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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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Surround yourself with people who get it.

March 21st, 2018

If you are a recovering addict, especially if you are newly sober, it is crucial to surround yourself with people who understand and who support your goals. We always tell people that they do not have to do it alone, in fact, you should not do it alone.

Find friends who understand you, what you have been through and who take your sobriety seriously. These friends will help keep you focused on your goals. These are the people that you will rely on to have your back when the going gets really tough as we all know that trials and temptations are everywhere. But these are also the people who accept you for who you are and support you for no other reason then they get you. This is usually because they are also on a similar path.

If you have completed treatment at a recovery center, you now know that there is no real solution at the end of a bottle or in any drug. This is why your sober friends are a vital part of your personal recovery because it is founded on mutual understanding, compassion and support. Often, the people who are also on a similar path to yours will be the only people that are holding you up.

Unfortunately, you may have to let go of a great many of your old friends that may still be using. Breaking these bonds can be one of the most painful parts of recovery, but you can continue to build on the strong foundation you already have by attending various post-recovery programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Here, you will continue to meet role models and new friends, and also be a part of a support system for others.

You cannot do this alone. Start developing friendships people who you meet throughout your treatment because they are here at the beginning with you. They will understand your struggles at the most fundamental level and will grow with you. If you are invested in your recovery, the relationships you establish with like-minded people at this point will be indispensable to you even after you leave to program.

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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Substance Abuse and Depression Recovery

March 14th, 2018

Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. For some individuals, major depression can result in severe impairments that interfere with or limit one’s ability to carry out major life activities.

Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. An estimated 16.2 million adults in the US had at least one major depressive episode (6.7% of us) in 2016 according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Perhaps the greatest issue is not the mental health disorder itself but the fact that only about one-third of those living with depression sought treatment from a mental health professional. Instead, they attempt to manage the issues at home – or simply ignore them. It’s not uncommon for people living with depression to turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to mitigate their experience of sadness, hopelessness, or disillusionment.

The goal of feeling some level of happiness or joy is hopeful and positive, but the use of substances to attain this can ultimately lead to more problems. Many people find that when they try to self-medicate depression with drugs or alcohol, they experience:

  • Increased frequency of depressive episodes
  • Longer depressive episodes
  • More intense depressive symptoms
  • A co-occurring substance abuse disorder or addiction
  • Increased financial, social, and family issues

Depression is a highly treatable disease with a number of different evidence-based treatment options for patients, including a range of inventive therapies and various pharmacological options. However, because every patient is different, different combinations of medications and therapies will be differently effective in each case.

Is it possible to recover from depression naturally? Yes, in some cases, but it is not necessarily sustainable, especially when substance abuse is part of the picture.

Once substance abuse becomes an addiction, a natural recovery is highly unlikely. It is recommended that those who cannot stop drinking or using drugs on their own seek out an addiction treatment program that can help them through detox and beyond. When both depression and addiction are co-occurring, a program that provides comprehensive care for both disorders is recommended for optimum 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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Signs of Substance Abuse and Depression

March 7th, 2018

It is often the case that both substance abuse and depression can evolve from small issues into much larger ones. It may be necessary to take a step back and consider how things have changed in the past six months or more and see whether or not issues have become increasingly more significant to determine whether or not it is time to take action.

Some of the signs of depression include:

  • Ongoing sadness or anxiety
  • Low energy
  • Unhealthy sleep patterns (e.g., sleeping too much or too little)
  • Unhealthy eating patterns (e.g., eating too much or too little)
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Lack of interest in hobbies
  • An inability to take pleasure in things
  • Lower libido
  • Feelings of helplessness, guilt, or worthlessness
  • Decreased ability to make decisions, focus, or remember things
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Signs of substance abuse and addiction include:

  • Increased isolation from friends and family
  • Experiencing issues at work and at home (e.g., often late to work or unable to manage commitments at home)
  • Experiencing financial issues (e.g., never enough money to pay bills)
  • Experiencing legal issues (e.g., arrest for driving under the influence, buying or selling drugs, etc.)
  • Possession of drugs and/or paraphernalia
  • Often complaining of feeling ill or tired
  • Extreme mood swings from highly interactive and feeling good to irritable and aloof

Ultimately, if someone is drinking and using drugs and unable to stop on his own despite multiple attempts and if he struggles with depression despite his best intentions to create positive change in his life, it’s time to seek treatment at a program that has the resources to address both disorders simultaneously.

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 Uncooperative Addict

February 28th, 2018

What if the addict does not want help?

If you have someone in your life that suffers from an addiction, you probably have experienced a whole range of unfavorable situations resulting from their poor choices and bad behaviors. These kinds of experiences can wreak an emotional (and quite possibly financial) havoc on everyone involved. Probably the most frustrating thing about these kinds of events is that everyone recognizes that the person has a problem besides the addict. Everyone wants him/her “to get better”, except the addict. What do you do or say when the addict in your life is uncooperative? How can you convince him/her that they need help or make them do something they refuse to do? Here are a few general things to be aware of as you come to terms with the specifics of your situation and start to research the options you have:

Education Beats Denial.

Denial is probably the biggest component of not receiving treatment, for both the alcoholic/ addict and the family. The only way to combat denial is to educate yourself on the nature of the disease and be open to seeing the situation for what it is really is versus rationalizing the person’s various behaviors. It’s easy to avoid doing this because awareness means facing some hard truths about the person you love; truths that are really painful and often, embarrassing. But, there really are no excuses or trauma that can make living with alcoholism or addiction be okay. There may have once been a reason why the addict in your life picked up the bottle or the needle, but spending energy to figure out that reason is like trying to hold water in paper—almost impossible and fleeting at best.

For those who understand they have a problem and are willing to seek treatment, the recovery process will be easier. However, an intervention may be a necessary step for those who are resisting their issues. Many families and friends have found that this is an effective step to aiding the person to recognize he/she has a problem and want to seek help.

Intervention

Because of denial, lack of communication or simply not knowing how to talk about treatment with your loved one, an intervention probably is the best route. In an intervention, friends and families surround the addict usually in a situation that is a surprise to the addict. They openly speak to the addict about their unhappy or traumatic experiences with the addict and how it affected them when the addict is using. By focusing and discussing how the addict/alcoholic’s choices are destroying not only their own life, but those of others around them, the addict has a chance to make a choice to change. The choice is usually an ultimatum to enter a drug/alcohol rehab center or lose friendships and family ties. While you can not force someone to make the “right” choice, you can find peace in knowing you were able to do what you can for them to do so.

Get Support

It is vital to have support from family, trusted friends, and most importantly from a support group such as Al-Anon or Narcotics Anonymous. Even if you are introverted, in groups likes this, you can meet many others from all walks of life experiencing similar situations that you and your family are enduring. We know that when a loved one is using drugs or drinking their life away, it can seem like a selfish, drawn-out suicide. Watching this happen to someone you love who chooses this, can take a toll on you, but having support group can help you gain wisdom as well as detachment on how to move forward daily in your own life.

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 Do After Rehab: Your After-Care Plan

February 21st, 2018

Many believe that undergoing treatment at a rehab center will “fix” them and “cure” their addictions. However, it is not only wise but imperative to have a solid after-care plan in place before graduating and leaving the facility. No matter how much one thinks they have a handle on their disease, the chance of relapse is incredibly high shortly after walking out of the treatment center. In fact, most addicts and alcoholics who relapse do so within the first 18 months after. This is because transitioning seamlessly back into aspects of the “old” life while keeping the new and hard-earned sobriety intact is incredibly challenging. Having an after-care plan in place will certainly assist the recovering addict alcoholic in being prepared for many of the triggering situations that could occur and assist them in making good choices.

There are many tools to consider incorporating into an after-care plan. Some of these include transitional living, extended treatment, and 12-step programs. Speaking with counselors, therapists, family members, and peers with a substantial amount of sobriety behind them will provide insight on which option or combination of options is best for any particular individual. Below is a basic description of each:

Sober Living House: A transitional living or sober living house is a living situation that can help ease the entry back into the “real world” directly from rehab. These places can vary in services, structure, dynamics, and capacity, but generally, they are run by a live-in manager. Often, the house usually integrates drug testing, curfews, meetings, and probation periods. Ask a lot of questions when viewing or selecting a sober living facility as each house has its own distinct personality and specific rules. Remember by viewing it as an extension of one’s treatment and a life-long journey of sobriety, it will help to frame the perception and situation correctly.

Outpatient Care: This is a great tool for extending the benefits of treatment. Counseling, group, and individual therapy, medication management, and drug testing are usually offered. Recovering addicts that do not have the benefit of living in a sober or transitional living facility are highly recommended to utilize outpatient care to provide them with structure and reinforcement of the valuable lessons they learned in treatment. Speaking with the counselors at the rehab prior to exiting will help to find out more about outpatient care program as an option upon exit.

Sober Companion: A sober companion provides excellent support for chronic relapsers, recovering addicts in vulnerable situations or unstable addicts in early recovery. Companions assist individuals in achieving objectives through exploration of problems and their ramifications, examination of attitudes and feelings, consideration of alternative solutions, and aid in decision-making. Coaching helps clients utilize their resources to resolve problems and/or modify behaviors, attitudes, and values. Sober companions usually have been sober for a long while so they have enough experience to know what it is like to be new to recovery as well as the many pitfalls an addict could face early on.

12 Step Programs: 12-step programs are available for addictive, compulsive, or behavioral problems based on the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. For drug addicts, Narcotics Anonymous meetings are available, as well as other drug-specific 12-step groups. These programs have proven successful for addicts in recovery. With these programs, an addict can find anonymous support and tools from others walking the same path. Many have attested to the fact that belonging or partaking in  12-step program has been vital to their sobriety as well as their sanity. Because many 12-step programs are inclusive to a wide range of people from all walks of life with only the common factor of being an addict or alcoholic, it is an can be an incredibly eye-opening experience to be a part of such a group; one could gain perspective and insight into his/her own life decisions and circumstances through just listening to what so many others share.

Although the disease of addiction is incurable, it is definitely manageable. Boredom can be an instant trigger for relapse. Since addiction is a disease of the mind, “staying out of one’s head” and keeping active are suggested. The old way of living didn’t work. Knowing what to do after a rehab program and how to have fun in sobriety is very important. Sober friends, hobbies, and choices can be fun and ensure a happy healthy way of life.

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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Children of Addicts Suffer

February 14th, 2018

Many addicts and codependents believe that their behaviors do not affect anyone else besides themselves. This is especially the case if they are high functioning and regarded by those outside the family as being responsible contributors to society; the addict and/or codependent parent(s) may even have the false sense that they are providing the best for their family’s well-being. However, this is certainly far from the truth in almost all cases and children especially suffer the most.

Children are the daily but powerless witnesses to the devastating actions and consequences of addiction. Their childhood is usually stunted because they are often called upon to take on adult duties to keep the family functioning. They also have the extra heavy burden of keeping what happens inside the home a secret to outsiders, and because of this, they usually navigate through the world with a deep sense of shame, fear, and guilt. They spend a great deal of time and energy on figuring out what “normal” means or what it means to be a “normal” child and often they are uncertain how to behave or what to say.

Because the lines are blurred within the home, they sometimes are not able to discern good examples or role models from those that are not. Therefore, the characteristics of children from addict homes and codependent parenting can range and be numerous within any person. There is no one set or predictable outcome to those who grow up with addiction as environmental factors and genetics vary within each individual. For example, a brother and sister within the same alcoholic family system may grow up quite differently; one child may become a hyper-vigilant, super responsible adult who has a hard time “letting go” and having fun, while the other becomes a repeat criminal, with very little sense of remorse or responsibility.

The larger understanding to gain is that most children are affected deeply and in severe ways from growing up with an addict. Sometimes the results follow the child well into adulthood and may become crippling to their wellbeing for a lifetime; they may even pass the dysfunctional beliefs and behaviors into future generations. Some examples of how addiction may affect your children are: they may have an extremely low sense of self-worth or self-esteem, have a terrific fear of abandonment, have trouble becoming close to anyone in intimate relationships, may constantly seek approval from others, may become their own harshest judge, may have trust issues, may behave erratically or in compulsive ways, such as overeating, being a workaholic or even abusing substances or alcohol themselves.

If you or a loved one has an addiction of any nature, and have children, they may be affected and their quality of life may be impacted. 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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