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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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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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