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The Importance Of Relapse Prevention In The Recovery Process

Those new to recovery need to learn to handle the stress of everyday life in order to avoid relapse and maintain their sobriety. At PACE Recovery Center we believe in integrating a wide array of therapeutic modalities in order to address the unique and individualized issues that our clients face.

Stress is a normal reaction to the demands of life and for those newly sober it is vitally important to learn to identify and manage stress in order to minimize the potential for relapse. At PACE we implement an evidence-based cognitive-behavioral approach to relapse prevention with the goal of identifying and reducing high risk triggers which could lead to substance abuse, anxiety, or depression. Our treatment team helps each client to identify potential high-risk situations and focus on developing specific coping skills designed to help the client live a balanced and positive life free of addiction.

At PACE’s California drug and alcohol rehab each client learns a variety of stimulus control and “urgemanagement” techniques as they develop their own unique relapse prevention plan. It has been found that an individual who can implement an effective coping strategy when craving or impulses occur is less likely to relapse compared with a person lacking those skills. It is for this reason that we believe in targeting the underlying behavioral health issues and place great importance on each client developing the necessary skills which will lead to long-term abstinence.

For more information on relapse prevention please view Relapse Prevention: An Overview of Marlatt’s Cognitive-Behavioral Model published by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Drug Abuse And/Or Dependence: Signs And Symptoms

PACE Recovery Center’s rehab in California staff is often asked by parents, children, spouses, siblings or friends: “How can I tell if my loved one is abusing drugs?”  We thought it would be helpful to provide the National Counsel on Drug Addiction and Dependence (NCADD)‘s article as a informational resource:

Signs and Symptoms Drug Abuse and/or Dependence**


Warning Signs:

The use and abuse of drugs are serious issues that should not be ignored or minimized and we should not sit back and hope they just go away. If left untreated, use and abuse can develop into drug dependence. As a result, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug abuse early. If you’re worried that a friend or family member might be abusing drugs, here are some of the warning signs to look for:

1. Physical and health warning signs of drug abuse

  • Eyes that are bloodshot or pupils that are smaller or larger than normal.
  • Frequent nosebleeds–could be related to snorted drugs (meth or cocaine).
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
  • Seizures without a history of epilepsy.
  • Deterioration in personal grooming or physical appearance.
  • Injuries/accidents and person won’t or can’t tell you how they got hurt.
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
  • Shakes, tremors, incoherent or slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination.

2. Behavioral signs of drug abuse

  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school; loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports or exercise; decreased motivation.
  • Complaints from co-workers, supervisors, teachers or classmates.
  • Unusual or unexplained need for money or financial problems; borrowing or stealing; missing money or valuables.
  • Silent, withdrawn, engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors.
  • Sudden change in relationships, friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies.
  • Frequently getting into trouble (arguments, fights, accidents, illegal activities).


3. Psychological warning signs of drug abuse

  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude.
  • Sudden mood changes, irritability, angry outbursts or laughing at nothing.
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.
  • Lack of motivation; inability to focus, appearing lethargic or “spaced out.”
  • Appearing fearful, withdrawn, anxious, or paranoid, with no apparent reason.


Signs and symptoms of Drug Dependence:

Drug dependence involves all the symptoms of drug abuse, but also involves another element: physical dependence.

    1. Tolerance: Tolerance means that, over time, you need more drugs to feel the same effects. Do they use more drugs now than they used before? Do they use more drugs than other people without showing obvious signs of intoxication?


    1. Withdrawal: As the effect of the drugs wear off, the person may experience withdrawal symptoms: anxiety or jumpiness; shakiness or trembling; sweating, nausea and vomiting; insomnia; depression; irritability; fatigue or loss of appetite and headaches. Do they use drugs to steady the nerves, stop the shakes in the morning? Drug use to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms is a sign of addiction.In severe cases, withdrawal from drugs can be life-threatening and involve hallucinations, confusion, seizures, fever, and agitation. These symptoms can be dangerous and should be managed by a physician specifically trained and experienced in dealing with addiction.


    1. Loss of Control: Using more drugs than they wanted to, for longer than they intended, or despite telling themselves that they wouldn’t do it this time.


    1. Desire to Stop, But Can’t: They have a persistent desire to cut down or stop their drug use, but all efforts to stop and stay stopped, have been unsuccessful.


    1. Neglecting Other Activities: They are spending less time on activities that used to be important to them (hanging out with family and friends, exercising or going to the gym, pursuing hobbies or other interests) because of the use of drugs.


    1. Drugs Take Up Greater Time, Energy and Focus: They spend a lot of time using drugs, thinking about it, or recovering from its effects. They have few, if any, interests, social or community involvements that don’t revolve around the use of drugs.


    1. Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences: They continue to use drugs even though they know it’s causing problems. As an example, person may realize that their drug use is interfering with ability to do their job, is damaging their marriage, making problems worse, or causing health problems, but they continue to use.

**Reference: “Signs and Symptoms” NCADD. N.p.,n.d. Web 20 May 2013

Study: ADHD Teens More Likely To Have Substance Abuse Problems


An eight-year study of more than 600 teens has found that those diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have a much higher prevalence of substance abuse and cigarette use than those without ADHD. Teens being treated for ADHD are not less likely to have substance abuse problems than those who are not being treated, the research revealed.

ADHD teens are three times more likely to experience significant problems with their substance abuse than those teens who do not have the disorder.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and six other health centers across the United States studied 600 children over eight years from their childhood through their adolescence. The participants were examined for their patterns of substance abuse and for how their ADHD medications affected their substance abuse.

More Likely to Smoke Cigarettes

Some of the study’s findings included:

  • 35% of ADHD students had used one or more substances, compared to 20% without ADHD.
  • 10% experienced significant substance abuse problems, compared to 3% without ADHD.
  • By age 17, almost 13% reported marijuana abuse or dependence, compared to 7% without ADHD.
  • 17% were daily cigarette smokers, compared to 8% without ADHD.


Medications Not a Factor

The study found that both groups – those with and without ADHD – experienced high rates of alcohol use. Significantly, the researchers found that teens who were being treated with ADHD medication had similar substance abuse rates compared to teens who were not being treated at all.

The researchers are still not sure what teens with ADHD are more likely to experience substance abuse during their adolescence, but they speculate that “impulsive decision making, poor school performance, and difficulty making healthy friendships,” are contributing factors.

Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

You can read the abstract of the study which was published online December 28, 2012: Adolescent Substance Use in the Multimodal Treatment Study of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (MTA) as a Function of Childhood ADHD, Random Assignment to Childhood Treatments, and Subsequent Medication.


Addiction Treatment: The Benefits Of Group Therapy

Group treatment provides many benefits to those who may be in addiction treatment. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) stated in 2008 that “people who abuse substances often are more likely to remain abstinent and committed to recovery when treatment is provided in groups.” SAMHSA indicates that those in addiction treatment benefit from identification, affiliation, confrontation, support, and gratification which can be provided in the context of group treatment. And it has been found that group counseling is effective at addressing “depression, anxiety, isolation, denial, shame, temporary cognitive impairment, and character pathology.” These factors and the benefits provided by group treatment appear to provide an excellent opportunity to provide effective and efficient treatment to those in addictions treatment.

Intensive Group Psychotherapy at PACE Recovery Center


Group therapy session at PACE

PACE Recovery Center recognizes that Group therapy has been a core aspect of drug and alcohol addiction recovery for several decades, and it has proven to be very effective. Clients that participate in group therapy have a higher rate of accountability regarding their own behaviors. Members of these groups are able to challenge irrational belief systems by sharing similar struggles and solutions. PACE Recovery Center recognizes the importance of our Clients learning to develop relationships that are meaningful to help promote long term-sobriety. Working in group therapy is a great way to experiment with new behaviors. Clients can try new ways of thinking and relating in a safe environment before going out into the real world. Suffering from addiction and behavioral health issues can create a sense of loneliness. Participating in group therapy allows individuals to develop healthy relationships and challenge old self-defeating thoughts and behaviors.

SAMHSA outlines efficacy of professionally lead groups

Professionally lead groups offer those in addiction treatment:

  • Peer support and pressure to abstain from substances of abuse
  • Groups reduce the sense of isolation which is often associated with addiction treatment
  • These groups enable those in treatment to witness the recovery of others

At PACE Recovery Center we understand clients who are able to observe others as they cope with stressful situations are then better able to integrate these observations into their own lives. These groups provide hope, support, and encouragement to the individual in substance abuse treatment.

Additional information available…

If you would like to read more about this topic, we invite you to read Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy, available from The National Center for Biotechnology Information. 

Meet Sean Kelly: PACE Recovery Center Case Manager

At PACE Recovery Center, we believe in empowering our clients to fulfill their own particular dreams. We believe that a Positive Attitudes Change Everything. Our trained staff assists our clients in identifying their own specific goals, and helping them achieve them.

Today we would like to introduce our readers to Sean Kelly, a Case Manager here at PACE.

Sean Kelly, CDC, RRW

Sean began working in the treatment field as an interventionist in 1995. He is a Chemical Dependency Counselor with a specialization in Mental/Co-Occurring Disorders. Over the last 17 years, he has helped hundreds of individuals seek treatment from drugs and alcohol. Sean is a proven expert in coaching individuals who are resistant to change seek long-term recovery. It is his hands-on approach that is most valuable to the Clients at PACE Recovery Center. Sean’s gentle demeanor creates an environment for the Clients to connect with feelings and vulnerabilities that have prevented them from maintaining sobriety. Sean is also a Marine who proudly served our country. It is this background that helps him teach the Men of PACE Recovery Center how to accomplish goals, create discipline, and develop accountability.

Sean’s own personal struggle with addiction allows him to meet the Clients where they are at in their own recovery, and help guide them on their recovery journey. Sean is an active member in the recovery community. His philosophy is to treat people with love, dignity and respect. It’s this mentality that allows him to create an alliance, which allows for the therapeutic process to take place between him and his Client. This relationship empowers the Client to gain the skills necessary to recover from drugs and alcohol.

Sean studied at Centaur University to become a certified Chemical Dependency Counselor.

How Long Should Addiction Treatment Last?

Often we are asked how long a client should undergo treatment in order to address their addiction issues. There is no set answer to this question and at PACE Recovery Center we believe that each individual is unique; but, it has been found that at least 90 days of treatment is required in order to address an addiction issue. Individuals progress through drug addiction treatment at various speeds and research has shown that good addiction treatment outcomes are contingent on adequate lengths of treatment. It has been found that participation for less than 90 days has limited effectiveness and that treatment lasting longer than 90 days is often required to facilitate the recovery process.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): “Appropriate time in treatment depends on the type and degree of a person’s problems and needs. Research tells us that most addicted people need at least 3 months in treatment to really reduce or stop their drug use and that longer treatment times result in better outcomes” (NIDA, 2012).

It is for this reason that PACE Recovery Center has developed an individualized treatment program that targets the underlying behavioral health issues while providing addiction treatment that will translate into long-term sobriety for each client. Our approach is to incorporate a variety of different proven therapeutic modalities in an individualized treatment plan designed to address both the substance abuse issue and underlying behavioral issues that may leading to substance abuse.

Three Tips To Maintain Your Sobriety During The Holiday Season


The holidays are a time for celebration and joy but for many recovering alcoholics and addicts there can be unforeseen relapse triggers. The following is a list of tips which can help you maintain your sobriety while enjoying the season.

    • Holiday Parties – Take a sober friend with you and always make sure to have your own transportation. This will allow you to have support and provide you with a safe and reliable means of leaving the party if you become uncomfortable. Bring your own non-alcoholic beverage and practice what you will say if an alcoholic drink is offered. Responses such as “I am not drinking tonight” or “I don’t drink anymore” are good things to say that can help to reduce any anxiety you may experience when you are offered a drink.


  • Take Care of You – Make sure to eat regularly and get enough rest. Watch for depression or anxiety and make sure to utilize any support systems you have in place. Attend extra meetings, talk with your sponsor, or speak with your counselor about any issues that arise. Use the program slogan HALT to remember not get to hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.



  • Help Others – Helping others makes us feel good and is an important part of the recovery program. There are many ways to help others during this time of year for instance you could participate in a toy drive, volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or attend more meetings.


These tips can help you to identify and avoid relapse triggers and maintain your sobriety during the holiday season.  Wishing you a peaceful and healthy holiday season.


Meet Lisa Lipton, LMFT: PACE Recovery Center Therapist

Lisa Lipton, LMFT

Here at PACE Recovery Center we are very proud of our treatment team.  Today we would like to profile Lisa Lipton, LMFT.

Lisa Lipton is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, with over twelve years of counseling experience helping teenagers, young adults and their families.

Lisa’s undergraduate degree was obtained at California State University Northridge, receiving a B.A. in Psychology. Lisa attended Phillips Graduate Institute in Encino, California, where she graduated with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Working for an outpatient non-profit organization for six years provided Lisa with the opportunity to work with a dual diagnosis population, addressing both substance abuse issues and mental health disorders.

Lisa’s experience working at a Therapeutic Boarding School for children and youth ages 10-16 for three years, as a Treatment Coordinator and Therapist, has given her residential placement and milieu knowledge. Co-facilitating Parent Seminars and Family Workshops, to help families have a better understanding of the challenges their children face, were an integral part of the healing and recovery process.

In addition to writing numerous articles, Lisa is presently a part-time adjunct professor at Woodbury University, teaching a course on Marriage & Intimacy.

Being married and the proud mom of a five year old son brings a personal perspective to her work. One of Lisa’s favorite past-time is to hike the beautiful trails of California with her two little Pomeranian dogs Hercules and Samson.

Positive attitude changes everything…

Orange County’s Recovery Community Continues to Grow at an Exponential Rate…

Orange County, California, has one of the most prominent recovery communities in the world, and with over 1500 AA meetings per week, it’s no wonder so many people choose Orange County as their new found safe haven. There are thousands of people with long-term sobriety that are readily available to be mentors and examples to those that are currently struggling with addiction.

Whether it’s because awareness of addiction is ever increasing, or the new age of prescription drugs is bringing kids into treatment at a younger age, the young population of Orange County is also growing. With organizations like AOCYPAA (All Orange County Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous) overcoming the struggles of addiction is becoming more fun and less of a sentence to boredom. For example, AOCYPAA is hosting a Halloween dance party on October 27th of this year. Clients at PACE Recovery Center have access to this vibrant recovery community.

Not only does Orange County have an unparalleled recovery community, this unique location also has every activity imaginable; from surfing and water sports, to skiing and snowboarding less than an hour away. After a stent of economic turmoil, the economy of Orange County is getting better and the job opportunities are immense. Overall, this is one of the most ideal areas in the world to get sober and with the support and camaraderie of a sober community unlike any other, we are confident that anyone will be pleased with their decision to get sober here.

NAMIWalk Orange County 2012 Great Success


PACE participated in the 2012 NAMIWalk Orange County on Oct 6, 2012, 7:30am in Huntington Beach, CA. The walk was a great success! So far this year the NAMIWalk Orange County has raised $121,682, and donations will be accepted until December 1, 2012.

The NAMI walk is one of the largest and most successful fundraisers for mental health awareness in America. NAMI’s main goal is to ensure that people suffering from mental disorders get the help that they need.

The Men of PACE understand that participating in service work is part of a solid recovery program.

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