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Friday, May 19, 2017

Connecting With Nature In Recovery

higher power
Memorial Day is just around the corner. On May 29, 2017, people all over the country will come together to embrace the start of summer and rejoice. The summer months are great opportunity to reconnect oneself with nature, giving you an opportunity to work on reflection, meditation and prayer. Three things that for people working programs of recovery can do to improve their connection with a higher power.

At Hope by The Sea, in sunny Southern California, we know first-hand the awe-inspiring beauty of both the ocean and the mountains to the east. On any given day, this summer you can go out into nature to work on yourself, both physically and spiritually, either by yourself or with others in your support network. One of the most important goals in recovery is balance. Achieving homeostasis!

Active addiction is marked by chaotic solitude, because drugs and alcohol cut you off from the spiritual nature of existence. That is, something greater than yourself. Addiction is self-will run riot, one is convinced that they are in command of all things under the sun. When in fact, there are far stronger forces governing the dynamics of life. In recovery, one's relationship with a higher power is the glue that holds everything together.

 

The Light of Recovery


With the dark clouds of winter at our back, we strongly encourage you to get out into nature and work on the spiritual connection of life. Some of the best places to accomplish this are on hikes or sitting quietly on the beach, away from the constant drone of everyday life. Free from crowds and car horns, ringing phones and the like.

In some ways, it is hard to hear yourself think indoors or on city streets. But in the great outdoors all those hindrances fade away. You can dig deep into your soul to remind yourself of everything for which you are grateful. See the progress you have made; and humble yourself to the spirit of life governing all things beautiful and meaningful.

Invite some of your peers along for the journey. One can draw much insight from friends in your support network. Experiences together are almost always richer than those undergone alone.

 

Finding Hope


The summer may also be a good time for people that are still using to turn the page and start a new chapter. One free from the bondage of self. Please contact Hope by The Sea to learn how to achieve the miracles of recovery. What better time than now.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Memo: Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Return

mandatory minimum sentencing
Treatment is the answer. Jail and prisons only make the problem of drug use and abuse in this country worse. Health experts and a significant number of lawmakers all agree that draconian drug sentencing laws have long served to disenfranchise certain demographics, particularly the impoverished and racial minorities. Trapping people in a system that is next to impossible to extricate oneself from actually serves to encourage recidivism.

People who serve time for one drug offense, who do not receive any form of substance use disorder treatment are far more likely to return to jail after release. Steel bars do not deter addiction, a mental illness that cares little about punishment. Over the last decade, we have seen a major shift in thinking regarding the efficacy of mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

 

Nonviolent Offenders Sentencing Reprieve


In 2013, then Attorney General Eric Holder ordered federal prosecutors to avoid specifying the amount of drugs involved in a particular case when charging low-level and nonviolent drug offenders, Politico reports. Judges were allowed to exercise discretion with the length of sentences handed down, rather than relying on arbitrary sentencing rules.

The change in thinking that led to such a directive came in the wake of the worst addiction epidemic in American history. When it became ever so clear that addiction does not discriminate, evident by the broad spectrum of people affected by opioid use disorder—both individuals and families alike.

Complementing the apparent paradigm shift regarding mandatory minimums, the former White House administration reviewed thousands of cases where lengthy sentences were given to nonviolent drug offenders. Hundreds of offenders were given a second chance, some of whom had been serving life sentences for the crime of poverty and addiction. More times than not, such people were not in a position to afford a good defense.

Between various mandates from the federal government and the enactment of laws designed to treat addiction rather than punish it, things seemed to be looking up. However, there is evidence that the federal government may be sliding back to old thinking. And with it, a call to honor mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

 

Attorney General Memo


Last Thursday, a memo was sent out from the office of the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, ordering federal prosecutors to return to mandatory minimum sentencing practices for all future cases, according to the article. Sessions said that altering mandatory sentencing practices should not fall to the Executive Branch, but rather to Congress.

The memo comes at a time when comparison is needed more than ever. People are dying, children growing up without parents and families are being destroyed. Not surprisingly, people have begun to speak up about the AG's memo, people who understand that such practices do more harm than good.

"The Justice Department’s expected shift to prosecuting and incarcerating more offenders, including low-level and drug offenders, is an ineffective way to protect public safety," said Brett Tolman, a U.S. Attorney for Utah under President George W. Bush. "Decades of experience shows we cannot arrest and incarcerate our way out of America’s drug problem. Instead, we must direct resources to treatment and to specifically combating violent crime. This will help law enforcement do our jobs better.”

 

Treatment Now, More Than Ever


If you are still in the grips of active drug addiction, a new possession charge could mean doing serious time behind bars, once again. Treatment works, and Hope by The Sea can help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction and, in turn, mitigate the risk of spending years in jail for the perceived “crime” of addiction. Please contact us today.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Hepatitis C Cases Increase Dramatically

hepatitis C
People who use drugs intravenously put themselves at great risk. The IV method of drug use is the surest way to experience an overdose. That is not to say that you cannot overdose from opioids via oral use, just that IV users are at a greater risk. To be sure, loss of life from overdoses in the United States has highlighted the importance of tackling the American opioid addiction epidemic. It is so easy for people miss-dose or to not have all the facts regarding what it is they are putting in their body, such as heroin mixed with fentanyl, a drug nearly hundred times stronger than morphine. In other cases, fentanyl is being disguised to look like OxyContin pills, a favorite brand opioid among abusers.

Even without an overdose, intravenous drug use can be a slippery slope towards premature death. Those who engage in the most dangerous form of drug use are also at great risk of developing other life threatening health problems. As is evident by the reports in recent years of both HIV and hepatitis C outbreaks across the country, sometimes in some of the most unlikely of places—such as the state of Indiana, et al.

Such outbreaks could have been easily avoided in the richest, most powerful country in the Western World. Every intravenous drug user is aware of the risks of sharing hypodermic syringes, yet acquiring clean needles is still a real challenge in place hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. Faced with the option of withdrawal or potential contraction of a virus, the mind of an addict in the grips of it will often throw caution to the wind and reuse a syringe

 

Hepatitis C On The Rise


A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found almost a tripling of new hep C cases between the years 2010 and 2015, CNN reports. In 2010, there were 850 new cases of the deadly illness reported. The number of new cases is 2015 reached 2,436, and those most likely to contract the liver damaging disease were 20- to 29-year-olds. In 2014, more people died from hepatitis C than at any time.

"These new infections are most frequently among young people who transition from taking prescription pills to injecting heroin, which has become cheaper and more easily available in some cases," said Dr. John Ward, an author of the new report and director of the division of viral hepatitis at the CDC. "In turn many -- most, in some communities -- people who inject drugs become infected with hepatitis C."

The agency points out that the true number of new cases is actually much higher, according to the article. Due to the fact that the early stages of the illness do not always reveal symptoms, prompting people to continue doing what they are doing—potentially spreading the disease. The CDC estimates that new cases in 2015 were likely closer to 34,000.

 

Getting Screened


It is crucial that states realize that needle exchanges do not promote drug use, they save lives. If you are still using drugs of any kind intravenously, or have recently begun working a program of recovery, it is vital that you are screened for both hepatitis C and HIV. The earlier the conditions are detected, the sooner you can begin treatment to mitigate the damage caused by such illnesses. If you are still using, we strongly encourage you to seek help at treatment center.

Withdrawing from opioid addiction is extremely difficult and the best chance of seeing it through to the light of recovery is greatly increased with the help of medical detox. Please contact Hope by The Sea today to break the cycle of addiction.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Obstacles to Addiction Recovery

recovery
Addiction recovery is a simple program with dynamic elements. It requires that people adopt a new way of living and changing how one looks at all things. To be sure, giving up drugs and alcohol is life-changing to say the least, especially after years of use and abuse. People new to recovery often have a sensation of nakedness, they have lost their protective armor. Mind-altering substances give people a false sense of armor, shielding you from how things affect you. Now, without the prophylactic properties of chemicals, one must stare life directly in the eye.

At first, recovery seems impossible. To have to feel everything that life throws at you head-on, without any sort of damper, can seem untenable. However, in time one realizes that the program keeps you safe. When troubles arise in life, you are not alone. You have your “higher power,” sponsor and peers in recovery to process the trials and tribulations of life without having to resort to behaviors that will ultimately make matters far worse.

If one is being honest with them self, and others, there isn’t any obstacle that can’t be traversed if one subscribes to the tenets of recovery. And practices the principles of the program in all their affairs. It is always hard at first, but trust what you hear from those who have been in the program longer, ‘this too shall pass.’

 

Obstacles to Recovery


When one begins the life-saving journey of addiction recovery abstaining from drugs and alcohol may seem like a “no brainer.” They were the symptom of your disease that precipitated you being brought to your knees. But it is not always cut and dry. When it comes to mind-altering substances in recovery there are, both fortunately and unfortunately, a few gray areas—particularly with respect to nicotine.

While products like cigarettes are in fact addictive and deadly, not many will associate them with life becoming unmanageable. An assessment that is not without at least some merit. However, that does not mean that tobacco is constructive to building a new life in recovery. Nicotine is a drug, one that people turn to when they are stressed to “calm one’s nerves.” They also can be used to burn up idle time, or fulfill an oral fixation. For drug addicts and alcoholics, cigarettes or other nicotine products are typically the last thing to go. The last bastion of one’s disease, holding on to just one more release.

If you were to ask people who have been in the rooms of recovery for a while they would probably say that nicotine is relatively benign. On the other hand, cigarettes can also be viewed as another defense mechanism of one's disease. While early recovery may not be the time for some to address their relationship with tobacco, it should be at some point. It isn’t easy, but it is possible and will likely strengthen your program.

 

Stubbing Out Addiction


Setting the negative health consequences of tobacco aside, there is convincing research about nicotine increasing recovering addicts and alcoholics risk of relapse. Giving up everything at once may be too much of a shock to the system, but once you feel a little more comfortable in sobriety it is strongly advised that you address nicotine. Please note, that people who smoke are not guaranteed to relapse, but clear associations have been made. Which is why many addiction professionals encourage clients and patients to give everything up in treatment, where you are free from the temptations of the outside world.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact Hope by The Sea. We can help you recover from substance abuse and any co-occurring mental health disorders that are impacting your life.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Addiction Recovery Amidst An Epidemic

addiction recovery
There isn’t anything pretty about addiction. A disease of the mind that carries with it, if it could be summed up in one word—loss. The list of virtues the condition can strip from an individual is incredibly long; Authenticity, Self-Respect, Dignity, Commitment, Responsibility and Accountability are several examples. A lot of addiction recovery, on the other hand, is a return to probity. When the smoky haze of intoxication recedes from one's brain while in treatment, one can begin to reconnect with what one values most about themselves. The side of your soul that your friends and family loved about you before the death spiral of addiction took its course—attributes which drugs and alcohol stole from you on the short or long road to self-destruction.

Recovery is a difficult process on various levels. It requires you to take a close look at things that are painful. In order to recover, one must walk back up a snow blanketed mountain of wreckage that the avalanche of addiction left in ruins. And to chart a path to the summit where the sunlight of the spirit can once again shine upon you, help is required. Assistance from others who have made the trek before, but know if they do not go back down and guide others then they cannot keep their place at the top. Obstacles will be a part of the journey, but with support and commitment to be honest with yourself and others, one can prevail.

A key component to addiction recovery is opening one’s eyes and mind, taking a telescopic look at the damage done. Aside for that incurred on one’s self. The wreckage of years of dishonesty and a lack of accountability. Many people consider what their disease took from them early on in recovery; loss of career, home, financial security and any number of personal possessions. Certainly, those losses when added up will leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth; however, the most painful deficits and hardest to get back are the relationships. Substance use devoids a person of partners, friends and most importantly family. To take it one painful step further—their children.

The list of people harmed by your addiction will likely vary in length, depending on how many years were defined by alcohol and drug abuse, but even a short list can be daunting to address. What’s more, some amends cannot be made in words, only by one’s visible action after having made a commitment to honesty, accountability and responsibility for one’s actions.

 

Children of The Poppy


Time to put metaphors aside. As you well know, we have been in a stranglehold of an epidemic for two-decades. The result of an over-reliance on prescription opioid painkillers for all things pain (and not) and a scourge of heroin abuse that is arguably a byproduct of rampant painkiller abuse. The media is mostly fixated, and for good reason, on overdose death rates and a serious lack of resources to help addicts find recovery. But there is an even darker side, or heavier cost to millions of Americans abusing opioids, children who for all intents and purposes are castaways in the sea of epidemia. Generations of children and teenagers growing up without one or both parents, to be raised by relatives or worse—the State.

The findings from the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau showed that there are 2.7 million grandparents and other relatives raising grandchildren in America and 430,000 in foster care. To be sure, not every one of those kids are wards of people other than their parents because of opioid addiction, but there are many who believe that there has been a serious increase, because of rampant abuse across the country. Anecdotal evidence certainly supports such claims, according to CNN. School administrators in the State of Kentucky have witnessed a steady increase of grandparents or other relatives seeking social services and counseling for kids who lost parents to opioid addiction.

Grandparents, who just a decade ago would have said that retirement was a forgone conclusion regarding their golden years, are thinking again. In some cases, grandparents are raising multiple children. Sandra and Michael Flynn of Kentucky are two grandparents who have found that to be the case, when the state asked if they would assume custody of their daughters five, yes five, children ages 16 down to 6, the article reports. The Flynn’s have been permanent custodians for the last six years, assuming guardianship just after their daughter gave birth to twins.

"They were born addicted," said Sandra. Likely referring to the condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) i.e., acute opioid withdrawal. 

While the Sandra and Michael have reservations, they have begun the process of arranging with the court to allow “strict, supervised visits” contingent on passing drug tests. One must remember that most of the children are likely too young to comprehend the neglect they were subject to and are interested in meeting their mother for the first time.

 

The Realities of Addiction Recovery


There is no way of knowing if the Flynn’s daughter will manage to live a life free from substances. Or adopt the tenets of recovery. But, assuming she does:

"She will never have unsupervised visits," said Sandra. "We have worked too hard to get the kids in a good place." 

One of the main takeaways from the Flynn’s case is that while addiction is guaranteed to take everyone and everything from a person, recovery cannot guarantee that you will get back everything you lost. But that is not an excuse to keep dying in living addiction. One can still have a role in their child's life, even if they do not see or regain custody of their children. What's more, there are no certainties in life. Wounds can heal, living amends can be made. And there is just no telling what blessings working an honest program of recovery will bestow upon those willing to take the steps. One need only sit in a 12-step meeting to hear about the miracles of recovery.

If your life has been turned upside down by opioid addiction, please contact Hope by The Sea. Recovery is the hardest journey you will ever take, but it is also the most important one you will ever set upon.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mayday: Talking About Mental Health

Mental Health Month
Every day millions of Americans come together in rooms of recovery across the country to share their experience, strength and hope. People with varying lengths of sobriety and/or clean time rely on each other to live one day at time without picking up a drink or a drug. When one member is having a difficult time, they give what they are going through up to the group, and by doing so feel a sense of relief by getting it off their chest. What comes back in return from the group is oftentimes guidance in getting through the particular issue, potentially averting someone from exacerbating the situation by doing something that makes the situation worse.

There is a great chance that if you are having an issue, somebody else has gone through the same thing or something similar. Everyone may be unique in their own way, but when it comes to the symptoms of the disease of addiction (i.e. how one thinks and acts in response to such thoughts) people often go through the same types of issues. Both inactive addiction and active recovery.

While 12-Steps programs have the word anonymous in the various organization's titles and what is said in the rooms is intended to stay there (for a multitude of reasons), more and more people have become willing to share their experience with society, with the hope that maybe what they say will resonate with others who have not been able to find the strength to seek assistance. Feeling less alone in one’s disease can be a catalyst for change.

Addiction is one of several debilitating mental health disorders that can be hard to talk about because of stigma. The harder it is for someone to talk about, the more likely it is that they will attempt to keep what they are going through hidden, thus preventing treatment. When it comes to mental illness, an inability to reach out for help can be deadly.

 

There's Power in Sharing


Mayday is an international distress signal. So, it should come as little surprise that the month of May is Mental Health Month given that people with untreated mental health disorders are truly in distress. The organization, Mental Health America, is asking everyone to join them “in spreading the word that mental health is something everyone should care about.”

In addition to providing a toolkit to help individuals and organizations spread the word, you can also take to social media to talk about what #mentalillnessfeelslike. You never know how your story might help someone that is still in the grips of any form of mental illness, including:
  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • PTSD
If you are in recovery for addiction or a co-occurring mental illness, you know the courage it takes to surrender and reach out for help. Observing Mental Health Month could help countless people who are in a similar predicament.

 

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment


At Hope by The Sea, many of our clients who are working a program of addiction recovery have a co-occurring mental health disorder. We know first-hand what can happen if both forms of mental illness are not treated concurrently. Our program is designed to treat both conditions so that one does not undermine the other on the difficult road of recovery.

If you are struggling with drugs and/or alcohol, there is a good chance that other pathologies may be at play. Our skilled team of doctors, psychiatrists and therapists work to assess the whole patient, so that no stone is left unturned, concealing a problem that could lead to relapse down the road. Please contact us today to begin a life of recovery.
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