Tag Archives: alcohol

Recovery During Thanksgiving: Maintaining Your Sobriety

recovery

You don't need to have alcohol for a good Thanksgiving. If you are in addiction recovery, alcohol will not only complicate your day, but it will derail your program. With the significant holiday quickly approaching, there are many things you can do to prepare yourself for keeping your sobriety intact and have an excellent time as well.

Men in the first 365 days of recovery are entering the holiday season for the first time. Such people may not fully know what to expect, but it's safe to say that many have some concerns. Some will be around family members this Thursday, which means there may be questions about why they are not drinking.

While your recovery is nobody's business but your own, you may want to think about having something to say for any off-putting questions. Your closest family members may know you are working a program, but others may not. As such, the latter may encourage you to drink or inquire as to why you are teetotaling your way through the celebration.

It is reasonable if you do not feel comfortable divulging information about the path you are on. Having a script in the back of your mind can save you from having to answer uncomfortable questions. It may feel as though you're dishonest when, in fact, you are merely guarding your personal health information.

You can say that you are taking a medication that doesn't mix with alcohol. It's also okay to say that you are working on being healthier and that you are more committed to exercise and diet than drinking. There is a myriad of acceptable responses to explain away your alcohol intake. Talk to your sponsor to discover how they handle unsolicited questions about sobriety.

Recovery Comes First Every Day

Thanksgiving shouldn't be treated differently than any other day of the year. Those who work a program and are committed to a new path understand that recovery must always be priority number one. As the saying goes, 'put your sobriety first to make it last.'

It's challenging to prioritize recovery day in and day out, 365 days a year. However, the task can be even more arduous during the holiday seasons. Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a time of added stress and unwanted emotions. Not everyone looks forward to the holidays, even if they are time for togetherness.

Many people in early recovery associate the holidays with unpleasurable memories. What's more, not everyone in early recovery has their family back in their lives. The thought of not being welcome at the family table can be hard to stomach. Fortunately, you have your support network to spend time with this coming Thursday.

Whenever a holiday comes around, you can rest assured that a member of your support group (homegroup) will be hosting a get-together. If you have not heard anything yet, ask your sponsor or share at your next meeting that you are wondering how others are planning for Thanksgiving. Your support network will be able to guide you on safe and sober ways to occupy your time.

On Thursday, please resist the temptation to isolate and ensure that you make it to at least one meeting. It never hurts to go to multiple meetings during a holiday, either. Do your best to start your day how you would any other day of the year, i.e., prayer/meditation, exercise, a healthy breakfast, reading, or step work. Know what meetings you plan to attend ahead of time!

Protect Your Sobriety

While it's best to spend your holidays in sobriety with other sober people, you may feel obligated to make an appearance at Thanksgiving dinner. People who plan to attend an event that involves alcohol should see if that can bring a friend for support, preferably someone else in the program. If that is not possible, and you still plan to attend, then keep your phone charged so that you can always reach out for help.

It's a helpful practice to show up a little late and leave early from holiday gatherings. Doing so can spare you from being cornered into answering unwanted questions and prevent you from being around drunk people.

You do not owe anyone an explanation for why you are leaving early. It also helps if you can be responsible for your transportation. Those who do not drive can benefit from making preparations to be dropped off and picked up by a friend in the program; this practice is an extra level of accountability.

Once you leave a holiday event, get yourself to meeting to decompress. There may be things that you saw, heard, or felt that need to be processed. At the very least, make plans with friends from your support network to close out the day.

A Safe and Sober Thanksgiving

The Gentlemen of PACE Recovery Center would like to wish everyone a safe and sober Thanksgiving. Never hesitate to reach out for support; always call before your fall. If you experience challenges, such a relapse, get to a meeting ASAP to recommit yourself to the program.

We invite men to contact PACE to discuss your options if you may feel like you need more significant assistance. We are available at any time to answer your questions and help you get back on the road to lasting recovery.

Trauma, PTSD, and Substance Use Disorder

trauma

Trauma can dramatically impact the course of one’s life; if it is left unaddressed, adverse experiences can lead to premature death. A new report on mortality from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that childhood trauma is a public health issue that we must address. The report shows that one in six people across the United States has experienced four or more kinds of adverse childhood experiences or ACEs.

Trauma can take many different shapes: neglect, abuse, familial separation (i.e., adoption), and exposure to mental health or substance abuse problems. Each person is different; an event may be more traumatic for one person than it is for another. There is no way to predict how an experience will influence a young person.

Author Junot Díaz, writing for The New Yorker in a piece titled: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma, said, “Trauma is a time traveller, an ouroboros that reaches back and devours everything that came before.” His writing lays out how an adverse childhood experience influenced everything, from relationships to employment.

In the field of addiction medicine, professionals are acutely aware of the correlation between childhood trauma and substance use and abuse. Paradoxically, many will use drugs and alcohol to cope with untreated trauma, but the practice has the unintended effect of placing such people at risk of being re-traumatized. It’s a vicious cycle, an ouroboros: a snake eating its tail.

Childhood Trauma and Addiction

Traumatic events, at any point in life, can have disastrous consequences like the development of post-traumatic stress disorder. However, when traumas or ACEs occur during one’s formative years, the risk of experiencing more significant problems is much higher. A previous study from the CDC on adverse childhood experiences found:

  • For each ACE, the risk for early initiation of substance abuse increases two to four times.
  • Individuals with three or more ACEs have higher rates of depression, domestic violence, sexually transmitted diseases, and heart disease.
  • Men and women with five or more ACEs are seven to 10 times more likely to become substance abusers.
  • Almost two-thirds of intravenous drug users report ACEs in their history.

Trauma, whether it occurs as a child or in adulthood, must be addressed by professionals. Too often, the lingering effects of trauma are left untreated; PTSD becomes a person’s reality, and self-medication ensues. Drugs and alcohol can provide temporary relief, but the practice places people at risk of developing alcohol and substance-related issues. PTSD and addiction are common co-occurring disorders.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that about one-third of people exposed to trauma develop PTSD. Moreover, 75 percent of people in substance abuse treatment report having experienced abuse and trauma. While men are more likely to be exposed to traumatic events, women are at a higher risk of developing PTSD.

Veterans with PTSD and Substance Use Disorder

With Veterans Day around the corner, we must discuss rampant PTSD and substance use disorder (SUD) in the military. As we pointed out, exposure to adverse events can lead people down a precarious path. If an individual doesn’t receive care and support for their condition, then they are likely to resort to drugs and alcohol for temporary relief.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that more than 2 of 10 veterans with PTSD also have SUD. What’s more, almost 1 out of every 3 veterans seeking treatment for SUD has PTSD as well.

Fortunately, effective treatments exist to address both PTSD and SUD simultaneously. Those who experience trauma as a child or in adulthood, who develop use disorders can and do recover.

We have found that both posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use can be treated concurrently [meaning, at the same time].” — Ronald E. Acierno, Ph.D., Vice-Chair For Veteran Affairs and Executive Director Of The UTHealth Trauma And Resilience Center

Orange County Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

If you are struggling with PTSD, SUD, or both, then please contact PACE Recovery Center at your earliest convenience. We specialize in the treatment of men who face challenges related to addiction and mental health disorders. We offer several different types of programs to serve the unique needs of each client best.

Recovery begins with a phone call or email to an admissions counselor. Please take the first step: 800-526-1851.

Recovery: The Benefits of a Positive Attitude

recovery

Alter your thinking, and you change your life. A positive attitude changes everything and working a program of recovery changes the way you see the world. Recovery is an evolution of the mind that allows men and women to achieve their goals and see their dreams come true.

When men and women begin working programs of recovery, they are starting a life-long process. Many things will change along the way, especially the way one thinks about their relationship to the world. Abstaining from drugs and alcohol is a radical change, and so is adopting a mindset geared toward being of service to others and yourself.

In early recovery, most people are somewhat run-down—exhausted from years of substance use and overall dysfunction. It’s not always easy to put a smile on and maintain a sunny disposition. Working a program isn’t easy at first; it’s often a time of significant discomfort. Most individuals are bogged down by painful memories. As the fog clears, one cannot help but recognize the damage caused by their addiction. There is usually no shortage of regret and shame in early sobriety.

While it’s only natural to be bothered by one’s past actions and behaviors, it’s essential not to use them as excuses for relapse. Each person in recovery has things they wish they could take back or change about their story, but it’s paramount to move past such thoughts. When the time is right, each member of the recovery community will have an opportunity to make amends.

In the meantime, it’s best to continue doing things that are conducive to healing, like finding good in each person and each experience. Today, focusing on the present is what matters most, which means taking time each day to maintain a healthy outlook. Positivity is crucial to long-term progress.

Finding the Good in Early Recovery

The mind of someone in the first year of recovery isn’t the safest place. Addiction is always attempting to regain control. It’s beneficial to stay as busy as possible in the first months and years. The more time you spend trying to make progress, the less time you will spend dwelling on the past.

Changing your outlook on life hinges on doing many things each day to protect and strengthen one’s program. Negative thoughts will not overtake those who establish a routine and stick to it. Attending meetings every day provides you with ample opportunities to practice being of service to your peers. Recovery is a collective effort; just as you need the support of others, they require your help too.

Moreover, it feels good to do kind acts for other people. Even the simplest acts of kindness, such as offering a newcomer a ride home, makes you feel better. When you feel good, you are less likely to want to escape reality. Maintaining a positive attitude is made more accessible by tiny selfless acts of service. The smallest of actions can have a tremendous impact.

If you are in recovery, then it means you are willing to do whatever it takes to heal. This process is aided by trying to find the good or silver lining in each experience. If you fixate on what isn’t going your way, then you are likely to miss something salient. In recovery, you learn that not every day is going to be a walk in the park. When times are challenging, it helps to remind yourself of what is right in your life.

Staying positive takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. Whenever you are feeling sorry for yourself, be reminded by your progress and the people who’ve helped along the way. Draw strength from the Fellowship, let the energy of the group revitalize you in times of darkness.

In time, you will see the good around you and be less bothered by things you can’t control. Find in recovery some higher purpose, and there will be no limit to what you can achieve.

Southern California Addiction Rehab for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of adult males with addiction, co-occurring mental illness, and mental health disorders. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs. Our team of highly trained addiction and mental health professionals can help you break the disease cycle and learn how to lead a positive life in recovery.

Addiction Linked to Trauma: Finding Recovery

addiction

People who struggle with drugs and alcohol share many commonalities. While each person’s story is unique, there are many experiences that men and women in the grips of addiction share.

In the rooms of recovery, it is not uncommon for an individual to hear parts of their story when another member shares. This is because the life events that often precipitate chemical dependency have similar effects on each person’s brain. Not always, some people seem naturally equipped to better cope with adverse experiences, particularly adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Still, a large percentage of people who deal with addiction were subject to traumatic events during childhood.

Children will begin using mind-altering substances after they experience trauma 76 percent of the time, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Scientists have found correlations between growing up in a chaotic household or being separated from parents via foster care or adoption and addiction. When a child’s equilibrium is disrupted, or they lose their sense of security, it can leave lasting impressions on their psyches. They may be unable to develop healthy coping skills for dealing with stress, as a result. Such scenarios can lay a foundation for the development of mental and behavioral health problems in adulthood.

The same can be said for emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; such traumatic experiences are part of many alcoholic’s and addict’s stories. When a child lacks the tools to cope or never receives professional help in the wake of abuse, they are at significant risk of looking for unhealthy means of escape.

Lifetime drug and alcohol use is positively associated with exposure to childhood physical, sexual, and emotional abuse severity, overall trauma exposure, and higher levels of emotional dysregulation, according to the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

From Trauma and Addiction to Recovery

Addiction is a complex disease that develops from many different factors; a combination of nature, nurture, and genetics play vital roles in disease progression. Even when severe trauma isn’t present, it is still possible for a person to develop an alcohol or substance use problem.

Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience,” Dr. Gabor Maté wrote in his 2010 bestseller, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. “A hurt is at the center of all addictive behaviors.”

Fortunately, it is possible to recover from both the lasting effects of trauma and addictive disorders. At PACE Recovery Center, we have worked with many young men over the years who had ACE-related post-traumatic stress and co-occurring substance use disorders. With professional counseling that utilizes evidence-based treatments, each person can achieve lasting recovery.

One young man recently shared about his journey from addiction to healing from trauma and finding recovery. Thrive Global is an organization that helps “individuals, companies and communities improve their well-being and performance and unlock their greatest potential. One of their projects is called From Addict to Entrepreneur. As the name suggests, it involves interviewing people who have overcome their addictions to lead successful, healthy, and productive lives in recovery.

Project creator Michael Dash recently spoke with author and adventure coach Aaron Rentfrew about his traumatic past and struggles with addiction.

Dealing WIth Trauma and Finding Recovery

In a lengthy interview, Rentfrew shares about his addiction and then about his path to recovery. He says that he had a mostly normal childhood until a messy divorce left him in foster care for a year. Then he bounced between homes before finally settling with his mother in the 5th grade.

In middle school, he learned that his suspicions were correct about being molested as a child. The confirmation of abuse was the impetus for Aaron withdrawing from friends and family. He would eventually turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with his feelings; substance use helped him escape.

“What drew me deeper and deeper into my addiction was the untreated trauma from my childhood. It was a gaping wound that left me feeling empty and confused. I had trouble feeling normal without being intoxicated, and this cascaded into a life of constant drug use and abuse. I had to be completely wasted to find balance and a sense of normality.”

After years of substance abuse and heartache, Rentfrew reached out for help from a close friend. He was put in touch with other sober people, and he began working a program of recovery. Of equal importance to confronting addiction, Aaron worked on the trauma.

“I had to deal with the trauma around my childhood, which was the spark that started the fire. I did this by having frank and honest discussions with my parents and seeking to understand the full scope of what happened.”

Through dedication and hard work, Aaron was able to put his life back together and now helps others do the same. He believes that helping someone else with a problem you worked through is the cornerstone of recovery.

Specialists in Adoption-Related Treatment

At PACE Recovery Center, our dedicated team of professionals helps adult men who struggle with addiction and mental health conditions. We have created a unique program for clients whose lives are negatively impacted by the trauma that stems from adoption. Please contact us today if you were adopted and are contending with untreated mental or behavioral health issues.

Depression Impacts People Globally

depression

Depression is a subject matter that we frequently cover because the mental illness takes a deadly severe toll on society. The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that depressive disorders are the number one cause of disability worldwide. More than 300 million people – of all ages – suffer from depression.

While effective, evidence-based treatment exists, those afflicted by depression struggle to access care. Moreover, fewer than half of those affected in the world receive such therapies, according to the WHO. In some countries, fewer than 10 percent get the help they need.

For those able to reach out for assistance, managing the condition will be a life-long mission. Treatment doesn’t cure depression; it teaches people how to cope with their symptoms healthily. Leading a fulfilling and productive life post-treatment typically involves a combination of medication, ongoing talk therapy, and mutual support groups.

Co-occurring alcohol or substance use disorders can complicate depression recovery. As many as one in three adults who struggle with addiction also suffers from depression, the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reports. Recovering from either condition hinges on treating both disorders simultaneously.

People living with depression will often use drugs and alcohol to cope with their symptoms. While alcohol and substance use may dull the symptoms initially, the practice only serves to worsen matters in the long run. The mental illness can be the impetus for developing a use disorder or, at the very least, a contributing factor.

One of the purposes of treatment is to help clients establish healthy techniques for responding to symptoms and thus minimizing their impact. Since scientists have yet to develop a panacea for depression, encouraging more people to seek care is vital.

Depression and Suicide Among Men: By The Numbers

Over six million men suffer from depression in the United States each year, according to Mental Health America. Women struggle with depression more than men, but they are also more likely to seek assistance. As of 2017, 17.3 million adults in the United States experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. Researchers estimate that 15 percent of adults will struggle with depression at some point in their lifetime. Those who do not receive treatment or let up on continued care are at significant risk of self-harm.

Women living with depressive disorders attempt suicide at higher rates than men, but the latter is more likely to succeed. Women attempt suicide more than twice as often as men, but males are four times as likely to die by suicide.

Male suicides have been on the rise over the last two decades; suicide is now the 7th leading cause of death among men.

Men and women living with depression and a use disorder are six times more likely to commit suicide, compared to people who don’t have a co-occurring disease. The link between depression and suicide is clear.

Depression Can Be Deadly

Mental illnesses like depression do not discriminate. A person’s skin color or socioeconomic standing has no impact on who will develop mental health disorders. In recent years, the nation has dealt with the loss of several notable people who struggled with depressive disorders, addiction, or both. While such deaths sent shockwaves of pain across the world and raise many questions in their wake, they are each a deadly reminder of mental illnesses’ seriousness.

The list of famous people who took their own lives following battles with mental illness and addiction is lengthy. Too long to recount in one post or give each case proper attention.

  • David Foster Wallace (2008), American author (Infinite Jest), suffered from depression for more than 20 years.
  • Robin Williams (2014), American comedian and actor, struggled with severe depression before his death.
  • Chester Bennington (2017), American singer and songwriter (Linkin Park), had suffered from addiction and depression.
  • David Berman (2019), American singer and songwriter (Silver Jews) and poet (Actual Air), committed suicide one week ago today after a protracted fight with depression.

David Berman, like David Foster Wallace before him, was known for his ability to write about the pain that accompanies depression. Both his songs and poetry touched countless people who had similar issues. As Sarah Larson writes:

Berman’s music seemed to alchemize pain; by the time it reached us, it had become beauty, wisdom, even humor...He had a gift for articulating profound loneliness in ways that felt deeply familiar, which in turn made you feel less alone.”

Mere days before going on tour to promote his first album in more than a decade, Purple Mountains, Berman took his life.

Depression Recovery Services for Men

You can’t change the feeling, but you can change the feeling about the feeling.” —David Berman

Berman’s fans were fully aware that David had dealt with addiction and depression over the years. However, such knowledge hardly prepared anyone for the troubling news. Hopefully, those who relate with Berman’s issues with mental illness will use this opportunity to seek help or to double down on their current efforts to manage symptoms. If you are unfamiliar with the late poet’s body of work, there is a plethora of material online.

Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you would like to begin the journey of recovery. Our Huntington Beach Mental Health Program for men offers evidence-based therapies and clinical treatments that can help you heal. Our team of dedicated, mental health professionals will help you identify specific recovery goals and achieve these goals while preparing for productive, independent living.

Mental Illness and Alcoholism Plagued Buzz Aldrin

mental illness

On July 20th, 1969, the United States became the first country to put human beings on the moon. In the 50 years since the unprecedented feat, America is still the only nation to achieve what was once thought to be the stuff of science fiction. A half a century later we have mapped more of the moon – an object 238,900 miles away – than we have the human brain. We know more about lunar composition than mental illness; perhaps the human mind, not space, is humanity's final frontier to explore.

One can't help but marvel at the genius and steadfast determination that resulted in the successful voyage of Apollo 11. Countless people worked together to find a way to safely transport Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins from the Earth to the moon and back. The significance of the voyage is unmatched and proof that the sky was not the limit for humankind.

The success of Apollo 11 made the three-person crew instant icons around the globe. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first and second to walk on the moon respectively, became household names. While safely returning home from the lunar walk was likely Aldrin's crowning achievement, it was perhaps not his most arduous journey.

Buzz Aldrin severely struggled with depression and addiction; mental illness ran in his family. Even though he was an active player in the most magnificent odyssey, he reported feeling largely unfulfilled back home on Earth. His depression, like many others, led him to seek the comfort of alcohol, Biography reports. The drinking and untreated depressive symptoms contributed to both professional and personal losses.

Magnificent Desolation: Hopelessness and Despair

Buzz Aldrin's mother, Marion, battled with depression up until her suicide in May 1968—a little more than a year before Apollo 11. Marion Aldrin's father had also battled mental illness and committed suicide. Buzz believed he inherited depression from his family.

In the early 1970s, Buzz did something relatively unheard of when he opened up about his mental health in an LA Times article. Around the same time, Aldrin began serving on the board of directors of the National Association for Mental Health (NAMH). He would eventually go on to become the national chairman of NAMH. At the time, he was traveling around the country, speaking about his experience with depression. However, Aldrin was also drinking heavily and had trouble fulfilling his obligations.

In August 1975, Buzz did a 28-day stay in an addiction treatment center and got involved with Alcoholics Anonymous, Biography reports. Unfortunately, the retired astronaut had a challenging time staying sober despite the support he received in AA.

He was arrested for disorderly conduct after breaking in his girlfriend's door while intoxicated. Having reached rock bottom, Buzz gave up alcohol for good in October 1978.

Buzz Aldrin's journey to free himself of feelings of hopelessness and despair was rocky, but with the support of the fellowship, he was able to overcome. In the years that followed, he helped others who had issues with alcohol find what he had found in recovery. He published two autobiographies, Return to Earth (1973) and Magnificent Desolation (2009), he shares at length about his clinical depression and alcohol use disorder in both memoirs.

Seeking Treatment for Mental Illness and Addiction

Resilience is what humans have and resilience is what humans need to take advantage of—their ability to explore and to understand and then to react positively and with motivation, not as a defeatist, to the constant flow of challenges," Aldrin tells Biography. "Negativity doesn’t get anybody anywhere. It takes reacting to all of life in a positive way to make the most out of what you’ve experienced and to make a better life and a better world."

The Apollo 11 astronaut’s story is unique in several ways, but not his road to addiction and recovery. More than half of people who meet the criteria for alcohol or substance use disorder also contend with another mental illness, such as depression.

When the symptoms of mental health disorders are not addressed, individuals are at higher risk of turning toward drugs and alcohol for relief. Self-medicating mental illness is a path to dependence and addiction. Fortunately, treatment methods have come a long way since the 1970s. Scientists and medical professionals have a much firmer grasp of the mechanisms of mental diseases.

Evidence-based therapeutic treatment approaches help people get to the root of their issues and take steps to lead fulfilling lives in recovery. If you are an adult male who is experiencing problems with drugs, alcohol, or co-occurring mental illness, then please contact PACE Recovery Center. Our gender-specific treatment center gives clients the tools to fulfill their dreams.

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

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.

Addiction Recovery: First Relationships in Sobriety

addiction recovery

Addiction recovery revolves around self-care; tending to physical, mental, and spiritual well-being is paramount. While these facets of working a program are simple in theory, they are challenging to manage in practice, for some.

Each person with a history of addiction understands that the disease, when active, deprives them of being able to lead a healthy life. Soon they begin to grasp that to stay on course will require their vigilance in adhering to a lifestyle that means putting welfare first. Still, many people in early recovery will seek distractions from the cause which can prove detrimental.

The first year of addiction recovery is an unstable period for most individuals; it takes significant lengths of time for the mind to heal. It may take even longer for men and women to trust their decision-making process. Learning to make the next right move, continually, takes practice; and, following the lead of others is especially helpful.

Persons learn to adhere to the various principles of recovery from those who have come before. So, in a sense, addiction recovery is something that is passed down. Newcomers discover how others maintain by attending meetings, working with sponsors or recovery coaches, and listening. There is much to glean from a two-minute share; one might find the solution to a current problem by paying attention.

Some people, with little recovery time, will convince themselves that they are ready to dive back into life at full tilt. It is understandable! After years of being consumed by addiction, many newly sober individuals find themselves with an insatiable hunger for life. While a carpe diem attitude is okay for people without mental illness, those in early addiction recovery benefit from pumping the brakes. Taking on too much, too quickly, is risky.

Keeping Responsibility In Check

Working a program teaches that recovery must come first. Healing and progress are top priorities for all who desire lasting recovery. Unfortunately, many pitfalls and traps can destabilize one’s program. Too much responsibility and romantic entanglements are two of the most significant causes of relapse. Of course, the latter source of trouble can be folded into the first.

Committing oneself to be emotionally available, to be present for a partner, is a significant responsibility. Along the road of addiction, many men and women never experience or forget the look of a healthy relationship. What worked (or didn’t) while using is unlikely to be helpful once in recovery. It’s probably fair to say that most people in recovery didn’t know what a wholesome relationship looked like before finding sobriety.

While working a program enables people to strive for non-toxic romance, it is not a guarantee. Removing drugs and alcohol from the picture, alone, does not provide people with the tools necessary for being in a nourishing partnership. Such skills come about through working the steps with a sponsor and continued sobriety. Many people discover that there are codependency issues that must be worked out before being in a committed relationship.

Males and females must engage in how to be responsible and accountable to their recovery, first. Relationships ask a lot of individuals, tending to the needs of others cause one to neglect their own. While the comfort of another human is always lovely, those who seek it in early recovery risk jeopardizing their program.

Ideally, those seeking romance will have a strong support network in place and have a fair amount of clean and sober time. Moreover, those who wish to be romantic also benefit from having worked all the steps beforehand, significantly.

Pets, Plants, and Romance in Addiction Recovery

There are many divergent opinions about relationships in early recovery. "The Big Book" does not specify an exact length of time to wait before becoming involved. However, sponsors often encourage sponsees to work the steps and wait a year. The year rule can also apply to other aspects of life; waiting a year before taking on notable obligations is helpful, too.

Some sponsors say that if a person can nourish a plant, then maybe they can handle a pet. If they can tend to a pet, then perhaps they can sustain a relationship. The object of attention isn’t as vital as the ability to manage its needs.

Men and women in early recovery may balk at such advice, but there is wisdom behind the suggestion. Taking care of a plant, for instance, can be beneficial to well-being in more ways than one. Katie Wheeler, a Seattle-based illustrator, has some informative thoughts about rearing plants.

Her cartoon, appearing in The Washington Post, lays out her thoughts in a simple way that anyone can understand. Tending to plants is about “caring for something and feeling satisfied to see it thrive.” One can apply the lessons laid bare in Wheelers illustration to multiple areas of life. She writes:

Every morning I have the same routine...There are a lot of plants in my house, hiding on every bookshelf and table...And they all require special care. If this sounds like a lot of work. It really isn’t. It’s almost like meditation. I’m grateful for the distraction their care provides, the silence before my brain whirs into gear, listing my obligations for the day. It’s very grounding, to care for something and watch it grow. It reminds me to take a moment for myself and acknowledge my own needs.”

Gender-Specific Addiction Recovery Center

Addiction recovery is a process; steps are taken to ensure continual progress each day. Hopefully, people in early recovery will recognize the value in holding off on taking on too many obligations. Slow and steady is a mantra worth repeating when feeling impatient. It always helps to remember that others have dealt with similar wants and desires. Whenever you are unsure, it’s best to defer to the guidance of individuals who have more time in the program.

At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in helping young men establish and adopt routine, structure, purpose, and accountability. The environment we offer allows men to develop lasting connections with other men in recovery. What’s more, our gender-specific treatment center mitigates the risk of clients facing romantic distractions. We invite you to contact us today if you are an adult male who is ready to make the journey toward lasting recovery.

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