Personal Responsibility and Recovery

9 Nov

Personal Responsibility and Recovery

Over the years of helping people it has become apparent that one very core issue in the recovery process is accepting personal responsibility for oneself and one’s actions. Although it is very clear that addiction is a medically recognized disease it is also very clear that one’s ‘disease’ is often an aggregated response to situations, circumstances and familial scripting that has left the individual hopeless, helpless, powerless and lost. Often the individual may state “I had no control over x,y and z.” If we peel back the onion and see this statement for what it truly says one can see it is devoid of any personal ownership for a given situation. Ownership is synonymous with personal responsibility because when you own a “thing” it is yours to do with it what you will. If it were, let’s say a car, it could be washed, waxed, oil changed, vacuumed, driven and taken care of and barring something unforeseeable it should give its “owner” years of reliability, comfort and happiness. However if the individual stops caring for their car it will begin to break down. Often slowly, for instance, failing to wash the car leaving debris caught in a crevasse will promote rust which if left untreated will methodically eat away the structure of the car to the point there is nothing left. There is something to blame – the debris. There is something to complain about – the delay, and there are a million excuses: bad weather, no time, out of soap etc….

These three overly common actions: blame, complain and make excuses ultimately and unequivocally lead to having a victim mentality.  Because personal responsibility was missing, the individual, once they began making excuses, complaining and blaming released their ownership and lost their personal power and their personal responsibility.

Now if you place your body/life/mind in the above example of the car and the debris is the substance you use to “escape” you ultimately find yourself in trouble with your family partner, spouse, the law, school or job.  It is often, if not always, due to your loss of personal responsibility and falling into a victim mentality looking to blame, complain and make excuses for your circumstances and situation.  Once the victim role is accepted the human psyche relinquishes its responsibility and wallows in the misery of the plight they now face. Strangely this place even being so desolate, painful and depressing can somehow be very comfortable because there is no acceptance of responsibility for the direction your life took!

Consider you are a friend of Bill W’s. You go to meetings 3 times per week over many months, then you cut back to 2 times, then 1 time. Your attendance becomes sporadic and the time you once set aside for fellowship, grounding and alignment slowly becomes displaced with some “other” time requiring event. The cracks in your recovery armor began to form when new time events take the place of your recovery meetings. New “opportunities” presented themselves in those recovery time slots that slowly and insidiously transformed into open opportunities for relapse. Your “program” is out the door and you stand without the balance and head leveling benefits you once made the most important part of your weekly routine. Suddenly work starts to feel oppressive your girlfriend/wife/partner etc. seems overbearing, nagging and you just need a little release. One 12oz beer, no biggie… over time it becomes three, six, twelve, eighteen. You stop showing up to work, your significant other threatens to leave you and you can’t figure out how you got here.

You got here the day you let go of your personal responsibility for your recovery and stopped caring for your disease. If you listen and look at the film of your slip into the proverbial rabbit hole you will see a ton of excuses, (jobs, girlfriend, etc.) complaining and blame. You sit, a victim blaming and complaining about how you ended up in rehab expecting a magic fix getting you back to the powerful trustworthy, independent, personally responsible person you once were.

Recovery programs like Cornerstone ask you to move slowly toward the goal of independence and personal responsibility, but you have to be honest, open and willing to work with us to navigate back to personal responsibility/ownership. It took a long time to get here and it is going to take a lot of work to get you back to where you want to be, but it is possible. In fact it is guaranteed 100% but the guaranty lives within you and your personal responsibility knowing this disease is able to be put in remission but not cured.

Anonymous-

Guide for the Codependent – Create a Survival Plan

13 Oct

Math-co-dependency

Guide for the Codependent – Create a Survival Plan

(Introduction and Part 1 of 29)

The following pages were created and written by Cornerstone of Southern California’s Family Group members and recovering codependents.

On any given Tuesday night, a Family Group comes together at Cornerstone in Santa Ana. The magnet that attracts these people, from sometimes miles away, is a common malady called ‘Co-Dependency’.

This group comes to have their broken hearts mended. They come to have their faith renewed. They come to have their desperation soothed. They come in search of understanding and strength in dealing with life as co-dependents to an alcoholic or addict (a/a).

Cornerstone staff members are there to give a desperate group members hope and perspective. Our groups always leave with the strength and resolve needed to make it through another week, ’till the next Tuesday night at Family Group.

The things that our staff tell the group are very simple, basic common sense, to the point, and often catchy. Sometimes they are quite blunt. But to this group, they are so visionary, so profane and prophetic that, together, they literally become a framework for survival and stability.

Our staff have another special talent. In the midst of all the heartbreak and pain, we somehow get the group to smile and laugh. Sometimes they laugh at themselves, sometimes at each other. But it is a special kind of laughter that lets the group keep its sanity without going off into a hopeless “never-never” land of craziness.

Cornerstone remembers and thanks Nora Metcalf for starting this wonderful service provided by Cornerstone.

1) Prepare Your Survival Plan

What I want you to do is to work on your Survival Plan. A Survival Plan is not something you do as punishment, but as a way to protect yourself and your family. It should be a plan of what you are willing to do if the a/a chooses to drink or use drugs again. It is what you must do to keep yourself and your family from being drawn back into the “craziness” and “madness” of addiction again. Your survival plan should be in writing; maybe it could even be posted on the refrigerator door. It must be something that is agreed upon by you and your family members. The a/a must know what the plan is and must know that it is serious and is something you are prepared and WILL do if he/she chooses not to remain clean and sober.

Your body on Sugar….errr, Soda!

11 Oct

Cornerstone of Southern California has long had a NO SUGAR NO CAFFEINE policy in our Detox program. We feel strongly that when an individual is attempting to detox off of drugs or alcohol it helps to also prohibit the intake of sugar and caffeine.

Every time my girlfriend orders a Pepsi with her dinner I cringe a little inside and wonder, ‘What exactly happens inside the human body when someone drinks a sugary soda?” I do know how it affects her after her first sip as her mouth breaks into a satisfied little smile and she says,”Oh my gosh! Why is that soooo good?”

Why? Sugar that’s why. Sugar tastes fantastic to us humans and we have processed and purified it and added it to almost everything we consume nowadays. When you see the label ‘Low Fat’ you should assume that the fat content has been substituted with sugar of some kind and although the label sounds like it should be a better option than the regular brand, it isn’t in any sense.

Processed sugars are especially good at spiking your blood sugar content which leads to inflammation inside the body. This inflammation is the precursor to all sorts of ailments including cancer.

In the early days of detox at Cornerstone (when we allowed sugar and coffee) we saw clients make pot after pot of coffee and add copious amounts of sugar to each cup in order to simulate the feeling of being high on cocaine or meth. We quickly realized the issue and put a stop to it.

While there may be nothing good about the effect sugar has on our bodies, understanding exactly what it does once inside us is simply fascinating. So that’s what we’re going to take a look at in this article: The exact process – a play-by-play – to get a deeper understanding of what goes on when we ingest large amounts of sugar in a short time period.

Of course, one all too easy way to take on board masses of sugar is through soda – Sprite, Coke, Fanta – you name it. It’s all the same poison. And what most people find a shocker is that those orange juices you buy in the store (or Apple, or fruit punch, or anything) are often packed with even more sugar than those sodas.

But the box says it’s full of vitamin C! Ahhh, we just love the food industry’s marketing tactics, don’t we?

Ok, I am getting off topic. So, let’s get back to it. First off, let’s take our lab rat – that being any one of us. And now our test material – that being a single, 500 ml bottle of soda, which, depending on the type, can contain a staggering 54 grams of sugar. That’s nearly 14 sugar cubes people!

Now most people who drink these tend to drink these rather quickly. That’s because the sheer amount of sugar keeps you sipping – or gulping – very fast. It is a drug after all. Perhaps the deadliest and most addictive of the lot.

So within minutes that bottle is usually empty. And then the chaos in your body erupts. Let’s take a look at what you have just done to yourself.

Phase 1

The first thing your body needs to contend with is that fact that it has literally received a sugar overdose. In normal circumstances you would actually not be able to keep it down, but in the case of soda, phosphoric acid cuts through the sweet flavour – which allows your body to fight the urge to purge.

You may also start to feel the beginnings of the famed ‘sugar high’ – as your brain suddenly finds itself with a large amount of raw glucose which it can convert directly into energy.

Phase 2

Around 20 minutes after finishing that soda, your blood sugar level peaks, causing a huge insulin spike and initiating rapid glucose uptake throughout your body.

As your liver responds to this increase in insulin by converting the large amounts of sugar you have just consumed into fat, the resulting fall in blood glucose levels will soon leave you feeling low and sluggish.

But not so fast…

Phase 3

Along with the sugar, your body has now absorbed over 50 mg of caffeine, blocking the adenosine receptors in your brain – preventing drowsiness and keeping you on high alert. As a result of this, your pupils dilate and your blood pressure begins to rise as your liver injects yet more sugar into your bloodstream.

At this point, approximately 40 minutes after finishing your drink, your elevated sugar levels cause your body to increase its dopamine production which act to stimulate the pleasure centres of the brain.

However, this sugar high will not last much longer. The party is starting to wind down.

Phase 4

This is where the soda’s diuretic properties start to take effect – and arguably where the most damage is done. Roughly 60 minutes after finishing your drink the extremely high levels of sugar – not to mention artificial sweeteners – will encourage your body to urinate.

However this time it is not just waste you will be getting rid of.

The phosphoric acid in your soda has already bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, which you are now expelling from your body – along with precious sodium, electrolytes and water.

Phase 5

By now, over an hour since you tossed that soda bottle in the bin, you’ll be saying hello to that low mood and sluggishness we talked about earlier as you begin your decent into the fabled ‘sugar crash.’

You will have not only passed all of the water that was in your soda, but you have also said goodbye to a whole host of vital nutrients that your body really needs.

Chances are, you’ll also be feeling less hydrated and certainly less energetic than you would have been had you never opened that soda in the first place.

Takeaway

As I mentioned previously, while soda is a sure-fire way to overload the body with sugar, it’s far from the only one. Many people still consume way too much sugar through processed foods, breakfast cereals and sweet snacks – to name just a few. Most deceptive are those foods we have come to believe are so healthy – such as those fruit-flavoured yogurts, many of which are brutally high in sugar content.

This high sugar intake is not to be taken lightly. Elevated insulin levels – which you will definitely have if you are drinking a lot of soda or juices – can lead to very serious cardiometabolic problems, from diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s – all the way through to cancer. This is due to sugar producing a low-grade “silent inflammation” throughout the body.

The long and the short of it is that there is no place for sugar in the human diet. I know it is easier said than done. It is, after all, everywhere, and if it is put in front of you (which on a daily basis it is likely done multiple times in our Western-diet society), the discipline required to say no is monumental. But you have to find that discipline if you are looking to reach and maintain your optimal health levels and avoid serious illness.

Assembly Bill 848 is on the Governor’s Desk! Will he sign it?

9 Oct

v2 (1)Assembly Bill 848 is on the Governor’s Desk! Will he sign it?

Cornerstone’s founder and owner, Dr. Michael Stone MD, has made several trips to sacramento to speak out in support of Assembly Bill 848. He, along with a number of other prominent companies and individuals in the drug and alcohol treatment community have backed the passage of this bill since its inception and are extremely happy to see it be approved by the California State Legislature. It is now on the Governor’s desk. Will he sign it?

Read more below:

The California Legislature has approved legislation sponsored by the California Society of Addiction Medicine that would safeguard the health of people seeking alcohol and drug rehabilitation services. Assembly Bill 848 (by Assembly Member – Mark Stone) would allow residential detoxification facilities to provide 24-hour medical services to their clients.

“A detoxification facility should be able to provide the best possible care for vulnerable people struggling to overcome addictions.  People who are working to get sober should have their needs met through the programs where they are seeking help, including medical treatment that helps them on their path to recovery,” said Stone.  “I urge the Governor to sign this necessary measure.”

Under current licensure requirements, residential treatment facilities may not provide on-site medical treatment to their clients, even if it is psychiatric treatment or for medical conditions related to clients’ addictions.  Instead, when clients have medical needs during the course of their residential treatment, facility staff must transport them to doctors’ offices or hospital emergency departments, which is inefficient and costly.

Click here for a full PDF description of AB848 – CLICK

Personal emails can be sent to the Governor using the link below:

  1. Go to:   https://govnews.ca.gov/gov39mail/mail.php
  2. On the pull down menu, click on: “AB848 – Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Treatment Facilities”
  3. Click on “Pro” – You will have the option of adding comment

 

What to Do When Your Loved One Comes Home from Treatment

7 Oct

What to do copy (1)What to Do When Your Loved One Comes Home from Drug Treatment

Monnaye, my Case Manager at Cornerstone of Southern California welcomed me into her office with a smile and a handshake that made me feel instantly comfortable and safe. A few minutes later we were giggling about something or other when a few thoughts occurred to me, “I am going home soon. How is that going to feel? How will my family deal with me if I start to fall off the path that I am so firmly on while here at Cornerstone?”

Monnaye, as usual had all the answers for me and I thought that these answers might be very useful to others out there in the same situation. Monnaye really knows her stuff and I think her responses to my questions will help you too.

Q: What do I expect when he/she returns home from Cornerstone? What can I do to be ready and helpful?

Monnaye: This is a big deal! Two things come to mind: “What to do when they come home” (or while they’re in treatment) and, “What not to do when he/she returns home.”

What To Do

  • The first thing the family members should do is to educate themselves on all aspects of addiction so they are aware of what may or may not happen. I recommend family members to read the book ‘Staying Sober’ by Terence T. Gorski. This book does an excellent job explaining what drug addiction is.
  • I also would recommend going to a few Al-Anon meetings— give them a try. The addict’s family need to understand what their part is in this recovery process, and they MUST understand they cannot fix or change their loved one. All they can do is learn and change themselves.
  • Families need to understand that they have to be patient and understanding with their newly recovered loved one. Addiction recovery is a process—not an event; so don’t expect a miracle of instant change.

What Not To Do

  • Try not to take things personally. Let  your loved one go to as many meetings as they feel they need, don’t give them a hard time about this as it is a very positive sign.
  • You must communicate, even if what you have to say is negative.
  • Don’t worry about being the cause of your loved one’s relapse, they can do that all on their own. You don’t have that much power over anyone. Be honest about your feelings. It’s “OK” not to know what to say; just don’t hold something in; it isn’t worth it.
  • Don’t keep secrets from them; shine a light on everything. Saying that you don’t understand or that you don’t know what to do is always better than saying nothing at all.

Q: Would you ever tell the family members to play a direct role in the rehab process of their loved one?

Monnaye: The best thing a family can do is to take care of themselves and their actions. When they realize that they are powerless over their loved one’s addiction, they’ve taken the first step towards helping. Many families do all they can to help, but they often end up enabling their loved one in the process.

It’s very important that families allow their loved one to hit “rock bottom”. Continually helping and enabling an addict lets them start to think, “I don’t have a problem. They keep coming in and saving me, so I don’t have to truly deal with these issues.”

Q: So enabling someone is like a teacher whispering answers to her student during a test?

Monnaye: Exactly right! It’s all about letting go. It sounds simple; but it’s never easy.

Q: When an addict comes home from treatment, what do you recommend they do?

Monnaye: It varies from client to client, but having a routine and keeping busy is key.

When clients are here at Cornerstone, they’re on a tight schedule, and that’s intentional from a treatment perspective. Up until this point, they haven’t been able to do that for themselves in their own lives. Maintaining some form of daily routine when they return home is equally important.

Q: Is there a specific structure or routine you recommend to clients when they leave Cornerstone?

Monnaye: We work with them intensively, one-on-one before they leave the treatment setting and develop an exit plan that we both agree upon..

Within this exit plan we identify “high risk” situations and prepare them to deal with the risks they’ll confront back home. For example, if someone knows they’ve always had a drink after work, that desire won’t necessarily go away after treatment, so we help them form a plan to deal with these “risks.”

Q: Is a majority of this plan helping them to identify the triggers of their addiction, not only here at Cornerstone, but when they return home too. Is teaching them how to deal with those triggers when they return home a big part of your job as a counselor?

Monnaye: Yes it is! At Cornerstone our Relapse Prevention Education teaches our clients all about triggers and high risk situations.Once they’ve identified their personal triggers, we sit down with them and decide what we’re going to do as each trigger rears it’s ugly head.

Q: I have always thought that families were the people who push addicts out the door and into rehab. Is that an accurate statement?

 

Monnaye: Sometimes families do send their loved one to treatment in an appropriate way, but often they push them when they’re not ready and the addict is resentful early in recovery.

Most of what we tell families is to give the addict room to recover. Certainly talk about the problem, but don’t try to micro manage it.

Families are not all knowing or infallible. They can’t tell their loved one what to do.

Often the family doesn’t realize that they themselves exhibit a behavior called codependency. For the most part, the addicts know they’ve messed their lives up, but the families don’t realize their

enabling behaviors have helped keep their loved one’s disease alive and thriving. This isn’t a cut and dry issue, as all families are different.

Diet and Exercise in Sobriety

5 Oct

v2Diet and Exercise in Sobriety

Cornerstone CEO, James Neumann (24 time marathon finisher, 8 time Boston Marathon finisher and daily 8-15 mile runner) has put together a list of foods to eat and to avoid in order to fuel and maintain a lasting, healthy sober life.

 

His suggestions minimize inflammation and insulin spiking foods and maximize nutrient rich, energy efficient and immune system strengthening foods. He recommends striving to eat organic or–pesticide, hormone, antibiotic free foods for the best results when possible:

  • Grains: minimize your intake or, better yet, cut them out completely. This can prove to be extremely difficult in the beginning, but massive gains will result from following this rule.
  • Sugar: minimize or remove from your diet. Sugar is more addictive than cocaine and causes internal inflammation and insulin spikes in our blood, both of which are terrible for the human body.
  • Processed foods: minimize or remove as best you can. Removing or minimizing the three foods listed above takes care of 80% of the problem, and although it takes a lot of willpower, you CAN do it.
  • Red Meat: eat grass fed beef with no added hormones. Do not eat grain fed beef.
  • Foul: Choose cage free chicken and eggs if possible. Also healthy options are turkey and duck.
  • Fish: Purchese wild, not farm raised fish when possible.
  • Vegetables: Eat these in abundance! If you can eat them raw and not fried you are winning!
  • Legumes: Although they might seem healthy you should minimize your consumption of legumes. They can be hard to digest and the by-products they contain are not great for you.
  • Dairy: A little is ok but grass fed if it is an option.
  • Fruit: Eat fruit. Try to buy local and seasonal fruit. Keep tropical fruit portions smaller as they are higher in sugar. Berries are a good example of a low sugar fruit.
  • Oils: Use olive oil instead of butter when possible. Coconut oil and avocado oil are great for frying and baking. Vegetable and Canola oils should be reduced as much as possible from your diet.
  • Nuts: Eat walnuts, macadamias and almonds. They contain healthy oils and protein. Be wary of too many peanuts as they actually legumes.
  • Tubers: Yams and sweet potatoes are better substitute for white potatoes.
  • Coffee: A cup a day is ok but remember not to over sugar it and remember it is a diuretic and you will need to drink water to make up for it.
  • Water: Drink purified, filtered water at about a half gallon a day. Alkaline water is a myth.
  • Supplements: Take fish oil, an  organic multivitamin/multimineral, an antioxidant, vitamin D, and probiotics for healthy digestion.

 

James Neumann’s Helpful Hints – These changes to your daily diet are significant and sticking to it is not easy to do. You will most likely feel substantial changes in the first 30 days.

Exercise – There is good news here for those of us who cringe at the mention of exercise! Research has shown that “less is more”. Moving our bodies improves every function including our brain function. Very helpful for those of us with the brain disorder of drug addiction. Spending hours in the gym is no longer necessary or healthy, but doing something physical most days is the ticket. Here are the basics:

  • Move frequently at a slow to regular pace. Walking is excellent and if done every day will keep you fit in the long run and won’t wear down your joints.
  • Do some heavy lifting (something heavier than usual) 2 or 3 times per week – from dumbbells to kettlebells to your own body weight.
  • Every 7 to 10 days to a higher intensity workout such as brisk walking, running, biking, swimming, jumping rope, etc.
  • Avoid “chronic cardio” or working out for hours on end. Research shows more harm than good will come of it and remember, less (intensity) is more.
  • Find a day of rest to be a human.
  • Stretching? Yoga? Dance? Yes to all of these. Mix and match them keeping in mind the first three on the above checklist

 

Try and find a routine that works for you everyday and stick to it. Also, finding a sport like surfing, swimming, stand up paddling, etc., can benefit you in that you will WANT to go do these things because they are FUN! Exercise can and should be fun to get the most out of it.

 

A Quick Side Note – Sleep well. Get at least 8 to 10 hours every night or none of this matters.

 

Addiction the Disease

2 Oct

work 2Director, Cornerstone of Southern CaliforniaBy: Michael Stone, MD, Addiction Medicine Specialist,

I have been asked to write about Addiction, to write in plain and simple English, not fancy medical or psychological words. Because you are reading this, I imagine you are an addict (alcoholics are addicts too) with some knowledge of your disease or an “other” who needs up-to-date information.

First, who am I and why should you believe me? Well, as a young family doctor I arrived in the metropolis of Estevan, Saskatchewan (population 10,000) in the fall of 1969 just as the Sisters of St. Joseph decided to open an addiction treatment unit in their community hospital. None of the doctors in town wanted the job of Medical Director and neither did I. Anyway, another doctor and I were volunteered. At the time my belief was that addicts were just weak people who needed to pull themselves together and stop drinking or using. I soon learned I was so wrong in my understanding of addiction. A lay person, Ray McNab, sat me down late in 1969 and read me the riot act. He was very clear, “How the heck are addicts going to get help/treatment if you so and so doctors cannot get your act together and start treating them for the disease they so clearly have?” He directed me to read some books, especially the Big Books of Alcoholics Anonymous, and attend some AA meetings. Luckily for my addict patients I quickly became educated in addiction medicine and got rid of my old ideas and feelings about “those” sorts of people.

 

Today I look back over the past 40 years and I am very pleased that I have been able to help over 60,000 addicts and their support systems in that time. I continue to practice addiction medicine as a family physician and love it most of the time. Unfortunately, many of my doctor colleagues still have attitudes, as I had 40 years ago, which make it difficult if not impossible for them to treat their addict patients. If they believed diabetics were weak people, cancer patients were sinners, chronic pain patients were cowardly and anemic patients were dishonest, then obviously their treatment of those conditions would be negatively affected. Unfortunately terms such as – weak, sinners, cowardly, and dishonest are all descriptive words still used toward addicts by many health professionals. Have you ever heard people say – an addict just has no willpower? Well if you stay with me over the next few months you will learn that addicts have very well developed “willpower” but, if relied upon, will nearly always lead them to failure.

Let me start with:

How do you know if you have this disease? How do you know if a loved one, a colleague, an employee, a friend, or your cellmate has this disease? There are endless definitions but here is mine. There are five pieces of the puzzle and all have to be present to be sure it is an addiction.

First – compulsion. This is not all the time, it is not every day but it is obvious. The cocaine addict gets the urge to use cocaine, the alcoholic craves a drink and the Vicodin addict is driven to get the pills. Addicts get the compulsion to do “it” (what they are addicted to).

Second – they do “it”. I believe it is possible to be an alcoholic but never show the disease because you never have alcohol. You can be born with the genes to be an alcoholic but you will need alcohol to trigger the disease in you. This would be like a person born with the genes to be allergic to penicillin but who never receives that antibiotic.

Third – loss of control. Addicts do not always have the compulsion to use and are not always using, but when they do, they sometimes lose control. Examples are: having 12 drinks not the clearly planned 3; coming home after 3 days of a cocaine bingeing when you only planned to drop in on an old “using” friend; still sitting at the blackjack table 52 hours after starting a “few hands.”

Fourth – problems from doing “it”. These can be in any area of your life and often are in more than one. Some areas are physical, mental, spiritual, social, legal, marital, occupational, exercise related, and fun.

Fifth – repeat the cycle over and over again with changes in the how, where, why and when but not the compulsion leading to doing “it” followed by loss of control and problems. Look at my definition – look at the person – be honest with yourself and decide has the use of “it” become an addiction. The fact that you are even thinking about this problem should lead you to get more information, but if addiction is present treatment is absolutely needed. This is a chronic, progressive, and often fatal disease.

I initially thought that “it” was always a substance like alcohol, cocaine, or heroin, but as I learned more about this devastating disease I found that “it” could have many forms.

Another similar definition to the above is “continued compulsive use of a ‘substance’ or ‘behavior’ to get high and/or prevent withdrawal despite adverse consequences.” By adding the word “behavior” we have, very significantly, opened up the possibilities of what the “it” can be. I believe you can be addicted to sex, work, exercise, religion, shopping, gambling – any behavior that can affect how you feel in a strong or powerful way, i.e. get “high.” For some people getting “high” can be feeling stimulated, powerful, energized from stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine. It can also be produced by behaviors like exercise, sex, and gambling. For some people, getting “high” means being relaxed or numb from the use of tranquilizers, sedatives, opiates, and alcohol. Finally, a few people get a “high” on hallucinogens, which can give very strange effects on how you see, feel, hear, or taste the outside world.

To state that addiction is a disease is possible when you understand that a disease is anything that causes harm to the body or mind whether it be a “thing” like alcohol or a bacteria or whether it is an action or behavior like gambling or tennis resulting in tennis elbow.

Probably, one of the first alcoholics was Noah (Genesis 9:20-21) and one of the first doctors to define alcoholism as an illness and call it “an addiction” was Benjamin Rush, MD in 1785. So the idea of addiction being a problem and being defined as a disease has been around a long time.

Alcoholic’s Anonymous says that alcoholism is cunning, powerful, and baffling. Nothing has changed over the years except alcoholism, as a disease of addiction, is no longer as baffling and we are making significant progress in understanding it and realizing the need for treatment. This disease can easily kill you, but with treatment you can put it in remission (non-active). It will take education, hard work, time, and commitment.

MICHAEL STONE, MD, Addiction Medicine Specialist

Cornerstone of Southern California

714-730-5399

 

What to Do When Your Loved One Comes Home from Treatment

29 Sep

What to do copyWhat to Do When Your Loved One Comes Home from Drug Treatment

Monnaye, my Case Manager at Cornerstone of Southern California welcomed me into her office with a smile and a handshake that made me feel instantly comfortable and safe. A few minutes later we were giggling about something or other when a few thoughts occurred to me, “I am going home soon. How is that going to feel? How will my family deal with me if I start to fall off the path that I am so firmly on while here at Cornerstone?”

Monnaye, as usual had all the answers for me and I thought that these answers might be very useful to others out there in the same situation. Monnaye really knows her stuff and I think her responses to my questions will help you too.

 

Q: What do I expect when he/she returns home from Cornerstone? What can I do to be ready and helpful?

Monnaye: This is a big deal! Two things come to mind: “What to do when they come home” (or while they’re in treatment) and, “What not to do when he/she returns home.”

What To Do

  • The first thing the family members should do is to educate themselves on all aspects of addiction so they are aware of what may or may not happen. I recommend family members to read the book ‘Staying Sober’ by Terence T. Gorski. This book does an excellent job explaining what drug addiction is.
  • I also would recommend going to a few Al-Anon meetings— give them a try. The addict’s family need to understand what their part is in this recovery process, and they MUST understand they cannot fix or change their loved one. All they can do is learn and change themselves.
  • Families need to understand that they have to be patient and understanding with their newly recovered loved one. Addiction recovery is a process—not an event; so don’t expect a miracle of instant change.

What Not To Do

  • Try not to take things personally. Let  your loved one go to as many meetings as they feel they need, don’t give them a hard time about this as it is a very positive sign.
  • You must communicate, even if what you have to say is negative.
  • Don’t worry about being the cause of your loved one’s relapse, they can do that all on their own. You don’t have that much power over anyone. Be honest about your feelings. It’s “OK” not to know what to say; just don’t hold something in; it isn’t worth it.
  • Don’t keep secrets from them; shine a light on everything. Saying that you don’t understand or that you don’t know what to do is always better than saying nothing at all.

Q: Would you ever tell the family members to play a direct role in the rehab process of their loved one?

Monnaye: The best thing a family can do is to take care of themselves and their actions. When they realize that they are powerless over their loved one’s addiction, they’ve taken the first step towards helping. Many families do all they can to help, but they often end up enabling their loved one in the process.

It’s very important that families allow their loved one to hit “rock bottom”. Continually helping and enabling an addict lets them start to think, “I don’t have a problem. They keep coming in and saving me, so I don’t have to truly deal with these issues.”

Q: So enabling someone is like a teacher whispering answers to her student during a test?

Monnaye: Exactly right! It’s all about letting go. It sounds simple; but it’s never easy.

Q: When an addict comes home from treatment, what do you recommend they do?

Monnaye: It varies from client to client, but having a routine and keeping busy is key.

 

When clients are here at Cornerstone, they’re on a tight schedule, and that’s intentional from a treatment perspective. Up until this point, they haven’t been able to do that for themselves in their own lives. Maintaining some form of daily routine when they return home is equally important.

Q: Is there a specific structure or routine you recommend to clients when they leave Cornerstone?

Monnaye: We work with them intensively, one-on-one before they leave the treatment setting and develop an exit plan that we both agree upon..

Within this exit plan we identify “high risk” situations and prepare them to deal with the risks they’ll confront back home. For example, if someone knows they’ve always had a drink after work, that desire won’t necessarily go away after treatment, so we help them form a plan to deal with these “risks.”

Q: Is a majority of this plan helping them to identify the triggers of their addiction, not only here at Cornerstone, but when they return home too. Is teaching them how to deal with those triggers when they return home a big part of your job as a counselor?

Monnaye: Yes it is! At Cornerstone our Relapse Prevention Education teaches our clients all about triggers and high risk situations.Once they’ve identified their personal triggers, we sit down with them and decide what we’re going to do as each trigger rears it’s ugly head.

 

Q: I have always thought that families were the people who push addicts out the door and into rehab. Is that an accurate statement?

 

Monnaye: Sometimes families do send their loved one to treatment in an appropriate way, but often they push them when they’re not ready and the addict is resentful early in recovery.

Most of what we tell families is to give the addict room to recover. Certainly talk about the problem, but don’t try to micro manage it.

Families are not all knowing or infallible. They can’t tell their loved one what to do.

Often the family doesn’t realize that they themselves exhibit a behavior called codependency. For the most part, the addicts know they’ve messed their lives up, but the families don’t realize their

enabling behaviors have helped keep their loved one’s disease alive and thriving. This isn’t a cut and dry issue, as all families are different.

Testimonial – How Cornerstone saved my Son!

28 Sep

testimonials 1Testimonial – How Cornerstone saved my son

By Lynda K

 

My son just completed a treatment program at Cornerstone of Southern California.

I am very grateful for this program and its entire staff. I am saddened by some of the negative reviews I have read. I don’t think people who wrote those understand what isinvolved in getting someone you love the help they need.

Cornerstone is owned and run by Dr. Stone; a family physician  who specializes in addiction medicine. His family now helps to run the day to day operations, they are not profit driven, they are driven to help people, unlike many other treatment centers that are being run by large corporations and have investors.  If you want a non-profit treatment center, there are many available.

My son was very sick before being admitted to Cornerstone. One of his friends called me and said he was worried and something needed to be done ASAP or my son would be dead in 3 days. Needless to say, I panicked as I was not aware his drinking had become that bad.

I was able to get him admitted to Cornerstone right away and Sam and Mary the admissions staff were compassionate and understanding. Within a short time they had him in a detox bed and were getting his labs done. His blood pressure was sky high andhis liver enzymes were triple what they should have been. He is doing much better now as we caught this just in time.

Irma was his first counselor in detox. She was tough, but it was just what he needed. She takes no BS!

His counselor Linda was also perfect for him. She was balanced with just the right amounts of firmness and love.

Alcoholics and Addicts can’t be coddled. They will always walk all over the staff and continue to manipulate everyone. Cornerstone knows this and they offer some tough love. Yes, my son got angry and wanted to leave at times. He thought the staff was being unfair. It was when he was not getting his own way. The staff are not pushovers like me, his mother.

I would absolutely recommend Cornerstone to any friend or family member. They have every level of program to fit your needs. They are licensed by the State of California, accredited by JCAHO (similar to hospitals). They hired amazing staff, have beautiful facilities that cost money to operate at this level. In comparison to other Southern California and National treatment centers, that I have checked, the detox, residential and outpatient are very moderately priced. They did their best to work with my insurance company.

I am very grateful to everyone there. Thanks to you all, my son is sober and happy today.

Which Drug is Your State Most Addicted To?

25 Sep

What drugs are abused in your state?

new

In recent years the Obama administration has spent over $10 billion dollars on expanding the access to drug treatment and drug education across the nation. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has reported a disturbing rise in prescription drug abuse while the CDC has classified the trend as an epidemic.

 

We here at Cornerstone have been helping addicts for 31 years in Southern California and have seen first hand the trending increase in the number of prescription drug abusers over the past few years. We have also noticed that the age range of these addicts has dropped significantly. We are regularly seeing late teen and early 20 year olds who have become addicted to prescription medications.

 

We came across a very interesting article that shows the drug abuse problems broken down by state. Take a look HERE and find out what drugs are most abused in your home state.

 

Image Credit: Fiona Breslin

 

New England’s heroin problem may be one of the biggest public health issues of the past few years. Vermont is the epicenter of the explosion in heroin addiction in New England. The state has seen an increase of more than 250% in people receiving heroin treatment since 2000. The greatest percentage increase, nearly 40%, occurred this past year. In 2013, there were twice as many federal indictments against heroin dealers than in the previous two years, and over five times as many as had been obtained in 2010. And last year, Vermont had nearly twice the number of deaths from heroin overdose as it did the prior year.

 

While the a public health crisis stemming from heroin overdoses has been building for years, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin finally brought the subject to national attention in January after focusing his entire State of the State address to the region’s heroin crisis. In June, the governors from five New England states facing a heroin crisis they call of “epidemic proportions” met to devise a regional strategy to combat the rise in overdoses and deaths from opioid abuse.

Scores of towns and cities across New England, indeed across the country, have reported record numbers of overdoses and deaths. The governors agreed to share data on painkiller prescriptions and devise treatment agreements among their state Medicaid programs. “We’re saying the sky’s the limit,” Gov. Shumlin told the New York Times. “Let’s treat it like the public health crisis it is.”

Below, you’ll find a breakdown of addiction by state:

– Alabama: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in Alabama, followed by cocaine and other opiates including prescription drugs.

– Alaska: In 2010, marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, followed by other opiates including prescription drugs.

– Arizona: The rate of drug-induced deaths in Arizona is higher than the national average. Between 2007 and 2008, Arizona was among the top 10 states for the rate of use of drugs other than marijuana among young adults aged 18 to 25.

– Arkansas: Marijuana, followed by stimulants (including methamphetamine) is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in Arkansas.

– California: 36% percent of voluntary admissions were for stimulants (including methamphetamine) while only 25% were for marijuana.  

– Colorado: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in Colorado.

– Connecticut: Connecticut is one of the top 10 states for dependence on illicit drugs among young adults ages 18 to 25. Heroin is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions.

– Delaware: “Other opiates,” primarily prescription drugs, are the most commonly cited drugs among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, followed closely by marijuana and heroin.

– Florida: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in Florida, followed by other opiates (including prescription drugs).

– Georgia: The data show that cocaine is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in Georgia.

– Hawaii: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in Hawaii, followed closely by stimulants (including methamphetamine).

– Idaho: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state. Nearly 50% of primary drug treatment admissions in Idaho were for marijuana.

– Illinois: Heroin is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state.

– Indiana: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug in Indiana.

– Iowa: Marijuana, followed by stimulants (including methamphetamine), is the most commonly cited drug.

– Kansas: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, followed by stimulants.

– Kentucky: Opiates, including prescription drugs, are the most commonly cited drugs among primary drug treatment admissions in Kentucky.

– Louisiana: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, followed by cocaine.

– Maine: Opiates, including prescription drugs, are the most commonly cited drugs among primary drug treatment admissions in the state. Marijuana is a far second behind.  

– Maryland: Heroin is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in Maryland.

– Massachusetts: Heroin is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state. Marijuana comes in at a distant fourth after opiates and cocaine.

– Michigan: Marijuana, followed by heroin, is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state.

– Minnesota: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, and it leads pretty far ahead of other drugs.

– Mississippi: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state. The large prevalence of “other/unknown” treatment admissions indicates these data are not currently being reported by certain providers.

– Missouri: Marijuana, followed by stimulants (including methamphetamine), is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state.

– Montana: Marijuana, followed by opiates, is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state.

– Nebraska: Stimulants, including methamphetamine, are the most commonly cited drugs among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, followed closely by marijuana.

– Nevada: Stimulants, including methamphetamine, are the most commonly cited drugs among primary drug treatment admissions in Nevada.

– New Hampshire: Opiates (including prescription drugs) are the most commonly cited drugs among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, followed by heroin and marijuana.

– New Jersey: Heroin is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state. Marijuana trailed fairly far behind.

– New Mexico: Data not available, but at a glance, in 2007-2008, New Mexico ranked first among all states for illicit drug dependence among persons age 12 and older. The drug-induced death rate in New Mexico is significantly higher than the national average. Approximately 9% of New Mexico residents reported past-month use of illicit drugs; the national average was 8%.

– New York: Heroin, followed by marijuana then cocaine, is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state.

– North Carolina: Marijuana, followed by cocaine, is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state.

– North Dakota: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state. Aside from opiates and stimulants, the use of other drugs is almost negligent.

– Ohio: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in Ohio, followed by heroin.

– Oklahoma: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, followed by stimulants (including methamphetamine) following closely behind.

– Oregon: The data show marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state.

– Pennsylvania: Heroin is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, followed by marijuana.

– Rhode Island: Heroin is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, followed by marijuana.

– South Carolina: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in South Carolina, surpassing primary treatment admissions for stimulants (including methampetamine) and other opiates (including many prescription drugs).

– South Dakota: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in South Dakota, followed by stimulants (including methamphetamine) and other opiates (including prescription drugs).

– Tennessee: Opiates, primarily prescription drugs, are the most commonly cited drugs among primary drug treatment admissions in the state.

– Texas: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, followed by cocaine, then heroin.

– Utah: Stimulants (including methamphetamine), followed by marijuana and heroin, are the most commonly cited drugs among primary drug treatment admissions in Utah.


Vermont: Opiates, including prescription drugs, are the most commonly cited drugs among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, followed by marijuana.

– Virginia: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state.

– Washington: Marijuana, followed by stimulants (including methamphetamine), is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state.

– Washington, D.C.: Heroin and cocaine/crack are the most commonly cited drugs among primary drug treatment admissions in the District of Columbia, each separately counting as 32% of all treatment admissions in 2011.

– West Virginia: The data show that opiates, including prescription drugs, are the most commonly cited drugs among primary drug treatment admissions in the state.

– Wisconsin: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in Wisconsin, followed by cocaine.

– Wyoming: Marijuana is the most commonly cited drug among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, followed by stimulants (including methamphetamine) and other opiates (including prescription drugs).