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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Seeking Recovery for PTSD and Addiction

Sometimes the severest wounds are invisible. Such is the case for those who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With Veterans Day on the near horizon, we must start a dialog about the behavioral and mental health disorders that plague many veterans.

Active servicemen and women and veterans are at higher risk of developing debilitating mood and substance use disorders compared to the general public. This is especially true for those who are subject to traumatic events. What’s more, individuals who experience trauma during active duty are apt to turn to drugs and alcohol if they lack the coping mechanisms for healthily dealing with their symptoms.

At Hope By The Sea, we have treated a large number of men and women whose combat service resulted in the development of PTSD and alcohol or substance use disorder subsequently. Mind-altering substances, prescribed or otherwise, can provide temporary symptom relief, but it’s fleeting. What begins as a means of escaping the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression can quickly morph into a co-occurring use disorder.

The good news is that dual diagnoses are treatable, and long-term recovery is possible. However, taking the first step toward healing is challenging for many of the people suffering. Mental illness stigmas and the United States military’s zero-tolerance substance use policies prevent active service members from seeking therapy. Pathologies persist and worsen; they follow men and women right into discharge and retirement.

While the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers support services for veterans and their families, they are not easy to access in many parts of the country. Some people must drive hours to get to the nearest VA hospital, so many will opt to ignore their issues and the problems progress as a result.

Addiction and Co-Occurring PTSD

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: National Center for PTSD reports that PTSD and substance use problems often go hand-in-hand with people who served in the military. The agency presents some startling statistics that cannot be ignored. Below are some of the more notable findings:
  • More than 2 of 10 veterans with PTSD also have SUD.
  • Almost 1 out of every 3 veterans seeking treatment for SUD also has PTSD.
  • The number of veterans who smoke (nicotine) is almost double for those with PTSD (about 6 of 10) versus those without a PTSD diagnosis (3 of 10).
  • In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1 in 10 returning veterans seen in a VA hospital have a problem with alcohol or other drugs.
  • War veterans with PTSD and alcohol problems tend to binge drink (4-5 drinks or more in 1-2 hours).


Seeking Recovery Saves Lives

When individuals live with untreated mental and behavioral health conditions for long periods, their disorders worsen. Some will become frustrated with living in persistent agony and experience suicidal ideations. Sadly, many will follow through with suicide.

Seeking recovery can dramatically alter such people's life course. With help, men and women can learn how to manage their symptoms of PTSD without having to resort to drugs and alcohol. Moreover, they can also adopt a program of addiction recovery at the same time. Research shows that when people are treated for all presenting mental and behavioral health conditions, they stand a better chance of achieving lasting recovery. Failing to treat one disease can set people on a path to relapse at some point down the road.

At Hope By The Sea, we offer help for military personnel and their families too. Substance use and co-occurring disorders can develop in the loved ones of servicemen and women. The anxiety of having a spouse or parent in harm's way can lead some family members to seek unhealthy means of coping.

Southern California TRICARE Addiction Treatment

Men and women who have or continue to serve in the military will be pleased to learn that Hope By The Sea accepts TRICARE. The insurance program extends to veterans, certain reserve members, and their families. If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD and addiction, then please reach out to us immediately to learn more about our programs.

Hope by the Sea meets TRICARE’s extensive criteria for coverage, which means that we adhere to evidence-based treatment methodologies. Please contact us today to verify your insurance coverage, if approved, TRICARE coverage can significantly offset the cost of treatment. Hope By The Sea would like to wish veterans and their families Happy Veterans Day 2019.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Addiction Treatment in Rural America

In Southern California, there is an abundance of addiction treatment options for men, women, and adolescents. It’s home to Hope By The Sea, and scores of other facilities offering similar services. While the plethora of options is a windfall godsend for Californians and those who can afford destination rehab, there are millions of Americans living in rural areas who struggle to access care.

Those who follow the news surrounding the U.S. addiction epidemic know that rural America has been hit the hardest. Men and women living outside urban areas, who need addiction treatment services, struggle to access care. It goes without saying that each day a person is not in recovery, is another day that their life is at risk.

While both federal and local governments have diverted significant sums of money to expand access to addiction treatment services, many individuals have not benefited. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act are two pieces of legislation that authorized billions in funding to address the American addiction epidemic.

One of CARA's provisions is to launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to expand best practices throughout the country. Whereas the Cures Act authorized the money to make treatment programs more accessible, according to Psychiatric News. The law also funded the training of healthcare professionals in best practices of addiction treatment, and to research the most effective approaches to prevent dependency.

Still, more needs to be done to help people access to care in rural America. Fortunately, a new federal grant could provide much-needed relief to people living with substance use disorders in rural Missouri, KCUR reports. The $1.2 million grant is from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Treating Addiction in Underserved Areas

All doctoral students in psychology complete internships in the year before they graduate. The federal grant funds will go to doctoral students in psychology at the University of Missouri to learn to treat and prevent addiction, according to the article.

“This will enable us to give them a little something extra,” said Laura Schopp, chair of the university’s health psychology department. “Any psychologist who is dealing with these chronic health conditions is going to come up against substance use disorders and, particularly, opioid use disorders.” 

The funds will cover the cost of 21 new psychology internships at community-based health centers in rural areas. Psychology interns will be trained in diagnosing mental health problems (i.e., anxiety, depression, and pain) that can lead to substance use and addiction, the article reports. Moreover, they will receive instruction in treating substance use disorders.

Mental health disorders and co-occurring addiction is a common occurrence. Early intervention of mental illness can prevent patients from self-medicating their symptoms. Psychologists can prove to be instrumental in reducing addiction rates in rural America.

“What we hope to do is get in front of that by treating those conditions well and giving people behavioral support on the front end, so they don’t go on to develop opioid use disorder,” said Schopp. “Psychologists have a unique role to play in that we do a great job in pain management, we do a great job at behavioral health change.”

California Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid use disorder, then it is critical to seek treatment immediately. At Hope By The Sea, we help clients break the cycle of addiction, address any co-occurring disorders, and provide tools for leading healthy lives in recovery. Please contact us today to learn more.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Depression: A Treatable Co-Occurring Disorder

Depression and addiction accompany each other frequently. A large number of individuals who seek treatment for alcohol or substance use disorder also contend with major depressive disorder or clinical depression. Those who hope to achieve long-term recovery must have both conditions addressed simultaneously. Treating one condition and neglecting the other increases one’s risk for relapse exponentially.

A co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis – also referred to as comorbidity – is common in the field of addiction medicine. Adults with severe mental illnesses like depression have high rates of co-occurring substance use disorders.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that roughly 50 percent of individuals living with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse. Research indicates that 37 percent of people with alcohol use disorders and 53 percent with substance use disorder also have at least one serious mental illness. In total, 29 percent of men and women who meet the criteria for mental health disorders abuse mind-altering substances.

Addiction can precede the development of a co-occurring mental illness. Conversely, self-medicating to cope with a psychological disorder can lead to dependence and addiction. The order of development varies from patient to patient; however, the important thing is that both co-occurring mental and behavioral health disorders receive concurrent treatment.

National Depression Education and Awareness Month 2019

Many clients who seek assistance from Hope By The Sea for addiction also have co-occurring depression. It makes sense, especially when you consider that an estimated 300 million people around the world meet the criteria for depression. It is the most common mental disorder and is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization(WHO).

October is National Depression Education and Awareness Month. Talking about this most severe disorder and educating the public about treatment is a must. Those living with untreated depression function poorly at work, at school, and in the family.

Such people also contend with suicidal ideations, and the disease is commonly associated with suicide. WHO reports that nearly to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year; it’s is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.

During National Depression Education and Awareness Month, we have an opportunity to share the benefits of seeking treatment with the public. Social media is a useful tool for getting the word out about signs and symptoms of depression. Many people are unaware that the way they feel is linked to depression.

You can help educate and empower men and women struggling with depression to seek support services. Please use #DepressionAwareness with your social media posts.

Criteria for Depression

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), if you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms, then you may be suffering from depression:
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
Please reach out for a professional diagnosis to learn if you can benefit from treatment.


California Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Seeking help for addiction and co-occurring depression is a sign of hope and strength. Please reach out to Hope By The Sea to learn more about our Dual Diagnosis program. Our team of highly trained professionals will develop a customized treatment program to address your specific needs. The miracle of recovery can be yours too.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Mental Illness Awareness Week: Share Your Story

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2019 is underway; it’s an opportunity to take part in the movement to end the stigma of addiction and mental health disorders. Each year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) encourages every American to show more compassion for those suffering in silence.

Stigma forces people to think it is not alright to discuss their mental health issues. The result can be deadly. When men and women can’t be open, then they cannot seek assistance. The road to recovery requires support, and shame stands in the way of people seeking help.

Each American has a vested interest in ensuring that more people seek treatment for mental health conditions. One in five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year; one in 25 U.S. adults experience severe mental illness yearly.

Mental illness is an epidemic; millions of individuals live with the reality of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other forms of debilitating mental disease. Symptoms can make it impossible to function normally in society. People’s issues are compounded by the fact that they are treated differently than others.

When mental illness is left untreated, again the result is often deadly. Thankfully, even the most severely ill individuals can recover with guidance and ongoing support from their family members and their community.

Those who are already working programs of recovery and managing their symptoms through therapy and medication can be beacons of hope for millions more. NAMI is asking men and women in recovery to help with their cause and share their stories.

Stories of Hope during Mental Illness Awareness Week

mental illness
During Suicide Prevention Awareness Month (September), we informed our readers about two useful forums. You Are Not Alone and OK2Talk provides a platform for individuals in recovery to share their experience with mental health disorders.

NAMI invites people in recovery to talk about what has helped them and what has not. When people share, they remind those still suffering that they are not alone and to hold onto hope. If you did not have an opportunity to do so last month, perhaps you will find the time this week to help the movement and effect change.

Sharing your story can take several forms:
  • Prose/poetry
  • Song lyrics
  • Inspirational quotes
  • Drawings
  • Photos
  • Videos
Whichever way you feel comfortable sharing is the course to take. Your words and artwork will be presented online anonymously. NAMI writes:

“You have an authentic voice. You can make a difference for yourself and others by sharing your experiences and perspective. What has helped? What hasn’t? What has been most discouraging about your condition? What has given you hope? There are all sorts of things you know that other people want to know—you are not alone. Let them know that they aren’t either.” 

Stigma can also be combated by sharing valuable information about mental illness on social media. The organization has developed awareness messaging and infographics to help spread the word about treatment and recovery.

Orange County Addiction Treatment

Please reach out to Hope By The Sea if you are battling addiction and co-occurring mental illness. We offer many evidence-based treatment programs that can help you or a loved one find recovery. Leading a fulfilling and productive life is possible for anyone who needs it. Mental Illness Awareness Week can be the ideal time to break the cycle and begin healing.

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