Tag Archives: recovery

Recovery Writing: Keeping a Journal Improves Your Mental Health

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Mental health and physical health are of the utmost importance to people in addiction recovery. Anything you can do to boost your mental wellbeing and physical fitness will significantly improve your outlook on life. In recovery, a positive attitude changes everything.

Improving your physical health usually comes down to introducing exercise and a healthy diet into your schedule. If you completed an addiction treatment program, then you were probably advised to prioritize healthy living.

It’s likely that your counselors and clinicians shared with you the benefits of eating right and physical fitness. They probably explained that physical health and mental health are linked. Since people in early recovery are healing, they must do whatever they can to expedite the healing process.

Hopefully, you make a point of eating healthy foods and exercising three to five times a week. The latter does not require that you go to the gym; daily 30-minute walks can go a long way towards improving your fitness. Those who make fitness a priority feel better and thus are better able to maintain a positive attitude.

If you are working a program of recovery, then you know how vital it is to stay positive. Getting down on yourself or harboring negative emotions towards yourself and others will not benefit your recovery.

Naturally, there are several ways that you can bolster your mental health, aside from healthy living. Attending meetings, sharing, and working with a sponsor help to process your emotions productively. Such behaviors will help you manage and cope with stress in nondestructive ways.

There are also activities you can do at home that will aid you in achieving your goal of long-term recovery. Take journaling, for instance, those who journal benefit immensely from the practice.

Keeping a Journal in Recovery

Working a program of recovery teaches you ways of navigating the stressors of everyday life. Stress, as you well know, can derail your recovery if it is not managed in healthy ways. Coping with the obstacles of daily life is not easy for many people in early recovery. As such, men and women in sobriety must adopt practices that can aid in stress management.

You probably go to a meeting or call your sponsor when you are stressed out; bottling up negative emotions is detrimental. However, you may not always be able to catch a meeting or get a hold of a trusted peer. If you have a method for processing what is bothering you when you are alone, then you can keep stress from triggering you and prevent cravings from developing.

Journaling is an effective method of dealing with things that are bothering you. Those who journal are able to gain perspective and insight on how to navigate a challenging situation. What’s more, you do not have to be an excellent writer to benefit from writing, and there isn’t one way of journaling your thoughts.

Addicts and alcoholics in early recovery have many thoughts racing through their heads. They also are still contending with the wreckage of their past, which can lead to negative emotions and stress. Jotting down how you are feeling and the root of it can help you chart a course toward a more positive outlook.

It’s important to distinguish that journaling is not keeping a diary, which is good news for men who may feel like writing about your feelings is not a masculine activity. Many men in recovery journal every day, and it has no impact on masculinity. What’s more, journaling could be boosting their physical fitness.

Journaling Can Boost Your Immune System

F. Diane Barth, a psychotherapist in New York City, wrote a fascinating article on the subject of journaling for NBC Think recently. Barth discusses the myriad of benefits that can come from journaling. Besides boosting your mental health, Barth cites studies that indicate journaling may impact one’s physical health.

Barth, a licensed clinical social worker, points to two different studies that show that journaling is beneficial to the immune system. The belief is that journaling reduces stress, which boosts the immune system, therefore improving your physical health. Diane Barth writes:

The conclusions drawn by both studies were that daily writing about emotionally significant experiences can improve our immune system, probably in a way not totally different from exercise, which is by reducing the chemicals that stress releases in our bodies.

One study, published in JAMA, involved participants who are living with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis. The other study included HIV-infected patients.

As we pointed out above, journaling is helpful for any gender. Barth mentions in her piece that John D. Rockefeller, General George Patton, and Winston Churchill kept journals. It’s fair to say that all three men dealt with enormous amounts of stress at different points in their life.

At PACE, we encourage you to give journal-writing a try when next you feel stressed. If you are already keeping a daily journal, then keep it up as you continue to strengthen your recovery.

California Gender-Specific Mental Health and Addiction Treatment

Are you or a male loved one contending with a mental health disorder, alcohol or substance use disorder, or a co-occurring disorder? If so, please reach out to PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our various evidence-based programs for men. We can help you begin the journey of healing and provide you with the tools to achieve lasting recovery. Please call 800-526-1851 if you have any questions and to discuss treatment options.

Recovery Requires Compassion, Tolerance, and Giving Back

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Tolerance, compassion, and giving back to the recovery community will help you on your path toward progress. At this point in your addiction recovery, you probably know that you cannot make the journey alone; this is especially true if you have completed an addiction treatment program.

If you are attending meetings, then you have seen men and women working together to keep their diseases at bay. You have probably also seen countless acts of compassion like people with more time extending their hand to the newcomer. Making those with short lengths of sobriety feel welcome and safe increases the likelihood that they will stick around.

When you first got to the rooms, you were welcomed with open arms. You saw there was a seat with your name on it and a fellowship that was happy to see you, even though you were a stranger. If you stuck around, got a sponsor, and worked the steps, then you had ample opportunity to develop relationships with your peers. The members of your homegroup are hopefully good friends and acquaintances by now.

Men and women working a program learn the value of compassion and tolerance towards others. They also understand that they must show the same to themselves; people who beat up on themselves for making mistakes or the wreckage of their past have trouble staying the course.

There is a saying in the rooms, look for similarities, not differences between you and your peers. It is exponentially more comfortable to be compassionate and tolerant of others if you adhere to the above principle.

Compassion and Tolerance Allows You to Give Back

Judgment has no place in the rooms of recovery. Each person has their own story, but everyone shares the common goal of lasting progress. When you avoid being judgmental of yourself and others, it is much simpler to maintain a positive attitude. As we say at PACE Recovery Center, a positive attitude changes everything.

If you attend a lot of meetings, then you will come across individuals who are not your cup of tea, and that is alright. You do not have to foster relationships with everyone in the rooms, but you must afford each person compassion and tolerance if you hope to get the same. 12 Steps programs are not religious, but remembering the "Golden Rule" is beneficial. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Remembering the Golden Rule will help you approach each person from a place of kindness and acceptance. It will allow being a pillar of strength with those who have less time than you. Giving back to the community and helping newcomers is why 12 Step recovery has help people stay clean and sober for nearly a century.

Having worked all the Steps and with an established footing in recovery, it's time to start giving back. You cannot keep what you have if you do not give it away. What does giving back look like? Giving back means sponsoring others, volunteering your time at meetings (i.e., service commitments), and always being there for a fellow member of the community.

Everyone is equal in the rooms of recovery, but the newcomer is of particular importance. Helping them achieve milestones will strengthen your recovery. The 12th Step is not a finish line; it's the beginning of a new chapter, one that involves paying it forward and carrying the message.

Helping Others in Recovery

Long-term recovery is possible because men and women work together to make personal progress. Protecting your progress will hinge on your willingness to give back and walk others through the steps. Your continued success in the program depends on being a model for all who enter the rooms in the grips of despair.

Walking up to a newcomer and saying hello lets them know that they are not alone, that they've come to the right place. Inviting a newcomer to grab a coffee so that you can learn more about them, lets a newcomer know that someone cares. Your compassion could be a catalyst for a newcomer to keep coming back.

Sitting down with someone who has less time than you could lead to sponsorship. If you have worked all the Steps, then you know what to do; you can turn to your sponsor if ever you are unsure about something. So goes the process of recovery; it's a chain reaction that enables millions of people to achieve long-term recovery.

Southern California Addiction Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of men who are struggling with addiction and mental health disorders. Please contact us today to learn more about our evidence-based programs and begin a life-changing journey of recovery. 800-526-1851

Recovery Re-Evaluation: Your Lifestyle Matters

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Re-evaluating your lifestyle from time to time is essential for making sure you remain on track in early recovery. It’s easy to slip back into old ways of thinking that you learned to rid yourself of in treatment. Before you know it, you can find yourself associating with people who are not beneficial to your continued progress.

In addiction treatment, everyone learns that achieving long-term recovery hinges on doing away with people, places, and things that run counter to your program. It can be hard to say goodbye to old friends and acquaintances, but cut off ties you must to prevent relapse. You learn that staying away from places that can trigger a relapse is also beneficial, as well as anything that can cause you to crave a drink or drug, i.e., no longer listening to a particular band.

Once out of treatment – whether you move on to sober living or returning home – you were instructed to get to a meeting and find a sponsor immediately. Mutual support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous is a great place to start; meetings are ideal locations for fostering healthy relationships and finding a person to walk you through the steps.

Over time one gets comfortable. Having an established routine and following the direction of others with more time makes you feel secure in your recovery. You also benefit from acquiring a deep bench of support comprised of peers who you can count on for assistance if you are struggling. Members of your deep bench also replace your old using buddies; they are the people who you call if you want to have a good time.

Is Your Lifestyle Congruent With Your Recovery?

Unfortunately, many people in early recovery forget how important it is to stick close to their support network both inside meetings and out. Some will feel the urge to re-establish contact with old friends because they feel like their program is strong. They may also start visiting places from their past because they think they can handle being around substances without being tempted to use.

Such behaviors are risky, and if one does not re-evaluate their changes in lifestyle, they can find themselves with a drink or drug in their hands. It’s not just risky people and places that can be the impetus for a relapse. Changing the meeting routine or spending less time with your support network can impact your ability to make progress. Feeling like you no longer need to check in with your sponsor regularly can also be a sign that recovery is losing its priority.

In treatment, you may have begun eating healthier and exercising helps nourish your mind and body. Perhaps you continued to eat right and exercise after discharge. If so, that is excellent, but it’s paramount to stay on track with healthy living. Deviating from your diet and workout routine is a change in lifestyle that could lead to issues down the road. Anything that you do that is not beneficial to your recovery can send you back into the cycle of addiction.

Periodically checking in with yourself to see if you are still leading a recovery-first lifestyle is crucial. Relapse is a process, not an event! Indeed, picking up a drink or drug again after a period of abstinence is an event, but the journey to relapse starts long before one decides to jeopardize all their hard work.

Is Your Recovery Still a Priority?

Have you started to drift away from your support network or stopped calling your sponsor? Are you still going to meetings or therapy sessions? Have you put your dietary and physical fitness needs on the back burner? Lastly, have you begun associating with people who are at odds with your recovery? If any of the above rings a bell, then we strongly advise you to re-evaluate your lifestyle changes and consider how paramount your recovery is in achieving your goals.

It’s much simpler to get back on track before a relapse than it is after. If recovery is still your number one priority, then please call your sponsor or a trusted peer and ask them for guidance. Such conversations may reveal to you that you’ve become complacent about your program and that perhaps you’ve forgotten the fragility of early recovery.

Please know that you have the ability to identify any program deviations and get back on track toward achieving your long-term goals. You have the power to “play the tape forward” and ask yourself, “What happens if I start using again?’ You will probably quickly realize that a return to active addiction is the last thing you want in life.

Southern California Addiction Treatment for Men

We invite you to contact PACE Recovery Center if you are an adult male who is currently in the grips of addiction. PACE also invites the family members with a male loved one who is battling with the symptoms of a behavioral or mental health disorder to reach out to us for help. We offer several programs that are specifically designed to cater to the unique needs of each client.

Our team is available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have and help you get the ball of addiction or mental illness recovery in motion. 800-526-1851

Addiction Recovery: Protecting Your Progress

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The annual Monitoring the Future survey indicates that teen alcohol, tobacco, and illicit hard drug use is on the decline. However, the decade's old survey found U.S. teens are vaping more marijuana and nicotine than a year ago. The latter is concerning, and these individuals may be putting themselves at risk of developing addiction down the road.

Some 14 percent of 12th graders reported vaping marijuana in the last month, which is almost double what was reported in the previous year. As we have pointed out in previous posts, marijuana use in one's teenage years can lead to cannabis use disorder in the future. The condition can severely impact the course of young people's lives.

While tobacco may be considered more benign regarding harming the mind, it can do severe damage to the body. Tobacco and nicotine use is associated with several forms of cancer and life-threatening disease. There is not enough research yet to determine the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. Experts have diametrically opposing opinions on the dangers of electronic nicotine devices.

The recent findings have prompted lawmakers to raise the age of buying nicotine products from 18 to 21 years old. The move has bipartisan support among congressional lawmakers, and the White House seems to be behind raising the legal age limit too, The Washington Post reports. Public health advocates support the move, but they are not sure that it goes far enough.

While raising the age to 21 is a positive step, in this case, the tobacco industry supports it to avoid other policies — like removing flavors from e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes that would have a much greater effect," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Nicotine Addiction and Your Recovery

Preventing teenage vaping and nicotine initiation is vital to keeping young people off the path toward addiction. Experts stress that nicotine and THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana, can wreak havoc on developing minds. Moreover, both substances are addictive, and teenage use exponentially increases one's chances of developing use disorders in the future.

We wrote last week about making resolutions for 2020; the subject was how to be a more positive person in recovery. We hope you had a chance to read the post as we believe that following some of our recommendations could enhance your recovery. Protecting your sobriety is of vital importance. Did you know that nicotine can increase the likelihood of relapse?

Research published last year found that people in recovery who use nicotine products are more likely to return to drug and alcohol use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that cigarette smoking might increase the likelihood of SUD relapse because:

  • Cigarette smoking often accompanies illicit drug use, and cigarettes may serve as a drug cue and relapse trigger.
  • Some studies have linked nicotine exposure to cravings for stimulants and opiates.

So, if you are working a program of addiction recovery and are still using nicotine products, then perhaps a realistic 2020 resolution can be smoking cessation. Working a program takes tremendous effort, and you can benefit from removing from your life anything that can jeopardize your hard-fought progress.

At PACE Recovery Center, we understand that giving up nicotine is challenging. However, there are many resources available to help you achieve the goal. Talk to your physician or call your state's tobacco hotline for help quitting. 2020 could be the year that you free yourself from nicotine addiction and strengthen your recovery.

Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment

Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you are an adult male in the grips of alcohol or substance use disorder. We offer many programs that can help you get on the path to long-term recovery, and to lead a healthy and positive life. We provide several programs designed to meet the specific needs of each client.

At PACE, we also offer services for men who are battling mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. We invite you to phone us today to learn more about our evidence-based practices and begin the journey of lasting recovery. You will also be pleased to know that PACE works with and accepts most insurance carriers. 800-526-1851

Recovery Goal 2020: Being More Positive

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Christmas and Kwanzaa are now behind us, Hanukkah is drawing toward the end, and New Year’s Eve is quickly approaching. At PACE Recovery Center, we hope that everyone in recovery has managed to keep their program secure.

The holiday season is difficult for men and women in sobriety—no matter how much time you have clean and sober. Those who are able to avoid relapse during this emotional time of the year are the individuals who keep a positive attitude and always put their recovery first.

Placing your program before all else means prioritizing meetings and Step work, being of service, and steering clear of risky situations. Men and women in early recovery should stay away from people, places, and things that could trigger a desire to use. The first year is a fragile time, which is why it is vitally critical to stay close to your support network.

With New Year’s Eve on the horizon, we hope that you are making plans for bringing in 2020 safe and sober. Here is Southern California, parties litter the coastline on December 31st; you may find yourself tempted to attend one in your neighborhood. We strongly advise that you make inquiries at your home group about recovery-focused New Year’s Eve gatherings.

People in recovery are not sticks in the mud, and they thoroughly insist on having a good time. What’s more, members of the recovery community understand that one of the best ways to prevent relapse is to stick together. So, after you attend your meetings for the day, get yourself to a place where others in recovery will be celebrating the beginning of 2020.

A More Positive Year in Recovery

At PACE Recovery Center, we remind our clients that a positive attitude changes everything. While we understand that early recovery is daunting, one must do all they can to put their best foot forward.

It’s not always easy to maintain a sunny disposition when you have to face troubling aspects of your past. However, it’s possible to clear your mind of negative thoughts and replace them with things that make you happy.

Remember that the past is behind you; there is nothing that can be done to change what has already happened. If you spend too much time focusing on the negatives of yesterday, it will hinder your ability to make progress, both inside treatment and out.

With a new year brings the promise of achieving novel goals; one realistic and achievable resolution is being more positive. There is a myriad of methods for realizing the goal of being a more positive person. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Being of service to others.
  • Making daily gratitude lists.
  • Introducing a meditation routine into your days.
  • Getting outdoors as much as possible.
  • Being kind to yourself.

Putting Positivity Into Practice

In recovery, there is no shortage of opportunities for being of service to others. Showing up early and leaving meetings late will give you time to talk to newcomers. Showing care and compassion will make you feel better. Before and after meetings also allows you an opportunity to help set up and break down a meeting. You don’t need to have a service position to be useful to your homegroup.

Gratitude is essential to addiction recovery; being grateful for the helpful things and people in your life is invaluable. In 2020, make lists of what is right in your life as often as possible. It helps to see on paper all the people who support you on the path to recovery. When you remind yourself that you are not alone, it enables you to maintain a more positive disposition each day.

Meditation is a proven method of leading a more positive life. There are many resources online to help guide you in this area. Those who meditate feel more grounded throughout their day and are better able to shut out negative thoughts.

Being mindful for just a few minutes a day teaches us that everything changes, making it easier to have hope in dark moments,” explains Jo Eckler, PsyD. “This will also help strengthen your practice of observing—but not always giving into—the negative thoughts your brain likes to conjure.”

Spending more time outside, even for just short intervals, is exceptionally beneficial. Nature has a way of giving us perspective on things that are bothering us. If you are feeling stressed, then pause and walk outside; it will likely make you feel better.

No matter what is happening in your life, be kind to yourself. We all make mistakes but beating yourself up with negative self-talk will not help. Work the problem!

Recovery 2020

We invite adult men to contact PACE Recovery Center if you have an alcohol or substance use disorder. Our dedicated team of behavioral and mental health professionals can also assist men who have a co-occurring mental illness. At PACE, we offer programs for individuals who are not struggling with drugs and alcohol but are plagued by mental health disorders, such as depression.

Please reach out to us today to learn more about our services. We can help you bring in the New Year with healing and recovery and get on the path toward a more positive life.

Recovery Specialists are Needed in America

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At PACE Recovery Center, we like to do our best to focus on uplifting aspects of addiction recovery. We want to share stories about individuals who have risen from the depths of despair and gone on to lead productive lives in sobriety. Unfortunately, there are times when we would be remiss if we didn’t share startling statistics about young people in America. Hopefully, by doing so, we can encourage lawmakers and the public to effect change.

A new study shows that death rates from suicide, drug overdoses, liver disease, and other causes rose over the past decade for young and middle-aged adults, The Washington Post reports. The research – published in the Journal of the American Medical Association – indicates that overall life expectancy in the United States has fallen for three consecutive years.

In the field of addiction medicine, we are acutely aware that the U.S. is in the midst of an unprecedented addiction epidemic. What’s more, mental health conditions such as depression affect a significant number of young people. To make matters worse, only a small percentage of the millions of affected people receive evidence-based treatment like that which we offer at PACE.

It’s [death rates] supposed to be going down, as it is in other countries,” said the lead author of the report, Steven H. Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. “The fact that that number is climbing, there’s something terribly wrong.”

Woolf points out that the American opioid epidemic, not surprisingly, is a driving force in the decrease in American life expectancy, according to the article. Tens of thousands of adults die of overdoses each year, but overdoses are not the only culprit in the decline. Mental-illness related suicide is playing a significant role as well.

Opioid Workforce Act

opioid workforce act

Efforts to increase access to evidence-based therapies for mental and behavioral health conditions saves lives. There is a problem though; there is a dire shortage of physicians trained in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain medicine.

When Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) learned that approximately 21 million people needed treatment for a substance use disorder in 2018, they decided it was time to take action, Forbes reports. The lawmakers were even more troubled when the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) informed them that only 11 percent of the 21 million were able to access treatment that year.

In response to the staggering treatment disparity, the lawmakers conducted a review that found part of the problem was the lack of trained physicians equipped to help people with mental and behavioral health disorders. In an effort to effect change, Senators Hassan and Collins authored a bill that aims to “provide Medicare support for an additional 1,000 graduate medical education (GME) positions over five years in hospitals that have, or are in the process of establishing, accredited residency programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain medicine.”

Introduced this summer, the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019 has already garnered the support of 80 organizations.

As we grapple with the devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic, we know that hospitals need more doctors trained in addiction and pain management in order to treat substance misuse and prevent patients from becoming addicted to opioids in the first place,” said Senator Hassan. “Dartmouth-Hitchcock and hospitals across the country are engaged in cutting-edge research and life-saving efforts to combat substance misuse, and my bipartisan bill with Senator Collins will help ensure that these hospitals have the resources that they need to create and expand their addiction prevention and treatment programs.”

California Opioid Use Disorder Recovery Treatment

The fact that the American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, and the American College of Academic Addiction Medicine are behind the Opioid Workforce Act is beneficial. The secured support should help both lawmakers get the bipartisan piece of legislation through congress. When combined with the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act, we may finally be able to reign in this most deadly public health crisis.

If you are a young man who is struggling with addiction, co-occurring disorders, or any mental illness, then please contact PACE Recovery Center. Our gender-specific treatment center offers many evidence-based programs that can help you turn your life around. Our clients benefit from working closely with master’s- and doctorate-level clinicians, psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists. We invite you to reach out at any time to speak to our admissions team about how PACE can help you or a loved one. 800-526-1851

Recovery and the American Opioid Epidemic

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At PACE Recovery Center, we are hopeful that you were able to make it through Thanksgiving without incident. As we have pointed out previously, the relapse rate tends to elevate during significant holidays. If your addiction recovery was compromised, we understand how you are feeling.

Hopefully, you have already discussed your relapse with your sponsor or a trusted peer. It’s difficult to admit that you slipped up, but it’s essential to get back on the road to recovery immediately.

The shame and guilt that accompanies relapses can be paralyzing; such feelings tend to prompt people to continue using even though they know where it leads. Please do not let relapse morph into an active cycle of addiction.

You are not alone; many people experience a relapse in early recovery. What’s salient is that you quickly identify as a newcomer, talk with your sponsor, or a trusted peer, in private about what happened.

A relapse is not the end of the world, and it can be used as a valuable learning experience. Choosing to go with the opposite route, keeping the matter to yourself, will restart the cycle of addiction. This path may result in you needing to return to an addiction treatment center for more intensive assistance.

We hope that you navigated Thanksgiving without incident, but if you didn’t, then you are at a critical juncture. You have to decide whether you are going to be honest, or let the disease re-exert control over your life. Naturally, we hope that you choose the former. If you do not, then please contact PACE Recovery Center to discuss your options. We have helped many men get back on the road toward lasting recovery following a relapse.

An Exposé On The American Opioid Crisis and Recovery

For the remainder of this week’s post, we would like to take the opportunity to share a timely exposé about the opioid epidemic. While progress has been made in recent years in reining in the scourge of prescription opioid abuse, millions of Americans continue to struggle.

One publication that has dedicated significant resources to shine a light on this deadly public health crisis is The New York Times (NYT). Over the last two decades, the newspaper has published scores of articles covering practically every angle. Everything from how opioids became ubiquitous in America to legislation aimed at tackling the problem has been covered in recent years.

A couple of days ago, NYT released an article titled: “The Class of 2000 ‘Could Have Been Anything.’” At first glance, the title may be nebulous in meaning and appear to have little to do with the opioid epidemic.

Dan Levin covers American youth for The Times’ National Desk. He recently took a close look at one high school class that graduated right as the prescription opioid epidemic began to take hold of communities across America. Now twenty years later, Levin found that many of Minford High School’s Class of 2000, in rural Minford, Scioto County, Ohio, continues to wrestle with opioid use disorder.

There is much to unpack in the article; the author focuses on a select number of students who came of age in town that leads Ohio with fatal drug overdoses, drug-related incarceration, and neonatal abstinence syndrome rates. The students share how they were introduced to opioids in high school, and about how addiction changed the course of their life.

In 2010, Scioto County led the state in the number of opioid prescriptions— enough opioids were prescribed to give 123 pills to each resident.

A Devastating Toll, but Signs of Hope

While several students would succumb to their opioid use disorder, there are others who are now on the road to recovery. Jonathan Whitt became addicted to prescription opioids when he was 16; by 28, he was using heroin intravenously, according to the article. Whitt said that he was incarcerated many times and went to rehab on numerous occasions before choosing a new path. Today, Whitt has four years clean and sober.

The consequences started happening in college. By this point I was physically dependent on OxyContin, but it was very easy to tell myself, ‘I don’t do crack, I don’t shoot up.’ That messed me up for a really long time.” — Jake Bradshaw, Milford Class of 2000

Jake Bradshaw has been in recovery since 2013, the article reports. He is the founder of the “Humans of Addiction” blog. Today, Mr. Bradshaw works in the addiction treatment industry.

There are many more individuals who are highlighted in the story, and we encourage you to read the article at length. The two Milford alum are examples that recovery is possible, even after years of misuse and addiction. It’s critical to remember that the opioid epidemic is still in full force. Efforts to curb this most severe public health crisis are essential.

Since the Milford students graduated in 2000, some 275 people have died of an overdose in rural Scioto County, Ohio. Moreover, in excess of 400,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses across the country since the turn of the century.

Addiction Treatment for Men

Addiction recovery is possible for any man who desires it, but the first step is reaching out for support. Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you are one of the millions whose life has become unmanageable due to opioid use disorder. Our team utilizes evidence-based therapies to give men the tools for leading a productive, positive life in recovery.

Recovery During Thanksgiving: Maintaining Your Sobriety

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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.

Addiction Affects the Entire Family

Across the country, thousands of families have had to watch as an addiction epidemic stole their loved ones. Each time a young person falls victim to an overdose, it’s worth remembering that he or she is someone’s child. For every tragic story we hear about in the news, there are countless mothers and fathers nobody has heard of who are desperate to see their child find recovery.

When a teenager or young adult is in the throes of addiction, parents will go to extraordinary lengths to intervene. It is never easy; accepting assistance for addiction is something that many young addicts and alcoholics will resist initially. Mothers and fathers will try any number of actions to persuade their children to seek help. However, if a person is not ready to break the cycle of self-defeating and self-destructive behavior, then there is little anyone can do to affect change.

When a son or daughter refuses to seek treatment for an alcohol or substance use disorder, it is heartbreaking. Parents must stand back and wait until their child has finally had enough, or hit rock bottom, so to speak. Some will try tough love in the hope that if they no longer provide financial support, he or she will come to their senses about recovery sooner. However, sooner is a nebulous word; years of estrangement can pass before a person is ready to surrender.

In the interim of active addiction and recovery, some parents will look for support and guidance on the internet. Social media provides an outlet for sharing about the struggles that accompany loving an addict or alcoholic. Mothers and fathers share tips and guide one another on ways to help facilitate getting a loved one into recovery.

Mother Raises Awareness About Son’s Addiction

When a mother sent out a plea for help on Facebook, she had no way of knowing the response of support she would receive. Jennifer Salfen-Tracy of St. Charles County, Missouri, is the mother of an addict. Her son Cody had been struggling with heroin and methamphetamine at the time of her candid post, according to 5 On Your Side. Jennifer Salfen-Tracy posted:

The face of heroin and meth...... is reality for so many people and families in this world today. This may be long so i apologize. For my family and friends who know me know that my oldest son Cody Bishop is suffering from his addiction. I am hesitant on sharing but many people ask how things are going so I feel I should share. I have learned along this path that so many people and families deal with the same heartache but just do not talk about it...”

Cody was homeless at the time of his mother’s post; she did not know where he was and had not heard from him in a while. The post has more than 60,000 shares and 30,000 comments. She updated the post and added before and after pictures of her son; the images capture the toll that drugs take on the human body. In the update she wrote:

This is not just A problem that my family faces but almost everyone knows someone who has A drug/ heroin addiction. I pray for strength for those suffering and healing for their families and friends. FYI.... these pictures were taken 7 months apart. That is how fast someone is effected.... let’s get ahold of this issue America and help eachother. Thanks again for everyone’s love and support.”

The viral post, while shocking to see and challenging to read, has a silver lining to it. Salfen-Tracy announced in an update that “Cody Bishop has been found and [is] currently in a rehab facility where he is starting his road to recovery.” She also created a Facebook page so that anyone interested can chart his progress in recovery: Cody Bishop’s Road to Recovery.

Salfen-Tracy’s decision to reveal her family’s struggle with addiction was a brave act. It is helpful in multiple ways. The more we discuss the realities of addiction as a society, the better able we are to show compassion and encourage other young men like Cody to seek assistance.

Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment for Adult Men

Deciding to reach out for support is not simple, and it takes an enormous amount of courage. Those who do decide to make drastic changes and break the cycle of addiction can go on to lead fulfilling and productive lives. If you or an adult male loved one is struggling with addiction, then please contact PACE Recovery Center.

We offer several innovative, evidence-based programs that help clients get on the path to long-term recovery. We are available 24-hours a day to answer your questions and to help begin the treatment process.

Mental Illness Alerts on HBO and the “It’s OK” Campaign

mental illness

Talking about mental health is paramount; we need to have discussions about mental illness to combat stigma and encourage people to seek treatment. Historically, Americans have shied away from conversing about mental health disorders, sweeping them under the rug in hopes they will disappear. However, with one in five American adults facing the realities of mental and behavioral health problems, we can no longer ignore this public health crisis.

Right now, millions of Americans are suffering in silence from mental illnesses; such individuals feel isolated and alone in their struggles. Many have trouble relating to their peers at school and at work. When individuals feel apart from society, they are more likely to engage in self-defeating and self-harming behaviors.

Connection is the key to keeping mental illness at bay; those who feel disconnected will often use drugs and alcohol to escape their feelings. The practice can lead to dependence and addiction, and self-medication puts people at risk of overdose. Conversely, when individuals feel like they have support and compassion, they can find the courage to take action and seek treatment.

Several recent national observances have highlighted the need for having conversations about mental and behavioral health disorders. As we pointed out last week, October is National Depression Education & Awareness Month. Campaigns to raise awareness about mental health get more people talking about the benefits of compassion and how it gives people the strength to seek help.

Advocating for mental health in the 21st Century goes beyond annual awareness campaigns. A number of companies are doing their part to open up discussions about mental illness. Television and streaming networks are among those who hope to encourage people to seek treatment and recovery.

HBO Tackles Mental Illness Stigma

The premium network HBO has a history of creating programs that deal with sensitive subjects. Several HBO documentary series have helped raise awareness about addiction and treatment in America.

HBO Shows like In Treatment and, more recently, Euphoria are two examples of series that deal with mental illness and addiction. The hit show Girls touched on mental health disorders as well; the main character Hannah struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Tony Soprano of The Sopranos battled anxiety and panic attacks. The network understands the importance of featuring characters in their shows who face the same problems as millions of Americans.

HBO has a new initiative to get more people talking about mental illness and encourage struggling men and women to reach out for support, The New York Times reports. The “It’s OK” campaign will involve beginning certain shows – that deal with mental health – with an alert that points out the challenges a character is facing.

The campaign will not only apply to new shows; the alerts will be applied retroactively to older shows like The Sopranos, according to the article. The alerts will conclude with imploring viewers who require assistance to reach out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

We are not saying ‘viewer discretion is advised,’” Jason Mulderig, HBO’s Vice President of Brand and Product Marketing, said in a statement. “We are saying ‘viewer conversation is encouraged.’”

In conjunction with “It’s OK,” the network is releasing a series of videos called “Doctor Commentaries.” The short videos feature Dr. Ali Mattu, a clinical psychologist, unpacking specific show scenes that deal with mental health disorders. The first episode is available; Dr. Mattu examines OCD in the show Girls. Please take a moment to watch below (please be advised, there is some adult content):


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

California Addiction and Mental Health Treatment Center

It’s a promising sign that HBO is committed to the awareness and destigmatization of mental health issues. Other streaming services like Netflix added disclaimers to their programs that deal with mental illness and suicide. Providing resources before and after shows that focus on mental illness can encourage men and women to seek assistance.

Please contact PACE Recovery Center if you are an adult male who is struggling with behavioral or mental health disorders. Our gender-specific treatment center can help you begin the healing process and teach you how to lead a healthy and fulfilling life in recovery. If you meet the criteria for mental illness and a co-occurring substance use disorder, we offer a dual diagnosis program that treats both conditions simultaneously.

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