Tag Archive: addiction

  1. What is Self Control in Addiction?

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    Is there a way to exercise more self control when in addiction recovery? Are there strategies that an individual can implement to prevent them from relapsing? Yes, there are. There are ways to resist cravings and overcome negative thoughts, and remain in self control when going through a rough patch in recovery.

    How Belief Drives Addiction

    Believing negative thoughts or things can compel substance abuse. If an individual believes that they cannot stop their addictive behavior, or that they have no control over what they do, it is almost certain that they will engage in harmful, addictive behavior. The negative beliefs become excuses. Everyone has voices inside their heads that tell them they cannot do something, or that they cannot stop doing something. It is only true if the individual chooses to believe it. But when the individual practices mindfulness and awareness and tells themselves that they are in total control, their beliefs changes, thus helping them avoid harmful behavior.

    The Difference between Thoughts and Beliefs

    Thoughts are not the same as beliefs. For example, an individual can think all day that they’re a banana, but won’t believe it at the end of the day. Therefore, thinking something and believing something are two different things. When the individual starts believe their thoughts, it makes a difference to their lives. Especially when it comes to addictive behavior, it’s what the individual believes rather than what they think about that makes a difference.

    Changing Beliefs

    Can beliefs be changed? Of course they can be. Individuals change what they believe all the time, when they are presented with new or different information as opposed to what they started out believing. In recovery, the individual must make an effort to start acting in a way that is consistent with different words and thoughts.

    Exerting Self Control

    Outside of emergencies or events that cannot be controlled, it is fair to say that individuals have a lot of self control over what they choose to do. An individual who believes, for example, that not having a drink or a cigarette is more important that having that drink or smoking that cigarette, will choose to do something else, no matter how intense the urge. Self control can be exerted if it is consistent with what the individual believes.

    Tips to Improve Self Control

    1. Planning Ahead – Self control can be strengthened if the individual starts planning ahead for tricky situations, like how to avoid drinking when going to a party. This could mean bringing along a friend to keep the individual focused and in check, or having a response ready when asked about drinking.
    2. Eat – Researchers have found that blood sugar levels can affect the ability to exert self control. Using self control depletes blood sugar levels, so keeping a small snack at hand and ensuring a balanced diet will go a long way towards being in control.
    3. Exercise – This seems to be a cure all. The benefits of exercise are seemingly endless. A healthy body appears to have a powerful impact on the mind. Regular exercise has been shown to improve willpower in all areas of an individual’s lives, including drinking, smoking and drug addiction.

    Sustain Recovery provides a unique approach to adolescent care with our extended residence programs. Adolescents are given the life skills required for their transition to sober living. Contact us to learn about how our programs can benefit you.

  2. Can I Have a Sober Summer and Still Have Fun?

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    Summer can be associated with drinking and letting loose. In reality, summer has nothing to do with drinking, any more than the holiday season does. It is possible to have fun in summer without getting drunk.

    However, it often seems like everywhere one goes in summer such as beaches, barbecues, picnics and parties, alcohol is present. People tend to drink during the day and coolers filled with beer are all over the place. There is unspoken pressure to ‘have fun’ and too many times that fun is linked to drinking alcohol.

    So are there ways to have fun in the summer without having a drink? Yes there are.

    Learn Something New

    Summer is the perfect time to try something new. People are always talking about wanting to try something new and different, maybe learn a skill that they have been thinking about, like learning to play an instrument, take a martial arts class, learn to cook. It could be anything. Learning something new is fun and enjoyable and will keep the individual busy and away from idle drinking.

    Get Fit

    What better time to get a beach body than the summer. The hot season would be a great time to start a new fitness routine. This will make the individual not only look good but feel good. The endorphins released with exercising are better than an alcohol high. Simple things like walking everyday, going to yoga classes or swimming are a good start if the individual doesn’t want an intensive routine. Above all, the benefits of getting fit are many, for the body as well as the mind.

    Vitamin D

    Soak up the sunshine! Vibrant, sunny days mean that the individual can get natural Vitamin D from the sun.  Vitamin D helps the brain create positive neural connections that keep the mind sharp and positive

    Stepping Up The Program

    No matter where the individual is in their recovery process, stepping up their program will push them to a new level of success. One way to do so is to check out different support group meetings, apart from the one the individual regularly goes to. They can also participate in program related activities where they can bond with other individuals in recovery on trips, camping, etc.

    Remember to Celebrate

    Getting to recovery is a long, hard process. The individual must remember to celebrate where they are and how many difficulties they had to overcome to get there. Summer is a great time to invite friends and family over. Even new sober friends. Throw a barbecue, host a dinner party, arrange a brunch and have plenty of mocktails and soft drinks around. Share the celebration with loved ones, but be sure to make it a strictly no alcohol affair. There is nothing better than spending time with friends and family who support the individual and will be happy to see their progress.

    It is a blessing to have a few months of warm weather and blue skies to experience without nursing a hangover or feeling terrible about something. In recovery, the individual has started a new life and they should take the opportunity to experience it fully.


    Sustain Recovery provides a safe, structured environment for adolescents to learn about living substance free. To learn more about the elements of transitioning to sober living, contact us about our programs and how it can help you.

  3. Can You Get High on Heroin?

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    Heroin can create extreme euphoria and a deep sense of well-being. The addictive properties and side effects are well documented. Learn more about whether heroin can get a person high and how it works.

    Psychoactive Ingredients

    Heroin is derived from morphine which is a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants grown in Asia, Mexico and Colombia. The drug can trigger extreme sedation and euphoria by interacting with neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. Three components are important to know in heroin:

    Diacetylmorphine: main psychoactive ingredient


    Acetic anhydride

    Heroin needs these three components and may be dissolved in water or injected into a vein, muscle or under the skin. Some people choose to smoke or snort the drug.

    Euphoric Effects

    Psychoactive ingredients in heroin produce an intensely pleasurable sensation deemed a ‘rush’ that occurs in seconds after injection and lasts just a few minutes. The ‘rush’ is followed by a tranquil phase lasting a few hours which results in happiness, relaxation and an absence of emotional and physical pain. Euphoric effects of heroin occur within seconds after injection or minutes after smoking or snorting because of the time it needs to reach the brain. Heroin’s effects may last as long as three to five hours. A person may experience a rush initially including:

    • Alternating states of wakefulness and drowsiness
    • Mouth
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Severe itching

    Central Nervous System Effects

    Heroin is a depressant which acts on the central nervous system since the brain contains many opiate receptors. Once in the brain, heroin becomes morphine and binds to opiate receptors in the brain. This creates pain relief and nervous system depression. The brain’s neurotransmitters can cause clouded mental functioning and slowed breathing to the point of respiratory failure.

    Getting High

    Users of heroin report the drug can bring about a transcendent state of euphoria more intense than any other opiate or opioid. Getting high on heroin over and over can be a sign of heroin addiction. Different routes of administration trigger different onset effects for an individual. Intravenous injection is considered the fastest route of drug administration because it goes directly into the blood. Nasal and oral administration may not stimulate an equal ‘rush’ because the drug is absorbed more slowly rather than instantly. It is highly addictive when people increase the doses and, with it, the higher potential risk for psychological addiction.

    When Addiction Happens

    Dependency on heroin happens through frequent and regular use and tolerance can develop quickly. Increased doses are needed to achieve the same results. Some risks of use include:

    • Abscesses
    • Blood diseases like HIV and hepatitis
    • Failure of internal organs
    • Poisoning from other unknown substances combined with heroin
    • Reducing work of respiratory system which may result in death

    Sustain Recovery provides support and assistance to young adults who are in recovery from addiction. Clients who need a longer-term solution are invited to consider our programs. Call us to find out how to get started.

  4. Steps to Protect Emotional Health Against Family Dysfunction

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    dysfunction-families-addictionGrowing up around alcoholism can create dysfunction in the way a person behaves and responds to the world. Coping it with in an emotionally healthy way is important to keeping safe boundaries. Learn some of the steps to protect emotional health.

    Emotional Health

    Emotional health is a way of doing things that helps individuals practice good self care. Being raised in a dysfunctional family can teach people from an early age to ignore personal needs and focus on the individual with greater needs at one’s own expense. Emotional dysfunction can be created within a family system that does not support positive personal growth and development.

    Healthy Families

    At least one parent will be in charge in any given household that is functioning in a healthy way and the children will be subordinate to the adult. The adults provide structure, guidance, protection and support for the younger children who do not have the maturity to do so themselves. Survival may be possible but to thrive, adults must be present in a good, healthy manner to provide proper support and care.

    Dysfunctional Families

    In homes where alcoholism or addiction are present, the family structure is broken. Parents who have addiction are not able to care for children and do not provide guidance and structure. Emotional roles go to kids who care for the adults. Denial of addiction and its ramifications run down to the very roots of the family structure and kids grow up learning to understand roles differently in these homes as compared to healthy family situations. Children have to become highly aware of tending to the needs of others and may ultimately fail to get what is needed to become a healthy, vibrant adult who tends to his or her own needs and can be in healthy relationship with others.

    3 Steps for Emotional Health

    Learning to build emotional health takes effort and time. The most important things to remember are the following:

    Identify the role

    It is best to identify the role a person has learned within the family. Figure out what the responsibility is, who is responsible for it and who is being taken care of in the home. The questions will help build understanding of the current situation and determine where to go from there.

    Examine consequences

    The consequences of taking on responsibilities that are misappropriated can have long lasting ramifications. If a child takes on adult responsibility, it can feel ‘normal,’ even if it is not. Think about the ways things were at home and compare to what is typical for a child of that age and whether it was meant to build skills or necessary for survival.

    Adapt and change beliefs or behaviors

    Acting based on who a person is takes time and diligence. This is the hardest part of being emotionally health. Think about whether it is one’s job to do the things given in the home. It may be obvious or less so but over time it will become apparent what feels right and what does not. Learning to adapt and change beliefs or patterns that are not healthy is the key to moving towards better emotional health.

    Resilience takes time for those who grew up with addiction or dysfunction in the home. Learning to say no to what is not one’s responsibility takes the pressure off and is important to building emotional health and wellness.

    Sustain Recovery provides support for young people needing time to recover from addiction. Gender Separate Extended Care treatment is provided for clients completing a primary treatment program or those needing a longer-term solution. Minimum length of stay is 90 days, sometimes longer depending on the individual’s needs. Call us to find out how we can help you or a loved one.


  5. Importance of Family Support in Addiction Recovery

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    leap jump risk

    Learning to cope with addiction in the family can be a difficult thing. Taking one’s own journey to healing requires support and courage. Learn more about how to move through fear to take the step towards recovery.

    Moving Past Fear

    A powerful motivator, fear can motivate people often in the wrong direction, away from things which allow individuals to grow. This may keep people from experiencing opportunities for growth. People who grow up in homes with addictive behaviors can train individuals to understand what is fearful can become true which builds a mindset away from success towards failure in the future.

    Battling Demons

    Being raised around addiction and alcoholism can teach a person that the lifestyle surrounding them is the only way to live. The problem is that as people grow, the true reality of things as a youth may not be true anymore and living life based on fears from the past means letting go of things that protected individuals from really moving forward and reaching full potential.

    The following five steps can be helpful in getting started on the path to recovery with the help of family.

    Face the Demons

    Find out what truly brings out the fear. It may not be the obvious reasons or things holding a person back. If a person resists doing something new or is unwilling to take on a challenge, figure out how to say ‘no’ to the voices that make no sense and turn towards what is healthy and positive.

    Explain away fear

    Fear can keep people stuck. Overcome discomfort from fear by looking at the person that is struggling with addiction and reasoning why it is best to tackle this head on rather than give into fear.

    Have an Argument

    Apply logic to the circumstances and ask if it still makes sense to hold to the fear. If a person was told over and over to not do something, is it still true today? Look for evidence to support whether to keep or let go of fear.

    Reject and Replace

    After looking at fear head on, look to take the situation with the loved one and reject old ways of thinking to replace them with new ones. It is likely an old habit and when applied to life can replace old fears with what is true today. Working from this place is the best way to provide family support for a loved one with addiction.

    Work with It

    The fear may be applicable but allowing oneself to embrace and receive that is important for recovery. Accept what is rather than seek what is not true. Acknowledge it may take time to get help and guidance and move forward from knowing what’s best is to help the loved one move forward.

    Recovery is about coming face to face with fears. Sustain works with families to support adolescents in getting the care they need. Call us to find out how we can help support your family to make the transition from addiction to recovery and health.

  6. The Challenges of Affluence in Recovery

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    affluence money wealth

    Affluence as a barrier to recovery can be a multi-faceted issue. The term affluence refers to having an abundance of property, money or material goods. A person of affluence can still face several obstacles and barriers to seeking both treatment and recovery. Learn more about how this can become a barrier to recovery.


    Denial is a strong factor in many people’s lives who seek addiction recovery support. Coming to terms with addiction, including by those who have money and resources, can have legal and financial consequences. The level of denial may run quite deep by trying to avoid certain repercussions such as fines or jail time. It is easier for people of affluence to deny a problem exists than deal with root behaviors.The lifestyle can be maintained longer with more resources and this may not lead to the same desperation in order to support the habit as enough money exists for food, shelter and drugs.


    Substance abuse and addiction still brings negative attention and stigma to those who seek support. Many families of affluence have friends in high places and some kind of standing at work and within the community. Affluent people generally are in the business of appearances and are fearful of falling down off the pedestal they are on in terms of standing. This makes it harder to get help from family, friends or accept the need for help from oneself.

    Rock Bottom

    When a person hits rock bottom, it can feel like the end of the line. People of affluence generally have more money and resources which prevent the bottom from falling out financially as quickly as others may experience. This keeps the individual from really hitting a point where it is necessary to seek help for the problem. Strategies may including taking vacations, going to college, seeking specialists and putting off the things that will help provide necessary treatment and recovery. Distractions are an easy way to avoid seeing a problem exists and seek to resolve the issues.

    People, Places, Things

    Being around other wealthy, affluent or famous people can be more difficult to separate from that lifestyle. That community can be very close-knit and exclusive, focused on the interactions of the upper echelon and their personal wealth and development. It can be quite closed off from realistic expectations of how to truly seek help needed when so many others may be in the same boat and enabling one another. Avoiding certain people may mean removing oneself from social circles to get healthy. Plenty of alcohol and drug use may be occurring and it may take time to break way from the privileged lifestyle. Accountability is a huge factor in seeking help for addiction.

    Don’t let ego get in the way of seeking help. Sustain provides support for young people who need to quit alcohol and drugs and move towards a better way of living. Recovery is available for those who seek help. Call us to find out how to get started.

  7. The Neuroscience of Impulsivity and Addiction

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    risky behavior impulsive

    Sensation-seeking and substance abuse have long been linked. It is unclear whether changes in individual’s neuroanatomy who use drugs are due to abuse, a new study looks at the possible links and ramifications.

    Looking at Impulsivity

    Impulsive behaviors are part of everyone’s character. Some people consistently act on a whim while others take time to deeply consider all actions before taking next steps. A person who exhibits impulsive behavior is often connected to a predisposition for drug abuse. Adolescents who have experimented with recreational drugs are more likely to have lower levels of self-control. Genetics may also play a role in an individual’s desire for sensation-seeking behavior and substance abuse.

    Role of Genetics

    The role of genetics, brain activity and behavior is a very pertinent subject when discussing drug abuse. The job of pulling apart the ways the brain responds to recreational drug use and how genetics plays into it are important. Drug abuse is known to affect brain anatomy over time. Drug abuse is known to affect brain anatomy over time based on scans of individual’s brains taken over the course of addiction in a person’s life. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans were done to assess the role of drugs on a person’s brain and the results showed individuals with naturally impulsive character traits exhibited a thinner cortex (decreased gray matter) in brain regions associated with decision-making and self-control. Self-reports of impulsivity also went hand-in-hand with an increase in alcohol, caffeine and tobacco use.

    The Findings

    Normal variations in the brain for people in the general population were looked at so an understanding was built about the temperamental characteristics, health behaviors and other things including substance abuse. The key benefit of the findings is that individuals involved were healthy, non-addicted substance users. The differences in brain anatomy were therefore not thought to be a consequence of a history of abuse or mental illness. Reductions in cortical thickness could predict severity of ADHD symptoms, found in another study. Interpersonal differences in neuroanatomy is an area of research that requires some more time as it is relatively new. The goal is to look at areas of research which focus on investigation of anatomical changes and the potential influence on psychiatric well-being and negative health outcomes.

    For individuals who struggle with impulsive behavioral traits, this may provide some solace that as the brain changes, the behavior will often follow. This does not mean there are not ways to help combat impulsive behavior but it provides an opportunity to guide further research into therapeutic techniques to further support those individuals to become more tuned into their natural tendencies.

    Sustain provides a unique approach to adolescent care. Gender Separate Extended Care is just one way we provide support for clients completing a primary treatment program or needing a longer-term solution. Call us to find out how we can help support your journey to recovery.

  8. Are Eating Disorders Related to Food Addiction?

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    fridge eating food man

    Eating disorders can cause serious complications over time. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders are most commonly discussed when looking at people who struggle with food. Learn more about whether eating disorders are related to food addiction.

    Relation to Addiction

    Eating disorders are related in some ways to addiction. Some of the causes may include:

    Physical: possible biochemical or biological causes of eating disorders are recognized. Certain chemicals in the brain that control hunger, appetite and digestion are typically found to be out of balance. Current research indicates significant genetic contributions to eating disorders as it may run in families.

    Psychological: eating disorders are often an attempt to manage overwhelming feelings and emotions. Behavioral control over diet is one way to cope with painful emotions and feel in control of one’s life.

    Spiritual: eating disorders provide greater power which brings purpose, meaning and hope to life.


    Some of the treatments for eating disorders include a combination of medical with psychiatric treatment. The primary goal for treatment is to ensure the person has physical health restored to a weight that is supportive of that person. Oftentimes, the person may have excessive weight gain (overeating) or weight loss (anorexia) which can cause health complications or even death if not treated. Behavioral therapy can assist a person in returning to healthy eating habits. Supportive group therapy may follow and self-help groups within communities may provide ongoing support to get well.

    Curing an Eating Disorder

    The only way to provide a cure for behavioral addiction is total abstinence from the substance or behavior. This is done in a supportive environment, sometimes within a 12 step program. The 12 steps are designed to address psychological and spiritual causes of addiction while cleaning up one’s inner life and how that individual is driven to addiction. A 12-step program is not for every person as it may not be the best fit but there are many ways to get supportive intervention to help find help for the long road to recovery from an eating disorder.

    Sustain Recovery provides a unique approach to adolescent care which focuses on the individual and provides long-term solutions to addiction. Call us to find out how we can help your adolescent get on the road to recovery.

  9. Is My Teen Playing Too Many Video Games?

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    video games teens couch addiction

    Teens who have challenges limiting video game or screen time may struggle with impulse control disorders such as compulsive gambling, sex or shopping. Researchers spend time looking into what scientifically defines problematic gaming and came up with some general criteria to follow. Learn the signs of addiction and how to identify them in a teen.

    Impulse Control Disorder?

    When teens become addicted to gaming, it can be problematic but what if a teen is just playing a lot of video games? Is that the same as addiction? The three main symptoms of video game problems according to researchers begin with the following:

    • Cravings, urges or growing tension before video gaming
    • Relief or pleasure following the gaming experience
    • Repeated gaming in spite of negative consequences

    Not the Parents Problem

    Video game addiction and problematic gaming are not defined by family issues or concerns with gaming. The relationship between teens and parents can often skew objective reasoning when it comes to addiction to gaming. Diagnostic criteria as outlined by professionals is generally the best way to determine if a problem with gaming does, indeed, exist.

    Too Much Play

    Effects from too much video-gaming vary person to person and may be positive or negative. In spite of mixed views and opinions, researchers have found little to no evidence of recreational play having a role in promoting negative consequences in a teen’s life. However, what a normal amount of play amounts to may vary teen to teen. How does one know when it crosses the line? The following are some basic guidelines experts agree on:

    • Teens (boys, especially) who play more than 3 hours of video games per day may be more likely to smoke, use drugs or fight
    • Pathological gaming has a median threshold of around 31-38 hours per week

    Every teen is different but some of the information presented can be used to help compare a teen to the average norm.


    When trying to limit one’s own or a teen’s video game play time, it can be helpful to compare gaming addiction levels except that excessive gaming is subjective. Setting an internal standard of acceptability can be helpful when determining what and how much is too much. Quality of life issues may play a factor such as social, emotional or physical time spent in other activities. When a person starts to exhibit signs of video game addiction, an individual may consider real and immediate help to combat the negative consequences.


    Sustain Recovery provides a safe, structured environment for adolescents to learn about living substance free. To learn more about the elements of transitioning to sober living, contact us about our programs and how it can help you.

  10. Pornography Addiction and the Brain

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    porn addiction man boy phone

    Research has been conducted about how pornography affects the brain. More than ten years ago, porn was deemed an ‘erototoxin,’ the theory being that the brain itself may be damaged while watching porn. Speculation ensued that future brain studies may reveal a surge of neurochemicals and hormones were released when someone watches porn and has negative effects on the brain. Recent studies are coming to light which validate this connection.

    Brain Scans

    Valerie Voon conducted research for a documentary on the effects of porn on the brain. It led her to conclude that the brains of habitual users of porn show similarities to brains of alcoholics. A brain structure called the ventral striatum plays a significant role in the reward system of the brain or reward pathways. It is the same part which lights up when an alcoholic sees a photo of a drink. The cingulate cortex is weakened over time by viewing porn which is the region of the brain responsible for moral and ethical decision making and willpower.

    Brain Chemicals at Work

    Various hormones and neurotransmitters are at work when a person views porn and each one in the neuro-cocktail contributes to the problem:

    • When having sex or watching porn, dopamine is released into the brain center responsible for emotion and learning. It supplies pleasure and next time the person craves sexual pleasure, dopamine is released and tells the person where to find the fix.
    • Norepinephrine is released which creates alertness and focus. Adrenaline does something similar in that it anticipates eagerly what is about to happen.
    • Sex or porn can trigger releases of oxytocin and vasopressin. The hormones help lay long-term memories for cells. This ‘binds’ a person’s memories to the object which gave that person sexual pleasure.
    • Endorphins are released, a natural opiate, which creates a high
    • Sexual release brings serotonin levels to a point of calmness and relaxation

    Being Hijacked by Porn

    Multiple issues arise when porn is used including the bonding of a person to an experience which is not real. The brain remembers where the high was experienced and each time it is desired, the desire will be focused on porn. An unnatural high is created which focuses on surges of brain chemicals and eventually the brain fatigues. This stops the production of dopamine which leaves the viewer wanting more but cannot reach satisfaction so the individual seeks out more intense highs (tolerance). This neurochemical and behavioral imbalance can lead to impotence, frequent masturbation without satisfaction, anxiety, fatigue, lack of motivation, inability to concentrate and escalation of tastes for more bizarre or novel porn styles.


    Sustain Recovery provides care for adolescents who need a unique approach to treatment for addiction. The minimum stay is 90 days but many stay longer to get the necessary support and provide for individual needs. Call us to find out how to get help for your adolescent seeking recovery support.

Sustain Recovery changed my life in a way I never considered remotely possible. I arrived in a place where I knew nobody. Sustain Recovery gave me tools so that I never had to be alone again. I learned how to live like an adult and have genuine relationships with other human beings. I gained a sense of self respect, love, and pride from the challenges I was given by staff. I was able to work through the recent loss of my father and I achieved my goal of not taking any psychiatric medication.
I learned that life is an endless balancing act. I have to continually work on myself and my relationships with the people in my life. The staff at Sustain Recovery are all incredibly experienced and spiritual. They were available to me whether I wanted their help or not. Through their efforts and experience, I experienced the inner workings of having an intimate, loving relationship with a loving creator.
Sustain Recovery is “home” for me. I discovered a loving, caring family that helped launch me to a place I would have never dreamed and, if I would have dreamed it, I would never have believed I would be able to accomplish it.

© 2019 OCTLC Inc.