Redefining Valor by Seeking Help and Embracing Vulnerability

Redefining Valor by Seeking Help and Embracing Vulnerability

Defining ‘valor’ may be a challenging thing to do, even for veterans. Despite the word being typically used to address veterans and their acts of service, misunderstandings may still arise about what ‘valor’ truly means. As veterans transition to civilian life, they face a new set of challenges such as trauma, PTSD, addiction, and mental health conditions that redefine the ‘valor’ and strength outside their service. In this blog post, we will discuss how admitting the need to seek help and embracing vulnerability are signs of true ’valor’ and may be the first step towards recovery. 

For individuals in service, ‘valor’ usually means bravery in combat or threatening situations while remaining calm. But during service, personal needs and challenges are often neglected to focus on this goal. While this doesn’t entail that active service members don’t experience trauma, anxiety, depression, and other health conditions, it only highlights the fact that they make a conscious effort to suppress or neglect these feelings, often taking a toll on their personal well-being.

One of the most common ways to ‘push down’ these challenges is the use of drugs or alcohol to “numb” the sensations and “disarm” stressors brought about by these challenges. Moreover, an active drinking culture during service may normalize the use of addictive substances. But for veterans who are transitioning into civilian life, might continue to engage in these practices, resulting in more health challenges during the recovery process. 

The constant attempt to uphold ‘valor’ during and after service not only jeopardizes a veteran’s mental and emotional health during recovery, but also leaves them without practiced strategies to effectively identify and manage these challenges as they transition to civilian life. Adopting a new definition of ‘valor’ might be the key to equipping veterans with a new way of facing these challenges and navigating through a successful healing process. 

Finding a New Meaning of Valor: The First Step Towards Recovery 

As veterans transition to their new lives as civilians, they need to overcome these personal challenges while also dealing with the various external stigma and expectations that can impact their perspective of what is true ‘valor’. The first step to finding a new meaning of ‘valor’ is to acknowledge the challenges that come with the old definitions and that admitting the need for help is also a sign of true ‘valor’ for veterans in their new lives. 

‘Valor’ in civilian life after a time on active duty is no longer the ability to suppress weakness or vulnerability in times of danger but rather the capacity to willingly acknowledge that personal needs should be addressed, and weakness and emotional vulnerability should be embraced and faced head-on. As veterans explore the new-found definition of ‘valor’ by first acknowledging the need for help and support, they can prioritize resilience and bounce back from stresses and obstacles, commit to self-care and personal growth, and confront and challenge stigmas for themselves and the whole veteran community. 

Embracing vulnerability and seeking help have a transformative impact on an individual’s journey to healing and recovery. No veteran must brave the new ideas of ‘valor’ alone, as there are communities and professionals available that will aid in the first step towards effective healing. 

Taking the First Step into Treatment with California Recovery Center 

Exploring a new kind of valor might feel foreign and dreadful, especially to veterans who take pride in the kind of valor from their once active line of duty in service. ‘Valor’ has many definitions, and it is always contextual. Admitting the need for help while transitioning to civilian life is a crucial first step towards effective healing and recovery. Here at the California Recovery Center, we are prepared to help you navigate the different definitions of ‘valor’ to create an effective approach towards healing. Our line of treatments offers specialized veteran substance abuse programs that are evidence-based, including detox, therapy, and ongoing support for our heroes returning from the battlefield. If you or your loved one is a veteran struggling to transition into civilian life, we eagerly welcome you with open arms and a plan for your recovery.

Learn more by reaching out to us at (866) 864-1986. 

Supporting Our Veterans: Substance Abuse and Mental Health 

Veterans substance abuse affecting him

The pressure of military life often leads to veterans undergoing substance abuse. As we celebrate Veteran’s Day later this week, we must remember not only their accomplishments and courage but also their struggles both during and after service. 

Co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders continue to haunt our veterans, and we must always be there to support them. Here’s how we can celebrate Veteran’s Day in a meaningful way. 

Why do veterans turn to drug and alcohol? 

Military life is stressful for many veterans. Some of the things they experienced include: 

  • Constant risks of injury or death on the field 
  • Losing colleagues while on duty 
  • Worrying about their loved ones back home 

To cope with the stress, some of them abuse substances. The most abused substance is alcohol, with 1 in 3 service military personnel found to be “binge drinkers.” 

This abuse continues well after service, as they face difficulties rejoining civilian life like: 

  • Catching up with the rest of the world 
  • Mending relationships formed before the war 
  • Finding stable employment 

Many studies have dug into the incidence of veterans and substance abuse. A 2019 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed the following statistics: 

  • 11% of veterans are diagnosed with having a substance use disorder (SUD). 
  • Veterans diagnosed with having an SUD are 3-4 more likely to be found with co-occurring PTSD or depression. 
  • Between 37 to 50% of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were diagnosed with co-occurring SUD and mental disorders. 

Solving this issue has turned out to be challenging as well. In the 2015 Health Related Behaviors Survey (HRBS) that studied drug use among veterans, only 8.6% of respondents self-reported their substance abuse. 

Besides wanting to avoid the punishment of discharge, this is because they want to steer clear of: 

  • Being mocked by their peers for being “weak” and seeking support for their addiction 
  • The stigma towards substance use victims 
  • Facing the risk of losing job prospects and relationships 

In other words, veterans turn to substance use because of their experiences both during and after service. Even with treatment services like Veterans Affairs (VA) drug rehab, many veterans prefer to hide their issues than risk facing judgment by society. 

How to support veterans against substance abuse 

The first thing you need to do to help veterans is to determine if they’re undergoing substance abuse. To do that, you need to look out for the signs. 

In particular, there are 3 types of signs that you have to look out for: 

  1. Appearance – Disheveled image, wearing the same clothes for extended periods of time, lack of hygiene 

  1. Behavior – Occasionally spacing out while being with someone, forgetfulness, staring into the distance on their own 

  1. Sociability – Isolating themselves during social events, constantly stuttering while talking, unenthusiastic responses when being talked to 

The key to supporting veterans against substance abuse is to help them reintegrate with daily life. They have been away from home for a long time — the last thing they need is to be alienated for their substance abuse problems. 

Of course, reducing their substance usage is one of your main objectives, but you have to do it in a very supportive and welcoming way. This means that you have to avoid being upfront about it as much as possible. 

Here are very effective ways you can help them combat their substance use: 

  • Always engage in casual, friendly conversations with them. Most of their social interactions in the field were often serious, stressful, and required quick responses. Talking to them in a relaxed, easygoing way helps them socially reintegrate with normal daily life. 
  • Help them through their personal problems. Be it financial or social, supporting them through their current problems keeps them away from the substances. 
  • Suggest recreational activities that don’t involve alcohol. Sports, board games, hobbies—these activities, in general, help them redirect their energy to something that utilizes their physical prowess in a fun way. 
  • Encourage seeking professional treatment. Seeking professional assistance will provide them with the necessary coping tools and strategies. They’ll be able to navigate difficult situations with greater awareness.

Remember to always exercise patience and empathy, as this process will take time. 

Helping veterans with their mental health 

All veterans deserve support and care for what they experienced during their service. Even if a veteran currently doesn’t consume any substances, at some point, they eventually might. 

They may have been mentally and emotionally drained from the stress of military service. Returning home should mean more than just being away from the battlefield — it has to be a genuine, fruitful reintegration into normal daily life. Otherwise, they might be unable to cope with their negative experiences and eventually resort to substances. 

  • Invite them to social gatherings. They lost time away from home and may have greatly missed their family and friends. Inviting them is a good way for them to catch up with loved ones while reintegrating themselves to peacetime. 
  • As much as possible, try to avoid asking about their experiences in the field. You may unknowingly cause them to feel discomfort as they remember harrowing moments while in service. 

  • If they are vocal about their experiences, talk about them in a positive light. Compliment their bravery, resourcefulness, or physical prowess as an acknowledgment of their accomplishments. Avoid asking about touchy subjects and be polite if you do decide to ask. 
  • Always ask them how they’re doing. Give them a phone call or shoot them a message every once in a while. Doing this lets them acknowledge that they are, indeed, back home and that their presence is appreciated outside of military life. 

Alcohol and drug rehab for veterans 

Remembering Veteran’s Day should not be confined to just 1 day. It’s a continuous process of establishing a strong, holistic support system for veterans undergoing substance abuse. If we continue to aid veterans struggling with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders, we can open up a culture where other veterans can feel welcome in showing their vulnerabilities — we can show that life after the military is filled with hope and support. 

At California Recovery Center, we solemnly salute our troops for braving struggles even after the line of duty. Our line of treatments includes specialized veteran substance abuse programs for our heroes returning from the battlefield. If you or your loved one is a veteran struggling with alcohol or drugs after service, we eagerly welcome you with open arms and a sure plan for your recovery. 

5 Signs a Family Member Is Living With Addiction and Mental Health Issues 

Husband comforting wife undergoing family addiction

Family addiction is a serious issue that affects 46% of families in the U.S. alone. Left untreated, it can cause a devastating rift between family members. This also comes in conjunction with mental health issues, which comes either as the result or the cause of substance abuse. The worst part is that loved ones tend to hide these problems out of fear that they’ll be stigmatized or kicked out by their family. 

The best way to deal with family addiction is rehabilitation, not punishment. Of course, you should take action only when you’ve identified that substance abuse or mental health is truly the issue. However, your loved ones may be afraid to express their problems to you outright. In this case, you have to look out for signs of their trouble. 

Here are 5 signs that a loved one is dealing with addiction in the family: 

1. Self-isolation from family

One of the most common signs of addiction or mental health is self-isolation. With a lot of social stigmas associated with substance abuse, victims tend to keep to themselves while living with addiction. 

You can clearly see this when your loved one becomes: 

  • Less communicative. They no longer start conversations on their own and give brief disinterested responses when talked to. 
  • More irritable than usual.  They’ve built a bubble around themselves and become frustrated when someone tries to intrude into their comfort zone. 
  • Secretive and defensive. If they’re pushed about their issues, they either deny them or avoid the topic altogether. 

If you’ve observed these in your loved one, be more lenient and accommodating. Foster a welcoming space that lets them feel free to express themselves without prejudice. For instance, you can stay beside them as you go about your usual day-to-day activities and strike a smile at them every once in a while as a positive acknowledgment of their presence. 

They may not immediately open up right away when you do this, but it’s an effective first step to helping them. 

2. Changes in appearance and demeanor

Substance abuse and mental health issues can also take a toll on how your loved one appears and behaves. Generally, they become less interested in keeping themselves well-presented to other people or, sometimes, maintaining their hygiene. 

Observe your loved one and watch out for these signs: 

  • Frequently disheveled appearance
  • Wearing the same clothes for extended periods of time
  • Occasionally spacing out
  • Unresponsiveness when talked to
  • Forgetfulness

Some of these signs may be inconvenient to you or your family. If your loved one is in charge of chores, for example, they may either forget to do them or leave them unfinished, which may become a habit over time. Family members may also use their lack of hygiene as a reason to stay away from them out of shame. 

In any case, you have to exercise patience and understanding. Instead of scolding them, for instance, gently remind them or assist them with their chores. Avoid being confrontational about their behavior or appearance. Instead, be more encouraging of healthy habits with the express intent of helping them out. 

3. Psychosomatic symptoms

The idea that “It’s all in the mind” couldn’t be farther from the truth when there are psychosomatic conditions that occur due to struggling with mental health. Lethargy or lack of energy is one of the most common psychosomatic symptoms that affect those suffering from substance use or mental health issues. 

Other symptoms include: 

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden changes in weight
  • Unhealthy diet or irregular appetite
  • Inconsistent or excessive sleep

Lacking energy for everyday activities can lead to long-term deterioration physically and mentally. While you can help alleviate their physical symptoms, this is only a band aid solution at best. You have to solve the issue from its roots by focusing on the substance abuse and mental health issues at the core of the problem. As said before, this comes by promoting a positive environment for the struggling loved one. 

4. Showing lack of interest in hobbies

One of the tragic results of suffering from addiction and mental health issues is the loss of interest in hobbies that your loved one was once passionate about. Dopamine is responsible for providing pleasure in the midst of a reward. Substance abuse can affect how dopamine is produced and released by stimulating only when the victim consumes the substance. However, this also leads to a decrease of dopamine when the loved one is doing their actual hobbies. 

When this happens, you can’t just force them to return to their hobbies as a way of averting substance use. At worst, this further discourages them from taking up the hobby again. Instead, use a positive, gentle approach in encouraging them about their hobbies. 

Try some of these out, for instance: 

  • Recall happy memories about their hobbies 
  • Compliment their skills in a specific hobby 
  • Take up the hobby yourself, even if briefly, and ask your loved one to join you 

These can rekindle the spark within your loved one and encourage them to return to the hobby. It can also be effective in curbing the effects of substance abuse to some degree. Even if it isn’t, helping them return to their hobbies assures them that there’s something to look forward to outside of using substances. 

5. Struggling with school or work 

Another common sign of addiction and mental health is the impact on their performance either at work or in school. There are two ways that substance use affects their performance: 

  1. Impact on their mental state. Lack of focus, forgetfulness, and decrease in creativity and innovation are some of the symptoms of substance use that can affect how your loved ones perform. 
  2. Social stigma from colleagues. The fear of being discovered and stigmatized for substance abuse is highly prevalent in a school or workplace environment. Chances are, a vast majority of your loved one’s colleagues (even the management in a company or school) will become prejudicial towards them. 

The worst part about impaired performance is that this can also be a contributing factor to substance use, further proliferating it. 

Coping with substance use requires a significant amount of time and dedication. Spending time away from professional or academic responsibilities will be vital for this. It may sound detrimental and counterproductive, but it’s actually very beneficial for your loved ones. If they’re given time to focus on their personal lives and cope with their addiction and mental health, the other aspects of their lives will also improve – that includes their other responsibilities. 

Parents of addicted loved ones should discuss with the school’s guidance counselor to come up with a solution that can help the student cope with substance use while improving their academic performance. On the other hand, professionals undergoing substance abuse should consider taking an FMLA leave. 

Solve family addiction with professional treatment

Discovering that your loved one is undergoing substance use and mental health issues can be heartbreaking for the family. You may feel like you were unable to become a meaningful, positive presence to them, enough to lead them towards consuming substances. However, this is not the case – perhaps your loved ones are going through tough times in their lives that they didn’t feel that they should express. Whatever the root cause behind their substance use may be, the most effective solution is professional treatment. 

At California Recovery Center, our mission is to give extensive family help for addiction in a systematic, extensive manner. We provide outpatient and inpatient treatment options for your loved ones so that they can have flexibility in coping with their addiction and mental health issues. Feel free to reach out to us so we can discuss the best way to help your loved ones through their struggles. 

Recreational Therapy

happy young couple camping

Typically, when we think of what a therapy session looks like, we conjure an image of a face-to-face meeting with a therapist in the confines of a private and calming room. While there are undoubtable benefits to utilizing one-on-one therapy sessions with a licensed healthcare professional, it is not the only form of therapy available to patients. There is also what is called recreational therapy.

What is Recreational Therapy?

It is a form of treatment that is administered through a series of recreational activities and physical engagement to treat emotional and behavioral issues. This treatment is utilized to engage the patient to improve their emotional and physical well-being. The goal of recreational therapy is not only to treat the illness, but to improve the patient’s overall health.

How Does It Work?

Recreational Therapy includes activities that engage the patient both mentally and physically. While some may immediately attribute this to sports or other similar outdoor activities, providing recreational treatment can utilize a variety of techniques including arts and crafts, performance-based recreation such as dance, theater, and music, as well as community outings. 

In order to treat and support their patients’ physical, mental, and emotional health, recreational therapists work to lessen their clients’ anxiety, tension, and depression as well as assist them regain their basic motor and cognitive abilities, gain confidence, and socialize more successfully. Recreation workers, who plan recreational events purely for pleasure, should not be mistaken with recreational therapists.

Benefits of Recreational Therapy

A major benefit is how accessible it is for most patients. Therapeutic tools learned while practicing this form of care can continue once the client leaves the rehab facility. Patients can continue to use these tools once they return to their daily lives.

Recreational Therapy at California Recovery Center

California Recovery Center is proud to offer recreational therapy as one of the modalities we feature at our center. We believe in leading our patients towards the best and healthiest version of their life. Find your best self with us today!

Trauma Informed Care

trauma-informed care with man sitting on sofa

When going through the recovery process at an individualized treatment center, such as California Recovery Center, the health care providers work to find the best approach for each patient. There are numerous approaches a therapist can choose and one of these options is trauma informed care. This process requires detailed knowledge of the client’s history in order to facilitate the best treatment.

What is Trauma Informed Care?

Through trauma informed care, a patient’s life history is examined. According to this method, the health care professional must have a complete understanding of the client’s condition, both in the past and the present, in order to fully comprehend the source of the behavior. This provides a more detailed picture of the client’s life and allows the provider to deliver a diagnosis and treatment plan that is more accurate to their specific needs.

What are the Benefits of Trauma Informed Care?

One of the primary benefits is that it allows the health care provider to offer care based on each individual’s specific needs. Likewise, it allows patients to be more involved in their own recovery, by offering insight into their life. They become the expert at what traumas, experiences, and events have occurred and offer input into how these have shaped their behavior. Through this extensive knowledge, it presents the opportunity for the provider to approach the client with more empathy.

The Six Principles of Trauma Informed Care

There are six main principles at the foundation of trauma informed care: safety, transparency, support, collaboration, empowerment, and cultural/historical issues. These principles help guide the providers in their care of the patient, as well as establish processes and systems for treatment.  

Seeking Treatment

At California Recovery Center, we offer individualized treatment, including trauma informed care. Our practitioners work to get to know each patient that comes through our door in order to offer the best treatment for the individual. If you are looking to start your recovery journey, reach out to California Recovery Center today!

The Link Between Depression and Alcohol  

Addictive substances can be broken into two different groups known as stimulants (or “uppers”) and depressants (or “downers”), depending on how they interact with the body and mind. From these descriptors, it’s pretty easy to decipher what the effects of these substances do. Despite the fact it is so often consumed in social settings and is marketed as a product to enjoy at parties and other lively events, alcohol is considered a “downer.” From this, the consumer can experience a state of sedation, dulled senses, and suspended inhibitions. This can create a temporary feeling of relaxation, but too much can present an entirely different outcome, which is why some links depression and alcohol.  

Depression’s Link to Alcohol Addiction 

About one-third of individuals experiencing depression will develop an addiction or abuse alcohol. Teens who experience major depressive episodes are twice as likely to develop an alcohol addiction compared to their peers. “Women are more than twice as likely to start drinking heavily if they have a history of depression.” They are also more likely to “overdo it” than their male counterparts when going through a depressive period.  

Can You Develop Depression from Drinking?  

Because of its suppressant qualities, it is very common for people to turn to alcohol to help them unwind after a stressful day at work or difficult other difficult experiences. This is perfectly acceptable, as long as a glass doesn’t turn into a bottle. When an individual begins to use alcohol to help them cope with every issue that arises, this can reflect the start of an alcohol addiction. 

Also, if drinking becomes excessive, it can damage the brain and lead to depression. It can also cause you to develop depression inadvertently, through careless actions carried out during a state of intoxication (poor decisions, DUIs, etc.).  

Seeking Help for Addiction and Depression  

A preexisting condition of depression combined with a substance addiction is what is considered a dual diagnosis. When seeking recovery for a dual diagnosis, it is important to seek qualified, experienced help. At California Recovery Center, our team of certified care technicians are not only here to assist you in your recovery, but help you build a foundation and healthy coping mechanisms so you can live your best life.