truvida-7-tips-for-avoiding-relapse-in-the-new-year-photo-of-a-man-overlooking-bear-mountain-lake-in-CaliforniaMoving into a new year can seem like a time to start over, to refresh and to reevaluate your life goals. If you’ve recently gone through recovery, you’ve likely recently achieved that reset. Your goals for this new year, and likely several afterwards, will be to maintain your recovery. That can be difficult, especially if you’re stressed, trying to hold yourself to too many goals, or haven’t’ sought out treatment and support.  

While staying in recovery will sometimes seem difficult, these 7 tips for avoiding relapse in the new year should help you as you navigate your new lifestyle. Hopefully, as the year progresses, you can become more secure in your hard-won recovery and will begin to find more and more joy in living a life that is clean and sober.  

Invest in Stress Management  

Managing stress is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your recovery. In fact, stress is a primary contributor to vulnerability to substance use disorder and to relapse. Investing in ongoing stress management will help you to improve your quality of life while improving your ability to stay in recovery. Many of us think of stressful events as things like traffic jams, being late to work, having a boss who’s always upset, losing your job, having a fight with your partner, etc. It’s also important to remember that good things, such as getting a new job or a mortgage, are also stressful in their own way.  

Make time to recognize and deal with stress. A good strategy here is to attend therapy to learn stress management and reduction. You can follow up with mindfulness such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), meditation, or light exercise such as yoga, tai chi, etc. Similarly, ensuring you eat healthy and get enough sleep will reduce stress.  

Get Regular Exercise  

Did you know that exercise helps your mood, your energy levels, your ability to handle cravings, and your stress management? Most experts recommend getting at least 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise per day. You don’t need a heavy workout or to be exhausted after, in fact, it’s better if you aren’t. Instead, aim for something that keeps you moving, that you can engage with, and that you see as fun.  

Exercise boosts serotonin and dopamine levels, helping your brain to naturally produce chemicals you may be cravings. This might reduce cravings. It also puts you in a more emotionally and mentally balanced place to step away from cravings and to make good decisions. Exercise also boosts your blood oxygen levels, giving you an energy boost for as long as 2 hours after the workout. Of course, this won’t hold true if you completely exhaust yourself working out.  

Make time for regular exercise. Consider trying out a few sports and picking up something you can easily maintain and hopefully see as at least a little bit fun. Yoga, cycling to work, a morning walk, etc., are all very good choices.  

Eat Well  

truvida-7-tips-for-avoiding-relapse-in-the-new-year-photo-of-Happy-friends-discussing-while-having-breakfast-at-table-in-kitchenIt’s also a good idea to pay attention to your nutrition and what you are eating. Believe it or not, food actually plays a large role in your ability to stay clean and sober. Why? A large quantity of sugar and caffeine can actually mimic addiction. Rather than recovering from your addiction, many people turn to coffee, energy drinks, and sugary goods to get similar serotonin and dopamine highs (although they are much shorter). Many experts suggest that this actively interferes with long-term recovery and could put you at a significantly greater risk of relapse.  

Another important reason to pay attention to your nutritional health is that nutritional deficiencies directly affect your mental health. You might feel tired, depressed, anxious, or have low energy because you aren’t eating well enough. All of these put you at greater risk of relapse. This is made more important by the fact that substance abuse exacerbates nutritional deficiencies by causing gastrointestinal problems resulting in poor nutritional absorption. Many people also leave substance use disorders with a long history of making poor food choices while drunk or high.  

What can you do? Make sure you regularly eat healthy food. Follow guidelines like those on MyPlate.gov or similar and try to make sure that at least 80% of your meals have good nutritional value.  

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Attend Self-Help Groups Like 12-Step 

truvida-7-tips-for-avoiding-relapse-in-the-new-year-photo-of-Group-of-young-people-sitting-in-a-circle-on-psychotherapyIt’s not easy to go at anything alone. Humans are social creatures, and we are heavily driven by social support and accountability. Attending 12-Step groups as part of your ongoing recovery can provide powerful motivation and accountability to help you stay on the right track as the year progresses. Most importantly, because nearly every area has its own Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, you can commit to attending meetings no matter where you are.  

Many also offer video and online meetings, so you can check in with Zoom, Google Hangouts, or another secure (and usually anonymous) video chat system.  

Joining these groups can give you insight into what your peers are doing, how they are overcoming similar challenges, and the knowledge that you are not alone. It also allows you to share to an audience that truly understands where you’ve been and why. And, with everyone in the same “boat” together, you can more easily set goals and hold each other accountable, because all of you know what the other is facing. 12-Step groups like AA offer guidelines to help you find yourself but these are normally secondary in importance to social and personal accountability.  

Take Time for Yourself  

It’s very easy to decide to do too much, especially in the new year. Here, you might be excited about change and new possibilities. At the same time, it’s important not to take on more than you can handle. If you decide to do too much, you won’t have time to relax, you’ll be stressed, and you will eventually fail your goals. Failure sets you up for more failure and eventually for relapse. Why? Once you’ve failed one thing, it’s very easy to mentally give up on other goals because you’ve already failed.  

Plus, added stress, which we already talked about, makes it harder to resist cravings, creates the need for an outlet or release, and will push you towards substance abuse.  

What can you do? Set reasonable and achievable goals, don’t set too many goals at once, and make sure you have time for yourself planned into every day. If you feel overwhelmed, figure out how to resolve that now and for the future.  

Focus on Improving Mindset  

Whether you use mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, journaling, or any other tactic, working on and improving your mindset is crucial to maintaining recovery. Millions of people not in recovery actually set similar goals. But, staying positive, maintaining a gratitude journal, etc., isn’t actually as easy as it sounds. Finding things to be grateful for every day is repetitive and boring. If you settle on a daily journaling process, make sure you find something about it that makes you happy.  

You can also look to meditation, mindfulness, and simply taking a few minutes at least once a day to appreciate little things. That can be birds, a hug from a loved one, your house being clean, a hot bath, etc. The goal is to find beauty and joy in little things and to appreciate them.  

Get Professional Help  

truvida-7-tips-for-avoiding-relapse-in-the-new-year-photo-of-smiling-male-holding-hand-palms-together-during-therapy-sessionWhether you’ve already been to rehab and treatment or got clean or sober on your own, ongoing professional treatment is almost always a good idea. Here, you can seek out counseling and therapy sessions, professional therapy to help with relationships and family, or attend counseling and therapy for addiction and substance use disorders. If you’re struggling, if you notice you’re having a harder time dealing with cravings, or you’re withdrawing from your support network, get help. Knowing when to ask for help is the single best coping mechanism you can have.  

The new year is a wonderful time to plan to set aside space for your recovery. Maintaining that recovery throughout the year will require hard work and determination. It will also involve taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional state. You won’t get there alone. You need friends, family, and hopefully a support group of peers and professionals to help. Once you do build that network, staying sober is still work, but you will have tools, training, and people to help you whenever you ask.  

Good luck with your recovery and happy new year.  

Get More Information

Dr. Venice Sanchez


Clinical Outreach Specialist, Europe Division

Dr. Sanchez works closely with Truvida Recovery patients regarding substance abuse and related mental illnesses and creates a supportive, cooperative and informed therapeutic environment. Her areas of expertise include Substance Dependence, Dual Diagnosis, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Generalized anxiety disorder, Panic Disorder, Bereavement, Acute stress disorder, and more. Ms Sanchez has extensive training with experts in the field of Substance Abuse, and mood and thought disorders underlying the substance use. She received a Bachelor’s degree from University of California, Los Angeles and Medical Degree from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She continues training at the UC Irvine Psychiatry Residency Program and has been recognized with the Outstanding Resident of the Year Award.

Jaime Askew


Clinical Director

Ms. Askew is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who has been working in the field treating substance abuse and mental health issues for over twenty years.  She obtained a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in Marriage, Family, & Child Counseling from Pepperdine University and was among the first to obtain the LPCC license in the state of California.  She has been providing clinical supervision and training to interns, conducting workshops, and is a certified Trauma therapy trainer.  Her areas of expertise include working with legal issues, court ordered treatment, family preservation, trauma therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, family systems, social skills training, play therapy, and career/ vocational counseling.  Her passion is in advocating for at risk populations, holistic healing, and treating the underlying, core issues to help individuals achieve their maximum potential and happiness.  Jaime’s extensive experience and passionate leadership is of extreme importance to the overall TruVida clinical program, and her hands-on guidance of our clinical team insures that each patient is receiving optimal therapeutic treatment and care.

John Biroc

Consulting Psychologist

Dr. Biroc has a broad base of mental health and addiction recovery training and experience. He has supervised and taught therapists in various methodologies of effectively working with groups and individuals during therapy. He created and set up new group structures and trained staff in understanding the challenges of addiction recovery. He also helped develop curricula in Sociodrama and Psychodrama. Dr. Biroc is devoted to breaking paradigms that prevent progress in the path to lasting recovery. He is a member of the Nat’l Association of Marriage and Family therapists, and has a Ph.D. degree in Psychology, and a M.S. degree in Counseling from USC.

Dr. Nader Siahdohoni

Consulting Psychologist


Dr. Nader is one our esteemed consulting Psychologists who provides our Clients with various breakthrough therapy’s that focus the functional systems including neurons, neurotransmitters, and certain brain waves that enable the way we think, behave, move, feel, and maintain homeostasis. Such therapy’s include NeuroMax neurofeedback, the state of art integrated technology in Neurofeedback, combinations of wireless Electroencephalogram (EEG), real time brain mapping and a unique and exceptional neuropathway therapy called “Visual Concentration Attention Therapy (VCAT)”. Dr Nader graduated from Walden University.

Tiffany Agra


LMFT #103693

Ms. Agra is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, who has been working with individuals, couples, families, and groups for the past seven years. Her other therapeutic approaches include Narrative Therapy, Family Systems Theory, Psychodynamic dream interpretation, and Gestalt Psychology. She has also been a Guest Speaker at other organizations. This unique background has made her effective at helping clients overcome the grip of substance addiction. Tiffany obtained two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of California, Davis, and her Master’s degree from the California State University, Long Beach. She has worked for both the county of Orange and Riverside, helping those who struggle with addiction and mental illness. In addition to providing evidenced-based approaches to the clinical program at Truvida Recovery, she brings her compassion as a fellow addict in recovery; living proof that we do get better!

Deborah Wieland


MS, LMFT #96864

Ms. Wieland is an Eclectic EMDR Therapist, using R-TEP and G-TEP, and specializes in several modalities in treating Substance Use issues, Dual Diagnosis, Complex Trauma, and Severe Mental illness. Deborah also provides several types of therapy such as Psychodynamic, Rogerian, CBT, DBT, IFS, PICT, MI, Grief Recovery, Sand Tray, and Attachment Theory to help her patients achieve mental wellness and a sober lifestyle.

She has worked with Psychiatric Hospitals providing crisis interventions and psychotherapy to those struggling with substance abuse issues, mental health issues, and domestic violence. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Vanguard University of Southern California. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Summa Cum Laude and a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology. She is currently completing her Doctoral studies in Clinical Psychology at Cal Southern University. Deborah is an active member of EMDRIA, California Association Marriage Family Therapist (CAMFT), American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), and Psi Chi International Honors Society of Psychology.

Ashley McLaughlin

LMFT Therapist

Ms. McLaughlin is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in EMDR therapy. She brings over ten years of experience working in the field of addiction to the Truvida Team. She obtained a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University and has two Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Economics from University of California, San Diego. Ms. McLaughlin was trained in EMDR in 2013 and since has been helping individuals process through past traumatic experiences that have contributed to current struggles with substance abuse and mental health symptoms. Her extensive experience and passion for this field has helped guide individuals through the process of recovery in order to experience freedom from their past and a hope for their future.

Travis Taylor



Mr. Taylor is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in  Drug Abuse & Addiction,  PTSD, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality, Codependency, Coping Skills, Depression, Dual Diagnosis. Taylor uses an integrative approach geared towards understanding self, specifically what drives one’s thoughts and behaviors. He excels in helping patients identify automatic thoughts that lead to specific feelings and undesired actions. Another useful approach stems from understanding how thoughts and behaviors are fueled by former messages that have been consistently reinforced. Travis has over 6 years of therapeutic practice and obtained a Master’s degree at Vanguard University.

Kat Johnson

AOD Counselor, Group Facilitator

With almost 10 years experience working at treatment centers, Kat Johnson shares her wisdom and passion for balanced living, creative writing, and meditation and how each plays a role in early recovery and beyond. Certified as a CADC II, and supported by a bachelors in psychology, Kat’s infectious energy brings her groups to life. She is grateful for every opportunity to spread health and wellness.

Emily Mayot

LCSW Therapist

Ms. Mayot is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in anxiety, depression, transitions, trauma, grief/loss and substance abuse. She has earned a bachelor in psychology from Cal State University Fullerton, and a master in social work at University of Southern California (USC). Emily has been trained in but not limited to CBT, CPT, Motivational Interviewing, and EMDR. Her experience stems from inpatient treatment centers, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, and outpatient community mental health.

Her style is compassionate, non-judgmental, down-to-earth, flexible and organized. The approach she takes is to meet you where you are at in the present moment and time. This creates more understanding and a strong collaboration in creating/accomplishing goals.

Lesley Richards

AOD Counselor, Interventionist

Ms. Richards began in this field of healthcare as a volunteer for substance abuse treatment centers and worked her way up from there. Lesley has dedicated her life to helping the suffering addict. It is her strong belief that everyone deserves to have the opportunity to have a safe and sober life.  She is very compassionate about her work as an addiction counselor, and has a strong commitment in helping patients struggling with addiction in developing healthy coping mechanisms, and developing new positive behavioral habits.  Her Group counseling sessions are highly sought after within the TruVida program.  Lesley is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC), National Certified Intervention Professional (NCIP), Nationally Certified Recovery Coach (NCRC), and is a member of the California Consortium of Addiction programs (CCAP), as well as the International Association of Addiction Professionals.

Christine Green

Treatment Facilitator

Christine Green is a certified personal trainer, and yoga instructor. Ms. Green is dedicated to helping patients struggling with substance abuse transform their lives through a consciousness-based approach to body-in-motion fitness.

Christine passionately shares her 18 years experience with our clients by sharing her specialized Yoga & Energy Healing Program, which she has developed over the past 8 years of working directly with addicts and alcoholics. Her Yoga program facilitates integration of all the layers of life – environmental, physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual with the primary initial goal of overcoming withdrawal symptoms and cravings from drug and alcohol dependency. TruVida is fortunate to have her as part of the team.

Allison Goode

Art in Recovery Counselor

Allison Goode is a lifelong resident of Laguna Beach and professional artist for over 15 years, and has developed a very successful and trans-formative Art in Recovery program in treatment facilities through out California. Her passion for the fine arts and helping others recover from substance abuse addiction is contagious. Allison has a unique ability to connect with clients through the creative process helping clients set positive goals for their recovery. Ms. Goode has studied Fine Art and Graphic Design at Laguna College of Art and Design, is a certified RADT1 technician, and is currently completing her CCAPP certification program.

Thomas Mladinich

Admissions Manager

Mr. Mladinich’s hard work ethic and dedication make him a key part of the TruVida team. Tom’s ability to connect and relate with others have allowed him to excel as admissions manager. His personal experience has allowed him to proudly serve those in need of recovery from addiction. Tom is eager to work with our clients and provide the experience, strength and hope that they need to find success in recovery.

Willie Sanchez

Operations Manager

Mr. Sanchez is a self-motivated professional with a positive attitude. He is actively involved in a 12 step fellowship. He effectively contributes to each Patient with their struggles with addiction. Willie is RADT1 certified counselor and has been educated at Long Beach City College.

Jose Flores

Program Manager

Mr. Flores is a highly motivated and hardworking team member with TruVida. He has several years of experience working in treatment helping individuals get back on track, achieving a lot of great results. He brings problem solving skills and experience to use everyday, and is proud and passionate about his profession as a RADT-I program manager.

Dr. Mitchell Naficy

Medical Doctor

Medical Director

Dr. Naficy is a Board Certified Family Physician with over 25 years of clinical experience. In 1985, he graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Microbiology and French Literature. In 1990, he received his Medical Doctor degree, and in 1991 completed his post graduate training at the University of Southern California Medical Center. In 1998, he completed his residency at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center.

Dr. Naficy style of patient care involves caring for the person as a whole, rather than just treating a particular symptom or illness. Dr. Naficy has extensive experience in treating the physiological aspects of addiction detox and is highly respected in the field by both his colleagues and patients.

Sound Bath Therapy

Truvida’s sound bath treatment is a very effective experiential therapy that uplifts one’s body, mind and soul. Our certified Sound Healer plays crystal singing bowls as well as the gongs to stimulate various chakra centers.

For more than 50,000 years, sound has been used to heal, and motivate the human soul.  During a sound bath or sound healing session, one’s brain waves & breathing become regulated and synchronized, producing a deep sense of peace & well being. Bathing in sacred sound allows us to powerfully resonate with frequencies that allow us to balance & heal on all levels.

Sound therapy allows professionals to tackle addiction at a brainwave level, thus making it much easier for patients to achieve a meditative state and come to terms with their problems. Sound Therapy redresses imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning and plays a positive and powerful role in the treatment of virtually any medical disorder.

Substance Abuse can also lead to the development of a co-occurring condition (or vice versa) and cleansing the body of a substance isn’t always enough for a complete and lasting recovery. Patients must also address the physiological and emotional issues that may have led to the destructive behavior in the first place.

Evidence shows that the outcomes of sound therapy are extremely positive and beneficial to patients’ behavior, especially when doctors pair them with other scientific methods, such as individual therapy, behavioral therapy, and so on.

Natural Benefits Of Sound Therapy:

TruVida’s Sound Therapy is performed by Andrew Hubbard who is a certified Sound Bath practitioner and conducted multiple college level studies in Sound Therapy and Music theory.

Robert (Bobby) Nicholl

Admissions and Interventions

Bobby has spent over 15 years in the development and operations of several residential treatment centers in California. He is a Certified National Drug & Alcohol Interventionist, as well as a Registered Addiction Specialist. Mr. Nicholl is personally involved in Celebrate Recovery at Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California. He says, “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him.” As Bobby says: “I’ve recently learned what really matters the most in life: God, my relationships, and my integrity. There is nothing more important!”

“If you have a hole in your life and your very inner being (your soul) feels empty and hungry? Then welcome, to Celebrate Hope, you’re at the right place for healing and restoration of mind, body, and spirit; we will provide you with a dignified setting and surround you with loving people. You’re going to get everything you need and even some of your wants while Celebrating Hope. Everywhere you look you’re surrounded by people who believe in you and believe you have what it takes to recover, heal, and be WHOLE. We believe in and love you because He (God) first believed in and loved us.” From day one, Bobby has focused treatment services on “What is in the best interest of the client?” With that in mind, the treatment team develops individualized treatment plans with each client’s specific needs in mind.

Charlie Grooms

Christian Pastor

Pastor Charlie leads our Christ – centered addiction treatment program dealing with men and women who are seeking restoration from drug and alcohol addiction through our Lord Jesus Christ. Our program is based entirely on the Word of God, the Bible, and all counsel originates from it. Our experience has been that with a solid grounding in the Bible and good Christian living skills, numerous men and women have been able to become productive, vital members of their community. Our primary focus is to establish, or strengthen, a relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only way to experience true freedom from the bondage of the sin of addiction

Charlie is originally from Columbus, Ohio where he attended a Christian college and then traveled across the country to California to continue his education at Bethel School of Ministry and graduated in 2015. Charlie has conducted interviews with TBN and other nation wide radio stations.

Michael Rosales

Case Manager – Christian Minister

Bio coming soon!

Dr. Ryan Wright

Psychiatrist, M.D.

Dr. Wright is a Board Certified Psychiatrist and a Board Certified Addiction Medicine Specialist currently practicing in Newport Beach, CA. He provides general psychiatric services for adult patients who are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, or thought disorders. For every new patient, Dr. Wright provides a comprehensive initial psychiatric assessment, and offers subsequent mental health treatment including medication management and individual psychotherapy.

Kim Brassett

LMFT Therapist

Ms. Kim Brassett is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She brings over 7 years of experience to the Truvida Team, and is EMDR Therapist. Her style is warm, supportive & positive and her philosophy is healing happens when the therapeutic relationship is collaborative, honest, compassionate, respectful and caring. She comes from a place of personal experience and a genuine desire to help make a significant improvement in the lives of the people with whom she works with. She provides a unique therapeutic approach to treat a wide variety of conditions including addiction & recovery, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, sexual abuse, trauma, grief and loss, relationship issues and life transitions. Kim works with clients from various cultures and backgrounds as well as all ages, and strives to create a supportive, safe environment where one can share their experiences, emotions, challenges.

Leah Dean

LMFT Therapist

Ms. Leah Dean is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and is Certified in Dual Disorders. She brings over ten years of experience to the TruVida Team. Her therapies concentrate on Drug and Alcohol abuse/use, grief and loss, blended families, Dual Diagnosis, divorce recovery, Parent/Child Conflicts, grief and loss, interpersonal relationships, stress management, and Gay & Lesbian issues. Her goal it that each of her clients enrich their personal and relational growth as well as enhance their emotional healing. She utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and believes that mind, body and spirit are essential components to healing. Her Psychotherapy provides the ceremonial time/space for honoring one’s movement thru important life passages. Leah utilize the 12-Step program/concepts to help deal with the difficult issues of drug and alcohol abuse/use, and incorporates spirituality as well as self actualization, and mindlfullness.