truvida-What-is-Al-Anon-photo-of-a-group-during-therapyAl-Anon is one of the largest 12-Step groups for the family and friends of addicts. But what does the group do? And, how do they help? If you have a friend or a loved one struggling with a drug or alcohol use disorder, you’ve likely been recommended to join the group. Al-Anon is a self-help support group designed to offer assistance, emotional support, and resources to individuals with friends and family who are addicts. That’s important, because living with or knowing an addict can be traumatic in its own right. People with addiction lie, manipulate, and abuse those around them. Finding your way through their illness without developing problems yourself is difficult and often requires a large amount of help.

One in five Americans knows someone who is or has been addicted to drugs or alcohol. That person could be your child, your parent, your sibling, your partner, or a close friend. They could live with you, interact with you on a daily basis, or even frequently see you and tax your emotional and mental wellbeing. Al-Anon exists to help you, and allow you to help others, navigate this period while you either break ties with your addicted loved one or get them into treatment.

So, What is Al-Anon Really?

Al-Anon is part of the same family of self-help groups that make up Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. These groups utilize a 12-Step, normally Christian-based, methodology to help people move past their problems (normally addiction) to find happiness and healing. For Al-Anon, that normally translates to people helping each other move past trauma, make the best decisions regarding their loved ones, and to get out of relationships that are codependent, enabling, and abusive. Most Al-Anon groups follow a relatively similar structure but they also maintain an incredibly large amount of autonomy. The rules, structure, material, and process used by one may be completely different from that used in another. That aside, most use tools like:

Education – Addiction is an incredibly complex behavioral disorder that changes how people think, act, and are. Many of us learn what are essentially myths about this disorder, rife with stigma, shame, and the illusion of personal and interpersonal guilt relating to substance abuse. Al-Anon offers resources for education, including learning how addiction works, how it affects others, and how someone’s addiction can impact you.

Mutual Support – Getting social support can be a powerful factor in making difficult decisions, in healing from trauma, and in finding the strength to move on despite adversity. Al-Anon gives you a place to talk to, listen to, and learn from your peers. It gives you a place to vent, a place to learn other perspectives, and a place to give and receive support from your community. Having a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can make most of us feel alone. But, with 1 in 5 of us in a similar situation, it would be impossible to truly be alone. Al-Anon brings those of us in similar situations together so that we can connect, share, and learn from each other.

Resources – Al-Anon doesn’t always offer real resources, but many do. You can look for education material, connections to shelters, connections to therapists, and other aid through many Al-Anon communities. Some also set up donations and pool together resources to help families move out or regroup when it becomes dangerous to live with an addict. Different Al-Anon groups offer varying resources so you cannot rely on your group for this, but many do.

Importantly, it is unlikely that anyone at an Al-Anon meeting is a registered or licensed therapist. You will not get professional help here. However, you will get to vent, seek support, and hear about similar situations from your peers, giving you perspective on your life, your loved one, and your options.

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What Happens at Al-Anon Meetings?

truvida-What-is-Al-Anon-photo-of-a-group-of-young-people-during-therapyAl-Anon uses structured and planned meetings to share, discuss, and support people. Most extend for 1-2 hours, with members seated in a circle or around a table, and offer arrangements for meals, childcare, and medical needs. Like Alcoholics Anonymous, most meetings are structured around the group literature, are focused on connecting people together, and typically ask everyone to participate and contribute.

Nearly every meeting begins with an introduction. Here, the group leader reads from the Al-Anon manual. Members are asked to introduce themselves if a new person is present, you are not required to disclose your real name. Participants may be asked to read from the manual or may be asked to contribute with a story or a discussion depending on the purpose of the meeting. Anyone can choose to remain silent instead and many new members are encouraged to do so while they learn how meetings work.

In most cases, everything wraps up within 1-2 hours. However, many meetings do not have set start and end-times.

Types of Al-Anon Meetings

Al-Anon uses a series of 9 meeting types outlined in the Al-Anon Manual. Every type of meeting serves a purpose, and you don’t have to, and probably should not, attend all of them.

ALATEEN Alateen provides support groups specifically for members aged 11-18. Parents are encouraged to drop children off and leave or attend their own meeting elsewhere.

Adult & Children – Meetings focused on topics for parents, including parenting children around an alcoholic or addict, reducing trauma, and being a better parent. Parents of young children should attend.

Beginners – Meetings specifically geared to educate and welcome newcomers. Everyone is asked to attend

Closed – These are regular groups closed off to non-members and hopeful members. Closed groups are normally undertaken to protect individuals who might be at risk.

LGBT – Meetings cover LGBTQ+ specific problems and complexities. People who are or who have affected family members who are LGBTQ+ should attend.

Open – Open meetings are open to anyone although some Al-Anon groups limit guests to those invited by existing members. Open groups are Regular meetings with added guests. Anyone considering joining Al-Anon or who wants to welcome new people should attend.

Problem Solving – Meetings are held to identify and find solutions to a specific problem raised by members, such as fundraising, finding a shelter, or helping someone move if their relationship with an addict has become traumatic.  Anyone interested in the problem or in finding a solution should attend.

Regular – Participants agree on a topic and discuss it throughout the meeting. Anyone interested in the topic should attend.

Topic – Meetings center around a specific topic, where participants are asked to stay on that topic for the duration. People who are interested in the topic should attend.

Some Al-Anon groups branch off with many other types of meetings, most will be explained or will be self-explanatory. For example, “Literature” meetings typically go over Al-Anon literature, men’s meetings are men-only, etc. Understanding meeting types allows you to better choose which to attend and which to skip, so you can get the most out of the group.

Al-Anon has a lot to offer for most people. With a focus on group support and sharing, it’s an excellent resource to broaden perspective, learn how others have dealt with the same problems, and reach clarity regarding your loved one. Al-Anon can help you to meet peers, to feel less alone, and to get the support you need to navigate this traumatic period of your life. And, it can give you an outlet, whether that is sitting and listening, commiserating, or sharing your own pain. If your loved one is struggling with drugs or alcohol, Al-Anon can be a wonderful place to go to heal.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol, it might be time to check out an alcohol rehab program. Speak with one of our experienced treatment advisors today at (833) 233-0091 for a free assessment.

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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.