Video Games May Help With Addiction Recovery

Anyone who knows about Valley Recovery Center knows that we are big fans of “outside the box” recovery methods. Whether it’s Wolf TherapyArchery or even Virtual Reality; if there’s evidence that it can help somebody overcome an addiction, we’ve got an open mind. Well, one of the newest treatments to make headlines is actually puzzle-based video games. Tetris, specifically, has been shown to make significant progress for people working their way through a drug or alcohol dependency.

 

Addictive Behaviors recently published the results of a lengthy study that showed how puzzle games can help re-focus the brain and allow players to distance themselves from traumas that occur after an addiction.

 

According to writer Beth Mole from Arstechnica.com, “Researchers report that Tetris seems to jumble the mind’s ability to process and store fresh traumatic memories. For those struggling with cravings or addiction, research has found that Tetris’ mental grasp can diminish the intensity of hankerings and help game players fight off real-life dependencies.”

 

Dubbed “Nintendo Therapy,” the prognosis was not to let those in treatment spend hours on end in front of the TV screen. Rather, it was recommended to sit with Tetris in short increments of roughly 20-30 minutes per day. Of the 31 recovery participants in the initial survey, 14 percent claimed that playing helped squash their addictive cravings.

 

For those unfamiliar, Tetris has been a popular Nintendo game since the 1980’s. Its sole purpose to fit puzzle pieces together and avoid an overcrowded screen. This particular title has become immensely popular with gamers around the world and is often referenced as the predecessor to popular apps like Candy Crush and Bejeweled (both of which were also shown to be successful recovery tools).

 

To us, the ultimate recovery success factor is Balance. Sure puzzle video games can be a productive outlet, but they should also be coupled with physical activity and interactions with support groups. Too much of anything can be detrimental and, yes, we have certainly heard of the dangers of video game addictions.

 

What makes Tetris unique, however, is its simplicity. This is not one of those mindless online shoot-em-ups that keeps guys’ locked in their basements. Tetris involves real brain power, much like crosswords and Sudoko (both of which we also recommend for recovery). It also has a rewarding component for a job well done, praising players for their problem-solving abilities.

 

Games like Tetris also offer a nice sense of relief for people that need a break from therapy or recovery sessions. Tools like this can be very useful during the treatment process and we applaud Addictive Behaviors for continuing to explore new methods to help people get clean. Who knows? You may even see Nintendo Therapy on the VRC regimen in the weeks to come…

 

 

Actress Katey Sagal Chronicles Addiction In New Book

As we’ve mentioned many times before, celebrities can be a powerful tool in the fight against addiction. Many athletes, musicians and actors are also role models and hold a great deal of influence over their fans. So when someone famous openly speaks out about an alcohol or drug issue, it can help de-stigmatize some of the shame. This month former Married With Children star Katey Sagal took celebrity advocacy even further, by chronicling her recovery experiences in a brutally honest new book.

 

The autobiography Grace Notes: My Recollections covers many chapters in Sagal’s life, from her emotional childhood, to her sitcom success. But the portions getting the most attention are the ones that deal with the drug and alcohol addictions she struggled with during early life.

 

Holding nothing back, Katey revealed that she began experimenting with pills while still in grade school (primarily because they were readily available). When speaking about childhood neighbor, Lorna Luft, she wrote, “Lorna’s mom had a lot of pills on her bedside table and slept past noon just like my mom. We hung tight. And, of course, I thought everyone’s mom took a lot of pills.”

 

Sagal then writes about her 20-something years in the 1970’s, where she worked to become a singer and musician. She openly admitted to having a heavy addiction problem during that era, which was exacerbated by the untimely death of her father.

 

“I was a mess,” she recalled after her father’s passing. “I had a lot of shit that I just didn’t deal with. Or that I dealt with it by drinking myself into a stupor.”

 

Katey’s situation is certainly not uncommon. The death of a parent at an early age is often times the catalyst for a deeper dive into addiction. People tend to think of drugs and alcohol as a way of “numbing” emotional pain, but we’re here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.

 

In Sagal’s situation recovery arrived at age 30, just as she was finding success on Married With Children. Happily clean ever since (30 years and counting), she is now a proud advocate for treatment and has supported several sobriety-related charities.

 

“When I was on Married with Children, I would have people come up to me a lot that were either in the stage of their recovery, because I was pretty vocal about getting sober, and it would help them to know that there was somebody sober that they could see on the TV,” she explained. “So I knew early on in my recovery that it was a benefit. It’s just a blessing that I am able to do these things, to be an actor, to have a job, to be in these kinds of roles or any kind of role, really.”

 

And for that, we salute Ms. Sagal and all of the wonderful work she continues to do. 

 

 

States Pushing For Stricter DUI Laws

We all know how devastating drunk driving accidents can be. It is one thing to ravage your own life because of alcoholism, but once you get on the road and potentially take the life of another…Well then your addiction gets pushed to a whole new level. That’s part of the reason we can’t blame certain lawmakers for taking a harder stance against DUI’s. As sympathetic as we are to people battling a dependency, THERE IS NEVER AN EXCUSE to put another life in jeopardy. One state that is at the forefront of zero tolerance drunk driving is Utah, which is currently working to lower the legal limit of intoxication behind the wheel.

 

Here in California, the legal blood alcohol limit is .08% (as it is with most states across the country). What Utah wants to do, is push it down to .05%, making it much easier to fail a breathalyzer. Local residents have strong opinions on both sides, with the more religious Mormon communities strongly advocating for a change and restaurant/bar owners fighting against it.

 

Utah Governor Gary Herbert is a strong proponent of lowering the limit and just this week signed a bill to move things forward.

 

“You can drink as much as you want,” he publicly stated. “But once you get past a couple of drinks, you ought not to be getting behind the wheel of an automobile. There are certainly many ways you can get home. You can have a designated driver. You can have Lyft, Uber, cabs.”

 

Truth be told, the latest drunk driving statistics are extremely troubling. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 27 Americans are killed each day because of DUI accidents. Their data also revealed that nearly 300,000 U.S. citizens were injured last year because of intoxicated car crashes.

 

We know that alcohol can severely impair someone’s judgment. But that doesn’t give an addicted person the right to drive drunk and potentially kill people. And let’s not forget the lucky ones, who simply get arrested without causing a major crash. DUI’s land you in jail, they cost you thousands of dollars in fines, they drive your insurance up and, very commonly, they can lead school expulsions and the loss of work.

 

There are an endless amount of reasons why you shouldn’t drive drunk…or stoned, or high, or what have you. And that is why WE IMPLORE anyone battling a substance addiction (or the loved one of a person battling addiction) to work with a treatment facility immediately. The consequences of a bad decision like this can be monumental and with harsher laws coming down nationwide, the time is now to seek out help. 866-986-2486.

 

 

Grandparents Stepping In During Recovery

More and more recently, grandparents are taking a larger role in the recovery process. As recently as this week, The Pittsburgh Post Gazette highlighted a story about the 2.6 million retirees who are now primary caregivers for their grandchildren because of addiction. One couple, Marvin and Anne Sirbu, have taken their mission all the way to Washington D.C.; asking the federal government for assistance. But before we delve into the legal side of the issue, it’s important to look at family dynamics and the nation’s growing opioid crisis.

 

The Sirbu’s offered a bit of a backstory to their current situation. Speaking with the Gazette, they relayed how they are now living with their five and eight-year-old granddaughters because of their daughter’s opioid dependency. Marvin has become the girls’ legal guardian and is working diligently to get his own child into a recovery program.

 

“It can be emotionally difficult to go from being a grandmother who spoils the kids to becoming the disciplinarian who makes sure that homework is finished,” his wife Anne explained.

 

But the truth is, this scenario is becoming much more common. In our opinion, this speaks to the devastating nature of opioid addiction. Imagine not being able to care for your own children because of a painkiller dependency. Before you shake your head and say, “This would never be me,” understand that these are everyday mothers and fathers. They are (or were) high-functioning members of society who have now given up their flesh and blood to maintain the high.

 

We should be incredibly grateful to the grandparents who step in and take on these new responsibilities. There are other addiction scenarios (believe us, we’ve seen them) where young kids wind up in foster care and forced to fend for themselves. As the Sirbu’s explained in Washington, unexpectedly taking on a family at an advanced age can be incredibly challenging. Marvin testified that federal assistance can help make a big dent.

 

“It’s hard to find services for people like us,” he said. “We need therapists who understand the problems of children who are addicted, and help thinking about what we need to do to take care of them. Social services aren’t geared toward us.”

 

Many on the Senate panel agreed, including Republican Main representative Susan Collins.

 

“We are going to continue to work together to look at what else we can do,” she added. “We have an enormous debt of gratitude to these grandparents that are opening their homes and their hearts to their children’s children.”

 

We know how difficult it is to see a child struggle with addiction, even if they’re a full-grown adult. If you are retired parent experiencing this situation, don’t just carry the load of raising your grandchildren. Make sure your own child gets the help they need with a proper recovery program.

 

 

Understanding Marijuana Addiction

With more L.A. dispensaries popping up on a daily basis, we thought now would be an important time to discuss the very real issue of marijuana dependency. We are well aware of the naysayers and pot supporters who vehemently deny its addictive tendencies, but the truth is: Weed can be dangerous and weed can ruin lives. We’ve seen it firsthand and we want our audience to know that there is nothing wrong with recognizing that you smoke too much. Valley Recovery Center offers several marijuana detox programs. But before we get into that, we wanted to illustrate some of the symptoms behind too much pot use.

 

Is It Making You Paranoid Or Antisocial? 

One issue to look out for (as weed becomes more and more available) is a sense of withdrawal after smoking too much. It is not uncommon for people who use marijuana to begin suffering anxiety issues. We know that the advocates claim the drug relaxes you, but for many users it can have a very adverse affect. As you smoke more, do you notice yourself retreating into your own private world? Or perhaps getting uncomfortable in crowds? These are very normal feelings and can create big problems as you try to function in everyday life. If this is a symptom you or someone you care about is dealing with, seek out treatment before the anxious feelings worsen.

 

The Laziness Factor

We all know about the stereotype of the “lazy stoner.” But in many cases, smoking too much can definitely limit your motivation. Symptoms of a problem in this area can include consistent tardiness for work, failing grades in a school program, gaining too much weight and more. If you’re a regular smoker, it’s always important to stop and do self-evaluations. Think about if you’re reaching your maximum potential. Or if you’re having problems maintaining romantic relationships. This lack of impetus can most certainly stem from a marijuana dependency. If you’re suffering from this issue than getting clean won’t just make you healthy, it could potentially further your career and livelihood.

 

Marijuana As A Gateway Drug

We’re sure you’ve heard the term “gateway drug” associated with marijuana before. Well this is most certainly true, particularly with teenagers. Think about how many times getting high also involved beer drinking or partying. Sure there are users who stick strictly with weed, but there are a large portion who do not. Several prominent research outlets (including The New York Times) have listed it as such. “Marijuana use is positively correlated with alcohol use and cigarette use, as well as illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine,” behavioral researcher Robert DuPont told the Times. So make sure to remember that, particularly if you have a child at home who is eager to experiment. Everyone’s personality is different and some who smoke today could easily fall into the trap of drinking tomorrow.

 

To learn more about Valley Recovery Center’s marijuana addiction treatment options, call us at 866-986-2486.

 

 

Where To Travel When You’re Clean & Sober

There are A LOT of things to look forward to once you make it through recovery. Sobriety, health and stability are just a few of the essential perks. But something we always tell our patients to do is to visualize their new future life. Think about the great things ahead and you’ll have even more strength to make it through today. One topic that always seems to come up when we have these conversations is Travel. It’s part of our human nature, right? To see the world and set off on exotic adventures. Well it’s very much possible AFTER you slay all the addiction demons.

 

But to help add a little motivation, here are some great sober wish list destinations!

 

Yosemite National Park

We can’t think of a better place to celebrate sobriety than in the majestic mountains of Yosemite National Park. Located just a few hours from SoCal, this gorgeous camping destination has waterfalls, hiking trails and forests. It’s also far away from the temptations of city life and works as a sort of sanctuary for anyone looking to reflect. Often times, being outside in nature can really motivate you to keep up the clean lifestyle. Seeing how much our planet (and life) has to offer is a very compelling reason to maintain sobriety and focus on remaining here for many years to come.

 

Sedona, Arizona

Another destination very close to our backyard, Sedona has become a mecca for detoxing and meditation. This tranquil portion of the Arizona desert has a variety of top notch spas and resorts, most of which support a clean lifestyle. Here you can relax with soothing massages, go on active rock climbing adventures and even fish at the gorgeous lakes of Oak Creek Canyon. Similar to Yosemite, this small region is purposely distanced from a fast city life and offers a temptation-free experience far away from bad influences.

 

Maui, Hawaii

Last on our list (and furthest from SoCal) is the beautiful island of Maui. The fact that it only takes Angelinos five hours on a plane to get there is an amazing treat in itself. That means, you could pull off a trip like this over a long weekend or just a few days. But trust us when we say it is completely refreshing and eye-opening. Definitely the most soothing Hawaiian island, Maui offers gorgeous sights, calm warm water and breathtaking sunsets that allow you to soak in life’s beauty. There is also amazing food, inspirational landmarks and active adventures to keep your focus away from using.

 

Clearly there’s a giant world to explore, but these quick and easy locales are tangible travel goals to shoot for. If you need that extra push to get clean, picture something like this and let Valley Recovery Center help get you there!

 

 

4 Real Dangers Of Addiction In The Workplace

There is no denying that an addiction can cost you a lot of things. And an interesting stat this week revealed just how much drug abuse (opioids, specifically) is creating turmoil in the workplace. A new survey from The National Safety Council found that roughly 70 percent of all U.S. businesses say addiction issues affect their workers. For this reason, random drug testing is on the rise at several major corporations…And for good reason. Having an impaired employee can lead to disastrous consequences, both for the worker and for the customer. We strongly encourage anyone battling a substance dependency to seek out treatment before clocking in.

Below we’ve listed out several compelling reasons for doing so…

 

Danger #1: Life-Threatening Injuries

Though people may not want to believe it, going to work inebriated can quite literally cost you your life. For those who are employed in construction or manual labor, there are serious consequences to an impaired work day. Alcoholics who operate heavy machinery are just as bad (if not worse) than drunk drivers. It is very easy to have a lapse in judgement when operating a forklift or taking on a delivery route. This type of equipment can easily take a life and not just from the person who’s under the influence. Crashes, mishaps and poor judgment can just as quickly kill a bystander or a fellow employee.

 

Danger #2: Lawsuits

When most people go to work everyday, they are taking on some form of responsibility. Believe us when we say that addiction strikes doctors and lawyers just as easily as it strikes blue collar workers. And if you happen to be running your own practice improperly, there could be serious consequences. Imagine a medical professional going into surgery under the influence (something we have definitely seen happen). A mishap on the table could lead to lawsuits, severe damages and, very likely, the loss of your business. Same with attorneys who mishandle cases because of an addiction. These are certainly big factors to think about if you’re battling a problem.

 

Danger #3: Reputation

No matter what field you’re in, reputation is everything in the professional world. Career advancement and new opportunities arise because of the way you present yourself. Now imagine if you are fully skilled and able to move forward, but your addiction holds you back. Often times alcoholics and drug abusers find themselves late for meetings, missing deadlines and behaving poorly during company functions. The tragedy is, nearly all of them are talented at what they do. But a crippling problem can do permanent damage to their credibility. We strongly advise getting ahead of your dependency before things head down that dark road.

 

Danger #4: Loss Of Livelihood

No matter where you work, chances are you need that paycheck to survive. Job income is what keeps the lights on, it’s what keeps food on the table and it’s what families need to thrive. So really think about who you’re hurting when you go to work drunk or stoned. One of the biggest tragedies happening in this country is the rise of homelessness. And you would be very surprised to see how easy it is for an everyday family to get into that situation because the head of that household is addicted.

 

We strongly encourage anyone struggling with addiction to take time off from work and focus on recovery. A discreet exit into a treatment program is a lot better than a firing or disgraceful workplace situation. Call us anytime to take that first step. We can work with you through the process and make sure things are handled properly at your job. Valley Recovery Center is here to help.

 

 

Addiction Article Recap: Week of March 20

Happy Spring, VRC friends! Yes, this week marks the beginning of a brand new season and a fresh start for people looking to make a positive change in their lives. We’re big fans of this time of year, with longer days, warmer weather and more excuses to be outside (and away from bars). As per usual, we’ve gathered up more important stories from the world of recovery. For this Addiction Article Recap, we’re highlighting headlines that are both encouraging and alarming. Everything from an overall decrease in teen substance abuse, to an increase in U.S. opioid addiction. All of these pieces deserve to be heard, so scroll below to learn more.

 

And don’t forget, you can share you own news with us via email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

Headline #1: Smartphones May Be Keeping Teens Off Drugs and Alcohol

We thought we’d kick off this Recap with some positive updates. According to a recent article from TheFix.com, smartphones may be contributing to a decrease in teen addiction. Citing recent research, they claim that teenage drinking and drug use has fallen in the past decade. Apparently iPhones and Androids can take a lot of credit for that, particularly games and social media apps. Dr. Nora Volkow, who headed the study, believes that handheld devices “fulfill the necessity of sensation seeking” for middle and high schoolers. Of course, many also claim that smartphones are “addicting” themselves and can consume the lives of young people. While we agree that devoting your energies away from toxic chemicals is a good thing, there are reports that those prone to addiction will still fall prey at an older age. In our opinion, too much of anything can be harmful…So parents, make sure to keep your teens’ “digital time” to a daily minimum.

 

Headline #2: America Leads The World In Opioid Addiction

Sometimes it’s hard to believe just how serious the U.S. opioid crisis has become. Not only do we have tens of millions of Americans addicted to painkillers, we now lead the world in opioid dependency cases (and by a large margin). According to The Washington Post, the United States distributes 50,000,000 daily doses of the drug. That is nearly double the amount of the next most dependent nation (which happens to be Canada).  Of particular note is the rise in use of the opioid, hydrocodone. Per The Post article, Americans now consume more than 99 percent of the world’s supply. These are certainly alarming stats and we are working diligently to educate and treat anyone impacted by this addiction. If you or someone you love is dealing with an opioid problem, reach out immediately.

 

Headline #3: Teen Betel Nut Addictions

One thing we like to do in our Article Recaps is address new addictive trends that are on the rise in this country. The latest substance that is catching on with teens is actually betel nuts, strangely enough. Used for cultural and religious rituals, these nuts now work as a form of tobacco for teens across the U.S. (chewed and then spit out). But it’s important to note that they can be very addictive and cause serious health risks, such as oral cancer and tooth loss. Several states are working to outlaw the product and programs are already in place to educate young people about betel nut dangers.

 

Spotlight On Resolve Recovery

This past week, we had the privilege of speaking with Nial Stimson, Vice President of Community Outreach at the Resolve Recovery facility. Located just off of Sunset Boulevard, this unique and specialized treatment center caters only to women and works as a non-profit for those facing financial hardships. As Nial told us, money is not the motivating factor behind Resolve’s mission. Their goal is to help their patients get clean and stay clean, particularly those who do not have the funds to afford cost-heavy treatment programs.

 

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“Resolve Recovery is part of a large non-profit that was founded 30 years ago,” Stimson explained to us. “We decided to put this program into action because we noticed there were a lot of people who did not have PPO’s and didn’t have $15,000 to $40,000 for treatment.”

 

Resolve happens to work with most HMO plans and offers a variety of affordable payment options for people looking to get sober. Nial also told us that this past year, the facility had begun implementing scholarships.

 

“Our slogan is ‘Addiction costs you everything, treatment shouldn’t have to.'” he added. “We really want to offer a program that could take in more clients than it turns away.”

 

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Resolve also offers several other unique treatment options. As Nial told us, this is a female-only facility. It is designed by women and for women. With that in mind, he explained that their customized therapies put an emphasis on domestic violence, trauma and depression. Much like Valley Recovery Center, being gender-specific allows for a much higher success rate after treatment.

 

“We’ve helped turn Resolve into a safe place for women to talk about deep issues,” Nial added. “When women go to a coed facility, they really don’t delve into some of those more private topics.”

 

Part of the regimen at Resolve includes music therapy, process groups, art therapy and more. There are also a 12-step based programs, with on and off-site meetings.

 

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Delving more into the specifics, Nial said, “Traditionally, our program is set up with 30, 60 and 90-day options. After care is also very important to us. From day one, we work hard to get people into sober living.”

 

He also emphasized that Resolve is equipped to handle a wide variety of addictions, from painkillers and opioids, to alcoholism and beyond. Ages range from 18 -70, with a majority of patients falling between 20 and 40.

 

And as far as success factors go; Nial explained, “We have seen many of our patients do amazing. After they leave, we’ll invite them back to our alumni group. We’ve only been open a little over a year, so we’re now crossing several 365-day milestones with our former patients.”

 

If you, or a woman you care about, is suffering with addiction, we highly recommending getting in touch with Resolve Recovery. They do amazing work and they do it for the right reasons. Make sure to visit their website and, if costs are an issue, click over to their Process page to learn more about their affordable options.

 

 

 

 

4 Ways To See If Your ‘Social Drinking’ Is Going Too Far

It’s a common excuse we see all the time. “I’m a social drinker,” people say — Meaning that having blackouts and nightly beers with friends doesn’t qualify you as an alcoholic. WRONG. The truth is even if you don’t drink alone, chugging down booze multiple times a week can do tremendous damage to your body and most certainly qualifies as an addiction. For this blog, we wanted to call out some of the major “social drinking” warning signs. It’s always important to put yourself in check because many times people evolve into alcoholism without even realizing it.

 

Here are some key signals that your social drinking is going too far.

 

Sign #1: Drinking To Relax After Work

Society has often portrayed an afterwork cocktail as acceptable. To many, the 6 o’clock hour (or Happy Hour as it’s commonly called) is a time to pop open a beer and “unwind” after a hard day at the office. The truth is…If you’re using alcohol as a crutch to get over the stresses of a hard day, then you may very well be on the road to addiction. Drinking does not relax you or allow you to escape your problems. It’s “calming” effects are only temporary and create many more problems than they relieve.

 

Sign #2: Weekend Hangovers

If you find yourself waking up every Sunday with a headache or a face in the toilet bowl, then it’s very likely that you’re drinking too much. Vomiting, blackouts and the like can wreak havoc on your body and the continuous stresses of weekend drinking indulge can cause irreparable liver damage. Think of all the wonderful things you’re missing out every morning that you wake up nauseous in bed. These patterns can certainly rob you of a happy, well-balanced life and we encourage anyone who experiences more than two hangovers a month to get help.

 

Sign #3: Diminishing Bank Accounts

There is no denying that bar hopping  can be incredibly expensive. At fancy nightclubs and hotels, a cocktail can easily run up to $15 a pop (and that’s before tip). We advise keeping a close eye on your budget. If half or even a third of your monthly credit card receipts show drink charges at various bars, then there’s a definite problem occurring. A life like this can put you in some serious financial debt and trust us, as the habit grows so will those increasing bills.

 

Sign #4: “Liquid Courage”

One term that really rubs us the wrong way is “liquid courage.” As if alcohol can somehow benefit you if you’re naturally shy or withdrawn. This is an absolute falsity and can create real psychological issues for people who feel the need to drink to be social. Relying on booze as a crutch for talking to girls, being friendly at parties or even functioning in large groups is extremely dangerous. It can also quickly lead to an addictive habit and one that needs to be put in check immediately. Trust us when we say that there are plenty of other productive (and sober) ways to let your true personality shine.

 

 

When An Addiction Costs You Your Freedom

An addiction to drugs or alcohol can cause turmoil on so many levels. But beyond the physical damage, the emotional pain on the family and the loss of wages or work; substance abuse can also cost you your freedom. You would be amazed to hear about the harsh sentences that are handed down for those caught with narcotics. That’s why for this blog, we thought we’d explore those facts and clearly illustrate how using can land you behind bars.

 

Penalties For Using

First let’s start with drug possession. Did you know that even as a first offender, you could be fined up to $1,000 for having illegal narcotics in your possession? And depending on the drug, it could lead to up to one year in prison. Heroin happens to be one of those examples and tragically, many “everyday people” are now finding themselves addicted to it due to opioid and painkiller dependencies. Now, imagine that leading to a permanent record that could impact your livelihood, your credit and your ability to get hired for work.

 

If your habit is starting to really veer out of control, you may find yourself trying to take money from a loved one. What you think is a quick swipe from mom’s purse, could ultimately land you 20 years in jail. That’s right, robbery and other desperate moves that addiction can lead you to are labeled Use of A Controlled Substance To Commit A Crime. And that means a $250,000 fine, a felony conviction and a quarter of your life behind bars.

 

Penalties For Smuggling

Sure you think your habit would never take you down the path of smuggling…Well, don’t think too soon. For too often, we’ve seen regular suburban husbands and wives turn to prostitution, trafficking and yes, smuggling to support their habit. You’d be amazed at how slippery of a slope it is! So if a dealer offers to cut you a break for moving some of his good, listen to what the penalties could be. Taking any substance across a border into the U.S. is an automatic $250,000 fine. It also can lead to a 20 year sentence. If you happen to be caught with an illegal narcotic at an airport, well that classifies as smuggling too. Expect a potential sentence of two years for that one (depending on the drug).

 

Penalties For Dealing

What’s the next logical step from smuggling? Dealing. Yup, small time dealers often start to feed their habit as well. This could mean anything from growing in your backyard, to dispensing extra opioids, to cutting friends into coke deals. Heavy stuff, we know, but it can all stem from a casual addiction. Now let’s break down how harsh these sentences can be.

 

If you’re caught selling 1 kilogram or more of heroin, expect a possible life sentence. If you have five kilos of cocaine or more, fines can range in the millions. And if you’re caught selling to a person under 21, expect whatever sentence you get to be doubled.

 

The bottom line is, addictions can quickly escalate into much more serious situations. And though we don’t always agree with how the justice system handles those struggling, rules are rules. Make sure to check your habit before it gets out of control. Valley Recovery Center can help. 866-986-2486

 

 

Addiction Article Recap: Week of March 13

Welcome to mid-March, VRC friends! This is a week when plenty of temptations come into play. In between March Madness basketball betting (which we happened to write a blog about) and beer-heavy St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, it is important to keep a sober state of mind and avoid negative urges. It’s also important to pay attention to the news that impacts our recovery community and those fighting to stay clean. This week, we’ve gathered three headlines for our Addiction Article Recap, which range from policy updates, to startling drug stats, to inspirational celebrity sobriety.

 

We hope you enjoy the mix and invite you to share your own stories via email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

Headline #1: ‘SNL’ Star Finds Sobriety

We start out this week’s batch of stories with some uplifting news. Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson shared some very viral social media posts over the weekend announcing that he is completely drug-free. This is significant for a variety of reasons. For one, it shows how channels like Instagram and Twitter can become huge sources of sober inspiration. Forums like these give celebs an open dialogue with their fans and, when they’re brave enough to open up about coming clean, they can have tremendous influence. Davidson, for example, has over 430,000 Instagram followers. His “clean and sober” post attracted 50,000 Likes and went viral across sites like People and Entertainment Weekly. We applaud Pete’s honesty and his motivational words. “I quit drugs and am happy and sober for the first time in 8 years,” he wrote. “It wasn’t easy, but I got a great girl, great friends and I consider myself a lucky man. I’ll always be here for you guys, I promise. Remember to never give up hope because sometimes that’s all we got.”

 

Headline #2: Colombia Confirmed As Top Coke Producer

Sadly we’re sure a headline like this comes as no surprise to anyone, but some of the facts behind Colombia’s cocaine production are astonishing. For one thing, their fields account for more than 42 percent of the entire global coca cultivation. That’s nearly 500,000 acres in rough numbers. This trumps other production regions like Peru and Bolivia by a massive margin. It’s a tragic fact, but cocaine exportation is reaching levels that mirror the 1980’s. This not only contributes to the growing number of addicts worldwide, it’s also led to an increase in organized crime and cartels. This habit creates catastrophes on multiple levels and we urge anyone struggling with a dependency to get help immediately.

 

Headline #3: New Drunk Driving Deterrents Heading To Iowa

We all know how harmful alcoholism can be for the addict and their family. But those tragedies increase tenfold when drunk driving and recklessness enter the picture. That’s part of the reason the state of Iowa is hoping to institute a bill that calls for “24/7 sobriety” for those convicted of DUI’s. Their proposed measure would require two sobriety tests per day (via breathalizers) and constant monitoring via anklets and tracking devices. While we sympathize with those battling alcoholism, we also wholeheartedly agree that drunk driving should NEVER be tolerated. And once that line is crossed, consequences need to be enacted.

 

 

 

4 Essential Books To Help With Recovery

With the weekend almost upon us, we thought now would be a great opportunity to highlight a Recovery Reading List focused on books that can help people beat their addictions. Taking time away from screens, smartphones and dangerous temptations is extremely important and we are big advocates of knowledge through reading. Sitting down with a good book is a calming, positive experience that can inspire people dealing with difficult emotions. For this blog we’ve outlined a few of our favorite selections; ranging from bestsellers, to moving pieces of fiction, to classic “how to” guides about fighting off addictive urges.

 

Book #1: Running With Scissors

One of the most popular titles of the early 2000’s, Running With Scissors chronicles the real-life adolescence of author Augusten Burroughs. Burroughs’ brutal honesty about his alcoholic mother is both terrifying and empowering. On one end, you see how being the child of  an addict can leave long term scars and ultimately encourage someone to use. Augusten openly admits that when he reached his teens, drugs and alcohol overpowered him and led to a drastic downfall. But thankfully, this book has a happy ending and readers are able to see how he was able to conquer his demons and work through the pain of an unhappy home. For anyone has dealt with trauma or abuse, Scissors is highly recommended.

 

Book #2: Living Sober

This unique title happens to be published by Alcoholics Anonymous and works almost like a “how to” guide for maintaining sobriety after treatment.  Living Sober embraces the “one day at a time” model, illustrating simple tasks that can keep the mind focused on recovery. It’s an incredibly easy read and a book that can be referenced time and time again. Sections are organized clearly depending on the need of the reader, ranging from relapse support, to peer pressure solutions and beyond. It also has an entire chapter devoted to AA’s famous 12 Step Method, which can be very helpful during tempting times.

 

 

Book #3: Born To Lose

Amid the biographies and self-help journals, we thought it was important to add a nice piece of fiction to the list. Bill Lee’s Born To Lose involves entirely made up characters, but a very real scenario. Specifically: Gambling Addiction. This one takes place in San Francisco’s Chinatown and offers a dynamic story about winning and losing it all. There are some heavy themes running through this title, which hit at the heart of what drives people to bet. But first and foremost, it is an uplifting recovery story and chronicles a realistic, inspirational journey for its lead character.

 

Book #4: Addicts In The Family

And finally, an anthology book with several true stories from families who have struggled with addiction. Addicts In The Family isn’t all happy endings. Each of the people profiled have had their own roller coaster of experiences pertaining to drug and alcohol abuse. And though not all of them made it through, this gripping case study offers a clear illustration of why recovery is so important. Addicts is also extremely helpful for parents or loved ones of an addict, offering tools on how to help and not enable.

 

 

Recovery Spotlight On Boxer Boyd Melson

Every few weeks, we like to shine a spotlight on a local hero (or in this case, a celebrity) who is helping to make strides in the world of addiction. Giving back is such an important part of the healing process and it is something we emphasize as part of our treatment program. That’s why this time out we wanted to make sure to showcase the amazing work of retired boxer Boyd Melson. Nicknamed “The Rainmaker,” he hung up his gloves after an illustrious career in the ring and is now channeling his skills to help those battling addiction.

 

Back in his home neighborhood of Staten Island, Boyd has begun offering free monthly boxing classes to people struggling with alcoholism and drug dependency. We have often emphasized how important outlets are for people getting over an addiction. Finding a new area to focus your energies is key to a successful recovery regimen. We, ourselves, offer sports related therapies (such as archery and cardio classes) to give our residents a healthier, more productive lifestyle.

 

In Boyd’s case, boxing is where he gets his volunteers to exert their energies. This past February, he hosted his first class to great success and he’s planning a second one in mid-March. Set at a local gym, Melson teaches essential ring maneuvers and encourages aggressive expression on equipment like punching bags. Another pro boxer, Nicky DeMarco, is also involved, leading training sessions and offering free memberships to his gym.

 

Interestingly enough, Boyd has never struggled with addiction; but he has had family members deal with the issue. As he explained to a local paper, this endeavor comes straight from the heart and he is excited to provide a safehaven.

 

“I want to help spread the word,” Melson explained. “I read about how much drugs have affected the Island, and I have family who’ve battled addictions. The goal with these free monthly clinics is to get the men and women battling or recovering from addiction to get hooked on boxing while having it be an avenue to help them overcome.”

 

And if that weren’t enough reasons to celebrate Boyd as a spotlight candidate, it’s also important to note that he donated 100 percent of his championship winnings from November 2016 to recovery-related charities.

 

According to reports, Melson’s classes are already a tremendous success. Attendance has been through the roof and several attendees who were interviewed had positive things to say about the experience.

 

“I talk to young people about getting involved in positive activities once they get out of rehab and they’re back on the street,” Boyd added. “I have a message, and boxing is part of it.”

 

As we mentioned before, we are big advocates of using physical activity as a way to combat addiction. Recovery is not only meant to ween someone off of an addiction, it helps contribute to an overall healthier lifestyle. To learn more about the unique outlets and therapies we offer as part of our program, reach out at (866) 986-2486.

 

 

4 Signs Your March Madness Betting Is Going Too Far

Professional sports games are rooted in fun and camaraderie, but in today’s times there is a dangerous third factor that can easily fuel addictive habits. We are, of course, talking about gambling and how getting in on some “action” can lead to disastrous consequences. March, in particular, can be treacherous month for people prone to sports betting. With the NCAA College Basketball Finals (and all of those brackets circulating around the office), temptations are everywhere to overbet and throw away hard earned money on a very common addiction. For this blog, we thought we’d identify four key warning signs to see if your “casual wagers” are going too far.

1) Lying To Loved Ones About Your Habit

What can start as an innocent office pool can quickly escalate into constant daily wagers, particularly during the multitude of NCAA games. One way to know if your habit is getting out of hand is by doing a quick self-evaluation. Are you being truthful with your wife, parents and friends about your betting? Excessive gambling often comes with a burden of shame and it’s not uncommon to try and explain away missing finances. Hiding bank statements from a spouse, making up stories about your whereabouts…These are all telltale signs that a bad addiction is forming. Always make sure you are truthful with the ones you love and, more importantly, truthful with yourself.

 

2) “Chasing” Losses

One common term in the gambling world is “chasing.” In other words, trying to bet more and more to recover a series of losses. The truth is, this mentality never holds true and eventually the “chase” can lead to bankruptcy, substance abuse and much worse. If your college team lost a match and you think you can recover by immediately placing more money on another sport, think again. We understand how tempting that sounds, but it is another clear indicator that a problem is brewing and you need help.

 

3) Borrowing Money

Now this is where a lot of gamblers can get into trouble. Those scary stories about loan sharks and bookies are not that far fetched. Once giant NCAA debts occur, it is not unusual for an addict to reach out for extra cash. This could be from a loved one, a “quickie loan” establishment or an enabler who looks forward to collecting with interest. The saddest part of all is, 9 times out of 10 the money isn’t being for positive means. It’s used for more betting (and more losses). We strongly encourage seeking out help before things reach this level and if you’re the family member being asked for money, say no and stage an intervention.

 

4) Starting New Addictive Habits

There is no denying that gambling is a gateway to drug and alcohol abuse. For one thing, March Madness outings almost always happen at bars and it’s not uncommon for drugs to make an appearance at a basketball viewing party. Plus, losing your bracket selections can often put you in a vulnerable state making you much more likely to use.

 

The key solution to all of this is to STOP before things reach a dangerous level. Valley Recovery Center is here 24/7 to help during these tempting times and we encourage anyone struggling with a gambling issue to reach out immediately.

Addiction Article Recap: Week Of March 6

Happy start of the week, Valley Recovery Center friends! Now is the time where we feel it’s important to educate our audience about the articles impacting the recovery community. Way too often, key stories get buried beneath celebrity gossip, political rants and (for lack of a better term) fake news. So make sure you keep returning to the VRC blogs every Monday for a quick roundup of the latest addiction-related headlines. This week, we’re sharing some disturbing new cocaine stats, opioid updates from the medical community and important message from former first daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

 

And, as always, if you have your own stories to share, send them our way via email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com. Now, on with the Recap!

 

Headline #1: Cocaine Use Is Up For The First Time In A Decade

This headline pretty much says it all. Sadly, a recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration claims the U.S. cocaine use has increased by 61 percent from 2013 to 2015. And that’s not all. It also detailed that overdoses from the drug are at their highest rate since 2006. To us, this is an extremely troubling stat. Once a “glamour drug” in the 1980’s, coke use actually dwindled in recent decades. But now it is becoming much too common and what’s worse, its potency level has increased. Today, roughly 90 percent of cocaine seized on U.S. streets is Colombian in origin. Stronger strains of the drug have undoubtedly contributed to the large fatality number and we urge anyone who is struggling with a coke habit to reach out immediately. Its addictive nature and increased overdose risk will almost certainly lead to tragedy.

 

Headline #2: Med Schools Encouraged To Implement Opioid Prescription Training

If you’ve been following our headlines from weeks past, you’re well aware of the roles that doctors play in the nation’s opioid epidemic. Often times, a simple painkiller order from a local physician can lead to a deadly habit. One way the medical community is hoping to curb this, is by encouraging those in graduate programs to be extra responsible with their prescriptions. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin has already gotten the ball rolling, by partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration to teach students (in both medical and dental school) about the dangers of opioid abuse. He believes (as do we) that these types of pills are heavily overprescribed and other less potent painkillers can be substituted in their place. “The best way to reduce the number of Americans suffering from an opioid addiction,” Durbin emphasized. “Is to ensure that patients never become addicted in the first place.”

 

Headline #3: Chelsea Clinton Speaks Out About Naloxone

Speaking of the opioid epidemic, one other well known political name is speaking up. Clinton, as in Chelsea Clinton, wrote a powerful essay last week emphasizing the importance of naloxone as a combatant against opioid overdoses. Her family’s Clinton Foundation is now supporting efforts to make naloxone more publicly available. “We’re working with partners to make naloxone widely affordable and accessible to EMTs, police officers, educators, and community first responders, so that they know how to use it and are ready to use it,” Chelsea wrote. “No one should die of an opioid overdose in 2017 in America, or anywhere – where we know how to prevent such deaths.” Let’s hope legislators take the note and join the Foundation in getting this life-saver into the hands of the right people.

 

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: March 3-5

Happy March, Valley Recovery Center friends! A new month is upon us, which means we’re that much closer to the warmer weather of spring. Plus, longer days can make for great (sober) outdoor activities after work or on a relaxing weekend. Speaking of weekends, we are proud to bring back our Sober SoCal series, which outlines some great, timely activities THAT DO NOT INVOLVE DRUGS OR ALCOHOL. Skip the Happy Hours and all-night ragers and instead, focus your energies on some of these great new March events that promote health and sobriety!

 

This time out, we’re highlighting classic cars, seaside adventures, vintage art and some heavy duty cycling. Enjoy every suggestion and if you have a few of your own, share them with via email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

Classic Cars At Bob’s Big Boy

First on the weekend list is a great Friday night Burbank excursion. Beginning at dusk, the famed Bob’s Big Boy restaurant on Riverside Drive is transforming into a classic car show! This L.A. landmark has been around since the 1940’s and once a month, auto aficionados bring vintage Chevy’s, Ford’s and Dodge’s to the BBB parking lot. Classic car night is also family friendly, with no alcohol in sight. Instead, guests can enjoy authentic milkshakes, homemade burgers and classic crispy fries. It’s also completely free! Just head over on the 134 Freeway when twilight begins. More details can be found here.

 

Dana Point Festival Of Whales

There is no denying that whales are one of the planet’s most majestic creatures. And this Saturday the city of Dana Point is hosting a family friendly celebration honoring whales; complete with a street fair, boat rides and exciting games. There will also be live music, an art show and marine biologists on hand; to educate attendees about various whale species. And if you’re brave enough to face the waters, there will be daytime sightseeing cruises in the hopes of spotting one of these giant mammals in action! The forecast calls for a sunny Saturday, so make sure to add this to the To-Do list.

 

Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera Art Show

This weekend you can enjoy original works from not one, but TWO of history’s greatest artist. Paintings from both Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera will be on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art (LACMA) Saturday and Sunday, with an emphasis on culture. Picasso and Rivera came from very different worlds, but their art is universal and perfectly captures the time and place where it was created. We, of course, are big fans of creative expression (offering our own Art Therapy courses at Valley Recovery Center) and encourage everyone to visit this startling (and sober) event.

 

626 Golden Streets

And finally, what better way to promote sobriety than with endurance and exercise? This Sunday, the San Gabriel Valley is hosting a special 626 Golden Streets bicycling event across the roads of their city. This event is completely free and lets people cycle through town at their own pace. There will also be live music, delicious food trucks, activity hubs and ABSOLUTELY NO ALCOHOL. Sounds like our kind of outing! To find out more about 626 Golden Streets, click here.

Cocaine’s Long Term Damage On The Brain

As part of our blog series, we like to educate people about some of the addiction facts that aren’t quite as public. Cocaine, as we know, is a dangerous drug that’s highly addictive and can cause severe damage to the heart. Overdose deaths are a major threat as well, which is something that needs to be shared with anyone with a curiosity about using. One other little known fact, is how threatening this narcotic can be for the brain. Even for those who do it in moderation or are lucky enough to avoid a heart attack, the neurological repercussions can be crippling.

 

Recently, a study from the University of Cambridge echoed this sentiment. Their researchers were able to determine that consistent coke users build an excess of iron in their brain, which could lead to long-term issues like Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s.  Their work revealed that the longer a person uses the drug, the more iron that gets built up in their brains, leading to major neurological irregularities.

 

“Given the important role that iron plays in both health and disease, iron metabolism is normally tightly regulated,” research lead Dr.. Karen Ersche explained. “Long-term cocaine use, however, seems to disrupt this regulation, which may cause significant harm.”

 

She went on to say that, “Iron is used to produce red blood cells, which help store and carry oxygen in the blood. So, iron deficiency in the blood means that organs and tissues may not get as much oxygen as they need. On the other hand, we know that excessive iron in the brain is associated with cell death, which is what we frequently see in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.”

 

That’s right. Crippling permanent memory loss could potentially be a result of ongoing cocaine use. It’s facts like these that need to spread to people within the addiction community. Sure, there are hardcore abusers who consistently put their lives on the line. But there are also so-called “casual” users, who think a few lines here and there don’t cause any damage.

 

WRONG. As you can see from the research above, abusing illegal drugs in any capacity can be extremely damaging for the body and mind. We know how incredibly addictive a narcotic like cocaine can be. And even if you think you have your problem under control, the fact that you’re using at all is alarming.

 

At Valley Recovery Center, we work to help people with every level of addiction. Trust us when we say that even “casual” users can find themselves in tremendous turmoil sooner or later down the road. We’ve seen it happen firsthand. If you’re using at all, it is important that you build a successful recovery support group and stay educated about the real dangers of your habit.

 

To learn more about getting healthy and staying clean, reach out to Valley Recovery Center at 866-986-2486. Our door is always open.