Opioid Overdose Exhibit To Open In D.C.

Within the past decade, tens of thousands of Americans have lost their lives because of opioid and painkiller addictions. And now, the National Safety Council is aiming to address that with a special “Overdose Exhibit” set to debut at the White House this month. The temporary art piece will be on full display for D.C. visitors and feature a wall of 22,000 faces, representing the people who died.

 

For the record, the exhibit (titled “Prescribed To Death“) has the full backing of President Donald Trump.

 

“I encourage all to visit [the exhibit] and remember those who we have lost to this deadly epidemic,” he posted on his Twitter page. “We will keep fighting until we defeat the opioid crisis!”

 

Not surprisingly, Trump’s support has led to an online backlash regarding the exhibit. Those who oppose it, deem the art piece to be insensitive to the plight of those addicted. Their argument is that the piece isn’t taking any solid action against the crisis. There are also questions about the way overdose victims are portrayed. This “work of art” features individual faces engraved on tiny white pills.

 

“Dehumanizing the victims of overdose by reducing them to faces on a pill is absurd,” recovery advocate Carol Katz Beyer told TheFix.com. “Our children are first and foremost family members who are human beings that reflect many interests and a diverse range of talents. We would never shun or dishonor the death of anyone with another health condition by placing that singularly stigma-ridden attachment to their face.”

 

Bill Williams, another advocate who lost a child to the criss, echoed that sentiment. “Those ‘pills’ look like tiny death masks to me,” he exclaimed. “To me the issue is Trump co-opting this wall. He’s had nothing to do with it. It’s cynical on his part to do anything more than to suggest it is worth a visit.”

 

Other criticisms include an inaccurate total of those lost to the epidemic (numbers align closer to 42,000 vs. 22,000) and a lack of awareness for people who OD’d on fentanyl, heroin and other opioid strains. Those are all points well taken, but in our opinion, if something like this helps get an additional headline out about the crisis, more power to it.

 

To find out more about the exhibit, and the artists behind it, you can visit the official National Safety Council site by clicking here.

 

 

Author Anna David Helps Writers In Recovery

It’s time for another one of our regular Spotlight Features, where we highlight an inspirational figure in the world of recovery. For this particular piece, we wanted to focus our efforts on the writing world and a particular author who is inspiring people to put pen to paper. Bestselling scribe Anna David has become a powerful advocate in our field and is continuing to help those struggling by flexing their creative muscles.

 

Anna recently spoke with The Huffington Post about her mission and her own experiences conquering a devastating heroin addiction. At first, the New York-based author was extremely private about her battle, but after undergoing a successful treatment program she made her story public.

 

“Believe it or not, telling my story about recovering from heroin addiction was one of the biggest barriers to my recovery,” David told The Post. “I spent years hiding my substance use, even after everyone in my life had figured out that something was wrong. However, once I got into treatment, I learned that my story is one of the most powerful, valuable things I have in my recovery. Why? Because it helps me connect with other people whose lives have been touched by substance use disorder.”

 

Interestingly enough, it was Anna’s recovery journey that led to one of her most successful novels. Party Girl reflects “reality fiction,” as David puts it. It chronicled a Los Angeles-based actress and her harrowing experiences facing drug and alcohol dependencies. The treatment process was also a major component of the book and Anna covered it with a blend of honesty, pain and humor.

 

“I didn’t realize at first that I was helping myself,” she said when discussing the book. “I thought I was spreading a message — and I was — but every time I write or talk about embarrassing or disturbing experiences I’ve had, I’m de-stigmatizing the experience or the label by bringing it out in the open and seeing that other people relate to it, which gives me tangible evidence I’m not alone in my struggles.”

 

But David’s recovery advocacy goes well beyond what she discusses in her novels. She also holds regular workshops, where she encourages people in recovery to express themselves through creative writing. And, from what she told The Post, the process has become very therapeutic for both sides.

 

Anna emphasized that journaling your thoughts and experiences can be extremely beneficial during the healing process.

 

“I would urge anyone in recovery from anything to share their story,” she concluded. “We’re all in recovery from something and we all have stories to share. I’ve now seen so many people go from saying they can’t write or they don’t know how to writing and sharing their life stories and having their whole lives transformed.”

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: March 3-5

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

 

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

 

Classic Cars At Bob’s Big Boy

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

 

Dana Point Festival Of Whales

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

 

Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera Art Show

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

 

626 Golden Streets

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

Sober SoCal Weekend: Jan 13-16

Happy holiday weekend, Valley Recovery Center friends! How fortunate are we to have Monday off in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr? He was certainly an inspirational figure and, don’t worry, we have plenty of Sober SoCal activities lined up that can honor his memory. We also have a slew of other ideas to keep you dry from the rain and away from tempting substances. Enjoy this latest list of “clean” outings and make sure to send your own ideas to us at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com!

 

Pasadena Cheeseburger Week

Tasty food is a great way to get your mind off drugs and alcohol and this Friday, the city of Pasadena is holding a grand finale party for Cheeseburger Week! More than 40 local restaurants are participating (rain or shine), highlighting everything from gourmet patties, to good ol’ fashioned Double Doubles. Plus this event is completely family friendly, which means you can bring your whole support system along with you!  To find out details on the menus and the eateries participating, click here.

 

Los Angeles Art Show

Another great weekend event is the LA Art Show, which officially kicks off on Thursday night. A longtime tradition in the Downtown district, this Show features everything from contemporary works, to modern sculptures, to avante-garde paintings. And, best of all, most of the pieces are available for purchase (and reasonably priced). Appreciating fine art is a great outlet for someone who is recovering and can often inspire them to pick up a palette and brush themselves. We highly recommend this Sober outing. For more official details on the Show, click here.

 

Kingdom Day Parade

We mentioned before how important Martin Luther King Day is. And if you want to honor his message of peace and civil rights, the annual Monday Kingdom Day Parade is a great place to do it. This event has been going on in South Los Angeles for more than three decades and features marching bands, street performers and local civic leaders uniting to celebrate Dr. King’s work. The televised parade is completely free and does not promote drugs or alcohol. It’s also a great way to feel good and productive on the extra day off. Participants can line up early Monday morning on Martin Luther King Blvd and Western Avenue. Click here for more details.

 

Free Monday At LACMA

Another event honoring Dr. King this Monday is happening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). From open until closing, this amazing gallery will be offering a free entrance for guests of all ages. There will also be multiculturally themed activities, bilingual tours, sketching classes and live music to honor Dr. King’s memory. And just like everything else on this list, No alcohol and No substances are allowed. So why not drop in? For more details, click here.

 

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Jan 6-8

It’s hard to believe, but the first weekend of January has arrived! And, as always, we’re making sure the VRC community has a host of “clean” activities to choose from via our Sober SoCal Weekend series. Though Friday, Saturday and Sunday offer a lot of temptations, LA has a host of fun events that do not promote drugs or alcohol. This time out, we’re highlighting everything from improv workshops, to pastry festivals to sober Golden Globes viewing parties. So, grab your organizer and make sure to add a few of these ideas to your itinerary!

 

And don’t forget, if you have your own Sober SoCal activities that you’d like to add to our list reach out via email to valleyreocverycenter@gmail.com.

 

LA Chocolate And Pastry Show

We all know about new year’s resolutions and diets. And, of course, we fully support a healthy eating regimen (particularly because of our accomplished nutrition staff). But, every now and then there’s nothing wrong with enjoying delectable sweets made by the greatest pastry chefs in Los Angeles. That’s why we’re recommending the LA Chocolate Show, which highlights all sorts of five star confections. Everything from cupcakes, to macaroons, to homemade bon bons, will be on display at the famous Downtown Omni Hotel. Best of all, this alcohol free, family-friendly event supports a charity. Proceeds from all tickets will be donated to St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which helps to fight childhood cancer. A great cause and a tasty event! To find out more details, click here.

 

Free Second City Improv Workshops

If you want to celebrate sobriety and save a few bucks, why not trek to Hollywood Blvd for the annual Second City Open House? This event is a great way to channel addictive energy into positive outlets, specifically razor-fast comedy! From 12pm to 6pm on Saturday, the the famed standup theater will be hosting free workshops that teach students how to master the art of improv. Classes include musical comedy, standup timing, writing for TV and much more! And to top it off, at 1pm and 4pm the trained pros will be putting on their own free comedy show to entertain the students. We’re big fans of this event and highly encourage anyone with a free afternoon to register online. Space fills up quick, so click here to be a part of this silly (and sober) experience!

 

Golden Globe Awards

Movie and TV fans also have a lot to be excited about this weekend. On Sunday night, NBC will be broadcasting the 74th annual Golden Globe Awards. Now we understand that there could be some negative temptations arising that night, with wine viewing parties and bar celebrations. Our advice is steer clear of all of that and organize a sober viewing party for the gala. This can include all of the great elements of an awards viewing party (popcorn, desserts, appetizers), but without any beer or substances. Or, worst case scenario, enjoy a quiet night alone watching the show. We’re certain this ceremony will be a lot of fun (especially with Jimmy Fallon as host), so add it to the agenda…minus the alcohol.

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Dec 9-11

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

 

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

 

Marina Del Rey Boat Parade

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

 

Manhattan Beach Holiday Fireworks

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

 

Disney Hall Holiday Orchestra

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

 

Picture This!

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

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: December 2-4

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

 

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

 

Enchanted Descanso Gardens

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

 

International L.A. Tea Festival

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

 

The Groundlings Holiday Show

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

 

TEDx In LA

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

 

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Nov 18-20

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

 

And as always, if you have your own ideas to add to the list, shoot us an email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

The Los Angeles Auto Show

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

 

Snow! Los Angeles

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

 

The Great Los Angeles Walk

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

 

America’s Shakespeare

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

 

 

Comedy And Recovery

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Oct 21-23

TGIF! Another Friday is upon us, which means it’s time to start planning some Sober SoCal Weekend activities. This time out, we’ve gathered some fun, active fall ideas that do not involve drugs or alcohol. Whether you’re into extreme rock climbing, vinyl jams, works of art or Halloween escape rooms, we’re confident you’ll find at least one outing on this list to get excited about. So break out your day planner, pencil in these ideas and go enjoy your sobriety!

 

And as always, if you have your October Sober SoCal ideas to share, shoot us an email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com. We’ll make sure that they get on the next list.

 

Enigma Escape Rooms

Something for people with a quizzical mind, Hollywood’s Enigma Escape Room is a great activity for Halloween mystery fans. Guests can choose from five different scenarios, including ancient temples, 1940’s crime scenes and and even a spooky seance. What puts this brand above the rest is their attention to detail. Enigma’s rooms incorporate technology, innovative storylines and some great gadgetry. They’re also very challenging, mixing fun with a close attention to detail (a nice exercise for the sober mind). To find about their pricing and schedules, click here.

 

Art Night Pasadena

Followers of our Sober SoCal series know that we are big fans of artistic endeavors and this Friday, Pasadena is hosting a special Art Night Out. Throughout the evening, special shuttle buses will take guests across the city to visit famed galleries like the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Norton Simon Museum. Aficionados will also get to be one of the first patrons to view Norton Simon’s new Pablo Picasso exhibition. As we mentioned above, alcohol will not be present…But delicious food trucks will! Including the tasty Pie n’ Burger and Coolhaus ice cream. Click here to learn more about this exciting event.

 

Crate Diggers L.A.

We know what you’re thinking, but (believe it or not) Crate Diggers L.A. is actually not a Halloween-themed event. It is, in fact, an amazing Saturday morning excursion for lovers of vinyl music. Over 30 vendors will be lining up across Downtown’s Lot 613, selling rare records from decades’ past. This one promises to have tons of hidden gems and even caters to the DJ crowd, with live turntables throughout the afternoon. The event runs from the morning until 6pm and should be a great opportunity for you to build your sober soundtrack. For details on Crate Diggers, click here.

 

Rock N’ Rope Adventures

And last but not least, a great way to stay clean and burn calories. Sunday morning’s Rock n’ Rope Adventure encourages healthy living (and bicep building), with a sturdy rock climb up one of the tallest peaks in Malibu Creek State Park. Guides will be onhand from 9am on, servicing extreme athletes of all levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced wall scaler, this is a great way to work out and bond with friends who embrace an active lifestyle. For details on the climb, click here.

 

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Oct 7-9

Are you starting to feel a chill in the air? It’s time for more Sober SoCal Weekend ideas that celebrate absolute fun without the assistance of drugs and alcohol. And now, with October in full force, we’re sharing family-friendly Halloween ideas, scary productions under beach lit skies and a little bit of artistry to keep things well rounded.

 

As always, if you have any “clean” events that you’d like us to highlight, you’re more than welcome to share them. Sober SoCal is an open forum or, as we like to think of it, a substance-free community celebration! Just email your ideas to valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com and we’ll make sure to include them in our next blog.

 

Haunted House Highlights

We completely understand the temptations a holiday like Halloween can bring. With wild costume parties, bar promotions and what have you, it’s very easy to be swept up into using during the festive nights of October. Well we’re here to tell you that there are plenty of other safe and sober celebrations available, including a slew of Creative Haunted Houses. A local L.A. blog recently listed some great tricked out Trick-or-Treat destinations that any horror fan can appreciate. Addresses are posted across Burbank, the Valley, Torrance and our very own Santa Clarita. Some are even set up for charity donations. Best of all, they’re all happening this weekend and certainly deserve a look if you’re recovering and and want to get into the “spirit” of things.

 

Getty Villa’s Outdoor Spectacle

Speaking of October frights, this Friday there’s another great Sober SoCal option that takes advantage of Halloween and clean living. Pacific Palisades’ Getty Villa museum is hosting a very special Cinema Under The Stars night, which features an outdoor production of Haunted House Party. This live theatre play blends spookiness with comedy, as Shakespearian actors dress up and put on a lively show. The critics have given House Party rave reviews, not just for the performances but for the beautiful ambiance. Here, you can sit under the beachside stars and enjoy delicious (non-alcoholic)beverages and appetizers. There’s also an outdoor screening of Monty Python’s Life of Brian after the play ends. Tickets are free, but parking runs $5.

 

Culver City Art Walk

Now don’t worry, this SoCal installment isn’t ALL about Halloween (just most of it is). If you prefer to have a scare-free sober experience, set your sights on Culver City and their annual Art District Art Walk on Saturday. This event has a little something for everyone. Art lovers (of course) can peruse exhibitions featuring pop pieces, sculptures, jewelry, chalk works and even unique landscaping designs. If you’re a voracious reader, Arcana Books will be exhibiting some amazing new writings; with authors in tow for discussions and autographs. There will also be live music from jazz bands, DJ’s, folk singers and alt-rockers. And don’t worry “foodies,” you’ll be well taken care of too. Trucks will be lined up all across Washington Blvd, slinging everything from gourmet tacos, to pastries, to tasty Asian fusion bowls. You can find out more about Culver’s 2016 Art Walk by clicking here!

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Sept 9-11

Happy Friday! We hope all of our followers enjoyed a slighter shorter week (thanks to Labor Day). Now with another Saturday/Sunday stretch ahead, we thought we’d share several unique, recovery-friendly activities as part of our Sober SoCal Weekend series. This time, we’ve got a little bit for everyone. Whether you’re a “Trekkie,” a lobster lover or a fan of gorgeous sunset swims, set your sights on these local ideas that support the clean lifestyle.

 

Annenberg Beach House Sunset Swim

Don’t let last weekend fool you. Labor Day does not officially mean the end of summer. In fact, September continues to be one of our calendar’s hotter months. That’s why Santa Monica’s Annenberg Beach House is opening up it’s pool this Friday for a gorgeous Sunset Swim. From 6:30pm onward, guests can enjoy dunking in their Olympic sized pool and relaxing on lounge chairs across from the gorgeous Pacific coast. There will also be games, s’mores cooking and a fruit bar, supporting a healthy, sober lifestyle. Admission is just $10, with more details on their official site.

 

Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration

This Saturday you can live long and prosper with hundreds of devoted “Trekkies” at the American Cinematheque’s Star Trek At 50 Celebration. Fans can enjoy screenings of the first three Trek movies and sit in on conversations from some of the people behind the series. The late Leonard Nimoy’s son will also be on hand to debut a new documentary called For The Love Of Spock. It’s a great way to escape into the world of science fiction and it runs just $11. American Cinematheque’s site has all the info.

 

Long Beach International Lobster Festival

What better way to soak in a SoCal Sunday than with steamed lobsters on a sandy beach? From noon-10pm, Long Beach’s Rainbow Lagoon will be hosting the 20th Annual Original Lobster Fest. Guests can indulge on juicy tails and a variety of home cooked seafood, as well as karaoke entertainment and a live band. The event is also completely family-friendly, with costume contests and great souvenirs for the kids in the family. This one is highly recommended for all of our “foodie” fans, with ticket info available on the official Fest site.

 

Paley Fest Fall TV Preview

If you love TV and celebrities, the Paley Center’s annual Fall Preview Event is a great Sober SoCal option. Guests can watch full episodes of upcoming shows from ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox. They can also sit with the stars and creators of the programs, as they discuss production details. Headliners who will be participating this weekend include Damon Wayans, Mandy Moore and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Seats vary in price and they move fast, so if you’re a TV lover we highly recommend visiting their Tickets Page.

 

Are you involved in any recovery-friendly events happening in the next few weeks? If so, shoot us an email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com and we’ll make sure to include them in our next Sober SoCal list!

 

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend Aug 19-21

T.G.I.F.!  The time has come for another beautiful summer SoCal weekend and, as per usual, we’ve got a long list of activity ideas you and friends can enjoy without the influence of substances. Here are a few top suggestions that embrace sunshine and sobriety.

 

JAZZ AT LACMA

Music is a perfect way to soothe the soul before the weekend begins and the LACMA Museum is offering a jazz show this Friday on its premises. With piano setups, soulful singers, guitarists and more, this substance-free outing is a great way to spend an outdoor weekend evening. Plus, you never know which legends may show up. Famed maestros Arturo Sandoval and John Clayton have sat in for these lively FREE performances.

 

LONDON CALLING AT THE GETTY

Art is a fantastic way to shift one’s focus away from using. In fact, art therapy is one of our most successful treatment classes. That being said, we are huge fans of the recent London Calling exhibit that opened at the Getty. Here, famed British painters from the late 20th century are displaying their most personal works. Themes of abstraction and conceptualism are vividly portrayed in these pieces, making them a “must see” for creative SoCal minds.

 

NSEI WEEK JAPANESE FESTIVAL

Adding a little culture into your weekend can do wonders for your spirit. This weekend marks the final portion of the ongoing Japanese Festival Celebration in Downtown Los Angeles. Its “Nsei” title refers to the first generation of Japanese to be born into America and the events reflect a bit of both cultures. There are martial arts displays, tea tastings, flower arranging and a parade finale full of amazing sights and sounds. This one is family-friendly too, which makes it a great outing for anyone with kids.

 

RUNYON CANYON HIKE

Burning calories is a great way to get your mind off of addiction. This weekend, LA’s famed Runyon Canyon is back open after a spring renovation. This amazing hike features gorgeous views of the Southland and selfie photo opps near the Hollywood sign. There are levels for beginners, intermediates and experts depending on your fitness routine and pets are welcome! The trails open from dawn to dusk and parking (though hard to find) is free.

 

BBQ DAY SMORGASBORD

Great food can certainly heal the soul and this Sunday, Smorgasboard LA is hosting an amazing BBQ food fair at Alameda & Bay near downtown. Featuring rich smoked meats, the all-day event will house everything from ribs, to chimichurri, to oysters, all from top chefs across the city. It’s certainly a great way spend a beautiful sunny day and it’s economical too. Free admission and parking!

 

FOX TELEVISION PREVIEWS

It’s hard to believe, but the fall television season is just about here. And one nice small screen excursion is happening this Sunday at the Rooftop Cinema Club atop The Montalban in Hollywood.  The FOX network is previewing two of its most anticipated new shows, Lethal Weapon and Pitch, in their entirety. This event also happens to be free and is a great way to enjoy entertainment under the stars without the aid of substances. Doors open at 7pm on August 22!

 

 

Festivals Like Lollapalooza Learn To Embrace Sobriety

As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, concert festivals tend to be prime destinations for drinking and drug abuse. But one the flipside, several major events, like this summer’s Lollapalooza, have begun encouraging attendees to steer clear of substances.

 

Prior to the Palooza kickoff, their organization launched a special new division called Lolla Cares. Here, organizers dedicated portions of their website and programs to environmentalism, education and, more importantly, sobriety.

 

Titled “Sober Side,” the Lolla Cares anti-substance initiative set up tents and support systems at the concert for anyone struggling with addiction.

 

“[Sober Side’s] simple purpose is to provide support and information to those who seek the comfort and camaraderie of other clean and sober people at Lollapalooza,” they wrote on their site. “The only requirement is a desire to stay drug and alcohol free at the festival. Though we consist mostly of people in recovery from alcoholism and addiction, Sober Side exists for anyone wishing to stay clean, sober and those seeking serenity and fellowship at Lollapalooza.”

 

The Sober Side Lollapalooza tent proved to be a huge success, welcoming concertgoers from all backgrounds. There, drug and alcohol-free patrons were encouraged to mingle, share sobriety stories and find people to lean on in case temptation struck.

 

We, for one, were thrilled with the organizers’ decision to create this initiative and are hopeful that more major festivals continue to do the same.

New Org Offers To ‘Test Drugs’ At Major Concerts

It’s a sad fact, but overdoses are not that uncommon at major concert festivals across the country. Often times deaths aren’t caused by doing too much of a drug, but rather taking something too potent (or laced with dangerous chemicals). Well now, a new nonprofit is offering to “test” the substances of concertgoers to ensure they’re safe for use.

 

Not surprisingly, the measure (performed by an organization called The Loop) is gaining a ton of controversy. Many say programs like this will encourage drug use at festivals. Proponents, however, argue that this being done for safety and that concertgoers would most likely use the drugs anyway.

 

As recently as last July The Loop set up a tent at London’s famed Secret Garden Party, letting partyers anonymously drop off their drugs for review. Their lab tested hundreds of chemicals that claimed to be cocaine and ecstasy, only to discover they were much harder substances; such as MDMA Crystals.

 

Though in theory The Loop seems to have good intentions, we would prefer the drugs not be given back. No matter how “safe” a bag of cocaine is deemed, there is always a risk of overdose…Especially since every person can react differently.

 

Apparently after hearing about the operation, new British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed, stating:

 

“If somebody has purchased something that the state has deemed illegal, it’s not then for the state to go and test it for you.”

Sum 41 Recording Addiction Concept Album

There is no doubt that addiction-related lyrics have crept into many hit songs. But never before have we heard of an entire record devoted to the topic. That is, until Sum 41 lead singer Deryck Whibley announced the release of 13 Voices.

 

According to the frontman, 13 Voices will chronicle his life-threatening battle with alcoholism. Whibley has always been very open about his struggles, including the medically-induced coma he had to be put under after alcohol damaged his kidneys.

 

“The doctors said I was lucky to be alive and that there was still a chance I could die.” he explained about the 2014 experience. “Mentally, I don’t even want to drink again anyway. If I literally hadn’t done it to death, I might feel like I’ll be missing something, but I’m not missing anything. I’m done with it.”

 

So, like many artists do, he decided to channel his pain into his songs. 13 Voices is still in the recording process and, as Deryck explained, it will work as a musical diary; starting with his alcoholism and ending with his sobriety.

 

“I would go as far as to say it’s a concept record about my entire experience,” he added.

 

It certainly sounds exciting to us. You can expect to see Sum 41’s 13 Voices on iTunes this October.

 

New Movie Focuses On 80’s Drug War

Everybody knows that addiction to heavy drugs ran rampant in the 1980’s. And one of the key culprits behind the cocaine movement was Colombian kingpin Pablo Escobar. Now, a new film titled The Infiltrator is exploring his brutal empire and the U.S. Custom agents that brought him down.

 

Starring Breaking Bad vet Bryan Cranston, The Infiltrator is classified as a hard drama and explores some intriguing topics in regards to the U.S. drug trade. One particular topic happens to be the business behind illegal narcotics and how cartel leaders laundered the money they made off of addictions.

 

It also shows how legitimate banks were involved in the schemes and (directly or indirectly) played a role in illegal drug dealing. We find it both fascinating and tragic, particularly when you think about how many lives were lost back then to cocaine use.

 

Infiltrator producers Donald Sikorski is quite proud of the movie and the way it shines a light on corruption.

 

“The impact I hope this movie has, when it comes to the War on Drugs, is that we might take a look at the banking industries and how they never get prosecuted,” he explained. “You see them fined a couple of hundred thousand dollars all the time, but they are hardly ever prosecuted. In the case that The Infiltrator is based on, numerous bankers were convicted and we don’t see this that often. More often than not, nobody is held personally accountable on the banking end.”

 

The Infiltrator is currently playing nationwide.

MusiCares Benefit Recognizes Artists Battling Addiction

Last week, we had the privilege of attending the 2016 MusiCares Benefit at the Microsoft Theatre in Downtown LA. Blending songs, heartfelt stories and the most talented performers in the industry, it helped to shine a light on the ongoing addiction struggles many entertainers face.

 

Throughout its 25 years, MusiCares has brought together legendary artists like Pearl Jam, Lionel Richie, Bob Dylan and more. Their mission is to assist singers crippled by addiction through financial, emotional and medical support. This most recent gala highlighted Motown icon Smokey Robinson, who proved to still be a powerhouse at age 76.

 

We were impressed with Robinson’s candor, particularly because he had been a “closet addict” and not initially gone public with his battles. During the event, however, he spoke openly about what he called, “the darkest days of his life.”

 

“I’m not ashamed to talk about it because I feel like if I talk about it, then I can help some people,” Smokey told the crowd. “If I’m silent and try to make it a secret then I’m not helping anybody.”

 

Not surprisingly his words led to a standing ovation, which continued throughout the night via tributes from The Backstreet Boys, “Babyface” Edmonds and CeeLo Green. But Smokey ultimately put them all to shame, performing his greatest hits to rousing applause.

 

To find out more about MusiCares and its mission, visit their official web page.