Sober SoCal Weekend: New Year’s Edition

Well, we’ve finally made it to the end of year. And so, this will be the last Sober SoCal Weekend list of 2016! Don’t worry though, we’ve wrangled up a ton of fun ideas that DO NOT involve drugs or alcohol. Believe us, we know how tempting these next few days can be. In between cocktail parties, disco balls, and endless champagne, this is not the weekend you want to leave yourself vulnerable. So, savor the activities below and give yourself a non-alcoholic toast to 2017!

 

Saturday Pet Adoption

We’ve talked about the importance of pets in recovery before and nothing is more fulfilling than bringing a warm, cuddly four-legged friend home for the weekend. That’s why we’re proud to spread the word about Best Friend Animal Society’s year-end pet adoption drive. This Saturday afternoon, you’ll have the opportunity to bond with puppies, kittens, dogs and cats in desperate need of shelter. All of the animals are fixed, vaccinated and micro-chipped, making them ready to roll that afternoon. It’s an amazing cause and costs just $20 to bring home a new BFF. Trust us, there’s no better way to start off 2017. This drive will take place in Mission Hills and West LA. You can click here for further details.

 

Marina Del Rey Fireworks Show

Now for New Year’s Eve itself, we strongly advise staying away from bars, clubs and alcohol-fueled fiestas. Instead, try heading out to beautiful Marina Del Rey for their annual (non-alcoholic) New Year’s Eve Fireworks Show. Based out of Burton Chase Park, there will be giant jumbotrons broadcasting the Times Square festivities at 8pm (close to east coast midnight). At 9pm, real fireworks will go off to coincide with the ball drop. Then, the whole thing happens again at 11pm (to coincide with our own new year). It’s a fantastic, safe experience that’ll certainly make you appreciate the importance of 2017. More details are available here.

 

Polar Bear Plunges

Another annual LA tradition is the Sunday morning Polar Bear Plunges. This unique event certainly gets the blood pumping after a long night out. Starting at 6am, swimmers gather at Cabrillo Beach, Hansen Dam and Venice Beach to hit the icy ocean and celebrate the new year. It’s a great way to get a little exercise and promises to be (no pun intended) an extremely “sobering” experience. Details are available here for both swimmers and spectators.

 

128th Annual Tournament Of Roses Parade

And how could we discuss new year’s weekend without mentioning the amazing Tournament Of Roses Parade? This tradition has been a part of Los Angeles for over 120 years and for 2017, it will take place bright and early Monday morning. Spectators can line the streets of Pasadena to watch amazing floral creations roll by. We highly recommend checking this event out in person. But keep in mind, it will be extremely tight on seating so the recommendation is to camp out the night before or pay $75 for a bleacher seat. More information is available here.

 

Happy 2017, VRC friends!

 

 

2016 Year In Review

It’s hard to believe, but 2017 is right around the corner. And before we begin the next amazing journey of Valley Recovery Center, we want to reflect a little bit on the past 12 months.

 

2016 offered some major milestones for our business. We introduced some groundbreaking new therapies, had some fantastic hires, hosted exciting events, celebrated our one year anniversary and MOST IMPORTANTLY, helped our patients get sober. That, of course, is the ultimate goal of Valley Recovery Center. We are incredibly proud of the progress everyone who has passed through our doors has made. Whether it was an issue with alcoholism, a drug addiction, a gambling problem or what have you. We thrive by giving these people their lives back and creating positive experiences that steer them away from using.

 

Now, for a look back at our memorable 2016 moments…

 

Innovative Treatment Methods

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In 2016, we began introducing some innovative (and very successful) new therapies for our patients. Wolf Therapy, for example, gives our residents the opportunity to bond with sensitive animals, soothing the feeling of loss. Archery proved to be another positive 2016 practice, creating a rewarding sense of focus and discipline. We also put a stronger emphasis on our Music Therapy program, utilizing the talents of the amazing Marlee Simon. Her sessions have not only gotten our patients into a positive state of mind, they’ve turned them into accomplished songwriters and lyricists!

 

New Members Of The Team

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This year, we also added some amazing news members to the Valley Recovery Center family. Nutritionists  David Wiss MS RDN and Kristie Moore MS RDN have done wonders for our patients’ diets and detox treatments They brought years of the experience to the role and completely re-imagined the menus and eating regimens of people in our programs.

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We also brought the extremely talented Pamela M. Hayes to our team, as one of our ongoing therapists. With a diverse and educated background, she’s been able to contribute to our art program and address issues like anxiety, depression, and grief.

 

All of the 2016 new hires have received tremendous feedback and we look forward to expanding the “family” even more in the months to come!

 

Exciting 2016 Events

Another big pleasure this year was being able to attend (and throw) some fantastic events that celebrate sobriety. Throughout the past 12 months, we have also traveled across the U.S. to seminars, lectures and conferences discussing the state of our industry. Fantastic insights were picked up that we have been working into each VRC regimen.

 

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Here are a few of the “heroes” we had the pleasure of bonding with. Advocates like Bob Forrest, Robert Teitelbaum, Jeff Schlund, Michelle Friedman and Dr. Thor Reyes (who is now proudly part of the team).

 

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And let’s not forget about the Innovations In Recovery conference we proudly participated in, our charity basketball game celebrating sobriety and our One Year Anniversary celebration, which brought together industry partners from across the state!

 

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the people who have supported us this year. We are so honored to have built a strong network of recovery advocates and look forward to making even more industry strides in the months to come.

 

Thanks again to everyone and Happy New Year from Valley Recovery Center!

 

 

 

The Tragic Celebrity Addiction Deaths Of 2016

There is no doubt that 2016 has been a brutal year for untimely celebrity deaths. From icons like David Bowie, to rising stars like Anton Yelchin, to just this week, the loss of Carrie Fisher (who, herself battled addiction), people have been publicly mourning a wide array of stars who have left us too soon. Most tragic of all is, a handful of these famous names lost their lives because of a battle with addiction. For this blog, we thought it would be important to honor them and (sadly) use them as examples of how deadly substance abuse can be.

 

It doesn’t matter if you’re rich. It doesn’t matter if you have an entourage around you. The truth is, overdoses can strike anyone and recovery is just as important for a mega-selling music star as it is for a working class parent from the neighborhood.  Take these lessons and share them with the ones you love…

 

Prince

Let’s start off with one of the biggest selling music artists of all time. Prince was adored by millions and, unbeknownst to his fans, had been battling a deadly opioid addiction. Tragically on April 21, he lost that battle and cut his life short at the age of 57. Medical examiners listed his cause of death as a fentanyl overdose and later, photos emerged of Prince making multiple trips to Walgreens to purchase the prescription drug. There was also an incident just days before his death where he reportedly had a near overdose after playing a show. Though this is only speculation, we have a feeling that several people in his entourage were aware of the problem. And though it may have been difficult to confront the star, staging an intervention may have potentially saved his life.

 

Valerie Fairman

Another terribly tragic case concerns former MTV 16 and Pregnant headliner Valerie Fairman. Just 23 years old, this vivacious reality star was found unconscious on December 21 and had struggled with substance abuse for the past five years. Final toxicology reports are still pending, but outlets like Us Magazine are reporting that drugs were to blame. This particular incident is even more sad since Valerie was a young mother and had a full life ahead of her. She also was reportedly on a recovery path, highlighting the very real danger of relapses.

 

Joanie ‘Chyna’ Laurer

Legendary female wrestler Joanie “Chyna” Laurer lost her battle with addiction back in April. And this December, her cause of death was officially confirmed. According to reports, Laurer accidentally overdosed on alcohol and oxycodone (succumbing to a prescription-related overdose). Friends claimed Chyna had been suffering from depression and some career setbacks in her final months. This again is why we continue to stress the importance of recovery programs. Facilities like ours are available 24 hours a day, to provide emotional support and detoxing treatments. It’s a true shame that no one in Chyna’s immediate circle recognized the problem and/or encouraged her to get help.

 

George Michael

This is pure speculation, but rumors are already arising about the tragic premature death of singer George Michael and how addiction played a role. Whether it did or not, we know that George publicly battled many substance abuse demons. Dying on Christmas Day alone, also signals a potential sign of depression or “self-medicating.” Our prayers are certainly with his family at this time and we are certainly hoping that drugs weren’t the culprit.

 

We cannot stress enough how important it is to get help if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction. It can happen to a world-famous celebrity. It can happen to your best friend. Addiction knows no bounds and should not be fought alone. We highly encourage reaching out (866-986-2486) if a problem is beginning to emerge.

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Dec 23-25

Well, we’ve been talking about it for months and now, the biggest holiday weekend of the year has finally arrived. Interestingly, this Friday through Monday stretch will encapsulate nearly all of the major December festivities; including Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Christmas. So, of course, we encourage you to get together with the ones you love. But if you’re looking for a few more ideas that steer away from drugs and alcohol, we’ve put together another great list. Enjoy this special time and (if you can squeeze it in) add a few of these SSW ideas to your agenda too!

 

Union Station Cocoa Concerts

Who needs alcohol at a live music show when you can have a cup of soothing hot chocolate? That’s the sentiment behind the Cocoa Concert taking place this weekend at Union Station in downtown LA. This family friendly event happens Friday from 6p to 8p and will include live jams from the salsa band, La Picante. Ugly holiday sweaters are encouraged, as guests dance, decorate cookies and enjoy endless refills of homemade cocoa (with fluffy whipped cream)! Even Santa Claus will be on hand. This event has no cover charge, but holiday toy donations are welcome. For more information about the Cocoa Concerts, click here.

 

LA County Holiday Celebration

If you’re looking for a Saturday Sober SoCal idea, the 57th annual LA County Holiday Celebration is a surefire bet. This one takes place at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion from 3pm to 6pm and includes live bands, choirs, dancing and more. Best of all, it’s completely non-denominational, which means there will be festivities honoring Kwanzaa, Christmas and Hanukkah. It will also be broadcast live on PBS SoCal (so you KNOW it’ll have a good turnout). The only catch is attendance is on a first come, first serve basis; so if you’re running late you may not get in. We recommend arriving early for the free tickets and bringing the family along for this celebratory (and sober) extravaganza! More details are available here.

 

Laugh Factory Christmas Day Feast

Taking time for charitable works is a great way to spend part of your holiday weekend. And this Sunday, there will be a nice opportunity to do just that. Starting at 1pm, the Laugh Factory in Hollywood will be hosting their 37th annual Free Christmas Day Feast. Join in and you can help hand out warm meals alongside celebrity comedians and standups. There will also be live sets throughout the afternoon, to make sure the mood is upbeat and fun. We certainly applaud this venue for the great work they’re doing and encourage anyone with a free afternoon to partake in the good tidings. More details about the Feast are available here.

 

Happy Holidays to all from your friends at Valley Recovery Center!

 

 

Sobriety Tips For The Holidays

Between Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Christmas, this weekend marks the start of several major holidays. And with that, comes continued temptations to use. Whether it’s to “join in” on alcoholic celebrations or find an escape mechanism from a difficult family situation, December is famous for seeing an increase in addiction relapses. That’s why, for this blog, we wanted to provide support and a few helpful tips to maintain sobriety from now until the new year.

 

Maintain A Strong Support System

During times of temptation, we highly recommend having your support system close by. Whether it’s a sponsor, a recovery comrade or family member who has been by your side; keep them on speed dial and be ready to make that call if you sense any negative urges occurring. If possible, try inviting them to join you at your next holiday party. You’d be surprised to see what a positive impact it can have.

 

Rehearse Your Responses

It never hurts to have a pre-planned script handy before entering a holiday party. If you have a strong feeling that alcohol (or negative temptations) are going to be present, spell out in your mind the exact words you want to use when you refuse. If you take some time to think through various scenarios before they occur, you will feel much more comfortable saying no and maneuvering through the appropriate reactions.

 

Stay Well Fed

This may be interesting to hear, but a full belly can actually help you maintain your sobriety (especially during this time of year). So, go ahead and enjoy an extra helping at the dinner table. Statistics have shown that empty stomachs and low blood sugar can leave your irritable and impulsive, thus more willing to use.

 

Take Time For Charity Work

We all know that the holidays are a time for giving back. So why not keep with the spirit of the season? Truth be told, charity work can be a very “sobering” experience, especially if you take time to volunteer at somewhere like a homeless shelter. Servicing people in need can help put things in perspective and allow you to appreciate (and hopefully maintain) your sobriety.

 

Stay Organized

Keeping an ongoing schedule during this time of year can also be very beneficial. If you can plot each day, it will help provide structure and keep you out of unexpected and potentially dangerous situations. Try to fill your time with activities that stray away from drugs and alcohol (our Sober SoCal Weekends help for this) and before you know it, you’ll be well into the new year.

 

If You Need Help, Get It

And finally, if the temptations are just too strong this time of year then just recognize it and take action. There is absolutely nothing wrong with addiction vulnerabilities during the holidays. The important thing is to stop them before they begin. Valley Recovery Center operators are available seven days a week (even on Christmas) and can be that support system if you need. If now is the time to check in to a treatment program, do not hesitate. Give us a call at (866) 986-2486 and let us handle the rest.

 

 

 

The Importance Of Daily Affirmations

If you’re giving up a difficult addiction, every day can be a struggle. At Valley Recovery Center, we understand this and we always want to provide support to those who have graduated our programs or found their own way to slay their dependency demons. One technique that we’ve seen work extremely well is the inclusion of daily affirmations. What is that, you ask? Very simply, just a few words of encouragement to let somebody know that they’re not alone in their struggle.

 

One of the great things about the internet is that these type of affirmations can now occur digitally, and they’re happening every day. Through social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, recovery alumni can see helpful words of wisdom plastered on their smartphones and desktops.

 

We have found that Instagram is a fantastic outlet for sharing these types of messages. This particular site is based around visuals and lends itself to creativity. On our Valley Recovery Center Insta page, for example, we push out one inspiring post per day. These can range from famous quotes, to themes of the week (#MusicMonday being one of our favorites), to blurbs of advice for people questioning their sobriety.

 

Below are a few of our most popular (and favorite) selections…

 

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This post doesn’t specifically address drug abuse or alcoholism, but you get the point. Symbolism plays a big role in affirmations. We encourage our followers to interpret each image as they may and share them with their respective circles.

 

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This represents a different type of VRC affirmation, namely a cold, hard stat about the dangers of addiction. Many times people are unaware of all the dangers that come a drug dependency. Not only do you risk the possibility of an overdose, if you’re a heroin user there’s a chance that you can contract HIV.

 

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A post like this offers a weekly bit of advice. Click the image and you’ll see some VRC words of “wisdom,” specifically; Whatever you’ve been through, there is always someone older and wiser to learn from. At Valley Recovery Center we have a long list of successful alumni, willing to share their experiences and offer support.

 

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A picture like this offers a simple message of love and support. Sometimes you don’t need a lot of words for a daily affirmation. Just taking a moment while you’re scrolling through a feed to see and reflect on these words is enough.

 

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And finally, we mentioned that we liked #MusicMonday, right? This was one of our most popular affirmations, taking Aerosmith song lyrics and providing a little inspiration for anyone struggling with their recovery. Frontman Steven Tyler famous battled and beat his addictions. So what’s stopping anybody else?

 

Our Instagram page publishes a new affirmation each day and we always welcome contributions and ideas from our followers. But don’t just use our feed. There are fantastic books, websites and apps full of daily recovery wisdom. We advise to keep this material constant in your life and, when you feel ready, to start writing special affirmations of your own.

 

 

 

Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Dec 19

The countdown to next year has begun. And before we say goodbye to 2016, it’s important to take a hard look at the addiction stories that are continuing to shape headlines now. This week, topics like heroin and opioids are continuing to make waves. But there is encouraging news too, particularly about a groundbreaking new recovery app and potential awareness campaigns in 2017. So without further ado, here are the Addiction Article Recap tidbits to keep in mind before the holiday cheer.

 

And, as always, if you have any headlines that you’d like to see in our blogs, reach out via email to valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

Headline #1: ‘Anglestrong’ Recovery App

We always appreciate celebrities that speak out about the dangers of addiction. But when they take their clout one step forward and actually contribute to the cause, well that’s even more enlightening. This week, WWE star Kurt Angle did just that. Speaking to TheFix.com, the iconic wrestler shared news about his “Anglestrong” recovery app. This unique smartphone download bears his name and his support. It is set to be released on January 15 and will cost users approximately $1 per day. It includes communication tools, reports and surveys. Plus, it requires users to check in daily to assure they’re keeping up with their treatment regimen. Family members and friends are encouraged to participate too, keeping tabs on their loved ones with GPS tracking technology. “We’re very excited about this app and  want the families to join in too because studies have shown that recovering addicts relapse or overdose, or both, when they’re isolated,” Angle told the outlet. “You have to check into this app every day. If you don’t check in, your family’s notified. So at least your family knows, without being overbearing, how you’re doing.” That’s certainly a step in the right direction and a nice move on Kurt’s part, since he himself had a very public battle with painkillers. Keep you eye on the app store this January 15!

 

Headline #2: Delaware To Launch Addiction Prevention Campaign

The state of Delaware recently faced a tough statistic. According to a recent report, they rank #1 for the rate at which doctors prescribe high-dose opioids. So what’s the next step? Launch an addiction awareness campaign. We’re very proud of the local officials for stepping up to the plate and acknowledging the problem. According to reports, Delaware plans to spend $250,000 on educational community outreach programs aimed at prescribers, residents and the community at large. “I think there’s a consensus among the prescribing community that we have an issue in Delaware,” director of the state Division of Public Health, Dr. Karyl Rattay, said. “We know that public education has to be an important piece of tackling the addiction epidemic.” Kudos to those in charge and let’s hope it helps bring those numbers down!

 

Headline #3: Doctor Writes Children’s Book About Addiction

The next time you’re on Amazon.com, type the words How The Birds Stop Singing into the search bar. You’ll happen to come across an inspirational new pre-teen book aimed at addiction education. Ohio physician Dr. Jamile Wakin-Fleming authored Birds, with the intent of having it shared in local schools and libraries. Using illustrations and a gentler tone, the book discusses the dangers of heroin abuse and alcoholism. As Dr. Wakin-Fleming told a local Cleveland outlet, the goal is to scare kids straight before they begin using. “Before they start, I want them to know what they’re getting themselves into,” she explained. “Education, education, education. They need to know about these things.” As we mentioned before, if you don’t happen to live in Cleveland, the book is readily available on Amazon.com.

 

 

Heroin Deaths Have Topped Gun Homicides

If we can leave our friends with any bit of knowledge before the year’s up, it’s this: Don’t Be Afraid To Get Help.

 

Too many times people think they have control of their habit and, as some troubling new stats have now revealed, that really isn’t the case. According to The Huffington Post, heroin deaths have now surpassed gun homicides in the U.S.

 

Let’s all reflect upon that for a moment. Think about all of the times you hear about gun violence in the news, now increase that number substantially and you’ll be “close” to America’s fatal overdose statistic.

 

To put things in perspective, opioid related deaths have quadrupled since 1999. As of last year, they have hit 33,091 annually. Heroin OD’s, in particularly, are rising 23 percent year over year and synthetic opioid deaths increased by 73 percent to 9,580. This is all per The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who released their findings this week.

 

As we look back on 2016, we honestly believe that the opioid epidemic should have been highlighted as one of the year’s most important stories. Sure we had a presidential election, but in our opinion, THIS IS THE HEADLINE that deserved the most attention. As it stands, more than 20 million Americans suffer from addiction, with 12.5 million battling painkiller dependencies.

 

Another research team from the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation has reported that a third of Americans who took a prescription opioid for two months or longer have become physically addicted. Add to that, several prominent 2016 statements from our Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, and you’ll understand what a crisis this has become.

 

Throughout the year, we have applauded Dr. Murthy for helping to de-stigmatize addiction; alerting the press and high-level officials to categorize it as a disease and NOT a character flaw.

 

“For far too long people have thought about addiction as a moral failing,” Murthy explained to HuffPo. “Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain and it’s one that we have to treat the way we would any other chronic illness: with skill, with compassion and with urgency.”

 

So where does that leave us today? Well, we do find it encouraging that certain prominent figureheads are speaking out. But the sad fact is that the deaths are still increasing and not enough people are seeking out help. As we mentioned above, the biggest takeaway we hope people can lift from our blogs is about the recovery support systems.

 

Whether you are struggling with an addiction yourself or are the loved one of a person in need, there is no reason to feel shame or guilt anymore. In 2017 and beyond, we want our audience to know that addiction is a disease and, many times, out of a person’s control. And just like any disease, it can be treated and people who are currently suffering can go on to live healthy and happy lives.

 

The most important thing to do is reach out. Valley Recovery Center is available around-the-clock for anyone who has been impacted by addiction. We do not want to see this terrible statistic increase. If you or someone you are close to has a problem, call us today at (866) 986-2486.

 

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Dec 16-18

Merriment is all around us this weekend, Valley Recovery Center friends. And so are a lot of temptations, unfortunately. With alcoholic fueled holiday parties and old friends (with bad habits) back in town, now more than ever, it’s important to keep sobriety front and center. That’s why we’re proud to share yet another Sober SoCal Weekend list, highlighting December festivities that do not emphasize addiction. This time out, we’ve plotted out blockbuster movie outings, improv activities, seasonal singalongs and an anniversary afternoon at Griffith Park.

 

Enjoy! And make sure to send your Sober SoCal ideas to us via email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

Star Wars: Rogue One

December is primetime for theatrical blockbusters, particularly because so many people are on vacation and looking to escape the cold. Well this Friday, one of the most anticipated films of the year arrives. Namely… Star Wars: Rogue One. Taking the sci-fi action and adventure of the original trilogy and channeling it into a new storyline, Rogue One is already wowing the critics. It’s also playing in tons of theaters across the southland, which means (even though it’s popular) ticket sales should be readily available throughout the weekend. If you ask us, Rogue One is a great way to step away from a happy hour and enjoy two plus hours of holiday fun.

 

UCB Comedy Awards

If you follow our Sober SoCal blogs, then you’re well aware of our love of comedy. And this weekend, there is a fantastic outing available that gathers some of the most talented improv troupes in Los Angeles. Upright Citizens’ Brigade (UCB) is holding their It Sucked! comedy awards this Saturday, highlighting some of the year’s wackiest events for a packed theater in Hollywood. Drugs and alcohol are not permitted (thankfully), making this a “clean” show, full of silliness and surprise celebrity guests. Click here for more info.

 

Music Center Holiday Singalong

Caroling is another great holiday tradition and this Saturday, the Music Center in Downtown LA is holding their annual Holiday Singalong. This event is a great way to unite with family-friendly crowds under the Los Angeles night sky for festive cheer. The Center will have a complete orchestra accompanying anyone who wants to lend their voice and there will be some fantastic selections, ranging from Bing Crosby classics to smash Mariah Carey hits. The Singalong also happens to be completely free (and completely sober-friendly). For more details, click here.

 

120 Years Of Griffith Park

What would LA be without its historic Griffith Park?  Amazingly, this weekend marks the 120th anniversary of the legendary grounds and there will be a big celebration to honor it. From 3pm to 7pm on Saturday, the Park will be hosting a festive ceremony; which includes free merry-go-round rides, a climbing wall, L.A. Zoo admission, a night hike with the Sierra Club and much more. There will also be tons of live music and historians on hand, sharing memorable facts about the area and its impact on the city. This one is also completely alcohol-free and well worth a visit! Click here for more info.

 

 

 

4 Ways To Support A Loved One With An Addiction

They often say loving (or living with) someone with an addiction can be just as challenging as having one yourself. Interpret it as you will, the fact is: It is excruciating to see someone close to you battle this life-threatening illness. And there are plenty of Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to a proper recovery strategy. For this particular blog, we wanted to explore ways that, as a loved one, you can help the person in your life struggling with drug or alcohol dependence. Granted none of this is easy, but it is extremely important if you want to see them safely through the other side.

 

#1 Stop Enabling

This is one is actually much harder than it sounds. As a parent or loved one of an addict, it is tremendously painful to see them in pain. Many times, those closest to an addict try to turn the other cheek or even offer handouts to ease the suffering. This is considered “enabling” and actually does much more harm than good. Letting them sleep in all day, borrow your car keys or write themselves a check only continues the cycle. For the moment that may seem like an easier solution (especially since people suffering from addiction appear much nicer when catered to), but it can have deadly consequences.

 

#2 Tell Others About The Problem

Swearing yourself to secrecy is no way to solve the addiction problem of a loved one. It is very common for the person suffering to ask for confidentiality about their habit and, yes, everyone is entitled to privacy. But living in solitude will only create more problems. It is important to tell others close to the person about their problem. If other friends are unaware, they may be more likely to lend money or “enable.” You must let the person know that the loved ones in their life are united around sobriety and getting them help.

 

#3 Take Time For Self Care

This may sound selfish, but believe us it isn’t. Loving someone with an addiction can be extremely taxing, creating both emotional and physical stress. And, shockingly, it can even lead the caretaker to start using. One of the primary reasons people use is to “escape” and being around drugs and alcohol 24/7 can easily make the sober loved one begin to lose their willpower. So yes, do everything you can to support and help your dependent loved one. But on the flipside, always set aside time for therapy or self-care. Your health is just as important as theirs and separating yourself from the situation can do a world of good.

 

#4 Reach Out To A Recovery Facility

Ultimately, the most important of all these rules is #4. Yes, you can try to show love and support throughout the first stages of an addiction. But once things turn serious, the first thing you need to do is connect your loved one with a proper treatment program. As much as you would like to think that you alone can solve the problem, the hard truth is: You Can’t. A facility like Valley Recovery Center has trained specialists working around-the-clock who can ween your loved one off drugs, alcohol, gambling or what have you. The first step is actually very easy. Just pick up the phone and dial (866) 986-2486. We’ll handle the rest and YOU can begin getting your life back.

 

 

Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Dec 12

We’re just a few days away from the major December holidays, which means vacation days and (hopefully) some rest and relaxation. During the down time, we highly recommend taking a few moments to catch up on the addiction and recovery stories that matter. It’s always important to stay on top of events that impact our industry, especially since they tend to get buried deep beneath the Trump and Kardashian headlines. This week, we’re sharing articles of hope and articles of brutal honesty. Scroll through at your leisure and if you see one worth sharing, make sure to pass it on.

 

And, as always, we welcome your input too. If you’ve run across a headline that would perfect for our Addiction Article Recap, shoot us an email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

Headline #1: The Needle Exchange Movement

This month, people around the globe honored World AIDS Day (and rightly so). And with that, came the discussion about how intravenous drug use strongly contributes to the spread of the disease. In south Florida, particularly, heroin usage has reportedly seen new HIV cases spike past three times the national average. So, in an effort to combat that stat, officials have a launched a needle exchange program; which provides clean syringes for users throughout the state. Many have found the move controversial, claiming that it promotes drug use. We, however, feel differently, especially since we know what a powerful grip heroin can have on the body. We salute Florida for acknowledging the disease of addiction and are hopeful those who do participate in the exchange, also receive assistance and contact information for nearby recovery clinics.

 

Headline #2: Harvard Opens Office To Address Underage Drinking

In an effort to curb the growing amount of “drunk incidents” on their campus, Harvard University announced this week that they will be creating an Alcohol Education Office. The department extends far beyond an auditorium lecture or monthly campaign. As program director Garrett O. Fitzgerald told TheFix.com, it is a year-round clinic, offering students recovery assistance and support with alcoholic temptations. “[Our goal] is to oversee the University’s efforts to address alcohol and health issues among its students,” he explained. Fitzgerald went on to say that the office is also available for people who have been directly affected by Harvard alcoholics, whether by violence, threats or even sexual assault. With the rise in alcohol-related rapes on college campuses, this is definitely an important department to have. Hopefully more universities will take notice and address the issue as well.

 

Headline #3: Genetics And Alcoholism

And finally, a little science to finish off the Recap. We found the latest alcoholism-related research from NBC News to be quite fascinating. Apparently, scientists have identified a specific gene (called beta-Klotho) attributed to drinking. Beta-Klotho reportedly exists in all humans, but can appear in two forms. One version of it existed in people who tend to over-drink and another in people who abstain. “There was a clear variation in this one gene in the people that liked to drink more versus less,” researcher Dr. David Mangelsdorf told the outlet.  What does that mean, exactly? According to the people who conducted the study, it could revolutionize treatment for alcoholics. If they could approach it from a scientific standpoint, Dr. Mangelsdorf believes supplements or “counter-balance” treatments could help transform one variation of the gene to the other. Definitely fascinating stuff…And a story we plan to follow for many months to come.

 

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Dec 9-11

Happy holidays, Valley Recovery Center friends! We’ve only got a few more weekends left in 2016, so let’s make them count. For this upcoming stretch, we’ve assembled some amazing activities built around December merriment, creativity and comedy (all without the presence of drugs and alcohol, of course).  So make sure to add these ideas to your smartphone day planner and enjoy another Sober SoCal Weekend!

 

And as always, if you have some Sober SoCal activities that you’d like us to publish, shoot us an email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

Marina Del Rey Boat Parade

One of the best things about living in SoCal, is our adjacency to the beautiful Pacific Ocean. And one great holiday activity that takes advantage of that is Marina Del Rey’s December Boat Parade. This has become a westside tradition for several decades now and lets guests cheer on 70 aquatic vessels decked out with lights, gingerbread men and Santa Claus decorations. You can see everything from fancy yachts, to Christmas-themed speeders, to majestic sailboats and more. Plus, it’s even got 2016 Olympic champion KK Clark as its Grand Marshal! Trust us when we say this is an event that WILL NOT disappoint. Alcohol is completely prohibited (making it Sober SoCal safe) and there’s even a fireworks show to boot. To find out more about Saturday’s parade, click here.

 

Manhattan Beach Holiday Fireworks

Keeping with the westside theme, Manhattan Beach is hosting another amazing alcohol-free event this weekend. Their Holiday Fireworks Show kicks off Saturday night at 7pm and will feature live music, food trucks and an appearance by Mr. Santa Claus, himself. This event recently won Best Fireworks In The Nation from the Travel Channel and is expected to draw hundreds of onlookers. Streets will be closed, red rockets will be firing and there will even be fake snow for sledding (if you’ve got little ones coming along). Just make sure to dress warm, because the beach is expected to be a bit chilly late in the evening. For more info on the South Bay firework festivities, click here.

 

Disney Hall Holiday Orchestra

Who says we never add a little class into our Sober SoCal lists? If you prefer sophisticated symphony sounds, then set a date at Disney Hall this weekend. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, maestro conductor Gustavo Dudamel will be leading the L.A. Philharmonic for a rendition of Haydn’s Creation. This holiday epic has wowed music lovers for centuries and even features a full-chorus of singers. Expect great production value at the Hall too! For details on this alcohol-free event, click here.

 

Picture This!

And finally…For those who love creativity and comedy, we highly recommend the live Picture This! experience. Blending elements of standup, improv and artistry; the talented Picture performers sketch out audience ideas live during the show, then act them out Groundlings style. One of the best things about this event is that it’s absolutely free (and tends to attract famous folks, for all you celeb spotters). It all goes down off of Santa Monica Blvd, near the Pantages Theatre. For more details on the weekend shows, click here.

 

 

5 Signs You May Be Living With An Addict

We all know that addiction can tear apart lives, but identifying it is sometimes easier said than done. Often times, people dependent on drugs and alcohol can hide their habits extremely well; functioning with day-to-day tasks, yet crippled by the disease. Most surprising of all, there are many times when we can even be living with an addict and not see the telltale signs. That’s why we thought we’d use this blog to outline some key identifiers for loved ones, family members and roommates of people who may be using. If you’re beginning to notice a few of the indicators below, it may be time to reach out to a recovery facility.

 

Sign #1: Irregular Sleep Patterns

Addiction can rear its head in many ways. One in particular has to do with sleeping patterns. If the person you live with seems to conk out too much or too little, that may be the sign of a problem. Alcoholics, for example, tend to oversleep; wasting entire weekend days in bed. They also often nod off during inappropriate times. Cocaine users, on the other hand, may show opposite symptoms; acting energetic during the early dawn hours and pulling “all nighters” when the rest of the house is asleep.

 

Sign #2: Bathroom Oddities

This sign is particularly prominent among pill abusers. We recommend always keeping a close eye on the bathroom medicine cabinet if you suspect someone in your home is using. If prescriptions are conspicuously low or unmarked pill bottles are stored inside, a confrontation may be necessary. Also, keep an ear out for constant water running when the person is in the restroom, as this could be a signal of them trying to hide their activities.

 

Sign #3: Missing Items

People who are battling an addiction can do some pretty cruel and irrational things. One, in particular, is pawning valuable household items for drug or alcohol money. If you start noticing things missing from rooms in the home, there is a chance that they have been confiscated and sold. One key place to start looking for this sign is in jewelry boxes.

 

Sign #4: Paranoia

Stimulants and hallucinogenic drugs often cause paranoid feelings. If the person living with you suddenly exhibits delusions or irrational fears, there is a strong chance that they could be using. Key signals to look for here would be closed blinds, staying hidden in their room and anxiety around guests in the house.

 

Sign #5: Deception And Inconsistencies

Being untruthful is another telltale sign that someone is using. Obviously they are ashamed of their habit and are trying to keep it hidden from people in the house. We’ll be honest, some users are much better liars than others. But there are ways to pick up on this trait. For one, keep track of what they tell you. If you begin hearing inconsistencies about their whereabouts on a given day or find them struggling to offer simple answers, then it may merit a confrontation.

 

Truth be told, there are plenty of more signs that people give off when they’re in the throws of addiction. Hopefully the ones above have helped, but if you’re still unsure than we’d be happy to help offer a diagnosis. Valley Recovery Center’s line is always open. If you think there is an addict living in your home and want additional guidance or support, please give us a call. (866) 986-2486

 

 

When Addiction Takes A Life..

For the record, our Valley Recovery Center blogs are for everyone. Yes, we often speak to people in the midst of addiction. But we also put out material for the loved ones of people battling substance abuse. Because, as we all know, this disease knows no bounds and can just as easily impact a family member who isn’t using. So for this latest article, we wanted to reach out to friends and family members who have lost someone because alcoholism, an overdose or what have you. These are always incredible tragedies, but it is important to pick up the pieces, try to cope and use the loss to empower others who are yearning for recovery.

 

Understanding The Stages Of Grief

First and foremost, it is important to recognize and experience the grief that goes along with a premature death. Psychologists have outlined five specific stages that everyone who mourns tends to go through.

 

Stage One can be classified as “shock” or the unbelievable reality that your loved one is really gone. With addiction, this can be even more traumatic, particularly if the person in question was hiding their habit. On the surface they could seem to have it all together, but behind closed doors a deadly vice was doing them in. Shock is a completely normal reaction and time is certainly needed to process the feelings.

 

Stage Two represents “anger.” Once you realize that your loved one’s death was caused by their own hands, it can lead to some very volatile feelings. This is especially true for a spouse or a child; who are now often left in precarious situations with that person out of their lives.

 

“Negotiation” is defined as Stage Three. Therapy and counseling can be helpful during this period, as loved ones tend to blame themselves or try to rationalize the logistics behind the death/overdose.

 

Stage Four brings on “depression,” which is an emotion closely intertwined with addiction. This is actually a very dangerous stage for the loved one, as sadness may actually tempt them to use (to escape the pain).  Also, it’s a time to come to grips with the permanency and perhaps the loss of closure.

 

The final Stage Five is “acceptance.” It is here when you really come to terms with the situation and are able to let go. Now keep in mind, it can take months or even years to reach this stage. But it will come and when it does, peace can finally be reached between yourself and the bad choices your loved one had made.

 

Turning Loss Into Advocacy

As we mentioned before, it is extremely important to experience and process all of the above emotions before moving forward. And that can certainly take time. Don’t feel guilty if your grieving process extends long after the passing. That is completely normal and healthy for closure.

 

But when you do reach peace, you can hopefully take these experiences and channel them into something positive. At Valley Recovery Center, we have had countless family members speak and share the stories about their deceased loved ones. Turning this loss around and helping others who are in recovery will not only be therapeutic for you, it can potentially save lives and remove this type of pain from another caring family.

 

 

Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Dec 5

Happy Holidays Valley Recovery Center friends! We hope everyone is enjoying this special time of year. As work slows down, vacations are taken and family travel get added to the agenda, now is actually a great time to catch up on important news stories So, if you happen to have some downtime this week, we highly recommend taking a few moments to skim our latest Addiction Article Recap. It is here, where you’ll find the week’s most important headlines related to alcoholism, substance abuse and recovery. This time out, we’re delving into some strong statements made by the Pope, a Facebook Live overdose and dangerous painkiller stats among teenage athletes.

 

And as always; if you think we missed anything or have your own headlines to share, shoot us an email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

Headline #1: Pope Francis Speaks Out On Addiction

Ever since he took on the role of Catholic Church leader, Pope Francis has generated numerous headlines for his liberal ideologies and strong stances. We, for one, find it refreshing, particularly when it comes to topics like addiction. Many conservative religions have shown little sympathy for those battling substance abuse, but Pope Francis feels otherwise. This past week, he likened addiction to “a new form of slavery” and urged church leaders to show more support to those suffering. He also praised recovery programs, saying, “”[People addicted] must be heard, understood, loved and, as soon as possible, healed and purified. To achieve that goal, greater emphasis must be placed on programs that support health, family and education.” We are extremely happy to see a global religious icon address the epidemic this way and are hopeful other church officials take those words to heart and show sympathy towards this terrible disease.

 

Headline #2: Facebook Live Heroin Overdose

As with anything, there is a good side and a bad side to social media. And in the case of opioid addict, Ronald Hiers, having his overdose broadcast on Facebook Live has been both a blessing and a curse. The circumstances surrounding his public OD are actually quite cruel and voyeuristic. Apparently, local teens witnessed Hiers going into shock on the streets of Memphis. Rather than help, they quickly whipped out their cell phone cams and shared the moment on FB live. Paramedics were quickly able to resuscitate Ronald, but not before his video received millions of views. As he told CNN, Hiers Facebook “infamy” actually did get recovery advocates to reach out and ultimately help him go straight. “I am very optimistic about my recovery, and feel like God has reached down and pulled me out of a very dangerous situation,” he explained. “Since the video surfaced, I’ve learned that I can trust people, something I never did before. … I don’t feel hopeless, worthless and useless anymore.”

 

Headline #3: Teen Athlete Injuries And Addiction

There is a lot of glory behind being a high school football player, but as NBC News is reporting, it has a dark side too. According to their recent expose, painkiller addictions are becoming commonplace among teen athletes. In the below clip from The Today Show, varsity defensive end John Haskell delves into how a minor concussion led to a severe dependence on pills and eventually heroin. It’s a moving story and reflects a sad, but common trend happening to young people throughout the country.

 

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: December 2-4

It’s official! December has arrived, which means nonstop festivities from now until the end of the year. Unfortunately many of those holiday parties can involve negative substances, which is why now it’s more important than even to keep a Sober SoCal Weekend list. Well don’t fret because we’ve discovered a slew of amazing “clean” events that honor the season and steer away from spiked egg nog. For these next three days we’ve lined up some great ideas, including Enchanted Descanso Gardens, Groundlings Christmas Comedy, a lively Japanese Tea Party and educational talks from TED.

 

If you can, try and fit all of these great happenings into the sched. And don’t forget, we’re happy to share your ideas too! Just put them in an email and send them to valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

Enchanted Descanso Gardens

Stepping out and enjoying nature is a fantastic way to appreciate your sobriety. That’s why we were thrilled to hear about Descanso Gardens’ new Enchanted attraction, which takes the legendary Flintridge forest and turns it into a holiday celebration. Starting this Friday, guests can experience a one mile interactive route through ten different tree-filled light displays. Each has its own theme and offers artistic interpretations from local decorators. We definitely rank this high on the December Sober SoCal list, but keep in mind that tickets may be scarce. They run roughly $28 and must be purchased in advance.

 

International L.A. Tea Festival

What’s a tasty alternative to beer and wine? Hot flavored tea, of course! And this weekend, Downtown’s Japanese American National Museum is holding their first International Tea Festival. The three day event will feature 30 exhibitors and is expected to attract over 3,000 attendees. Sober cup samples will be flowing and there will also be unique classes about the art of tea-making and even meditation. As you probably know, we consider meditation to be an amazing recovery tool and a soothing cup of tea accompanies it perfectly. With that in mind, we expect this event to deliver. Plus, there will be book signings and lectures about detoxing recipes. If you can spare the time, try dropping in. All of the Tea Fest info is available here.

 

The Groundlings Holiday Show

We are huge comedy fans and have found laughter to be an incredible recovery tool. So is it any wonder that we would put the Groundlings Holiday Show at the top of this weekend’s to-do list? This legendary improv troupe has helped launch the careers of Will Ferrell, Pee Wee Herman and many more. With their rapid fire jokes and inventive skits, the Groundlings promise an extremely entertaining evening. And their stage does not welcome alcohol, which means there will be no temptations in between sets. Just good old fashioned laughs off of Melrose Ave. For more details on the Holiday Show, click here.

 

TEDx In LA

Who hasn’t spent some time soaking up a fascinating TED Talk on YouTube? Well now the intellectual lecture series is coming to LA for a special engagement on December 3. TEDx (as it’s called) is happening at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater and will feature speeches from astronauts, Google execs and green energy innovators. This completely substance free event is specifically designed to stimulate the mind and create conversations about interesting topics. It’s certainly something we’re excited about! If you can afford the roughly $100 tickets, this is a definite Sober SoCal must.

 

 

 

Addiction And The Trump Administration

As we look back at the events of November, undoubtedly one of the biggest headlines was the election of Donald Trump to the office of President. Regardless of whether you supported him or not, the fact is: He’ll be occupying the White House in just over a month. So to us that begs the question; Where does the new Commander-in-Chief stand on addiction? Well truth be told, Trump has not been very vocal about the issue. But we imagine he’ll need to be, especially with the growing opioid epidemic grappling the nation. So for this blog, we thought we’d explore exactly what a Trump presidency will mean for those struggling to stay sober.

 

To truly understand where President-elect Trump is headed, it’s important to look into his past. Examining prior statements (and tweets) he’s put out about heroin, narcotics and even the alcoholism-related death of his brother, here’s what we’ve been able to surmise…

 

Donald Trump is Fully Aware of the Nation’s Opioid Crisis

During his candidacy, Trump called opioid abuse a “tremendous problem” overtaking the nation. As with many of policies, he has been rather vague on the steps that need to be taken to combat it. However back in October, he did pledge to expand access to the overdose resuscitator naloxone (which we’ve written about many times before)  and make it easier for doctors to prescribe “abuse-deterring drugs.” He also said that the Food and Drug Administration has been too slow to approve medications that can stop cravings and that doctors face too many restrictions when prescribing them. Hopefully those were not just meaningless words…but only time will tell if he’s fully ready to act on them.

 

He’s Taken A Hard Stance Against Non-Violent Offenders

Turning 180 degrees from President Barack Obama’s actions, Donald Trump has pledged not to show leniency for non-violent drug offenders. The current Prez has actually pardoned several people incarcerated for drug offenses and spoken out about reforming the harsh sentences that they receive. Trump, unfortunately, seems to be going in the opposite direction. He has praised his running mate, Vice President Mike Pence, for the harsh stance he took in his home state of Indiana. There, then-Governor Pence instituted stricter mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders. However, Trump has vowed to go after traffickers who supply drugs to addicts (something we credit him for), stating he would “aggressively prosecute traffickers of illegal drugs.”

 

Trump Appears To Show More Sympathy Towards People Battling Alcoholism

If there is one area where Trump seems to have a softer spot, it’s for people battling alcoholism. The Donald has spoken very openly about how drinking “killed” his brother Fred. Trump told interviewers that he adored his older sibling and was devastated to see him ravaged by the bottle. “I watched him and I learned from him,” Donald told a biographer, emphasizing that his brother’s death led him to turn away from alcohol. Our hope is that he finds sympathy for others struggling with the same disease, encouraging sobriety and recovery programs from his desk at the Oval Office.