Clear Springs Ranch


Life Saving Naloxone (Narcan)

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The drug Naloxone is sometimes called a “save shot” or a “rescue shot” because of its ability to bring someone back from an overdose. Brand names for Naloxone are Narcan and Evzio. It has long been used in hospitals and by emergency medical technicians, but there is now a movement to expand access to it and get it into the hands of first responders as well as drug users and their family members.

How does it work?

Opioids are a class of drugs that include legal painkillers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illicit drugs, such as heroin. Opioids work by attaching themselves to the body’s natural opioid receptors and numbing pain. They can also create a sense of euphoria in some people. However, at the same time, they can slow breathing.

When your body is in pain, neurotransmitters such as endorphins attach to the opioid receptors in the brain or other organs to numb the sense of pain. Opioid drugs mimic that reaction. However, with too much of an opioid, the body overdoses. Naloxone can literally kick the opioids off the receptors and bring someone back to breathing.

When someone overdoses, naloxone can be directly injected into the muscle or squirted into someone’s nose.

How effective is Naloxone?

Naloxone is extremely effective and can start working in minutes, depending on the dosage and potency of the drug taken. For more powerful opioids, such as fentanyl, it may take several doses. Naloxone is not addictive and has few side effects.

Harm reduction groups and needle exchanges have been distributing it since 1996. Since then, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 26,000 overdoses have been reversed.

The drug works on someone only if there are opioids in their system already. It cannot prevent an overdose and cannot work on any other type of drug overdose.

However, the effects of Naloxone can wear off in 20 to 90 minutes, so the idea is to rescue someone from an overdose and get them medical attention immediately.

Where can I find Naloxone?

Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have laws that allow medical professionals to prescribe or dispense Naloxone. Both CVS and Walgreens drugstores are also making Naloxone available without a prescription in at least 20 states across the country.

In February, the White House proposed $1.1 billion to fight the opioid overdose epidemic, including $500 million to help states expand prescription drug overdose prevention, increase treatment and expand access to naloxone.

-CNN April, 2016


Watch a video by Waco’s Channel 25 TV ABC affiliate station with our Clinical Director, Todd Dugas, LCSW:


Holiday Blues

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The Holiday Blues


bcaptureFeeling emotionally depleted in the wintertime is actually quite common. Signs and symptoms can range from a having difficulty concentrating on tasks at work, school and home to feeling excessively tired all the time to experiencing a complete lack of interest in things that originally were sources of joy. Rest assured that there are a number of very common reasons for the bout of the “holiday blues” you may be feeling. However, don’t discount or minimize your feelings if they begin to magnify. It’s important to note that anyone can swing from sadness to depression to desperation quickly — particularly if his or her personal history involves a family history of substance abuse, emotional trauma or violence.


Identifying the causes


Add the challenges of maintaining sobriety during a constant flood of invitations from family and friends to the mix of normal holiday sadness, and the chance of jeopardizing your recovery is magnified. All around us at the holidays are constant reminders of how wonderful we are expected to feel. The need for a trauma-informed approach – in regards both to others and to our own selves — is critical according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA). Here are some common causes to keep in mind:


Lack of healthy exposure to sunlight


Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is quite prevalent in the winter months, particularly in areas that are more northerly located. As the temperatures drop and the days grow shorter, the onset of deeper moodiness may be triggered. Symptoms may include overeating and excessive sleeping leading to uncharacteristic weight gain. Women may be two to three times more susceptible than men to SAD. Symptoms may progress to include anxiety and social withdrawal and may last all the way to spring unless addressed. Getting as much exposure as possible to natural light each day can help as can replacing your regular light bulbs temporarily with broad spectrum bulbs or purchasing a light therapy apparatus (although these can be pricey). Attending to a regular sleep schedule, getting exercise, and consulting a therapist if symptoms persist are also all very important.


Presence of holiday-based sensory stimuli


Certain smells, sounds and sights could be reminders of happy – or very sad — holiday gatherings from years past. Be aware that a certain amount of melancholy is perfectly normal at this time of year and sensory stimuli can magnify these feelings, lighting up memory centers in the brain. Sadness is a powerful emotion and deserves attention. Let yourself look at old photos if you have them available, cry if you need to do so, and make some phone calls if possible to reconnect with loved ones who are far away. Exchange stories about the happy times or journal about your feelings if the people you miss are no longer accessible, but try not to dwell too much on memories from the past.


Dangers of family and societal pressures


The pressure to accept every invitation or meet the expectations of others for gift giving or hosting an event can be very stressful. People in recovery who are either out of a traditional home environment or who find themselves in a transitional living situation, may not have a place of their own to decorate or in which to prepare favorite holiday foods. This fact may cause even more unhappiness and longing with so much seasonal attention on shopping for gifts. The shame and loss that results from a lack of financial abundance to do everything they way you’d like can be devastating.


Lack of good self-care


Not getting enough exercise during the holiday season, missing your regular sleep schedule and indulging in too many rich, sweet foods can take a toll on your physical and mental health. No one knows what your body needs to stay healthy better than you. Make sure to take the time each day meditation and reflection.


Keep in close contact with your sober friends and mentors; you are not alone and should feel comfortable asking for help if needed. Remember to take time each day for your mindfulness practice. Meditation, reflection, yoga, breathing techniques – or your version of mindfulness – all help us to pause, recenter and reconnect.


Please take the time to stay connected! Visit our Alumni page for more info.


Wishing you a peaceful holiday full of love.

Estela Avery

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Estela Avery HouseAs a philanthropist, community volunteer and fundraiser for more than 20 years, Estela Avery has dedicated countless hours to non-profit organizations within her hometown of San Antonio, Texas including serving terms as a board member, capital campaign manager and chair of special events. Until her recent retirement, Avery served seven years as executive director of the San Antonio River Foundation.

Avery first became familiar with the medical aspects of drug and alcohol rehabilitation in the mid-1980s while working as a registered nurse. She says she was ready to try a different type of medical setting other than ICU and that an agency assignment became available in the Hill Country of Texas. At this treatment facility, Avery received a professional introduction to behavioral healthcare, which accompanied a deeply personal experience with alcoholism within her own family.

It was on this initial assignment that she first met Dr. Anand Mehendale who was serving as medical director at the facility. Several years prior, she had met Linda Werlein socially. Avery says it became apparent to her through the specialty work just how devastating the disease of addiction can be to the entire family. The assignment turned into a full-time leadership position where she worked for several years until she returned to San Antonio to manage a medical/surgical unit. Throughout her 10-year nursing career, memories of that initial and rewarding assignment with patients suffering from the disease of addiction remained strong.

Later, Avery would serve as president of the Nursing Advisory Council at the University of Texas School of Nursing and on the Texas Governor’s Commission for Women. About five years ago, Dr. Mehendale and John Lacy made a presentation to a group about Clear Springs Ranch and that is how she became involved with the organization. Avery was convinced of the critical need for just such an advanced treatment facility, and her direct involvement in the project grew, particularly financially.

Today, she is glad to know the innovative ways treatment centers have changed and expanded to include more options for caring for women. She shares that she was educated in a private girls school and understands that women are unique and learn in different ways. She feels that women in treatment need to have space where they can live together in a dormitory-like setting and express themselves freely in order to work on women-specific issues. Soon, the brand-new women’s facility at Clear Springs Ranch with these much-needed qualities will open and bear her name.

womans photo

“I hope that people will continue to get help if they need it because it can change their lives tremendously. They need to know it’s not a personal weakness. Alcohol and drug addiction is a disease, and like any other disease, they need to go and get medical attention for it,” she says.

In addition to philanthropically supporting good health, Avery, her husband, James (of James Avery Craftsman), and their family are strongly committed to charities throughout San Antonio as well as the surrounding areas of Fredericksburg, Kerrville, and Houston in a number of ways. She says they particularly support educational causes because, through education, the possibilities are endless.

Always a strong voice of encouragement to others, Avery wants everyone – especially women — to know there is hope for recovery. “For individuals who are struggling with drugs and alcohol, don’t be afraid to make that first phone call to get help,” she says.

Please join us at Clear Springs Ranch, June 16 from 10:00am-12:30pm for an open house to our new Estela Avery House, a beautiful women-only residential facility. Call 877-843-7262 for more information.

Getting to Know: Chris Lacy, Director of Information Technology and Risk Management

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Chris LacyChris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Information Systems from Bellevue University in Omaha, Nebraska. He joined The Ranch at its inception as the Director of Information Technology (IT) Services. He has 15 years of professional IT experience and has worked in various positions of technical support and customer service for a wide range of industries, including five years as the Executive Support Liaison at Texas Instruments in Dallas. While there, Chris was responsible for all technological requirements for the corporate leadership team including meeting support, aircraft data connectivity, and remote technical support. In his free time, Chris likes to fish and read as his daughters keep him too busy for much else.


Q: What is your professional title with our organization?

A: Director of Information Technology/Risk Management


Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

A: Just do what’s in front of you to the best of your ability.


Q: What one word would the people who know you best use to describe you?

A: Thoughtful (and considerate)


Q: What motivated you to choose a career in recovery? 

A: My family’s history in recovery and the treatment field


Q: Besides working at Clear Springs Ranch, what hobbies, sports, or activities do you enjoy? 

A: Reading, exercising, and sometimes golf


Q: What’s your favorite movie? What’s your favorite book?

A: The movie would be “Pleasantville,” and the book would be “The Moon and Sixpence.”


Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your personal story?

A: I’m an open book, so what you see is what you get.



Getting to Know: Anand Mehendale, MD – Chief Medical Officer

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Dr. Mehendale is board certified in both Neurology and Addiction Medicine. He has been a pioneer and a visionary in Texas regarding physician health issues including Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) for over 25 years. He is currently in a private practice of Neurology at Phoenix Medical Associates in Kerrville, Texas. Dr. Mehnedale is the Chief Medical Officer for Clear Springs Ranch and the Medical Director of OnTrac Relapse Prevention.

Throughout his impressive career, Dr. Mehendale has been appointed and elected to various leadership positions. Instrumental in the development of the Texas Physician Health Program, he is currently on the governing board of that program, which is administratively attached to the Texas Medical Board. Additionally, Dr. Mehendale was on the governing board of the Texas chapter of American Society of Addiction Medicine and served as the chapter’s past president. He is also a past member and chairman of the Texas Medical Association’s Physician Health and Rehabilitation Committee and has served as a consultant to the organization.

Dr. Mehnedale wrote a chapter on epilepsy for an international book titled “Hemisyndromes: Psychobiology, Neurology, Psychiatry,” and he has published many journal articles. For six consecutive years from 2010 to 2015, “Texas Monthly” selected him as one of their Super Doctors. “Leading Physicians of the World” chose him in 2013, and he is listed in “America’s Top Physicians” in 2014. He is currently the section editor for “SM Journal of Neurology and Neuroscienceand editor in chief of “Journal of Addiction and Prevention Medicine,” both of which are international peer reviewed open access journals.


Q: What is your professional title with our organization?

A: Chief Medical Officer


Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

A: My father told me, “The only thing you have to give other people in the world is your attitude and your word.”


Q: What one word would the people who know you best use to describe you?

A: Trustworthy


Q: What motivated you to choose a career in recovery?

A:  My personal recovery was an influence along with the fact that I am Neurologist and that addiction is a brain disease.


Q: Besides working at Clear Springs Ranch, what hobbies, sports, or activities do you enjoy? 

A: I enjoy photography and writing. I also like playing volleyball and table tennis.


Q: Is there a personal fact you might share that would be hard for others to guess about you?  

A: I love the TV show “Alf!”


Q: What’s your favorite movie? What’s your favorite book? 

 A: My favorite movie is “Star Wars,” and “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran is my favorite book.