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What Happens If I Relapse?

May 30th, 2018

When an addict is actively participating in their addictions, they are either living or on their way to living a life where the main goal each day is to obtain and use drugs or alcohol. From sun up to sun down, that is their only real concern and every step they take will always relate to satisfying their desires. Often lying to or manipulating people as well as situations to make it happen is a common occurrence, even with those they love the most.

When an addict or alcohol decides to attend rehab, they have essentially decided to arrest their harmful habits and unhealthy lifestyles in favor of having a better life. After a certain prescribed timeframe, usually thirty, sixty, or ninety days, in a drug rehabilitation program, they have successfully detoxed from all substances and have gained a new outlook on their lives. Having earned sobriety, they expect to move forward in their recovery from drug or alcohol addiction with ease, thinking the hard work is now behind them. The truth is that the possibility of slipping back into old thoughts and actions is incredibly high as soon as you leave the facility and as easy as just one drink or a drug away.

So, with all this said, what does happen if a relapse occurs?

The first thing that happens when a relapse occurs is that the sobriety clock stops and will only reset when the addict decides to become sober again. Why is losing the clean time one had accrued a big deal? In short, deciding to go sober is a choice that came as a result of a lot of pain and anguish and earning sobriety also does not come easy. To go through the process of detoxing as well as the many steps of recovery is hard earned. When someone relapses, they lose all that they earned and have to start over. However, what is important to note here is that they do not lose the education they received from attending a treatment program in the first place. Using drugs and alcohol possibly used to be fun, but now that they have completed a rehab program, attended meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, they have enough knowledge to know that the “fun” only lasts so long and comes with a heavy emotional and financial price tag…not only to themselves but also to the ones they love.

When one relapses, people in their lives will most likely lose confidence and trust in them and often the fear, anger and sadness they experienced towards the addict will redevelop but now even more comprehensively. In cases of extreme and reckless drug abuse, the addict will experience even more loss than originally anticipated because by coming in and out of rehab programs, they lose our livelihoods and independence by becoming institutionalized repeatedly. They also lose their freedom by establishing a criminal record through a series of arrests and jail and prison, and in a worst-case scenario, they lose their lives through their excessive drug abuse, leaving behind irreparable emotional damage to those they love.

Relapse is a great possibility for anyone in recovery who does not put his or her sobriety first. Typical of those who stop attending AA meetings, working the steps, or calling the sponsor, relapse is not only likely, it is inevitable. Alcoholics and addicts never need a specific reason to use, they use simply because they can. To the addicted mind, anything and everything can be identified as a reason to use again. Physical and emotional triggers play a tremendous role in relapse. Dangerous settings, such as bars or parties, where alcohol and drugs are being used can cause a person to relapse. Stressful situations such as family feuds or emotionally-charged arguments with a significant other can also be a recipe for relapse. Even high-stress jobs and tasks can be triggers to relapse when feelings of happiness and accomplishment can give the recovering person a reason to pick up a drink or a drug in celebration.

To the recovering alcoholic or addict, relapse triggers are all people, places and things, and they must be vigilant in recognizing and avoiding these triggers or at least have a strong support system behind them to help sway them in making a good choice to honor their sobriety.

If one has experienced a relapse, or are concerned that a relapse may occur, enrollment in an intensive outpatient program should be considered. Here one can address issues surrounding their addiction and recovery in order to prevent a possible relapse. In addition to an aftercare program, entering a sober living house where a healthy, sober lifestyle is encouraged and fostered can contribute to a stronger foundation in their sobriety and make them accountable to others through regular and random urinalyses, chores, and group meditations.

If you or a loved one has been dealing with an addiction of any nature or if you need help getting through to an addict or alcoholic, contact us today. We can provide you with quality treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Don’t wait. Call now.

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What Makes an Addict or an Alcoholic?

May 23rd, 2018

By now, most of us know that addiction & alcoholism is actually considered a disease. The longstanding thought that they are weak in moral character or do not have enough will power has been widely debunked and a more compassionate understanding is being embraced as well as effective approaches to their treatment. Concisely put, an alcoholic or addict suffers similarly from their condition as someone who has cancer or diabetes or any other chronic affliction.

If you know someone who is an addict or alcoholic, it’s hard to really swallow this because you probably know what they are like when they are not drinking or using. It’s easy to characterize that their problems are a result of bad behaviors and poor choices and that they should just be able to stop if they really wanted or cared enough to. However, addiction is a disease that has numerous root contributing factors, some of which are very deep, some of which may never be known, and all of which differ in each individual.

One major, and not so surprising, cause of any addiction is trauma. It is very common, sometimes encouraged, for people to turn to a form of escape to temporarily reprieve them of dealing with an intense situation. Sadly, numbing oneself can easily turn into a habit, one where the emotional or physically painful experience is never truly addressed, therefore continues to gain in power to fuel the reason to “cope” in this way.  Just repeated behavior alone, minus any trauma, can eventually cause enough changes in the brain chemistry resulting in addiction.

Another factor could be mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Some of this can be co-occurring—partially cause and can be caused by addiction. When a person enters a recovery center for treatment, professionals can better recognize and help to better address this in a variety of ways.

Family history and genetics are the most well-known reasons why people become addicts. People who experienced any form of addiction as children are more likely to develop the same patterns when they become adults. In addition, pre-disposition at the physiological level can without a doubt contribute heavily to an individual’s own addiction.

With all of these factors, education and skill building, combined with various forms of therapy can help an individual understand themselves and their needs better. If you or a loved one has an addiction of any nature or if you need help getting through to an addict, contact us today. We can provide you with quality treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Don’t wait. Call now.

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A Guest Post from a Normie

May 16th, 2018

I am a child of an alcoholic. I am a Normie. But I am ever-watchful.

Studies say that I carry the addiction gene, but I’m not sure about that. I drink like the sure-footed Scandinavian stock I was bred from, but I am always willing to forgo the pleasurable liquid to be the designated driver and ferry friends around so I get to see the pleasure of good feelings on their faces. Especially in California wine country, or Scotland, or wherever we find ourselves.

But I am constantly aware of the beer at lunch, a glass of wine midday, or how much of the bottle I’ve had at dinner. I rarely overdo it as the next morning is ever-predictably uncomfortable. I completely understand that the substance makes me care less about an unhappy client or a bad day and I totally get that alcohol is a nice escape from those uncomfortable feelings of inadequacy or failure. I’m always watching, though. It’s a constant check to make sure that I’m not sliding down that slippery slope that overtook my father and his father.

My dad died of alcoholism. He turned his liver into 3.5 pounds of concrete using gin as a coagulant. Sure, he had multiple problems: a tumor in his brain, a porn habit, and worse. But it was the drink that killed him, and watching that process was unnerving. Not sad per se—we were never close—but to see another person in that much pain and knowing that they did this to themselves—that was the hard part…on a basic human level.

As a child, I had no idea. I didn’t know that I wasn’t allowed to have a sip of his morning orange juice because it had a healthy dose of vodka in it. I didn’t know that his morning commute included a mason jar full of wine. I didn’t know that my younger sister confronted him about his problem and he didn’t speak to her for a year because of it. I didn’t know that his mother was an enabler—a codependent parent—until well after he died. That’s when the secrets came out.

My grandmother had been sending him money for years. Most of the checks he wrote were to the local liquor store. He was drinking at least fifth of gin per day. His computer was full of unspeakable images—files my brother-in-law wouldn’t let my sister and I see as he was cleaning it up while looking for his legal documents after his funeral.

He and my mother had been divorced for over 25 years when he died. She said the split was because they would go to parties and he would disappear. Who knows what she actually knew? She never told us. One thing’s for certain, she saw the writing on the wall and bailed with two babies and no income. She was a Normie, too, but whenever she was depressed or down, she opened the refrigerator door and she knew that was a problem.

Addiction is always lurking. Is my sister vulnerable? Are her two teenaged daughters okay? Do I love working too much? Can you be addicted to social media? The Internet? Once you are exposed to addiction, that devil is always there and you are always watching for him.

I am the child of an alcoholic, but it’s not always alcohol that is the addiction. It could be food, sex, love, cigarettes, drugs…any dependency (or combination thereof) that gets you through the day.

It seems by that measure, that you could kill yourself with yoga, but that’s doubtful. There is a difference between addiction and passion. Perhaps the key to recovery is replacing an addiction with a passion? I don’t know, but I hope so.

One thing’s for certain: I’ll always be watching for the addiction devil. For a Normie like me, it’s as regular as going to a meeting. And I love meetings. I hope to see you there.

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Self-Help Does Not Work for Addiction & Alcoholism

May 9th, 2018

With the great many self-help books published and readily available for mass consumption, it is easy to believe that a person can systematically “cure” addiction and alcoholism (either their own or in a person they care for) like they would a broken relationship. It would be great if it was that simple or effective. Sadly, it is neither.

Self-help methods only really work when the person, first, recognizes he or she has a specific problem and has a willingness to approach it, but also can dedicate time and energy to working on themselves to change their way of thinking and behaving. The biggest factor though is having a logical mind in the first place to attempt any of this. Addicts and alcoholics generally suffer from chemically or cognitively impaired brains which lead to the inability to think clearly and certainly and therefore, see their problem and their actions objectively.

To understand this further, it helps to know that in recent times, addiction and alcoholism have come to be considered as diseases of the brain with issues stemming from neurology and not just poor actions or choices. In addition, continued use of alcohol and drugs further chemically alter the brain that self-care or self-preservation behaviors are replaced with unhealthy negative ones. Soon, an addict or alcoholic has such impaired judgement or control that they cannot abstain or control of his/ her behaviors, and end up suffering from dysfunctional emotional responses regardless of the consequences.

Unlike following specifically prescribed steps on how to be more organized in your home or finances, addiction and alcoholism truly require outside help to have even a chance at being effective. To safely peel back the many layers of an individual’s addiction, it takes an external team of professional and knowledgeable people to intervene. And often, it is best to do this outside of the individual’s current living environment to help create a change in perspective as well as reduce any normal or unrecognized triggers. Without the combined and empathetic assistance of therapists, and medical doctors, as well as fellow recovering people, an addict or alcoholic has a highly unlikely chance of long term recovery.

If you or a loved one has an addiction of any nature or if you need help getting through to an addict, contact us today. We can provide you with quality treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Don’t wait. Call now.

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Everyone Says I Should Be Grateful.

May 2nd, 2018

Everyone Says I Should Be Grateful.

But I don’t feel that way.

It is so difficult to be grateful for anything while you’re actively addicted. We notice negativity. Everything is confusing, nothing makes sense, we want to blame everyone else for our situation and nothing works out for us. Everything seems to be a giant disappointment. Resentment is at every turn.

“All I feel is anger, sadness, stress, and it’s all so uncontrollable.”

Then we come to treatment and recovery, and we expect everything to change–everything will go our way, people will act like we want them to, all of our hopes and dreams will come true and we will finally be where we should be. Where we planned to be. From now on, life will be easy.

Then we realize that we are powerless over external things.

We realize that sobriety is not everything we’d hoped for and it’s disappointing all over again. We realize that we are ultimately powerless over people, places and things. And what’s worse, our negative feelings are more acute than ever.

“How am I going to cope with life?

Every day is an unbearable struggle.

Everything sucks. People suck. Life sucks.”

It is easy to focus on all the things—the large and the small things– that disturb us, that anger us, and what we lack. It’s easy to do as it has become comfortable to be negative in our addiction.

Time passes. We gain new knowledge. We begin to understand that our world is different and we have to stop comparing ourselves to others. We recognize that we are powerless over external things and we learn how to deal with that.

We start to look at the ‘positives,’ the things that make us happy—the large and the small things– we start to recognize that our positives far outweigh our negatives. It can even come down to the simples of things, the humble little pieces of our lives we ignored before…

“I was wallowing in negativity and then my

roommate pointed out that we had running

water and that we could safely drink it! I was like,

 ‘Duh! I’ve been taking so much for granted.’”

Then we make peace with life as it comes. There is much to be grateful for in life and in sobriety. We have gained clarity of thought, have been restored to health, and reintegrate into daily, productive society. We have made new friends, formed a strong foundation of support in AA fellowships and have learned coping skills we so badly needed.

“New friends wonder why I am so positive—

why I notice the little things, and why I am

grateful for the details of life. Old friends

and allies know why, and I am also grateful for them.”

We notice, realize, then recognize and then make peace with the realities of life. Life is then richer, easier, and day-by-day, when we adopt an attitude of gratitude.

 

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Letting Go While Still Loving

April 25th, 2018

Lately, we often hear the word detachment thrown around a great deal, especially in recovery circles. However, understanding what it really means can be confusing, and definitely, even more difficult to put into practice.  In essence, detachment is one of the most powerful approaches any one of us can incorporate into our lives to not only help us specifically interact with the addicts we love, but it is also useful with all of our other relationships.

Detachment is usually referenced in conjunction with the actions of enabling. Enabling mainly refers to overprotective and/or controlling behaviors that are often used by family and friends to deal with an addict or alcoholic. We think that by calling in sick for them when they are too high or drunk to go to work, giving them money, finding them jobs, or doing “more” for them, that we are helping or protecting them. We think that by doing these things we are loving them and we hold onto the desperate hope that they will change and “get better”. But usually we find our efforts are wasted or in vain.

At the very root of why most of us try to control others is that we think we know what is best for them. We feel anxious and afraid when we see the people we love make mistakes that we think can only lead to pain and suffering. It is only natural for us to want to prevent that, to jump in to help and support those we care about. Yet, helping becomes a problem when we step in so much that their lives and ours become tangled together in a state of enmeshment; an emotional (often involving physical or financial matters) from which neither person is truly living or can grow to their full potential.

In order to really understand detachment, we must first understand that we are powerless to control any other person. Loving someone is not necessarily being responsible for them and that is a hard concept to swallow. We can threaten, force, cry, scream, beg and bend over backwards in the name of helping or loving…but ultimately, we cannot protect or change a person from doing what they want to do, even if it is going to kill them. By continuing to enable, we do not stop the addict or alcoholic from participating in their addictions, but rather we only help them avoid taking responsibility for his or her own life and therefore, facing the normal consequences of negative actions. Thus, the addict never has the opportunity to truly learn from his or her mistakes and eventually, accept they have a problem and want to make a change for themselves.

Instead of reacting to any situation, if we take the time to ask some deep questions of ourselves, such as, “what are our needs” and “how can we take care of ourselves” and “how do we live full productive lives even if they continue their addictions,” we shift the focus from what we cannot control to what we can—our own minds and bodies. We give ourselves the space, as well as the permission, to look at our lives independently and beyond that of revolving around the addict in our life. We start to make choices that are right for us and make us feel good about who we are and what we want for ourselves. We become responsible for own lives and happiness and thus, participate in our own self-care. But, most importantly, we operate from a place of careful consideration versus anxiety, reaction, guilt or shame.

At first, this feels very awkward or selfish and you may even feel guilt-ridden that you are not doing “more” or running to aid in the latest crisis. But in order to love someone truly, you must first love and respect yourself. The best way to think about it is as if you are on an airplane that needs to make an emergency landing — you must first put on your own oxygen mask before you can help another; otherwise, you both will be greatly affected. Actively practicing in detachment is saying you understand that you are limited in what you can do for someone who is unwilling to recognize his/ her problem and seek help. Untangling yourself does not mean you stop loving, but rather, it is the best way to love the person enough to give him or her a chance to choose their own path to recovery.

If you or a loved one has been dealing with an addiction of any nature or if you need help getting through to an addict, contact us today. We can provide you with quality treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Don’t wait. Call now.

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Guest Post: Mateo Tells His Story

April 18th, 2018

Our alumni are so important to us as is their success. Mateo Ilic wanted to share his story of addiction and his treatment experience at Pacific View Recovery Center, which is one of our locations in Santa Monica, California.

For the past 10 years, I have tried to get sober through several different methods of treatment, from methadone clinics to inpatient programs. As an IV heroin/meth user and a “chronic relapser,” I had convinced myself that nothing would work for me and that I was doomed to die an alcoholic death. I had dug my bottom deeper and deeper until I had no options left, yet again.

I had been in and out of treatment centers since 13 years old, had traveled to different counties and different states to try and clean myself up, but wherever I went, there I was. Every time I got sober I would take what I thought “I needed” and leave the rest.

Coming back to PVRC this time, I was told what I needed to hear and not what I wanted to hear. I was surrounded by people that knew me, had seen me come in and out of the rooms for years. These people held me accountable to really giving this program a shot.

From the day I walked into PVRC I knew that I was going to be taken care of as long as I put in effort on my end. The one question I was asked that I absolutely hated answering was “what is different this time?” After 8 months of thinking about that question, I’ve come to realize the only difference is the fact that I took the suggestions given to me by people who had been through this before. I took advantage of the groups and therapy sessions, looked at the community as my own, and began to take action in helping others help me.

Honesty, open-mindedness, willingness, and most importantly desperation were all I needed to create a foundation, and the staff at PVRC helped me to tap into those. Ending up here was meant to be, and I really don’t think I could have ended up at a better facility.

Today, I am in school to become a barber, I take other young men through the 12 steps, have made huge strides in rebuilding once broken relationships with family and friends, and have begun to establish a sober life for myself. I will always be grateful to Dimensions Recovery for not giving up on me. 

Mateo Ilic 

Pacific View Recovery Center, Axis Residential Treatment Center and Axis West are all part of the Dimensions Recovery network.  If you or a loved one has been dealing with an addiction of any nature or if you need help getting through to an addict, contact us today. We can provide you with quality treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Don’t wait. Call now.

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Guest Post from an Anonymous Alumnus

April 12th, 2018

Our alumni are so important to us as is their success. This alumnus wanted to share his story of addiction and his treatment experience at Pacific View Recovery Center, which is one of our locations in Santa Monica, California.

Before coming to PVRC my life was in ruins.  I had lost any and all contact and respect from my family and loved ones. I was at the end of the ropes with both jobs I was working at but could not stop using drugs.

I will never be able to forget the feeling of freedom that I had when I finally landed at LAX and knew that I had an actual opportunity to change my life around for the better. Upon arriving at PVRC I was welcomed with open arms by all of the staff members and immediately started the detox process.

While going through detox I was never alone and started making real connections with guys that I hadn’t experienced in years because all of my relationships at this point were based on the use of drugs and getting more. Some of these relationships I still have today! I would be lying if I said that this was an easy process but thanks to the family and support system that I gained at PVRC I was able to learn again what it meant to be loved with no expectation of anything in return and to be surrounded by people that wanted nothing from me but to see me succeed.

Upon leaving PVRC my exit plan was completely set in stone and I ventured off to Ethos House upon recommendation from my therapist. PVRC set me up for the best possible success and all that was left for me to do was to put the footwork in. I don’t know what my life would look like today if it wasn’t for the people at PVRC and will forever be grateful for them.

-Anonymous

Pacific View Recovery Center, Axis Residential Treatment Center and Axis West are all part of the Dimensions Recovery network.  If you or a loved one has been dealing with an addiction of any nature or if you need help getting through to an addict, contact us today. We can provide you with quality treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Don’t wait. Call now.

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What to Expect in Early Recovery

April 3rd, 2018

Depending on the substances used, treatment will differ depending on the type of dependency, but all treatment focuses on addiction, which applies to all dependencies. Early recovery is different for every person and with every type of dependency, but there are some physical and emotional experiences that are common.

Emotionally

Emotions are something that is usually repressed while we are out using drugs and alcohol. Some use substances to solely block out emotions or repress negative or hurtful thoughts. This is why early recovery can be a very taxing time emotionally. Our thoughts and feelings are finally coming out and are not masked by drugs or alcohol. This can be very overwhelming for some people who are not used to dealing with their feeling or emotions. At times it can be too much to handle and cause an individual to experience depression or thoughts of resentment.

This is very normal in early recovery. Almost all addicts experience new emotions and feelings that they hadn’t been dealing with while in active addiction. Over time, these emotions will become easier to deal with and slowly become less of an obsession. In many cases, the individual will learn to embrace these emotions and start to deal with them in a healthy manner. This can be extremely beneficial and help to teach someone a lot about themselves that they may not have realized.

Dealing with new emotions or feelings can be expressed in a healthy manner while in an inpatient facility or while being involved with a 12 step fellowship or outpatient program. Talking about these new feelings and receiving feedback from a counselor, therapist, or peers can really help take the weight off of one’s shoulders as well as relieving some of their stress. Dealing with these brand new feelings and emotions can be tough but will ultimately be a positive and strengthening experience.

Physically

Early recovery can be a very difficult time for most addicts. The physical symptoms can seem never-ending and are a big challenge for most of those who are just starting to end their relationship with drugs and alcohol. Symptoms most commonly experienced by those in early recovery are; insomnia, decreased appetite, restlessness, chills, headaches, muscular and joint pain, mood swings, decrease in energy, inability to focus, and a variety of other symptoms depending on personal circumstances.

Every individual case is different, and depending on what substance one is dependent on the severity of symptoms can vary. It may be very hard at first to realize that our bodies will go back to normal, but as more time in sobriety is achieved the body will feel better and ultimately get back to its normal functionality. Everyone is different and some recover physically faster than others. Do not be deterred if it seems your physical recovery is happening slowly. Your body will recover.

Eating right and exercising can be very helpful in early sobriety. Exercise releases natural endorphins in the body and can increase an individual’s mood and overall well-being. No matter how tough it seems at first keep in mind that it will get better. It takes time for the body to fully recover and get back to feeling normal. Each day that an individual maintains sobriety, it brings them one step closer to feeling physically healthy once again.

If you or a loved one has been dealing with an addiction of any nature or if you need help getting through to an addict, contact us today. We can provide you with quality treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Don’t wait. Call now.

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The Facts About Prescription Pain Meds Misuse

March 28th, 2018

The most commonly misused type of prescription pain relievers consisted of hydrocodone products like Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Zohydro® ER, and generic hydrocodone. An estimated 6.9 million people misused these drugs in the past year, representing 2.6 percent of the population.

An estimated 3.9 million people misused oxycodone products in the past year; this number represents 1.4 percent of people. Oxycodone products include OxyContin®, Percocet®, Percodan®, Roxicodone®, and generic oxycodone.

An estimated 0.3 percent of people aged 12 or older misused buprenorphine products in the past year, and 0.1 percent misused methadone.

Among people aged 12 or older in 2016 who misused prescription pain relievers in the past year, the most commonly reported reason for their last misuse of a pain reliever was to relieve physical pain (62.3 percent), which is the reason pain relievers are prescribed. Even if the reason for misuse was to relieve physical pain, use without a prescription of one’s own or use at a higher dosage or more often than prescribed still constituted misuse.

Other commonly reported reasons for the last misuse among people who misused pain relievers in the past year were:

  • to feel good or get high
  • to relax or relieve tension
  • to help with feelings or emotions
  • to help with sleep
  • to experiment or see what the drug was like
  • because they were “hooked” or needed to have the drug
  • to increase or decrease the effects of other drugs

More than half of people who misused pain relievers in the past year reported that they obtained the pain relievers the last time from a friend or relative. Specifically, 40.4 percent of people who misused pain relievers in the past year obtained pain relievers the last time by getting them from a friend or relative for free, 8.9 percent bought their last pain reliever from a friend or relative, and 3.7 percent took their last pain reliever from a friend or relative without asking.

About one-third of people who misused pain relievers in the past year said that they obtained pain relievers the last time through prescription(s) or stole from a health care provider, typically getting the pain relievers through a prescription from one doctor. About 1 in 16 people who misused pain relievers in the past year reported that they bought the last pain reliever they misused from a drug dealer or stranger.

If you or a loved one has been dealing with an addiction of any nature or if you need help getting through to an addict, contact us today. We can provide you with quality treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Don’t wait. Call now.

We would like to thank SAMHSA for their very helpful studies.

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