Spotlight On Marlee Simon And Music Therapy

We’ve discussed the importance of music therapy before, but we’ve never quite delved in to the amazing talent our own Marlee Simon brings to the table. Fans of our Spotlight Series know that we love taking time to highlight the talented team behind Valley Recovery Center. And Marlee is one of our brightest stars. Not only is she an extremely accomplished musician (with a degree from the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston), Marlee also holds an Associate’s Degree in Psychology from College of the Canyons. Her unique skill set allows for counseling and group leadership, along with guitar, vocals and upbeat singalongs. How many therapy sessions can you say that about?


Marlee’s background is remarkable, having worked with special needs children, the elderly (particularly those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease) and people battling terminal illnesses. As she puts it, “music is a healing force,” which we happen to completely agree with. Marlee has used her special talents to heal, validate, empower, inspire, connect and motivate people to be their best selves. You can imagine how well that philosophy works in recovery, where self-esteem and emotional healing are crucial.


Marlee has also found music to be an effective coping mechanism, especially for people who are going with withdrawals. Her VRC sessions incorporate everything from songwriting, to lyric analysis, to instrumental improvisation and even meditation. And you certainly don’t have to be a maestro to participate in one of Marlee’s sessions. She’s more than happy to work with beginners, teaching them how to channel their energies into the instrument of their choice. Practice and focus are key healing tools in the recovery process, so learning something like guitar or piano can be extremely therapeutic.


On our site, Marlee shared a few words about the importance of her programs. “Music is a universal language that can be purposefully used to motivate, connect, heal, and inspire people,” she explained. “I am passionate about helping people to discover and actualize their fullest potential. It is my passion and purpose in life to provide opportunities for people to explore their sense of self and to enhance their quality of life through music.”


One of the websites that Marlee regularly participates in is Pay it a visit and you’ll see the many ways that songs can positively impact people who are struggling. In fact there is an entire research section, which breaks down the scientific ways that music has healed people in recovery. For one, it has been proven to help people open up about their emotions. It’s a common fact that many people do not enter a recovery program willingly. But, a program like this is very non-threatening and upbeat; encouraging patients to lower their guard and appreciate the experience. Music Therapy also helps relieve anxiety, cope with trauma and enhance self-awareness. Songwriting, in particular, is a fantastic outlet for self expression and creativity.


We highly encourage anyone interested to reach out to us about our Music Therapy recovery programs. They have done wonders for our patients and, with a program leader like Marlee at the helm, can build confidence, positivity and a strong desire to stay sober. 



Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Nov 28

Happy holidays VRC friends! We hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend. And we also want to make sure you enjoy knowledgable insights about our industry. That’s why we continue to put out our Article Recap, which chronicles important stories related to addiction and recovery. This time out, we’re sharing some very important headlines that cover alcoholism, marijuana health and heroin OD increases. Yup these are all pretty heavy subjects, but they send a powerful message about how important sobriety really is.


Scroll below for our quick synopses and remember; if you have addiction related articles that you’d like published, shoot us an email at


Headline #1: Heroin Deaths In Ventura County

This particular article was tough to swallow because it’s so close to home. The Ventura County Star recently shared a very alarming stat. Apparently, drug addictions are taking a major toll on its residents. After a lull in overdose deaths over the past two years, Ventura County is now showing a drastic rise in heroin-related deaths. Last year shooting up killed 33 people there, with a concentration in the communities of Oxnard and Simi Valley. According to the paper’s stats, that now puts the county ahead of the drug fatality rate across California. Deputy Chief of Police Joseph May told the Star that this deadly epidemic impacts everybody and knows no bounds. “There are no racial boundaries. There are no financial boundaries. There are no geographic boundaries,” he exclaimed. Our prayers are certainly with those families and if anyone in Simi, Oxnard or beyond needs help, Valley Recovery Center’s door is always open.


Headline #2: Marijuana Heart Health

We always hear about marijuana being a “harmless” drug. While it does carry less of a risk than let’s say heroin or cocaine, that statement is definitely not true. In fact, researchers from St. Luke’s University Health Network in Pennsylvania have discovered that chronic smokers are twice as likely to develop heart issues than those who abstain. Culling data from 44 states, the org found a significant link between pot and TVRB, also known as stress cardiomyopathy. This particular condition can weaken heart muscles and create chest pain, dizziness and shortness of breath. The study also found that marijuana users were more likely to develop depression, anxiety and tobacco habits. But their primary concern was the drug’s impact on the heart. “[Users] should be aware that certain cardiovascular abnormalities and complications can occur from marijuana use,” St. Luke’s  Dr. Amitoj Singh told “If you are using marijuana and develop symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath, you should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.”


Headline #3: HBO Tackles Alcoholism

From Game of Thrones to The Sopranos, HBO has been known to create some powerful television programs. Well now, the cable network  is setting its sights on alcoholism with a new documentary titled Risky Drinking. The two-hour feature follows the lives of four young people who are struggling with alcohol dependence. Each portrayal delves deep into the dangers of drinking, from health problems, to family turmoil, to brushes with the law and beyond. So far, the doc is generating a lot of positive buzz and is even getting screened on college campuses throughout the country. There is still no word on its HBO premiere date, but we expect to hear an update soon.



Sober SoCal Weekend: Nov 25-27

Did everybody have a good Thanksgiving? We certainly hope so. And now that the food is settling and the holiday season has officially arrived, we’re sharing a ton of festive (and fun) Sober SoCal Weekend ideas. Our latest list covers everything from calorie crunching canyon hikes, to giant tree lightings, to Hollywood celebrity encounters; all without the presence of drugs or alcohol. So open up your day planner apps and make sure to add these ideas to your weekend itinerary!


And, as always, if there’s anything we’ve missed in regards to Sober SoCal fun, shoot us an email to and we’ll make sure to include it in the next one.


The Festival Of Lights At Mission Inn

Who wouldn’t appreciate 4.5 Million twinkly bulbs decorated around holiday themes? That’s what has led Riverside’s Mission Inn to become a landmark destination every year for their Festival of Lights. Regarded as one of the west coast’s most amazing displays, it runs for six weeks starting this Friday and includes an entire experience centered around Christmas, the Nutcracker and other December favorites. And did we mention that it is absolutely free? Though Riverside may be a slight stretch for some LA-based followers, your entrance will include access to more than 400 animated figures, carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides and the world’s largest manmade mistletoe. If you ask us, it’s definitely worth a visit. And it’s family-friendly, which means no alcohol on the premises. To find out more about the Festival of Lights, click here.


The PCH Backbone Trail

We know that Thanksgiving dinner can often make you feel lethargic and out of shape. Have no fear! A great sober way to combat the overeating is a weekend hike or run. This weekend, we’re recommending the Ray Miller Backbone Trail off of Pacific Coast Highway. This one is adjacent to Malibu and offers spectacular views. It also is a nice challenging outing, with steep inclines (but not enough to scare away intermediate hikers). Backbone spans roughly 5.4 miles, though there are shortcuts and easy turnarounds if you don’t feel ready to go the complete distance. Ray Miller (named for a local philanthropist) is also one of the most “Yelped” trails in SoCal, with five stars from nearly everyone who takes it on. To find out more about the trail and other Saturday/Sunday outdoor runs, click here. Just keep in mind, there is a “slight” chance of drizzle on Sunday.


The Hollywood Christmas Parade

And finally, how could we resist a little festive celeb spotting at Sunday’s Hollywood Christmas Parade? This longstanding LA tradition brings out tons of famous faces, along with floats, music bands and creative decorations. This year, legendary singer Olivia Newton John will be the Grand Marshall, waving to fans and belting out her most famous hits. There will also be appearances from Erik Estrada, Kenny G, Cyndi Lauper, War and more.  This alcohol-free event promises to bring in quite the crowd and create an interactive experience for everyone who buys a ticket. Tickets run anywhere from $45 to $85, but the best news of all is, your purchase goes to benefit Toys For Tots. To find out locations, times and entrance info, click here.



Avoiding Thanksgiving Temptations

Thanksgiving is certainly one of the most celebrated holidays in America, and rightly so. It is completely non-denominational and centers strictly around family, food and fun. But while most of us think of nothing but fondness this time of year, there are plenty of other people who find it rather challenging. Perhaps seeing certain relatives creates uneasy feelings, perhaps the temptation of Thanksgiving wine can be too great, or perhaps you’re traveling to the old neighborhood and running across bad influences. These are all factors to consider if you’re someone in recovery and ones we’d like to highlight in this latest blog.


Factor #1: The Family Dynamic

Let’s be honest, there is no such thing as the perfect family. For a lot of Americans, bringing the entire clan together can lead to arguments and sensitivities. And that’s just for “normal” families. Imagine if Thanksgiving were to put you face to face with someone who abused you, or an alcoholic parent that encouraged you to use. It’s a sad fact, but we’ve seen many family horror stories among our recovery patients. In that scenario, we often advise to skip the holiday altogether. We know that sounds harsh, but if being around certain relatives brings you pain or an urge to use; it’s ok to step away. Instead, try creating your own impromptu feast surrounded by friends and trusted confidants.


Now, on the other hand, if your family has been supportive and caring through the recovery process than by all means celebrate with them. Just think carefully before walking into any dinner situation. If you’re finding yourself in a fragile state, create distance from the toxic people and huddle close with the ones who have shown you love.


Factor #2: Temptations At The Table

Even if the people don’t create issues with your sobriety, the actual catering might. We understand that if you’re not hosting the dinner, it’s hard to avoid beer, wine and other spirits being brought to the table. If you’re recovering from alcoholism, we always advise to steer clear of any possible temptations. That means bars, happy hours, keg parties and (truth be told) adult dinner parties. Our hope is that whoever is housing the dinner will be aware of your situation and chose to keep the experience clean. That means  juice, water, soda or what have you. There are plenty of great beverages to go along with turkey, making a much more flavorful meal than one soured with booze.


If you feel close with the host, we advise calling them in advance and asking for alcohol to be excluded. We’ve seen that people are almost always willing to oblige (particularly if kids are in the house). And if they don’t budge, than politely skip the festivities. Your emotional health is much more important than an overstuffed turkey.


Factor #3: Dangerous Old Friends

For many, Thanksgiving can be a time of homecoming. Revisiting the neighborhood where you were raised and reconnecting with people from the old days. That’s fine and dandy, but remember that some of those people may not be in as healthy of a state as you are. Many times, it’s the people we grew up with that first introduced us to addictive substances. Once again, our recommendation is to suss out each person carefully and make sure that they don’t try to drag you down a dangerous path. If their idea of reconnecting includes a strip club visit or an all-night bar bender, tell them “Thanks, But No Thanks.”


We would like to wish all of our followers a fantastic Thanksgiving and want to let you know that Valley Recovery Center’s door is wide open, even over the holidays. If you’re feeling tempted this time of year, please reach out and give us a call. (866) 986-2486



Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Nov 21

Happy Thanksgiving week from Valley Recovery Center! Hopefully everyone will be enjoying some time off and eating warm cooked meals with the ones they love. If you do happen to have some spare time, we recommend taking a moment to catch up on the latest addiction related headlines. As per usual, our Article Recap breaks down important stories impacting our field. This time out we’re covering primetime drug use, an important letter from the Surgeon General and some disturbing news out of Mexico. These stories aren’t all necessarily pretty, but they’re important and educational. Hopefully you can learn some important insights and pass them along.


And, as always, if you have you own Addiction Article Recaps to share, we invite you to send them to us via email at


Headline #1: ‘Mom’ Addresses Addiction

We’ve talked about the hit CBS series Mom before and have proudly touted its realistic portrayal of addiction and recovery.  This week, however, it is breaking new ground by addressing tween drug use during primetime. Both main characters (played by Allison Janney and Anna Faris) are in recovery and, in a realistic twist, Faris’ 12-year-old son on the show is caught trying marijuana. Even though Mom is a sitcom, critics have praised their delicate handling of this subject. Both main characters share their own struggles with the boy and illustrate the proper ways to talk to a pre-teen about using. “It feels so truthful, how terrified and anxious my character is with the idea of her son at such a young age experimenting with drugs,” Faris revealed. The series also leaves the question open-ended. Instead of having everything wrap up with a happy ending, there are signs that point to the boy character using again. “I have no idea what they have in store with us, but, you know, I love it that the show addresses that some people are very much addicts,” Anna added. “We don’t know that Roscoe won’t be. He could very well be one of us, and I think that’s just terrifying for any parent.” Kudos to CBS for airing this honest and accurate portrayal.


Headline #2: The Surgeon General’s Report On Addiction

We have said many times how much we support U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. This week he proved his recovery advocacy once again, by generating the first-ever report on alcohol, drugs and health generated by a U.S.S.G.  Titled Facing Addiction In America, the 400-page case study aims to squash the negative stigmas circulating around the country. “Science tells us clearly that addiction is a disease of the brain,” Murthy stated this week. “It’s a chronic disease of the brain that deserves the same compassion that any other chronic illness does, like diabetes or heart disease.”  We definitely encourage all of followers to read and share it.


Headline #3: Mexico’s Heroin Movement

And finally, in a bit of international news, Mexico has seen a huge spike in opium production this year. The New York Times has data that shows a 50 percent spike in 2014 alone. This figures are certainly scary and are on their way to surpassing the production numbers of cocaine and marijuana in the country. This, of course, increases the “street drug” potential of opioids across the U.S., which could lead to laced compounds and potentially more overdoses. As always, we STRONGLY ENCOURAGE anyone facing an opioid or heroin addiction to seek treatment immediately. When purchased illegally, these drugs pose a huge threat (even worse than prescriptions). Valley Recovery Center is always available to talk through these issues and welcome your call at (866) 986-2486.




Sober SoCal Weekend: Nov 18-20

It’s just about Thanksgiving, which means longer holiday weekends and sober seasonal happenings. This time out, there are tons of great L.A. ideas that do not involve drugs or alcohol. For one thing, it’s actually “snow” time across the southland. We’ve also discovered some carb-burning active adventures, artistic admiration ideas and let’s not forget the epic L.A. Auto Show! Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered on all fronts here and encourage you to explore every Sober SoCal activity.


And as always, if you have your own ideas to add to the list, shoot us an email at


The Los Angeles Auto Show

A SoCal staple for many years now, the L.A. Auto Show is now open to the public and displaying some of the sickest rides to come off of the assembly line. This year, they’ve got over 1,000 cars across four exhibit halls at the L.A. Convention Center. Every major manufacturer will be on display; from the modern eco-friendly designs of Tesla, to the sleek Mercedes coupes, to power Ford monster trucks. There will also be vintage models, motorcycles, concept cars and some new high-tech surprises. Definitely a fun outing for the sober gearheads. Just keep in mind that tickets run $5 – $50 and the crowds can get quite hefty. Click here for details on the show!


Snow! Los Angeles

You heard right, it is officially “Snow!” season in L.A. and the Old Lodge near Elysium Park is opening up 9 acres of white fluffy fun for tubing, sleds, snowman building and more. The Lodge has set up various skills levels of activities from novice, to intermediate, to advanced. The bottom line is, it’s ALL FUN! Plus, there’s even an interactive snowman show. One word of warning: We do advise to visit Snow! Los Angeles during daylight hours. At night there is a bar on the premises, which (we know) could be tempting for some. Click here for more info on the outing.


The Great Los Angeles Walk

We know that the holidays are a time of lethargy and overeating. That’s why several active Angelenos got together to start The Great L.A. Walk. This event happens Saturday morning and goes for 15 miles; from Downtown to the beach. Participants will strut the streets near Pico and burn a nice amount of calories, while interacting and soaking up some SoCal sun. The carefully planned route will also include stops by historic landmarks and some of the city’s most famous murals. Best of all, it’s absolutely free! Just make sure to bring comfortable shoes. To participate, click here.


America’s Shakespeare

Blending art and literature, Downtown’s Central Library is launching a fantastic Shakespeare exhibit this weekend. America’s Shakespeare commemorates the 400th anniversary of the legendary writer’s death and will be displaying many valuable artifacts.  There is also a tribute to his impact on Hollywood, with galleries devoted to the films and TV shows influenced by his works. We definitely think it’s worth a look and, while you’re there, why not check out some sober reading materials to help you through the week?



Before And After Sobriety

Often times, when you think of the terms “before and after” and “addiction,” you expect to see mug shots of people who have been ravaged by alcohol and drug abuse. Well recently, Britain’s Daily Mail publication did a nice flip of the format, offering a gallery of people who’s look and health had improved AFTER reaching sobriety. To help add a little motivation to our blog stream, we thought we’d share their inspirational photos, along with the success stories behind each personality.


Prkle hails from the UK and had been a self-admitted “raging alcoholic.” As you can see by her selfies, skin problems and wrinkles slipped away after a few months of sobriety.



Reddit user Hannafr showed a dramatic weight loss after letting go of the bottle. As she proudly wrote in one of her posts, “I got 99 problems and 99 days sober. Drinking is just one of those problems, but it’s a much quieter one now.”



Brittany Suzanne shared her inspirational story with the Daily Mail, touting eight and a half months of sobriety. She too slimmed down after giving up alcohol, by a total of 35 pounds. Brittany also revealed that she regularly attends recovery meetings and works to inspire others.



And no, it is not only women who used the Mail to share their pics. Conor proudly used his mug shot as a “Before” picture, emphasizing how much healthier and happier he feels with 155 days of sobriety. As you can see above, addiction often not only leads to weight gain, but bruises and bumps (usually from rage-driven physical altercations).



Daniel used Instagram to flaunt his sobriety and his new way of looking at life. As you can see by the pictures, not only did letting go of his addiction cause him to lose weight, it turned his professional life around. Dan admittedly did not have much direction when abusing alcohol. Now he says he’s focused and climbing up the corporate ladder.



An anonymous Daily Mail reader who goes by L.S. shared these inspiring back to back photos. He claims to have spent decades abusing the bottle and is a shining example of someone who was able to successfully get sober later in life. One point that he emphasized was the thousands of dollars that he’s been saving since cutting his habit.



And finally, there’s Matteo who is proudly wearing the same outfit after 18 months of sobriety. You can certainly see a big difference in his appearance. He also adding some moving words to his social media post, specifically calling out the depressed feelings he had while using.


“A lot, a lot, a lot has changed in just a year and a half. I’m very thankful to myself for going down this difficult road. And future-me is happy that I’m still not drinking today. I’m thankful I didn’t drive off the St. John’s bridge when it was most tempting.”


Hopefully these pics will continue to inspire. And, in your own life, if you feel the need to document your recovery journey than more power to you! We are proud to support this process and have seen some incredible firsthand transformations. To learn how Valley Recovery Center can help, reach out at (866) 986-2486.


Comedy And Recovery

They say laughter is the best medicine and, believe it or not, in our field that rings true. We all know what a serious subject addiction is, but sometimes a good laugh or a humorous escape offers a nice break during the recovery process. At our facility, we regularly partake in comedy movie nights or use jokes during group sessions to lighten the mood. Everyone is human and there is always a bright side to a bad situation. We definitely believe in accentuating the positive, so for this blog we thought we’d discuss the importance of LOL’s in recovery.


Though not quite a Spotlight, we did catch a very informative article on The Addicts; a successful improv group that is currently touring the country. Members Mark Lundholm and Kurt Matthews explained to Westword Magazine (very appropriately, if you ask us) why laughter is so important when dealing with pain. Both of them battled drug and alcohol issues and now, use that experience to humorously impact others.


“There’s a saying around recovery circles that you either have to evolve or dissolve,” Mark told the magazine. “I don’t want to do the second one, so I have to do the first one. If you’re looking toward evolution, why can’t you have new language at every meeting? You need new language to describe an old process. That’s why comedians get paid. That’s why I don’t need to be funny in a meeting. We make fun of insanity or outcomes without making fun of individuals.”


Both guys shared the positive responses they’ve received for their sober shows. The Addicts have toured big clubs, rehabilitation facilities and even done their routines for incarcerated drug offenders. Their goal has always been to educate and entertain. And, as Kurt explained, there are certainly humorous components within the treatment process.


“We’re not doing a meeting, we’re doing a comedy show,” he added. “Personally, I will tell you I’m in recovery, but I’m not going to tell you I’m going to programs, because those are anonymous. It’s a standup show, but the predominant topic is ourselves, which means a lot of self-deprecating humor as well as our recovery. We make fun of some of the stuff that’s rote. I think it’s funny that no one can pronounce “anonymity,” ever.”


Beyond the addicts, there is an incredibly long list of recovering comedians who continue to inspire others. Marc Maron (who we’ve profiled before) regularly interjects sobriety stories into his hugely successful podcast. Former Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson built an entire comedy special around his conquering alcoholism. And Richard Pryor, one of the greatest comedians of all time, famously turned his near-overdose into a moving standup routine.


There are also dozens of funny books, websites and movies that eloquently tackle the topic of addiction. Now keep in mind, we are in no way endorsing the mockery of this disease and believe us, there is plenty of insensitive material out there (The Hangover, anyone?). But, Google “Sober Comedy” and we promise you’ll be able to enjoy a good laugh as you work through the process.







Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Nov 14

As we approach the holidays, it’s important to stay educated about the dangers of addiction. It’s sad to say, but this is a season where overdoses and relapses or more likely to occur; primarily because of loneliness and despondent feelings. But learning from example can certainly keep the spirit strong. That’s why we’ve gathered uplifting news articles about the success of naloxone, peer recovery coaches and Project ECHO for rural substance users. We hope you enjoy these headlines and share them with others in the recovery community.


And, as always, if you have Article Addiction Recap ideas of your own; we welcome you to share them by emailing


Headline #1: The Business Of Naloxone

We’ve written about the opioid antidote, naloxone, many times. Right now, it is one of the only solutions to the nation’s growing epidemic and it is even part of the regular training regimen for paramedics and EMT’s. Well, it’s interesting to note that naloxone has become a booming business as well. According to Bloomberg, product sales of the spray jumped from $21.3 million in 2011 to $81.9 million last year. Their article offered an interesting profile of the product, which actually first hit the market back in 1971 (under the name Narcan). Today it is available through pharmacies, but certain federal lawmakers hope it will soon be even easier to purchase. Their goal is to make it available without a  prescription and even via phone order. They also want to bring the price down as well. We are certainly glad big news outlets like Bloomberg are bringing opioid abuse to the forefront and, hopefully, the continued success of naloxone will lead to more saved lives.


Headline #2: Peer Recovery Coaches

CNN recently wrote an excellent expose of the “Peer Recovery Coach” model taking place in east coast emergency rooms. Profiling several real-life beneficiaries of the program, the news outlet shared how the coaches begin relationships with low-income overdose patients in the ER. Then they continue to stay in touch following discharge, working with the patients on their sobriety and their daily lives. These recovery coaches help assist addicted young people with their housing (if needed), their food stamp eligibility, court visits and job searches. Because, as we all know, true recovery extends far beyond the moment you leave a treatment program. States like New York, New Jersey and Delaware are quickly adopting the program, which is covered by Medicaid.  “Anything I needed, [my coach] was always there,” one patient told CNN. “That program saved my life.” Let’s hope it goes national soon.


Headline #3: Underserved Addiction Help

We are definitely privileged to live in California. Many people throughout the country who suffer from addiction lack the easy availability of a recovery program, particularly in rural areas. That’s why we are proud to share the story of Project ECHO, which aims to help underserved addicts in some of the U.S.’s more desolate areas. Program director Dr. Miriam Komaromy recently focused her recovery efforts in New Mexico, which is listed among the five states with the highest overdose ratio. Her team makes themselves available throughout the state, traveling to remote regions and identifying people in desperate need of treatment. Job well done.



Sober SoCal Weekend: Nov 11-13

For many, this has been a very tumultuous week. With unpredictable elections, tense protests and heavily trafficked freeways, we completely understand the need to escape. Just DON’T USE DRUGS OR ALCOHOL TO DO IT. Instead, we’ve packed together some great sober weekend activities that will put a smile back on your face and steer you away from the urge to use. This time out, we’re sharing fun foodie ideas, classic comedy and even the chance to spend the night on a battleship! Oh yea, there’s a lot of variety here; so take notes and enjoy.


And as always, if you have Sober SoCal activity ideas of your own, please share them with us via email at


A Night On A Battleship

Yes, you heard us right. This Friday through Sunday, the USS Iowa in San Pedro is inviting guests for a literal sleepover. For $125 (slightly pricey, we know) you can spend the night on an actual battleship and experience the life of a U.S. Navy serviceman. The package includes private bunks, in-depth tours, mess hall meals and more. Best of all, this is an entirely “clean” experience, so no need to worry about drug or alcohol temptations. Just bring your adventurous spirit and learn about life at sea! For more info, click here.


Monty Python Comedy

What better way to escape the urge to use than with a great night of comedy? Laughter is definitely a great recovery tool and this Friday, you can experience plenty of it with John Cleese and Eric Idle at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. These two legendary British funnymen were part of the historic Monty Python troupe, which made dozens of classic movies and inspired generations of comedians. For one night only they’re bringing their unique humor to LA, with an intimate show that includes famous skits, recollections and interactions with the audience. Both men have hinted that they’ll be retiring soon, so we encourage you to catch their act while you can! You can get ticket and timing information here.


In This Together Festival

As addiction recovery specialists, we are big supporters of mental health and are proud to share details about Sunday’s In This Together event. Held at the Avalon in Hollywood, it will feature comedians, podcasters and musicians who have publicly battled mental illness. There will also be trained pros on hand, sharing valuable information for anyone who is in need of help. A great cause with charitable ticket contributions, we definitely encourage our followers to go!



California Vegetarian Food Festival

The very first California Vegetarian Food Festival takes place this Sunday at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. For healthy eaters, it definitely promises to be an amazing experience. Everything on site is 100% vegan and there will be lifestyle vendors, nutritionists, cooking demos, a mind/body fitness area, a children’s activities area and an innovation pavilion. Plus, lots of great all-natural eats! Healthy diets and recovery go hand-in-hand, so we definitely recommend paying a visit. For info on the Food Fest, click here.



Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Nov 7

This has certainly been a newsworthy week! With unpredictable elections and all kinds of California propositions going through, article junkies have gotten their fill of breaking stories and impactful headlines. In our world, that rings true as well. In the past seven days, we have seen a wide variety of recovery pieces in our Google feeds and we wanted to make sure our readers saw them too. Issues like energy drink alcoholics, heroin parents and (as you expected) the legalization of marijuana.


We’ve rounded it all up for another Addiction Article Recap. Enjoy the stories and make sure to send your own ideas to


Headline #1 – Pot Becomes Legal In California

We’re pretty sure this story didn’t escape your radar. Amid the Donald Trump news, local Angelenos awoke Wednesday morning to discover that marijuana has now become legal in the state. Interestingly enough, we weren’t the only area to de-criminalize the drug. Both Massachusetts and Nevada voted to legalize recreational pot. Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota took a step closer to the measure this week as well, allowing for medical marijuana to be available in their respective states. We’ve reported on this issue before and have are own reservations about its easy accessibility (especially with the gateway drug statistics that have become available). But, of course, we respect the people’s will and are hopeful it doesn’t become a problem for local residents. On that note, if you do sense some weed addiction tendencies happening to you or a loved one, we encourage you to reach out.


Headline #2 – Dangerous Energy Drink Cocktails

It’s no secret that energy drinks like “Nos” and “Monster” have become popular chasers or even mixers for alcohol. But researchers at Purdue University are discovering that these type of combos can lead to dangerous consequences. Their study showed that blending booze with highly-caffeinated beverages can create the same brain effects as using cocaine. The scary conclusion there is that it can actually numb a person’s reaction to cocaine and make them abuse more of that drug to achieve their “perfect high.” Data director Richard van Rijn told that they drew this analysis after using mice as test subjects. “Mice that had been exposed to alcohol and caffeine were somewhat numb to the rewarding effects of cocaine as adults,” he explained. “Mice that were exposed to highly caffeinated alcoholic drinks later found cocaine wasn’t as pleasurable. They may then use more cocaine to get the same effect.” Something to certainly think about, the next time you reach for an extra large can.


Headline #3 – Heroin Households

Cincinnati made headlines this week for their annual Silent Victims Conference, which is focused on the children of heroin abusers. State senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown were in attendance, as were medical professionals and recovery advocates, all united to help curb the country’s growing epidemic. Event organizers shifted the focus to children this year, showing the extreme psychological damage  having a heroin user in the home can cause. Not only does it influence more young to become addicted, it creates an abusive environment and leads to more adolescent runaways.





Celebrating Our First Year

It’s hard to believe, but this November marks the one year anniversary of Valley Recovery Center. These last 12 months have been amazing and incredibly rewarding. Being able to help hundreds of people through counseling, events, social media, phone calls and, of course, our specialized treatment programs at the Newhall facility.


We thank everybody from the bottom of our hearts and encourage the people reading this blog to join us for our Birthday Celebration on November 10. This Thursday from 2pm-5pm, we’ll be hosting a very special reception at our homebase. That would be 23304 Happy Valley Drive, in Newhall CA 91321. Spaces are still available and we encourage you to RSVP via phone (866-986-2486) or email ( There will be a wide variety of guests from our industry, as well as staff members and alumni who have become part of the larger VRC family.


But back to the subject at hand, What An Incredible Year It Has Been. For starters, we have built an amazing team of doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, social workers, nutritionists and more. Visit our Staff Page for a breakdown of talent employed at our facility. Every one of them does an incredible job and has helped build Valley Recovery Center into what it has become today.


We are also incredibly blessed with our Newhall facility. This residence has literally turned lives around. Centered in a safe, quiet community; we’ve been able to provide patients with a space where they can focus, learn, reflect and, most importantly, Get Sober. What we have set out to do (and hopefully achieved) is community building, beginning right within the walls of Happy Valley Drive. This welcoming sanctuary isn’t a hospital room or a sterile office, it’s a home. If you haven’t already, we invite you to take the virtual tour. Or come see it for yourself on November 10!


And let’s not forget the programs that have continued to set us apart. We consider ourselves to be a very progressive treatment facility, meaning we take our patients’ input fully to heart and work to create recovery options that suit their specific needs. Within this past year, we have introduced such groundbreaking techniques as Wolf TherapyYoga and even Archery (all with great success). And, of course, that goes hand-in-hand with traditional methods, such as Making Amends, 12 Steps and Anger Management. The combination of the old and the new has worked wonders and helps our patients feel respected and heard when it comes to their needs.


So the big question becomes…What lies in store for Year Two? Well, let us assure you that Valley Recovery Center is going be around for a Long Time and we are excited to continually evolve. We are constantly attending conventions and seminars, learning about cutting-edge recovery methods to add to our regimen. We also hope to expand our network, bringing more qualified people on board to address any and all addiction issues. And let’s not forget our growing Alumni Program. As we mentioned before, VRC is all about “family” and “community.” We look forward to maintaining relationships with everyone we encounter and, above all, Making a Major Dent in the addiction problems plaguing our country.


Thanks again for your continued support. We look forward celebrating you this Thursday at 23304 Happy Valley Drive!



Sober SoCal Weekend: Nov 4-6

Well, November has finally arrived; which means Thanksgiving dinners, Black Friday sales and lots of new holiday decorations lighting up the boulevards. We know that this time of year can be tempting for many (statistics show Nov and Dec to be high relapse months), so we want to make sure you’re well aware of all of the “clean” activities occuring in our beautiful city. This weekend, there are some great Sober SoCal happenings to add to your event planner. We’re highlighting everything from “ice” capades, to Broad beauty, to dapper Disney kitsch and beyond…All available without the presence of drugs and alcohol.


So go ahead and enjoy this latest list. And don’t forget; if you have your own Sober SoCal ideas to share, email us at!


Santa Monica ICE

Though it’s not quite winter yet, Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade is already getting into the spirit. This Friday, they’re opening up their seasonal ice skating rink to the public, located right off of Lincoln Boulevard. This amazing display features an 8,000 square-foot frozen block, ready for casual skating, afternoon dates or festive figure eights. Rentals run just $15 and lessons are available too (in case you want to be a pro). In our opinion, it’s just a fun, carefree outing that can keep you active and away from the bad temptations. To find out more about ICE and its hours, click here.


West Edge Design Fair

Another great Friday to-do idea is Barker Hangar’s West Edge Design Fair. Home projects are nice outlets for someone in recovery and this event highlights the art of interior design. If you’re looking to spruce up your house or apartment, the Design Fair is THE place to be. It’s got beautiful couches, paintings, tables, shelving and more, all at discounted prices. Over 150 brands will be exhibiting throughout the weekend and there will even be on site workshops. We definitely recommend this Sober SoCal outing to anyone with an artistic touch. For more Design Fair details, click here.



‘Creature’ At The Broad

If you haven’t experienced the Broad Museum in Downtown LA, book a trip immediately. It offers culture and inspiration, with amazing modern artwork. This weekend they are opening a new exhibit, entitled “Creature.” It’s purpose is to examine the artistry of human behavior and it’s got some great pieces from craftsmen like Jeff Koons, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Takashi Murakami. Best of all, “Creature” is absolutely free! Reservations are required though, so click here for details.



Dapper Day At Disneyland

If you ask us, Disneyland is ALWAYS a great Sober SoCal option. Sure it can be a little pricey, but its family-friendly environment offers a great escape from the urge to use. This Sunday, they’re holding a special event called Dapper Day. It celebrates the fashion and style of the roaring 1920’s and even has music events at the nearby Disneyland Hotel. There will also be vintage clothing sales, special Main Street surprises and (you guessed it) dapper Mickey and Minnie Mouse roaming the grounds. In our opinion, it provides a great sense of sober escapism. Just make sure to save some time for Space Mountain.



Addiction And The California Election

It’s hard to believe, but election day is less than a week away. Of course, the big news is who will be the next President of the United States. But here in California, there are still some other very important votes that need to be counted. Several of the latest ballot measures directly impact those battling addiction and for this blog, we wanted to explore what could help (and hurt) the cause.


This year, there are actually 17 different propositions on the Super Tuesday ballots. They cover everything from banning plastic bags, to revoking the death penalty. We definitely encourage every voter to do their homework and research every measure before deciding “Yay” or “Nay.” But three, in particular, have repercussions in our world.


Let’s start with Proposition 57, which pertains to criminal sentencing. We find this one important because it affect non-violent offenders currently serving longterm sentences. In many of our previous blogs, we’ve profiled drug abusers who have wound up with lifelong terms, sometimes just because of the quantity of their stash. The key term in this Prop is “Non Violent.” We know there are plenty of radio and TV ads, scaring the public into thinking a Yes vote could send vicious criminals into the streets. All we ask is that you research this Prop thoroughly. A majority of the convicts mentioned are dealing with severe drug issues and, instead of getting proper treatment, they are worsening their habits behind bars. This Prop isn’t without controversy, but in our opinion, it can help people battling the disease of addiction.


Next on the list is Proposition 61, which touches upon the prescription drug industry. A Yes vote for this prop would help regulate state agencies and the pricing of pharmaceutical meds. As we all know, these types of pills are what have led to the opioid epidemic, which (truth be told) has become very profitable for Big Pharma. Taking a stand with this prop would hopefully send a message to companies who produce these drugs and, at the very least, put less money into their pockets. We admit, this is a complicated measure, but the Yes vote has got the support of many important recovery advocates.


And finally, there’s Proposition 64 which aims to legalize marijuana. We know there are plenty of people who want to see weed available at every corner. And there are certainly people who downplay its addictive nature. We happen to disagree. From what we’ve seen, marijuana is a viable gateway drug and (especially in young people) can eventually lead to serious narcotic habits. Even pot itself can be addictive, leading to lethargy, driving under the influence and the loss of jobs and families (Believe us, we’ve seen it). Though not as deadly as cocaine or heroin, we still believe marijuana shouldn’t be readily available. In our humble opinion, this vote deserves a No.


Now keep in mind, these are just our suggestions. We encourage you to follow your heart and instincts when you head to the ballot box. But if we can offer one piece of advice, it would be to Do Your Homework. Read up on everything you’re voting for and don’t be fooled by deceptive advertisements. See you at the polls!



Spotlight On Elizabeth Vargas

The entertainment world is full of admirable recovery advocates. From actors like Mackenzie Phillips, to musicians like Nikki Sixx; famous personalities who have turned their lives around after getting sober deserve getting a piece of the spotlight. But for our latest entry in this series, we wanted to focus on award-winning journalist Elizabeth Vargas.


Elizabeth is someone who spends her time reporting news. But in the past few years, she started making headlines because of her public battles with anxiety and alcoholism. Her addictions cost her her marriage and almost her job on the ABC series, 20/20. But rather than back away from the “bad publicity,” Elizabeth chose to embrace it. In recent months, she has spoken out publicly about her addictions and even written a book about it. We are proud to share her story and hope others can use it as inspiration.


Elizabeth’s memoir, Between Breaths, highlights her decades-long battle with the bottle and how issues like anxiety came into play. As she told, coming to grips with the issue was very challenging and something that caused tremendous pain.


“It was scary to write this book and tell this story,” Elizabeth explained. “I imagined every terrible scenario possible.”


Vargas’ book chronicles her unassuming descent into alcoholism. What began as casual happy hours with her newsroom co-workers soon turned into long nights drinking alone. As she explained to ABC, part of the reason that she gravitated towards the bottle was because it brought a source of comfort.


“[When I would drink] it was like, ‘I finally feel relaxed,’” Vargas said. “All my insecurities would sort of fade back.”


Pressures from work soon drove her to drink more, eventually causing a rift in her marriage. But, as she explains in her book, it took Elizabeth a long time to admit she had a problem. She also points out that alcoholism does not run in her family.


Eventually Vargas entered a recovery program, but still suffered relapses months later.


“There was one occasion on a Saturday,” she added. “I woke up that morning and I was feeling horrible, that shaky, horrible, fluttery heart… and I was on my way to the shoot on Columbus Avenue [in New York City] and I saw a liquor store.”


As with most long-term alcoholics, recovery doesn’t happen overnight. But Elizabeth continued to seek out treatment and now proudly has two years of sobriety under her belt.


To help inspire others, Vargas has gone on the speaking circuit; sharing her story and tips to help fight back the cravings. Some of the successful techniques that have worked for her include meditation and a close-knit recovery support group.


“Meditating as a daily practice helps me slow down my reactivity,” she explained. “What works in the moment? Breathing deep. Saying a little prayer. Telling someone what I am feeling.”


Elizabeth admitted that anger is also a trigger point, but instead of reaching for a bottle she reaches for the phone; to dial her support system.


If you are hiding a problem like Elizabeth was, understand that it carries absolutely no shame. Valley Recovery Center has helped countless professionals in similar situations and we are always available for you.



Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Oct 31

This is certainly an eventful seven days in the news cycle. Not only does it include the festive Halloween holiday, it also marks the first week of November. As per usual, our job is to zero in on the addiction and recovery stories making waves (particularly the ones that don’t always get the attention that they deserve). This time out, we’ve identified three important pieces that touch upon celebrity, sobriety and, interestingly enough, a bit of comedy.


Enjoy these quick news bites and, as always, please give us a shout out at if you happen to run across anything we’ve missed!


Headline #1: Macklemore Video Tackles Addiction

We’ve been singing the praises of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for quite some time now. The innovative hip-hop star has been part of our Music Monday series and received blog coverage for his work with President Obama. This week, he’s taken his recovery advocacy one step further by releasing a music video directly tackling the subject of addiction. His “Drug Dealer” clip runs just three and a half minutes, but packs a very powerful punch. In it, the rapper is seen lying a mattress littered with drugs. Though difficult to watch, it offers a gritty portrait of a man battling opioid dependency and going through a wide range of emotions. His lyrics are just as powerful, drawing a clear portrait of how deadly this epidemic actually is. Singer Ariana Deboo features into the clip as well, drowning in a sea of red and white pills. If you haven’t seen “Drug Dealer,” we definitely think it’s worth a watch. Just take some deep breaths before clicking “Play.”


Headline #2: Sober Tailgating

With football season in full effect, the temptations are stronger than ever to “down beers” and watch the games. Well, in Louisiana one group is hoping to change that perception with sober tailgating. Recovery First Tailgaters is the brainchild of Dwayne Beason, a die-hard pigskin fan, who is also former alcoholic. Speaking with, he described his passion for this project and how it came to be.  “I grew up in South Louisiana and my grandfather was a huge LSU fan. He had a Winnebago and we’d get up early and drive to all the home games. We’d pack up the motor home, bring stuff to cook, and nobody was in recovery then so there was a lot of alcohol.” Beason went on to add that the alcohol took him to very dark places. “I got kicked out of my hometown. I was drinking, drugging, smuggling and dealing crack cocaine. I was always a smidge away from getting caught.” So, he set up sober tailgating tents at local games and soon extended the initiative to other regions. His stations include water, healthy food and supportive staff members who encourage sobriety. A major touchdown for recovery advocates everywhere.


Headline #3: John Oliver’s Harsh Opioid Stance

And on somewhat of a lighter note, we were very amused with comedian John Oliver’s recent rant on the nation’s opioid epidemic and the governmental flaws that are continuing to further it. Though he certainly earns his laughs with this piece, the story is very serious and is now going viral. We applaud John for bringing this topic to his popular Last Week Tonight show and encourage our fans to watch the entire segment below.