‘Resolutions’ And Recovery

There are many components that go into a successful recovery experience. Yes sober living and detox are essential first steps, but having a proven outpatient center is just as important for those looking to complete the journey. And that’s where Resoultions Therapeutic Services comes in. Based in Santa Monica and accredited by the Joint Commission, they service people overcoming addictions, trauma, as well as mental health issues, and offer a continuum of care that includes day treatment/partial hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient (IOP), outpatient (OP) and alumni/after-care support. They also have an incredibly qualified staff of licensed psychologists and board-certified psychiatrists. Interestingly enough, Resolutions was founded by a clinical psychologist, who we had the pleasure of speaking with this week.


Dr. Reza Nabavi, PhD is now in his fifth year running Resolutions and offered some great insights into what makes their program so unique.


“Resolutions began as an outgrowth of my private practice,” he told us. “I’ve always maintained a practice while simultaneously working in trauma, dual diagnoses and primary mental health residential treatment centers. This began as a real organic extension of that. It is owned by myself and my wife, who is also a licensed psychologist, and it is 100% clinically based.”


One of the strengths of the Resolutions experience, as Dr. Nabavi explained, is the fact that it is entirely adaptable to a clients’ specific needs.


“The majority of our clients are exiting residential treatment and coming to us is a step down from that,” he said. “We’ll start with a free initial assessment and then work to create an individualized program for each person. Our program is truly customizable in every way. That’s one of the things that makes us unique.”


Indeed, Resolutions offers a wide variety of flexibility for each client. There are day and evening programs, depending on a person’s schedule. There are also multiple licensed clinicians, each with a unique speciality. Outside of the therapy team, the Resolutions staff includes dieticians, acupuncturists, life coaches, spiritual counselors and more. Dr. Nabavi explained that this works very well with their clientele.


“We see a lot more mature adults than most outpatient programs, which tend to exclusively cater to young clients,” he added. “And we do treat young adults as well. Right now, we have clients in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. We also have a lot of professionals. Among them all, we try to create more homogenous groups; so people can build a community with their peers.”


One other big perk of Resolutions is its beautiful location, just east of the beach. Here are snapshots from their office (which includes a gorgeous ocean view).



Since opening its doors nearly five years ago, Resolutions Therapeutic Services has a built a continuous track record of success. Dr. Nabavi added that he’s extremely proud of the center’s accomplishments and its growing alumni community.


“We really have seen some incredible results,” he said. “Whether its sobriety, trauma resolution, or mental illness remission, our former clients continue to have long-term success. We also do a lot for our alumni. Everything from getting them jobs, to going back to school, to re-establishing their careers. It’s been really rewarding and it’s really nice to see.”


We encourage all of our followers to check out the amazing work happening at Resolutions. Make sure to visit their official site for information on their staff, their history and their amazing treatment programs.



Spotlight On ‘The Addiction Angel’

If you’ve earned a nickname like “The Addiction Angel,” then you know you’re doing something right in the world of recovery. And Staten Island-based nurse Alicia Palermo-Reddy wears that moniker with pride. Thanks to her charitable work with addicted patients and recovering users, she’s become a trending sensation and was recently profiled in The New York Daily News.


On her own time and with her own money, Alicia has been helping families with her nursing expertise. She has also self-educated herself on all of the components of recovery and offers free consultations with people who cannot afford proper treatment.


Palermo-Reddy told The Times that her activism began eight years ago, after seeing the devastating early effects of America’s opioid crisis.


“When I heard about heroin growing up, I thought about people in trailer parks with no teeth and black feet,” she explained. “Seeing these young, beautiful kids with sores on them and heartbreaking stories was very disturbing to me. The more and more that I saw it, I realized there’s a big problem out here that nobody’s talking about.”


Alicia began her work by setting up a hotline where users could call in and receive free emotional support. She would initially field through dozens of calls, offering medical advice and free resource information for people in need.


The hotline then evolved into a customized “Scared Straight” program, which now draws more than 100 people at a time. And though compassion is a major component of her practice, Alicia has also become famous for adding a bit of her own “New York tough love.”


“An addict doesn’t want to be an addict. He’s allowed to be an addict,” she added. “I don’t want you to bury your kid, so I’m going to tell you like it is. With this disease, you don’t have time to waste.”


There are also monthly meetings at a local church and one-on-one personal consultations with a wide variety of locals. Interestingly enough; Alicia revealed that she’s been sought out by wealthy clients, particularly because of her successful recovery track record. One, in particular, happened to be a senior executive at Conde Nast.


But, as she explained to The Times, Palermo-Reddy’s primary focus is underprivileged drug and alcohol abusers. Her goal has always been to help those who feel they have no one to turn to and for that, she has rightfully earned the title of New York’s “Addiction Angel.”


To see more of Alicia’s amazing work, watch this brief YouTube clip below…

Recovering With Disabilities

Did you know that people with physical disabilities are at a higher risk of developing an addiction? For one, they are often in more physical pain (thus requiring more prescriptions). They also have a higher likelihood of forming depression (another cause for using). So you would think most recovery clinics would have adequate facilities to welcome in handicapped patients. Unfortunately, as one article appropriately pointed out, that is currently not the case.


A recent piece on TheFix.com highlighted recovery homes across the U.S. who neither have the staff nor the accommodations for disabled clients. Wheelchair access is an essential component, allowing fluid movement for patients looking to maneuver from room to room. And this doesn’t have to include an entire remodel of a facility. Simply having portable ramps around can solve the problem.


Paralyzed recovery advocate Josh Chilton was profiled in the story and explained how the lack of adequate recovery care furthered his addiction issue. His family’s search for an appropriate sober living home was exhausting and led to a full audit of his hometown city of St. Paul, Minnesota.


“As we began to look for a sober house for me we encountered a big problem,” Chilton explained. “In the entire city of St. Paul there was not one sober house that was handicap accessible.”


To make matters worse, when Josh did find a facility (which ultimately became the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation), the price was more than five times higher than where he looked before.


Other issues came to light as well, such as ill-equipped vehicles to transport patients to meetings and appointments. Staff members also lacked knowledge when dealing with disabled clients, particularly when it came to extra needs such as showering and bathroom assistance.


Chilton made a point to emphasize that U.S. laws can actually work against handicapped recovery candidates.


“Recovery homes and treatment centers aren’t open to the general public,” Josh told The Fix. “So they don’t have to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.”


To his credit, Chilton took to the web and is now making a strong case for disabled addiction sufferers. He created his own Go Fund Me page, which works to raise awareness and encourage his local facilities to make the appropriate adjustments.


We are proud to say that Valley Recovery Center welcomes any and all prospective patients, regardless of disabilities. Whether it’s incorporating a portable ramp, keeping you close to a trained and caring specialist or handling transports, we always find ways to make our clients happy and comfortable. And truth be told, if our own facility lacks any sort of specialized equipment, we will make sure you are sent to somewhere that’s affordable and accommodating. 


Don’t be afraid to reach out and get the help you need. 866-986-2486



Controversial Alcoholism Treatment Gains Notoriety

Conquering alcoholism has never been an easy task. And now, one new treatment option is gaining notoriety (partially because of its controversial approach). The Sinclair Method focuses on going against the grain, by encouraging continued drinking and using pills to help curb the urges. And, interestingly enough, it’s caught the attention of several news outlets; including NBC’s Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly.


Sunday Night profiled the method on their most recent broadcast, with a sit-down interview featuring a so-called “success story.” Marisa (who preferred not to use her last name) is a 25-year-old admitted alcoholic and offered a frank confessional to NBC correspondent Craig Melvin. During their one-on-one, she explained that the Sinclair Method is slowly squashing her cravings for the bottle.


“I feel like I could have another drink or not have another drink and be totally fine,” Marisa said to Melvin.


Melvin’s cameras actually followed Marisa around for “a day in the life of the Sinclair Method.” It showed her going to her doctor and receiving a bottle of pills that will reportedly curb her addictions. The prescription is for naltrexone, which has been used to treat opioid dependencies.


According to Sunday Night’s research team, naltrexone blocks pleasure receptors in the brain. Taking it regularly and attending psychotherapy sessions are the key components of Sinclair. Apparently, the more you take the pill the less likely you are to yearn for alcohol.


Marisa has been on the program for three months and explained to Melvin that she feels a significant difference.


“It really does work as a buzkill for the brain,” she added. “Already, I’ve lost much of my drive to drink.”


The segment went on to profile a Betty Ford executive, who dismissed Sinclair’s effectiveness.  “We believe the 12 step method is critical,” clinic director Chris Yadron told the program. ” It’s a a spiritual part of recovery.”


Many viewers of the segment also voiced disagreement. Commenting on the show’s social media pages, they disagreed with the concept of a “magic pill” and felt it highlighting an easy out could be deceptive for people in need.


On the other side of the coin, some social media commenters thought the pill solution offered a new ray of hope and could be encouraging for people who are unwilling to commit to a lengthy recovery program.


“Watched your show for the first time tonight. Great show. I have alcohol issues and now I have maybe a place to get help,” one user wrote on the site.


In our opinion, Sinclair still needs to stand the test of time. New treatment methods are always promising in theory, but it is important to see them all the way through and observe whether they have a lasting impact. As for now, traditional alcohol recovery is where we’ve seen the most success and we encourage anyone who is suffering to start with what works.



Remembering Chester Bennington’s Recovery Advocacy

The music world suffered a devastating loss this week with the news of Chester Bennington’s passing. The Linkin Park frontman was found dead in his Palos Verdes home, apparently a victim of suicide. And while addiction did not seem to play a role in this tragedy, it is something Chester battled and advocated against throughout his entire professional career.


Interestingly enough, the band’s breakthrough hit, “Crawling,” chronicled Chester’s addiction history. Speaking about its massive success at the time, Bennington explained, ““[The song] is about feeling like I had no control over myself in terms of drugs and alcohol. That feeling, being able to write about it, sing about it, that song, those words sold millions of records.”


Though he was only 24 at that time, Chester had already lived through a lifetime of addiction issues. He openly admitted to first using at the age of 13, taking everything from LSD, to alcohol, to hardcore hallucinogens.


“I was a lot more confident when I was high,” he told reporters back then. “I felt like I had more control over my environment when I was on hallucinogens or drinking.”


He eventually praised the treatment process and touted continued sobriety from the mid-1990’s. By the time Linkin Park’s first few albums were released, Chester had channeled his addiction pain into powerful lyrics.


And there is no denying that Chester’s honest words were part of the band’s appeal. In total, LinkedIn Park has sold over 70 million albums; thanks very much to the presence of Bennington.


And, continuing his honest connection with fans, Chester also came clean about several instances when he fell off the wagon. In the early 2000’s following a difficult divorce, he began using again and ultimately went through an intervention organized by his fellow bandmates.


Songs like “Breaking The Habit” chronicled Chester’s relapse episodes and, again, won over the hearts of listeners. We, ourselves, our big fans of his and even used the “Breaking” lyrics as part of our social media mantra.


A particular quote Bennington gave to Noisecreep helps sum up his philosophy nicely.


“I’m not one of those guys who thinks being anonymous is all that great,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with people knowing that I had a drinking problem. That’s who I am and I’m kind of lucky in a lot of ways cause I get to do something about it. I get to grow as a person through it. It’s kind of a cool thing. It’s not cool to be an alcoholic, meaning it’s not cool to go drink and be a dumbass. It’s cool to be a part of recovery. This is just who I am, this is what I write about, what I do, and most of my work has been a reflection of what I’ve been going through in one way or another.”


Rest in Peace Chester. 


Here, in his honor, are the powerful recovery lyrics that started it all.

r/opiates Forum Becomes A Reddit Phenomenon

There is no denying that we are now in the midst of the digital age. Back in the day, crisis hotlines were where people turned to if they were battling severe addictions. Now, however, that destination appears to be Reddit.com, thanks to a particular message board focusing on painkiller abuse.


The r/opiates destination within Reddit now boasts more than 37,000 subscribers and has become somewhat of a safe haven for those looking to talk about their addictions. The Guardian recently did a profile piece on this modern-day phenomenon, outlining the success the board has had helping people find treatment.


One major appeal of the Reddit experience is complete anonymity. On this site, no one discloses their actual name and there is no personal registration required. The r/opiates forum is also completely uncensored, which means it can be raw, it can be emotional and it can even bee quite explicit.


For many this board works as a sort of confessional, where they can freely express the pain and pleasure that comes from using.


“I remember when I first tried it,” Reddit user Aaron21 said. “I snuck into my parents’ bathroom, broke one up into four pieces and ate one. About five minutes later, I was in pure bliss. Warm waves flooded my body. I decided to take another piece and then I nodded off.”


Other users quickly responded to Aaron’s statements, offering encouragement and letting him know that it was ok to feel those feelings. As trust within his Reddit community grew, Aaron explained to The Guardian that he learned of the dangerous path this drug can take you on. Others accepted his feelings, yet shared their own stories of emergency room visits, jail time and permanent body damage.


Users like Aaron also become educated about treatment programs and drugs like naloxone,which work to combat the effects of opioids.  Interestingly enough, even medical professionals have participate in the r/opiates board; offering professional opinions and support for those who need it.


One other bitter truth expressed on r/opiates is a featured “obituary” section, which profiles those who have succumbed to painkiller abuse. Family, friends and other users share their personal stories of loss and the ongoing ravages this addiction has caused. Virtual condolences are mainstay of the forum, giving this crisis even more of a personal  connection.


We actually recommend visiting the forum, whether you are impacted by this issue or not. And we certainly encourage lawmakers and public officials to do the same. r/opiates offers an honest and unapologetic glimpse into an addiction crisis that is ripping this country apart.



When Parents Become Recovery Advocates

It may be hard to believe, but nearly 10 years have passed since up-and-coming actor Heath Ledger lost his battle with addiction. Right on the brink of superstardom, the 28-year-old Dark Knight star passed away in his hotel room after taking a lethal mixture of pills. Since then, Heath’s father, Kim Ledger, has become a vocal recovery advocate, using his son’s tragic overdose as an example of the need for treatment.


Kim made more headlines this week after speaking out about the growing opioid epidemic. Though based in Australia, he has strong opinions about its impact on young people (and for the record, painkiller abuse is rising quickly down under too). Ledger emphasized on local TV how millions are unknowingly putting their lives in jeopardy, much like his young son did.


“Heath’s passing really just highlights what is happening everywhere,” Kim explained to Australian reporters. “Whether it’s by accident and in most cases, it is by accident of course.”


One of Ledger’s major platforms is tighter restrictions on prescribing doctors. He believes that monitoring systems should be put in place, so patients aren’t given dangerous drugs that they are ill equipped to handle. Because, as we all know, opioid overdoses can happen very easily.


“By having a real-time monitoring system implemented, it will give doctors an opportunity to prepare themselves for when that patient comes in,” Kim continued to say. “And maybe that can also give them an opportunity to offer up some kind of counseling and perhaps discover with that client or that patient may be another pathway to try to restore their life to some normality.”


Though its hard to admit, most parents like Kim don’t become recovery advocates by choice. The loss of a child and firsthand accounts of addiction are what lead them down this road and we certainly admire all family members who answer the call.


We recently profiled an Ohio mom who channeled the pain of her daughter’s fatal overdose into a new life mission. Rather than feel shame and try to hide away from the issue, Tonda DaRe started her own recovery foundation and is traveling the country to bring attention to opioid abuse.


Kim is doing much of the same and, to his credit, is using the high-profile Ledger name to help further the cause. He had previously confided to reporters about the guilt his family felt for not urging Heath into treatment. Kim admitted that the signs were present in his son and Heath’s sister Kate had tried to intervene.


“The last conversation Kate had with him was this discussion about his medications and she warned him, ‘You can’t mix drugs that you don’t know anything about,’ ” Kim added. “He said ‘Katie, Katie, I’ll be fine.’ Well, that’s a cavalier boy’s answer. It just put his whole system to sleep I guess.”


We applaud the entire extended Ledger family for using their pain to help others and we sincerely hope that thus helps propel the message to a new global audience.


D.A.R.E. Program May Return To Schools

Back in the 1980’s it was hard to avoid the national D.A.R.E. campaign, which was put out by lawmakers and meant to teach kids about addiction. Known as Drug Abuse Resistance Education, it included public school visits, commercials, board games, billboards and much more. It also cost billions of taxpayers dollars and was deemed, by some, to be unsuccessful. Regardless, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced this week that he hopes to bring the program back.


“D.A.R.E. is, I think, the best remembered anti-drug program today,”Sessions told the press at a recent publicity conference in Texas. “In recent years people have not paid much attention to that message but they are ready to hear it again.”


That, of course, raised many questions as to whether that message was ever successfully heard in the first place. Since making his announcement, several prominent outlets shared stats about D.A.R.E.’s failures in the 1980’s and whether the program was more about style than substance.


Yes, it got on the front pages of newspapers. It even received it’s own D.A.R.E. Day, declared by President Ronald Reagan back in 1988. But institutions like the University of Illinois at Chicago published studies that questioned its overall effectiveness with students.


“The effectiveness of DARE in altering students’ drug use behavior has yet to be established,” a researcher from the university wrote. “D.A.R.E.’s limited influence on adolescent drug use behavior contrasts with the program’s popularity and prevalence. An important implication is that DARE could be taking the place of other, more beneficial drug use curricula that adolescents could be receiving.”


Sessions, not surprisingly, countered that information with some data of his own.


“Whenever I ask adults around age 30 about prevention,” he added to the audience, “they always mention the D.A.R.E. program. Your efforts work. Lives and futures are saved.”


The big argument that arose back in the day (and was actually sparked again on social media after Sessions’ speech) was that D.A.R.E. may have had a reverse effect on teens and schoolchildren. By bringing attention to using and, as some say, “glamorizing” it,  more curiosities were sparked and drug experimentation may have actually increased.


As for our opinion, we of course support all kinds of education about the dangers of addiction. But if it’s taxpayer money and it’s potentially taking away funds from issues like healthcare and recovery support, then it becomes much more of a gray area.


At this stage of the game, we are encouraging lawmakers to spend their funds wisely and focus on issues like America’s growing opioid epidemic. And if D.A.R.E. 2.0 can successfully do that, more power to them.


Opioid Addictions Are Impacting The U.S. Economy

How bad is America’s opioid addiction crisis, you ask? So bad that Janet Yellen, the head of the United States Federal Reserve, has spoken out about it and referenced it as a serious pain point for the national economy. And this wasn’t just a light conversation. Yellen shared specific facts illustrating its impact on the work force and business sales.


Testifying before America’s Senate Banking Committee this week, the Fed Chair gave a stern warning about where things may be headed if this epidemic continues. She emphasized that able-bodied, prime-age workers are vanishing from the labor force because of their dependencies and various drug-related medical issues.


“I don’t know if it’s causal or symptomatic of long-running economic maladies that have affected these communities and particularly affected workers who have seen their job opportunities decline,” Yellen stated to the committee. “The United States is the only advanced nation that I know of where in these communities we’re actually, especially among less-educated men, seeing an increase in death rates partly reflecting opioid use.”


Several financial analysts picked up on the story, emphasizing that opioid abuse takes the lives of more than 90 U.S. citizens each day. The labor statistics are also quite shocking. According to CNBC, America’s work force participation rate is now lower than it was during the Great Recession and has been been on a downward spiral for the past four years.


A Goldman Sachs economist was also interviewed for their piece and singled out opioid addictions as a prime reason why more people aren’t actively looking for work.


“The opioid epidemic is intertwined with the story of declining prime-age participation,” the firm’s David Mericle told CNBC. “This is especially true for men, and reinforces our doubts about a rebound in the participation rate.”


Mericle went on to add that the opiod crisis is causing other severe ripples in the nation’s economy. He singled out the rise in health care costs and a significant spike in crime. We know for a fact that both of those ring true, with emergency room overdose visits at an all-time high and continued prison overcrowding due to nonviolent drug offenses.


Tragically, it may take events like these for the government to really start paying attention. With a weakened work force, mounting medical costs, criminal justice implications and an overall lack in spending, the opioid crisis is clearly having an impact beyond those who use. Let’s hope the people holding higher office are listening.


Venmo App Being Used For Drug Purchases

As much as we love technology, we understand that it can have a downside. For every positive app touting recovery and sobriety, there are countless others that can enable people to use. And though the mobile transaction service Venmo has become very helpful for people making online payments, it has also seen a sharp spike in illicit drug spending.


For the record, Venmo has been hailed as the future of PayPal. Through your phone or tablet, the downloadable program allows you to send and receive bank account money transfers. It has become extremely popular among the millennial crowd, who often use it for loans between friends, services rendered or splitting checks at restaurants. But a recent report showed that Venmo has become a powerful tool among drug dealers, bringing their businesses into the 21st century.


A survey from Quartz.com added some fuel to that fire when, after interviewing thousands of millennials across the country, they found that 68 percent had used the Venmo app to purchase drugs. Their research also found that a large portion of young people were using it for sports betting, furthering potential gambling addictions.


Now to their credit, Venmo’s spokespeople have addressed the situation and were even quoted in the Quartz article.


“We take compliance with the law seriously,” a rep told the site. “And using the service for gambling or drug payments violates our terms of service. If there is ever a situation where evidence of gambling or other illegal activity is brought to our attention, the Venmo team works quickly to take appropriate action.”


So yes, it is not the company’s fault that their app has been embraced by bookies and illicit drug dealers. But that doesn’t stop the fact that it’s happening and needs to be addressed. $17.6 billion in payments were passed between users of the app in 2016.  Venmo’s audience amounts to tens of millions of people. So it’s obvious that the company cannot keep tabs on all of the illegal transactions taking place.


Our recommendation (which was echoed in the article) would be to visit the site, Vicemo.com. Set up independently, it is a public feed that tracks illicit transactions occurring on the app. This is particularly useful, if you have a young one at home who you may suspect is using.


As we mentioned before, millennials are the ones who are embracing this app the most. So if you are noticing a younger loved one showing signs of addiction and being more protective of their phone, understand that there could be a very good reason. Yes, this app can be very beneficial to millions of people. But it’s just as important to understand its potential dangers.



Drug Companies Aim To Complicate Opioid Abuse

Can science and perhaps chemistry be an effective tool in fighting the nation’s opioid crisis? To their credit, several drug companies are at least trying to make a dent by building pills that are “harder to abuse.” Though these types of experiments have had mixed results, we do commend those pharma brands for giving it their best shot and acknowledging this growing epidemic.


So what exactly can a drug company do to deter an addict from abusing their product? Child proof caps have long been used to deter young ones from gaining access to pill bottles, but it’s not going to solve this problem. So the next step is to take a look at the chemical compound of each painkiller.


Per The Washington Post, one company has worked on the texture of their prescription opioids. By including certain additives, the pills can actually become more difficult to grind and snort. This type of substance also makes it much more challenging to convert the pills into liquid form.


Another interesting solution involved creating “abuse-deterrent opioids.” This is where the lab techs actually rearrange the chemical compounds and include elements of naloxone. Naloxone, as we all know, has been one of the only known antidotes to opioid overdoses, 0ff setting the euphoric sensations created by the original drug. By including portions of it in each pill, scientists have discovered that the chemicals nullify once the pill is crushed.


As The Post points out, these types of remedies have been somewhat successful in the past. Back in 2010, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma reformulated their drug making it more goopy and chunky when crushed. The company later claimed that OxyContin emergency room overdose visits dropped dramatically following the switch.


As positive as those examples sound, this concept is still far from perfect. The company Endo Pharmaceuticals attempted to modify their pills in 2012, making them harder to crush. Later they learned that patients turned to liquifying their painkillers, then injecting the elements into their veins. This actually caused an increase in overdoses within the Endo base.


There is also the issue of cost and bottom-line profits. Reformulating pills uses up money and resources. It also makes the product more expensive leading to less revenue for the pharma companies. And let’s face it, there will always be some companies out there that go the cheaper (and deadlier) route.


But we are certainly not giving up hope on this concept and applaud all of the companies who are attempting to address the issue. Curbing this nationwide addiction may have to start at the top  and we are hopeful that this could be an encouraging first step.




How Recovery Schools Can Work For Students

This week, NPR shared a very insightful article about the recovery experience of teens and students. As we all know, addiction can strike people at a very young age and there are times when an intervention is needed during middle or high school. The question then becomes, what happens to a person’s studies if they need to enter treatment? That’s exactly where the article starts off…


Singling out Recovery Schools, NPR’s Rachel Morello goes on to profile several highly-regarded institutions that serve to curb addictions and provide a safe, academic environment. Their data showed that teens who enter these types of programs (rather than going into a straight treatment facility) have better grades and better recovery results.


One school that was profiled was Madison’s Horizon High. Since opening back in 2005, more than 150 kids have graduated and successfully beaten their addictions. One current student, who goes by the anonymous name Des, explained the benefits of a recovery high school.


“At the beginning, when I first got introduced to the idea of coming here, I thought it was going to be intense, and I didn’t like that idea,” she told the outlet. “But it’s not bad, because it’s a small, comfortable environment.”


The way Horizon works is by providing students with academic teachers, as well as certified recovery counselors. The daily regimen includes designated therapy time, covering topics like mental health, social life and family pressure.


The article also points out several of the challenges that these schools face. One of the big ones concerns stigmas and the fear certain parents have about enrolling their children in this type of institution.


“I think one of the reasons why some people don’t choose to come to sober schools is because of the stigma” a principal from a Minnesota-based recovery high school explained. “Many parents tell me, ‘I don’t want my kid to come from a special school’.”


Another issue that tends to come up frequently is cost. Recovery schools are private institutions, which can sometimes come with steep tuitions. That can certainly be a deterrent for financially strapped parents, but the article did point out that several lawmakers (particularly in states hit hardest by the opioid crisis) are pushing for government-funded scholarships to help young people in need.


We completely understand the need for these types of institutions. Our particular facility happens to cater to men 18 and older and there’s a good reason for that. Younger people deserve specialized treatment, which can focus on both their emotional and academic needs.



The Importance Of Bereavement Groups

It’s a known fact that an addiction doesn’t just touch one person. It touches that person’s family, their coworkers, their friends, even their entire community. So we make it a point to ensure that whoever is going into recovery also gets support for those who are close to them. But what if it is tragically too late for treatment? What if that person ultimately succumbed to their addiction? That is the time when a bereavement group has proven to be extremely helpful.


Across the country, more and more families are turning to bereavement group after the loss of an addicted loved ones. Similar to treatment, it offers a safe and confidential arena to share feelings and speak with trained professionals.


One New Jersey group, A Healing Heart, was recently profiled on TheFix.com. They explained how a good portion of their participants are facing losses because alcohol and drug dependencies.


“By coming together, we remove the isolation and stigma as we work on our pain and grief so we can learn how to survive and have hope,” a rep told the site. “There’s this misunderstanding about people who use drugs and it can happen to anybody. And if it’s your kid then all of a sudden it’s your fault, you’re a bad parent, your kid’s a bad kid.”


Healing Heart’s founder, Franca Kirsch, started the group after her own daughter died from a heroin overdose. As with many families across the country, she experienced judgmental criticism from peers after the loss. As if she was partly to blame for her child’s habit.


Group like Healing Heart bring these issues to the forefront and include loved ones facing similar situations. It is a sad fact of life, but addictions still carry a heavy stigma (particularly those that end in overdoses). Often times, friends and family feel uncomfortable talking about it publicly among their peers. Bereavement meetings shatter those fears and provide around-the-clock support, with help lines and private social media page.


One more local group mentioned by TheFix, is called GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing) and is based in Southern California. They also have a strong Facebook presence, where discrete conversations can be had between group members and chapter reps.


“It’s very isolating,” GRASP founder Denise Cullen told the site. “So that’s why having GRASP, and having our Facebook page that’s closed but available 24 hours a day seven days a week with 3,000 members, that you have a safe place to talk about things that you can’t talk about in your real life.”


We highly encourage anyone dealing with the loss of addicted loved one to seek out one of these groups. We happen to work closely with several near our Santa Clarita community and would be happy to direct anyone local to a bereavement support system within reach. If you or someone you know is coping with this issue, please reach out. 866-986-2486



The Rise Of ‘Functioning Alcoholics’

The New York Post recently published a very telling article about the state of modern alcoholism. Using movie star Brad Pitt as an example, they demonstrated the sharp rise of drinkers who don’t realize they’re drinkers. These are people who have serious addictions to the bottle, yet still seem to function and maintain appearances. And while this is certainly not a new phenomenon, it’s one that’s worth pointing out.


Pitt recently came clean to GQ Magazine about his alcoholism. According to the Inglorious Bastards star, drinking is what cost him his marriage (to actress Angelina Jolie) and his happy family. Yet, interestingly enough, it did not cost him his career. Despite downing multiple cocktails per week, Brad was able to show up for his film gigs and never let on that he had a problem.


This year, he went cold turkey after he saw the longterm damage his dependency had caused his family.


“I enjoy wine very, very much, but I just ran it to the ground,” Pitt told the mag. “I had to step away for a minute. And truthfully I could drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka. I was a professional. I was good.”


The Post article went on profile several other professionals who were “good” at hiding their alcoholism. Another New York executive was interviewed for the piece and described how he was able to hide his problem for years, particularly with subtle tricks.


“In between glasses of scotch, I’d spray on cologne and use mouthwash,” their anonymous interviewee explained. “And I’d sneak into my home office to nap after a long day of boozing before having dinner with my family.”


The truth about functioning alcoholics is that the problem always catches up to them. Sure you can fool your bosses and even your spouse for a while, but eventually the addiction will send you spiraling out of control.


“I’m seeing a lot of professionals like nurses, doctors and lawyers and successful people,” a recovery rep told the Post. “It’s not people who are blacking out, unemployed or living in Section 8 housing. I’m seeing married executives with great careers, and nobody knows what’s going on with [their alcoholism].”


The article also explained how work happy hours and wine-laden company dinners can exacerbate the problem. Not to mention the stress of office deadlines, high bills and long hours. It really isn’t hard to see how an issue like this can develop and why maintaining the sober facade becomes a regular fact of life.


All we can say is, alcoholism is alcoholism. Whether you’re “functioning” or not, you are still doing tremendous damage to your body and putting yourself (and your family) at risk. Even if you think you’re drinking is under control, we urge you to take a step back and really re-evaluate things. Valley Recovery Center is here to help and make sure you can continue to function, without the assistance of drugs or booze.



How Addictions Are Shaping Political Campaigns

There is no denying that issues like the opioid crisis are having a major impact on communities across the U.S. But now, the epidemic has become so big that politicians are using “addiction” as part of their campaign rhetoric. In the state of Ohio, for example, Governor John Kasich has made it one of his leading platforms for re-election; specifically treatment and healthcare.


It is interesting to note how important addressing these topics have been for people in office. Senator Robert Portman, for example, discusses the opioid crisis at nearly all of his rallies and wound up retaining his seat with nearly 60 percent of the vote. His opponent, Democrat Ted Strickland, failed to discuss the obvious and lost by a wide margin in the most recent election.


John Kasich actually took a stand against his own Republican party because of the addiction issues in his state. He has now become a vocal opponent of the healthcare reform bill, emphasizing its necessity when it comes to treating low income families struggling with a dependency. Not coincidentally, Kasich will also be up for re-election in the very near future.


Dayton mayor Nan Whaley took her stance one step further, by actually filing lawsuits against five leading opioid manufacturers in the state. And Republican Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor gave the issue a much more personal touch, by revealing that her two grown sons have both struggled with painkiller addictions.


“The opiate crisis has come in my front door,” Taylor said at a recent rally.


Ohio continues to be where most of the vocal politicians hail from. In 2016 over 4,000 of its residents died because of overdoses, making it one of the most impacted states in the nation.


Truth be told, it’s impossible to tell which representatives have a compassionate connection to the cause and which are using it for political gain. Many believe there is a lack of sincerity among several of the names mentioned and, believe us, cynicism is high among the voters (just check out the hashtags and social media pages).


But whether their hearts are in or not, we are glad these public figures are bringing attention to this crisis. Addiction has always been a touchy subject for elected officials. Many seem to show little sympathy for those who are suffering. Now it appears as though the dialogue is shifting and the people affected by this terrible epidemic are being looked at with sympathetic eyes (rightly so, of course).


Our hope is that the conversation continues nationwide and addiction as a whole can become a little less stigmatized. So for that, we applaud the politicians bringing this topic to the forefront and we certainly hope more do in the future.


Rumer Willis Becomes Sobriety Icon

There’s nothing better than a recovery message “going viral.” And this week, actress Rumer Willis helped make that happen with an incredibly popular Instagram post touting her six months of sobriety. Nearly 20,000 people “Liked” the inspiring message and it ultimately got shared on sites like Fox, US Magazine, People and more.


For the record, Rumer chose not to disclose the addiction issues she had been battling. And we fully respect her right to do that. Truth be told, it doesn’t matter if someone conquers alcholism, an opioid dependency or even a gambling compulsion. If they can beat their demons, then share their success with others, it is still incredibly inspiring (particularly when it comes from a public figure).


As Rumer put it, “I will be the first one to say I’m not perfect and I mess up sometimes and every once in a while I get it right but I wanted to share this because I am really proud of myself. Yesterday I celebrated 6 Months of Sobriety. It’s not something I planned on but after the long journey of getting here I can honestly say I have never been more proud of myself in my entire life. Thank you all for the love and support and remember to be gentle with yourself.”


It is also interesting to note that Rumer isn’t the only one of her famous siblings to go public about recovery. Back in 2015 younger sister, Tallulah Willis, spent 45 days in a recovery facility overcoming a substance abuse issue. She too went public with her sobriety success, writing a special article section of Teen Vogue.


“I’m now 20 years old, and I can say that I’m getting to that place where I’m starting to feel OK with myself, bit by bit,” Tallulah told the mag. “It’s not night and day — it’s not like now I completely love myself and I have no problems. That isn’t how it works. But there are the starting points of that, and that’s really exciting. I’m growing every day and breaking old patterns.”


We tip our hat to both of the Willis sisters and to all of the everyday heroes posting their inspirational recovery messages on social media. You can see by Rumer’s comment section alone, that words like these really help others take the bold step forward into recovery.


If you have beaten an addiction and have a social media account, go ahead and share your story. You would be amazed at how much difference one short post can make in the lives of others.