Tag Archive: adolescent addiction

  1. Their Life Is Just Getting Started

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    Their Life Is Just Getting StartedAdolescents who are in the early stages of recovery from substance abuse often have a hard time envisioning a future without substances. Up until this point, most of their social life has probably come from engaging in substance use. They might fear that they will never be able to fit in or have fun if they can no longer use substances. As a professional, you can help your adolescent client unravel how substances are intertwined with their idea of living a happy and enjoyable life. With a little help, the adolescent can finally understand and accept that their life is just getting started!

    Helping Your Adolescent Client Overcome Cognitive Distortions

    Everyone can benefit from understanding how their thoughts impact their behaviors. Far too often, people slip into thought patterns that are negative and unhealthy. They may not realize the impact these patterns have on their daily life because they are so used to this way of coping. It often takes someone to point out the thought pattern for the person to realize what they have been thinking all along. Adolescents are no different. Cognitive distortions can lead them down a path that drives them to believe that substance abuse is a viable coping skill. Below are a few cognitive distortions that adolescents with addictions often have.

    Many adolescents engaging in substance abuse fall victim to “all or nothing” thinking. They see things in black or white, and cannot discern different shades of gray. Although success and failure exist on a spectrum, adolescents tend to think of things as either success or failure — not a combination of both. If the adolescent is attempting to get sober, all or nothing thinking can be dangerous if they relapse. One drink might lead to many more, simply because they think the mistake they made means they have failed. They may have trouble acknowledging the mistake and moving past it. By helping your adolescent client understand that they can learn from a mistake without allowing it to become a full-blown relapse, you are showing them that there is gray to be seen in every situation.

    Another common cognitive distortion that adolescents use is mental filtering. If an adolescent equates having a good time with using substances, they will focus completely on the good times they had while under the influence. By focusing only on these times, they are ignoring the times when they had fun without substances — almost like they never happened. If something comes up that contradicts their belief that substances equate to fun, they will filter it out. By helping your adolescent client remove their mental filter and see the experiences they have been avoiding, they should come to understand that substances aren’t what makes an experience fun. There surely will be times when no substances were involved that they still enjoyed themselves. Illuminating those moments is important.

    Helping Your Adolescent Client Work on Their Thinking Patterns

    To encourage your client to work on their thinking patterns and learn how they can refrain from falling back on cognitive distortions, it’s important that they try to see things on a continuous spectrum rather than just black or white. If they think they cannot have fun without substances so they will never get sober, you can help them understand that there is fun to be had without substances. Helping them understand the middle ground and see things in a more balanced way teaches them to use logic instead of feelings to drive their actions.

    A great tool to help with this process is a thought journal. Adolescents often take their thoughts as absolute truth without pushing back and examining if they are rooted in fact. Just because the adolescent is thinking something doesn’t mean it is true. When your adolescent client has a distressing thought, encourage them to write it down and explain the associated feeling. Next, instruct them to apply a rationality filter to the thought. Is there truth behind what they are thinking, or is it a cognitive distortion instead? If the thought is negative, help them learn how to reframe it. By getting into a good routine with a thought journal, your client will become more aware of their self-talk and learn how to see the connection between their thoughts and their substance abuse.

    Over time, your adolescent client should begin to see the upside to their life experiences without taking substances into account. They will learn to find joy in good company, rather than the opportunity to drink alcohol or use drugs. They will develop healthy hobbies and be able to apply the recovery skills they have learned into their daily life. Developing a healthy and strong mindset that helps them understand their life doesn’t have to revolve around substance use is key. With your help, your adolescent client can come to understand and truly believe that their life is only just getting started.

    Sustain Recovery is here to help adolescents who are engaging in substance abuse by providing a positive and loving environment where they can address their addiction and mental health needs. We offer a wide range of programs to benefit your adolescent clients and show them how good their life can be. Working together, we can help your adolescent clients envision and embrace their sober future. When you sustain your recovery, you sustain your life.

    To learn more, call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052.

  2. Treatment Objectives for Adolescent Addiction

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    teen self esteem anxiety

    Teens are developmentally different from adults. Addiction changes the a teen’s way of thinking and behaving in different ways than it will in older adults which requires treatment programs focused on education, behavior, family dynamics and peer concerns. Learn more about treatment objectives for adolescent addiction.

    Researching Guidelines

    The objective of treatment for teens needs to differ from adults according to treatment guidelines through whichever state the teen and family reside in. Compared to adults, teens will typically:

    • Have shorter history of substance abuse
    • Experience fewer consequences of addiction
    • Engage more in periodic use of drugs and alcohol
    • Experiment with a greater variety of substances
    • Mental health problems co-occur at a higher rate
    • Possibility exists to ‘outgrow’ addiction
    • Motivations vary for wanting to change

    When objectives for treatment focus on the outcomes for teens a reduction in substance use and abstinence is greater along with better school attendance, performance, social and familial relationships.


    Low self-esteem is a major factor for teens to use illegal substances. Self-perception is important to adolescents so efforts to build this along with self-efficacy are more successful for the teen population. Group, family and individual counseling can support teens in exploring various issues which underlie low self-esteem. Learning to evaluate attitudes and beliefs about the self and others can help replace harmful self-attitudes with ones which are more healthy.

    Relapse Prevention

    Relapse prevention programming starts in treatment and goes through aftercare. Relapse prevention includes components such as educational topics to help teens understand how relapse occurs as well as therapeutic components to identify and confront self-destructive patterns, attitudes and beliefs to replace them with more successful and healthy ways of thinking and behaving. Strengthening the family unit through family therapy along with individual therapeutic intervention is successful and helpful for teens struggling with denial or enabling behaviors so the whole family is involved in being healthy.


    An aftercare plan which is individualized is set in place after treatment which includes ongoing individual, group and family therapy built on the momentum gained in treatment. The plan must also include participation in a teen-based support group with other peers that includes personal responsibility and accountability to provide opportunity to develop healthy relationships. A holistic recovery program geared towards teens will help them develop skills and strategies needed for long-term recovery and build healthy familial relationships. A strong aftercare program will help teens build self-confidence in using skills from treatment in the real world to cope with triggers, cravings and other issues associated with recovery from addiction in a positive manner.


    Sustain Recovery focuses on a unique approach to adolescent treatment focused on helping teens’ individual needs. If you have a teen that needs help with addiction, call us to find out how we can support your teen in recovery.

  3. Signs Your Teen is Abusing Drugs

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    substance abuse

    If your teenager is using drugs or alcohol regularly, he or she may be causing tremendous harm to their body and brain. Some of the most common symptoms, like changes in eating and sleep habits, are easily mistaken as normal teenage behavior. For that reason, it’s always good to be concerned about these things, especially if your teen seems emotionally troubled.

    There’s no concrete line in which typical teenage behavior becomes a worthy cause for concern–only personal judgement. The key is practicing open conversation with your teen enough to know the difference should your teen ever actually wind up in this situation.

    Worsening of Health

    The most obvious changes can be seen in the face: baggy eyes, dry skin, chapped lips, cold sweats…

    Some additional health issues include:

    • Going in and out of sickness
    • Low energy
    • Hyperactivity
    • Strange eating habits
    • Burns, bruises, or track marks
    • Headaches
    • Injuries
    • Seizures
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Sweatiness
    • Flushed skin or rashes

    Academic Nosedive

    As we all know, addiction leads us to set aside, neglect, or forget our important obligations. If you notice your teen starting to slack in areas where they normally do well or thrive–again, don’t excuse it as a phase. You may get calls about them from teachers and administrators, so take those seriously. Same goes for jobs and hobbies. When somebody drops a passion suddenly, it’s unlikely that they simply lost interest: something is distracting them.

    Suspicious Behavior

    As substance abuse disorders grow, so does the space between the addict and their loved ones. Very quickly, new friends replace old news, lying becomes typical, and the occasional bratty attitude blows up into a constant misbehavior that cannot be ignored or excused.


    Everyday spent in active addiction is a risk, because overdoses and accidents happen unexpectedly. If you notice the warning signs–even if you’re doubtful as to what they mean–you should speak with a professional. Call today: 949-637-5499

  4. The Primary Objectives of Adolescent Addiction Recovery

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    Adolescents have brain structures and pathways that are far from mature. From this perspective alone, it makes perfect sense that the treatment objectives as well as the treatments themselves for adolescents who are in addiction recovery programs will be different than those for adults. Those differences can also pose unique challenges for counselors and therapists who strive to structure effective addiction treatment programs for adolescents.

    Addiction Profile

    Adolescents generally present a different addiction profile than adults. Since they are younger, their substance abuse history will be shorter and they will not have experienced as many of the adverse consequences that typically befall adult addicts. Their drug or alcohol abuse may be more binge-oriented or it may occur in discrete episodes rather than becoming ingrained as a daily routine. As adolescents struggle with their own identities, their substance abuse might be a symptom of other psychological issues as it simultaneously masks those issues. On the plus side, these factors give adolescents a greater opportunity to recover and to develop positive motivations that keep them permanently away from drugs and alcohol.

    Research Based-Treatments

    Counselors and therapists use different research-based treatments to help adolescents recover from substance abuse problems. These include behavioral therapies such as community reinforcement programs that are designed to replace the temptations that led them to drug or alcohol abuse with more positive influences, cognitive therapy that helps teens to better understand the consequences of their substance abuse, and contingency programs that give adolescents rewards for drug- and alcohol-free behavior.

    Adolescent Addiction Recovery

    Because most adolescents are still living with their families, family-based therapy is also an effective approach to adolescent addiction recovery. These therapeutic programs engage an adolescent’s entire family structure to variously provide positive reinforcement, to learn how to interact in a positive manner and to improve inter-familial respect, and to communicate more effectively to avoid breakdowns in family relationships that might drive an adolescent toward drugs or alcohol.

    Adolescent Addiction Treatment

    Adolescent addiction treatment programs also focus on a teen’s self-esteem and in helping a teen to overcome any experiences that may have harmed his self-image. Teens are susceptible to low self-esteem as a result of on-line or in-person bullying, poor performance in school or athletics, or rumors and stories that get spread through social media. Counselors have discovered that in many cases, teens have turned to alcohol or drugs to ease the difficulties associated with these situations. Rebuilding an adolescent’s self-esteem that has been damaged by external events like these can be a daunting challenge, but it is not an impossible task.

    Addiction Therapy

    One goal of adolescent addiction recovery that is common with all addiction therapy is its focus on preventing relapses. Some studies have suggested that between one third and one half of all adolescents who have received substance abuse therapy will experience one or more relapses within twelve months of completing that therapy. Counselors are trained to look for relapse risk factors, including the presence of other psychological issues, drug or alcohol use by an adolescent’s family members and close friends, and his or her coping skills when faced with stressful situations. Where an adolescent’s family expresses strong motivation to help prevent relapses, that family can be the best tool that he or she can rely on for that purpose. Teens may also more open to educational therapies that expose them to risks of relapse and that give them mechanisms and resources to turn to when they are tempted to resume using drugs or alcohol.

    Sustain Recovery Services

    Sustain Recovery Services in southern California focuses its efforts on helping adolescents and young adults to recover from drug addiction and alcoholism. Please see our website or call us at 949-407-9052 for more information about our services or to arrange a confidential consultation with one of our counselors.

  5. Should I Tell an Addict He’s in Denial?

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    Should I Tell an Addict He’s in Denial?Convincing a teenager to halt the use of social media might be easier than assuring them of their problems with substance abuse. Friends and family will painfully witness an adolescent addict or alcoholic’s suffering for years. Fearful of driving their younger loved one deeper into addiction, family members will debate confrontation.

    Approaching an adolescent in your life who is suffering from drug addiction or alcoholism requires tact. Rather than exaggerate the state of their addiction, speak honestly and from the heart. Start by asking open-ended questions about how they feel after drinking or using drugs. Ask if anyone else has spoken to them about having a problem. Explore missed school, work, or family obligations due to drinking or drug use.

    Generally, alcoholics and addicts are reactive. Be prepared for a variety of reactions as well as responses. Suggesting the presence of a substance abuse problem can warrant anger, rage, or more denial. Guilt or regret over their drinking might be expressed. Lies about the amount or frequency of their drinking might be told. Blame for their drinking on their careers, problems with family or other relationships may be assigned. Your confrontation is not premature. Deflection and denial are signs of addiction and alcoholism. Using drugs and drinking has taken internal priority in your young loved one’s life. As a result, they will go to great mental lengths to protect their ability to get drunk or high.

    Having a confrontational conversation about substance abuse with your adolescent or teen when they are drunk or high will not be effective. Wait until they are no longer intoxicated. Set up a specific time to have a talk as a family. You might not get a positive response after the first or second time you speak to an adolescent who is addicted to drugs and alcohol. If all else fails, consider enlisting the support and expertise of an interventionist who can guide the process.


    Is an adolescent in your life suffering from drug addiction and/or alcoholism? Recovery is possible. Your teen deserves to live a long and fulfilling life. We offer extended care services including weekly family programming. For more information, please call Sustain Recovery Services in Orange County at 949-407-9052.

Sustain Recovery changed my life in a way I never considered remotely possible. I arrived in a place where I knew nobody. Sustain Recovery gave me tools so that I never had to be alone again. I learned how to live like an adult and have genuine relationships with other human beings. I gained a sense of self respect, love, and pride from the challenges I was given by staff. I was able to work through the recent loss of my father and I achieved my goal of not taking any psychiatric medication.
I learned that life is an endless balancing act. I have to continually work on myself and my relationships with the people in my life. The staff at Sustain Recovery are all incredibly experienced and spiritual. They were available to me whether I wanted their help or not. Through their efforts and experience, I experienced the inner workings of having an intimate, loving relationship with a loving creator.
Sustain Recovery is “home” for me. I discovered a loving, caring family that helped launch me to a place I would have never dreamed and, if I would have dreamed it, I would never have believed I would be able to accomplish it.

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