be offering everything from drought-tolerant cacti, to beautiful grasses and shrubs; all at phenomenal prices. This is a great tranquil option and can certainly distract you from wild temptations arriving before Halloween night. Plus, caring for a plant offers is a great new way to focus your energies. Click here for details on their Sunday sale.

 

 

 

 

PTSD And Addiction

We look at veterans as heroes. People who have served our country and made incredible sacrifices for American freedom. But tragically, even heroes can fall prey to addiction. And, believe it or not, people who have seen combat may even be more likely. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (or PTSD) can wreak havoc on someone’s emotional health and wellness, driving them to “self medicate.” For this blog, we wanted to look deeper into this growing trend and offer hope to anyone who is dealing with these issues.

 

The Facts About Addiction And PTSD

This may come off surprising; but according to The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, more than two out of every 10 veterans suffering from PTSD also have an addiction issue. Studies have also shown that war veterans tend to be binge drinking alcoholics, often going to the point of blacking out to ease their emotional pain. In regards to the recent Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the VA claims that one out of every 10 returning soldiers has a drug or alcohol problem.

 

And as we mentioned above, this is not an issue that is going away anytime soon. In fact, many recent stats show an increase in drug and alcohol abuse among military personnel.  A survey conducted earlier this decade revealed a 56 percent increase of soldiers seeking treatment from 2003 to 2009. There is also data that shows 3.8 million painkiller prescriptions were written by military doctors in 2009. And keep in mind, this was BEFORE the opioid epidemic became widespread.

 

Common Addictions Among Military Personnel

PTSD can be tremendously distressing. Watching death and carnage before your eyes haunts many soldiers for a lifetime. That’s why it’s easy to see a large painkiller dependency among that population; specifically Lortab, Vicodin and OxyContin. Valium, Xanax and Ambien are also high on that list and are regularly prescribed to sufferers of PTSD.

 

Drinking problems occur frequently among those currently serving. Many soldiers are far away from home and dealing with tense situations. As with most addictions, the alcoholism is used as a form of comfort and a way to ease the pain.

 

Properly Treating Addiction Patients With PTSD 

People diagnosed with PTSD carry a wide range of symptoms, including aggression, insomnia, low self-esteem and depression. It is also believed that PTSD sufferers often engage in self-destructive behavior, which is where the addiction comes into play.

 

We have seen our share of PTSD veterans at Valley Recovery Center and we have trained facilitators to address the delicacies of their situation. Our treatments have shown one-on-one counseling to be an important recovery tool. It gives the person suffering a private and safe forum to express their deepest emotions. Though it may be difficult, our medical professionals work to help these patients explore their past traumas and how they tie into their current state of using.

 

Cognitive processing is another effective treatment method. This works to change the way a patient feels about their dependency and their upsetting emotions. It is a form of behavioral therapy that teaches specific skills to combat negative thoughts. There are also writing assignments and “homework” exercises to channel a patient’s focus into new areas.

 

As we mentioned above, we proudly salute any hero who has served this country. And we can’t tell you how rewarding it is for us to see a PTSD patient successfully conquer their addictions. If you or someone you love has served and is suffering, please let us help.

 

 

 

Staying Sober On Halloween

This weekend, expect lots of parties and lots of temptations as the festive night owls dress up and let loose for Halloween. And while we certainly encourage fun and companionship, there are some important things to keep in mind about this holiday. For one thing, it’s been proven to create a larger substance abuse risk for teens and young adults. Halloween also sees dramatic spikes in drunk driving fatalities and intoxicated violence. That’s why we thought we’d share some facts (and tips) on how to embrace a “clean” Halloween.

 

Alcoholic Temptations

Not surprisingly, alcohol tends to be vice most closely associated with Halloween. Yes, party drugs like ecstasy can creep their way into “Haunted Raves,” but for the most part, drunken partying is where we see the most addictive behavior. Bars almost always host spooky theme nights and let’s not forget the costume parties and late night mischief that involves massive beer consumption. Unfortunately, that is often the stigma of grown up Halloween celebrations…But it doesn’t have to be.

 

We’ll get into sober ideas further down below. Right now, let’s shine a light on those most at risk of forming an addiction habit on Halloween. That group would be (you guessed it) teens and adolescents. Alcohol experimentation is commonplace among 13-20 year olds and usually begins around some type of event. High school Halloween parties are a prime example, with teens often surrounded by peer pressure and accessible alcohol. The need to “fit in” could lead to that very first drink, creating the spiral into alcoholism.

 

Also, the fact that Time Magazine listed Halloween as one of the “Top 10 Drunkest Holidays” isn’t encouraging. The bottom line is, Halloween has become famous as a night of mischief and with young adults, “mischief” often goes along with alcoholic indulgences.

 

How To Celebrate Halloween Sobriety

The good news about Halloween is, there are plenty of ways to enjoy it sober. If you have young ones in the family, why not do some old fashioned trick-or-treating? Reliving childhood innocence is a great way to spend Halloween night and it allows you be just as festive (and just as dressed up) as any Saturday night party.

 

If you’re feeling tempted, Halloween is also a great night to attend a recovery support meeting. Our facility certainly accommodates former addiction sufferers on major holidays like this one. Surrounding yourself with other recovering friends will show you that you’re not alone in your struggle. It will also distract you from the noise and chatter.

 

In our Sober SoCal Weekends, we have outlined dozens of ways to keep with the spooky spirit of things and not use. There are classic horror movie showings, sober haunted house tours and even monster art exhibits to keep you festive (and away from temptation).

 

We understand how challenging a holiday like this can be. And as we look ahead, Halloween quickly leads right into Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s (all of which have a high relapse ratio). We encourage you to stay ahead of the curve and start working out your temptation issues now.

 

If you sense a struggle coming in the months ahead, reach out to Valley Recovery Center at (866) 986-2486. We’re here and we’re happy to help.

 

Addiction Article Recap: Week of Oct 24

As you can imagine, recovery related articles never seem to slow down. Every week, legislators, celebrities, scientists and researchers enter news feeds with important updates about the state of addiction. And while it may be hard for the average headline junkie to keep up, we at Valley Recovery Center keep a close eye on everything. This week, we’ve pulled together even more stories that shine a light on our industry. Everything from social media, to new narcotics, to scary stats about alcoholism. These are all very important and we hope you can spread the word, just like we do.

 

And as always; if you have story ideas that you think we missed, shoot us an email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com. We’ll make sure to include it in the next Recap.

 

Headline #1: The Dangerous Potency of ‘Pink’

Every few years, a new “trendy” drug seems to enter the marketplace, captivating young users and amplifying the nation’s addiction epidemic. This year “Pink” appears to be the narcotic of choice, which consists of a variety of synthetic opioids. Drugs like carfentanil, ifentanyl and furanyl fentanyl make up Pink’s DNA, creating a sensation that authorities describe as “similar to morphine and heroin.” The other scary stat about Pink is that it’s incredibly inexpensive, costing just $5 a bag. As you can imagine, a cocktail like that can easily wreak havoc among Americans already addicted and it most certainly has. Since January Pink has been responsible for at least 80 deaths, with some victims as young as 13. Worst of all, because it’s so new; Pink is only illegal in four states. Right now, regions across the heartland have been impacted most; but we are certain, if not properly contained, Pink could lead to major OD issues on our home turf as well.

 

Headline #2: Social Media And Substance Abuse

We all know social media can create addiction issues to smartphones and tablets, but now there is scientific data illustrating its links to alcohol and drug abuse. A new survey from Project Now delved into platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and discovered that 70 percent of teens who regularly use social channels have a tendency toward underage drinking. 2,000 high schoolers were included in the research, which also found strong links between active networkers and marijuana. When asked, the teens revealed that followers and friends online added more pressure to use. The group also vastly overestimated the amount of peers engaging in underage drinking, justifying (in their minds) its acceptability. Clearly social media will continue to be part of our lives; but if you have teens at home, do your best to monitor their usage and make sure that they’re “Friending” positive influences.

 

Headline #3: Female Alcoholism Is On The Rise

Though most of the beer commercials we see on TV are geared towards men, don’t be fooled. According to a new BBC study, alcoholism among women has been steadily rising for the past several decades. In the early to mid 1900’s, men were shown to be twice as likely to drink alcohol than women. But currently that gap has closed to just 1.1. times more likely. Scientists behind the study found these stats very troubling and voiced their opinions about educating more women about the dangers of drinking. “The present study suggests that young women, in particular, should be the target of concerted efforts to reduce the impact of substance use and related harms,” researcher Mark Petticrew explained. “Health professionals need to help the public – both men and women – to understand the health risks of alcohol consumption, and how to reduce those risks.” We couldn’t agree more.

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Oct 21-23

TGIF! Another Friday is upon us, which means it’s time to start planning some Sober SoCal Weekend activities. This time out, we’ve gathered some fun, active fall ideas that do not involve drugs or alcohol. Whether you’re into extreme rock climbing, vinyl jams, works of art or Halloween escape rooms, we’re confident you’ll find at least one outing on this list to get excited about. So break out your day planner, pencil in these ideas and go enjoy your sobriety!

 

And as always, if you have your October Sober SoCal ideas to share, shoot us an email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com. We’ll make sure that they get on the next list.

 

Enigma Escape Rooms

Something for people with a quizzical mind, Hollywood’s Enigma Escape Room is a great activity for Halloween mystery fans. Guests can choose from five different scenarios, including ancient temples, 1940’s crime scenes and and even a spooky seance. What puts this brand above the rest is their attention to detail. Enigma’s rooms incorporate technology, innovative storylines and some great gadgetry. They’re also very challenging, mixing fun with a close attention to detail (a nice exercise for the sober mind). To find about their pricing and schedules, click here.

 

Art Night Pasadena

Followers of our Sober SoCal series know that we are big fans of artistic endeavors and this Friday, Pasadena is hosting a special Art Night Out. Throughout the evening, special shuttle buses will take guests across the city to visit famed galleries like the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Norton Simon Museum. Aficionados will also get to be one of the first patrons to view Norton Simon’s new Pablo Picasso exhibition. As we mentioned above, alcohol will not be present…But delicious food trucks will! Including the tasty Pie n’ Burger and Coolhaus ice cream. Click here to learn more about this exciting event.

 

Crate Diggers L.A.

We know what you’re thinking, but (believe it or not) Crate Diggers L.A. is actually not a Halloween-themed event. It is, in fact, an amazing Saturday morning excursion for lovers of vinyl music. Over 30 vendors will be lining up across Downtown’s Lot 613, selling rare records from decades’ past. This one promises to have tons of hidden gems and even caters to the DJ crowd, with live turntables throughout the afternoon. The event runs from the morning until 6pm and should be a great opportunity for you to build your sober soundtrack. For details on Crate Diggers, click here.

 

Rock N’ Rope Adventures

And last but not least, a great way to stay clean and burn calories. Sunday morning’s Rock n’ Rope Adventure encourages healthy living (and bicep building), with a sturdy rock climb up one of the tallest peaks in Malibu Creek State Park. Guides will be onhand from 9am on, servicing extreme athletes of all levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced wall scaler, this is a great way to work out and bond with friends who embrace an active lifestyle. For details on the climb, click here.

 

 

 

Why Addiction Needs To Be Viewed As A Neurological Disease

You’ve often seen us write about the disease of addiction. And though, in most cases, “disease” is not a diagnosis someone would be happy with, in our world it’s a big plus. Getting the medical community (and the public at large) to see drug and alcohol dependence as a neurological craving and not a behaviorial problem is key because it shows that people who use often do not have control over their urges. This is a fact that has been supported by science and one we want our audience to know about.

 

The Medical Diagnosis

To start things off, let’s look at which established organizations came to this conclusion. After decades of research and contributions from 80 experts, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) determined addiction to be a brain disease. Their widely-read report was both definitive and scientific, using countless case studies and empirical evidence to prove their point.

 

Former ASAM president, Dr. Michael Miller, released his statement on the findings back in 2011.

“At its core, addiction isn’t just a social problem or a moral problem or a criminal problem. It’s a brain problem whose behaviors manifest in all these other areas,”he wrote. “Many behaviors driven by addiction are real problems and sometimes criminal acts. But the disease is about brains, not drugs. It’s about underlying neurology, not outward actions.”

 

ASAM listed addiction as a primary disease, purposely distancing it from being a result of emotional or psychiatric issues. It also labeled it as a chronic disease, much like diabetes. This means it needs to be treated and managed throughout a person’s lifetime.

 

According to ASAM’s recognized research, neuroscience was one of the key elements in their drawing this conclusion. Advancements in brain monitoring led them to discover that addiction triggers the brain’s reward circuitry, which governs impulse control and judgment. This plays heavily into the argument that users do not have a choice over their behaviors.

 

Dr. Raju Hajela, a Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine chair (and ASAM researcher), delved further into the neurological impulses at play.

 

“The disease creates distortions in thinking, feelings and perceptions, which drive people to behave in ways that are not understandable to others around them,” he explained. “Simply put, addiction is not a choice. Addictive behaviors are a manifestation of the disease, not a cause.”

 

 

Why It’s Important To Our Community

Now that you’ve heard the science, it’s important to hear the emotional component. Knowing that your compulsions to use can be beyond your physical control is actually very relieving for our patients. It lifts the shame and guilt of a relapse. It provides hope that treatment and science can rid them of this disease. This is an essential message and every day we work to spread it; changing the stigma of addiction.

 

We want those in recovery to know that they are not “broken” and they are not bad people. They are simply battling an illness, much like someone suffering through heart disease. Does the world look down on a person crippled by arthritis? Of course not. And they should never look down on someone who’s capacity is limited by addiction. Just like all chronic illnesses…This is not a death sentence. This is not something to be ashamed of. It is something out of your control that can be treated and maintained with the proper set of tools.

 

Spotlight On Acunpuncturist Natalia Plotkin

It’s been a while since we shone the spotlight on a tried and true recovery advocate. And this week, we thought we’d highlight one of our own. Acupuncture extraordinaire Natalia Plotkin plays a pivotal role in the healing and recovery process of our patients. Her techniques are a vital component to the Valley Recovery Center treatment plan, improving both the physical and mental being. Natalia is also a professional masseuse and dedicated devotee to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

 

For this Spotlight, we thought we’d introduce you to both Natalia and the importance of TCM in recovery.

 

A Personal Connection

Natalia is a shining example of someone who practices what she preaches. Not only is she highly educated, with a Master of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as a recognition from the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture, she’s someone who has benefitted personally from the use of TCM.

 

As she explains on her site,

I wasn’t well, and western medicine wasn’t working.  For two years I was in almost continual pain, and it required me to be on various prescribed medications that I was supposed to stay on for the rest of my life. A friend of mine suggested that I try a Wellness Center that practices Traditional Chinese Medicine. I went there and within three months I got off medication. It was also clear that this was the profession I wanted to learn. Four years later, I got my Master diploma, state license and national certification to practice this wonderful discipline.”

 

The Treatments

To understand why acupuncture works so well in recovery, it’s important to understand the practice itself. TCM focuses on a vital internal energy called Qi, which circulates through the body and helps maintain balance. Acupuncture works to stimulate specific pressure points, which block the flow of qi. It is applied by inserting fine, sterile and single-use needles into specified areas; all within a calm, meditative setting.

 

Massage (or the TCM practice of Gwa Sha) also helps with the process, increasing circulation and creating an overall feeling of physical wellness. Natalia takes her work even further, offering nutritional counseling and relaxation techniques; which are essential after going through a traumatic addiction.

 

Recovery Success

The truth is, acupuncture and TCM have solid scientific data backing up their success as recovery tools. Yale University, for example, conducted a study in 2000 which showed that nearly 55 percent of cocaine addicts receiving acupuncture recovery methods tested clean after graduating treatment. There is also evidence that having TCM in their regimen encourages patients to see their program to the very end. The Journal of Dual Diagnosis found that 61% of the patients who participated in biweekly acupuncture sessions completed their entire treatment program, compared to only 32% of the acupuncture abstainers.

 

TCM also helps create a calming environment for patients, alleviating feelings of anger and distress. In our facility, we have seen tremendous success with Natalia’s work. A proper recovery program requires inner and outer healing and we have found that acupuncture easily satisfies both needs.

 

To find out more about our acupuncture and TCM treatment methods, reach out to Valley Recovery Center at (866) 986-2486.

 

 

 

Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Oct 17

It certainly has been an interesting week for addiction headlines. Stories relating to drugs, alcohol and recovery tend to get buried amid the political scandals, but we feel they’re more important than ever. That’s why we continue to gather important news items for our Addiction Article Recap. This week centers around some disconcerning California stats, a technological approach to recovery and music that spreads the message of sobriety.

 

Dive in to these latest headlines and remember, if you have your own article to share; send it our way via email.

 

Headline #1: California Leads The Country In Opioid Deaths

Definitely not a statistic to be proud of. This week, the Senate Committee on Finance revealed that California had more opioid-related deaths than any other state in the nation. Their report also claims that the number of opioid overdoses has quadrupled within the past 17 years. Translation: roughly 78 deaths each day! But we know what you’re thinking. What is happening in our home state? Well, the study claims that most of our 4,521 annual opioid fatalities occur in rural regions; particularly in the north. It also said that the reason for the deaths had to do with treatment availability. The Committee found that 91 percent of Californians in need of treatment were unable to access proper services. Their recommendation was for the state to receive better funding to allow more hospital beds and trained facilitators. We think they make a very good case and are hopeful that Congress answers the call.

 

Headline #2: Bioelectronics And Recovery

It’s not often you hear an addiction recovery story in the tech section of USA Today, but this one made the front page. Apparently, a new trend in our industry centers around bioelectronics. Researchers have claimed that small bioelectronic devices can help stimulate nerves and literally “shock” an addiction out of you. Obviously this sounds quite skeptical, as electroshock therapy proved to be a disastrous method for “curing” mental illness decades ago. This new technology, however, claims to be much gentler and more scientific. Used as implants, they supposedly tap into the vagus nerve; which is a calming agent in the brain. From there, researchers allege that they can “coax the brain” to stop wanting to use. The scientists point to success stories in the realm of depression and anxiety and even were able to get the FDA to take notice. But it is still very much in the startup phase, with companies feverishly working on developing the technology. This is one we’ll have to see to believe. In our opinion, recovery takes a lot more than the flick of a switch.

 

Headline #3: New Korn Sobriety Song

We already told you how the band Korn helped launch an amazing recovery initiative. Well now they’re continuing to spread the message of sobriety with their new song, “Take Me.” Written by frontman Jonathan Davis, it includes insightful lyrics that are told from the perspective of a drug itself. He said he was inspired by previous recovery songs, including Brad Paisley’s “Alcohol.” Regardless of your musical tastes, “Take Me” is certainly worth a listen and can be heard in its entirety below.

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Oct 14-16

It’s hard to believe, but we’re just two weeks away from Halloween. So, just like with our previous weekend blogs, we’ve blended a nice amount of spooky Sober SoCal ideas that celebrate the holiday. Starting Friday, you can enjoy a theatre screening of a classic slasher flick, learn how trick-or-treat masks are made, participate in a quirky circus (no creepy clowns, we promise) or do a downtown bike tour. All are great weekend ideas that do not promote the use of drugs and alcohol.

 

So read on and enjoy! And don’t forget; if you have Sober SoCal Weekend news that you’d like to share, shoot us an email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com. We’ll make sure to include it in our next list!

 

Halloween: The Movie

Who can forget the 1978 classic, Halloween? This was literally the horror movie that started them all, blending creative filmmaking with a ghoulish psycho killer. The Halloween franchise spawned countless sequels and was the direct inspiration for flicks like Scream and Friday The 13th. Well now, the original movie is being brought back to the big screen for one night only. Santa Monica’s Nuart Theatre is showing it, in its entirety, this Friday at midnight. Tickets are just $11 and it’s not unlikely for surprise guests to show up and introduce the film. Click here for details.

 

The Art Of Halloween Masks

If you have fond memories of wearing costumes and trick-or-treating, Saturday’s “Art of Halloween Masks” is a definite must. Downtown’s Lethal Amounts Gallery is hosting the exhibit, which will be displaying amazing rubber Halloween artwork dating back to the 1960’s. You can see what went into the earliest masks and hear stories from special effects artists who create state-of-the-art costumes today. As you can tell by this week’s cover photo, we’re BIG fans of this Sober SoCal idea and encourage any festive follower to give it a look. Best of all, the event is absolutely free! To find out more, visit the official gallery site.

 

Luminal Circus

Keeping somewhat in line with Halloween, Inglewood’s Luminal Circus showcases wild costumes, acrobatics and stunts, all with a special glow-in-the-dark twist. This unique event has won the L.A. critics over for its originality and entertainment value. Guests are treated to  a showcase of outrageous performers doing their gymnastics completely in the dark. Strobe lights, glow sticks and lasers illuminate the acts making for an amazing visual experience. There is also slight of hand and elements of a true magic show. Definitely fun and definitely in the vein of an October night out. These artists recently toured with the L.A. County Fair and deserve this fantastic increased attention. For details on Saturday night’s show, click here.

 

Sunday CicLAvia

One last sobriety-friendly event is Sunday’s Downtown CicLAvia Bike Tour. This one is completely family-friendly and is great for early weekend risers. Dubbed “Heart of L.A.” it takes cyclists through areas like Chinatown, Boyle Heights and Echo Park. It’s a fantastic tour of historic city districts and can help burn off extra calories. More importantly, it’s the last CicLAvia of the season and a great excuse to soak up what’s left of the fading summer sun. Details for the ride can be found here.

 

 

 

Why Romance Doesn’t Work During Recovery

Believe us when we say that we are strong proponents of the power of love. But, through our years of experience, we have learned that forming a new romantic relationship during the recovery process almost always leads to heartache. There’s a reason that Valley Recovery Center is a men’s only facility and that’s because when your’e battling an addiction, your only focus should be the process at hand.

 

First let’s explore the very normal emotion of wanting love during the recovery process…

 

Filling The Void

So, you’ve finally made the decision to shun drugs and alcohol. It’s obvious there will be a feeling of emptiness during the beginning of that process. For better or worse, these substances were part of your daily life and now loss becomes a constant emotion. In many cases, people entering recovery are also getting over a recently ended relationship. Addiction tears families apart. It also sends girlfriends packing and, more often than not, leaves the user alone. That is another major void for a person and can trigger the yearning for immediate companionship.

 

It’s important to understand that these are feelings you should be dealing with. You are human, after all. But keep in mind that this only a coping mechanism and it could be coming from an unhealthy place. Getting into an immediate relationship while in treatment isn’t just unfair to your sobriety, it’s unfair for the other person.

 

Common ‘Relationship In Recovery’ Problems

Not surprisingly, many people in recovery do go against their better judgment and begin a quick, passionate romance. Just like the vice you’re giving up, it may satisfy an urge in the moment…But it can create much more harm than good. One issue that tends to come up is honesty. People in recovery tend to divulge too much or too little information about themselves when starting a relationship. Just like with friends and acquaintances, you may want to keep the fact that you’re in a treatment program private. That is absolutely ok. But starting an intimate, potentially long-lasting romance on the grounds of deception is a recipe for trouble. On the flipside, being too honest about your addiction issues too early can scare certain people away. Of course, when you’re finished with the program, we encourage you to share your sobriety experience. But remember, there is a time and a place for everything.

 

Another common factor is the “Clinger” effect, where the new person in your life becomes an emotional substitute for your previous addiction. People in recovery often find themselves “addicted” to the new relationship, calling the other person relentlessly and exhibiting erratic emotions around them. This isn’t good for either of you and is a clear-cut sign that you haven’t fully let go of your demons.

 

Fragility

Last but not least is the “fragility” component. Let’s be honest, throughout recovery you are dealing with some very intense symptoms. On both a physical and emotional level, you are not running at full capacity. If you were to become infatuated with someone and they left you (for whatever reason), it could easily trigger a negative spiral or relapse.

 

As we mentioned before, Valley Recovery Center is a treatment facility designated for men-only. Our focus has always been on you beating your addiction first. Trust us when we say that there will be plenty of time for romance (which we highly encourage), once your treatment in complete. To learn more about our unique approach to recovery, reach out at (866) 986-2486.

 

 

Addiction Article Recap: Week of Oct 10

Between candidate debates and leaked audio tapes, it has certainly been a busy few days for news outlets. But unfortunately, politics does tend to bury other important headlines. That’s part of the reason we established our ongoing Addiction Article Recap. It is here where you can catch up on the important recovery and addiction stories you may have missed. This week, for example, we’ve got important pieces about presidential drug pardons, personal opioid educators and dangerous fashion lines. Every one is a little bit different, but important to the people and patients in our field.

 

And as always, if you have a headline that you’d like to see us include, reach out via valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

Headline #1: More Presidential Drug Pardons

In a continued gesture of support for the recovery community, President Barack Obama commuted 102 more sentences of federal prisoners serving time for drug charges. This now brings his clemency total to 774 and aligns with his Clemency Project, which was launched in 2014. His Project has put a strong emphasis on releasing, as he puts it, “tens of thousands of over-sentenced, non-violent drug offenders.”  Obama’s work has received support from dozens of organizations, particularly Families Against Mandatory Minimums. As they said in a statement, his work has made tremendous strides. BUT it is just as important for the next Commander-In-Chief to send the same message.

 

Headline #2: Door-To-Door Opioid Addiction Advocates

Over in Atlantic City, New Jersey, another anti-addiction movement is taking place. This one is using some unique and unconventional methods to educate community members about the dangers of opioids. Last Thursday, more than 2,000 volunteers participated in the city’s first Knock Out Opiate Abuse Day; organized by Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. “Knock” happened to be the key word, since the residents literally visited thousands of front doors spreading the message about opioid addiction. Volunteers handed out flyers, important emergency numbers and special informative doorknob hangers for people who weren’t home. Local police deemed the program a tremendous success.“It’s an important message, and to have thousands of people out on the streets of New Jersey is very exciting and crucial to stem the epidemic in this state,” program spokesman Angelo Valente said.

 

Headline #3: Nordstrom’s Under Fire For Addiction-Themed Clothing Line

It’s not often you hear “fashion” mentioned in a Valley Recovery Center blog, but this week the topic did make headlines (for all the wrong reasons). Nordstrom’s went under major fire for carrying an Italian clothing line that appeared to mock the disease of addiction. The brand Moschino created purses, shirts and accessories that resembles pill cases and opioids. Deemed insensitive by several national recovery groups, advocates are now urging the department store (and Saks Fifth Avenue, which also carries it) to drop the line immediately. Moschino has tried to defend their actions by adding disclaimers to each clothing item. Nevertheless, it is receiving thousands of letters of protest. “It’s promoting drug use,” national recovery advocate Randy Anderson told Fox News. “I’m really disgusted that any retail store thinks this is OK, especially when our country is going through what the CDC has called a drug overdose epidemic.” We, for one, agree and will certainly not be making any Nordstrom’s (or Saks) purchases in the near future.

 

The Concert To Face Addiction

You’ve heard us talk about Music Therapy many times in our Valley Recovery Center blogs. The truth is, whether its soothing classical sounds or “get on your feet and dance” jams, music heals and is a fantastic recovery tool. Artists within that industry have also become beacons of sobriety, publicly standing down their demons and beating the trappings of drug and alcohol. Well now, PBS plans to echo that statement by broadcasting the Concert To Face Addiction on October 20.

 

First a little backstory on the musicians involved and how their individual stories tie to the cause.

 

Steven Tyler

Steven Tyler is world-renowned for his work as the lead singer of Aerosmith. He’s also an inspirational recovery advocate, who has influenced millions with his lyrics. Songs like “Amazing” clearly spell out the beauty of recovery and how letting go of addiction can help you “see the light.” Steven has participated in countless sobriety charities, filmed PSA’s and beaten heroin multiple times. That’s right, Tyler has been battling drug issues since the 1970’s and publicly relapsed more than once. BUT…that did not stop him from moving forward and continuing his journey. If anyone deserves to be a headliner at this Concert, it’s him.

 

Joe Walsh

Headliner number two is legendary guitarist Joe Walsh. Since the 1970’s, his music has inspired millions; both as a solo artist and as a virtuoso member of the Eagles. Joe too has publicly battled addiction and written inspirational songs that illustrate his journey. Though not quite as famous as “Amazing,” his “One Day At A Time” track is hauntingly beautiful and truly documents the recovery experience. He’s also got fantastic guitar chops and promises to bring a tough, hard rocking edge to lineup.

 

As far as recovery advocacy goes, Joe has also been incredibly vocal and supportive. “One Day” is a song that continues to be in his set list and, when giving interviews, he openly discusses changes that need to be made.

 

“You know at this point, I think there are more recovered people than there have ever been, regardless of what their problem was,” he previously told SoundSpike.com. “But the sad thing is, about seven times as many people died before getting sober. That’s how bad addiction is. Addiction is a very human condition, and it’s ruining lives and families. It’s rampant and ruining this country and it’s time to say that out loud, to be heard, and to begin the painful process to get the government and the insurance companies and our whole society to recognize it as a medical condition.”

 

Sheryl Crow

The concert’s other big headliner, songstress Sheryl Crow has earned nine Grammy Awards and sold over 50 million albums. She also was a self-admitted alcoholic during the early 1990’s. Right at the peak of her fame, Sheryl drank before every show; partially to get over her nervousness. She has gone on to praise the power of sobriety and recovery programs that still help her to this day. When discussing her issue back in 2008, she said, “I did a lot of drinking early on because it helped me cope with what was happening. But I couldn’t deal with it. I’m small and skinny and just a couple of shots would get me drunk. A couple more and I’d be all over the place. I had to knock it on the head. Now the greatest buzz is performing sober.”

 

Beyond those amazing talents, the Concert To Face Addiction will also feature The Fray, Jason Isbell and Jonathan Butler. As we mentioned before, it’s set to air on PBS October 20 in Los Angeles. You can click here, for the fill list of showtimes and station names. Make sure to tune in!

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Oct 7-9

Are you starting to feel a chill in the air? It’s time for more Sober SoCal Weekend ideas that celebrate absolute fun without the assistance of drugs and alcohol. And now, with October in full force, we’re sharing family-friendly Halloween ideas, scary productions under beach lit skies and a little bit of artistry to keep things well rounded.

 

As always, if you have any “clean” events that you’d like us to highlight, you’re more than welcome to share them. Sober SoCal is an open forum or, as we like to think of it, a substance-free community celebration! Just email your ideas to valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com and we’ll make sure to include them in our next blog.

 

Haunted House Highlights

We completely understand the temptations a holiday like Halloween can bring. With wild costume parties, bar promotions and what have you, it’s very easy to be swept up into using during the festive nights of October. Well we’re here to tell you that there are plenty of other safe and sober celebrations available, including a slew of Creative Haunted Houses. A local L.A. blog recently listed some great tricked out Trick-or-Treat destinations that any horror fan can appreciate. Addresses are posted across Burbank, the Valley, Torrance and our very own Santa Clarita. Some are even set up for charity donations. Best of all, they’re all happening this weekend and certainly deserve a look if you’re recovering and and want to get into the “spirit” of things.

 

Getty Villa’s Outdoor Spectacle

Speaking of October frights, this Friday there’s another great Sober SoCal option that takes advantage of Halloween and clean living. Pacific Palisades’ Getty Villa museum is hosting a very special Cinema Under The Stars night, which features an outdoor production of Haunted House Party. This live theatre play blends spookiness with comedy, as Shakespearian actors dress up and put on a lively show. The critics have given House Party rave reviews, not just for the performances but for the beautiful ambiance. Here, you can sit under the beachside stars and enjoy delicious (non-alcoholic)beverages and appetizers. There’s also an outdoor screening of Monty Python’s Life of Brian after the play ends. Tickets are free, but parking runs $5.

 

Culver City Art Walk

Now don’t worry, this SoCal installment isn’t ALL about Halloween (just most of it is). If you prefer to have a scare-free sober experience, set your sights on Culver City and their annual Art District Art Walk on Saturday. This event has a little something for everyone. Art lovers (of course) can peruse exhibitions featuring pop pieces, sculptures, jewelry, chalk works and even unique landscaping designs. If you’re a voracious reader, Arcana Books will be exhibiting some amazing new writings; with authors in tow for discussions and autographs. There will also be live music from jazz bands, DJ’s, folk singers and alt-rockers. And don’t worry “foodies,” you’ll be well taken care of too. Trucks will be lined up all across Washington Blvd, slinging everything from gourmet tacos, to pastries, to tasty Asian fusion bowls. You can find out more about Culver’s 2016 Art Walk by clicking here!

 

 

Domestic Violence And Addiction

We understand that there are certain addiction-related topics that are very difficult to talk about. And, unfortunately, domestic violence happens to be one of them. It’s sad to say, but more often than not abusive spouses have some sort of dependency on drugs or alcohol. There are certainly psychological reasons for this, which we’ll explore in this blog. There are also statistics. Scary ones. Like the fact that 61 percent of domestic offenders have addiction problems. Even worse; those who are using when the abuse is taking place, tend to be more violent and cause more damage. The good news is, a strong recovery program can help.

 

1) Defining the Domestic Violence

First off, it’s important to understand that domestic violence extends far beyond a punch or a kick. If a person in your home is using intimidation, forcing sex upon someone, destroying household items or hurting pets, THIS ALL CLASSIFIES AS ABUSE.  It can be a spouse, it can be a sibling, it can even be a parent…Whoever is on the receiving end of the pain deserves justice. And if drugs or alcohol are contributing, the first thing that needs to be done is getting the abuser outside and into treatment.

 

When it comes to addiction and recovery, Safety is always our number one concern. We want to make sure the person using isn’t hurting others or themselves. If a situation like what we described above is happening, it is important to immediately seek out help. Our recovery line (866-986-2486) is available 24 hours a day for consultations and interventions. But more importantly, never forget the power of 911. If the addicted family member needs to spend some time in jail, so be it. Remove them, create a safe space for yourself, then sort out the treatment issues.

 

We will tell you this. Without a proper recovery and treatment plan, the cycle almost always continues.

 

2) How Addiction Comes Into Play

You may be surprised to read this, but often times in abusive relationships both parties struggle with addiction. In fact, a recent Memphis study revealed that 42 percent of victims involved in the state’s domestic violence cases were using the day that the incident occurred. Sadly, if the victim is addicted as well, they may be more timid to reach out for help. There is a fear there that they could also go to jail, if the police figure out that they abuse illicit substances. This is a common and tragic mistake because it prevents both people from receiving the help they need.

 

From a psychological standpoint, “Control” figures heavily into the equation. Studies have shown that abusers attack people close to them because they want to feel a sense of control in their lives. As we all know, drugs and alcohol often create a loss of control, which can trigger frustration and the need for domination. There are also judgment lapses, blackouts and behavior that is a 180-degree difference from the person’s normal functioning.

 

At Valley Recovery Center, we have specialized therapies to explore these deep-rooted feelings. We also have people who have been in the same situation and managed to pull themselves free. Domestic violence is a VERY SERIOUS consequence of addiction and one that NO ONE SHOULD TAKE LIGHTLY. As we mentioned before, if you or a loved one is dealing with this, reach out to your local law enforcement agency or call us at (866-986-2486). We have seen this many times before and know all of the proper methods to get clean.

 

 

Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Oct 3

October has begun and, just as we expected, more addiction and recovery stories are continuing to grab headlines. With topics like the election and back-to-school circling around, many media outlets are pushing out campaigns to bring attention to the cause. In the case of politics; Credit.com issued the results of an insightful study, showing just how much addiction is costing this nation. Students are a prime audience as well, with new PSA campaigns that aim to educate young people who are prone to using. These are all part of our latest Addiction Article Recap, along with breaking news about California’s ban on synthetic marijuana.

 

Read, share, and send us the stories that matter to you!

 

Headline #1: The Cost Of Addiction

As we mentioned above, Credit.com shared some truly astonishing facts this week. According to their latest research, drug and alcohol addiction is costing Americans $276 billion per year. This figure accounts for the total spent on both legal and illegal vices. Broken apart, their article claims illicit drugs (such as heroin, cocaine and meth) make up 28% of that number. However, it was the “legal” substances, such as alcohol and meds, that cost consumers the lion’s share. That total accounted for over half of the money spent, or roughly $140 billion. And just to put things in perspective, these totals make up more than the Federal Government spends on education and veterans’ benefits combined.

 

Headline #2: New PSA’s Aim To Reach High-Risk Teens

Also mentioned above, TheFix.com is reporting that a new anti-drug campaign called Preventure is set to launch and is targeting teens who are deemed “high-risk” for addiction. This program will actually be taken to schools across the country and function as 90-minute group workshops. Having already been successfully incorporated in countries like Canada and Australia, Preventure hopes to stop addictions before they start and educate young people about recovery. “These workshops focus on motivating adolescents to understand how their personality style leads to certain emotional and behavioral reactions,” the campaign website posted. “Four different workshops are run, each focused on developing specialized coping skills relevant to following personality styles.” Let’s hope this program leads to success.

 

Headline 3: ‘Spice’ Banned In California

We’ve reported on the dangers of Spice (or synthetic marijuana) many times. Well now it looks like California is finally doing something about it, by officially banning the drug from the state. After another outbreak of overdoses in August, Governor Jerry Brown has decided to sign a law outlawing the possession of the substance. Part of its danger, said the LA County of Public Health, is the unknown chemical compositions found in every batch. “This drug is extremely harmful, and not much is known about what goes into making Spice,” they said in a recent alert. “While no deaths have been reported from this recent outbreak of ‘Spice’ toxicity, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is concerned about further health impacts of this drug in communities across the county. The patients reportedly exhibited symptoms of altered mental status, ataxia, and decreased consciousness, consistent with a sympathomimetic toxidrome.”