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.”

Back to School

Going back to school as an adult in recovery can be daunting, but this may be an opportune time to reach new goals. Much of the focus in early recovery is spent on learning how to stay clean, but next comes re-evaluating your new sober lifestyle. Here are some tips and inspiration for those thinking about taking the plunge and heading back to school. 

Like recovery, school is a serious commitment. It requires patience, hard work, and perseverance. While there are many benefits to getting your education goals on track, there are a number of challenges to overcome as well. Consider the expenses, the time commitment and the concerns about difficult coursework. On the other hand, pursuing your education is a meaningful activity that can help you to avoid triggers. It can provide a wealth of new opportunities to improve your life both financially and mentally.

Concerns and reservations are not unusual for adults returning to school. The good news is that these barriers are surmountable if you take these tips into consideration:

  • Think through the financing – Compare the tuition and enrollment fees of different schools and degrees. Don’t forget to factor in miscellaneous expenses like textbooks and transportation. Look at your current spending to see if any funds could be reallocated toward school. There are many high-quality community colleges and online universities that are less expensive to attend. If you’re working, find out if you’re eligible for employer tuition assistance. Check out the list of federal grants and apply for scholarships that target adult students.
  • Balance your time – Adult students are more likely to have work and family obligations. If you work full-time, the flexibility of an online degree or night school may be a good fit for you. For adults who are also in recovery, it’s important to prioritize your 12-Step meetings. Remember to always maintain a self-care routine, especially as it relates to your recovery.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – Your support network is essential when you embark on a new challenge. This can include your partner, friends, parents, coworkers, fellow students, teachers or your sponsor. If you’re struggling with a particular course or finding it too hard to balance it all, be sure to reach out to your support network for help.

As you develop your plan, remember to ask yourself these important questions:

  • Why are you going to school? What degree would you like to have?
  • Would you need a GED or can you apply to college immediately?
  • What are the required standardized tests?
  • How will you pay for the degree?
  • Do you have any credits from a previous institution that you can transfer?
  • Would it be better to be a full-time or part-time student?

The decision to return to school as an adult is one that you won’t make lightly. While there are risks and sacrifices involved, there are also great rewards. New knowledge, new experiences and new opportunities can enrich your life and help you move forward in your recovery journey. As always, the Cedar House community is here to support you along the way.

woman looking at computer screen

If you or someone you love is having difficulty achieving lifelong goals like continued education because of substance use or co-occurring mental health issues, Cedar House is here to help. Call us today at 909-421-7120.

Understanding Addictive Drugs

Everyone is aware of how prolific dangerous drugs are on the streets of California. But do you really know what’s out there and what makes them so dangerous? Understanding addictive drugs that are being distributed in our community is essential. The more we know about these drugs, the more we can work to prevent addiction and overdoses among our friends and family.

addictive drugs

Methamphetamine is an illegal and highly addictive stimulant. The short-term effects of Meth include alertness and euphoria which can cause users to become immediately addicted. Long-term use of Meth can lead to problems such as violent behavior, psychosis, severe dental problems, and paranoia. In 2020, 2.5 million Americans aged 12 or older reported having used methamphetamine in the past year, according to the CDC.

Cocaine is an illegal and highly addictive stimulant made from the leaves of the South American coca plant. It commonly comes in a powder form that is snorted or injected. It can also be smoked or administered to the skin. Street names for Cocaine include blow, bump, coke, and snow. Crack is the more pure and potent form of Cocaine, which typically comes in solid blocks or crystals. It is typically smoked or injected, allowing it to reach the brain more quickly and result in an intense high. In 2020, more than 19,000 people in the United States died from an overdose involving cocaine.

Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive substance that is synthetically derived from the Opium poppy plant. It comes in the form of white or brownish powder, or as a black and sticky substance known as “black tar.” Heroin is most commonly injected though it can also be snorted, smoked, or consumed orally. In 2020, more than 13,000 people died in the United States from an overdose involving heroin. Prescription opioids, which are sometimes prescribed to treat moderate-to-severe pain following surgery or injury, are also highly addictive and often lead to Heroin use. From 1999 to 2020, more than 263,000 people died in the United States from overdoses involving prescription opioids.

Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic man-made opioid.  Illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) is non-pharmaceutical fentanyl made illegally and sometimes mixed into other drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin.  In 2020, more than 56,000 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids, including IMF.

Ecstasy is an illicit drug often used by high-schoolers and young adults. It is considered a party or rave drug and is dangerous because it can lower inhibitions. Its psychoactive effects include enhanced sensory perception. Ecstasy is most commonly taken orally in pill form or dissolved in water but can also be snorted or injected.

Hallucinogens, like LSD, PCP, Mushrooms, and Salvia, are all examples of psychoactive or mind-altering drugs. While an addiction to this type of drug is less common than other drugs, use and abuse of these substances can cause dangerous consequences and severe negative side effects.

Inhalants include household items such as spray paints, markers and cleaning supplies which are inhaled through the mouth or nose in order to achieve a high. Inhaling certain types of these substances can lead to heart failure, resulting in death.

Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused addictive substances. The main psychoactive ingredient, THC, causes temporary euphoria followed by drowsiness, slowed reaction time, and increased appetite. Synthetic Marijuana refers to the growing number of manufactured substances that contain a chemical similar to THC. Its effects can be unpredictable and intense.

While the decision to use one of these drugs for the first time is usually voluntary, an unexpected addiction can make the decision to quit much harder. Addiction changes the way a person’s brain operates and, consequently, the way that person behaves.

The good news is that Cedar House is here to help. As long as these deadly drugs are on the streets, people in our community will be susceptible to them. The dedicated staff at Cedar House is committed to empowering those who are suffering with substance use and co-occurring disorders through the challenges of addiction. Support our mission today. Together, we can make a change. We can combat the drug culture and bring about a safer, healthier community.

A Collection of 60 Inspirational Quotes to Guide Your Recovery

Are you ready to get on the path to recovery? Maybe you’ve been sober for years and continue to work on your recovery everyday. Or, you might be suffering and feel unsure about whether you can even start battling your addiction. Wherever you are in your journey, Cedar House is here to support you along the way. Sometimes, simple words of wisdom go a long way in motivating you to pursue a better life. Please use the following collection of inspirational quotes to guide you along whatever part of the path you find yourself on today:

woman looking across field
  1. “If you can quit for a day, you can quit for a lifetime.” – Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  2. “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” – C.S. Lewis
  3. “I got sober. I stopped killing myself with alcohol. I began to think: ‘Wait a minute. If I can stop doing this, what are the possibilities?’ And slowly it dawned on me that it was maybe worth the risk.” – Craig Ferguson
  4. “Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
  5. “We honor ourselves when we speak out for recovery. We show the world that recovery matters because it brings hope and peace into the lives of individuals and their loved ones.” – Beth Wilson
  6. “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.” – Mahatma Gandhi
  7. “I think that the power is in the principle. The principle of moving forward, as though you have the confidence to move forward, eventually gives you confidence when you look back and see what you’ve done.” – Robert Downey Jr.
  8. “No matter how dark the night may get, your light will never burn out.” – Jeanette LeBlanc
  9. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  10. “Sometimes we motivate ourselves by thinking of what we want to become. Sometimes we motivate ourselves by thinking about who we don’t ever want to be again.” – Shane Niemeyer
  11. “One of the hardest things was learning that I was worth recovery.” – Demi Lovato
  12. “Rising from the ashes, I am born again, powerful, exultant, majestic through all the pain.” – Shannon Perry
  13. “Sometimes you’ve just got to give yourself what you wish someone else would give you.” – Dr. Phil McGraw
  14. “Sobriety was the best gift I ever gave myself.” – Rob Lowe
  15. “Recovery is all about using our power to change our beliefs that are based on faulty data.” – Kevin McCormick
  16. “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Confucius
  17. “Though no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand-new ending.” – Carl Bard
  18. “Believe you can, and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt
  19. “Amazing how we can light tomorrow with today.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  20. “Don’t let the past steal your present.” – Cherríe L. Morga
  21. “If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep walking.” – Buddhist Proverb
  22. “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford
  23. “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” – Muhammad Ali
  24. “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  25. “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” – Joseph Campbell
  26. “If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.” – Michael Jordan
  27. “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar
  28. “I understood, through rehab, things about creating characters. I understood that creating whole people means knowing where we come from, how we can make a mistake and how we overcome things to make ourselves stronger.” – Samuel L. Jackson
  29. “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier
  30. “My recovery from drug addiction is the single greatest accomplishment of my life… but it takes work — hard, painful work — but the help is there, in every town and career, drug/drink freed members of society, from every single walk and talk of life to help and guide.” – Jamie Lee Curtis
  31. “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein
  32. “Sometimes you can only find Heaven by slowly backing away from Hell.” – Carrie Fisher
  33. “It is 10 years since I used drugs or alcohol and my life has improved immeasurably. I have a job, a house, a cat, good friendships and, generally, a bright outlook… The price of this is constant vigilance because the disease of addiction is not rational.” – Russell Brand
  34. Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese proverb
  35. “I realized that I only had two choices: I was either going to die or I was going to live, and which one did I want to do? And then I said those words, ‘I’ll get help,’ or, ‘I need help. I’ll get help.’ And my life turned around. Ridiculous for a human being to take 16 years to say, ‘I need help.’” – Sir Elton John
  36. “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller
  37. “If it wasn’t for that rehab center, I probably wouldn’t have been here. In terms of recovery, it has been very important for me to be a part of a recovery community, to actively be around my people because they understand me. They get it.” – Macklemore
  38. “All the suffering, stress, and addiction comes from not realizing you already are what you are looking for. “– Jon Kabat-Zinn
  39. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
  40. “Every experience in your life is being orchestrated to teach you something you need to know to move forward.” – Brian Tracy
  41. “Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.” – Bernard Williams
  42. “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.” – Rosa Parks
  43. “Nothing is impossible; the word itself says, ‘I’m possible!’” – Audrey Hepburn
  44. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  45. “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean
  46. “I dwell in possibility.” – Emily Dickinson
  47. “Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you.” – Aldous Huxley
  48. “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
  49. “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
  50. “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  51. “As one goes through life, one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move.” – Katharine Hepburn
  52. “Amazing how we can light tomorrow with today.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  53. “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe
  54. “I went to hell and back, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Then I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in, happy about life and comfortable in my skin.” – Drew Barrymore
  55. “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – J.K. Rowling
  56. “Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” – Charlotte Whitton
  57. “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  58. “Even in the midst of devastation, something within us always points the way to freedom.” – Sharon Salzberg
  59. “Recovery is hard. Regret is harder.” – Brittany Burgunder
  60. “If things go wrong, don’t go with them.” – Roger Babson

Signs of Addiction

If you suspect your loved one is suffering with substance use disorder, it’s important to recognize some of the signs of addiction in their behavior. Here are seven potential warning signs to watch for:

  • Avoiding friends and family – If you’ve noticed that your loved one has avoided gatherings with friends and family recently, this could be a warning sign. Try reaching out to make sure everything is okay, especially if you’re noticing a pattern.
  • Getting high or drunk regularly – This one may seem obvious, but it’s easy to try and ignore this type of behavior if it has been a part of their lifestyle for a while. Take note of how frequent their using is so you can address it when the time is right.
  • Talking frequently about using – If it seems like your loved one talks about drinking or using all the time, chances are that’s because it is always on their mind. If they struggle to free their minds of drugs or alcohol, they are likely suffering with addiction and need to find help.
  • Getting caught in lies – Have you caught them lying about how much they are using or drinking? This could be a sign that they are becoming aware of the problem and may even be ready to seek treatment. Confront the lying in an effort to point them in the right direction.
  • Poor work performance – Do you notice a change in their work performance? Whether it’s tasks around the house or a change in behavior in the workplace, these can be warning signs that they are drinking or using too much.
  • Risky behavior – Have you witnessed them making risky decisions while under the influence? This behavior can result in serious harm and should be addressed immediately.
  • Seeming depressed, hopeless or suicidal – If you see that your loved one has become withdrawn and depressed, it is important that you reach out for help. Make sure they know they are not alone and that you are there to help them find a treatment program that can get them on the right track.

Please be aware of these signs of addiction and make the lifesaving call to Cedar House. Our compassionate staff will work with you and your loved one to develop an individualized treatment plan to get him/her on the path to recovery.

Overdose Statistics

Alarming Increases in Overdose Statistics

Do you know someone who’s addicted to drugs? The sad reality is that drug addiction affects at least one in every ten Americans. And overdoses have become all too common.

The nation’s drug overdose epidemic continues to affect every state and now is driven by illicit fentanyl, methamphetamines, and cocaine, often in combination or in adulterated forms. More than 107,000 deaths were reported in the United States between December 2020 and December 2021.

The CDC estimated that more than 10,000 Californians died of drug overdoses during the year-long period that ended April 2021. That’s a record high and nearly 29% increase from the year before. Almost 64% of U.S. overdose deaths were caused by fentanyl. Meth overdoses also skyrocketed 48% in the same period.

In San Bernardino County, deaths related to opioid overdose grew to a total of 288 in 2020. That’s 12.9/100,000 residents.

Consider the types of drugs our clients at Cedar House use prior to treatment. 45% of our residential and withdrawal management clients come to us suffering with alcohol addiction. In our withdrawal management program, 52% need to detox from opioids, and 34% of our residential clients are addicted to methamphetamines.

What can you do to help?

  • Help us raise awareness. With overdose rates increasing this quickly, the need to share this information is urgent for those at risk. Help us break the stigma.
  • Support your loved ones in need of treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please call Cedar House todayopens phone dialer. We can help.
  • Donate to our mission. Cedar House provides evidence-based treatment to empower those affected by addiction to find wholeness in recovery. Please help us expand our programs to serve more individuals needing lifesaving care.

What Motivates You?

Sometimes one defining moment changes the course of your life. It motivates you to make a change to ensure the trajectory you’re on doesn’t result in a repeat of that moment. For Arlene, this moment was the tragic death of her brother. He overdosed on fentanyl. We hear about it on the news every day — the rate of Fentanyl overdoses is climbing at a staggering pace across the country, in California, in San Bernardino County…, and then it happened in Arlene’s family. This was the final straw. She knew she couldn’t risk her own life anymore. She couldn’t risk another tragedy in her family. And she certainly couldn’t risk her children losing their mother. This tragic overdose was her motivation to stay clean and sober.

Arlene was raised by her grandparents because her own parents suffered with addiction. After her grandmother’s death, 19-year-old Arlene felt a deep loneliness and began making misguided decisions. She starting spending time with cousins and friends who used drugs, which led to her own experimentation with different types of substances. At 21, she gave birth to her son and moved in with other relatives. She said, “I started using again there. I always found another crowd. It got worse and worse.”

By the time her son was two years old, Arlene had gotten involved in a new relationship and moved into what she called a “drug house.” That’s where she said she “got hooked every day.” They were kicked out of that home and moved back in with her cousins.  She entered into a new, abusive relationship that worsened her situation even more. She struggled with the knowledge that her son was witnessing all of this trauma.

Finally, CPS got involved. When a friend she thought she could rely on failed to bring her son to school as promised, the police went looking for them. She said, “I was too scared to face the cops because I knew I had a warrant.” She knew the only way they would leave is if she met them with her son. She said, “They saw I was under the influence. My six-year-old son saw the cops take me away to jail.”

Her son ended up being removed from the home where he was staying with family. As soon as Arlene got out of jail, she went straight to the CPS office. She said, “They told me what I had to do. I tried outpatient, but I just couldn’t stop using (meth).”

She was also in another unhealthy relationship. He had lost his kids, too, and was still using. She got a bed at another residential rehab facility but didn’t have success with intake. Her boyfriend discouraged her from going and encouraged her to use the night before.

She said, “It was more out of fear that I called Cedar House. When I saw my son at CPS, I saw the hurt in his eyes.” She knew the only way to get her son back was to get clean.

Her ex-boyfriend was also working on getting clean and dropped her off at Cedar House. She said, “I was scared at first. When I first got there, it was a scary feeling. I started second guessing myself. I had it in my mind that I wanted to leave.”

Then she had a powerful conversation with her case managers. They shared with her the harsh reality that staying in treatment would be the only way to reunite with her son. She said, “After that, I started to realize that I wasn’t seeing the whole picture.” When she started treatment, her justification was only her desire to get her son back. After that honest conversation, she said, “It finally clicked. You’ve got to make a change for yourself first.”

She started to accept the fact that she was an addict, and she did want to stop using. At that point, she said, “I started listening, doing the packets and opening up.”

Leaving Cedar House was overwhelming for Arlene. Her new friends supported her and showed her how to manage every-day tasks like laundry so she could feel confident with her life skills. She moved into sober living and nervously began her new life. She said, “I had never worked a day in my life. I struggled to find a job.” Despite the anxiety and self-doubt caused by her job hunt, CPS visits, and continuing outpatient treatment, Arlene persevered and began to find comfort in her new life. She found a job at a warehouse packaging food and stayed in her sober living home for 2 years.

She is proud to say that her son is back living with her, and she is now working at Stater Bros in the service deli. They live with her aunt who helps with her son, and Arlene is able to contribute to their household.

She said, “I think the big game changer was learning to put myself first to make a change.” Of course, she wanted a better life for her family, and is now able to provide that. She gives credit to “a lot of things that (my case manager) Virginia taught me. She gave us all a lot of hope that we don’t have to live like that. It’s up to us.”

Arlene’s experience at Cedar House changed her life. She said that her brother’s death motivated her to stay strong in her recovery, and she is incredibly grateful.

How to Support Family in Treatment

When your loved one enters addiction treatment, you’re filled with a unique combination of emotions from relief to uncertainty. In times like these, you can find comfort in knowing you are doing all you can to encourage them. Here are five ways Cedar House’s Clinical Director Kathleen Smith recommends you can support your loved one while he or she begins the recovery journey:

  • Educate yourself about addiction

Addiction is a complex disease. If your loved one is struggling with substance use or co-occurring disorders, one of the most important steps you can take is educating yourself about their condition. To discover prolific research about a variety of health topics that can help you learn about their diagnosis and try to gain a better understanding of what your loved one may be thinking or feeling, visit the websites: https://www.samhsa.gov/ and https://www.nimh.nih.gov/. In doing so, you’ll find that instead of being emotionally reactive or judgmental, you can take a more empathetic and thoughtful approach to supporting your loved one as they go through treatment. The more education you have the better you can help them succeed in recovery.

  • Listen to understand

The most vital skill for you to hone while your loved one is in treatment is listening. Whether you’ve been through treatment yourself, or have no experience with addiction, this is essential. Every situation is unique. Your loved one may be starting to develop a clearer picture of his/her disease and want to share these developments with you. If that is the case, be sure to listen with the intent to understand what they are going through versus listening to respond or react. This is an important distinction. Even though there may be continued conflict, your best move to begin repairing that relationship is to simply stop and listen.

  • Attend family group sessions

Family group sessions are an excellent tool for supporting your loved one and mending relationships. For clients whose relationship is not so volatile, we strongly encourage families to take advantage of this opportunity. The essence of family group is the power of learning together. You’ll uncover not only a better understanding of your loved one’s addiction, but also techniques that will be useful as you move forward together in recovery. In these bi-weekly evening sessions, we cover a variety of topics, including family roles and boundary setting for when clients are ready to return home.

  • Take care of yourself

Remember to take care of yourself. Management of your own behavior and boundaries is critical in your loved one’s early stages of recovery. While it’s key to learn that you can’t control how someone else will behave or react, you can take the important step of working on issues you may have to be sure you’re ready to be supportive. If you find that you are not ready, seek out individual counseling of your own while your family is getting counseling in their treatment program. Attending meetings and support groups like the ones found on these websites, Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, can help you to process your own trauma and reaction to addiction. Do not underestimate the importance of self-care.

  • Commit to consistency

Addiction is notably inconsistent. To counteract that challenge, prioritize consistent communication with your loved one. Schedule time to talk about how they are progressing. Make a commitment to call a few times a week or every day to check in for 10-15 minutes. This will give you an opportunity to hear about their day and learn more about their recovery, while also giving them another outlet for sharing. Following through with that commitment to practice communication in small doses is an instrumental part of their behavioral change. If possible, try to attend visiting hours when you can. Showing up in person to practice that interpersonal communication will make a significant difference in your relationship going forward.

Your efforts to support your family while they’re in treatment are integral to their success. By learning about addiction, listening to their needs, attending group sessions, practicing self-care, and committing to providing consistent communication, you are giving love and support in a meaningful way as they begin their new life in recovery.