The Burbank Public Schools FACTS Program, an educational program for young adults with intellectual disabilities, recently partnered with Phoenix House by providing volunteers to assist with a 2,500 piece mailing for our upcoming 10th Annual Triumph for Teens Awards Gala, our biggest fundraiser in California.
Through the community service provided by the FACTS Program, Phoenix House was able to assist their program by creating a practical on-the-job work environment that enables their students to develop employable work skills, exercise social and people skills, and gain the confidence needed to secure and retain future employment. In addition to working along side Phoenix House staff, who acted as the student’s boss during the training exercise, their students were assigned “job coaches” that provided mentorship and guidance tailored to each student’s ability, while creating a quality control system for the work performed.
The FACTS Program is available for mailings, assembling packages and binders, creating databases, and other job functions that includes repetitive or multistep tasks. Phoenix House is proud to welcome the Burbank Public Schools FACTS Program as one of our new community partners. We are sincerely grateful for a job well done. While the FACTS Program participants have practiced their skills and learned to interact with others in a workplace, they also helped us deal with a mountain of mail, in preparation of our event that will benefit youths in our care. In this way everyone wins…
The 10th Annual Triumph for Teens Gala will be held on June 6, 2013 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Crystal Ballroom (9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90210). The 2013 Public Service Award will be presented to David E.I. Pyott, Chairman of the Board, President & CEO, Allergan, Inc. The 2013 Phoenix Rising Award will be bestowed upon Leigh Steinberg, Sports Agent & Lawyer, Steinberg Sports & Entertainment.
The Phoenix House Triumph for Teens Awards Gala provides critical support to at-risk teens to develop the tools and skills necessary to regain their sense of self. This further enables them to make up their education lost to drugs, develop positive attitudes and values, come to grips with the underlying causes of their addictions, and go on to lead healthy and productive lives.
To reserve a sponsorship opportunity or to purchase tickets, please visit our Triumph for Teens Registration Page. To make a donation, please visit our Donation Page. For more information, please contact John Peterson at 818.686.3027 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.phoenixhouse.org/locations/california.
Meet Luna, the Therapy Corgi at Phoenix House Academy of San Diego
Located in a rustic countryside, among hills filled with wildlife, Phoenix House Academy of San Diego is an intensive residential and day treatment program for teens with substance abuse and mental health issues. The Academy uses cognitive behavioral therapy and the most advanced treatment approaches offered by professional staff. But the secret of its effectiveness and the high levels of satisfaction expressed by clients may lie elsewhere.
Meet Luna, the Therapy Corgi. Luna is a 2.5 year old Pembroke Welsh Corgi who has started at Phoenix House Academy of San Diego as a therapy dog late December 2012. In her role as a therapy dog, Luna helps comfort residents during individual therapy sessions and when they are simply having a bad day. She comes to the facility 1-2 times a week.
Luna has also had the opportunity to be part of groups, whether to comfort or to be used as an example. In one session she modeled how to resist temptation, by displaying her “Leave It” ability when a tasty cookie was placed in front of her. That particular instance turned into a great example of how to resist when there is peer pressure involved. One resident tried to get Luna to take the treat, while another held her back when she almost gave in. Suitably enough, the group was Relapse Prevention and the topic was on how to resist temptation when around old friends.
Residents have asked her to perform tricks, teach her new ones, or even asked if they could paint her nails. She will sit on their laps, allow them to pet her all over, give kisses to her face and head, do silly antics to get them to laugh, and generally give the residents an opportunity to not be judged by another being.
Luna got her start in this field at a young age. From the time she was 8 weeks old her owner would ask random people she encountered to pet her. She lived at home with three children, ranging in age from 1-7 years old, who taught her what kids were all about. At 10 weeks old she started her first obedience class, Puppy Kindergarten, where she was awarded as an AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy. She continued with additional classes and passed the Canine Good Citizen requirement April 2011, when she was only 7 months old.
She went on to a Trick Class and then took a Therapy Dog class that introduced her to different stimuli that she may encounter in that field, including scary noises, other animals, and surprising behavior. She passed her Control Evaluation shortly after she turned a year old and began her ten-hour supervised visits to get certified as a therapy dog. Ultimately she passed with flying colors and officially became certified with Love on a Leash February 2012.
She has volunteered at the VA Hospital, Rady’s Children’s Hospital Celebration of Champions, Camp Reach for the Sky, convalescent homes, senior living communities, library reading programs, universities during their midterms and finals, and more. She was also a volunteer with San Diego Hospice and their Pawsitive Pals program where she visited patients of all ages who were on hospice care. Her favorite visits are with children and those that get to play with her. She is currently on working on her hours to get the official AKC title of Therapy Dog.
This report was prepared by Luna’s owner, Krystle Briese, the Bilingual Family Therapist at Phoenix House Academy of San Diego. The Director of Phoenix House San Diego, Elizabeth Urquhart, who is fond of animals working with the residents, welcomes Luna’s important position as a member of the staff.
Phoenix House Academy of San Diego offers a full scope of evidence-based therapeutic treatment approaches, as well as an accredited high school on-site, equestrian therapy, sports organic gardening, and various enrichment activities. If you or someone in your familystruggles with substance abuse and mental health issues, we are here to help. Please call our admission call center at 1 800 378 4435.
NAMM Foundation Helps Create Phoenix Rising Music Program in Orange County
Phoenix House is proud to announce support from the NAMM Foundation that will result in the creation of a new The Phoenix Rising Music Program, in Orange County. The NAMM Foundation awarded Phoenix House Academy of Orange County a grant for the new music studio and its equipment.
The NAMM Foundation’s mission is to increase active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs. NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), commonly called NAMM in reference to the organization’s popular NAMM trade shows, is the not-for-profit association that unifies leads and strengthens the $17 billion international musical instruments and products industry. NAMM’s activities and programs are designed to promote music making to people of all ages.
Phoenix House Academy of Orange County
One of three Phoenix House Academies in California, the Orange County program serves more than 100 adolescents in its residential and day treatment programs plus family members. Located on a beautiful, historic campus in Santa Ana, and headed by Gilbert Carmona, LCSW, with clinical services directed by Jo-Ellen Bartholomew, LMFT, the Academy provides a broad spectrum of evidence-based treatment services to help teens break the cycle of substance abuse. Residents continue their high school studies while taking part in individual, group, and family counseling, as well as cultural and recreational activities. We also refer clients to community partners who provide such services as career development, job placement, health care, and legal aid. Adding the music studio will help students develop their talents and deal with the frustrations of adolescence, family issues, and challenges of recovery.
Phoenix Rising Music Program
The Phoenix Rising Music Program, created by Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Kara DioGuardi, is an expressive arts therapy program that encourages our young clients to express themselves through music. Participation in the creative arts has been proven to increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety and depression, and aid the recovery process for young people who struggle with substance abuse and/or co-occurring mental health problems. The Phoenix Rising Music Program engages young clients in the treatment process and gives them an effective way to gain a deeper sense of self-understanding. Residents at our Phoenix House Academies in Los Angeles, Westchester, and Austin work together to write, perform and record powerful songs of struggle and recovery. New studio is also going to be open at the Phoenix House Citra Center in Florida.
At Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles, the Music Program boasts a number of successes. The Music Program engages young clients in the treatment process and gives them an effective way to gain a deeper sense of self-understanding. Residents work together to write, perform and record powerful songs of struggle and recovery. In addition to a professional music studio, residents have at their disposal new DJ equipment donated by DJ AM Memorial Fund.
Two songs written by Los Angeles teens in our state-of-the-art recording studio, under the guidance of the Phoenix Rising Music Program’s Director, John Morabito, received prizes in the annual National Institute on Drug Abuse’s songwriting competition, co-sponsored by MusicCares and the Grammy Foundation. In 2011, “Like a Phoenix” written and recorded by a team of students won the contest. Kara DioGuardi called it “an incredible song” that captures “what these kids have been dealing with and how they’re overcoming it.” In 2010, Vera Marquardt’s “Take it to the Days,” placed third in the competition. The songs are posted on Phoenix House website, at the links below:
- 2011: First prize winner: “Like a Phoenix” www.phoenixhouse.org/blog/news-and-events/kara-dioguardi-announces-phoenix-house-teens-as-songwriting-contest-winners/
- 2010: Third prize winner: ”Take It to the Days” www.phoenixhouse.org/blog/our-perspectives/guest-blogger-vera-marquardt-takes-days/
If you, or your loved one need referrals to residential or outpatient treatment for substance abuse and/or mental health issues, please call 1 800 378 4435. At Phoenix House Academy of Orange County we accept clients who are 12 to 17 years of age, with a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse, and emotional or behavioral difficulties. Most health insurance plans are accepted. Government assistance is available for those who qualify (with co-pays on a sliding scale). We are here to help!
Dr. Maja Trochimczyk Receives a Medal from the Polish Ministry of Culture
We are happy to share the good news that Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, Senior Director of Planning and Research at Phoenix Houses of California received a medal for the promotion of culture from the government of Poland. Dr. Trochimczyk has been a valued member of the Senior Management Team in California, where for the past five years she has overseen all program planning and proposal writing for government contracts, including awards from federal, state, city, and county agencies.
The award ceremony was held on March 15, 2013, at the Residence of Poland in Pacific Palisades, CA. During the event, Consul General of the Republic of Poland, Hon. Joanna Kozinska Frybes gave medals to 20 past presidents and board members of the Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club. The unusually high number of distinctions recognized the unique role that the Club has played in the promotion of Polish culture in Southern California since its creation in 1971. The founder and first president of the Club, Leonidas Dudarew-Ossetynski (1910-1989), an actor, director and writer, received the Knight Cross of Polonia Restituta. Other honorees were: Dr. Franciszka Tuszynska, Jerzy Gassowski, Wanda Baran, Stefanie Powers, Stefan Wenta, Tadeusz Bocianski, Vitold and Zofia Tchaikovsky, Edward & Maria Pilatowicz, Tadeusz Podkanski, Jolanta Zych, Krystyna Kuszta, Krystyna Okuniewski, Danuta Zuchowski, Andrzej Maleski, Dorota Olszewska, and Elzbieta Kanska.
Dr. Trochimczyk served as the president of the Modjeska Club in 2010-2012 and organized numerous events, featuring historian Norman Davies, politicians Adam Michnik, Leszek Balcerowicz, and Konstanty Gebert, and many actors, poets, writers, and musicians. She also established the annual Modjeska Prizes that were awarded to actors Jan Nowicki, Anna Dymna, Marian Dziedziel, and Barbara Krafftowna. Dr. Trochimczyk previously received a series of commendations from the City and County of Los Angeles for her 15 years of volunteering and promoting culture as a poet and Polish-American community activist.
Dr Trochimczyk holds a Ph.D. from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and two M.A. degrees from Poland – from the University of Warsaw and the F. Chopin University of Music, Warsaw. She is the author of four books of music history, four books of poetry, and numerous other publications – studies, essays, book chapters, dictionary entries, CD liner notes, reviews, and poems. A member of American College of Healthcare Executives, she also serves on the Boards of the Polish American Historical Association and the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Greater Los Angeles Chapter. Dr. Trochimczyk has 16 years of grant-writing and fund-raising experience at institutions such as the University of Southern California, Catholic Charities, St. Francis Medical Center, The Midnight Mission, and other organizations.
The Modjeska Club is named after a famous Polish actress, Helena Modjeska (known in Poland as Helena Modrzejewska, 1840-1909) who emigrated from Poland to California in the 1870s, settled on a ranch in Anaheim Hills (in Modjeska Canyon), and travelled around the U.S. performing in Shakespeare and other plays in a highly successful career. Her life was commemorated in Susan Sontag’s novel, In America, while her tours gave rise to many places and things named after Modjeska – including Modjeska Canyon where Modjeska’s Historic Home is located, as well as Modjeska Peak, several Modjeska Theaters, and even the “Modjeska” candy, invented in Kansas in 1889 and produced until today.
Phoenix House’s staff has many interests and volunteers in various fields of cultural and social activities. We appreciate the role of culture and all forms of artistic expression among our staff and the importance of the arts in the life of recovery of our clients after treatment. Our facilities feature such activities as music composition, poetry and creative writing, Aztec dancing, yoga, sports and equestrian therapy. For more information about Phoenix House services in California or to refer a loved one to treatment, please call 1 800 378 4435.
Visit Phoenix House’s Orange County Wraparound Services on April 18, 2013
On April 18, 2013 (11am-12 noon), Phoenix House Orange County invites friends and supporters to its Open House at the new location of Orange County Wraparound Services. The new offices are located in the Orangewood Children’s Foundation square. Parking is available behind the Orangewood Foundation Square, in the 18th Street Parking lot.
- Phoenix House Orange County Wraparound
1615 E. 17th Street, Suite 100
Santa Ana, CA 92705
You will meet our professional staff and learn about Wraparound Services. Light refreshments and appetizers will be served.
Phoenix House’s Wraparound Services use the Ten Wraparound Principles to engage at-risk youth and their families in individualized community-based services geared toward reducing the likelihood of residential placement. If youth have been placed away from their caregivers, services focus on supporting them and working toward placement in less-restrictive environments, including transition back to their homes. Wraparound is unique in that the family is the client and all family members’ strengths and capabilities are integrated into services. All services are strength-based and driven by needs identified by the family, for the family. This “whatever it takes” style of services facilitates a collaborative partnership between families, formal supports, the community, and natural supports.
Program staff meet with each family weekly and with the entire Family Team at least once per month. Common outcomes include: avoidance of institutional placement, decreased reliance on formal supports, improved family communication, increased school success and attendance, decreased harmful behaviors, increased self-reliance and self-worth among family members.
The 10 Wraparound Principles are:
- Family Voice/Family Choice
- Team-Based Services
- Natural Supports
- Community-Based Services
- Culturally Competent Services
- Individualized Services
- Strength-Based Services
- Outcome-Based Services
Phoenix House Wraparound Services does not accept community referrals. For more information contact Wraparound Program Director, Mr. Scott Van Camp, LMFT, at 714-656-7090.
If you need to refer your teens to substance abuse and mental health treatment at Phoenix House Academy of Orange County, please call 1 800 378 4435.
2013 Career Day at Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles
Success is something that can be achieved by anyone, regardless of one’s past. This is the message a group of adolescent boys and girls learned on March 21, 2013 at the Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles’ Annual Career Day. Lots of valuable and encouraging information was presented by the Los Angeles County of Education and Transition Partnership Program. There were table displays representing different occupations, enthusiastic guest speakers, and plenty of bold and business-curious questions asked by the teens.
Several guest speakers represented different occupations. The first honorable guest speaker was Judge Karen Ackerson-Brazille, a U.S. District Court Judge appointed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. She discussed the importance of education and her rise through the Department of Justice. Judge Ackerson-Brazille also said how much she loves serving her community and that through her passion for law she set up a free legal clinic at her church, New Philadelphia AME Church in Rancho Dominguez.
Mr. Clifford Banks, an Executive Director representing Valley College of Medical Careers gave helpful advice on preparing for college. A United Parcel Service (UPS) Human Resource Supervisor, Ms. Linda Jones, revealed exciting things about working with UPS and how to get your foot into the company’s door. Afterwards, a Certified Registered Nurse of Obstetrics, Rita Yates, expressed her enthusiasm for her job, working in labor and delivery rooms and helping women to give birth. The audience giggled, but the nurse explained that if you do what you like, you will be happy and good at it. Finally, Mr. Chris Johnson, a professional photographer, asked the audience how many would like to be their own boss. The majority of the audience raised their hands. He proceeded to inspire those before him, telling them that if they understand or learn about business, then they can work for themselves in a field that interests them.
Allowing youth to peek through the window on the lives of professionals and their careers is something they will come to treasure. They may not recognize it at an early age, but little by little such events provide one with essential tips on how to be successful in their education, job hunting, and future accomplishments.
Mr. Donohue, a mentor to some of the youth at the Academy, revealed struggles from his past but said that he pushed on to achieve great academic success. Even though he drives far to work every day, he loves being with the Phoenix House clients and says the drive is always worth it. After his closing presentation, students could explore the booths, ask the presenters more questions, discover job opportunities, and munch on popcorn. As the teens left the career fair, visions of themselves in successful careers popped in their heads.
For more information about our programs, or to refer someone in need for admission to our residential or outpatient treatment program for teens at the Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles, please call our Call Center at 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435). We are here to help you find the information and services you need!
Phoenix House Praised at Los Angeles City Council Celebration of Norooz
On Friday, March 22, 2013, the City Council of Los Angeles honored the Persian New Year, Norooz (also spelled as Novruz) with a group of the most distinguished Persian and Iranian residents of Los Angeles. The presentation of the City Council Resolution was chaired by Councilmen Jose Huizar and Paul Koretz, who replaced a long-time champion of Norooz, Councilman Tony Cardenas, now serving in the U.S. Congress. The speakers discussed the positive impact of the Persian community on the city, such as the revitalization of the heart of the city and its historic core, accomplished mostly through the efforts of Persian immigrants. Councilman Huizar also acknowledged the efforts of Iranian-born city staff, over 300 of whom work hard for the city they selected to love.
Pouria Abbassi, P.E., SVP and California Regional Director of Phoenix House adressed the City Council: “Last week, Norooz was celebrated in the U.S. Congress with Congressman Tony Cardenas. He previously led the City of Los Angeles in commemorating this event for over a decade and has been generous in embracing our culture. We truly appreciate living in the greatest city on earth. May you all be blessed with health, joy, love, and peace and may you always have the fortitude and strength to make a difference for good.” He then proceeded to express his best wishes in Farsi.
Councilman Bill Rosendahl focused his comments on Pouria Abbassi’s work in revitalizing the Convention Center and serving individuals urgently needing help at Phoenix House. Mr. Rosendahl discussed a conversation he held with Pouria several months ago about a homeless heroin addict whom he referred to Phoenix House: “A hundred and thirty days later this young man who had been a heroin addict for eight years is now on the road to recovery! After eight years of stealing from me, stealing from his parents and from everyone else, he is on the path to recover… He’s living in one of your homes and studying at East Los Angeles College, finishing up his degree, thanks to you! The difference you are making is so significant!”
Phoenix House is proud to be a part of the multi-cultural community of Los Angeles and to participate in Norooz celebrations. Our diversity is our strength!
You can watch the following video documentation of this event:
- The speech by Councilman Bill Rosendahl (see below)
- The wishes by Pouria Abbassi, P.E., SVP & Regional Director (see below)
- The whole Norooz Celebration at the City Council
Councilman Bill Rosendahl:
Mr. Pouria Abbassi:
Phoenix House’s 10th Annual Triumph for Teens Gala Honors David E.I. Pyott of Allergan, Inc. and Leigh Steinberg
The annual Phoenix House Triumph for Teens Awards Gala has been held in Beverly Hills, CA since 2003. This year we will commemorate the 45th Anniversary of Phoenix House, as well as the 10th Anniversary of this Gala. The event celebrates the victories of young people in treatment and honors individuals whose accomplishments have positive influences on the health and welfare of our communities — especially the youth of our community.
Thursday, June 6, 2013, 6:00 pm Cocktails / 7:00 pm Dinner
Beverly Hills Hotel, Crystal Ballroom
9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
The evening will include hors d’oeuvres, dinner, music, and more. . .
For more than 30 years, Phoenix House has been a beacon of hope in Southern California for the most vulnerable men, women, and teens – rebuilding lives, reuniting families, and creating stronger communities. Today, Phoenix Houses of California serves more than 3,500 individuals a year plus their family members and reaches more than 30,000 community members through outreach, volunteerism, and prevention education services
Your support of the Phoenix House Triumph for Teens Awards Gala provides critical support to at-risk teens to develop the tools and skills necessary to regain their sense of self. This further enables them to make up their education lost to drugs, develop positive attitudes and values, come to grips with the underlying causes of their addictions, and go on to lead healthy and productive lives.
SVP Pouria Abbassi Participates in the 2013 Career Day at Portola Middle School
On March 8, 2013, a Senior VP of Phoenix House, Pouria Abbassi, participated in the Career Day program at the Portola Middle School in the San Fernando Valley. As part of the community outreach program of Phoenix Houses of California, interaction with the youth especially at schools is a high priority. Pouria gave two eighth grade class presentations where he discussed his career, education and experience and the path that has led him to his current engagement with the Phoenix House. He took advantage of this opportunity to provide facts and figures on the impact of substance abuse especially as related to the youth. During the presentation, Pouria emphasized the importance of continuous education, clarity of purpose, confidence in self and compassion for those less fortunate as the building blocks of a successful career.
Mr. Abbassi joined Phoenix House in June 2012 after a successful executive career in hospitality, sports and entertainment industry at the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC). As the CEO of LACC since 2006, Mr. Abbassi developed and implemented a strategic business plan, built upon three pillars of community, business and environment, to significantly enhance the performance output of the organization. Under his leadership, LACC achieved unprecedented results unmatched in the nation. It was also the first convention center of its size and age to achieve LEED-EB Gold certification. Under his direction LACC also become a model of corporate social responsibility through its services, reach and engagement with various communities in Los Angeles. Mr. Abbassi was one of the key executives involved in the various components of the $1.5 billion LACC modernization and 70,000 plus seats stadium project.
His interest in enviornmental issues has also made an impact on Phoenix House. The agency has recently received a leadership grant from the Ahmanson Foundation to launch the Going Green: Environmental Efficiency Upgrades project at the Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles. After performing a professional energy audit, Phoenix House will incorporate new green technologies into the Los Angeles-based facility.
A firm believer in youth nourishment and education, Mr. Abbassi frequently gives presentations on leadership and visioning to student groups ranging from elementary school through graduate school and mentors young professionals in their careers. He commented about the experience at the Career Day at Portola Middle School: “The students were quite engaged, asked many questions and seemed enthusiastic regarding the subject matters discussed.”
Mrs. Suzanne Miller, GATE/Honors Coordinator at the Portola Middle School thanked Mr. Abbassi: “We have heard so many positive comments about the day from the teachers, students and administrators. We wanted to let you know how much we appreciate your taking time out of your busy day to share your career experiences with our students. I know the students learned a great deal about the Phoenix House and your interesting job at the Convention Center. Due to the incredible success of Career Day, we’re planning on providing our students with the same opportunity next year. Your involvement in our first Career Day was crucial to its success.”
For more information about our substance abuse and mental health treatment programs, or to refer someone in need for admission to our residential or outpatient services for teens with co-occurring disorders at the Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles in Lake View Terrace, please call our Call Center at 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435). We are here to help you find the information and services you need!
Phoenix House San Diego Offers Equestrian Therapy and Wins Accolades
The peaceful, rural location of Phoenix House Academy of San Diego among the picturesque hills and valleys of Descanso, CA, is one of its greatest assets. Troubled teenagers that need hehavioral health treatment may find there a healthy natural environment, a fully accredited high school, a full scope of extra-curricular activities and state-of-the-art treatment services, offered by experienced mental health professionals.
Phoenix House receives the California Alliance Accreditation
The Senior Director of Phoenix House San Diego, Elizabeth Urquhart, has often been featured at conferences and symposia as an expert in adolescent treatment issues. She recently attended the California Winter 2013 Executive’s Conference of the Alliance of Child and Family Services. The event was held on February 20-22, 2013 in Napa, CA, and it highlighted how the Alliance is both driving changes and helping its members respond to others. On behalf of the entire Phoenix House organization in California, she received the Certificate of Accreditation by the California Alliance, confiriming our successful re-accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Relabilitation Facilities (CARF). It is a notable achievement of Phoenix House that the California Alliance accreditation was awarded without site visits or review, relying solely on the successful re-accreditation by CARF.
Participation in the conference keeps our senior managers up to date about research findings in their areas of expertise. Ms. Urquhart commented: ““It is clear that the world of children and family services continues to change rapidly… Poignant topics discussed, relevant to Phoenix House Academy of San Diego, included realignment of California child welfare services, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the adoption of AB 114. The Alliance provided plenaries and workshops for member agencies to think about how they can effectively adapt to these changes.”
Thanks to the leadership of Ms. Urquhart, the Phoenix House Academy of San Diego recently completed its transition to a higher level of care, with more intensive mental health treatment services, smaller groups, a greater number of well-trained professional staff, and additional activities including equestrian therapy.
Equestrian Program at the Academy
One of the unique features of our services in Descanso is the availability of an Equestrian Program for teens in residence. Working with horses has a proven therapeutic value and our services greatly benefit from a long-standing collaboration with Delcie Dahlstrom, equestrian trainer. She recently welcomed a group of six Phoenix House students to her Horse Haven Ranch. This equestrian program replaces the previous collaboration with the Horse of the Sun nonprofit.
Ms. Dahlstrom commented: “Phoenix House was a success! These kids are wise beyond their years, and I cannot and do not pretend to know what they have gone thru. But I can tell you this. When they come to my house and this is my personal house where I have raised my kids, I want them to know they are welcome. I want them to know and I tell them: I don’t know what you are going thru, but know this, when you come here, to my home, I want you to leave all your cares and concerns behind you. I want you for these two hours to feel freedom, freedom to express yourself, to open your heart to new opportunities with these horses, to let yourself be vulnerable, be afraid, be anxious, be optimistic or pessimistic, be yourself, and explore who you are about.”
“The horses will bring this out in you naturally. I want you to have fun, I want this to be enjoyable, and if it has to be sad, then that is what it is. These horses bring out the best in all of us, I have seen it over and over. These boys are fine young boys, I want them to know I care about them. I am in no way just an instructor, trying to give lessons, I need to let these boys know, how connecting with these animals, will make them see their true self and self-worth.”
For more information about our substance abuse and mental health treatment programs, or to refer someone in need for admission to our residential or outpatient services for teens with co-occurring disorders at the Phoenix House Academy of San Diego in Descanso and Teen Recovery Center in Carlsbad, CA, please call our Call Center at 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435). We are here to help you find the information and services you need!
Will Synthetic Drugs Turn You into a Zombie? Phoenix House Staff Speak at a UCLA-SAPC Panel
“Will They Turn You into a Zombie?” – this eye-catching title was created by Beth Rutkowski, MPH, Associate Director of Traning at UCLA’s Integrated Substance Abuse Programs for a Special Lecture subtitled “What Substance Use Disorder Treatment Providers need to Know about Synthetic Drugs” held on March 15, 2013 in Alhambra, California. Ms. Rutkowski delivered the lecture about the types, characteristics and epidemiology of constantly changing synthetic drugs. A panel of service provider discussed experiences with these drugs in clinical practice. The panel included Diane Baker of CRI-Help, Inc., Brenda Wiewel, LCSW, Executive Director of Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Maja Trochimczyk, Ph.D., Senior Director of Planning and Research at Phoenix Houses of California and Johathan Whitfield, M.D., Medical Director and Psychiatrist at Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles
What are Synthetic Drugs?
Synthetic drugs, known earlier as “designer drugs,” are new chemical compounds created to mimic the effects of specific illegal substances. New varieties are created constantly, reaching over 250 chemicals available today. They are deceptively marketed as “safe” and “legal” replacements or alternatives to illegal drugs, such as marijuana, ecstasy, PCP, or LSD. Some of these drugs have received sensationalist media coverage – the so-called “bath salts” have been associated with stories of zombie cannibalism, hallucinations, and self-inflicted wounds or suicides.
There are many categories of “designer” psychoactive substances, all created in chemical laboratories, with names like: tryptamines (hallucinogenic), piperazines (BZP or TFMPP, known as “legal” ecstasy), new varieties of opiates (MPP), phenethylamines (“bath salts” and 2C-X drugs), and syntehtic cannabinoids that functionally imitate the effects of THC and marijuana. They can be divided into two main groups: a) stimulants that make users euphoric, more active and more “aware” and b) psychedelic that alter their mental states and cause hallucinations. Both types of chemicals are harmful and highly toxic - much more so than the drugs they purport to replace.
On Sugar and Spice
While introducing the presenters and panelists of the Special Lecture, the Director of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Control, John Viernes reminded the listeners that they may take for granted some commonly used chemicals, like sugar, and pointed out the deceptive marketing of “spice” – sold in smoke shops and other specialty retailers as “incense” that is “not for human consumption.”
What is spice? Despite its appearance as dried leaves and twigs of a plant, this is a chemical product. It consists of dried shredded plant material laced with chemical additives that cause its psychoactive effects. As Beth Rutkowski explained, the specific content of the chemical coctail keeps changing: when certain ingredients are banned by DEA or the federal government, new chemicals are introduced to take their place. This drug mixture is also known as K2, fake weed, and several brand names, presented as fruit-flavored “incense” and sold in smoke shops and other small specialty retail stores. Initially, spice was based on five drugs, mostly a synthetic cannabinoid JWH-18 (created in 1995 and banned in 2010). The predominant type of chemical used now is called AM-2201. What is more important here than the alphabet soup, is the changeability of these drugs: there were 19 different types of these chemicals in 2010 and 55 types in 2012. The complexity of issues keeps growing.
Why do people use them? These drugs imitate the “high” of smoking marijuana and are marketed as a “safe, legal” alternative to weed. What is not commonly known, though, is that these drugs also have highly dangerous side effects: hyperthermia, elevated blood preasure, irregular heart beat, seizures, vomiting, heart attacks, and kidney damage. They may also cause severe paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. Spice is readily available in retail stores and online in attractive packages and affordable dosages. Its use is not detected in standard drug tests. This, as the panelists stated, appears to be the main motivation for use by teenagers and young adult males. They switch to spice from marijuana while being on probation, or needing to pass a clean drug test.
Not Really Bath Salts
The second most popular type of synthetic drug is marketed as “Bath Salts” and consists of white powder that looks a bit like cocaine. The deceptive labelling “not for human consumption” is exposed by the price difference between these so-called synthetic cathiones (about 30 dollars per package) and real bath salts (just a couple of dollars). They are sold in smoke shops, botanicas, etc. The specific chemicals may include MDPV, and other synthetic cathinones, which are analogs of amphetamine that imitate its stimulating effects (also resembling the effects of PCP). Unfortunately, bath salts are highly toxic and even deadly. Serious effect include hypertension, hyperthermia, nausea, convlusions, hallucinations and psychosis. Nothetless, as Ms. Rutkowski pointed out, the “zombie” stories associated with highly publicized violent incidents seem to have scared off potential users and this drug appears to be going out of favor.
People admitted to emergency departments who have used bath salts suffer from agitation, violent behavior, hallucinations, paranoia, high blood pressure, and heart problems, which may end up with heart attacks. The number of varieties of these drugs increased from 8 to 37 in the past three years. Their specific impact on the human body and brain is not clear and may change from one package to bath salts to another. Herein lies its danger – these drugs are life-threatening and unpredictable.
What to Do in Clinical Practice?
There are many other types of synthetic drugs, only briefly mentioned during the Lecture; what is important is their impact on clinical practice. The seriousness of potential lethal effects of the individual use of these chemicals require clinical staff to be well-trained and attentive, so that they recognize the presence of these dangerous drugs through particular symptoms. The three providers participating in the panel (CRI-Help, LA CADA, and Phoenix House) have all had incidents associated with spice and bath salts in their residential programs. In many cases, clients turned to spice to replace marijuana and avoid detection by drug tests. The use of bath salts was infrequent.
One best practice procedure is vigilance about symptoms and using spice-specific drug tests in suspicious cases. Prevention and education are the best antidotes: providing accurate, up-to-date drug education to clients about the harmfulness of these drugs is one of the optimal ways to decrease their usage. Another short-term way of countering their spread is to conduct searches of rooms and items brought by visitors and from home visits, to reduce contraband.
In terms of long-term treatment, however, as Dr. Whitfield said, all addictions should be treated in the same way, by providing psychiatric treatment of the issues that cause people to turn to drugs for comfort or stimulation. As he stated, after detoxification and stabilization of the patient, “it does not matter if it is spice, marijuana, or prescription drugs we are dealing with – the best and most effective response consists of psychiatric treatment of underlying issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma, or psychosis.”
Synthetic Drugs at Phoenix House
Dr. Trochimczyk presented statistics about the prevalence of particular “drugs of choice” among Phoenix House clients in Los Angeles. Synthetic drugs were very low on this list, affecting below 1% of clients. For adults at Phoenix House Venice, the first place was taken by cocaine (though its prevalence decreased in recent years to 26%), followed by heroin/morphine (about 22%), alcohol (21%), and cannabis (17%). The largest increase was in prescription drugs abuse, that grew from 3% to 7% in two years. For teenagers, the main drug of choice was marijuana (about 79%), followed by stimulants (27%), alcohol (13.6%), heroin/opiates (3.3%), cocaine (1.9%), hallucinogens (1.9%), and other drugs.
The use of spice as “legal and safe” alternative to marijuana, smuggled onto the campus to be smoked, has resulted in the increased need for spice-specific drug tests, targeting suspicious behaviors and administered in addition to the regular drug testing routine. At any given time, there are only one or two clients affected by spice within the residential program and no clients with a history of using bath salts. Internal statistics confirm that new synthetic drugs are the domain of young males (16-25 years old), who like to experiment with new chemically-induced experiences and want to avoid “dirty” drug tests.
For more information about substance abuse and mental health treatment programs at Phoenix House, or to refer someone in need for admission to our residential or outpatient services for teens with co-occurring disorders at the Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles in Lake View Terrace, please call our Call Center at 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435). We are here to help you find the information and services you need!
The UCLA/PSATTC/SAPC Special Lecture on Synthetic Drugs was presented jointly by UCLA’s Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, Pacific Southwest Addiction Technology Transfer Center and County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Control.
The PowerPoint Presentation by UCLA’s Beth Rutkowski may be found on the ATTC website: “Will Synthetic Drugs Turn You into a Zombie?”
How to Engage Teens in Treatment Using TCU’s TRIP
On a sunny and joyful February day at Phoenix House Orange County in Santa Ana, California, academics, clinicians, and treatment specialists met to discuss engagement in adolescents undergoing substance and alcohol addiction treatment services. Danica K. Knight, PhD, and Jennifer E. Becan, PhD, from the Institute of Behavioral Research (IBR) at Texas Christian University (TCU) came to shed light to their new study. This study tracks the implementation of new strategies for improving treatment readiness in approximately 50 programs across the US. The Orange County training include clinicians from Phoenix House Academy of Orange County (on February 19 & 20) was a part of Phase 2 of the research project. In addition, clinical staff at the Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles attended a “refresher” training on February 21.
The purpose of this two-day training was to introduce counselors and treatment specialists to TCU’s Treatment Readiness and Induction Program (TRIP) by familiarizing them in using graphical approaches during their clinical practices. Participants were taught how to: identify adolescents’ barriers in acceptance and involvement of treatment, direct adolescents’ malevolent thoughts to productive thinking, utilize TRIP lessons and activities, strengthen leadership skills, incorporate peer facilitators, and efficiently use Mapping-Enhanced Counseling (MEC) strategies with clients to promote introspection, group discussion, and consequential thinking. MEC forms the core of TRIP, and is listed on The National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).
In order to understand what inspired the creation of TRIP, the organizers had to define the fundamental, underlying causes of such activities. The obstacles to successful treatment engagement rise with the presence of low motivation, cognitive challenges such as inattention and impulsivity, and non-supportive family and/or peer connections. Discussion followed, and then the fun began! Participants mapped out complex problems and potential solutions, played an interactive game that simulates a life of continued drug use, dealt and traded reflection cards, and enacted client activities and behaviors. Ultimately, everyone was able to visualize real-life scenarios and put the training lessons into practice.
Dr. Danica Knight, Co-Investigator of the TCU Adolescent Project, exclaimed that she “had a great day yesterday with Phoenix House folks!” Further, she said that “we learned as much from them as they did from us!”
Those who participated in the training will be awarded NAADAC CEUs and complete sets of TRIP materials to be used at their agencies. For the TCU team to better understand how interventions like TRIP are adopted and implemented in programs, organizers asked participants to complete a set of 4 surveys before, just following, and months after the TRIP training, ranging a total of 14 months.
Providers of residential and outpatient services specializing in adolescent substance abuse were invited to participate this past 19-20th of February. Among those who attended, were several representatives from the Phoenix House adolescent programs in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties. Dr. Knight observed in retrospect: “Participants got a lot out of it – at least they told us they did! I also think they enjoyed interacting with providers outside [the Phoenix House] organization and exchanging ideas.“ Enthusiastic, dedicated, and knowledgeable specialists coming together for a good cause can only lead to more effective treatments for those in need.
For more information about our behavioral health treatment programs, or to refer someone in need for admission to our substance abuse or mental health services for adolescents or adults at one of our Phoenix House facilities in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, please call our Call Center at 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435). We are here to help you find the information and services you need!
Phoenix Houses of Los Angeles is Going Green!
How can a nonprofit agency make the world a better place? With a generous leadership grant from The Ahmanson Foundation, Phoenix House is excited to announce the launch of our Going Green: Environmental Efficiency Upgrades project at our Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles. After performing a professional energy audit, Phoenix House will incorporate new green technologies into our Los Angeles based facility.
For decades, Phoenix House has maintained a great reputation for its substance abuse and mental health services. Now we’re adding “being green” to our list of credentials. Our evidence-based residential and outpatient substance abuse treatment services for teens will be offered in an improved and energy-efficient Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles at Lake View Terrace.
- a rooftop solar energy system,
- upgraded climate control systems,
- new efficient lighting, and
- water savings measures.
Through these environmentally-friendly energy upgrades, Phoenix House will be able to re-direct hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from skyrocketing utilities prices into our life-changing Phoenix House programs while helping the environment by decreasing our carbon footprint. In addition, by practicing good environmental stewardship, we also set an example and create teachable moments for the teens in our care at Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles.
The multi-year initiative will be completed by the end of 2015. Program partners include The Ahmanson Foundation, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Willdan Energy Solutions and California Sun Systems.
For more information about our substance abuse and mental health treatment programs, or to refer someone in need for admission to our residential or outpatient services for teens with co-occurring disorders at the Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles in Lake View Terrace, please call our Call Center at 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435). We are here to help you find the information and services you need!
True Story: Ira
I had a pretty good youth. I was raised in Brooklyn, I skipped grades and was a high-performing student, and I went on to college in the Bay Area at San Jose State. That’s when my drug use began, and I ended up being one of those Haight-Ashbury addict/alcoholics—although I didn’t know I was an alcoholic for a long time. I did all the psychedelics, was part of that whole scene with Ken Kesey and Allen Ginsburg. That turned me onto harder drugs, and by the time I was done I’d used practically every drug I knew about: heroin, cocaine, pills, uppers and downers and powder and everything. That began in 1965.
Soon friends and I decided we were going to change the world through hashish. So we went to Morocco at the end of the ‘60s and started smuggling hash. I was doing that for a while and eventually wound my way into Peru in the ‘70s and got involved in the cocaine trade. It was ridiculous; I didn’t even speak Spanish and there I was running this coke business.
As an addict you have this delusional thinking and denial, and although I didn’t recognize it at the time, I was putting my life in so much peril in South America. I was working with a bunch of killers, risking my life over and over. Plus, I was using substances from people on the streets, not knowing what I was putting through the veins of my body—that was insane. None of my crime partners are alive today, and I was crazier than all of them. It seemed whenever there was a choice to be made I made the wrong one.
I came back to the states and was just lounging around hitting new lows in my use. My college days of just doing drugs for recreation – for fun, sex, all that – were over. I was addicted. In 1979 I contacted Dr. David Smith, who I knew as Medical Director of the Haight-Ashbury free clinic, and he recommended Phoenix House of Orange County. I’d never been to southern California, but I got on a bus right away. I remember it like it was yesterday; I had a few pills left when I arrived, and I put them in the bushes outside Phoenix House—in case I needed them when I left!
I was in treatment for six months, and Phoenix House saved my life. It really stopped me in my tracks. The people were great, the counselors were very dedicated and truly wanted to help us. The program prepared me for a life of being clean and sober. It was a new program back then; I was one of the first graduates, and felt very proud.
Unfortunately, addicts back then thought we could become social drinkers once we got clean. I hadn’t identified with an alcohol problem in the past, only as a drug addict. So I got myself set up after treatment, moved in with a gal, got my real estate license and started working. But my girlfriend and I started drinking, and over time that turned into drugs. I tried different things to stop on my own—other relationships, relocating. It was a bumpy road for a few years but I still kept in touch with Phoenix House and the people there and the counselors, and in 1985 I started going to meetings. That was it; I’ve been sober for 28 years now.
Recovery has been a gift, but I don’t take much credit for it myself. I’m just doing the footwork and carrying the message. I got what I need to get clean and now I just try to give that to somebody else—another suffering addict or alcoholic. I understand my motives now, and I have a relationship with a higher power; I no longer think I’m the head of the universe.
Of course, I have experienced medical repercussions from my use; I have Hepatitis C, but fortunately so far I haven’t needed treatment. Mostly, every day now is just a new great moment of gratitude and appreciation for my life. Before, I never could go through a day without either using drugs or thinking about using them. But at one point, it dawned on me that time had gone past and I was just…done. I had stopped obsessing. That was my moment of release from bondage, when I became aware that some huge change had occurred in me.
You folks who are in recovery, you have to keep connected. Stay connected to your recovery, whatever you do. It’s so important. Every day I have phone calls with recovering addicts and alcoholics. I reach out when I see somebody who wants help and is struggling. I want everyone to know that you can recover and you can succeed. Your past, be it addiction or a felony or what have you, can’t stop you—as long as you’re honest. The most important thing is learning how to be rigorously honest.
Look at me; I’m married and very much in love, I have two children, I’m moving to an executive position at a new bank. There are exciting opportunities in my life now. I’m no longer the junkie on the street. There is a second chance in life, and Phoenix House was the beginning of mine.
If you or a loved one needs help for substance abuse, call us today at 1-800-378-4435 or send us an email.
Phoenix House Celebrates Black History Month in California
Why is Black History Month so important? In order for us to become more engaged, compassionate and aware, we need to remember the injustices of the past, and the neglected achievements that may have gone unnoticed. Most importantly, we need to celebrate our collective successes continue, step by step, to change the cultural landscape of America, creating a more tolerant, free, and multi-cultural society.
All Phoenix House behavioral health programs in California featured special celebrations, events, exhibitions, lectures, and meetings this month. Click the following link for a description of selected programs that truly celebrated the creative contributions of African Americans to the world we live in.
Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles
During the entire month of February, Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles residential treatment program for teens with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders celebrated Black History Month in many ways. At our fully-accredited high school, Black History topics were incorporated into the curriculum for all classes. Every teacher taught class lessons that exposed our clients to people and issues of Black History, including inventors, writers, social activists and more. Throughout the month our clients listened to presenters speaking about Civil Rights and the Civil War. Phoenix House Academy also organzied a “Black History Month Essay and Art Contest” for students who could write an essay or make a portrait of a famous African American. Thanks to the contest, the school was enriched by several amazing works of art, literature, and poetry reflecting the influence of Black History on America. The artwork will be used to decorate the classrooms.
Phoenix House Venice
At our Residential Treatment Program for Men in Venice, CA, on the 28th of February, clients and staff gathered for a Black History Month (BHM) Presentation including essays, poems, and artworks created by the clients. The essays discussed major issues and personalities in Black History, such as the New Jim Crow study by Michelle Alexander, the original “Hannibal” – ancient general, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, and Malcolm X. The 10 presentaters were judged by their peers who voted to give the first prize for the passionate recitation of the ”I have a dream…” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The event also included a soul food dinner, and African American music. In addition, Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, Phoenix House’s Senior Director of Planning,who is a well-known poet and music historian, presented some of her published poems, including “Look at me…” ” that celebrates the beautiful voice of an incomparable jazz singer, Ella Fitzgerald, singing Misty: “The dark honey of Ella’s voice/filled the valley with a golden sheen…” Dr. Trochimczyk also wrote a new poem for this occasion, celebrating Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad that brought thousands of runaway slaves to freedom.
Elizabeth Stanley-Salazar, VP and Director of Clinical Services, gave out certificates, gift cards and book prizes to competition participants. She commented: “The first Annual Venice Center Black History Month Poetry and Essay Jam was an enormous success. The 10 clients who presented opened their minds, hearts and souls to the community and expressed their dreams, pain and hope to all of us. This was only made possible through the safety and trust created by the rest of the community through attention, support and respect.” She praised the wonderful dinner, the efforts of other Phoenix House staff and concluded: “You always know a party is good when nobody wants to leave. Community broke into dance following the presentations.”
Phoenix House CVSP Treatment Program
On Friday, February 22, 2013, Phoenix House clients and staff celebrated the Black History Month with an event entitled “The Dream…to Achievement” at the Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe. The event started from reading the famous speech, “I have a dream…” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and an introduction of one way in which Dr. King’s dream was achieved – in the Presidency of Mr. Barack Obama. One of the participants in the program read a brief biography of President Obama, followed by an excerpt from his inaugural speech of 2012.
After this tribute to the heroes of the past and present, the celebration became interactive: A Trivia Game focused on African-American Success Storeis and Inventions. Did you know that Dr. King changed his first name as a young boy from Michael to Martin? Many people are aware by now that George Washington Carver invented the peanut butter and over 400 other plant products. But did you know that Otis Boykin was the creator of 28 electronic devices, used in computers and even a pacemaker? Or, on a lighter note, that Lonnie G. Johnson invented the Supersoaker watergun? Participants could learn that W. A. Martin patented a lock in 1889, and P.B. Downing invented and patented the street mailbox. Elijah McCoy patented the lawn sprinkler and Frederick M. Jones invented the air conditioning unit for the refrigerated truck…
Finally, the CVSP Black History Month Celebration included testimonials by program participants and artists, including M. Bartholomew, who created a colored pencil drawing, ”Cry me a River” to express his remorse about the things he did under the influence of drugs. Men talked about the role of art as a way to improve their lives, express their concerns about their past, commitment to self-improvement. They also want to use their talents to beautify the space around them and in this way give back to the community. Mr. Christopher Wellington commented: “Art is an important means of behavioral modification and leads to changed thinking and successful rehabilitation. Our purpose at Phoenix House Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program is to help men recognize the errors in what we call ‘criminal-addictive thinking’ and learn new ways of interacting with the world, and contributing in a positive fashion to the community.”
For more information about our behavioral health treatment programs, or to refer someone in need for admission to our substance abuse or mental health services for adolescents or adults at Phoenix House facilities in California, please call our Call Center at 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435). We are here to help you find the information and services you need!
Teen Writes to Phoenix House – A Letter with Insights and Thanks
Phoenix House’s counselors do an amazing job every day listening to, advising, and helping their clients enrolled in substance abuse and mental health treatment programs inCalifornia. Our counselors genuinely care about each client they work with – and sometimes, their clients reward them with more than just a priceless life experience, but with a tangible and cohesive part of their history.
Rebeca Brown, Program Manager of a Substance Abuse Treatment Program for Adolescents at Lake Hughes in Los Angeles County, received an extremely heart-felt and touching note from one of her young clients. She was so moved and impressed by her client’s incredible journey, that she was compelled to share his story with the rest of Phoenix House.
Her client agreed to allow others to read about his experiences with substance abuse and how Phoenix House helped him overcome the challenges he faced. Among the many remarkable quotes, here are a few that really stand out.
“I remember how this thing, this lifeless material, took the life out of my very soul.”
“How could I be so foolish to continue using this thing that has manipulated and controlled me for so long?”
“This drug robs you of who you are, and it keeps us helpless by making us believe we don’t feel disgusted with who we’ve become.”
Our favorite quote happens to be the letter’s happy ending and the reason why Phoenix House is so committed to helping those who face difficulties with substance abuse overcome their addictions and regain their lives.
“Free yourself, there is no better feeling. Keep your dreams alive. There’s hope out there for young men like us.”
The letter was just one sign of appreciation from our clients. We have recently posted a True Story of Johanna, a beautiful and talented graduate of Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles, who has completely changed her life and became one of our counselors. She understands and realizes our mission every day! Other expressions of appreciation include a Commendation from California Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes, for our work in the area of prevention.
Phoenix House is committed to offering valuable service of the highest caliber to all clients. The agency goes above and beyond to maintain its status as the nation’s leading provider of substance abuse treatment, intervention, and prevention services. We accept private insurance, self-pay, and have funding available for those without the ability to pay, including clients with co-occurring disorders, homeless veterans in need of substance abuse treatment, at risk youth, and others struggling with addictions and mental health issues.
For more information about our programs, or to refer someone in need for admission to our outpatient or residential treatment programs for teens at the Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles, please call our Call Center at 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435). We are here to help you find the information and services you need!
Sailing to Success at Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles
One of the most important aspects of our services is reaching clients where they are and help them find their own strengths to make it a foundation for future recovery. Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles has been using this strength-based approach in its community-based Youth and Family Counseling Services - with staff meeting clients for individual therapy sessions in their homes, schools, or other community locations. The program is based on an evidence-based intensive case management curriculum called ACRA/ACC and has proven quite effective thanks to the engagement and motivation of our staff. In February, 2012, we received a nice thank you letter from a teenager enrolled in these services:
“I think the Phoenix House Program has helped me in many ways. My therapist really took her time to be here for me as I needed help while I was using drugs… We had perfect communication adn the homework I got from this program kept me away from negativity. This program is helpful in a lot of ways. They communicate with you. And they help you with the things you need. I had trouble staying on, using narijuana. But I’m proud to say I have stopped, not for anyone, but for me.”
Like the therapist mentioned above, clinical staff of the Youth and Family Counseling Services are patient and kind. They engage and motivate their clients, helping them to establish their own goals and seek to develop their own talents. The result is clearly described in the words of the teen quoted above, who has learnt to not use drugs and to pursue other life goals, “not for anyone, but for me.” This attitude comes from the staff, who are experienced and highly dedicated mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals keeping their own lives balanced by simultaneously pursuing their interests and developing their talents.
A Passion for Sailing
In addition to his complete dedication to his counseling work, helping to save lives, C.J. Anderson, Program Manager of Outpatient and Community-Based Services in Los Angeles, has a real passion for sailing. He has been sailing competitively for nearly two decades, and frequently participates in sailing events and races. In 2012, he placed second in Cal Race Week, and also did well in North American Championships in San Francisco Bay. His tranquil, positive attitude is a great asset while sailing against the waves and the wind.
Thanks to his calm, humble personality, he is also a model for teenagers, who look up to him and his staff of therapists, for inspiration. From our therapists and counselors, the youths learn how to create a life filled with excitement and success, without resorting to the false allure of chemical heaven.
True Story: Johanna
I grew up in a good home. My parents were together, and my mom and dad were both hard-working. But I did grow up a home that had domestic violence. I became very angry with my father for the way he treated my mother, and the way she allowed him to treat her. I guess you could say I lost respect.
I made up my mind—I would always attack before being attacked, because I didn’t want to be like my mom. I became a violent person myself. I had been a straight-A student, but I started hanging out with people who were gang-affiliated and running away from home. Then, when I was sixteen, one of my friends was using meth and she said to me, “Try it!” I became so hooked that I wouldn’t run away anymore; I would just stay home and get high. I got a weekly allowance and I would use it to buy drugs.
By the time I started using meth, I had already been caught with drugs and was on probation. I came out with a dirty drug test, so they put me under house arrest. When I came out dirty again, they took me into custody. My options were boot camp for six months or rehab for one year. The only reason I chose rehab was that I knew I could walk out of there. I planned on going to Phoenix House Academy of Los Angeles, doing my time, and leaving. I wasn’t really there for treatment.
At first, I couldn’t see my own problem, but I could see how the drugs were affecting the other teens at Phoenix House. I thought, “Oh my God, that’s really sad.” It changed my mentality. I also liked going to school at the Academy and all the sober activities they had us do—performing in shows, trips to Six Flags, and just hanging out without drugs or alcohol. I was like, “This is what a normal teenager is supposed to do.”
I wanted to do better for myself, but I still didn’t think I had a drug problem. I just wanted to stop hanging out with the crowd I was hanging out with. I wanted to focus on school and graduate. My dad became involved in my therapy, and he completely changed. When I saw that, I said, “I need to be grateful and deal with the anger that I have.” I wasn’t raised to live the lifestyle I was living.
On Sundays, Phoenix House had a preacher come in and I started going to church. That’s what made the difference in my life. I realized I shouldn’t be using drugs and I became open to the treatment. The tool that really helped me was, play the whole tape. When temptation comes, don’t just think about the urge and the feeling of getting high. Play the whole tape: After you take that hit, what will be the consequence? So I started doing that. Now that I had gained so much, I realized I had a lot to lose—the newfound trust I had with my parents, getting good grades, getting my credits to finish high school. I didn’t want to go back to where I was. It wasn’t worth it.
I completed residential treatment in 2004. My family moved, and it was great to be in whole new environment. But I didn’t stay sober for long. After I completed outpatient treatment and graduated from high school, I relapsed. Then it hit me more than ever before—I really did have a problem.
But this time, I had the desire to get sober. I knew I had what a lot of people don’t have—and that was hope. With my faith in Jesus Christ, I knew I was not alone in my struggles and God loved me enough to help me change. So, I used the tools I’d learned to play the whole tape. I kept on fighting. And the desire to get high never came back.
That was about five years ago. In 2009, I earned my degree in surgical technology, and I’m planning to go back to school to study psychology. Meanwhile, I work at Phoenix House as a counselor. I also work as a case manager at a law firm, assisting claimants with disabilities. Most importantly, I’m the director of the Young Girls’ Ministry at my church, where I’ve had the privilege of counseling young people who’ve face struggles similar to my own. My relationship with my parents is great now. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to make it right with them.
I never thought in a million years that I would be where I am. I thank God for Phoenix House and for the faith I have today. Now, I know that I can overcome anything.
If you or a loved one needs help for substance abuse, call us today at 1-800-378-4435 or send us an email.
Phoenix House Honored With CARF Accreditation
Following a detailed and comprehensive review and evaluation process in January 2013, Phoenix Houses of California, Inc., inclusive of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County subsidiaries, has been accredited for a period of three years through January 2016 by CARF International (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities), a leading accreditor of health and human services.
Phoenix House is proud to display this highly esteemed accreditation; a mark that represents excellence and leadership in health and services. The core programs of Phoenix House now fully accredited are as follows:
- Outpatient Treatment: Alcohol and Other Drugs/Addiction (Adults),
- Outpatient Treatment: Alcohol and Other Drugs/Addiction (Children and Adolescents),
- Residential Treatment: Alcohol and Other Drugs/Addiction (Children and Adolescents),
- Residential Treatment” Integrated: AOD/MH (Children and Adolescents), and
- Therapeutic Communities: Alcohol and Other Drugs/Addictions (Adults.)
The CARF accreditation demands the fulfillment of rigorous standards and an ongoing effort to constantly improve. “We are honored to continue being a part of the highly esteemed CARF family and the network of distinguished providers who constantly raise the bar for quality service and client satisfaction,” said Pouria Abbassi, P.E., SVP, and California Regional Director for Phoenix House.
Phoenix House is committed to offering valuable service of the highest caliber to all clients. The CARF accreditation is just one of the many ways Phoenix House strives to maintain its status as the nation’s leading provider of substance abuse treatment, intervention, and prevention services.
For more information about our programs, or to refer someone in need for admission to our treatment program for teens at the Phoenix House Academy of Orange County, please call our Call Center at 1 800 DRUG HELP (1 800 378 4435). We are here to help you find the information and services you need!
True Story: Jamie
I’m a five-time loser; I went to the penitentiary five times before I made a change. For me, drug use started around age 15 in northern California. I was smoking marijuana with my friends, and that progressed to drinking on a regular basis. My friends were older than me, and everything they did involved getting drunk first. So I was drinking heavily, and in 11th or 12th grade I started experimenting with crystal meth and powder cocaine. I didn’t care for the meth, but the cocaine—I fell in love.
I graduated high school by the skin of my teeth. I went to junior college, but by then my drug use had gone from recreation to addiction. Pretty soon I couldn’t find powder cocaine around the neighborhood any more; all that was available was crack, so I gravitated towards that. I was stuck on it for about 13 years. In 1995 I got sent to the penitentiary, and I was in and out of those: San Quentin, Corcoran, lots of them.
I remember telling myself one night in San Quentin, “You know Jamie, if you don’t get your shit together by age 30, just throw in the towel and be a dope fiend.” My plan was to get out, get an ounce of coke, and lock myself in a room until it was gone. I mean, I was tired. I’d lost my friends, my family, all my possessions. Luckily when I turned 30 I was incarcerated and that’s when I got into the Phoenix House treatment program. I’m not religious, but I’m a spiritual dude—and I know the “old boy upstairs” heard me and helped me down the right road. I was leading a horrible existence, and treatment was the best thing that ever happened to me.
In the Phoenix House program, I finally got to address my issues. I had amazing counselors – Linda Stangle, Mr. Lomax, Chris Evans – who showed me so much love and inspired me to do better. It almost felt like I wasn’t in prison any more! I had the opportunity to be part of a positive structure, and that really opened my eyes. By the time I got out of prison I had built such a firm foundation under me because of Phoenix House. I knew what I wanted to do: help people the way Phoenix House had helped me.
So I became a counselor. I worked at a few different agencies serving people in need, homeless women and children, at-risk youth. Today, I run a nonprofit called Asian Neighborhood Design that helps kids who might be headed down the wrong road – or who have already hit bottom – work their way back up. We teach them trades and building skills, with a focus on green technology and solar installation.
The best day of my life was May 9, 2005, when my daughter was born. I was already good in my recovery, had a great support system, but she really solidified it. I knew I’d never do anything to hurt that kid. My ex eventually started using drugs again and split, but thank god she didn’t take our daughter with her. Instead, I swooped my little girl up and she’s been with me ever since; my current girlfriend helps me raise her. Today she’s seven years old, and she’s my best friend.
It’s crazy to be on this side of the fence now, having lived on both sides, watching my ex and her addiction and thinking, “Is that what I used to be like? Is that what I used to do to the people I loved?!” Never again, man. Never again.
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photo credit: Ryan Hammer