Ben Affleck Becomes Outspoken Recovery Advocate

How inspiring is it to hear that the impenetrable Batman successfully fought off an addiction through treatment and recovery? Often times celebrities try to hide their battles with drugs and alcohol (which is completely fine, as they have their right to privacy). But when one of the biggest stars in the world openly admits to a lifelong drinking problem, we applaud them for it. Believe it or not, it can be incredibly inspiring to others who are struggling.


That, of course, is the case with Ben Affleck, who this past Spring wrote a lengthy Facebook confessional, outlining his dependence on alcohol. Affleck’s post brought his celebrity stature to a very humanistic level, outlining his commitment to his family and his health. He also praised the recovery field and treatment centers that work to curb addictions.


“I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront,” Affleck wrote. “I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step. I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.”


Affleck, a Westside resident, sought out treatment at a local unnamed facility. But People Magazine did receive quotes from several insiders who have verified that his new mission is very real.


“Ben is really doing that, because I think he feels he has a responsibility to help people,” the People source said. “He’s doing it not just for his kids, but for everybody.”


Ben has joined a growing list of A-List recovery advocates, who include Robert Downey Jr.Rob Lowe and Samuel L. Jackson, among others. His Facebook post alone drew a ton of positive responses and confessionals from his fans. In the comments section, followers from across the country shared their personal recovery stories; many of which were “Liked” by Ben.


While we understand that recovery can be a very private journey for some, you would be surprised to hear how much sharing the experience can inspire others. If you have successfully made it through (celebrity or not), consider putting yourself out there for others in need. We, ourselves, have several Alumni Programs in place, built to help support people currently in our program. Not only is it helpful for people in treatment, it can be incredibly therapeutic for those who have made it through to the other side.


‘Bike Therapy’ Is Becoming A Popular Recovery Tool

Summer is certainly the season to be in nature and enjoying the sunshine. And within our industry, a new treatment method is gaining popularity which takes advantage of the great outdoors. That, of course, would be Bike Therapy, which allows patients in recovery to focus their energies on challenging rides and calorie burning. Just as you imagined, bicycle therapy involves riding groups who hit trails and keep up a regular regimen.


One area where bike therapy has really caught on is Queensbury, New York. Recovery groups from that region have made big headlines recently and been profiled throughout social media. Glens Falls Hospital’s Center for Recovery recently put together a successful program, specifically targeting addicted teens. Organizer Chris Collins (himself, a recovering addict) told The Times Union that it has done wonders for people throughout his community.


“I found that biking was a great stress relief,” he explained. “It builds your confidence back up, it gives you a little self-worth when you’re out there, and you get that sense of accomplishment.”


This particular bike therapy group builds weekly challenges and encourages teamwork among its participants. Exercises include hitting specific trails each week and assigning tasks to various members. As the program goes on, the endurance levels rise and riders are forced to pedal under more extreme conditions. Counselors have found that the difficulties ultimately become very rewarding and trusting relationships are soon built.


“We’re asking them to do some really hard work,” Glen Falls counselor Joseph San Antonio added. “If we’re not going to engage them, then we’re not going to be able to do that work.”


And the best part about this particular program? If the participants successfully complete their recovery process, they are awarded new bikes; courtesy of the local Freedom Machines organization.  So far, Freedom Machines has given away 108 bikes to people in the program.


When asked about their thoughts on bike therapy, a Freedom Machines rep explained that this gift can be helpful in more ways than one. Not only do the new two-wheelers encourage independence and continuing the treatment regimens, they can enlighten the lives of former addicts who have now lost driving privileges.



We, for one, are big fans of the program and feel it can be especially applicable to the lifestyle we lead in Southern California. We are literally surrounded by beautiful trails and amazing riding opportunities. Giving a recovery patient the opportunity to appreciate that, as well as building structure and goal setting, is clearly a win win.


To learn about all of the unique therapies that we offer, we encourage everyone to reach out at 866-986-2486. We believe in all of the fundamentals behind bike therapy and can certainly have some two-wheelers waiting, if it will help your loved one achieve a successful recovery.



Students Addressing Addiction Through Artwork

Every person has their own unique way of addressing addiction. Even if they aren’t the ones using, it’s a common fact that nearly all people in America have encountered it in some form (be it through family, friends or what have you). And that goes for teens as well. In the case of Lower Shore High School students over in Salisbury, Maryland, the representation is being expressed through art. Specifically a contest gallery, featuring paintings, sketches and sculptures from kids hoping to raise awareness.


Sponsored by The United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore, this unique gallery has made national headlines and will be handing out up to $10,000 for the school’s most talented artists. For one special night, the students will be on hand to present their works, share their inspirations and join in on real discussions about teenage drug and alcohol abuse. The event even caught the attention of Maryland’s governor, with reps from Larry Hogan’s office (and state attorney Clay Stamp) joining in to judge.


Via the event Facebook site, students have already begun demonstrating their works online. Below are a few examples, which illustrate just how prominent these issues have become with America’s youth.


This first piece of art was submitted by student Joseph Wood and illustrates the dominance that heroin and opioid abuse has had in his community. You can see a powerful message equating the needle to the grave.


A second piece, submitted by student Jinasia Brown, shows the impact that addiction can have on a family. Here pills and bloody cracks appear, separating a person’s hand from the grip of its loved ones.


A third piece, submitted by student Taylor Smith, also offers a grim reminder of the dangers of addiction. This one signifies death and entrapment. Particularly, how a dependency can keep someone caged up and on the road to ruin.


Student Jorge Gil-Leyva’s entry appears to take on a celebrity angle, profiling the late rock icon Prince and the deadly painkiller addiction that led to his demise.


Student Brie Connor also chose to highlight pills and the numbing effects they can have on a personality. Using a creative blend of colors, she focused in on elements like denial, subservience and death.


Student artist Kaylan Peattie took on World War II icon Rosie the Riveter, but with a very different twist. If anything this painting displayed a message of hope, urging viewers to turn away from the needle.


Yes, we certainly understand that these are very somber works. But they also reflect what typical teens are seeing and experiencing in their communities. Whether it’s in the home, around the classroom with their peers or even in news stories across the web…Addiction is a topic that teens are very much aware of and it needs to be addressed with all of the high schoolers in the family.



‘Forbes’ Highlights The Rise In Addicted Executives

This week, we’re applauding Forbes for taking a break from their usual financial news and shining the spotlight on addiction. In a very insightful article, the money-based publication outlined how drug dependency and alcoholism is harming senior business executives across America. It also outlined how the stress of a high-powered position can often spurn an addiction.


One key element they touched upon was the mistaken dependence of stimulants, such as cocaine. There are certainly occasions when running a business requires around the clock work. And sometimes those in charge will turn drugs like coke, simply because they believe it can help keep them going through a long week. Well as all of us in the industry know, that is a complete fallacy. One of the worst side effects of narcotics like cocaine are the “crashes.” No high can last forever and, inevitably, a stimulant will send you spiraling into sickness. Often times when that point arrives, the addictive tendencies have set in and the vicious cycle continues.


Another trigger point for executive addiction is stress relief. Forbes made a point to outline business leaders’ urges to drink or pop pills as a way to “unwind” from a hectic week. As author Brian Rashid wrote, “Leaders are typically built to take the brunt of the stress, but they are also human like the rest of us. Coping strategies may fail at some point, creating a vulnerable state. This vulnerability can cause a leader to turn to drugs or alcohol to provide relief from the mounting stress. This approach to stress relief causes more problems than creates solutions.”


The article went on to point key identifiers. One being the “High Functioning Addict.” These are executives who are able to juggle secret dependencies and (miraculously) continue business-as-usual along the way. Forbes identified this type of personality as one with a great deal of pride. These are senior leaders who are ashamed of their habits and fear appearing vulnerable. For that reason, they tend to be more averse to seeking treatment or any type of therapy.


Forbes emphasized that it is very important to call their addictions out and make sure they get help before it’s too late. If they are running a successful business, countless jobs could be on the line. Key signs to look out for are moodiness during meetings, argumentative behavior and irrational compulsions when it comes to company decisions. Rashid also emphasized looking for physical signs of a boss’ addiction, such as weight fluctuations or dark circles under the eyes.


Interestingly enough, the article wrapped up with pointers about how recovery can make someone an even better leader. Rashid wrote, “A leader can certainly benefit from new learning mechanisms taught in recovery. Treatment offers tools for handling future stress and recognizing emotional triggers. Being a leader is a tough job and so is just being a human being.”



Meth Use Is On The Rise Across The U.S.

We know, it certainly sounds like a lot of bad addiction articles are circulating in the press these days. But we feel these stories deserve to be heard and it is important for everyone to know that HELP IS AVAILABLE. The latest headline involves the use of meth-related drugs, which have seen a 30% increase in overdose deaths within the past three years.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4,500 Americans have lost their lives because of a meth addiction. That is a huge jump in a very short amount of time. In 2014, for example, the amount of U.S. fatalities amounted to 3,700. And that stat, itself, was a significant leap from what the CDC was reporting in 2010.


Several reps are speaking out about the increase of meth use and its impact on local communities. Crescent City medical director, Ken Roy, observed that patients battling this type of addiction have gone far beyond the stereotypical norms.


“What we’re seeing is that the use of methamphetamine has recently moved out of trailer parks and into inner cities,” he explained. “It used to be [that] the only way we got meth patients was when they came to the hospital from rural areas.”


The CDC report also added that the source of most meth production is rapidly changing. Back in the 1990’s, it was common for dealers to create meth concoctions in personal homemade labs (a la the famed Breaking Bad series). Now, however, authorities are tracing its production to sophisticated operations in Mexico. It is interesting to note that homemade meth production is down, but the drug’s street availability is at an all-time-high.


“A lot of people thought that if meth labs are down, meth use is down,” Oklahoma Narcotics Bureau spokesman Mark Woodward told the press. “But so much is coming in from Mexico, and it’s just as good as the domestic cooked product. Why risk leaving a paper trail at a pharmacy when you have a buddy coming up from El Paso tonight with a cheap supply?”


So far, the fatality epicenter appears to be the Midwestern and Southern United States. Minnesota and Oklahoma, in particular, have seen a sharp rise, as has New Orleans. In California, the inland areas continue to be a point of note for the CDC and, being a border state ourself, the Mexican shipments have definitely had an impact.


We’re sure everyone is well aware of just how addictive this drug can be. And one of meth’s most dangerous temptations is its “affordable” price tag. Unlike narcotics like heroin or cocaine, meth can be made on the cheap and thus, has become tremendously damaging to low income communities. But as Dr. Roy mentioned above, middle and upper class citizens are not immune to its clutches.


This is one drug we HIGHLY ADVISE staying away from. Because of its potency and highly addictive nature, it can wreak incredible havoc and (as the statistics prove) take a life in an instant.



Heroin Strain Wreaking Havoc Across Santa Clarita

If you’ve been following our blogs, then you know that we report on a lot of different stories. But when one of those stories hits close to him, it becomes especially meaningful. Recently, several local news outlets have been reporting about a deadly heroin strain that has been hitting our neighbors throughout the Santa Clarita Valley. So far, it has claimed one life and hospitalized at least seven others.


The issue has become so serious that a local press conference was held, which included professionals from the Henry Mayo Hospital in Newhall. Emergency room physician, Dr. Bud Lawrence, shared some powerful words with a room full of L.A. reporters.


“In one night, we had a total of eight cases of patients who came in with overdoses of opiates, of heroin,” he explained. “From a public health standpoint, for the emergency department this is of concern to us, that there may be something out there the public would be aware of.”


It’s certainly a scary stat, especially when you consider there were only a handful of fatal heroin overdoses in the county just two years ago. Now, dozens of OD’s are being admitted to local ER’s on a nightly basis.


Santa Clarita narcotics officers were on hand for the conference, as well. They were very stern with their warnings, emphasizing that even first time heroin users could find themselves in a lethal situation because of this unknown strain.


“When you stick a needle in your arm, you’re playing Russian roulette,” one representative said. “It’s a really scary deal. Even the dealers sometimes don’t know what it’s cut with. We just don’t know what we’re looking at.”


The most recent casualty from the laced heroin strain was identified as local SCV resident, David Esquivel. Just 28 years old, he was unable to be saved after shooting up just a few hours earlier. Detectives did say that they would be autopsying Esquivel’s body to see what types of chemicals were present in the heroin he ingested.


Regardless, this has gone into full-blown crisis mode. And that fact that it’s in own backyard, hits the point that much harder. Santa Clarita is not a “seedy” back alley section of SoCal, where you’d expect a “stereotypical” heroin user to hang out. This is a community of hard-working middle and upper class families, yet it is clearly NOT IMMUNE to this issue.


We strongly urge anyone in our community battling a heroin or opioid addiction to reach out to us for help. We are close, we are available and we have the technicians and the tools to end this addiction. Call us anytime at 866-986-2486.


And click below to watch the complete Santa Clarita press conference…

Law Enforcement Cracking Down On Corrupt Sober Homes

We continue to be shocked and saddened every time we hear about a sober living home taking advantage of its patients. And tragically, that trend is becoming much more commonplace across the U.S. Just this week, for instance, Florida law enforcement cracked down on a facilitator who allegedly stole millions from his addicted residents.


Florida happens to be one of the states hit hardest by these scandals. In Palm Beach County alone, there have been 26 offenders who were charged within an extremely short timespan.  This particular case involved Kenneth “Kenny” Chatman who was sentenced to 27 and a half years for his illegal schemes. Outside of the millions he stole from his customers, Chatman also allegedly used his sober home for money laundering and human trafficking.


One of his patients, who legitimately entered the home to fight an addiction, found herself being prostituted against her will. The unnamed 22-year-old offered a compelling statement to the courtroom, which has since made national headlines.


“Men came in and paid [Chatman] money to rape me,” she wrote. “He had me extremely intoxicated on unknown sedatives and substances that I was going in and out of consciousness but was completely aware of myself being raped, molested, emotionally, mentally, physically, sexually abused and verbally demeaned. I recall close to 150 in total different faces of rapists abusing me daily over a period of 3 to 4 weeks.”


Other victims in the home actually died from neglect, after overdosing instead of being properly treated. And what’s even worse was just one week prior, four additional Palm Beach addiction treatment providers were arrested for fraud. In those cases, drug tests were faked to bilk patients’ insurance companies out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.


And sadly, these types of instances happen right in our backyard too. California is certainly not immune to crooked sober homes, especially when you consider that we have the most recovery facilities of any state.


One of the key elements of recovery has always been TRUST and when that is broken by treatment providers, it can scar a patient for life. And, as mentioned above, it can indirectly (in our opinion) lead to fatalities. People in recovery are often in a very fragile state and coming into contact with a major betrayal like that can easily send someone spiraling back to drugs or alcohol.


We are utterly disgusted by those people and, thankfully, have always been surrounded by L.A. colleagues who feel the same way. If you or a loved one are seeking out treatment, we urge you to do your due diligence and make sure your choice is reputable and TRUSTWORTHY. 866-986-2486



Drug Use Becoming More Common At The Workplace

One clear cut sign of addiction is finding yourself using while on the job. If you can’t make it through a weekday without turning to drugs or alcohol, then it’s definitely time to re-evaluate your situation. And sadly, it appears as though that trait is becoming much more common among American employees. According to The Chicago Tribune, positive workplace drug testing is at an all-time-high.


The narcotics that appear to be the most prominent among U.S. employees are marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines, reaching rates that haven’t been seen since the early 2000’s. The laboratory Quest Diagnostics was behind the stats, sharing results of more than 10 million drug tests from states across the nation.


The Tribune reported a large amount of cocaine use throughout the south side of Chicago. Marijuana appeared to be quite prominent within the midwest as well. “It’s pretty alarming,” medical reviewer, Dr. David Fletcher, said of the results. He added that the only time these levels were higher  was back in the 1980’s, when narcotics like cocaine ran rampant.


Fletcher attributed the rise in marijuana use to its widespread legalization and the lax attitude most of America has taken regarding its use. He believes it to be so commonplace, that employers often now have to accept it after tests are given.


“We still see some employers who say, ‘We wouldn’t have any workers if we tested for marijuana,'” he added.


Per the Quest tallies, Oregon has the largest amount of workplace marijuana use, followed by Colorado and Washington (who happened to have legalized it). Cocaine, on the other hand, has dominated drug test results in states like Texas, South Carolina and North Carolina, just to name a few. The rise in amphetamines has largely been attributed to the nation’s growing prescription problem. Quest reported that drugs like Adderall have seen more than an 8 percent spike among workers across the country.


The only slight silver lining is that our home state of California did not rank highly among the stats. That is not to say the workplace drug use doesn’t happen here and, just like every other state, it holds serious consequences. If you are found to be high on the job, it almost always leads to termination. This, in turn, can be tremendously damaging to a resume and hurt your chances of advancing your career. But worse than that, going to work high often puts people’s safety in jeopardy. Imagine if that were a cab driver, or a construction worker.


The bottom line is, there is NEVER an excuse to use on the job. If you’re finding it harder and harder to get through the weekdays without getting inebriated, it is important seek help NOW. There is always a way out. 866-986-2486





New Campaign Uses Disney Princesses To Address Addiction

In the past few decades, advertisers have used some eye-catching material to shed light on addiction. Famous campaigns have included frying eggs in a pan, plastering mug shots across bus stops and many more. Now, however, a female photographer named Shannon Dermody has taken things to a whole new level. To help raise awareness about topics like drug use and alcoholism, she has decided to highlight strung out Disney Princesses!


Not surprisingly Shannon’s graphic gallery has gone viral, attracting the attention of many mainstream news sites. One picture that has drawn a ton clicks portrays Disney’s Brave heroine, Merida, sticking a giant needle in her arm. All that’s written below is the word “heroin,” clearly referencing the nation’s growing opioid epidemic.

Obviously a picture like this is not meant for children and we’re sure it will ruffle feathers within the Disney corporation. But regardless of the character or the silky green dress, it clearly illustrates how upsetting this type of addiction can be. Dermody made a particular point to shoot this one in a dingy bathroom, taking away all of the glamour and allure users may think this drug has.


The beloved Disney icon Snow White is not safe from this gallery either. Shannon chose to portray this legendary princess as a passed out alcoholic. Here you see her slumped over on a mattress, surrounded by empty liquor bottles.

As with the previous shot, you’ll notice how all glamour is removed. The lighting is dark and ominous, the rosy red cheeks are M.I.A. and the vibe is overwhelmingly somber. This is clearly intentional and it hammers in a strong point.


One final addiction-related pic concerns marijuana and the dangers of smoking. Using the likeness of Princess JasmineDermody shows an obviously inebriated princess, drowned out in a haze of fumes. Complete with dark circles under the eyes and paraphernalia strewn about, it’s a haunting pic that will certainly create uneasiness among Aladdin fans.

And that is only the tip of the iceberg. Shannon’s other works for this gallery include a Beauty and the Beast shot highlighting domestic violence, The Little Mermaid surrounded by water pollution and, perhaps one of the most disturbing of all, Cinderella chained up and beaten to represent sex trafficking.


All of Shannon’s portraits are viewable here, but (as we mentioned before) they are rather graphic and not for the eyes of children. Will they ultimately make a dent in the nation’s addiction problem? We certainly hope so and we wholeheartedly support any artist who uses their craft to bring attention to this terrible disease.


California Police Cracking Down On Drugged Drivers

Driving under the influence is one of the worst elements of addiction. Once you’re impaired and you get behind the wheel, you are not only endangering your own life, you are endangering the lives of everyone on the road. California’s police force is obviously aware of that problem and they’re now taking greater strides to combat drivers who drink and use drugs.


The decriminalization of marijuana has reportedly played a big role in the crackdown, particularly because stoned motorists can create big risks. To help test for all strains of intoxication, police in three California counties are now testing what is being dubbed as “drug breathalyzers.”


These high-tech swabs can not only detect alcohol levels, they can also indicate whether a person is high on weed (or any narcotic, for that matter). But they are still in their early stages and NBC 4 is reporting that lawmakers haven’t quite figured out how to measure the marijuana “over the limit” number yet.


What the devices do is collect saliva via electronic cheek swabbing. They were given a public demonstration near the state’s capital earlier this month. Officers were shown gathering the evidence, then plugging the tool into a walkie-talkie-sized device. Within a matter of minutes, the machine detected which drugs were present in the user’s system and at what potency level.


The counties of Kern, Los Angeles and Sacramento have shown the biggest interest in utilizing the tool  and Assemblyman Tom Lackey (who was present at the demonstration) urged the press that he wants to see the movement “go nationwide.”


Representatives from the device’s developer company, Alere Toxicology, were on hand as well and emphasized that the swabs can detect intoxication with an accuracy rate of 95 percent. They also recommended taking drivers through secondary blood tests, if their levels were shown to reach beyond the legal limit.


In our opinion, this is an important initiative and one that will hopefully alert users to take every proper precaution before driving a car. We completely understand how crippling an addiction can be, but there IS NEVER AN EXCUSE to justify driving under the influence.


Marijuana too can lead to dangerous consequences. Despite its recent legalization, pot still can create dependencies (especially for those with addictive personalities). It has also been proven to slow reflexes and cloud judgment — two critical elements needed to successfully operate a vehicle.


Don’t let an addiction get to the point to where you’re using on the road. If you have a problem, get help and avoid an arrest, a dangerous accident and/or the possibility of (unintentionally) taking a life. 866-986-2486



Pitbulls Being Used To Help In Recovery

We love reporting on new recovery techniques that are making a dent in the fight against addiction. And this month, one interesting therapy is making headlines within our industry. Now we’re all familiar with Pet Therapy and, in fact, it’s something we offer ourselves at Valley Recovery Center. But now it appears as though pitbull dogs are becoming quite popular for people who are struggling with drug and alcohol dependencies.


Over in Massachusetts, a 23-year-old recovery advocate named Marissa Burke has found that people in treatment respond especially well to this particular breed. And interestingly enough, it may have to do with the world of stereotypes.


“Pitbulls have the worst reputation,” Burke told the local Herald News outlet. “I want to show everyone what positive and beautiful dogs they are.”


You know what else gets branded with a bad reputation? Addiction. Yup, people who have crippling dependencies on drugs and alcohol are often looked down upon and criticized. Apparently bonding with an animal that is also misunderstood has helped create a special connection throughout the recovery process.


The way Marissa’s program works is by pairing a recovery patient with one designated pitbull dog. They then build relationships together and go on regular walks for two hours each week.


Though it is true that pitbulls have made headlines for attacks and fights, when raised in a good home they are actually a very loving breed. Burke explained that they are also fiercely loyal and quick to form relationships with the patients they’re paired with.


“We’re trying to get people together to walk the dogs,” program volunteer Ryan Tripp added. “It’s great to get out and get the unconditional love from a dog.”


Currently, the Pitbulls for Recovery program runs only in New England and includes a total of six dogs. Another great note is that several of the participants are rescues.


For Burke the experience is extremely personal, as her own father suffered from addiction. She also claims to have lost several friends to overdoses. Growing up in a “pit bull home” inspired her as well, as she quickly came to know what a sensitive species they are.


Though it’s still in its infancy, Pitbulls for Recovery appears to be quickly catching on and has already received a ton of media attention. They have now expanded their program to include people suffering from PTSD and continue to see positive results.


We definitely salute Marissa’s mission and, as always, will be doing our due diligence to see if perhaps a pitbull program can benefit the VRC community.



Penn State And The Importance Of Intervention

Like most people reading the news this week, we were horrified to hear what happened at Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity house last February. In case you’re unaware, 19-year-old Timothy Piazza died due to an alcoholic mishap that was most likely the result of hazing. This story is upsetting on many levels. For one, the levels of “binge drinking” that would cause a perfectly healthy teen to lose all control. And just as important, the lack of intervention by his fellow frat brothers when the situation turned serious.


The big headline now relates to the criminal charges that 18 members of Beta Theta Pi will be facing following Piazza’s death. After basically overdosing on alcohol, Timothy suffered a series of falls and became severely injured. His “brothers” chose to do nothing, waiting almost an hour before dialing 911.


To us, this represents a larger problem and a common one among people who are addicted. Sure you may not be the one hitting a crisis level. But if you are close to someone who is, you could be saving a life by getting them help. What the fraternity students did could very well be criminal, but issues like this arise on a much smaller scale every single day.


This particular case has led to charges against the fraternity house and Penn State, the school, is facing intense scrutiny. Before you even get into the neglect element, you have to remember the hazing that led to it. Apparently Beta Theta Pi pledges (of which, Timothy was one) were forced to run a “gauntlet” of drinking stations, which included vodka, beer shots and large glasses of wine.


Piazza’s night of debauchery was actually captured on film, thanks to mandatory surveillance cameras around the house. It showed him falling down multiple flights of stairs and struggling to do simple tasks, like open a door. Ultimately, he was left alone to die.


“Timothy was lying on his back with his arms clenched tight at his sides and his hands in the air,” investigators told The Los Angeles Times. “His chest was bare, his breathing heavy and he had blood on his face.”


By the time paramedics arrived, it was too late. Now there’s involuntary manslaughter charges against everyone who was on the premises.


One issue we continue to stress is not giving into peer pressure and avoiding the call to binge drink. You may not consider yourself an alcoholic, but it’s very possible to kill yourself with one night of overdoing it.


The other is taking actions from the sidelines. No, you don’t deserve to have a criminal charge slapped on you if someone close to you succumbs to their addiction. But you can just as easily save a life, by organizing an intervention and being proactive before things go too far.



Warning Issued For ‘Gray Death’ Opioid Mix

As if the country’s opioid epidemic wasn’t bad enough, now there’s an even more vicious strain of the painkiller hitting communities across America. “Gray Death“, as it’s called, consists of a deadly blend of heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil (aka animal tranquilizers) and is becoming an extremely popular street drug among hardcore addicts.


“Gray death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis,” Georgia Bureau of Investigation chemistry manager, Deneen Kilcrease, told NBC 4.


Also known as U-47700, gray death was recently listed as one of the most dangerous narcotics in America, per the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. So far, it has been linked to dozens of fatalities in areas like New York and North Carolina. It was also allegedly found at the home of Prince, after his deadly overdose.


As with most street drugs, part of the danger of gray death lies with its untested strains. Buyers are unaware of the potency level that they’re receiving and could very easily OD . This particular drug can also be absorbed in the skin, making it far too easy to ingest too much at one time.


Strains of gray death can also be snorted, swallowed, smoked or shot up via intravenous needles. Kilcrease went on to mention the devastating effects that U-47700 has had in her home state. In the past three months alone, there have been at least 50 reported overdoses in Georgia.


Ohio is another region that is warning its citizens about the tremendous dangers of gray death. That state’s Attorney General, Mike DeWine, issued a statement as well, describing the rise in unknown (and lethal) opioid strains.


“Normally, we would be able to walk by one of our scientists, and say ‘What are you testing?’ and they’ll tell you heroin or ‘We’re testing fentanyl,'” DeWine told reporters. “Now, sometimes they’re looking at it, at least initially, and say, ‘Well, we don’t know.'”


Ohio happened to have over 3,000 fatal overdoses last year, primarily tied to opioid strains. One other local legislator compared using these mixes as a game of “Russian roulette.”  A very true analogy if ask us; since death can occur instantly, no matter what type of tolerance you may have.


There’s a reason why America’s opioid dependencies have now been labeled a “crisis.” This drug has no mercy and can literally grasp anyone in its clutches. As we’ve mentioned before, it doesn’t matter if you’re a young 20-something, a middle-aged professional or a healthy senior citizen…Every demographic has fallen prey to this addiction.


We strongly urge anyone battling this issue to stay far away from any chemical or narcotic form of the drug, especially ones that are sold on the street. If you feel your problem is crippling your livelihood and sanity, get help immediately. There is always hope. 866-986-2486 



Spotlight On Stairway Recovery Homes

We’ve always described the recovery process as a journey. Beating an addiction is something that needs to be taken in steps, a point clearly illustrated by the philosophy and iconography of Stairway Recovery Homes.  This unique facility conveys a very powerful message of love and support, offering a 12-Step experience that can fit most budgetary needs.


We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Stairway founder Michael Lynch, who described his facility’s proven approach and his own personal connections to the cause.


“Stairway Recovery Homes are 12-Step based sober living facilities that are affordable, gender specific and structured in a way to benefit each individual client,” he explained. “We allow them to make the most of their new lives in recovery.”


Their most recent location opened last April, in the quiet community of West Hills. Catering strictly to men, their San Fernando Valley home is a true suburban sanctuary; with pristine common areas and bedrooms, as well as a pool.


Here is a preview of the newest Stairway home.



And though the West Hills home certainly looks cozy and comfortable, Michael was quick to point out that his program is anything but lax.


“Our program puts a lot of emphasis on things like acquiring employment and achieving higher education,” he said. “We work hard to get our clients active in their chosen 12-Step communities. Things need to be earned and not automatically given.”


Michael went on to add that his staff takes a very hands-on approach to recovery, driving clients to all important appointments and meetings. He also makes a point to stay on top of industry trends, incorporating a blend of cutting-edge and time tested techniques.


The goal of Stairways is, and has always been, getting its clients clean, but Michael added a unique footnote to their philosophy.


“If you read our Facebook description, you’ll notice that we believe in a ‘family style’ sober living setting,” he explained. “What that means is, we’re creating a home and a community within each location. Trust and love are essential components in this process.”


And it was obvious after speaking with Michael, that this journey is one that’s very personal to him.


“I was inspired to get into the recovery field when my best friend died of a heroin overdose,” he told us. “After being given this precious gift of recovery nine years ago, I knew that I needed to do what I could to help.”


He went on to say that he felt many frustrations with other facilities that put money and marketing ahead of their clients. And that was what ultimately inspired him to create the Stairway experience.


“I feel like many people in the industry are missing the point,” he said. “We are suppose to be helping the client recover. Not perpetuate the cycle of coming in and out of detox after detox because it is profitable to the owners.”


We deeply admire Michael’s dedication to the cause and encourage everyone to visit the official Stairway Recovery Facebook page or to reach out to Michael’s team directly at (818) 672-6095.



An Inclusive LGBT Recovery Experience

We recently ran across an online piece from TODAY which provided an alarming fact. Research they gathered from the Centers for Disease Control showed that people within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population have a much higher addiction rate. And, truth be told, not a lot of recovery facilities cater to people from the community (which may be part of the reason for the rising stats). The article did, however, profile one very vocal advocate who is hoping to make a change.


Jason Arsenault from Connecticut-based  Mountainside Treatment Center is out and proud. He’s also using his own recovery experience to help other addicts who are gay, lesbian and/or transgender. As Jason explained, being non-hetero in a treatment program can pose challenges with confidence, openness and trust.


“If you’re the only gay man in treatment, you don’t feel like you’re connected to the community,” Arsenault told the site. “So I was able to be that liaison.”


Since becoming a much more visible administrator in the clinic, Jason has seen a larger admission rate of LGBT patients. He said that he’s extremely proud of the work he does and shared ideas as to why addiction is so prominent among his peers.


“It’s because of all of the shame and the inability to connect [with other LGBTQ people],” Arsenault explained. “And also the way gay people socialize in general. It’s all circled around bars and clubs.”


We thought Jason made two very strong points with his statement. First of all, feelings of isolation are very often associated with addiction. People who feel they don’t belong or have something to hide often cope through using. In essence, it mistakenly serves as a type of “escapism.”


The party lifestyle also greatly raises the temptation level to use. We see this trend with 20-somethings too, who often find themselves at bars with friends and encouraged to drink.


Arsenault went on to share his own addiction story and how growing up bullied by homophobes led him into a world of drugs and alcohol.


“Who wants to go to school when you get picked on or people trip you in the hallway?” he added. “It’s like you feel like sh—t. You’re not worthy of anything. No one is your friend. Incidents like this led me to alcohol. I basically used as a social lubricant in order to feel comfortable with myself and my sexuality,”


Getting into treatment and becoming a recovery coach changed Jason’s life tremendously. He now works to create sober LGBT outings and has built online Facebook groups where others in the community can feel safe and respected.


We are very proud of the work that Jason is doing and want to make a point that we too openly welcome anyone from the LGBT community. We know how hard it is to come to terms with an addiction and one of the most important tools in recovery is a respectful, safe haven. 866-986-2486



Police May Soon Be Required To Carry Naloxone

If you’ve been following our blogs, then you’re well aware of naloxone and how it is being used to combat the nation’s growing opioid crisis. Well now the anti-overdose serum is being thrust into the spotlight in a major way, thanks to a new law happening in New Mexico. State Lawmakers recently enacted a rule that would require all police officers to carry a kit with them when on patrol.


New Mexico has actually been at the forefront of battling opioid addictions for some time. In 2001 they became the first state to enact a law to expand access to naloxone, years before the painkiller epidemic reached critical mass. It was also the first state to make naloxone available at pharmacies without a prescription.


But what does this latest law mean for people battling addiction? A lot. Now if cops are called into an emergency overdose situation, they will have the training and the tools to properly save a life. This could make a tremendous dent in the amount of fatalities happening in the state.


Governor Susana Martinez proudly signed the legislation last month, in a public ceremony where she touted naloxone’s importance. Surrounding by recovery advocates and family members of those lost to opioid addictions, she praised this as a step forward but emphasized that there is still a long way to go.


“We’re making progress but it’s never enough,” she said. “We have to keep working hard at this problem and reducing the number of overdoses. Signing this bill is an important step to fight the scourge of drug abuse and overdose fatalities.”


Another portion of the law would ensure that all prisons carry large quantities of anti-overdose material. Guards are now all required to train themselves on naloxone administration and prisoners who are being freed will have access to kits as well.


Though New Mexico still ranks high with overdose deaths, this swift legislative has already had an impact. According to The Associate Press, almost two-thirds of New Mexico’s counties have seen a decrease in fatal OD’s since 2015.


We certainly hope examples like this can influence other states to take notice (particularly our own). Even though we know it will take a lot more effort to curb the opioid crisis, these “baby steps”, if you will, can help get us closer to the goal.


If you or someone you care about is currently struggling with a painkiller dependency, we recommend taking proactive steps before the sign of any overdose. Reach out to us or a local recovery facility and get the help you need to overcome this crippling addiction. Our door is always open. (866) 986-2486

Scientists Using Rats For Alcoholism Experiments

Is alcoholism genetic and if so, how does it impact the generations to come? That’s one of the big questions that scientists at Indiana University and Purdue University are hoping to answer after monitoring the behavior of some rodent test subjects.


Inverse Science published a lengthy article on the topic, profiling the experiments and some of the results that the researchers are discovering. To properly conduct their tests, the researchers isolated a selection of rats who were fed (and later became dependent on) glasses of wine. Then they mated the alcoholic test subjects with regular rats and followed them for multiple generations.


The alcoholic rats were later monitored alongside a control group, that was also mated for generations but were never exposed to the bottle. Ultimately when they compared the two, the scientists were able to pinpoint 930 genetic differences between the sets.


What did they notice in the alcoholic rats? For one thing, this set suffered from cranial issues;  showing difficulty forming memories and responding to their reward system.


Leading researcher William Muir, Ph.D., had some strong words to say about the subject.


“This research highlights that alcoholism in rats has a strong genetic component,” he explained. “And it is influenced by many hundreds of genes.”


Muir and his associate, Dr. Feng Zhou, were also quick to point out that rats share a majority of genes with humans and can offer important insights into addictive behaviors. Zhou claimed that the behavior of the alcoholic rats closely mirrors what we see in our own species.


“Under the influence of alcohol, some rats became docile and fell asleep in a corner while others became aggressive,” he said.


Both scientists felt confident in their findings and hope that their research can help de-stigmatize the nature of addiction. We have always known about the genetic links prominent in alcoholic families and how those who grew up with drunken parents need to fight even harder to stay clean.


Zhou and Muir, however, did explain that their results aren’t the end all, be all and that there are certainly other factors to consider when someone decides to hit the bottle.


“Even with the same genetics, one person might be prone to getting drunk while another doesn’t drink at all,” Zhou emphasized. “Your environment can certainly trigger the expression of genetic tendencies toward alcoholism.”

Muir added, “you can’t just blame your drinking problems on your parents.”

While we agree the above statement and take a hard stance against the victim mentality, we also know the challenges facing the children of alcoholics. The temptation is always there and it is important to have a strong support system in place, in case you find yourself in a vulnerable state.

We encourage our audience to pass along these findings and share the message of recovery to anyone predisposed to this terrible disease.