Call today to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

(858) 263-9700

Call today to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

(858) 263-9700

Why 12 Steps Programs Aren’t a Magic Bullet

Modern medicine has tricked us into thinking fixing the human body is easy. The advent of antibiotics has to lead us to believe that there is a one-stop shop for every ailment or disease process. You’ve probably had grandparents complaining of a chesty cough diagnosed with a chest infection. Antibiotics are given and it clears up. Or if you’re a woman – you might have felt a sting when passing urine that quickly passed when your family doctor prescribed a 3-day course of antibiotics. Perhaps you even know somebody who had an early stage cancer that was swiftly trolleyed off to an operating room only to make a full recovery. Regardless of who the patient is, where the patient has come from and what they have done in the past is irrelevant – everybody gets the same treatment. But this isn’t the case with mental health and addiction. If you yourself are reading this looking for a cure for an addiction take a moment to think to yourself why you are here. What happened along your own complex journey that led you or somebody you love to addiction. Each patient, each person, has an individual story that directly affects why they are there and how they can recover. Why then does the United States rely so heavily on one treatment, 12 step recovery programs, for addiction treatment?

Dual Diagnoses

A significant proportion of people who have a substance abuse issue also have a mental health diagnosis. Called a dual diagnosis, this is just one example of the ways in which the status quo is hindered addiction recovery in the United States. Whilst a 12 step programme can be useful for these patients – a whole host of other mental health treatments are also needed.

Treatment Options for Addiction

Whilst 12 step programs do provide an excellent option for addiction recovery – they aren’t for everyone. They also aren’t the be all and end all of the addiction treatment. Take the PacificBayRecoverycentre for instance which offers the following list of treatments:

● Inpatient recovery
● Intensive outpatient recovery
● Cognitive Behavioural therapy
● Medical detox

These different types of treatment programmes are tailored to the individual – providing a far more holistic care for the patient. What we mean by holistic is that the programmes are built around the patient’s own personal journeys and stories. They are tailored and personalized to that patient.

There Will Never Be A Magic Bullet

For incredibly complex diseases like an addiction – there will never be a magic bullet, an antibiotic or drug that can be given quickly and easily and give the patient immediate and lifetime relief. A multitude of treatments and need to be tailored to that individual patient to aid in their recovery. An interesting blog post (that I recommend you read) on explored this very issue this week. In the article a clinician notes:

“Without guidance to other methods, a person with an addiction can stay stuck in the belief that nothing will work for them,” says CT, a Seattle-based CDP who wished to remain anonymous. “12 Steps does not encourage getting help for mental health issues, nor convey how common dual disorders are.”

And therein lies the issue. Not that 12 step programs don’t work. For many they do. It is just the word is not getting out about the different options available that specialist centers like the Pacific Bay Recovery Centre can provide.

Signs to Look for in an Alcoholic

People across the western world are certainly fond of a drink. In fact almost 27% of the American population over 18 binge drink every single month according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Almost 70% of American adults had a drink in the past year and almost 56% in the past month. This will come as no surprise to many – and it’s no secret that lots of us need to cut down in one form or another. But the majority of Americans aren’t alcoholics. How can you differentiate between somebody that likes a drink and a problem drinker that potentially needs professional help? The simple steps below should help.

Doctors across the world use a tool developed by the World Health Organization called the AUDIT. It helps doctors identify people that might be at risk of alcohol abuse. Whilst it isn’t 100%, and scoring highly on it is not a diagnosis of alcoholism (you should always visit a licensed doctor for a diagnosis), it can give a good indicator to problem drinking. It acts as a good tool to have in mind if you suspect you or somebody you know may suffer from alcoholism.

The questionnaire includes 10 questions each with an answer scoring between 0 and 4. The maximum score is therefore 40, and any score over 20 indicates potential dependence. You can download the questionnaire for yourself at the following link but the questions include things such as:

● How often during the last year have you found that you were not able to stop drinking once you had started?
● How often during the last year have you failed to do what was normally expected from you because of your drinking?
● How often during the last year have you needed an alcoholic drink in the morning to get yourself going after a heavy drinking session? (This is often known as an “eye opener” and it a big sign of alcoholism).
● How often during the last year have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?
● Has a relative, friend, doctor or other health worker been concerned about your drinking or suggested that you cut down?

Getting Help For a drinking problem

If you or somebody you love scored highly on the World Health Organization’s AUDIT score, it may indicate they have a dependence to alcohol. There are lots of treatment options available for those who do, and there are a number of specialist services available across the United States that can provide tailor made plans to help an individual overcome their drinking problem. Their treatment options include:

● Inpatient recovery facilities (where a patient will stay on site to break their habit).
● Intensive outpatient treatment (where the patient come sin for regular meetings to discuss and get help).
● Pharmacotherapy – sometimes drugs may be prescribed to overcome withdrawal.
● CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy can be very helpful for people that have a dual diagnosis of alcoholism and a mental health condition).

The 3 Stages of Addiction

Drug addiction change the brain and these changes continue for a long period of time even after the person stops taking the drug. Addiction progresses through stages and here is a look at those stages.


Initially, when a person consumes a drug or alcohol. s/he feels euphoria. Majority of American adults consume alcohol in varying degrees. A large number use marijuana.

For most people, substance use stays at experimental or recreational use, without disrupting their lives. But for some people, there is a risk of developing substance abuse disorder.


In some people, repeated drug or alcohol use leads to changed neural connections in the brain. without using the substance, the person becomes unable to function or feel normal.

Without the drug or alcohol, they experience physical and psychological distress or withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can range from discomfort to being potentially fatal.

Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Irritability/anxiety/depression
  • Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Severe muscle pains and cramping
  • Chills, alternating with excessive sweating
  • Confusion and hallucinations
  • Seizures

Preoccupation with the Substance

With initial withdrawal, the person realizes that the easiest way to relieve the distress is to use the drug or alcohol. This can soon become a vicious cycle of cravings and drug-seeking behavior.

The prefrontal cortex in the brain regulates self-control and decision-making. Addiction changes this part of the brain, disabling the person’s ability to think rationally, decision making, and resist the urge to consume the drug or alcohol.

So, addiction has nothing to do with lack of will-power, as is commonly believed. It is a disease involving changes in the brain and if left untreated, substance abuse disorders turn chronic, progressive, and eventually fatal.

Fortunately, there is hope with the right substance abuse treatment. With help and time, the person can recover completely and a return to a productive, drug-free life.

Detox or Rehab?

Seeking treatment is the biggest step in addiction recovery and the treatment program you choose can make a big difference to your recovery. There are so many treatment options available that it may become confusing. The most common question is whether you should simply detox or go to a rehab.

Are they different?

Most people think of detox and rehab as the same thing but detox and rehab each have their own purpose. While detox is only about addressing the physical effects of substance abuse and withdrawal symptom management, rehab is all about all-round recovery and ensuring relapse doesn’t occur.

Let’s have a look at both the programs.

Drug and Alcohol Detox

Detox is the process in which your body is weaned off the toxic substances. Since withdrawal can range from discomfort to dangerous, it should only be done under medical supervision.

You may be required to stay at a medical detox facility for a period of about one week, on an average.

The benefits of detox are –

  • It cleanses the body of toxins
  • It reduces pain and discomfort
  • It helps you regain your ability to control behavior
  • It manages your withdrawal symptoms
  • It reduces drug and alcohol cravings

Drug and Alcohol Rehab

Rehab focuses on helping you recover from your addiction completely. It involves physical as well as psychological recovery.

A rehab may range from 30 to 90 days. Detox should ideally be followed by rehab, for full recovery and eliminating the chances of relapse.

The benefits of rehab include –

  • You receive personalized therapy.
  • You receive psychological counseling.
  • You learn life skills and relapse prevention tools.
  • You engage in wellness therapies.
  • You cultivate a drug-free life.

To maximize your chances of recovery, speak to a counselor at a reputed rehab.

15 Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain. While pain medicine now offers minimally invasive interventional treatments to manage and treat pain effectively, many pain sufferers become dependent on Opioids.


Opioids are a class of drugs typically prescribed to manage moderate to extreme pain symptoms.

Examples of opioid drugs are –

  • Vicodin (hydrocodone and acetaminophen)
  • Oxycontin (Oxycodone)
  • Fentanyl
  • Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
  • Morphine
  • Heroin

Opioid Withdrawal

With time, the body becomes tolerant to the pain-killing effects of opioids. This creates the need for larger doses of the drug to achieve the same effect. This can lead to overdose, even death. Gradually, your brain thinks it cannot function without the drug. Those dependent on the drug may not even realize it, mistaking withdrawal symptoms for something like the flu.

Even if you or a loved one is taking opioids as prescribed, it is possible to build tolerance to them.

Opioids flood the brain with dopamine, the happy hormone. This overstimulation produces euphoric effects. People who misuse drugs seek this euphoria repeatedly and become addicted. The absence of the drug creates a dopamine deficiency in the brain, forcing the person to seek the drug again. Alternatively, if the opioid or prescription pain med use is stopped abruptly, the person would experience drug withdrawal.

Common Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms include –

Early Withdrawal Symptoms (start within 6-12 hours)

  • muscle aches
  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • lacrimation (eyes tearing up)
  • runny nose
  • excessive sweating
  • sleeplessness
  • frequent yawning

Later Withdrawal Symptoms (start after the first day)

  • diarrhea, nausea and vomiting
  • abdominal cramping
  • goose bumps on the skin
  • dilated pupils and possibly blurry vision
  • rapid heartbeat
  • high blood pressure

To safely come out of withdrawal, recover from the addiction and any other co-occurring disorders and have your pain treated without using prescription medication, seek help at a drug detox and pain management center, such as Pacific Bay Recovery in San Diego.

Can I Detox from Heroin at Home?

Heroin is highly addictive and it may not be easy for you to detox and recover. If you’re wondering whether you can detox from heroin at home, instead of a rehab, think again. Read on to understand why heroin detox on your own is not a good idea.

Those who are addicted to heroin would experience withdrawal as the drug begins to leave your system. Heroin withdrawals range from very unpleasant to extremely dangerous. The severe symptoms of heroin withdrawal can easily drive you back to using the drug.

Some common heroin withdrawal symptoms are –

  • Flu-like symptoms – fever, muscle pain, chills
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Tremors, fast pulse, and enlarged pupils
  • Increased restlessness and anxiety

Potential Complications of Detoxing from Heroin at Home

Despite claims from other people that it’s possible to detox from heroin at home, here is why heroine detox at home can be potentially dangerous.

Heroin detox can make any pre-existing health conditions worse. If you suffer from hypertension, detoxing without medical supervision can prove life-threatening.

Even if you are healthy, severe symptoms, like vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which can be fatal. Detoxing at a rehab under medical supervision ensures that your withdrawal symptoms are managed and/or treated before they become intense.

Home heroin detox has a very high failure rate. Your withdrawal symptoms will make you feel miserable, it’s tempting to start using the drug again for instant relief. Detoxing at a medically supervised rehab includes support of skilled and compassionate professionals who know how to help you stay you on track through the hardest part.

Why Getting a Dual Diagnosis in Important?

Dual diagnosis refers to a treatment facility for individuals who suffer from both mental illness and substance abuse. There are currently more than 50% of Americans suffering from psychological disorders, following substance abuse reports the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Many such individuals suffering from a mental condition rely on drugs and alcohol to relieve the symptoms. However, according to research, the unauthorized use of drugs worsens their mental illness.

Specialists provide that mental illness and substance recovery are two different cultures, and developing an integration between both can be challenging.

Dual Diagnosis treatment

More than 7.9 million individuals in America experience a breakdown of substance and mental disorder simultaneously. Out of this population, 4.1 million are men according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.


The symptoms of dual diagnosis vary extensively given the combination of several factors. Mental health clinics have started to study both substance and psychological screening tools to identify individuals who suffer from both conditions together. Some symptoms that share common ground are:

  • Introvert behavior
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Suicidal attempts or engagement in risky behavior
  • Lack of resistance to the use of substance
  • Developing withdrawal symptoms
  • The need to rely on drugs to survive.

Treatment options

Different dual diagnosis treatment centers have different treatments options available, depending on the extent of the individual’s condition. Even though treatments are designed after screening each patient separately, some of the common treatments used in dual diagnosis include the following:

  • Detoxification

It is mostly the first treatment used in dual diagnosis. The detoxification process requires an individual to undergo cleansing for seven days. In this, the body is cleansed of the toxins stored in the body.

  • Inpatient rehabilitation

Individuals suffering from drug dependency and mental illnesses may need an inpatient rehabilitation. In such situations, they can receive both psychological and health care under the guidance of psychiatrists and health specialists. The administration tapers the substance amount with other effective medicines to reduce the withdrawal effects.

  • Psychotherapy

This part of the treatment plays a significant role in dual diagnosis. A cognitive behavioral therapy, it helps individuals cope with the stressful thoughts. The specialists help patients modify their thinking patterns

  • Medication

Medications are used to treat psychological disorders. Some of these medications also help individuals cope with the withdrawal symptoms during detoxification. These are mostly muscle relaxants that help ease the nerves.

  • Support housing

In dual diagnosis, motivation plays a significant role. It can be challenging to feel as if you are suffering alone. Support groups help individuals share their negative thoughts, their happy thought and find their motivation for survival.


In dual diagnosis, an integrated approach to mental illness and substance abuse is used to treat both problems simultaneously. The treatment features helping patients cope with stress by enhancing their motivation, reducing triggers that may force them to take drugs, increasing their social skills and detoxifying their body.

Dual diagnosis is a smart move that provides support to patients who suffer from mental illness followed by drug abuse.

We have a surprise!

Dr. Michael S. Duffy, Sr., DO, Medical Director of one of San Diego’s leading addiction treatment facilities is proud to announce a strategic change in its Senior Leadership. 

Opioid and illicit drug use in San Diego is at an all time high.  According to the CDC, one of every three patients who were prescribed a 30-day supply of Opioids for the first time were found to be addicted one year later.  Dr. Duffy calls this …“a crisis impacting our mothers, our fathers, our brothers, our sisters and our children.  It is an Urgent call to San Diegan’s to understand and recognize addiction and seek help”.

Pacific Bay Recovery strives to meet and exceed community’s needs for those affected by or afflicted by addiction.  In its response to this crisis and the immediate need to improve opportunities for access and admission to treatment programs, Pacific Bay Recovery has enriched its executive team.  Dr. Duffy is honored to announce the appointment of Bryan C. Sharp, to the position of Vice President of Admissions.

Mr. Sharp joined Pacific Bay Recovery in 2012 serving in various capacities throughout the organization, most recently as Director of Admissions. With respect to his new role, Mr. Sharp said, ‘This work is my passion, the people we help are people in dire need of a second chance at at living addiction free”.  Mr. Sharp thanks all the team members at Pacific Bay Recovery, and most importantly offers thanks and praise to his beautiful wife and son, without whom he could not achieve his passions and calling in life.

Please join us in congratulating Mr. Sharp on his new role within Pacific Bay Recovery.  You may reach Bryan at, or call (858) 263-9700.

Addicted to your Pain Medication?

If you are struggling with a problem related to prescription pain medicine, you are not the only one.

Many people start taking opiates or pain medication under prescription but slowly, the addiction may outweigh the benefits of the medicine.

If you wish to know whether you or a loved one has developed an addiction to opiates, read on.

What are Opiates?

Opiates are psychoactive drugs that have been derived from extracts of the poppy plant – morphine and codeine. The best known opiates include heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. Some opiates are prescribed for the medical treatment of pain.

Opiates are safe and can alleviate pain if used as directed by a pain management doctor. Painkiller abuse can cause dependence and addiction.

Types of Opiates

The most widely used opioids (generic and brand names) are –

  • Codeine
  • Morphine (Kadian, Avinza, MS Contin)
  • Diphenoxylate (Lomotil)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet)
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Propoxyphene (Darvon)

Signs of Opiate Addiction

There are signs to tell if you or a loved one has a problem with opiate drugs. The biggest sign of opioid addiction is continuous use opiates despite negative consequences.

Here are some of the key ways you can recognize a problem with an opiate.

Physical Signs and Symptoms

  • Abusing opiate medication
  • Signs of use include dilated pupils, sedation, or slowed breathing
  • Craving for opiates
  • Increasing dose amounts or frequency to get the same initial effect
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances

Behavioral Signs and Symptoms

  • Running out of medications much before refill date
  • Visiting different doctors just to obtain prescriptions
  • Drug use takes priority over home, work, school responsibilities
  • Buying opiates through illegal means, online or on the street

Not-so-Obvious Signs of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addicts often don’t want help. They hide their problem as well as their struggle. Hiding allows them to go on drinking. Without professional help, the drinker can go on for long till s/he hits rock bottom. The longer they drink at dangerous levels, the higher is their likelihood of addiction.

So, how can you know if a loved one is hiding a drinking problem?

While denial is common among alcoholics, a person with a drinking problem will often rationalize the amount they drink; convincing themselves and others that it is no more than a drink now and then. When someone drinks in unhealthy amounts and pattern, it can involve clever ways to obtain and hide alcohol, including

  • travelling to places they may not be recognized, to buy alcohol
  • hiding alcohol around the house or office, for example, in non-alcoholic drink containers
  • using a hip flask
  • mixing alcohol in soft drinks

Hidden Signs of Alcoholism

There are various signs that may indicate a drinking problem.

  1. Denying or lying about the amounts they are drinking
  2. Drinking heavily while alone
  3. Passing out due to too much drinking
  4. Neglecting personal and professional responsibilities as a result of drinking
  5. Drinking alcohol first thing in the morning
  6. Experiencing cravings for a drink that affect mood or concentration levels

If you recognize these signs in a loved one, seek professional help so that they can work towards the best possible solution.