Celebrating National Recovery Month

For the past 29 years, September has held a special significance for people celebrating sobriety milestones. From the 1st through the 30th, advocates across the country honor accomplishments and raise awareness through a movement called National Recovery Month. Every year new themes are introduced and viral hashtags get posted, which recognize the millions of people whose lives have been transformed from treatment.

 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (aka SAMHSA) spearheads this initiative and they have released a flurry of new media content to spread the message. One big push for 2018 includes a new online series entitled Road To Recovery. Broadcast via webisodes and podcasts, these insightful pieces aim to educate people on key addiction topics. A recent YouTube chat dealt with insurance coverage and how a person’s job can be impacted when they enter treatment. You can watch it below…

 

 

There is also a new batch of Public Service Announcements aimed toward opening up dialogues between parents and children. Titled Talk. They Hear You.these clips offer helpful “Discussion Starters” for kids of any age. Covering difficult topics like alcoholism and drug use, the PSA’s are actually quite inspiring and encourage moms, dads and educators not to fear these types of conversations. One of their most viewed videos is below…

 

 

Now granted, issues like substance abuse can be difficult to cope with. But that is not the point of Recovery Month. In fact, as one of their recent blogs explained, this is actually meant to be a time of celebration and hope. It is now when we honor those who have successfully beaten their addictions and inspire others to live a cleaner lifestyle.

 

“This September, we celebrate the millions of Americans who are living their lives in recovery from mental and substance use disorders and honor those who work to make recovery possible,” SAMHSA rep Chideha M. Ohuouha wrote on the site. “Recovery Month serves to educate Americans about the benefits of treatment and recovery services. It also promotes three key messages: Prevention works. Treatment is effective. People can and do recover.”

 

Another key component of Recovery Month is community involvement. The official site offers a wealth of materials that can be used to build awareness. Everything from social media logos, to posters, to fact-based one sheets. All are downloadable and meant to be shared with people’s followers and friends. We invite our network to do the same, by clicking here and spreading the word about this very important initiative.

 

The Importance Of ‘Overdose Awareness Day’

This past August 31, an important annual event occurred. Though it may not have gotten as much publicity as we think it deserved, International Overdose Awareness Day did enter the American consciousness for a period of 24 hours. On social media sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, users shared their stories and hopefully some of the people in power listened.

 

The official hashtags of #OverdoseAwarenessDay and #EndOverdose were posted thousands of times by everyone from Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear to the U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome M. Adams.

 

There was also a lot of link sharing to the official webpage of the cause.

 

For the record, Overdose Awareness Day is now in its seventh year. The “International” component is important, because this movement was actually first initiated in Australia. Back in 2001, local Salvation Army rep Sally J. Finn created the campaign to bring attention to the thousands of OD deaths that were happening in her country. Not long after, other regions took notice and symbols like purple wristbands were created to signify its impact.

 

For 2018, the famed news site Vox stepped in to spread the word. Writer German Lopez published a lengthy feature on their homepage, highlighted the stats and carnage this addiction epidemic has caused.

 

Key points included CDC data that showed 2017 to be the worst year for drug overdoses in U.S. history. In fact, their research broke out the totals to be roughly 200 deaths per day related to the opioid crisis.

 

Vox’s chart below helps put a few of those things in perspective.

 

 

To their credit, the people behind Overdose Awareness Day also want their followers to be proactive and help initiate a positive change. Their site includes a wealth of resources for people who are impacted by the crisis. Whether it’s a person currently struggling and in need of recovery assistance or a family member of a lost loved one looking for grief support.

 

The official site also has a Tributes page, where people can read and post details about those who have lost their lives to an overdose. The video below outlines a bit of the mission…

 

Obviously, overdoses and the opioid crisis are things we should be aware of 365 days a year. And we are happy to do our part to continue to bring this topic to the forefront and offer immediate support.

 

‘Walk Like MADD’ Promotes Safety And Sobriety

You’ve probably heard us bring up the MADD organization many times in our blogs. Also known as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, it’s a non-profit that has helped educate millions about the dangers of being wasted behind the wheel. Well, what many people may not know about this movement is their ongoing Walk Like MADD initiative; which encourages citizens across the country to participate in a 5k. The goal is to spread additional awareness and also provide support for families who have been impacted by DUI deaths.

 

On June 9th they’ll be hitting the streets of the Inland Empire for this event, followed by another July “Walk” in Ventura County. Both are expected to receive strong turnouts, as did the May 5k in Rhode Island. That outing united people from 90 local communities, bringing the total grouping to over 300. Tragically, as with most walks, this one honored a fallen daughter; seven-year-old Haylee Molina. Haylee lost her life after a drunk driver hit her scooter in broad daylight.

 

“When it hits you this close, it’s literally a violation of your space” Molina’s aunt, Debra Violette, told NBC at the event. “Someone attacked a child and a member of our family. We are proud to be here, though. This event is really about creating a message of hope and love and passion for those who have been affected so that they can become connected to those who have gone through something similar.”

 

Similarly, the I.E. and Ventura County events will be dedicated to locals impacted by inebriated drivers. This year actually marks the 10th anniversary of the “Walk” and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving site signified it with some encouraging stats. Thanks to awareness and generous donations, MADD claims that these events have served over 800,000 victims. They also help to promote law enforcement, influence local politicians and offer emotional resources for anyone who has been traumatized by a DUI accident.

 

Calling attention to this historic anniversary, the MADD website shared some inspiring words with its readers.

 

The past 10 years have provided victims and survivors a place to come together and celebrate and honor their loved one’s life,” it said. “Many families have expressed how much participating in the Walk has helped them through the grieving process and showed them that they are not alone.”

 

This is definitely a worthy cause and we highly encourage all of our followers to visit the Walk Like Madd Facebook page for details on the upcoming SoCal events.

 

Simi Drug Summit Set For This Week

If you happen to be in the Ventura County area this Thursday (or want to lend your voice in the fight against the opioid crisis), we recommend putting the Simi Prescription Drug Addiction Summit on your radar. The free event happens May 3 from 7-9 pm at the Ronald Reagan Library and promises to be “an educational and provocative discussion” on the dangers of dependencies.

 

One major selling point of the event is featured speaker Robert Patterson. Patterson happens to be the appointed acting administrator the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and will be sharing a keynote address with all attendees.

 

This topic is certain to hit home with a lot of local residents. In the past two years alone, opioid deaths in Ventura County rose by more than 25 percent. Worse yet, overdoses from fentanyl more than tripled during that same time span.

 

Simi, in particular, saw a sharp spike in drug activity. According to recent stats, local police responded to 146 calls involving heroin last year (and over 30 in the first four months of 2018).

 

Simi police chief David Livingstone will also be a speaker at the event and is encouraging everyone from the community to attend.

 

“I’ve never seen overdose deaths at the point where they are now,” Livingstone told The Ventura County Star. “They get addicted to opiate-based prescriptions. They turn to the cheaper alternative, which is heroin.”

 

Interestingly enough, it was a local Simi businessman who first got the ball rolling for the summit. Fred Thomas also happens to be a local DEA volunteer and brought his concerns to the mayor and other elected officials. Now, the summit has the full support of the Simi Police Department, the Reagan Library, the DEA and the FBI (all of whom will have members participating). Local filmmakers and recovery advocates will also be part of the agenda.

 

“I think a lot of people in our community are in a state of denial over it,” Livingstone explained. “They think overdose and addiction happens to other people. “

 

The hope is that with this impressive gathering of influential figures, stigma conversations will begin to change. The summit is already receiving a large amount of press and our hope is that it leads other local L.A. communities to hold similar types of events.

 

Space is still available for the Thursday night lecture. We recommend visiting the registration site and reserving a seat soon (whether you live in Ventura County or not). It is an important occasion that is worth putting on the agenda.

 

National Drug Take-Back Day Happens This Weekend

Mark your calendars. This Saturday, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is pushing out a major movement called National Drug Take-Back Day. The concept is simple. Through media and online promotions, people across the country will be encouraged to dispose of all excess prescription medications in an effort to take a stand against addiction.

 

Several big players will be involved in this initiative too. Google, for example, has created a special online tool that helps users locate where they can make disposals in their neighborhoods. The multi-billion dollar site has actually been making quite a few addiction headlines as of late, particularly for a new stance on the way they promote recovery ads.

 

Company rep Susan Molinari issued a statement about Drug Take-Back Day and the hopes of it putting a dent in America’s opioid crisis.

 

“The DEA has found that one way Americans can help prevent drug abuse and addiction is to properly dispose of unneeded or expired prescription drugs,” she explained. “Yet many people aren’t aware of, or can’t easily find, prescription drug disposal programs in their communities.”

 

The way their particular tool will work involves entering a zip code, then getting directions to up to 5,500 local destinations that accept unused or expired medications. Similar locations were set up last year, but without easy digital accessibility.

 

Though Drug Take-Back Day has been going for a while, it has been gaining some serious momentum in 2018. Last year did bring about a decent amount of publicity, with over 456 tons of prescription drugs collected over an eight hour period.

 

To help spread the word this year, the DEA has launched a Drug Take-Back Day microsite. There you can find a countdown clock, details about the big day and a wide variety of resources for anyone who is suffering from a prescription-based addiction.

 

“Too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands,” the site reads. “That’s dangerous and often tragic. That’s why it was great to see thousands of folks from across the country clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in – safely and anonymously – a record amount of prescription drugs.”

 

We highly encourage everyone to learn more about the event and share the news with others. Unused prescription pills can certainly have negative implications, particularly if your household has someone prone to a dependency.

 

You can find out a few more details about the Saturday initiative via the YouTube clip below…

 

 

Recovery Advocates Share Their Stories In Vegas

The city of Las Vegas has become known as a leading destination for conventions and events. Whether it’s the CES electronics show, the SEMA car summit or some big pow wow in the heart of Caesar’s Palace, you can usually find at least 2-3 major happenings a month near their famous strip. Well this February, a different kind of get together took over the town. It was the fifth annual Black Monday event, organized by the nonprofit There Is No Hero In Heroin Foundation.

 

Emphasizing recovery, hope and addiction survival, it drew hundreds of attendees from across the country and had plenty of notable speakers. Facing Addiction leader Ryan Hampton offered inspiring words at the kickoff.

 

“We must not let the power of recovery go unnoticed,” Hampton told the Monday crowd. “We must show that it works. Every single person in this room is living proof that the crisis in front of us is not an insurmountable task.”

 

Black Monday was also open to younger attendees, working to educate teens and coeds about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Representatives from Nevada’s Clark County School District offered their own stories and showed pride through a local “Students Fighting Addiction” program. Though it’s difficult to hear, many of the teens in the program have already battled serious dependencies. The good news is, they’ve made it to the other side and now act as role models for other high schoolers.

 

“If it weren’t for [our ‘Students Fighting Addiction’ program], I know many of us would either be dead or homeless right now,” student Khara Greenwell explained from the Black Monday stage. “These counselors, teachers and recovery advocates see us as human beings.”

 

Certainly the No Hero In Heroin Foundation deserves a lot of credit for this movement too. They put tremendous effort into spreading the word and creating a viral community that can continue the Black Monday experience online. Even more moving, their site includes a Memorial Page and special tributes to the countless Vegas citizens who have lost their lives to addiction.

 

So even if many of us couldn’t actually be in Vegas for the one-day event, No Hero In Heroin has helped bring the experience home. Through a series of hashtags (#BlackMonday2017) and viral videos you can see just how much of an impact an summit like this can have.

 

Click below to see how successful the movement was in 2016…

Supporting The Red Ribbon Campaign

Recently, recovery advocates in our own backyard of Santa Clarita got together to show their support for the national Red Ribbon Campaign. Certainly there are plenty of organizations who make it their mission to battle addiction, but this one is especially unique. Red Ribbon makes a point to highlight the violence that can accompany drug dependencies and, as they put it, the “destructiveness” and collateral damage that using can actually cause.

 

This mission was launched over 30 years and has drawn the support of some very notable figures (including former First Lady Nancy Reagan). After the 1985 murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, Red Ribbon came together to honor victims who have lost their lives to drug and alcohol related violence. The simple gesture of wearing a pin captured the attention of the nation and, just like week, drew dozens of people to the Action Family Counseling Center on Soledad Canyon Road.

 

As we’ve reported before, Santa Clarita has had its struggles with addiction and overdoses. At one point, our city received national attention after an overflow of drug-related emergency room visits. So, the community continues to band together to raise awareness and support sobriety.

 

“This most recent event was held to bring awareness and education to drug usage in and around our community,”  organizer Scott Quashen told reporters from the local Signal newspaper.

 

This particular Santa Clarita event drew former heroin addicts, social workers, police officials and counselors; all of whom spoke about their experiences with addiction. Proving what a tight-knit group of neighbors we have, SCV Sheriff Station Captain Paul Becker appeared in person and explained how he’s taken the city’s addiction fight down to a personal level.

 

At the event, Captain Becker went over their station’s Juvenile Team program, which goes to local high schools to speak about drug and alcohol abuse. He also talked about the special “house calls” they make, which work as follow ups for those who have had addiction incidents in the past.

 

“Rather than arresting, we understand that intervention is a more solution orientated approach to drug usage,” Becker explained to The Signal. “We certainly encourage our officers to take this approach when dealing with certain situations.”

 

But, as we mentioned before, the primary focus of this meeting was Red Ribbon and honoring those who are no longer with us. Taking a page from their official site, reps shared details about the unique pledge this organization abides by.

 

  1. As parents and citizens, we will talk to our children and the children in our lives about the dangers of drug abuse.
  2. We will set clear rules for our children about not using drugs.
  3. We will set a good example for our children by not using illegal drugs or medicine without a prescription.
  4. We will monitor our children’s behavior and enforce appropriate consequences, so that our rules are respected.
  5. We will encourage family and friends to follow the same guidelines to keep children safe from substance abuse.

 

You can learn more about Red Ribbon and their pledge, by clicking here.

 

Coachella Festival’s Sordid History With Addiction

There is no denying that the word “Coachella” is on the minds of a lot of SoCal music fans this weekend. The annual desert concert brings in thousands over its two weekends and, believe it or not, hit its 19th anniversary this month. But throughout that time (and particularly in more recent years), this “Arts and Music Festival” has led to overdoses, arrests and even deaths due to drug and alcohol abuse. For those who want to attend, more power to you…But keep in mind that Coachella comes with several addictive dangers.

 

One of the more prominent headlines happened back in 2014, when attendee Kimchi Truong collapsed and died in the festival’s taxi area. Truong was just 24-years-old and had been a student at a Cal State school. Though Coachella organizers don’t deserve the bulk of the blame for Truong’s actions, there is no denying that specific “rave tents” promoted the joy of her extra-sensory experiences. In prior years as well, it had been very easy to bring narcotics into the festival and even sell illegal drugs to fellow concertgoers.

 

To their credit, the festival’s parent organization, Goldenvoice, did send paramedics to help Truong after her collapse and released a statement to the press.

 

“Last weekend, a festival attendee suffered an apparent drug overdose,” they wrote. “The individual was seen by on-site medical staff and later transferred to Desert Regional Medical Center. We are saddened to learn the individual has died.”

 

 

That wasn’t the first time that an overdose death occurred at the festival, but it was certainly one of the more high-profile ones. Another Coachella drug fatality occurred in 2008 and in 2015 there were no less than 56 narcotics arrests on the concert’s grounds. Last year saw several Coachella addiction stories too, with a 38 percent increase in alcohol and drug-related arrests. There was also another death, after an attendee was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver.

 

Worst of all, there are literally dozens of web sites and online articles telling attendees what the best drugs are to take for corresponding musical acts. This, of course, is all done off the grid as Coachella’s organizers “officially” take a  no-substances stance on their website (easier said than done).

 

Concerts like this are full of negative temptations and though you may legitimately want to go to enjoy the music, chances are you’ll be exposed to drugs and alcohol. Our recommendation has always been to avoid these types of festivals if you’re newly sober or currently battling an addiction. The “party” ambiance, the psychedelic tents and the inebriated concertgoers could easily set you down a bad path. Thanks to modern tech like streaming, you may be better off enjoying the music from a safe location and not amidst the temptations.

 

One of our goals has always been to get people to a good place with their recovery. Giving them the confidence to be around wild concerts and never have the urge to use. Before considering any event like this, we encourage you to get in touch and let us offer you a sobering perspective. 866-986-2486

 

 

April Recognized As Alcohol Awareness Month

It’s hard to believe that we are now in the midst of April. And with that, comes a very positive monthly theme set up by the team behind NCADD (also known as the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence). Yes, for the next 30 days we are officially part of Alcohol Awareness Month; a movement first organized in 1987 and meant to educate the public about the dangers of drinking.

 

This year marks AAM’s 30th anniversary and NCADD is celebrating with a massive PR campaign. On their site, they’ve set up informational blogs, web logos and picture files, social media links and an actual Organizer’s Guide which advises readers how to properly treat this devastating addiction.

 

“Alcohol and drug use is a very risky business for young people,” NCADD founder and president, Andrew Pucher, says on the site, “and parents can make a difference. The longer children delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with it. That’s why it is so important to help your child connect the dots and make smart decisions about alcohol and drugs.”

 

Indeed, “Connecting the Dots” is the key topic behind this year’s campaign. Many of their pamphlets include details on the theme, which is putting an emphasis on teens and underage drinking.  As their intro paragraph explains, “Reducing underage drinking is critical to securing a healthy future for America’s youth and in a society that continually promotes alcohol and drug use at every level, the need is great to provide education on the dangers of alcohol for children and to connect the dots that can lead to recovery.”

 

One of the more interactive features that NCADD has provided this time out are downloadable posters and flyers, specifically geared for schools, offices, churches and public parks. Each has a unique message, highlighting the dangerous stats the affect each location.

 

We agree that education is critical tool to combat the nation’s growing alcohol problem and themed months like this are a fantastic step forward. The digital age is certainly making a difference too, allowing these important messages to be displayed on YouTube channels, iPhones, websites and more. It’s actually never been easier to take these materials and help spread the word.

 

And that is one area that we are heavily encouraging to our readers to take action on. If you, yourself, are not necessarily impacted by drinking, we’re sure you know at least one person who is. Months like these are about advocacy and taking charge by becoming an Alcohol Awareness messenger. We encourage everyone to visit and support the NCADD site. If you have a printer, make a few flyer copies and post them on local community message boards.

 

We salute NCADD for the great work they’re continuing to do and we’ll certainly be championing this cause for many weeks to come!

 

 

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: New Year’s Edition

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

 

Saturday Pet Adoption

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

 

Marina Del Rey Fireworks Show

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

 

Polar Bear Plunges

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

 

128th Annual Tournament Of Roses Parade

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

 

Happy 2017, VRC friends!

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Dec 23-25

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

 

Union Station Cocoa Concerts

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

 

LA County Holiday Celebration

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

 

Laugh Factory Christmas Day Feast

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

 

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

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Dec 16-18

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

 

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

 

Star Wars: Rogue One

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

 

UCB Comedy Awards

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

 

Music Center Holiday Singalong

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

 

120 Years Of Griffith Park

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

 

 

 

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 25-27

Did everybody have a good Thanksgiving? We certainly hope so. And now that the food is settling and the holiday season has officially arrived, we’re sharing a ton of festive (and fun) Sober SoCal Weekend ideas. Our latest list covers everything from calorie crunching canyon hikes, to giant tree lightings, to Hollywood celebrity encounters; all without the presence of drugs or alcohol. So open up your day planner apps and make sure to add these ideas to your weekend itinerary!

 

And, as always, if there’s anything we’ve missed in regards to Sober SoCal fun, shoot us an email to valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com and we’ll make sure to include it in the next one.

 

The Festival Of Lights At Mission Inn

Who wouldn’t appreciate 4.5 Million twinkly bulbs decorated around holiday themes? That’s what has led Riverside’s Mission Inn to become a landmark destination every year for their Festival of Lights. Regarded as one of the west coast’s most amazing displays, it runs for six weeks starting this Friday and includes an entire experience centered around Christmas, the Nutcracker and other December favorites. And did we mention that it is absolutely free? Though Riverside may be a slight stretch for some LA-based followers, your entrance will include access to more than 400 animated figures, carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides and the world’s largest manmade mistletoe. If you ask us, it’s definitely worth a visit. And it’s family-friendly, which means no alcohol on the premises. To find out more about the Festival of Lights, click here.

 

The PCH Backbone Trail

We know that Thanksgiving dinner can often make you feel lethargic and out of shape. Have no fear! A great sober way to combat the overeating is a weekend hike or run. This weekend, we’re recommending the Ray Miller Backbone Trail off of Pacific Coast Highway. This one is adjacent to Malibu and offers spectacular views. It also is a nice challenging outing, with steep inclines (but not enough to scare away intermediate hikers). Backbone spans roughly 5.4 miles, though there are shortcuts and easy turnarounds if you don’t feel ready to go the complete distance. Ray Miller (named for a local philanthropist) is also one of the most “Yelped” trails in SoCal, with five stars from nearly everyone who takes it on. To find out more about the trail and other Saturday/Sunday outdoor runs, click here. Just keep in mind, there is a “slight” chance of drizzle on Sunday.

 

The Hollywood Christmas Parade

And finally, how could we resist a little festive celeb spotting at Sunday’s Hollywood Christmas Parade? This longstanding LA tradition brings out tons of famous faces, along with floats, music bands and creative decorations. This year, legendary singer Olivia Newton John will be the Grand Marshall, waving to fans and belting out her most famous hits. There will also be appearances from Erik Estrada, Kenny G, Cyndi Lauper, War and more.  This alcohol-free event promises to bring in quite the crowd and create an interactive experience for everyone who buys a ticket. Tickets run anywhere from $45 to $85, but the best news of all is, your purchase goes to benefit Toys For Tots. To find out locations, times and entrance info, click here.

 

 

Sober SoCal Weekend: Nov 11-13

For many, this has been a very tumultuous week. With unpredictable elections, tense protests and heavily trafficked freeways, we completely understand the need to escape. Just DON’T USE DRUGS OR ALCOHOL TO DO IT. Instead, we’ve packed together some great sober weekend activities that will put a smile back on your face and steer you away from the urge to use. This time out, we’re sharing fun foodie ideas, classic comedy and even the chance to spend the night on a battleship! Oh yea, there’s a lot of variety here; so take notes and enjoy.

 

And as always, if you have Sober SoCal activity ideas of your own, please share them with us via email at valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

A Night On A Battleship

Yes, you heard us right. This Friday through Sunday, the USS Iowa in San Pedro is inviting guests for a literal sleepover. For $125 (slightly pricey, we know) you can spend the night on an actual battleship and experience the life of a U.S. Navy serviceman. The package includes private bunks, in-depth tours, mess hall meals and more. Best of all, this is an entirely “clean” experience, so no need to worry about drug or alcohol temptations. Just bring your adventurous spirit and learn about life at sea! For more info, click here.

 

Monty Python Comedy

What better way to escape the urge to use than with a great night of comedy? Laughter is definitely a great recovery tool and this Friday, you can experience plenty of it with John Cleese and Eric Idle at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. These two legendary British funnymen were part of the historic Monty Python troupe, which made dozens of classic movies and inspired generations of comedians. For one night only they’re bringing their unique humor to LA, with an intimate show that includes famous skits, recollections and interactions with the audience. Both men have hinted that they’ll be retiring soon, so we encourage you to catch their act while you can! You can get ticket and timing information here.

 

In This Together Festival

As addiction recovery specialists, we are big supporters of mental health and are proud to share details about Sunday’s In This Together event. Held at the Avalon in Hollywood, it will feature comedians, podcasters and musicians who have publicly battled mental illness. There will also be trained pros on hand, sharing valuable information for anyone who is in need of help. A great cause with charitable ticket contributions, we definitely encourage our followers to go!

 

 

California Vegetarian Food Festival

The very first California Vegetarian Food Festival takes place this Sunday at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. For healthy eaters, it definitely promises to be an amazing experience. Everything on site is 100% vegan and there will be lifestyle vendors, nutritionists, cooking demos, a mind/body fitness area, a children’s activities area and an innovation pavilion. Plus, lots of great all-natural eats! Healthy diets and recovery go hand-in-hand, so we definitely recommend paying a visit. For info on the Food Fest, click here.

 

 

Addiction Article Recap: Week Of Nov 7

This has certainly been a newsworthy week! With unpredictable elections and all kinds of California propositions going through, article junkies have gotten their fill of breaking stories and impactful headlines. In our world, that rings true as well. In the past seven days, we have seen a wide variety of recovery pieces in our Google feeds and we wanted to make sure our readers saw them too. Issues like energy drink alcoholics, heroin parents and (as you expected) the legalization of marijuana.

 

We’ve rounded it all up for another Addiction Article Recap. Enjoy the stories and make sure to send your own ideas to valleyrecoverycenter@gmail.com.

 

Headline #1 – Pot Becomes Legal In California

We’re pretty sure this story didn’t escape your radar. Amid the Donald Trump news, local Angelenos awoke Wednesday morning to discover that marijuana has now become legal in the state. Interestingly enough, we weren’t the only area to de-criminalize the drug. Both Massachusetts and Nevada voted to legalize recreational pot. Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota took a step closer to the measure this week as well, allowing for medical marijuana to be available in their respective states. We’ve reported on this issue before and have are own reservations about its easy accessibility (especially with the gateway drug statistics that have become available). But, of course, we respect the people’s will and are hopeful it doesn’t become a problem for local residents. On that note, if you do sense some weed addiction tendencies happening to you or a loved one, we encourage you to reach out.

 

Headline #2 – Dangerous Energy Drink Cocktails

It’s no secret that energy drinks like “Nos” and “Monster” have become popular chasers or even mixers for alcohol. But researchers at Purdue University are discovering that these type of combos can lead to dangerous consequences. Their study showed that blending booze with highly-caffeinated beverages can create the same brain effects as using cocaine. The scary conclusion there is that it can actually numb a person’s reaction to cocaine and make them abuse more of that drug to achieve their “perfect high.” Data director Richard van Rijn told TheFix.com that they drew this analysis after using mice as test subjects. “Mice that had been exposed to alcohol and caffeine were somewhat numb to the rewarding effects of cocaine as adults,” he explained. “Mice that were exposed to highly caffeinated alcoholic drinks later found cocaine wasn’t as pleasurable. They may then use more cocaine to get the same effect.” Something to certainly think about, the next time you reach for an extra large can.

 

Headline #3 – Heroin Households

Cincinnati made headlines this week for their annual Silent Victims Conference, which is focused on the children of heroin abusers. State senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown were in attendance, as were medical professionals and recovery advocates, all united to help curb the country’s growing epidemic. Event organizers shifted the focus to children this year, showing the extreme psychological damage  having a heroin user in the home can cause. Not only does it influence more young to become addicted, it creates an abusive environment and leads to more adolescent runaways.