Tag Archive: addiction counseling

  1. Young Adults With Mental Illness Are Less Likely To Receive Addiction Treatment

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    Young Adults With Mental Illness Are Less Likely To Receive Addiction TreatmentAccording to data from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only a third of mentally-ill adults aged 18-25 receive any treatment whatsoever for their conditions. That’s roughly 20 percent less than the 26-49 age group (an unsurprising discrepancy, given the number of senior citizens who live in assisted-living environments in the US).


    Mental Illness Gone Unchecked

    Throughout the year of 2014, about 2.4 million young adults in need were able to access mental health services like inpatient rehab or prescription medication. That leaves close to 5 million young adults in the dark. Given the untreated suffering experienced by these young people, the commonality of dual diagnoses and co-occurring disorders makes sense: they’re choose drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication.

    Clearly, there are more people in need of treatment than are currently being served it. Why is this? A lack of services? A lack of interest in those services? Most likely, it’s a combination of both.


    The Shortage Of Services

    Of all the young adults who did receive help, only 1 in 4 received prescription medication (25.5%) and 1 in 5 received outpatient services (21.3%). Perhaps the most important treatment modality of all, inpatient rehabilitation, was only available for about 3.7% of the mentally ill patients. The CDC also reports that at any given time, 3.1% of adults are suffering severe psychological distress (such as a mental breakdown).


    What Can Be Done?

    With these statistics in mind, it is critical that the public becomes more informed of mental illness, its signs, and how to handle it. There is a desperate need for further referral and treatment services in the US, and filling the gap probably requires the participation of mentors, life coaches, and teachers.

    SAMHSA, the organization charged with improving the quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitative services, believes that young adults may benefit from developmentally appropriate services to facilitate the transition to adulthood, sponsors several programs that provide crucial information on the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and psychological crises.

    These programs also offer referral and treatment services to young teens and adults needing help with mental illness.


    Mental illness and addiction go together like fire and smoke. If you or someone you know is suffering from the former, watch out closely for the latter. If that situation is already a reality, the first step is detox–then treatment. To get started, call Sustain today for a consultation: 949-637-5499.

  2. Man’s Best Friend: Animal-Assisted Therapy

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    Animal-Assisted TherapyAnimal-assisted therapy has progressed well beyond the remarkable world of seeing-eye dogs. Horses, dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals have been enlisted to help mobility-impaired individuals, to sense the onset of illnesses through their enhanced olfactory senses, and now to aid individuals who are suffering from depression or anxiety, or any of the addiction maladies that often accompany those psychological disorders. If you are experiencing a medical problem in one of these spectra and other therapies have been ineffective, you should consider the benefits that a therapy animal can bring.

    Animal-Assisted Therapy for Addiction Recovery

    Clinical researchers have concluded that in many cases, humans are able to form an emotional bond with an animal more quickly than they can with other humans. Studies have also revealed that those emotional bonds can help reduce a person’s blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels. These interactions can also alleviate anger and anxiety while improving social interactions. Animals are non-judgmental and display unconditional affection when they are treated properly. Interactions with larger animals, such as horses, also places individuals in an outdoor setting that can further enhance their moods and improve self-esteem.

    Drug addicts and alcoholics who are struggling with recovery can benefit from animal-assisted therapy by teaching them to reach outside of themselves to care for another living being and to accept responsibility for that care. As a recovering addict’s relationship with a therapy animal grows, his own self-confidence will grow, allowing him to distance himself from the weaknesses that led to his addiction. This further empowers a recovering addict to stay with his pursuit of a sober lifestyle.

    Seeking Animal-Assisted Therapy

    Therapists who incorporate animal-assisted therapy into their treatment programs will start slowly to confirm that an individual is capable of handling the responsibility for animal care and that he can develop a bond with a particular animal. Trainers and handlers will observe the interactions for at least the first several meetings. As the bond begins to develop, the trainer will allow his patient and the animal to spend greater amounts of time together. This process will continue simultaneously with other group and individual therapy that a person might be receiving. As with other addiction recovery treatments, animal-assisted therapy is not a panacea, but is instead one of several tools that a therapist will use to help a addict break his connection to drugs or alcohol.

    No specific protocol has been established for the incorporation of animal-assisted therapy into a general rehab program. An addict who is interested in animal-assisted therapy will need to ask about that therapy, and he may need to write his own protocol in conjunction with his counselors to integrate animal-assisted therapy into the bigger picture of his recovery. Addiction counselors who are more progressive or aggressive will generally be more amenable to suggestions for alternative therapies like this.


    For more information about using animal-assisted therapy in your drug addiction or alcoholism rehab program, please call Sustain Recovery Services at (949) 407-9052. We will discuss all available options with you and provide suggestions for specific animal-assisted therapy programs that can help you.

  3. The Psychology of Self Harm

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    The Psychology of Self HarmMost people do whatever they can to avoid injury and pain. This makes it difficulty to understand the psychology behind self-harming. Gillian Flynn (author of the novel “Gone Girl” that was turned into a movie starring Ben Affleck), captured much of the psyche of self-mutilation in her earlier book, “Sharp Objects”, which featured a main character who harmed herself in response to nightmarish childhood events. Individuals who harm themselves by inflicting skin wounds or other trauma generally see no other means of expressing their feelings. They feel backed into a corner, and their response is to cut themselves out of it.

    The Psychology of Self Harm

    Self-harm is neither a cry for attention nor an attempt to commit suicide. People who harm themselves often do so privately and try to cover up their actions. For example, self-harmers will wear long sleeves and pants to cover scabs and scars, and they almost always inflict their harm on themselves in private. Rather than being a plea for help, self-harm is a means of expressing inner pain that a person is otherwise unable to verbalize. The immediacy of an injury also distracts a self-harmer from deeper and potentially more painful circumstances that continue to plague them after dissipation of the short-term relief they may feel from self-harming.

    A broad range of different circumstances can lead to self-harming activity. This activity had been concentrated more among women, but an increasing number of men are self-harmers as well. Young men and women who internalize feelings of low-self esteem or poor body image might harm themselves to counter those feelings. A teenager whose parents are going through a divorce or who is struggling with his or her sexuality might fall into a pattern of self-harm if no other outlet is available to express those feelings. Relationship problems, job stress, and drug and alcohol addiction can also deepen a self-harm problem. There is a large overlap between the stresses that lead to drug addiction and alcoholism and the motivation for self-harming.

    Treating Self Harm

    Likewise, counselors treat self-harm much as they would treat drug addiction. A self-harmer first needs to gain awareness of the triggers that cause him to injure himself. Rather than acting out against those triggers, that person then needs to focus on his feelings and learn how to respond to those feeling more productively. If, for example, a person harms himself as a means to dull his psychological pain, he might instead try to record his feelings in a private journal. If a person engages in self-harming as a means to calm  himself down, he can try exercising or taking a warm shower to distract himself from his anxieties. Self-harmers who feel numb can try to shock themselves with cold water, or eating a spicy meal. Angry individuals who have no other means to express their anger might turn to a punching bag or some other inert physical object that they can hit to vent that anger. The critical thing is to find a means of expressing internalized emotions by doing anything other than self-harm.

    As incidents of self-harming are increasing, counselors and therapists are gaining extensive experience in helping individuals to break self-harming patterns. As with most psychological disorders, there is no single or easy remedy to self-harming. Treatment will take time and patience, and that treatment should begin as soon as a problem is suspected or noticed to avoid more serious long-term injuries.     


    If you are engaging in any self-harming activities, please call Sustain Recovery Services at (949) 407-9052 for a confidential consultation about your problem. We can treat your issues in a non-judgmental manner and help you to develop positive mechanisms to deal with your problems.

I first met Sayeh in November of 2013 just after my 15 year old daughter had been admitted to a residential treatment program. As part of the program I was required to attend 2-3 AlAnon meetings a week. Sayeh attended the same AlAnon meetings as well as Alumni events as I. It soon became apparent to me that Sayeh had a heart for recovery, program, and God. When I was encouraged to get a sponsor I didn’t hesitate. Dependable, respectful, kind and generous of spirit, she exudes an inner peace that I hope to achieve with her loving guidance, as I work my own program. She is patient, & full of wisdom that she is always happy to share with her sponsees and fellow parents. I am so grateful our journeys brought us together.

© 2023 OCTLC Inc.