Now accepting MEDI-CAL for Adolescent and Adult IOP programs in Santa Clarita.

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Now accepting MEDI-CAL for Adolescent and Adult IOP programs in Santa Clarita.

‘True Blood’ Actor Nelsan Ellis Passes Away Attempting to Detox from Alcohol Alone

Actor Nelsan Ellis passed away on Saturday, July 8th in a Brooklyn hospital after he tried to detox from alcohol on his own. According to the “True Blood” actor’s parents, Nelsan developed a blood infection when he tried to detox; ultimately leading to heart failure after 4 days in the hospital. Alcohol abuse was something the actor struggled with for years. His father stated that “Nelsan was ashamed of his addiction and thus was reluctant to talk about it during his life.”

Actor Nelsan Ellis

Alcohol abuse is a larger issue than one might think in the U.S. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 16 million Americans had an alcohol abuse disorder in 2014. That means almost 7% of the adult population suffered from alcoholism just in that year. In Los Angeles alone, over 16% of adults binge drink—contributing to over 700 deaths, and over 27,000 injuries annually.

Alcohol abuse

With the ubiquity of alcohol, and the number of people who are influenced by it—especially adolescents—it’s important to be on the look-out for warning signs of use and abuse. Many people may have a friend, or family member, who is in the dark about their alcoholism. While Nelsan Ellis was aware he had an issue, there are many others in this country who are suffering with addiction and in denial about it. Perhaps they think they are “special” or “different” from everyone else; exhibiting much personal exceptionalism. This mindset allows for many to justify their vices when other people call them out on them. Many alcoholics believe that they do not have a problem, or that if they acknowledge the issue, they’ll feel embarrassed about seeking help for fear of being stigmatized.

Nelsan Ellis

The Ellis family would like to use his life as a “cautionary tale in an attempt to help others.” If you know someone like this in your life, it may help for you to seek out a good rehab center. It can be difficult to convince a friend or family member to seek help when you know they need it. The folks at Action Family Counseling, and our many Los Angeles drug rehabilitation centers, know how difficult this process can be. We have many experts in addiction treatment who motivate and compassionately care for their clients while guiding them through the journey toward sobriety.

Dr. Bud Lawrence
Dr. Bud Lawrence, left, emergency room doctor and director of risk management at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, and Cary Quashen, right, of Henry Mayo and Action Family Counseling, talk to members of the press on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, following the admission of eight overdose patients to the hospital on Monday. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Nelsan Ellis was a fan favorite in the HBO series ‘True Blood’ who didn’t have to die from his addiction. Had he sought the right kind of help from professionals, rather than trying to detox on his own, he likely could have been saved. Between 5 – 25% of Southern Californians in Los Angeles County and Kern County who go through severe alcohol withdrawal die. It is unfortunate that those who struggle with an addiction or mental health disorder fear that they will be stigmatized or judged by their friends and family if they come forward to seek help. We really strive to provide the best multidimensional rehabilitation and therapy support in Los Angeles and beyond. Our goal is to see patients fully reintegrate into society, with healthy behaviors, and provide them the tools to be successful in overcoming their addiction.


Our rehabilitation centers specialize in inpatient and outpatient treatment for chemical dependency of any kind. We also offer partial therapy. Alcohol abuse is the hidden drug in this country, with thousands dying every year across Southern California: from Santa Clarita to San Diego. Since alcohol is legal for those over 21, and society has deemed it perfectly normal to consume, many do not see it as a potential for harm. However almost 1 in 14 adults meet the criteria for alcoholism. Our success as a treatment and counseling center is based on raising awareness of this issue. Too many people struggle with chemical addiction, and die alone before they seek help. Our relationships with insurers simplifies the insurance process for you, and we accept most major insurance providers in California.

Action Family Counseling Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program

Many people are unaware that going “cold turkey” and stopping all alcohol consumption after years of abuse can kill—as in the Nelsan Ellis case. Alcohol, unlike other drugs, has no specific receptor sites in the body – it literally permeates every cell via the circulatory system, and your body adapts to work with the presence of alcohol. In extreme cases, your body forgets how to function without it. It is widely believed that singer Amy Winehouse died after trying to self-detox as well.


Our team evaluates each client to determine necessity of care and levels of treatment required to best suit each particular case, ranging from detox to withdrawal management, to placement in residential treatment or intensive outpatient. If we determine that a client must attend a medical detox facility prior to entering rehabilitation with us, we offer the next step after they are discharged from the medical setting that we refer them to.


What we offer, once our patient is detoxed, is our Clinical Indicators for Withdrawals for Alcohol (CIWA) process. Our staff perform a CIWA then refer to our board-certified addiction specialist and psychiatrist, or to the hospital to be prescribed appropriate medicines. We then carefully follow doctor’s orders, and continually performs assessments. Our experienced clinicians and staff integrate many therapeutic sessions, along with family and social support, to facilitate all clients with support.


Depression and anxiety are often comorbid symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse. Thus, substance abuse treatment is much more than getting harmful chemicals out of the body. It also involves retraining the mind. Addicts rewire their brains through years and years of substance abuse. Because of this, it is incredibly difficult to stay clean and sober unless they also receive therapeutic support. Depression and anxiety are also treated and managed at our drug rehab centers.


Alcohol abuse is destructive, and recovery is a long and difficult process. With locations throughout Los Angeles, Ventura and Kern counties, we believe that our continued success and thorough—specialized—treatment programs offer reliable support that’s affordable and attainable.


If you, or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, we can help you. If you believe you have a problem, please reach out to us. Everyone needs help, and those suffering from addiction need it most. Call us today to learn more about our treatment and counseling programs.


Action Family Counseling
Community Outreach Team