Setting a successful tone for your adolescent client’s recovery from substance abuse is crucial. It’s not uncommon for adolescents to be skeptical about treatment. Many believe that they don’t have a problem and that their parents are just overreacting. This is why it’s so important to foster a strong sense of connection with the adolescent.
Here at Sustain Recovery, we believe that if you bring the body, the mind will follow. The first few sessions with the adolescent are vital to helping them understand that their abuse of substances isn’t the root problem — their abuse of substances is how they coped with those problems.
While at first they may not agree that their present coping mechanism isn’t working, the more they show up and work with you, they will come to understand the impact of their substance abuse and that there are healthier coping skills they can use. As they put these healthier actions into place, the mind will come around and understand that they can lead a happier and healthier life if they maintain their sobriety.
Holistic Treatment Is Key
When working with adolescent substance abuse, we cannot stress the importance of holistic treatment enough. Like we said before, substances aren’t the adolescent’s problem. Substances are the adolescent’s solution to their problems. These problems may include depression, anxiety, trauma, a lack of self-esteem, intense feelings of isolation, and more. If you overlook the adolescent’s mental illness and trauma, you’re doing them a huge disservice.
Think of their substance abuse like a bandage on an infected wound. Slapping a bandage on and moving along may briefly help them forget that the infected wound is there. But after a while, they remember that the wound is still infected. The infection might have grown larger, so they reach for an even larger bandage to cover the infection that has spread.
Treating only an adolescent’s substance abuse is like using a bandage as a quick solution. While they may maintain their sobriety for a while, they must find another way to cover up the mental illness or trauma that is causing them so much pain — and this is where holistic treatment comes in.
Holistic treatment for substance abuse is akin to removing the bandage, cleaning the wound, and treating the infection with proper antibiotics. Holistic treatment takes the adolescent’s mind, body, and spirit all into account. With holistic treatment, you can help the adolescent process their trauma so that it no longer has such a suffocating grip on their life.
By giving them the tools they need for a successful recovery, they will have the knowledge and ability to work through future struggles without turning to substances to help them get by. It’s also important to encourage the adolescent to take care of their physical body by exercising, eating healthy foods, and sleeping enough. Recovery is about helping the adolescent transform their whole being, not just focusing on getting them sober in the present moment. You have the key to set the successful tone for your client’s life-long recovery and unlock their full potential.
Your adolescent client’s skepticism helps them remain in control of their situation. As long as they keep telling themselves they don’t have a problem, then they don’t have to deal with their problems. As a professional, you can build trust with the adolescent and help break down the walls they have been putting up. By validating your client’s concerns, you’re telling them I see you and I hear you. This connection helps to build trust and respect between you and your client.
While others, such as the adolescent’s parents, may try to control and make decisions for the adolescent’s recovery, the fact that you are acknowledging their problems and helping them take active steps in their recovery shows that you can help them be successful in their recovery. Independence is important for adolescents. If you can help them see that they can take steps toward their sobriety, they’ll be more willing to make those changes than if someone else was making those changes for them.
Helping Them Buy In
The old saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink” is well-known for a reason. At Sustain Recovery, we like to say that while you can’t make them drink, you can make them thirsty. When working with skeptical adolescents who abuse substances, you can help them buy into treatment. Instead of trying to get the adolescent to think their way into better acting, help them act their way into better thinking.
The repetition of engaging in positive behaviors retrains the adolescent’s brain. Although it might be uncomfortable for them in the short-term, they’ll come to learn that healthy behaviors come with positive consequences. Their skepticism will soon fade and they’ll take the initiative to engage in healthy behaviors on their own.
Sustain Recovery is here to help adolescents in their recovery journey. We believe in using holistic treatment to solve the issues below the surface that are causing the adolescent to engage in substance abuse. As a professional, you have the power to set the tone for an adolescent’s successful recovery. Let’s work together to help your client find the path to sobriety. We provide adolescents with a positive and loving environment where they can address their addiction and mental health needs. To learn more about our programs, call us today at (949) 407-9052.