5 Ways To Get Involved with Mental Health Awareness Month

During the month of May, join Cedar House in participating in Mental Health Awareness Month as we strive to raise awareness about mental health topics to decrease stigma and equip people with helpful, lifesaving information and resources. Here are 5 ways to get involved with Mental Health Awareness Month:

1. Educate Yourself on Mental Health Topics

Mental health refers to our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It is the way we think, feel and act. Our mental health also determines how well we are able to handle stress, relate to others, and make decisions. The goal of mental health awareness is to allow the people who are suffering to know that they are not alone and that help is nearby. To start, it can be helpful to take the time to learn about mental health topics including different conditions and their warning signs, ways you can incorporate self-care into your routine, or how to help a loved one who is experiencing a mental illness. The National Institute on Mental Health, The National Alliance on Mental Illness and the American Psychological Association are all reputable sources and great places to start.

2. Take an Online Mental Health Screening

The Mental Health America website offers free online screening questionnaires that you can take if you suspect you may be experiencing a mental health condition such as depression, substance use disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, ADHD, or an eating disorder. If the results suggest you might be living with one of these conditions, we recommended that you connect with a licensed mental health professional next for evaluation and treatment. Cedar House specializes in recovery from addition and co-occurring disorders, and our admissions specialists are just a phone callopens phone dialer away.

3. Create A Self-Care Routine

Just as habits like eating well and getting enough sleep can help us preserve our physical health, there are certain habits that can help us preserve our mental health, too. Self-care related to mental health looks different for everyone, so you may need to spend some time figuring out what works for you personally. For instance, you might find that taking regular breaks from social media helps you feel less anxious, that practicing gratitude makes you feel more optimistic, or that regularly journaling about your feelings helps you feel more balanced. Research suggests that maintaining good physical habits, such as exercising regularly, can promote mental health. In addition, meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and may also be beneficial for those facing challenges related to addiction. Mental Health Awareness Month could be an opportunity for you to look up free videos or try an app to help you learn how to meditate to see if it offers mental health benefits for you. Once you find the activities that seem to bring you positive benefits, try to incorporate them into your regular routine.

4. Check In On Those Around You

One way to raise awareness about mental health illnesses is to talk about them openly. Share your knowledge and information with the people around you in order to keep the conversation going and create a safe space for others to talk about their struggles. People who suffer from mental health issues tend to keep these struggles to themselves. Sending a message to let your loved one know you’re ready to listen can go a long way. 

When someone does consider in you, remember the importance of paying close attention to show respect and concern, since they’ve shown their trust in you. This May, commit to being more intentional about checking in on your loved ones to see how they’re doing. If they seem to be coping with some mental health challenges, you can offer support by telling your own story, offering resources, or simply providing a listening ear.

5. Support A Mental Health Organization

There are countless organizations out there that aim to support the mental health of the public in various ways. This Mental Health Awareness Month, consider getting involved with one of these in some way. Cedar House is always looking for new supporters. You can help us grow and serve more individuals in need by visiting our website to learn more and make a donation, or by simply following us on social media. Leverage your own social media to educate and raise awareness for mental health by sharing some of the information and inspiration you’ll find on our pages. You never know when your message might reach someone in their time of need.

The Value of Community

Ten years ago, when Jen started residential treatment at Cedar House, she knew her addiction was spiraling out of control and she needed help. What she didn’t know was what treatment was really all about and the true value of the community she would find at Cedar House.

As a young woman in her 20s, Jen liked to “work hard and play hard.” She earned her associate degree and worked in retail management. During that time, she began drinking heavily. By the age of 29, she had four DUIs. She said, “I would wake up and fixate on drinking. I realized that I was in the grips of alcoholism.”

After trying out meth to sober up enough to drink even more, meth became her drug of choice. Jen said, “Meth is evil. It’s the devil. It leads you to do things you would never do for that next high. I felt invincible, just didn’t care, and ended up losing friends and family along the way.”

From 2003-2013, Jen was in and out of jail and prison. When she got out, she would go back to drinking, using, and couch surfing, while never really admitting to being homeless.

In March of 2013, Jen’s parole agent told her that she needed treatment at Cedar House “or you’ll find yourself back in jail”. Jen said, “I didn’t really know what that was.” But she made the call and entered the Cedar House program three days later.

When she walked in and began the intake process, the admissions staff asked about her living arrangements, and she realized for the first time that she really was homeless. She said, “For me to admit that truth, I knew, this is it. This is my best effort for something different, and I was desperate for something different.”

Now, Jen considers that “the gift of desperation. It reminds you where you don’t want to be. Never forget day one.”

One day, when Jen was settling into life at Cedar House, she heard a group of women making noise in the TV room when one woman joked, “Can we quiet down and get some recovery in here?” Their conversation continued, and Jen listened as they talked about the program and the steps. She said, “They were on fire for recovery! I remember thinking, ‘That’s what I want. I want to follow that!’”

She spent the next 90 days absorbing as much as she could from the groups and people’s stories. She learned to set goals and create a timeline for her life in the next year. Starting with those three months of residential treatment, she mapped out the next three months for outpatient treatment, meetings, and a plan to go back to school for her drug and alcohol certificate after six months. Day after day, she fine-tuned the timeline, which would prove to be a crucial tool for her sustained recovery.

Someone special had come into Jen’s life at that time, but she wasn’t fully aware of her just yet. During the time Jen spent in and out of jail, speakers occasionally came in to address the inmates on a panel. One woman’s inspiring message stood out to Jen every time. One day at Cedar House, the same woman appeared on a panel addressing clients. Jen was excited to have the opportunity to approach the panel that day and meet the woman who would later become her sponsor and dear friend, Ernestine.

Starting with Ernestine and a few close friends she met at Cedar House, Jen built herself a community of like-minded individuals who support each other in recovery and in life. This group of men and women who would attend church on Sundays while in treatment has continued going to church and meetings together for the past ten years. They stay connected with a Facebook group chat and look forward to seeing each other at events. Jen wholeheartedly believes in the value of her community. She says, “We need to have and build community.”

With ten years of sobriety, Jen knows that it took a village to help her get to where she is today. After her time at Cedar House, she continued to follow her timeline with outpatient services, meetings and sober living. She earned her drug and alcohol certification at Valley College in 2015, an associate degree in human services, and her bachelor’s degree from Antioch University in Culver City in 2020.

Since finding recovery for herself, Jen has helped countless individuals learn to live a clean and sober life through various programs. In 2021, she came to work at Cedar House as a Case Manager and continues to be an EPIC Life Changer every day. She said, “The 12-step program teaches honesty and integrity. Learning those things is so important. That acronym EPIC (which stands for Cedar House’s core values of excellence, passion, integrity and compassion) means a lot to me.”

She continues to teach the principles of recovery that serve her well. She encourages clients to make a timeline. She said, “It just makes sense. What are you going to fill your time with? What are you going to do in the next 365 days?”

“Building community. That’s what we’ve done. You have to lose everything you think you know in order to start something better.” This is the message she shares with clients, learned from “a whole lot of life experience.” She said, “You’ve got to turn it around and use it for something good.”


New Patterns, New Habits

The outpatient program at Cedar House is designed to give clients flexibility while providing a structured path to recovery. After 18 years of abusing drugs, Sean learned that the best way to stay clean is to be accountable to a structured routine. By working a day shift and requiring himself to attend 6:30 p.m. meetings at Cedar House, he discovered new patterns and new habits for success in life.

At the age of 18, Sean left his parents’ house and moved to Texas to live with his grandmother. His girlfriend convinced him to return to California on a greyhound bus just a few months later. When he returned, he noticed that something was different about her but couldn’t quite put his finger on it. His friends all appeared thinner and behaved differently around him. One day, he walked in on them in a restroom smoking a pipe. Sean’s first instinct was to walk away, but his girlfriend was very persuasive and told him that trying meth with her would prove his love to her. Young and easily influenced, Sean tried meth. Reflecting back on that moment, he said, “I put that pipe to my lips and pulled the trigger. I blew my brains out. After that, it was use, after use, after use.”

For the next three years, Sean was homeless and deep in his addiction. He said his behavior when he was high “changed his family dynamic forever,” especially when he frightened his brother at home one day while manically running through their parents’ house with a samurai sword because of a meth-induced hallucination.

His first son was born when Sean was 21. He managed to stop using for a year and a half to get a job and provide for his family. But, when his son’s mother left him, Sean began using again and continued to use off and on until the age of 25. He started dating someone new and brought her into meth addiction with him. When they struggled to find jobs, they moved to Oklahoma, had a son together, and stayed sober for over a year. They fought regularly though and, realizing they were incompatible when they weren’t on drugs, decided to get a divorce.

Sean moved back in with his parents and started using again. At the age of 29, he met his current girlfriend and attempted to conceal his addiction. Continuing to go to the gym and maintain his physical appearance gave him an outer shell that hid his brokenness inside. But his girlfriend was concerned about his behavior and undiagnosed bipolar episodes, and even caught him using twice. He said that his drug abuse “did nothing but destroy me mentally and emotionally.”

When he finally began therapy around the age of 36, Sean started uncovering a lot about his mental condition. He found the Cedar House outpatient program and realized he had much more to learn. He said, “Cedar House helped me to regain my mental state and live with integrity. You stand much taller when you live with integrity. They helped me wake up to see I was worth something. I had spent so much time looking for self-worth in other people, which made me easy to manipulate.”

He completed the 90-day outpatient program on November 15. During that time, he found that “accountability to be there in groups three times a week made me accountable for my job. It was pretty convenient. It helped me develop a new pattern and better habits.

Now, Sean works as a store room clerk for a roofing shingle producer and says he enjoys his job. He maintains healthy relationships and continues to be an active part of his sons’ lives.

Sean said, “The outpatient program at Cedar House helped me reinforce my sense of self and ended a long streak of 18 years of using. I would encourage people to seek therapy. Use all your options. What’s the worst that could happen? You could get better!”

Man standing at microphone with big smile.

Tough Love

Trauma, fear, suffering, repeat… Does that cycle sound familiar? It does to Yolanda. When she saw her own daughter struggling with the same feelings of anxiety and desperation that she felt years before, she knew she had to help her break the generational cycle of trauma, fear and suffering. She knew it was time for tough love.

As a parent, no one wants to see their child suffer, especially when that suffering is so painful and familiar to your own experience. Years ago, Yolanda went through the challenges of addiction herself. After dealing with the pain and regret that came with her substance use disorder, she learned many valuable lessons about herself and about recovery. Unfortunately, children sometimes bear the biggest burden when their parents deal with drug and alcohol addiction. When Yolanda was deep in her addiction, her children were placed in foster care. Thankfully, she went through the Cedar House program and turned her life around. While that helped to bridge the gap between Yolanda and her children, there was still quite a bit of trauma that needed to be dealt with as they regained their relationship.

Yolanda’s daughter Sabrina was just twelve years old when her parents divorced.  By the time she was fourteen, she started drinking to escape the heaviness of her household. Her friends also drank heavily, and their parents tended to condone the behavior, sometimes even purchasing the alcohol and drinking with them. She said, “I drank with my parents, which made it seem like it was okay. It was cool at the time.”

By the age of 17, Sabrina and her siblings had been placed in foster care. The pain and loneliness of being displaced was grueling, and they felt as though “no one was trying to get us out.” That experience contributed greatly to her alcoholism.

A year later, Sabrina’s best friend died in a car accident. She and her boyfriend were drunk, and he was driving. When he crashed, she flew out of the car dying on impact. Sabrina said, “Losing my best friend when I was eighteen really took a toll on me. Not having a family dynamic made it even harder.”

As time went on, Sabrina’s drinking continued to worsen. She said:

Toward the end I started getting angry, wanting to fight everybody. I was a slave to the alcohol. It controlled me and everything I did.

Sabrina moved into the extended foster care program, but the freedom of having her own apartment allowed her drinking to get more out of control. Since Yolanda had changed her life and entered into recovery, Sabrina was able to move back in with her.

Seeing this behavior in her daughter was heartbreaking for Yolanda. She said, “I would reflect back remembering her as my little girl and how kind hearted she was. To watch the destruction that alcohol was doing to her was crushing to my soul. I saw my innocent little girl being taken down by this monster of a disease, and I couldn’t do anything about it at the time. I felt helpless.”

Yolanda tried unsuccessfully to get Sabrina into treatment. She said:

After many attempts of asking her to get help, one day I got the courage to use some tough love and kicked her out of my house. I told her I couldn’t sit and watch her slowly kill herself.

At that point, Sabrina became homeless. She was couch surfing each night until she started dating someone whose parents allowed her to stay at their house. She said, “They partied all the time.” And things just got worse for Sabrina. She started getting symptoms of withdrawals when she wasn’t drinking. The shaking and hallucinations terrified her. She said, “It woke me up. It knew I was done.”

Sabrina remembered:

Mom always said, ‘When you’re ready, let me know.’ So, I threw out my fears.

When Yolanda heard that Sabrina was ready for help, she knew right away that her struggles with alcohol were over. She knew that accepting the genuine, compassionate care she would receive from the staff at Cedar House would turn her daughter’s life around, just as it had for her. Yolanda said, “I never once doubted her decision. I saw that she was tired of drinking. I felt so proud and overjoyed!”

Starting at Cedar House was intimidating at first for Sabrina.  She said, “Dealing with feeling sober and dealing with life really scared me.”

To her surprise, the experience was truly life-changing. She said:

I felt alive for the first time. I had been so numb.

Sabrina found that she was comfortable at Cedar House and could relate to the people there. The counseling and classes throughout the day were beneficial and prepared her to start her new life without alcohol. She said that her case manager helped her to get to know herself, heal from past trauma, and be prepared to face her triggers.

Now Sabrina is nearly four years clean and sober. She works full time for FedEx and studies psychology at San Bernardino Valley College. She plans to graduate in May and pursue a career as a therapist. She said, “I want to help people deal with their trauma. I think I’ll be able to really relate to people.”

Yolanda is a very proud mother. She said:

We have an open line of communication with each other, and she has forgiven me for past mistakes. It feels great to know that she still works with her sponsor in her recovery. She understands this disease and what it has done to our family. We are both working towards our recovery and our healing as mother and daughter.


12 Reasons To Get Sober

Here are just a few of the ways being clean and sober will make your life better. Read on for 12 reasons to get sober at Cedar House:

1. Sleep better

When you sleep well, everything in your life feels better. Staying sober means you can finally get quality rest when you need it. You’ll be more focused and more content all around.

2. Improved diet

Eating habits tend to get worse as drug and alcohol use worsens. When you make the decision to be sober, you’ll find it’s easier to make healthier decisions.

3. Stabilize weight

Your weight often reflects your unhealthy lifestyle. Stabilizing your weight is more manageable when you’re sober.    

4. Fewer health problems

Alcohol and drug-related health problems are all too common. When you’re free of those substances, your body is free from the toxic chemicals that lead to sickness and long-term health issues.

5. More free time

Do you ever wish you had more time to spend with family, get some work done, or try out a new hobby? Being sober frees up time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.

6. More money

Just imagine the money you’ll save when you’re not spending it on drugs and alcohol!

7. Stronger relationships

There’s no better way to mend your relationships or build strong new ones than getting sober. You’ll reunite family ties and become a more trustworthy friend and partner.

8. Improved memory

Do you ever wish you weren’t so forgetful? One excellent way to improve your memory is to stay clean and sober.

9. More energy

Alcohol and drugs leave you feeling tired and lethargic. When you step into your new sober lifestyle, you’ll find you have much more energy.

10. More productive

With that newfound energy, you can take on the world! In recovery, you will be a much more productive member of society.

11. Better self-image

When you feel better, you look better to everyone around you but, most importantly, to yourself. You can look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of the image looking back.

12. Healthier problem solving

You’ll find that the sober version of you is much better at solving problems. The new you will find healthy ways to deal with everyday issues and life’s big challenges.

It's a beautiful day to be sober.

Mental Health Tips for the Holiday Season

take care of yourself

‘Tis the season to be merry and bright. So why is it such a hard time for our mental health? According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people say that their stress increased during the holiday season, which can lead to physical illness, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Those surveyed said this is due to financial pressure, lack of time, gift giving and family gatherings. The good news is that there are some good ways to reduce or prevent holiday stress and depression. Here are five simple tips to help you manage your mental health this year:

  1. Be realistic. The holiday season doesn’t have to be perfect or look just like last year. Traditions change as families change and grow. Remember to be flexible.
  2. Acknowledge your feelings. Just because it’s the holiday season, doesn’t mean you can force yourself to feel joyful. It’s normal to feel sadness especially if you’ve recently experienced loss or hardship. Take time to express your feelings if you’re feeling down.
  3. Set aside time for self-care. This is not a good time to abandon your healthy habits. Remember to find time for balanced meals, exercise, meditation and relaxation. Seek professional help if you need it. Cedar House is here to help if you find yourself struggling with substance abuse or need someone to talk to. Reach out if you’re feeling lonely or isolated.
  4. Plan ahead. It’s important to set aside time for shopping, baking, connecting with friends and other activities. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, so you can work to avoid them. Plan your menus, make shopping lists and stick to a budget to reduce stressful days throughout the season.
  5. Remember what matters. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the season. Limit your time on social media, and try to take some time to enjoy the moments with family and friends. Consider volunteering your time or doing something to help others That’s a great way to lift your spirits.

With a little planning, positive thinking, and these practical tips, you can minimize your stress and enjoy the holidays this year. The staff at Cedar House wishes you joy and peace this holiday season.

The Power of Stories

When Tony walked into Cedar House years after completing treatment, he realized that his new perspective on life could save lives. He remembered the power of the testimonials he heard as a client and knew he should share his. What he didn’t realize was just how powerful telling his own story could be. After recounting all he had been through over the years, Tony said, “Thank you for the opportunity to tell you my whole story. I’ve never actually just gone through from top to bottom and told my full story. Wow! It’s just awesome to think how much this recovery thing really works. It’s pretty amazing!”

Think about that. Tony credits the stories he heard at Cedar House with planting the seed for his recovery. For the first time, he felt that he wasn’t alone in his battle with addiction. And, now, the telling of his own is providing staying power for his recovery.

Tony’s relationship with meth was unrivaled in his late 20s. He said the first time he tried it, “It was like love at first sight. I knew we were going to have a relationship.” He felt that the chemicals in meth were his companion, giving him courage and defining who he was. After using only on weekends for a few months, he found his own dealer and became a daily user. When he found out it could be smoked, that was it. He said, “I went from being a social person to a recluse. I quit culinary school and spent a year using.”

Fortunately for Tony, he had friends who recognized he needed help. They came to his home and told his mother the situation. She was devastated, but together they helped him get into an outpatient program. For four years, he tried unsuccessfully to quit on his own or attempt different outpatient programs, but continued using during that time.

In 2007, Tony was living in his car and deep in his addiction. He was frequently sick and barely remembers how he came to enter into treatment at Cedar House. He knows that he tried calling regularly to get in and was relieved when someone called to tell him there was a bed available for him. He spent the next 90 days at Cedar House learning about his disease and how to overcome it. He said, “They were brutally honest with me and asked the right questions.” That’s when he uncovered some of the childhood trauma that contributed to his struggles. He also learned to accept his higher power and to let people in to help him. Listening to fellow clients and staff share their testimonies empowered him to change his life.

Reflecting on other lessons he discovered during his time at Cedar House, Tony said, “I didn’t know that all I needed was to get some good life skills and give it an honest try.” Near the end of his residential treatment, Tony went with a group of clients from Cedar House to a job fair at Fairmount Park. It was there that he decided to join the Army. He served in the U.S. military for 10 years and moved up the ranks to Drill Sergeant.

Tony said, “Recovery is not just staying clean. It’s moving forward in life.” He is indeed moving forward with his, as he continues his education in pursuit of a human services degree next spring and eventually a psychology degree beyond that, in order to be able to serve people in a clinical environment. In that way, he said that he is “starting to use (his) skills and trust the process.”

Cedar House set me in the right direction. I wouldn’t have felt capable if it wasn’t for Cedar House. They primed me and prepped me to see my value and that my life is worth living.

Between his time in the service and his experience in rehab, Tony learned the importance of feeling empowered. He hopes to impart these lessons on other individuals in need: “Don’t tell me what you can and cannot do. I’m going to tell you. Empower you. You have no idea what you’re capable of. If it worked for me, why can’t it work for you.” He believes in practicing life skills, going to meetings, having a sponsor, meditation, prayer, not giving in to cravings, and believing in his skills. Those firm principles and the strength of his story will take him far in life and in his efforts to serve others in need.


Understanding MAT

What is MAT?

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide treatment for substance use disorders (SUD). First and foremost, it’s important to note that Cedar House treats each client as an individual. At the start of treatment, clients sit down with their case managers and determine a treatment plan that works best for them. In some cases, MAT is used to prevent or reduce overdose. In others, a combination of medication and therapy can successfully treat the SUD. MAT works to help sustain recovery in many cases.

How does it work?

MAT is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers that contain opiates. The prescribed medication:

  • normalizes brain chemistry
  • relieves physiological cravings
  • blocks the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids
  • normalizes body functions without the negative and euphoric effects of the substance used.
understanding MAT

MAT is clinically effective because it provides a comprehensive, individualized combination of medication and behavioral therapy that addresses clients’ needs.

Ultimately, the goal of MAT is full recovery with the ability to live a meaningful life free from addiction. Research shows that this approach:

  • reduces overdoses
  • increases retention in treatment
  • decreases illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • improves birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders while pregnant
  • increases a client’s ability to maintain employment after treatment

What medications are used?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several different medications to treat alcohol and opioid use disorders. These medications do not just substitute one drug for another. Rather, they relieve withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. Cedar House’s MAT program offers evidence-based treatment options that are clinically driven and tailored to meet each client’s needs. For Alcohol Use Disorder, acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are the most common medications used. While these do not provide a cure for the disorder when used alone, they can be effective when used with behavioral therapies. Buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone are used to treat addiction to short-acting opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone. These MAT medications can be safe for clients to use for months, years, or even a lifetime if necessary. Naloxone is used to prevent opioid overdose by reversing the toxic effects of the overdose.

Cedar House provides assistance in connecting clients with Narcotic Treatment Programs (NTPs) or Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) in the area where they will be transitioning to ensure a smooth transition and prevent any lapses in care.  Interested in learning more about MAT at Cedar House? Give us a call at 909-421-7120.

A reminder about child safety

It’s important to remember that if medications are allowed to be kept at home, they must be locked in a safe place away from children.

Choosing Your Path

When Michael decided to go to rehab, it was a choice between two very different paths. He realized that there were two divergent paths and, while both were hard, one was the clear winner. He asked himself: do you want to continue on the hard, destructive path with hangovers, blackouts, overdoses, fights, promiscuity, living on the streets, a toxic body and “always running against what’s right”? Or, do you want to take the hard, productive path in life – one in which you get an education, word hard, eat healthy, go to the gym, nurture friendships, pray, tell the truth and become a good father? Once he determined the answer for himself, he made the decision to go to Cedar House and use what he learned there to turn his life around. 

His rebellious days started after he lost his father at the age of nine. They had a very close relationship, and losing him meant that he would have to become a man without his father’s guidance and wisdom. Struggling with the pain of that loss, Michael’s mother tried to steer him away from temptations. Their relationship was strained, and Michael developed trust issues as well as a strong desire to experiment and test his limits.  

When Michael was offered a full-ride scholarship to UC Berkeley to play soccer, he jumped at the chance to get away. That’s when he really let loose and started partying hard. The pain he felt from his father’s death and the unhealthy relationship he had with his mother showed up on the soccer field. While he was a very impressive athlete, he struggled to be truly present. He often found himself performing on “auto-pilot” and simply going through the familiar motions only to turn overly aggressive and angry. He would start fights and injure opponents when he was unable to manage his explosive emotions and violent reactions.

One day when Michael was using and had gotten dangerously high, his mother called to let him know that his uncle, who lived near Michael and had become a father figure for him, was dying. Michael recalled that he spoke to his mother, but that he did not call his uncle when he was on his death bed because he was too high. That night Michael survived his first overdose. Unfortunately, his uncle passed away that same night. Michael believes that his uncle took his place.  

Michael experienced so much at a young age. He played soccer for LA Galaxy, and then in Ireland, Finland, Portugal, Italy and near the border of Mexico. He learned to speak Spanish, but unfortunately left a trail of destructive relationships all along the way. From those experiences, he learned many lessons. But the most important lesson that he said he learned is that “God stands by you in the darkest of places to pull you though.”  

Today, Michael knows that God was with him when he suffered the excruciating pain of pancreatitis three times and when he drove off the road flipping his car multiple times while intoxicated. Amazingly surviving those near-death moments solidified his faith. He knows that his pain brought with it beauty and unity for his Cedar House experience. With empathy and understanding, he could connect with the other clients and feed off their strength. He finally learned to break down the barriers that kept him from developing strong relationships and learning the techniques he would need to stay sober. He is proud to reflect on his “big transformation” and has become a motivational speaker and a youth leader at his church. 

Ultimately, it was Michael’s relationship with God and the lessons learned from his father at a young age combined with what he gained at Cedar House that gave him a fighting chance to choose the right path. He said, “I went full circle. Now I’m moving in a Godly direction.” 


Patience is a Virtue

“I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t stop.”

What was the problem? Kayla had gotten sober before. What was different this time? She needed help understanding her condition, and Cedar House provided not only that clarity but also much more.

Considering Kayla’s ups and downs with drug addiction, it’s understandable that there would be new variables present in her experience with drugs eight years later. In that time, she battled abusive relationships, financial struggles, and relapses. She went to treatment and found peace in recovery only to find herself suffering in her addiction again months later. It wasn’t until she began working with the counselors at Cedar House that she truly began to understand why she continued to return to old habits.

After her parents divorced, Kayla started experimenting with marijuana and alcohol her freshman year of high school. It was mostly on weekends, but it became a regular part of her life. She and her then boyfriend decided to head to Las Vegas after graduation and tried cocaine for the first time. It was a horrible experience for them as they began fighting and ended up stranded in Las Vegas. She said, “You would think I would never want to do that again.”

Unfortunately, just two weeks later, her boyfriend suggested that they try meth. She enjoyed that taste of the highly addictive drug so much that she began using it almost every weekend. They would go to parties where their friends were all drinking and using meth. Eventually, meth went from something she used at parties on weekends to a method for self-medicating when she felt down. She said, “I got to the point where I would do it any time I was upset.”

Desperate for drugs when she ran out of money, Kayla started shoplifting. She couldn’t afford both her alcohol and meth habits, so her sole focus became finding enough money to buy meth. When she wanted a quicker high, she resorted to injecting the drugs. And the dangerous cycle continued.

When she turned 20, she found out she was pregnant and managed to stop using until the baby was born. Thirty days later, she was using again. She had broken up with her son’s father and, six months later, began dating another man who provided her with drugs. One year into their relationship, she found out she was pregnant again. During that pregnancy, she tried to stay sober but relapsed a few times. The father continued using consistently.

They had a baby girl in 2017 and resolved to get sober. The baby’s father wanted to regain custody of his children and worked to get clean for them. Both Kayla and her boyfriend stayed sober for 18 months. Despite his episodes of psychosis, she tried to be supportive, but they eventually turned back to drugs. One night, he physically abused her to the degree that she needed hospital care. CFS removed her children from her custody over concerns about drugs and violence.

This was the lowest point for Kayla. She was devastated over losing her children and made the decision to call for help. She interviewed with SARC (San Bernardino County’s Screening, Assessment and Referral Center)opens PDF file . She told them that she would wait for a bed at Cedar House to come available because she had heard that the program was the most effective.

Since she had a current CFS case, Kayla was placed in Maple House after five days of quarantine and detox. Beyond her treatment, the counselors there helped her identify red flags in her relationships, advocated for her, and transported her to court dates.

At Maple House Kayla was finally able to answer the question: “Why can’t I stay sober?” She learned that the trauma she went through with her boyfriend and other challenges made her mind dependent on drugs. She needed to uncover the trauma and learn to manage her feelings. She said, “If it wasn’t for Maple House, I wouldn’t still be sober.”

In addition to the trauma-informed care Kayla received at Maple House, she learned valuable parenting and life skills. She found value in structure and an orderly living environment. The staff at Maple House requires clients to wake up by 7 a.m. and get dressed for the day. They encourage the women to set goals that they can work toward each day. Kayla said, “Even when you don’t want to go, they make you get up and handle your situation and whatever the day has for you. They taught me that if you have a problem, you need to think about your motive. Think about what you want to accomplish and how your actions that day will affect that.”

Kayla found herself growing as a mother every day. As her mindset improved, so did her sleep schedule and living space. She said, “I never understood the idea of cleaning as you go.” But now, she has learned to manage everyday tasks much better after sharing in the chores at Maple House.

Now, Kayla works as a waitress and lives with her father while continuing to save and work to be granted custody of her children again. She looks forward to the unsupervised visits she is able to have with her 4-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son each week. She also remembers fondly the times her children visited at Maple House and didn’t want to leave the nurturing environment there. At the time, Kayla thought her situation was unfair, but in hindsight she realizes that the time away from her kids gave her room to grow and become the mother they deserve.

She said that she will always recommend the Maple House program: “A lot of times when you’re getting clean you want it to work right away, but Maple House taught me that patience is a virtue.”