Addiction and Alcohol Use in the Service Industry

addiction

Just over one year ago the world shared in collective sadness while we mourned the loss of Kitchen Confidential author Anthony Bourdain. He was brilliant, relatively young (62), approachable, and he also struggled with both addiction and co-occurring mental illness.

Like many young men in the prime of their life, depression brought Bourdain to the precipice. Seemingly being no longer able to manage the invisible illness, he made a conscious decision to end his life. While nothing any of us can do or say can bring Anthony back, there is a silver lining to be found in his untimely departure. From world-famous chefs to anonymous bartenders across the country, restaurant workers are opening up about their struggles with alcohol use and addiction.

Millions of Americans make a career in the service or hospitality industry. It's hard work and mentally taxing, but people keep showing up to work because the pay is agreeable. Preparing exquisite cuisines, waiting tables, and crafting cocktails are demanding; the hours are long, and guests are not always the nicest of people. Not surprisingly, those lines of employment can exact a heavy toll on mental health. Any person who has worked in restaurants knows this truth.

Those who do not have healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with industry-induced stress are prone to turn to drugs and alcohol. A sigh of relief accompanies a shift drink come closing time. However, one "shifty" can quickly lead to two—ad infinitum. Life moves forward, years pass by, and before you know it, a problem develops that requires attention.

The Other Side of the Bar is a Dangerous Place

It's no secret that toxic relationships with alcohol abound in the service industry. This is especially true for barkeeps. Practically all customers expect bartenders to sample their wares; they even offer to buy their mixologists drinks as a modest token of appreciation. Such gestures are welcome, to be sure, but it may not be in the best interest of the recipient. Still, many will accept the free drink not to offend the patron.

For those who do not have a history of harmful drinking, a free drink is a free drink. Having a drink on the job is a slippery slope when it comes to men and women who are apt to drink to excess. There is a good reason why most individuals in recovery avoid working in the service industry; the risk of relapse is exceedingly high. That isn't to say that you can't work a program of sobriety while working in hospitality. A large number of people do; however, those who do need to be extra cautious.

The truth is that men and women in recovery can follow any career path they like; provided, however, that such people are on top of their program. There are no barriers or exclusions for those who put their recovery first. A strong support network, working the steps, and attending meetings regularly puts people in positions to excel at anything.

Helpful Reminders Not to Use Drugs and Alcohol

In circles of recovery around the country, it is not uncommon to see people wearing rubber bands on their wrist. The idea is simple: whenever you think of having a drink or drug, give it a snap. The discomfort is minor but the brief sensation can be enough to force you to remember the pain that accompanies alcohol and substance use.

A significant number of men and women in the early years of addiction recovery carry their AA or NA tokens with them wherever they go. The unassuming coin serves as a reminder of how far you've come, and where you came from, most importantly. It is a talisman; it's a marker of progress. Having a sobriety chip in one's pocket is useful when the temptation to drink or drug is high. Urges to use can be quelled by merely touching the coin.

On a similar note, a growing movement is underway among service industry employees that involves wearing a talisman of sorts. The Pin Project is a way for bartenders and others who find employment in hospitality to express their intention not to drink.

Similar to the rubber band trick, The Pin Project came about when a bartender decided he was not going to drink on the job anymore. In an effort to stay true to his intention, Mark Goodwin reached for a sharpie and drew a circle bisected by a straight line on his forearm, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Each time Goodwin thought about having a drink, he looked at the marking, much like the person wearing a rubber band. It worked!

Goodwin has abstained from drinking ever since, and others in the field have joined the movement. One of Goodwin's regulars, Alyx Ryan, created a small, brushed-metal pin that resembles the symbol once drawn in sharpie.

The Pin Project Promotes Healing and Understanding

"The opposite of addiction is connection," Mark Goodwin, a bartender at Coin-Op Game Room in San Francisco, tells the SF Chronicle.

A couple more bartenders in the Bay Area jumped on board with Goodwin's mission. Together, they launched the initiative – to help service industry men and women find strength and abstain while on the job and beyond – on June 24th. What is The Pin Project?

It is a collective of bartenders and service industry professionals based in the Bay Area looking to create a movement of healing and understanding for those among us caught up in the often dangerous context that comes from working within close proximity of alcohol...The pin project was created with the intention of helping industry folks, but anyone that could use a hand in curating safe space to uphold their intentions not to drink are welcomed to utilize it in any of the contexts they themselves struggle within."

People working at restaurants who are also in recovery may benefit from wearing the pin. Goodwin points out that industry workers must show guests a good time; sales and tips are dependent on a person's ability to accept proffers without protest. Saying no to free drinks from a customer could inadvertently impact the bottom line. Pointing to the pin, and explaining to diners what it means, might have the opposite effect.

It's worth noting that Goodwin, along with The Pin Project collaborators Nick Melle of Bon Voyage and DiDi Saiki of Bourbon & Branch, launched The Pin Foundation. A portion of the proceeds from pin sales goes to linking service-industry professionals with mental health services.

Addiction Treatment for Men

Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you are struggling with alcohol use. Our gender-specific addiction treatment center for adult men can help you break the disease cycle and learn how to work a program of long-term recovery. We also can help those who contend with mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Team members are standing by to field any questions you may have about our extended care, mental health, and addiction rehab for men. 800·526·1851

Addiction Took Matthew Brewer’s Legs, Not His Life

addiction

Opioid addiction is a public health crisis in the United States. Prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetic opioids continue to cut people’s lives short at a startling rate. While progress has been made, we still have a long way to go in providing men and women the help they need.

Substance use disorders of any type put the lives of individuals in jeopardy. However, the effect that opioids have on vital systems of the human body makes this family of drugs particularly dangerous. Opioid narcotics have an impact on breathing, restricting a person’s ability to supply oxygen to the bloodstream.

Opioids kill people by slowing the rate of breathing and the depth of breathing,” said medical toxicologist and emergency physician Andrew Stolbach of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

If an overdose is treated with naloxone promptly, then a fatal outcome can be prevented. Initiatives to arm drug users, family members, and first-responders with naloxone have led to thousands of overdose reversals. A user-friendly version of the drug, Narcan, allows medical laypeople to provide life-saving assistance to victims.

The outcomes of an opioid overdose are not always black and white. A reversal can mean a continuation of life, but severe complications can occur. Scientists are still researching the long-term effects of this type of near-death experience. Moreover, there are instances when doctors have to take drastic measures to save a life; such was the case of Matthew Brewer, 44, of Huntington Beach.

Learning to Walk Again, Following an Opioid Overdose

On September 25th, 2014, a few months after leaving treatment, Matthew Brewer relapsed and overdosed on heroin. Alone at the time, Brewer was fixed in a position that cut off blood flow to his legs for 10-12 hours (tissue begins to die after 4-6 hours).

Matthew's roommate found him, and he was rushed to a hospital. He was then transferred to the University of California, Irvine, where doctors decided that a bilateral amputation of his legs was the only way to save his life. Fortunately, Brewer did not have brain damage from the overdose, but life would be an uphill battle moving forward.

Following the amputation, doctors resorted to prescription opioids: the powerful narcotics that led to addiction in the first place, The Orange County Register reports. Some years earlier, in 2008, Brewer was diagnosed with testicular cancer; he was prescribed opioids and addiction developed. For two-and-a-half years post-amputation, the young man a former competitive athlete suffered.

Matthew’s sister, Tera, owns a hair salon in Newport Beach; she had a client who was a producer on the medical show, “The Doctors,” according to the article. The show’s experts offered to take Brewer’s case, and he appeared on the television show in 2016 for the first time.

“The Doctors” helped Matthew detox from opioids and begin the healing process. In 2017, he attended a bilateral above-knee boot camp hosted by the Hanger Clinic. He learned how to walk with prosthetics, and so much more.

A New Lease on Life

Last month, Matthew Brewer competed in the Angel City Games, a four-day adaptive sports festival. At the event, he took part in a swimming race and the 200-meter sprint, the article reports. Despite his prosthetics, his athleticism goes beyond swimming and running; today, he enjoys surfing and snowboarding as well.

Matthew has a new lease on life; he travels around the country, speaking in front of audiences and visiting hospitals. The Huntington Beach man’s experience is an inspiration to so many people who have had their lives upended by opioid use disorder and overdose. Matthew is proof that there is hope after tragedy.

It’s given him a purpose,” said his mother, Cathy. “We’ve always been proud of him, but seeing the pride he has in himself has been the frosting on the cake. He just looks forward to the next event and the next event.”

Opioid Addiction Treatment for Men

PACE Recovery Center can help you or an adult male loved one recover from an opioid use disorder. Utilizing evidence-based treatments and a multidimensional approach, we show clients how to achieve their goals in recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about the programs we offer and the benefits of gender-specific addiction treatment.

Recovery During Independence Day: Having a Plan

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The Fourth of July is less than 24 hours away, which means that people in addiction recovery are making plans. It’s vital to have a schedule during major holidays, especially the ones synonymous with heavy alcohol consumption. Leaving things up to chance is never a sound practice in sobriety.

Like any holiday, it’s imperative to fill up the day with recovery-centered activities. The goal is to prevent finding oneself in any situation that could compromise progress. Accruing any length of clean and sober time is an enormous undertaking that requires steadfast dedication and vigilance. Nobody wants to jeopardize their hard work, which is why showing deference to the dangers of holidays is paramount.

Men and women who are in the first year of sobriety are often tempted to test the strength of their program. Some are convinced that they can attend holiday functions, barbeques, and parties just like everyone else. While it is possible to go to an Independence Day party without picking up a drink, in most early recovery cases, it’s not worth the risk.

The Fourth is not Christmas; there aren’t the same familial expectations to attend functions. With that in mind, people in recovery are free to forge a safe path from one side of the holiday to the other. Structuring one’s day similar to any other day is beneficial: prayer or meditation, attending home groups, being of service and engaging with one’s peers. Those who put their program first make it last!

Occupying Your Time on the Fourth

Since most businesses are closed on the Fourth of July, many people don’t have to work. It is not uncommon to attend several recovery meetings during holidays, it’s even advised in fact. Meetings are held around the clock to ensure everyone in sobriety has a safe harbor to wait out the turbulent seas that holidays bring. Moreover, recovery communities organize Independence Day events that are a fun time.

When given the option to attend an event that involves alcohol use or one whose guests are in recovery, deciding which is healthier is not challenging. People in early recovery might think that it’s boring to attend a program-related holiday gathering, but please do not knock it until you try it.

Those committed to abstaining from drugs and alcohol are not sticks in the mud, and they know how to have a good time. Another benefit of attending an event hosted by people in the program is that one has the opportunity to bond with their peers outside the rooms. Meeting new men and women out in the world could lead to lasting friendships.

If you haven’t taken the opportunity to make a plan for the holiday, please take action. Another holiday pitfall is isolation; spending too much time alone can be detrimental. Reach out to some of your peers today to find out what they are planning for tomorrow. They may know of something exciting happening that you will want to attend.

Independence from Addiction, Finding Recovery

Tomorrow, we acknowledge our nation’s rich history. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress declared independence. The Gentlemen of PACE Recovery Center hope that everyone working a program has a safe and sober Independence Day.

We also understand that millions of American men are in the grips of the disease of addiction and would like to find freedom. We can help adult males break the cycle and transform their lives through working a program of recovery. Please contact us today to take the first steps toward living independently from drugs and alcohol.

Young men who are struggling with non-substance-related mental illness, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, are encouraged to reach out to us as well.

The PACE Mental Health Program can treat and help you navigate mood disorders and life obstacles arising during college and young adulthood. Click the link to learn more about our Huntington Beach Mental Health Program.

Methamphetamine and Opioids: Drug Synergism Concerns

Methamphetamine

In 2011, 19% of opioid users said they also used methamphetamine; by 2017, that figure had risen to 34%, according to a study appearing in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. The researchers concluded:

“Qualitative data indicated that methamphetamine served as an opioid substitute, provided a synergistic high, and balanced out the effects of opioids so one could function “normally.” Our data suggest that, at least to some extent, efforts limiting access to prescription opioids may be associated with an increase in the use of methamphetamine.”

In 2014, 14% of heroin users entering treatment in San Francisco reported also having a meth problem. A follow up in 2017 showed that 22% of heroin users seeking treatment in San Francisco had issues with meth too.

The numbers above are not an anomaly; methamphetamine is making a comeback across the United States. Although, some experts might argue that meth use never went away but was hiding in the shadows of the opioid epidemic.

The days of clandestine methamphetamine labs in the U.S. came to an end in the 2000s. However, government crackdowns had the unintended consequence of ushering in new opportunities for Mexican cartels.

Efforts to stem the tide of homegrown meth production in America were most successful at creating a windfall for the cartels. South of the border “super labs” sprung up to feed America’s growing demand for “crystal meth.” Mexican meth, sometimes called “ice” due to its purity, is stronger and less expensive than what was found on the streets a decade ago.

Deaths involving methamphetamine are steadily rising, particularly in the West, NPR reports. The link between meth and opioids is cause for concern; the surge in meth use is believed to be tied to efforts to confront the opioid epidemic.

The Impact of Rising Opioid Prices

Making it more difficult to acquire certain drugs does little to address addiction. Instead, it forces those who live with use disorders to take more risks and seek new avenues of euphoria. Most people are aware that the U.S. government has taken many steps to decrease access to prescription opioids. New legislation and prescribing guidelines forced many addicts to turn to heroin.

While heroin is less expensive than OxyContin, a habit can be hundreds of dollars a day. Maintaining an opioid addiction is costly, regardless of the drug in question. Opioids make people feel lethargic, which makes it difficult to hold down a job. Stimulants like meth provide many addicts the extra pep in their step needed to get to work.

Amelia, a recovering addict, tells NPR that meth enabled her to keep working so she could afford her heroin habit. She said that using stimulants to help her support the opioid use disorder developed into a pattern.

The heroin was the most expensive part,” she says. “That was $200 a day at one point. And the meth was $150 a week.”

There are other reasons why people use stimulants in conjunction with opioids—drug synergism. Addicts have been mixing heroin and cocaine (e.g., “speedballing”) for a long time; one drug enhances the effects of the other and vice versa. However, cocaine is often more expensive than heroin. Now, many people are using heroin and meth simultaneously to replicate a speedball; the admixture is commonly referred to as a “goofball.”

When a person is struggling with both a stimulant and opioid use disorder, it can complicate treatment efforts. Unlike opioids, there is no medication to help people with meth withdrawal. It’s it vital that treatment professionals pay close attention to polysubstance use disorder cases to prevent relapse.

Methamphetamine and Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Mixing stimulants with opioids is a deadly combination; naloxone isn’t as effective on polysubstance overdoses. It is vital that individuals in the grips of meth and opioid addiction seek professional help immediately to avoid severe complications.

If you are an adult male who is struggling with a use disorder of any kind, please contact PACE Recovery Center today. Our gender-specific, extended care programs can help you break the cycle of addiction. We are available 24/7 to answer any of your questions about our multidimensional approach to substance use disorder treatment.

Mental Health Program Requires Funding

mental health

Health care is not free in the United States. Those who do not have insurance are unable to acquire elective services, even if they are potentially life-saving. Mental health care, whether it be for addiction or depression, is no different; many people do not get help because they lack financial resources.

In recent years, mental illnesses of the behavioral health and mood disorder varieties have come into the spotlight. Rising overdose and alcohol-related death rates and suicide have forced millions of Americans to take notice. Preventable “deaths of despair” have given many individuals cause for concern.

The reality is that there are not enough treatment centers, nor funding to provide evidence-based mental health care. Millions of Americans, many of whom are living in affluent parts of the country, are suffering needlessly. The situation is even more dire in rural America, where there may be one center or just a handful of mental health and addiction specialists for a radius of hundreds of miles.

Men and women who need assistance are unable to access it, and recovery is just out of reach for countless people. When one considers that we live in the most prosperous country in human history, facing the hard truths about mental illness is both perplexing and troubling.

In the last decade, lawmakers have introduced, passed, and signed into law legislation meant to increase funding and expand access to mental health care. The list of bills written to stem the tide of untreated mental illness and increase access to insurance parity include:

  • The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010
  • The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016
  • The 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) of 2016

Mental Health in America

Over the past few months, we observed several awareness campaigns focusing on addiction and mental health. June is PTSD Awareness Month; May is Mental Health Month; April is Alcohol Awareness Month; March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month; and, February is National Eating Disorder Awareness Month.

Whenever we cover the subject of national observances, pointing out the statistics is critical to catch people’s attention. Tens of millions of Americans are battling untreated mental health disorders. Those who would like to get assistance find it exceedingly challenging to do so. The human cost of not being able to find support is high; each day not in recovery can end in tragedy.

Many of the mental health-related awareness months deal heavily with ending the stigma that prevents people from recovery. However, a lack of funding for life-saving support is just as harmful than society’s attitudes about mental illness.

It’s fair to say that most people lack the financial resources to cover the costs of all or some of their care. Which means that the burden falls on the state, county, and municipal leaders to ensure less-fortunate people can access recovery services. Expanding access to care requires money, and the necessary funds can only come from one place: taxes!

Free Mental Health Care Program

San Francisco is no different than any other metropolis in America despite being the epitome of opulence and affluence. The city has its fair share of homelessness, drug use, and people struggling with various mental health problems. However, unlike Cleveland or Indianapolis, San Francisco is in California—home to many of the wealthiest cities in the nation. The Golden State is the fifth largest economy in the world.

Silicon Valley is just down the way from San Francisco; if it were a country of its own, it would be the second richest in the world, The Mercury News reports. Many tech companies, CEOs, and execs call San Francisco home. At street-level, just beneath some of the wealthiest Americans penthouses and tech company offices, people are crippled by mental illness symptoms.

Interestingly, San Francisco lawmakers would like companies with well-paid CEOs to foot some of the city’s mental health bill, Reason reports. The Board of Supervisors introduced a motion last week that would place a new tax on “disproportionate executive pay.” Companies paying top executives 100 to 600 times the median compensation of their employees would pay an additional .1 to .6 tax on gross receipts.

In November, San Franciscans will vote on two measures that could significantly help people living with addiction and other forms of mental illness. Six of the 11 supervisors support a disproportionate executive pay tax and a program called Mental Health SF. If voters approve both motions, the tax on CEO pay will cover some of the cost of a program that offers round-the-clock mental health services.

We have a crisis of people who are severely addicted to drugs and that have severe mental health illnesses that are wandering the street and that desperately need help,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen.

California Mental Health Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, our team of highly trained mental health professionals specializes in the treatment of addiction and co-occurring mental illness. We also offer programs for men who do not meet the criteria for substance use disorders, but they struggle with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD.

We invite you to contact us today if you or a male loved one requires mental health assistance. Please call 800-526-1851 now to learn more about our behavioral health treatment team and mental health programs.

Recovery Communities Help People Succeed

recovery

On the road to long-term recovery, finding a community is essential. Most men and women who’ve had struggles with drug and alcohol and tried to get sober without assistance encounter problems. The modes of being that people utilized in active addiction – selfishness, self-centeredness, and isolation – are not the same that a person relies on for lasting recovery.

Individuals looking to make drastic changes for the better must embrace an entirely new mode of living. A paradigm shift in thinking about one’s self and others is required to make personal improvements stick. The old ways of living life will not suffice in the realm of addiction recovery.

Healing from alcohol and substance use disorder is a lengthy process. Time is a necessary ingredient; learning how to maintain a positive attitude in the face of stress doesn’t happen overnight.

Finding the courage to trust others isn’t easy; addiction makes it hard for people to look at others’ motives without suspicion. However, trust one must, if a man or woman is to make progress. The longer a person works a program, the less work it is to believe that peers have your best interest at heart when they make suggestions.

With each passing day, relative newcomers feel less and less alone. A sense of togetherness wells up inside individuals, providing them with the strength to keep moving forward.

Millions of people realize the gifts of recovery by working with others to achieve similar goals. Having a support network to rely on is the most vigorous defense against relapse. Abstaining from drugs and alcohol for a day or two is possible without help, but doing it for months or years requires outside help.

Community is Everything in Recovery

Many of those new to recovery, either in treatment or 12 Step meetings, are reticent about opening up. Finding a voice, and the courage to use it, can seem impossible to some. However, those unable to express their feelings initially learn to do so so by watching others do the same.

Hearing others share their daily struggles – such as the desire to use again – is empowering. It’s an acknowledgment that the disease is always trying to re-exert itself, and that talking about it diminishes its power. Sitting amongst like-minded individuals who all share similar challenges, collectively saying to their disease ‘not today,’ is a remarkable experience.

Recovering alcoholics and addicts draw strength from their community. Such people find solutions to everyday trials and tribulations by talking about them with a sponsor or trusted confidant. When a young man works the Steps with another man, their eyes become open to a world of possibilities.

Real friends are made through working a program of recovery. The very people who serve as a person’s guide toward a better life often become their most essential companions.

The connections made between men and women in “the rooms” are selfless, genuine, and enriching. Friendships made in sobriety feel meaningful because they are bound by honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness.

The recovery community gives people the freedom to be themselves, to no longer mask who they really are and feel accepted. Drugs and alcohol erode men and women’s authenticity; recovery builds it back up. Again, it is a process that requires more than abstinence alone. The Steps are a formula for more than sobriety; they are a recipe for being a whole person.

12 Step Recovery 84th Anniversary

In 2019, countless people around the globe owe some part of their ability to heal from addiction to a 12 Step recovery program. For those who embrace the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, you probably know that Founders Day Weekend was just celebrated across the country.

It has been 84 years since Bill Wilson had a conversation with another alcoholic, Bob Smith, about a solution. Each year, recovering alcoholics and addicts acknowledge the importance of that meeting and the program that followed.

What started as two alcoholics working together to never drink again no matter what is now a community of millions of people. Bill W. and Dr. Bob’s fortuitous friendship led to an untold number of connections of a similar nature.

Gender-Specific Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

At PACE Recovery Center, we help adult men get to the root of their behavioral and mental health issues. Men work together and form lasting bonds with each other; in doing so, they learn the importance of community.

We offer several programs to address the unique needs of each client adequately. Please contact us today to learn more about our services and to begin creating a plan for finding long-term recovery.

PTSD Awareness Month 2019: Treatment is Available

PTSD

Addiction and trauma often go hand in hand; many people cope with post-traumatic stress by self-medicating. Severe physical or mental injury can lead to troubling symptoms, such as flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, avoidance, hypervigilance, anxiety, and depression. When PTSD goes untreated, men and women look for relief; alcohol and illicit drug use often become people’s remedy.

As many individuals know, using mind-altering substances to cope with symptoms of mental illness is a slippery slope. What starts as a method of quieting one’s mind can quickly morph into an alcohol or substance use disorder. Moreover, self-medication typically worsens the symptoms people are trying to ease.

Americans most often associate trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with combat; those who witness the horrors of war can face lingering effects. However, mental wounds can arise from any experience that an individual lacks the ability to handle. Many factors can play a role in why some develop a condition and others do not. When it comes to average citizens, surviving abuse, natural disasters, and sexual assault can result in post-traumatic stress. It is vital that people who are suffering from psychological distress or re-experiencing trauma seek help immediately. The condition can progressively worsen over time, especially if drugs and alcohol are involved.

Signs of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder can manifest in several different ways; it also affects people on a spectrum severity. Everyone experiences fear when they encounter scary or dangerous events; and, what they experience may bother them for a time. Still, most people are not haunted by troubling events and will bounce back to their usual self eventually.

Unfortunately, many men and women continue to experience psychological problems stemming from trauma. About seven or eight of every 100 people will experience post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Center for PTSD.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) lays down the criteria for receiving a PTSD diagnosis. An adult must have all of the following for at least one month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom (e.g., flashbacks, nightmares, and frightening thoughts).
  • At least one avoidance symptom (e.g., staying away from places, events, or objects).
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms (e.g., being jumpy, tense, or angry).
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms (e.g., trouble remembering aspects of the trauma, negative thoughts, guilt or blame, or anhedonia).

PTSD Awareness Month 2019

Encouraging people to reach out for help regarding their difficulties with trauma is vital. Millions of Americans can benefit significantly from obtaining professional advice. But, like any mental illness, stigma often prevents those men and women from seeking treatment.

June is PTSD Awareness Month. Now is the time to get the message out: treatment is available, and it works. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and several organizations are asking for everyone’s help; together, we can end the stigma and empower those struggling to seek professional assistance.

During PTSD Awareness Month, and throughout the entire year, help raise awareness about the many different PTSD treatment options. You can make a difference in the lives of Veterans and others who have experienced trauma. Everyone can help.

If you would like to get involved with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Month, please click here. The VA offers several materials to guide your messages about treatment and recovery.

Addiction and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment

People who have PTSD are between two and four times more likely to struggle with addiction than their peers who do not have the disorder, the journal Clinical Psychology reports. Individuals who are battling both PTSD and addiction must consult with treatment centers that are equipped to treat both conditions simultaneously.

Long-term recovery rests on addressing the dual-diagnosis along with the addiction.

Please contact PACE Recovery Center today to learn more about our men’s gender-specific treatment center. Importantly, one does not have to be diagnosed with a substance misuse disorder to participate in the PACE Mental Health Program. We are standing by to answer any questions you may have for yourself or a loved one.

Addiction Messaging and Seeking Treatment

addiction

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) defines addiction as compulsive use of a mind-altering substance despite adverse consequences. Scientists characterize brain disorders involving the use of drugs and alcohol as compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse outcomes.

In the field of use disorder treatment, the disease model of addiction is the standard today. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) support the disease framework. In 2015, Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and George Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) co-authored a commentary defending the disease model.

The two NIH Institute Directors defend their position by referring to current research. They point out how current studies show that chronic exposure to drugs and alcohol disrupt “critical brain structures and behaviors.” Dr. Volkow and Mr. Koob also cite research indicating that heavy, prolonged substance use impacts brain processes associated with:

  • Loss of control
  • Compulsive drug taking
  • Inflexible behavior
  • Negative emotional states

Volkow and Koob’s commentary states that the modern understanding of addiction has led to several advancements. The disease model and a better understanding of the processes of addiction have led to the development of brain stimulation treatments, behavioral interventions, and effective medicines, including:

  • Acamprosate
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naloxone
  • Varenicline

In their defense of the disease model, the experts go even further. They said the framework has also had a positive effect on public policy. While the accepted understanding of addiction has been mostly positive, some wonder about the impact it has on patients. Does calling addiction a disease adversely affect people with use disorders? New research attempts to answer that question.

Addiction Messaging

Addiction is a complex disease of a complex brain; ignoring this fact will only hamper our efforts to find effective solutions through a comprehensive and systematic understanding of the underlying phenomena.” – Volkow and Koob (2015)

Alcohol and substance use disorder in the United States is an epidemic. Tens of millions of Americans struggle with the disease of addiction despite available treatments. Encouraging more men and women to seek help is vitally important.

There is evidence that many people do not respond well to messaging defining addiction as a disease. As such, they are less likely to seek assistance, according to research published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

Calling addiction a disease does not have an impact on the people conducting the research. However, there is evidence that the label may adversely affect those living with the condition.

Researchers at North Carolina State University compared the effect of disease messaging to a “growth mindset message,” a university press release reports. The latter says that human attributes are malleable.

Those who work programs of recovery and accrue long-term sobriety show us that people can change even though they have an incurable condition. With assistance, use disorder can be managed, and relapse is preventable. However, while the new study may be about semantics, the finding(s) could guide efforts to steer people toward treatment.

When we began talking about addiction as a disease, the goal was to decrease stigma and encourage treatment,” says Sarah Desmarais, co-author of a paper on the work and an associate professor of psychology at North Carolina State University. “That worked, to an extent, but an unforeseen byproduct was that some people experiencing addiction felt like they had less agency; people with diseases have no control over them.”

Steering People Toward Addiction Treatment

The study involved 214 men and women with drug and alcohol use problems, according to the article. One hundred and twenty-four were placed in a growth mindset message group. The other 90 participants received disease messaging. Participants in both groups read articles that included the respective messaging.

Growth mindset enrollees read about the many causes of substance abuse and how to manage addiction. The disease group learned about the addiction-related changes in the brain. Participants in the growth mindset group were found to be more likely to seek treatment, compared to the disease message group.

“Overall, our findings support moving away from messaging about addiction solely as a disease,” Desmarais says. “It’s more complicated than that. Instead, the finding suggests that it would be more helpful to talk about the many different reasons people become addicted.”

Southern California Addiction Treatment

Alcohol and substance use disorders are treatable, and long-term recovery is attainable. Please contact PACE Recovery Center to discuss our gender-specific programs. Our clinically sophisticated approach can help you or a loved one make lasting changes.

We can also help men who have co-occurring mental illnesses accompanying their use disorder. Our highly trained staff will treat both conditions simultaneously to facilitate better treatment outcomes.

Mental Health Disorders: Early Diagnosis is Vital

mental health

One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 50% of youth ages 8-15 didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year.

Early diagnosis of psychological health disorders can spare individuals from experiencing significant problems in the future. Those who struggle with mood disorders at a young age must be screened and treated to prevent them from developing unhealthy coping mechanisms.

It is a fact that many people who struggle with substance use in adulthood have an underlying mental illness stemming back to their youth. Men and women who use drugs and alcohol to manage their symptoms risk developing behavioral health problems. More than half of adults living with addiction have a co-occurring mental illness like:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

While the conditions listed above can result from heavy alcohol and substance use, it is often the other way around in plenty of cases. Many teenagers begin and continue to use drugs and alcohol because they are dealing with undiagnosed psychiatric issues. Mind-altering substances can provide temporary relief from pain and suffering, but the practice only serves to worsen symptoms in the long run.

Mental illness screenings of young people are of the utmost importance. Evidence-based treatments exist, and pairing teens and young adults with mental health services saves lives. During Mental Health Month, it is imperative that parents consider prioritizing both their overall well-being and their children’s.

Diagnosing Childhood Depression

NAMI reports that one in five young people (13 to 18) suffers from a severe mental health disorder at some point in their lives. In previous posts, we have pointed out that depression is the leading cause of disability around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that some 300 million people of all ages suffer from the disorder. A significant number of youths are affected by this serious health condition.

Researchers associate undiagnosed depression with both substance use disorder and suicide later in life. The WHO reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death in those between the ages of 15 and 29. With that in mind, it’s not challenging to see the need for developing effective screening techniques.

Researchers at the University of Vermont may have found a new method for identifying anxiety and depression in young people. These types of conditions are sometimes referred to as “internalizing disorders.” The research team tested a machine learning algorithm that might help doctors diagnose mental illness in youths, according to a press release. The findings of the study appear in the Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics.

We need quick, objective tests to catch kids when they are suffering,” says Ellen McGinnis, a clinical psychologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center’s Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families and lead author of the study. “The majority of kids under eight are undiagnosed.”

The study shows that artificial intelligence can evaluate child speech patterns to detect signs of anxiety and depression. The AI singled out three speech patterns that point to the presence of internalizing disorders: low-pitched voices, repeatable speech inflections and content, and a higher-pitched response to unexpected noise.

Fast and Reliable Mental Health Diagnoses

The press release points out that typical youth mental health screenings involve a trained clinician and the child’s primary caregiver. The patient receives a 60 to 90 minute semi-structured interview. Since children do not excel at articulating their emotional suffering, screenings are time-consuming and not always accurate.

The algorithm was able to identify children with a diagnosis of an internalizing disorder with 80 percent accuracy, and in most cases that compared really well to the accuracy of the parent checklist,” says senior study author, Ryan McGinnis.

The researchers plan to embed their algorithm into a universal screening tool.

Gender Specific Mental Health Treatment

At PACE Recovery Center, we assist young men who suffer from mental health disorders. Our center offers both residential and outpatient services that can help you or a loved one facing a mood or behavioral health disorder. Please contact us today to learn more about the services we provide and our highly credentialed clinical staff.

We utilize a multidimensional treatment approach that integrates evidence-based practices from the psychological, medical, social, familial and self-help communities.

Mental Health First Aid in America: Training Pharmacists

mental healthIn the second week of Mental Health Month, it’s worth making time to discuss what some companies are doing to help the cause. Raising awareness about mental illness is of the utmost importance. Estimates indicate that one in five people will face a mental health or substance use issue in a given year.

Psychological conditions live beneath the surface, and they are challenging to recognize for the untrained eye. Many doctors lack training in the subject matter, which places patients at risk. Undiagnosed and untreated mental illness is one of the leading causes of substance use, self-harm, and premature death.

The field of medicine has long been the frontline for prevention and intervention. It is vital that doctors and nurses have the skills to spot behavioral health problems and are able to provide evidence-based guidance. If a patient presents to their primary care physician (PCP) for a routine check-up, it is an opportunity to screen for mental health conditions.

People struggling with psychiatric illness are often unwilling to discuss their symptoms. Many individuals have fears about what a diagnosis might lead to, including being treated differently by one’s peers. As a result, mental illnesses often do not receive proper care; over time, diseases like depression become progressively worse.

It is of critical importance that PCPs undergo training for identifying at-risk patients so they can refer them to mental health professionals. However, since many patients only see their physician once a year, intervention opportunities are sparse.

Pharmacists, on the other hand, have far more contact with the general population. Which means those working at pharmacies are in a unique position to take action if they see people exhibiting signs of mental illness and substance use issues.

Pharmacy Employees Receive Mental Health Training

Tens of millions of Americans walk into stores like Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens to fill their prescriptions each month. There are at least twelve opportunities, annually, to have an impact on men and women who may be struggling.

While it’s true that pharmacists do not go to medical school, they can be taught what to do when a customer appears to be struggling. With training, those working in American pharmacies can intervene and offer up support.

Last week, Walgreens announced that it would provide Mental Health First Aid training for many of its pharmacists and team members. Working in conjunction with the National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), the company’s employees are learning:

  • Mental health literacy.
  • Risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction.
  • Strategies for helping people in crisis and non-crisis situations

The eight-hour Mental Health First Aid course teaches participants how to open up a dialogue with persons who require assistance. More than 1.5 million Americans have undergone training to date, according to the National Council. Walgreens plans to direct over 300 of its team members to Mental Health First Aid courses.

With the growing need for services and resources to help those living with mental health conditions, as well as substance use and addiction, we can play an important role by giving our pharmacists and certain team members the training to help those in crisis,” said Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.

In 2016, the company joined forces with Mental Health America to provide customers with behavioral health resources and information on accessing care. Moreover, the pharmacy giant offers prescription-free naloxone, an overdose reversal drug that saves thousands of lives each year.

Gender-specific Mental Health Treatment

Help is available for all who struggle with mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Hopefully, Walgreens’ initiative will result in more people seeking treatment and recovery services.

PACE Recovery Center’s doctorate and masters-level clinicians can help you or your male loved one acquire the tools to recover. Our team provides clients instruction in managing their symptoms of mental illness so that they may thrive in recovery. We believe that it’s essential that men learn how to balance mental health needs with educational, vocational, and familial responsibilities.

We understand that each client has unique needs. Our clinicians create individualized treatment plans that cater to our clients’ histories and environmental challenges.

Please contact our dynamic, evidence-based extended care center at your earliest convenience to discuss treatment options. You can call 800.526.1851, any time of the day, to speak with an admission counselor and learn more about our specialty tracks.

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