Understanding Drug Addiction

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Drug addiction is often misunderstood. Many people do not understand why or how other people BECOME ADDICTED. It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers should be able to quit with will power. This is incorrect. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease and quitting takes more than good intentions or strong will. In fact, because drugs change the brain in ways that promote compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult.

So, what is drug addiction?

Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug use, despite harmful consequences. Although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge an addicted person’s self-control and hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs.

What is the problem with taking drugs?

People begin taking drugs for a variety of reasons, including, wanting to feel and perform better. So you might think, what is wrong with that? With continued use though, a person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired; this impairment in self-control is the cornerstone of addiction. Brain imaging studies of people with addiction show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control.

Exactly what happens to the brain on drugs?

Most drugs target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in areas of the brain that monitor movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. When activated at normal levels, this system rewards our natural behaviors. Overstimulating the system with drugs, however, produces euphoric effects, which strongly reinforce the behavior of drug use; teaching the user to repeat it.

As a person continues to abuse drugs, the brain adapts to the overwhelming surges in dopamine by producing less dopamine or by reducing the number of dopamine receptors in the reward circuit. The result is a lessening of dopamine’s impact on the reward circuit, which reduces the abuser’s ability to enjoy not only the drugs but also other events in life that previously brought pleasure. This decrease compels the addicted person to keep abusing drugs in an attempt to bring the dopamine function back to normal, but now larger amounts of the drug are required to achieve the same dopamine high—an effect known as tolerance.

Decreased Dopamine Transporters in a Methamphetamine Abuser


Through scientific advances, we know more about how drugs work in the brain than ever before. We also know that drug addiction can be successfully treated to help people stop abusing drugs and lead productive lives.

If you or a loved one is dealing with drug addiction, look into our inpatient drug rehab options in Los Angeles and get in touch about treatment options.

Holiday Sobriety – Making It!



The holidays are officially upon us. The media portrays this time of year as joyous and indulgent. But for many that is far from the truth. What about people, like yourself, trying to stay sober? The holidays can be very stressful. There is no magic answer – no silver bullet. But hopefully these tips will ease your stress and help you have a successful, sober holiday season.

Healthy self-care.

It can be very difficult during this time of year to keep a regime of good self-care. There can be a lot of frenzied running around leaving you too tired to for instance, eat right or go for some exercise. Taking care of yourself is critical to being able to make good decisions.

Stay away from the wrong parties.                                                                                 

Don’t be afraid to say no. At the end of the day, no holiday obligation is worth the risk of relapse. Think about if this is a right party for you. Who is hosting it? Who will be there? Will the focus be all around drinking? If you are unsure of how things might go, then it may be best to decline the invitation. If you are at a party and it’s becoming too much or if you’re not sure you can handle it – then don’t test yourself, get out of the situation.


If you’re worried about staying sober, then do good by finding a worthy cause to donate your time to during this risky season.

Keep contact with your support group.

Connect with those that keep you sober before entering into high risk situations is a great way to reinforce your commitment to staying sober. Drop by a meeting before that holiday party.

Plan your holiday.

It is important to avoid unplanned expectations or responsibilities. You may find yourself in a very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation. So take the time to plan out what your holiday days and nights will look like. Too much isolation can be harmful. Don’t leave many nights open where you may find yourself alone. Also, think about new traditions you may want to start that support your sobriety.

Get help from friends and family.

Your friends and family are here to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Maybe you are looking for someone you can trust to join you at a party? Maybe you just need to hear someone’s voice over the phone to help set you on the right track? Whatever it is you need, reach out!

Overly Happy Holidays Can Be Risky For Gay Men

Holiday Party Drugs, gay drug rehab La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center

We all know that parties come hand-in-hand with the holiday season. This for the most part can be a good thing. But there is a community of people where this breeds a high risk of harm. Gay men have a sub-culture of strong partying that includes high drug use. The holiday season exacerbates this potentially toxic party scene.

Studies have shown that, when compared with the general population, gay men are more likely to:

  • Use alcohol and drugs,
  • Have higher rates of substance abuse,
  • Not withhold from alcohol and drug use, and
  • Continue heavy drinking into later life.

This can be attributed to homophobia, discrimination, or violence they may have experienced given their sexual orientation.

Many illicit drugs are used during, for example, “circuit parties,” in which gay men from various geographical locales congregate in one large metropolitan community over an extended 2- or 3-day period for the purposes of intense partying and sexual activity. The holiday season is a time when these types of parties are in full swing.

At these parties, and others that gay men frequent, there is strong pressure to participate in heavy drug use. The Los Angeles Times reported that the frequency of methamphetamine use is twenty times greater among homosexuals than in the general population.

Falling prey to these party scenes can have serious consequences well beyond the holiday season. If not already, drug addiction is a strong possible outcome.

So what can gay men do? 

  • Gay men must be careful about their participation in these parties. The social pressures once there can be very high.
  • Obviously the safest bet is abstinence but temptation can be very persuasive. So if you do go, set yourself up for success.
  • Set your own limits and stick to them. If you notice the influence is becoming too much then leave the party.
  • No party is worth relapse, addiction, or worse.

Try to make positive choices this holiday season. If possible reach out to family and friends. They are there to support you. If you are already in a drug treatment program, reach out to your support group. It is important to make sure your treatment program understands and addresses the issues you face as a gay man.

The holidays can be a very vulnerable time for gay men. Make sure you have a plan that is going to support your success.

Do One Thing to Make the Holidays Less Lonely

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This article was originally featured in The Advocate

The holidays should be a joyous occasion — one of celebration, relaxation, self-reflection, and any number of positive resolutions. And yet this period also is a difficult time for many people.

For some gay men, the holidays can quickly devolve into a period of excessive partying, severe drug abuse, and all the associated complications of addiction. The sense of isolation and loneliness can be, ironically, an inseparable part of the holidays, causing gay men to “self-medicate” and try any means to numb their pain.

Many of these excesses have roots in past traumatic events — from living as a closeted teen or suffering ridicule from being out — and extend into adulthood. The consumption of drugs and alcohol, and a nightlife culture often fueled by crystal meth, ecstasy, GHB, and Ketamine gives people an easy out from dealing with their sorrow. This behavior not only impairs a person’s judgment, where inhibitions and safety measures are at their lowest, it can translate to HIV transmission.

We should, in response to these events, be vigilant, informed, and compassionate; we should channel our deep concern toward a productive outcome, letting gay men know that they are not alone. We have an opportunity to be a more inclusive community where we can create a more sympathetic world. We have a responsibility to help produce a more empathetic environment; we need to ensure that our friends, acquaintances and loved ones are not alone this holiday season.

Let’s reach out to them so they can receive the support that underpins wellness, recovery, and healing. There is no reason for this pain to perpetuate itself; there is no justification for us to remain silent and do nothing while our colleagues and neighbors — including the gay men we know and love — poison or lose themselves with alcohol or drugs.

Indeed, the greatest gift can you give this holiday season is time. Take the time to ensure a friend or loved one is not alone by doing the simple but important thing like treating them to coffee or lunch. Listen to that person — that neighbor or nephew, that colleague or cousin, and make a mental inventory of how that individual looks and feels.

Maximize the time you spend with someone (no phones!) who would otherwise fall victim to the party scene. Plan a day trip and include that person in your activities. Together, we can make the holidays a truly festive moment for everyone.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Gay Drug Rehab Los Angeles

You wouldn’t expect a grown man to wear a size x-small shirt. Obviously, it wouldn’t fit. Like the old adage, one size doesn’t fit all. We are finding this to be true for drug rehab centers also. Specifically, the LGBT community has its own set of needs that is not being addressed by your typical drug rehab center. What makes the problem even worse is that these centers claim to be able to service this community of patients. Let’s take a closer look at the needs of these patients and the services available.

Treatment must reflect the dynamics between the drug and the unique individual. A generic approach will not work. The needs of the LGBT community can be very different than the rest of the population. But most treatment centers, when it comes down to it, don’t operate this way. They employ a one size fits all that fails this community.

What makes things worse is statistics show that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals face a higher risk of becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. For instance, the gay community is 40% more likely than the general population to engage in meth use (1).  They are also more likely to continue using drugs as they grow older. What contributes these numbers? The gay community uniquely faces certain challenges:

  • The need to numb the pain caused by homophobia
  • Reacting to public discrimination
  • Trauma caused by hate crimes

Imagine being a gay man in a gay drug rehab group where less than 10% are gay. Do you think it would be hard to express what is really going on for you? Yes. Do you think it could make your situation even worse? Yes.

For LGBT teens who are trying to define their sexual identity, the risk of substance abuse is especially acute. According to the National Association of Lesbian and Gay Addiction Professionals, the following factors make adolescents vulnerable to addiction:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Lack of support from family or community
  • Few positive role models
  • A lack of positive ways to view their sexuality

Gay drug rehab for the LGBT community must focus on the issues that promote addiction in this population, such as homophobia and challenges to self-acceptance.

One center that walks the talk is La Fuente. La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center in Los Angeles has been in the forefront working with LGBT individuals, their families and loved ones struggling with addiction since 2005. It has become one of the nation’s leading gay drug rehab and treatment programs with vast experience applying effective treatment interventions that are specific to the issues of LGBT individuals (drugs of choice and accessory behavior among LGBT can be very different.)

La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center, in addition to being experts in the issues and treatment of LGBT individuals, also is the only gay drug rehab program in the Greater Los Angeles area that has spent over a decade developing and providing the immediate community integration and introduction necessary for long-term recovery.


(1) http://lgbtdrugrehab.com/addiction-treatment-statistics/

La Fuente Hollywood Comes Out Of The Closet


Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I’m writing to you with very exciting news about La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center as we celebrate 10-years serving the Greater Los Angeles community. I felt compelled to share this news with you first because I consider you a trusted colleague or friend.

As you may know, La Fuente opened its doors in 2005 as a sober living and in 2011 transitioned into a State Licensed alcohol and drug program providing detox, residential and aftercare services. La Fuente also earned its 3-year CARF Accreditation in July of 2014.

Now…the NEWS! La Fuente has fully come out of the closet! Let me explain. The majority of La Fuente’s client base over the years has always been gay men. While we never felt a need to promote La Fuente as a gay specific center, after spending the last 10-years working almost exclusively with gay men, we’ve come to realize that a need exists for a treatment program and clinical staff who are attuned to the specific needs of the LGBT community.

The question some of you may have is “can an LGBT client exist in a mainstream treatment program?” The answer may be yes, however, it can be extremely challenging. La Fuente has worked with families who’s loved ones insisted on leaving treatment due to not fitting in or being bullied. An LGBT client should be provided the same comfort and safety in treatment as anyone else. The question I ask you to consider when referring or placing an LGBT person is “would this client have a greater chance at success among similar people?” In my experience, the answer is unequivocally “yes!”

La Fuente over the years has developed a curriculum designed to address the specific needs of LGBT people, and offers community integration for it’s clients that is not available at any other Greater Los Angeles treatment program.

We would appreciate your support in helping us get the word out that La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center has something very special and important to offer for a member of the LGBT community who may be struggling with addiction. We would love the opportunity to meet with you and answer any questions you many have.


Manny Rodriguez,

La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center

Executive Director

National Recovery Month-La Fuente Is 10-Lets Celebrate

Time to Celebrate!
Greetings and I hope you’ve had a happy healthy summer. La Fuente turns 10 this September, WOW! A lot has happened in the last decade; most notable is transitioning from La Fuente A Sober Community to La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center-a licensed and CARF Accredited treatment program. I am honored to have met, worked, collaborated  and served with all that fight the good fight, their families and loved ones. Please join us September 19 for our 10-year celebration. Details below.
September is also “National Recovery Month” and La Fuente has partnered and created several events with community members, businesses and stakeholders that increase addiction and mental health awareness as well as celebrates the benefits people in recovery can experience.
Below is the list of events we have planned for National Recovery Month. Please join us and spread the word! All are welcomed!
Manny Rodriguez, Executive Director and Founder
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Healthcare Committee and La Fuente Hollywood present National Recovery Month Luncheon 
Keynote Speaker:Tara Conner, Miss USA 2006 and Recovery Activist
Tara Conner, The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Healthcare Committee, La Fuente Hollywood and other Hollywood business, education, healthcare and community leaders tackle addiction and mental health issues in the workplace during National Recovery Month.
Wednesday September 9, 2015
Cafe Fabiolus
6270 W Sunset Blvd.
LA CA 90028
RSVP list is full!
A Decade of Hope…La Fuente Turns 10!
Celebrating 10 years of providing people with the tools they need to rebuild their lives free from addiction!
Join the PARTY on 
Saturday September 19, 2015 6pm-10pm
5718 Fountain Ave, LA CA 90028
All are welcome! Having fun is required!
COMPLIMENTARY parking provided directly
across at the High School
The Fight Magazine, LA Boulder and La Fuente invite you to “Recovery
Rocks” Benefitting The McIntyre House  

Join us for an afternoon of rock climbing, yoga and fundraising @ LA Boulder
Sunday September 27, 2015
1375 E 6th Street # 8
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Compete in the “Sissy That Rock” for a very special prize!
Admission is $15 and includes climbing gear.
All proceeds for tickets sold specifically to this event will benefit The McIntyre House along with 10% of LA Boulder day passes sold to the general public.

Leadership through Love, Not Bullying: A Lesson about Inspiring Your Colleagues

Published on April 6th, 2015 By rescue.ceoblognation.com

Of the many theories about leadership, including that skyscraper of hardcover books, case studies, academic texts, white papers and popular best sellers, few offer any valuable insight concerning a consistent, replicable rule about successful leadership.

The cumulative effect of every purported secret to effective leadership, and the reason these shortcuts (which are almost always a dead-end to frustration and self-doubt) fail to work, is further proof that executives need to look beyond the traditional business tomes, seminars and “coaches” that dominate this world.

Or: If you seek to inspire your colleagues and earn their trust – if you recognize that browbeating your employees and bullying your way through the workday is a waste of time – then creating a loving atmosphere should be your top priority.

That environment, free of fear and devoid of reprisals, enables a person to be more inventive, communicative and collaborative.

You will not, however, find such a place in the office buildings downtown or in the suburban campuses, where entire rows of cubicles look like a maze – the so-called “rat race” is more than a figure of speech, or so it would appear – in which anxiety is pervasive, morale is low and distrust is rampant.

The alternative exists nearby, as it is in and of the city; a refuge for men and women fighting drug and alcohol abuse, a place of comfort, friendship, healing, and yes, love.

I write these words from experience, where, as the Founder and Executive Director of La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center, I know that recovery begins with acceptance. It flourishes with love, and inspires others with personal warmth and integrity.

Applying this principle to the workplace, in which we remind each employee about his or her worth, is the best way to establish an emotional investment throughout an office: It is not about withholding judgment or ignoring bad behavior, as we should never blind ourselves to the problems people face, but it is a way for an individual to reclaim his or her identity; it is a chance for a worker to be part of something real, to have a stake in a project or a business with a genuine mission.

By adopting the ideals of one group – by emulating the actions of the recovery movement – executives can enlist their employees in an endeavor of mutual enlightenment, encouragement and enthusiasm.

A Workforce with a Purpose: Respecting Each Employee’s Identity

The universal lesson to this discussion is one respect. That is, business owners need to not only respect their workers; they must dignify each individual, aiding that person in moments of trial and applauding that employee during times of triumph.

By studying other disciplines – by borrowing from the best maxims regarding various rehabilitative programs – executives will have more than a pithy phrase at their disposal, or an aphorism about leadership at the ready.

They will have, instead, a proven method of uniting their respective workers; they will have, in spirit and deeds, a team of dedicated men and women with a purpose-driven outlook.

That attitude translates into enhanced productivity, increased efficiency and overriding sense of trust – a statement of resolution, complemented by results executives and employees can celebrate.

From the success of one subject of interest to its use within another field of importance, the proverbial ingredients for personal advancement and professional achievement are available for the taking.

With intelligence and wisdom, as well as love, we can become the leaders we deserve to be; we can become the model employees we should be.

Let us abide by these transcendent qualities, today and forevermore.



Building Trust by Showing Respect: Leadership Earned through Listening

Published on March 30th, 2015 By rescue.ceoblognation.com

Trust is the essence of business success, period.

Without that single ingredient – no matter how energetically an executive cheerleads on his or her own behalf – regardless of how aggressively a company advertises and overwhelms the airwaves with slogans, songs, catchphrases and jingles; in the absence of a workplace where trust can thrive and respect may flourish, despite every false assurance an organization chooses to believe, no organization can survive; never mind succeed.

And yet, too many businesses act as if trust is a given; too many executives think employees will bestow their trust without consideration, free of any rules or expectations.

On the other hand, with trust there is no limit to what a company can achieve. Does this, therefore, mean trust can repel failure and prevent setbacks? The question is rhetorical, but it nonetheless elicits an answer involving the reasons why so many leaders are unable to inspire their respective workers and clientele.

Put a different way, while not even the best plans and the most loyal employees can control the marketplace, there is a much higher risk of collapse in a situation where trust is non-existent and chaos is commonplace.

I approach this issue as a member of a profession where trust is the currency of leadership and personal recovery. I write about this matter with wisdom because, as the Founder and Executive Director of La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center, I know that recovery requires trust. It begins with acceptance and the voluntary transfer of authority, from which healing can occur.

On a practical level, this rule is an example of an emotional investment on my part – it is not my place to cast aspersions or render judgment unto those in pain – so I have a responsibility in guiding a guest back to a place of health, wellness and confidence.

Rather, we have a mutual goal in arriving at the same destination. Getting there involves respect for one another, a quality not enough companies cultivate, which explains (in part) the often-tense relationship between workers and executives.

The only way to narrow and ultimately close that chasm is with deeds. There must be an act – a series of acts – of good faith, where there is no doubt about each party’s sincerity and each group’s commitment to excellence.

That foundation is a model for how businesses can recover by emulating the principles I follow every day.

Recovery and Success: The Benefits of Creating a Team of Dedicated Workers

The lesson governing this discussion is one I invite executives to embrace without hesitation.

To state things simple, think of this other rhetorical question: What does a company have to lose if it emphasizes trust and respect as its core ideals?

Why, then, would a business sacrifice the chance to create a culture of support and admiration where workers have a stake in the outcome of their efforts?

Why would a company, when given the opportunity to treat its employees with dignity and transform an organization into a dynamic engine of success, select arrogance over sustained accomplishment?

Why, indeed, begins the query because it takes incredible ignorance – it requires the willing suspension of disbelief – for an executive to dismiss trust as a disposable commodity.

As the recovery movement illustrates, and as I bear witness to its countless offerings, trust is the bond from which all else follows; it is the force that unites a diversity of people by transcending race, religion, age, gender or national creed.

It is the light that attracts the best among us, so we may never forget the needs of the least among us.

A Look At Rehab

By Michael D. Shaw, Contributing Columnist – HealthNewsDigest.com Published on March 28th, 2015

(HealthNewsDigest.com) – “Rehab”–originally an abbreviation for “rehabilitation”–became accepted as a word in its own right in the 1940s.  Even though the term can still refer to therapy addressing the effects of a physical injury, these days it usually implies a course of treatment for drug or alcohol dependence, typically at a residential facility.  Most likely, this switch in meaning is linked to former first lady Betty Ford’s well-publicized alcohol dependence and diazepam addiction problems.  The eponymous facility opened in 1982.

Much has been written on the etiology of drug abuse, but commentary from the late psychology professor William Steiner is especially interesting.  He reminds us of the conflict between the traditional mores of an industrialized society, and the radical changes that have occurred in the last 50 years.  Such mores hold that the only legitimate earthly rewards are those that have been earned through striving, hard work, personal sacrifice, and an overriding sense of duty to one’s country, the existing social order, and family.

Steiner suggests that a form of cultural lag is in play.  As such, society in a state of rapid transition is experiencing instability with regard to prevailing views on drugs and drug use.

It is easy enough for society to condemn so-called “non-medicinal” users of illegal narcotics, but where does that leave those addicted to prescription drugs?  At the time of Steiner’s essay, sedatives and tranquilizers accounted for around 15 percent of all doctors’ prescriptions, not to mention sundry OTC products, including alcoholic beverages.

As he put it:  “One might conclude that there is a whole drug culture; that the problem is not confined to the young, the poor, the disadvantaged, or even to the criminal; that existing attitudes are at least inconsistent, possibly hypocritical.  One always justifies one’s own drug use, but one tends to view the other fellow who uses the same drugs as an abuser who is weak and undesirable.  It must be recognized that the social consensus in regard to drug use and abuse is limited, conflict ridden, and often glaringly inconsistent.”

Moving beyond the psychological and sociological underpinnings of drug abuse, and onto therapy, a good place to start is the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).  One of NIDA’s many available resources is Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (revised December 2012).  Here are some of their key principles:

Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.

No single treatment is appropriate for everyone.

Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse.

Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.

Behavioral therapies–including individual, family, or group counseling–are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.

Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies.

An individual’s treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.

Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously, as lapses during treatment do occur.

I was recently introduced to a rehab center in the heart of Hollywood, CA, once described as “[A] recovery gem tucked away in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city.”  This is La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center.  La Fuente was founded by Julliard-trained dancer Manny Rodriguez, who followed his personal road to wellness and discovered a calling to help others battling addiction.  Before that, he developed several small businesses and served as a marketing executive for various companies, including a subsidiary of two major motion picture companies.

La Fuente’s approach–tailored to the individual–integrates clinical therapy and twelve step programming with progressive levels of care, ranging from 30 day residential treatment programs to short or long term sober living.  Its curriculum also reflects the belief that an enduring recovery is strengthened with nutritional guidance, exercise, and opportunities for spiritual healing.

I’ll give Manny the last word…

“Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction requires a pragmatic and compassionate plan, where a treatment center is both in and of the city.  That is, guests should be able to heal within a sanctuary, which is also part of the area where they live and work.  La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center makes that transition possible because of our customized approach, along with levels of care that allow for effective tracking of each person’s progress, while having access to the broader community throughout an entire course of treatment.”