The Importance of Intervention, Treatment and Recovery

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]wp-content/uploads/EddieSalan.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Eddie Salan is the Founding Director of Diversified Intervention Group. Salan holds a degree in Pharmacology and Drug Interaction and is involved with many local community organizations in a Board of Director capacity. He comes to DIG with many years of experience in managing large companies.[/author_info] [/author]

Diversified Intervention Group

The definition of an intervention is: “a deliberate process by which change in introduced into people’s thoughts, feelings and emotions.” DIG specializes in providing this service as it relates to common addictions, i.e. alcohol, drugs, etc. Alcohol is a drug just in case you were wondering.

I would like to share with that community a little bit about what we do and how it may be able to help your loved one.

DIG is a drug intervention service designed to intervene in an active addiction and get a substance abuser into treatment (rehabilitation) in order to save a person’s life, family and career. Have you seen the reality TV show Intervention on A&E? Most people that we ask that question to think that an intervention is not necessary for a family member, significant other or close friend. They think that an intervention is too dramatic or too expensive. I’m writing this article to clarify that an intervention is a very effective way to get an addict into treatment quickly, when they don’t want to seek treatment on their own.

Why are interventions necessary? Because the latest statistics on drug abuse are staggering, and the current generation is more effected than past generations; because the abused drugs are now more dangerous and more available than ever in our schools and communities locally. If your loved one is suffering from an addiction, DIG’s professionals can help you plan an effective intervention process.

According to (National Institute on Drug Abuse) the latest statistics are:

“The RX Risk: Roughly one in nine youth abused prescription drugs in the past year. Young people are abusing prescription drugs at alarming rates. These drugs act on the same brain systems as illegal drugs and pose similar risks for dangerous health consequences, including later addiction.” And “25% of those who began abusing prescription drugs at age 13 or younger, met clinical criteria for addiction sometime in their life.”

According to National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health Prescription Drug Abuse:

Opiate painkillers and central nervous system suppressants are being used in a way other than prescribed. In 2009, approximately 7 million people reported past year usage. Nearly one out of 12 in high school used Vicodin, one out of 20 used Oxycontin. Methamphetamine, an addictive stimulant toxic to the central nervous system, has 1.2 million users 12 years and older. And let’s not forget heroin, synthesized morphine that is highly addictive. In 2008, a reported 215,000 aged 12 and older were users, but due to progression from prescription painkillers, usage tripled.

Alcohol addiction is steadily growing and is most difficult to put an end to.

Drug addiction is not just an individual affliction, it is a family and community disease:

Individual: Long term addiction leads to physical dependence and compulsive drug-seeking behavior with the addict, so they rarely seek treatment.

Family: Family members aren’t effective because they are usually too buried in denial, guilt and anger, and do not know all of the facts.

Community: The result of addiction leads to increased crime, broken families, dependence on social aid, and growing poverty.

A properly planned intervention can have great success. People should not fear the process of intervention. We will guide you through it and be available long after it ends for support. The way to prevent the negative effects of drug addiction is to know the facts, and refer family members to DIG.

Why use DIG? Here are some of the reasons:

  • DIG belongs to many civic organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Lions Clubs, etc. and is well known around the community for being not only trustworthy, but the go-to organization for intervention needs.
  • DIG is a small, local non-profit organization made up of specially-trained clinicians who understand the addicted person’s way of thinking.
  • We are personally knowledgeable about many local rehabilitation centers based on an individual’s situation and drug of abuse, and we will suggest the facilities where your loved one will have the best chances of success in his or her recovery.
  • DIG’s clinicians have been trained and certified in many models of drug intervention, live the 12-step processes, and thrive in our on-going recovery by helping other addicts.
  • We will work with all family members and significant others to reverse the cycle of addiction.
  • We have the ability to personalize a program to fit a specific drug abuse program.

In the intervention process, both clients intervened upon and family members providing the intervention discuss treatment strategies, goals and objectives including what DIG can do as an organization to meet the family’s needs.

A successful intervention does not end when the person in question agrees to enter treatment. That is only a portion of the process. A successful intervention process initiates change within the family system as a whole — long-term change. Our non-judgmental, love-filled intervention process encourages honesty and self-realization. The primary goal of the Diversified Intervention Group is to facilitate the client family to begin to function normally again in a constructive and meaningful way of life with an addiction-free ex-substance user now in active recovery.

DIG also offers aftercare services, life-coaching and co-dependency counseling services for people who are not addicted to any substance, but would just like to have an opinion on life’s issues from a non-judgmental person who is trained to listen properly. We have great referral sources to therapists, financial counseling professionals, and people who understand the inner workings of relationships.

Co-dependency has become the buzzword for relationships in the last few years. But beneath the sensationalism lies a real issue. Those in a relationship who try to control the behavior of a partner face frustration, rage, hopelessness and despair. DIG repairs families, plain and simple, and families are most important.

So what is co-dependency and who really has it? There are many definitions; co-dependents are people who let the feelings and actions of another person affect them to the point that they lose control of their own lives. DIG’s trained Life Coaches can help you decipher some possible suggestions or solutions custom-made to your particular circumstances.

Please visit our website for more info:
Call our toll free number: 855-222-1101.


Banking on ‘The Great Tognazzini’

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Alan Tognazzini

What marketing magician deftly put the ‘Community’ in Founders Community Bank before the bank even opened for business in Morro Bay on July 5 or celebrated its grand opening with a Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 25?

It was Alan Tognazzini, of course. Who else?

When Founders opened on the southeast corner of Morro Boulevard and Main Street, formerly the site of Heritage Oaks Bank, they wanted the closest thing they could get to instant acceptance in the community, and Founders found that in Morro Bay’s “native son,” as their press release dubs him. And it’s true. In a vivid example of history coming full circle, Mr. Tognazzini at one time lived a stone’s throw from where the bank is now, before there was a bank there.

So it makes perfect sense.

If his name rings a bell in the bay fog, it’s because Mr. Tognazzini is well known in the area. His roots run especially deep in Morro Bay. He was born there and schooled at Morro Union Elementary, where his father was the principal. During his decades in banking, he ran a local branch of the San Luis National Bank in the ’70s and was more recently Sr. VP and Branch Manager of Coast National Bank in Los Osos. He’s a former president of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce. Beyond that, the Tognazzini family – he has nine siblings — enjoys a long, pioneering history on the Central Coast. They’re synonymous with rise of Morro Bay and the waterfront (his brother Mark runs the landmark restaurant Tognazzini’s Dockside), and they remain a high quality name brand in the business community and throughout the county.

Does Mr. Tognazzini think his longtime involvement in Morro Bay, in addition to his banking experience and presence as Sr. VP/Branch Manager, may provide the new Founders with a slight ‘hometown advantage’ in winning the confidence of local customers?

“For sure, as the kids say,” he smiles.

One edge he has over the competition is his demeanor. Mr. Tognazzini is a banker by profession, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bloodless bean counter who says “No!” if you ask him the time of day. Not in his case. Not at all.

“Bankers have long been perceived as a stodgy old lot. Why can’t we be fun, too?” he pleads. This goes for banking as well. “Why shouldn’t banking be a fun stop in your day? Why should your stop at the bank be a burden rather than something you can look forward to?”

Yes, he’s a banker, not an activities director, but if truth be told he has been known on occasion, and by his own admission, to practice silliness. He is, after all these years, an expert on community. His experience running banks, teaching banking and participating in local government and organizations has taught him that community is created by people getting along, and one of the ways of making that happen is by creating opportunities for people to have fun together, to share a few laughs. He’s done that before and it’s worked; in that spirit he pledges that Founders will be the “funnest” bank in town.

“I don’t mean that we are going to do a Larry, Moe and Curly bit when you come in,” he says. “Instead, we are going to smile and communicate with you, more than just knowing your name. What about that newspaper article about you, or the latest news on your grandchild or your latest trip? What about teasing you about your latest promotion or complimenting you on your new hairstyle?”

Even if you’re bald? Even if your new hairstyle lacks style? It would appear so under Mr. Tognazzini’s rules of congenial engagement. From where does he draw his inspiration for engaging customers in such first-name familiarities? Founders’ latest flyer promoting the new bank evokes more innocent times. Distributed to all Chamber members, as well as to businesses and individuals from Cambria to Los Osos, the copy reads:

Hide and Seek at dusk.
Hula Hoops.
Running through the sprinkler.
When War was a card game.
When Water balloons were the ultimate weapon.
The Ed Sullivan Show.
When it was magic when dad would “remove” his thumb.
When Morro Rock was our “Pet Rock”.
Banks were a destination, not a stop along the way.
Your banker came out to the parking lot to see your new car.
You watched the ‘staff’ grow up and go to work for your bank.
Your banker called you when you made a mistake in your check book,
Your banker cared who you were.
Well those times have returned!
For a taste of old fashioned banking the way it was, come and see your friends at…”

In the push-button era of self-service, remote service or none at all, he’s obviously taking customer service very seriously. “Why would anyone want to be a number instead of a person?” he asks, knowing the answer full well.

Mr. Tognazzini was himself toying with being a number in the ranks of the retired when Founders asked him to help set up and launch the Morro Bay branch. He immediately saw the challenge of putting it all together in short order as the pinnacle of his life’s work, the opportunity to pour everything he has learned in community banking back into the community that invested in him.

“Having grown up in Morro Bay, and always having a love for this area, I gladly accepted the challenge to not only open the branch, but to help Morro Bay realize that we are a benefit to the community and will be here for its needs,” he says.

Attracting customers, getting people to transfer and seek loans, especially in this tight economy, may take some work, but Mr. Tognazzini is convinced that success will come “when the community has fully accepted us as a beneficial part of it.”

That acceptance shouldn’t take long. If he can’t do it, no one can. He knows the people, he knows the town, he knows the secret of community, and he’s building on solid rock for the future at the corner of Moro and Main. That’s why Founders’ greatest asset in Morro Bay is the Great Tognazzini.

You can bank on it.

A Walk Through the Prado Day Center

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On July 13, The ROCK walked through the Prado Day Center with Dee Torres, Director of Homeless Services for the nonprofit Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), which operates the shelter with community support.

The Prado Day Center at 43 Prado Road off S. Higuera Street is situated in a business district near the Department of Social Services on Higeura. The barbed-wire chain-link fence at the entrance and around Prado tells you right away that it’s a facility with every intention of protecting the people inside. It opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 4:30 p.m. There are no beds and no one sleeps there. When Prado closes, those seeking a bed must go to the 50-bed Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter at Orcutt Road and Broad Street in SLO.

This is what we observed in words and pictures:

South Prado is not one of the scrubbed streets of SLO. San Luis Obispo Creek runs by. A broken bicycle litters the brush under a small bridge. Four or five camper vehicles are parked on the dirt shoulders of both sides of the road with doors open and dogs playing outside. A woman sleeps stretched across the front seat of her compact car with her feet sticking out the open door. A man sits quietly in his recreational vehicle, looking out toward traffic on Higuera. People walk by on the side of the road that leads in and out of the access road to the shelter.

In the parking lot of the shelter, five red cones in the parking lot reserve five spaces for Prado’s overnight Safe Parking Program. In one far corner of the parking lot, a mobile medical center provides free care. Around one side of the shelter are kennels that house the pets of homeless.

“We do the kennel for some people who stay out of services because they have an animal,” says Torres. “We do our best to break down those barriers so that people will come in and use our services and move toward self-sufficiency. Animals were keeping them out, so we work with that.”

Between the kennels and the facility, a small, winding garden lends the fleeting feeling of home.

The entrance way to the facility is lined with lockers. People can have their own lockers and combination locks to ensure privacy. Across from the lockers is the entrance to the kitchen. When Prado was built, it was determined that it would be too costly to acquire the adequate permits to operate a kitchen, explains Torres about the glaring lack of an oven in the kitchen. There were also safety concerns. The People’s Kitchen, which is a separate non-profit, has a mission of providing a hot noon meal every day to the hungry, and they do this by bringing their food to Prado daily already cooked and serve it hot. There are four microwaves on site to re-heat or warm food.

“We serve breakfast seven days a week with a very tiny budget,” says Torres. “Almost all of the food and supplies are donated from the community and what’s not donated we purchase through the food bank. In general our breakfast consists of cold cereal, bagels with cream cheese, toast, oatmeal, coffee, hot chocolate, fruit, yogurt, peanut butter, etc. At least a few days a month we do have groups that either bring or cook a hot breakfast which will consist of everything from breakfast burritos to pancakes cooked on site on a griddle or scrambled eggs cooked in a wok.”

Off the kitchen is a large room that serves multiple purposes — as a dining room, meeting room for drug and alcohol groups, events room and storage area. Sometimes volunteers come in and use the room to provide free haircuts, massages or even art experiences. Sometimes it’s used as an overflow for clients who need to meet with case workers when the inside offices are full.

The outdoor courtyard of the center is a common area with some tables and chairs and elbow room for people to be off on their own or with others without being bothered. A small yellow shed in one corner of the yard was donated by elementary school children, and is kept stocked with new clothes, snacks and supplies for kids. There are people sitting comfortably by round tables. Some rest and relax on the grass.

There are rules at Prado: no drugs and no alcohol on premises, and no registered sex offenders – there are children at Prado.

“Here at the Day Center, if you can maintain, you can come in and use the services.  If you don’t maintain – if you’re mentally ill, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter – (you can’t). As long as you’re not threatening and abusive. We have our rules: no drinking in the bathroom or any of those kinds of things, and you can use the services. We don’t put case management restrictions on you…

“We have a zero tolerance for drugs. We don’t have a zero tolerance for alcohol– we don’t want people coming in under the influence, but if they can come in and they can maintain in the environment and not stumbling around, we let them come in, have a meal and stay for services. If they are obviously intoxicated, they are some liability issues there, and we do breathalyzer… We don’t have a detox here in the county. It’s a horrible thing, so we end up being the catch-all for all of these things. We do our best to try and engage them on different levels; we try to be as least prohibitive as possible but still make a safe environment.”

Immediately upon entering the front door of the shelter is the “intake desk,” usually manned by a volunteer who signs in new clients, gets some basic information from them, and acts as the “point person” directing them to such core services as laundry, bathrooms and showers in the back, towels and supplies. Volunteers work the front desk in four-hour shifts. Volunteers and staffers work together to answer questions and keep things moving. Clients can use the shelter as their address and receive mail there. They can also get phone messages there. Their names are written on a board so they know they have messages.

The two free washing machines in the open laundry room are almost always in use, with stacks of laundry waiting to be washed or folded. Staff generally keeps things running smoothly. “The laundry is the only place in the entire County where you can get your laundry done for free,” says Torres. “It’s a very important core service.”

The main room is filled with tables and chairs and some computers, not just for playing games; some are reserved for job preparation such as resume making. People come and go, but on a busy day or when the weather is adverse, the room is crowded and seats are not easy to come by. On a table in the main room is an open box with an assortment of Danish pastries still available, a couple of microwaves, a jar of instant coffee and accessories.

Lining the main room are three small offices with two desks in each office. Two of the offices are where clients and providers meet and clients participate in Prado’s case management program aimed at securing housing and sustaining self-sufficiency. The third office is Prado manager Shawn Ion’s, which she often shares as every square inch of space in Prado is used. Due to the cramped quarters, coordination is difficult and confidentiality challenged when two different organizations with two different case workers are meeting with clients in one small room. That’s when clients and case workers sometime spill over into the dining room, Torres says.

Across from Miss Ion’s office is a little family room where families can congregate in private while children play; the entire room is no larger than a small bedroom in an average house. There’s a small children’s bathroom in the back and a play yard, too. It’s packed on holidays and when school’s out.

“As for children, this (number) varies dramatically depending on the time of year,” says Torres. “Prado is a day program and most children are in school or daycare programs. In fact, we have a kid’s camp fund which we fund-raise all year long. It’s used to help place homeless children in age appropriate camps, sports, before and after school programs. That being said, there were 1,264 child visits to the site in 2011.”

Roy Rawlings, President of The Friends of Prado nonprofit, says: “We’re pretty much maxed out in terms of size and capabilities. That’s why we’re looking at having a new center program.”

What you don’t see on a brief walk through Prado are the few case workers and many clients meeting in small offices, and the many vital programs Prado offers to those seeking self-sufficiency. Friends of Prado Day Center, formed in December 1999 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, helps to raise funds to help support the operations of the Prado Day Center. According to the Prado website (, “The Friends’ Board of Directors is a unique collaborative comprised of dedicated and passionate community members who represent local business, non-profit, religious and government organizations … and work together to improve life for the homeless in our community.”

When Prado opened in 1997, an average of about 60 people a day used the shelter. Today, that number has more than doubled, and the economy is getting worse…

The Green Pioneer of Los Osos Expands His Reach

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Entrepreneur Anthony Morrocco proudly calls his home “Castle Antonio.” The castle, located in Cabrillo Estates, overlooks Los Osos and the rest of the Estero Bay. Bright, vibrant skies illuminate a panoramic view of the serene bay from his driveway. At first glance, one wouldn’t have to wonder why Morrocco wants to protect the environment.

“Every day, I wake up in the morning and think, ‘Wow!’ Even I can’t believe I’m here!'” he exuberantly told The ROCK recently. The notion that businesses would even entertain the idea of not recycling — and help protect the environment that he’s dedicated his life to preserving — is offensive to Morrocco. He sees businesses that don’t recycle and incorporate environmentally friendly business practices as a clear and present threat to the world he wakes up to every morning.

Morrocco Method International is one of the most internationally recognized and reputable brands of natural, wild-crafted and vegan haircare products. It is a business that prides itself on an environmentally friendly business model that’s nothing short of extraordinary. One way it’s “going green” is their policy on box-recycling — but that policy provides only a small glimpse into the Los Osos-based company that has unprecedented loyalty to the environment.

“It’s horrendous,” said Morrocco Method’s charismatic CEO and Founder Anthony Morrocco, when The ROCK asked him about how many businesses throw away their packaging materials. “It’s easy to recycle. It really is, but people are lazy,” he told us. “Keyword, here, is ‘lazy’.

“We live in this opulent society, and people don’t recognize the value of things. They’ll just throw them away, think nothing of it. It’s horrendous,” said the former celebrity hairstylist as he held up a piece of Styrofoam. In his company’s “Green Environmental Statement,” Morrocco called Styrofoam a “man-made wonder invented with no forethought or knowledge as to detrimental effect.” Styrofoam, which is commonly used non-biodegradable protective packaging material, is often credited as a major contributor to the breakdown of Earth’s ozone layer.

“Recycling is not merely something you ‘want’ to do,” Morrocco said sternly during a tour of his shipping room in his house. “It’s a must! Here, we want to recycle and we know it must be done.”

Two assistants — among Morrocco’s 15 full-time and part-time employees — all recruited from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo — buzzed around us as they assembled and packaged Morrocco Method products in the shipping room. Instead of conducting day-to-day operations from warehouses and regional distribution centers, everything from manufacturing to shipping is done in his 7,500 square-foot home.

In the shipping room, employees take discarded packaging from five dozen local businesses — including Office Max, PETCO and Barnes & Noble — and distribute their products using other businesses’ boxes and packaging material. Products are then shipped to participating companies and retailers across the country and all over the world. By removing the step of discarding perfectly reusable materials and sending them to landfills, Morrocco Method keeps materials in the shipment chain. Local businesses are encouraged to participate in the company’s green initiative.

But Morrocco Method’s appreciation for the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” adage doesn’t stop there.

Marketing Coordinator Ellen Jones explained that the company reuses print paper as scratch paper. “Our employees will go through our paper stock to see if there’s a blank side. If there is a blank side, we’ll use it,” said Jones, a Cal Poly senior. Like everything else, the paper is recycled. Everything but the office computers, which were the lone exception to using recycled goods. “As we found out, the computers aren’t as easy [to recycle],” Morrocco added. It was one concession he was willing to make based on experience. On the other hand, since he started Morrocco Method more than a decade ago, the business has expanded its digital presence, serving customers worldwide with what they call “personalized, face-time customer service.”

Within his castle walls, Morrocco successfully combines modern-era business models with old-school European economic efficiency and sensibility. Morrocco stuns people who visit the castle by showing them that all of his furniture and accessories were purchased at garage sales and estate sales, though it’s nearly impossible for the untrained eye to discern. “People go to garage sales because they see value. There’s no shame in that,” he said, chuckling whimsically. “I encourage more people to do it. What you find at those sales is incredible!”

“I bet you like the idea that not a lot of people in SLO County understand the true value of what’s found at garage sales,” The ROCK said to him. “You have access to all these good deals.”

The astute businessman grinned. “Of course, of course!”

Morrocco is no Johnny-come-lately to conservation. He is an upbeat but hard-nosed entrepreneur who was taught by his Italian grandparents to appreciate the art of saving and reusing everything. Taking what little his grandparents had after World War I and cherishing the value in things that they instilled in him, he began to turn his family values into a business. In his twenties, excited by a friend who told him that “the gold was in the gutter,” Morrocco learned to take pieces of good furniture discarded on the streets of New York, refurbish and resell them for a profit.

“I had absolutely no idea what he meant by gold in the gutter, and I had no idea how much that would impact me later in life,” said Morrocco.

He attends garage and estate sales regularly, and has done so since 1979, buying anything he finds useful. Surveying the furniture in one of his offices, he knew how much each item cost at retail and how much he purchased the item for refurbished. One desk he showed us cost $2,000, but he bought it refurbished for $200. Filing cabinets cost only a fraction of what it would cost had he purchased the item new. He even purchased his luxury sports car, a Jaguar XKR — average retail price of $103,500 — for less than half its worth.

“I bought that on Craigslist,” said Morrocco.

“Craigslist?” I asked in disbelief, thinking he was joking.

“Yes, Craigslist.”

Evidently, his caution and wary navigation through Craigslist has rewarded him extensively. He’s also used Craigslist to purchase his company trucks.

No tour of his castle could be complete without a visit to “The Dungeon.” The Dungeon turned out to be a surprisingly large, windowless attic with narrow, sloped passageways surrounded with seemingly endless cartons of useful supplies and product ingredients. The ingredients, such as henna — a flowering plant used as natural hair dye, which the company imported directly from India — are taken to a downstairs production room to be mixed into the Morrocco formula. Nimbly ducking under pipes and low ceilings revealed other storage areas of the attic stacked with boxes all organized and labeled. According to Morrocco, each box stored in “The Dungeon” is reused — and the bottles, caps, and ingredients inside of them are reusable.

“Isn’t this place neat?” said Morrocco with boyish elation. “Nothing is thrown away.”

“What would your grandparents think of what you’re doing now?” he was asked.

Morrocco paused briefly, looked up and sighed pleasantly. “Their spirits are looking down at me and thinking, ‘He’s doing well,'” he answered with a confident chuckle.

Morrocco Method International’s product line specializes in natural haircare. His carcinogen-free products focus on scalp rejuvenation and reconstruction. From the products he sells to the life he lives to the ways he conducts his business, literally everything that comes in contact with Anthony Morrocco — nicknamed by some as “The Green Pioneer” — is given a second chance. That’s his nature, his commitment and passion.

The company’s loyalty to the environment has allowed the business to pursue emerging technologies, techniques and product formulas in ways that were previously unimaginable. The problem, says Morrocco, is that businesses are not aggressively pursuing green initiatives. “I want to be the example of making ‘green’ happen,” he said. “We need community participation.” San Luis Obispo County is actively making strides when it comes to green initiatives, but “more definitely needs to be done,” Morrocco told The ROCK.

“And we’ll get it done.”

Morrocco Method International, 2743 Rodman Drive, Los Osos, CA 93402. Tel: (805) 534-1600. Website: Email Email with the subject “GREEN BOX PROGRAM” if you’re interested in participating in their box-recycling initiative.