Staying Connected With Your Recovery

recoveryIf you are an active member of an addiction recovery program, then you are probably acutely aware of the fact that your addiction is just waiting for you to slip up and welcome drugs and alcohol back into your life. Addiction is a treatable condition. Through continued spiritual maintenance and active participation in one of many recovery support programs—we can, and do recover. But we can never delude ourselves in thinking that addiction can be cured, or that one day you will wake up and declare, “I’m an ex-alcoholic or ex-addict.” Just like the diabetic who takes insulin every day, their condition is not cured but rather contained. Every day people working a program of addiction recovery need to take certain steps to ensure, or rather, mitigate the chance of a relapse. Without active participation in your own recovery, long-sobriety is unlikely. Addiction does not take a day off from trying to find its way back into the forefront of one’s life, so then, it stands to reason that your recovery does not accumulate vacation time. To think otherwise, as many have, is nothing short of dangerous. As we approach the holiday season, it is vital that you keep this in mind, otherwise you may slip back into old behaviors and potentially relapse.

Staying Sober This Thanksgiving

Addiction recovery is difficult under normal day-to-day circumstances. Having a bad day, or letting yourself become stressed, angry or tired can hamper one’s program; if such feelings are not quickly addressed, bad decisions can follow. While holidays are supposed to be about joining friends and family in celebration, for people in recovery, such days can quickly become too much to handle. With Thanksgiving just over 24 hours away, it is important that you recognize how strong you are in your recovery—particularly regarding your ability to be around family. Let’s face it, holidays can be tumultuous even for people who do not have a substance use disorder. But unlike the average person, uncomfortable and stressful environments can take a toll on one’s recovery—leading to rash decisions that can result in picking up a drink or a drug. If you know that you will be attending a family gathering this Thursday, be sure to discuss it with your sponsor and the other members of your support network. There is a good chance that this can aid in guiding you through the holiday by helping you spot situations that may be risky, such as associating with relatives who you used to get drunk or high with during holidays past. What’s more, there is a good chance that they will tell you to always have your phone handy so that you can reach out before a particular matter gets out of hand. If you follow the suggestions of the people in the program who have more sober holidays under their belt, then there is no reason for you to have to open your eyes Friday morning with regret on your mind.

Staying Connected With Recovery

Many people working a program of recovery have yet to fully clean up the wreckage of their past. Meaning, presently their family may not be a part of their life. It is a reality that can be hard to deal with during the holidays. At PACE Recovery Center, we implore you to not be discouraged about the people that you do not have in your life, and take stock in those who are an active part of your life. If you have no familial obligations this Thursday, use it as an opportunity to be there for your fellow recovering alcoholics or addicts. During the course of Thanksgiving, there will be meetings occurring around the clock and you would do yourself a service by attending some of them. You may have something to share at a meeting that can help another who is new to recovery: A person who might be contemplating giving up on recovery before they have a chance to experience some of the miracles. Recovery is only possible if we help each other stay the course. We would like to wish everyone in recovery a drug and alcohol free Thanksgiving. Every obstacle you overcome, only serves to strengthen your program. Please remember:
  • Avoid getting hungry, angry, lonely or tired (HALT).
  • Stay connected to your support network as much as possible.
  • Stay clear of risky people, places and things.
  • Keep your phone charged, turned on and easily accessible.
  • Don’t drink or drug, no matter what.

Young Adults: Depression On The Rise

depressionDepression is one the most common forms of mental health disorder that affects American adults. In fact, depression is one the leading causes of disability for patients between the ages 15 and 44, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Every year, more than 15 million American adults over the age of 18 are affected by symptoms of depression. While the disorder is more common among women than men, major depressive disorder can affect people regardless of their age, gender or race. The median age of people with onset of major depressive disorder is 32.5-years old, yet nearly one in 11 teenagers and young adults experiences a major depressive episode in any given year, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. The findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.

National Survey on Drug Use and Health

The findings of the study, led by Dr. Ramin Mojtabail, come from an analysis of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2005 and 2014, LiveScience reports. The data indicates that depression among adolescents and young adults has risen dramatically, especially among young women. Major depressive episodes affected 11.3 percent of adolescents in 2014, compared to 8.7 percent in 2005. A major depressive episode is characterized by persisting for two weeks or more. Major depressive episode symptoms include:
  • Feelings of Emptiness
  • Hopelessness
  • Irritability
The uptick of depression among young people was limited to 12 to 20-year olds, skirting the 21 to 25 age group, the article reports. However, the biggest takeaway from the study isn’t that there has been a rise in major depression among young people, but rather that the research team did not see alterations with mental illness treatment for young people. The researchers did not observe a rise in young people seeking treatment for mental illness, either. For treatments to be effective, they need to be adapted to target the population being affected. The authors write:
"The growing number of depressed adolescents and young adults who do not receive any mental health treatment for their [major depressive episode] calls for renewed outreach efforts."

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

Young adults struggling with any form of mental health disorder are far more likely to develop unhealthy relationships with drugs and alcohol. This is because people will often drink alcohol and or use drugs to cope with their symptoms. Choosing to self-medicate one’s mental illness, can be a slippery slope leading to a host of problems that can complicate the severity of mental illness symptoms, such as addiction. People with depression, or other forms of mental illness, often think that drugs and alcohol will mitigate the problems that accompany living with such disorders. However, self-medication is a far cry from meeting with mental health professionals and starting a regimen of antidepressants in conjunction with therapy. All too often, the people seeking help for addiction will also have a co-occurring disorder, such as anxiety and/or depression. It is not uncommon for people with depression to develop a substance use disorder, because they attempted to treat their symptoms on their own. Those who are struggling with addiction and a co-occurring disorder need to be treated for both conditions simultaneously, if recovery is to be achieved. At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in treating young adult males with co-occurring disorders, otherwise referred to as having a “dual diagnosis.” Our experienced team of addiction counselors and professionals is fully equipped to provide a specialized plan of care when treating the patients' co-occurring disorders. Successful outcomes are contingent on doing so. Please contact us today, to start the process of healing and addiction recovery.

Veterans Day 2016 -TAPS, PTSD and PACE

Echoes linger in the heart, long after its tones cease to vibrate in the air...Jari Villanueva

Veterans Day 2016 - TAPS

Veterans Day Bugler Arlington National Cemetery Veterans Day 2016 TAPS PTSD PACE
Bugler Arlington National Cemetery
Tomorrow November 11, 2016, our nation will celebrate Veterans Day. It is a Federal Holiday that is always held on the exact day...we do not move it to a nearby Monday to create a magical three-day holiday, we stay the course and call to mind those who have served in our military, as well those who have died as a result of that service. We reminisce the end of World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. TAPS will be played at our National Cemeteries, the President will hear TAPS as he presents a memorial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, and people will recognize the soulful melody of TAPS.

How much do you know about TAPS?

There is no doubt that if you were to ask someone "What is TAPS?" perhaps they would think of the 1981 movie TAPS, or they might associate it with an acronym of a present day organization; however, most will have some association to the  simple 24-note melancholy bugle call known as "TAPS." It is in fact the final call of the day at military bases...and interestingly was a Dutch command "taptoe" - to shut ("toe to") the "tap" of a keg."  For a clearer understanding of its origin, we are sharing a video from the History Channel.

Veterans and PTSD

In our world of today, we often hear people use the phrase "a call to action." TAPS, in its own way, is a call to action - end the day and begin rest. This past week we read with interest an article published by U.S. News and World Report: "A Call to Better Treat PTSD in Our Military Veterans." Here at PACE Recovery Center we offer dual diagnosis treatment for veterans and others who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) recognizing its complications associated with addiction and suicide. It is a complex problem and one that calls for more research.  Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, points out in trying to understand why there has not been more dedicated PTSD research:
There are three reasons. First, the idea of psychological weakness is antithetical to military culture with its ethos of aggression and invulnerability – so military leaders were reluctant to recognize and accept its existence. In the interim, many soldiers were accused of cowardice, in some cases punished and even executed, for their infirmity. Second, mental disorders are not tangible and have no visible physical signs. Hence, they are not seen as real and are often ignored or minimized. Third, PTSD was considered to be a military problem and thus the responsibility of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
We will continue to follow this call to action and keep our readers informed.

PACE Recovery Center's commitment to treating veterans

Each year on Veterans Day we feature our staff who are veterans and those who have special training and experience in treating veterans. In 2013  and 2014 we introduced and focused on staff members Sean Kelly and Victor Calzada.  In 2015 we proudly recognized Matthew Johnson, Dr. Hisham Korraa, M.D., Dr. Ryan Wright, M.D., and Dr. Venice Sanchez, M.D. 
Clinical Psychologist Helen O'Mahony, Ph.D. Veterans Day 2016 TAPS PTSD PACE
Clinical Psychologist Helen O'Mahony, Ph.D.
This year the PACE team would like you to meet Helen O'Mahony, Ph.D. Dr. O’Mahony is a licensed clinical psychologist. She has worked in the mental health field for over 13 years. She has worked with all populations and specializes in dual diagnosis. Dr. O’Mahony runs experiential groups to help clients not just talk about their maladaptive patterns but to help them transform them. She received her BA and Masters from Boston University and moved to Los Angeles in 2001. While working as a program director at the Salvation Army located at the West LA VA campus she received a lot of experience working with veterans diagnosed with PTSD and substance abuse along with other diagnoses. She received her Ph.D. from California Graduate Institute at the Chicago School in 2008.

In closing...

PACE Recovery Center staff and the gentlemen whom we treat wish veterans and their families a peaceful and memorable Veterans Day 2016.  Be thankful, graceful and hold dear...
In war, there are no unwounded soldiers. ~José Narosky

Early Recovery and Romantic Relationships

early recovery

If you are new to recovery, and have started attending 12-Step meetings, it is likely that you have been bombarded with a lot of information and tips for achieving success in the program. There is very good chance that the people you have met, in the rooms of recovery, cautioned you about people, places and things that could jeopardize your recovery. They have probably warned you about forming romantic relationships within the first year, or until you have worked all the “steps” honestly. As simple as that advice may sound, what you choose to do with that guidance could actually make or break your recovery.

Most people who enter a program of recovery, attempting to turn their life around, have no idea what a healthy relationship is, or what it looks like. Especially since most people with a history of addiction, also have a history of unhealthy relationships. People with substance abuse issues typically gravitate towards others with similar or the same problem. The old saying that ‘misery loves company’ couldn’t be further from the truth. Somebody who drinks or drugs heavily typically doesn’t want to be involved with teetotaler. Perhaps that was your experience?

There are a number of things that can get in the way of your program, especially in early recovery. It could easily be argued that after resentment, relationships take the prize for setting people in recovery on a course to relapse. If you are a young man, clean and sober from drugs and alcohol for the first time, there is a good chance that you have started bubbling with romantic ambition. It would be wise to resist the urge to pursue someone with romantic intention in early recovery. You may be reading this and are saying to yourself, “problem solved, I was in a relationship when I started the journey of living a healthier life.” While that is a valid point, if your partner is still actively using drugs and/or alcohol, it could compromise your program.

Growing Apart in Early Recovery

When you made the choice to pick up the pieces of your life, and embark on a journey of spiritual resurrection, there is a chance that your romantic partner had different plans. He or she may not be ready to admit that they, too, have a problem that needs to be addressed. Or, maybe they do not actually have a substance use disorder and are not in need of treatment or 12-Step meetings. Either way, when one’s partner is “using” while the other is not, it can and often does cause a void in the relationship. It is a schism that can manifest itself in a number of ways.

Having a partner who you once drank or drugged with (who is still using) often has a triggering effect, which could make you want to use again. Naturally, you need to be vigilant in fighting off such urges, and the best way to do that is to invest more of yourself into the program. Recovery is not something that we achieve on our own, we stay the course by forming bonds with a sponsor and a network of peers that you can lean on when times are difficult. Over time you may realize that your romantic relationship is no longer tenable, and that separating is the surest way of protecting the gains you have made in the program.

True Relationships in Early Recovery

If your partner’s continued use is having an impact on you in early recovery, talk to your sponsor and recovery peers. If they advise you to end your relationship for the sake of your recovery, that may be the best course. Your recovery, as you probably have gathered already, must come before anything else. Without your program, you cannot find the gifts of long-term recovery.

In early recovery, your relationship with a “higher power” is the most important, followed by your sponsor and support network. If your partner or spouse is not part of your support network, then she is likely having a countering effect. You have to ask yourself, what is important to you Today? Hopefully, the answer is your recovery.

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