Tag Archive: adolescent recovery

  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. How to Support Your Child’s Recovery Using Mindfulness

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    mindfulness for the family

    No matter what age group we’re discussing, family and peer support are critical in rehabilitation. This can be said for addiction or mental illness. However, children are at an age when they need tons of support in all aspects. Whether we realize it or not, children appreciate structure in their life, and the most immediate structure they are familiarized with is their home structure. Parental support is vital to your child’s development. They need the motivation to complete treatment and maintain sobriety. Feeling empathy and compassion from their family helps them maintain a sense of confidence and well-being, which will promote success in their recovery.

    Mindfulness Activities to Practice as a Family

    There are quite a few mindfulness exercises to choose from and not all of them work for everyone. Finding exercises that fit your child’s needs is critical. Here are three activities to get you started at home with your child, either one-on-one or as a family.

    Focus on Breathing

    This is a common technique used in the teaching of all meditation. The reason why focusing on breathing is a cornerstone of meditation is because it creates a sense of calm and control. Rather than becoming upset by things we have little control over, we focus our attention on something we can control: our breathing.

    Try creating a time where you and your child practice breathing exercises. Inhale through your nostrils and out through your mouth, trying to fill your lungs as much as possible and emptying until you can’t any longer. Focus on the sensations this creates, whether they are physical or emotional. The more this is practiced, the better you will become at controlling your breathing patterns.

    This exercise doesn’t have to only be practiced in a quiet setting. This method can be used anytime your child feels urges to use or is facing negative emotions. Explain to your child that this can be practiced in places like sitting at a desk in school, waiting in line at a store, or while riding in a car—anywhere that they feel stress is becoming overwhelming.

    Be Still

    In general, we tend to view being busy as being productive. We equate worthiness with what we succeed in accomplishing. Therefore, multi-tasking has become a virtue in our society. But is it healthy to remain busy constantly? No; it simply is not. The practice of mindfulness has always suggested that stepping away from the business of life and to simply “be” is vital to well-being. Science is beginning to suggest this, also.

    The Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu asks, “Do you have the patience to wait until the mud has settled and your waters are clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises on its own?” This is an excellent meditative phrase to promote the idea of stillness. The practice of stillness is a great tool for impulse control, which can help your child deal with cravings. Stillness also helps us understand that recovery is not a destination, but a journey. Sometimes we need to be still to see how far we’ve come.

    Stillness can be practiced by watching ripples in the water of creeks or streams, watching the flight of birds in the sky, observing an animal in their moment-to-moment actions. It is the simplest form of mindfulness meditation and can be performed anywhere and anytime necessary. You can practice this with your child by finding a location to sit peacefully. Holding a conversation with each other is not necessary, but perhaps the stillness will open a door for communication with your child about their recovery.

    Practice Loving Compassion

    The practice of loving compassion allows us to reconnect with our humanity. Humans have a natural need for human connection and companionship. Often in addiction, people feel like they have lost connection with their friends, families, and selves. Loving compassion helps your child to learn tools of self-love. This is vital to recovery. With self-love comes acceptance of what is, and through acceptance, we find progress.

    If you feel like you’ve lost connection with your child, practice loving compassion. This will be your opportunity to repair damaged connections between you and your child. This is also a time to show your child you love them and support their recovery. Perhaps it will also build trust as an avenue for more open dialogue about their feelings. Sometimes, telling your child that you support them is not enough—they need to see it, or feel it, to realize it’s there.

    Using language that promotes empathy is key to loving compassion. Talking to your child about the struggles of life is important because we all face them. Using phrases such as “just like me” can create a sense of connection. Your child needs to hear that they have urges and emotions just like everyone else, and most importantly, just like their family.

    While these are the simplest ways to practice mindfulness with your child, they are also the most important. They lead to success in other mindfulness practices. True Buddhist meditation is hard to accomplish when dealing with impulses and stress. Even the Zen Buddhists realize this and formed their type of Japanese zen meditation called Zazen, which is done with open eyes. This type of meditation is designed to give you a connection to your environment. Apply this to stillness and you can see how the practice of mindfulness translates throughout many societies and periods. It translates into recovery, as well. Supporting mindfulness techniques in your child’s recovery is key to their success.

    At Sustain Recovery, we work with you and your child to create a customized treatment plan, founded on evidence-based therapies. To learn more about how meditation and mindfulness can help your child as they navigate their recovery, please contact us today at (949) 407-9052.

  3. Mindfulness Therapy as a Recovery Enhancer

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    Mindfulness Therapy as a Recovery Enhancer

    Mindfulness has been used for millennia to foster self-awareness. The idea of mindfulness is that recognizing internal and external influences on negative emotions and behaviors gives a person the tools to deal with them rationally. There is an increased interest in mindfulness-based recovery treatments, especially for the youth population. Mindfulness-based programs have already been successfully implemented in school settings. The implications for its success in addiction recovery are promising.

    Uses for Mindfulness in Recovery

    There is some hesitation in accepting mindfulness as a legitimate treatment for addiction. Even those in recovery are left to wonder how it can help them. Fortunately, research shows that the skills learned in mindfulness-based exercises are long-term and quite real. It can be substantially useful in relapse prevention because it helps deal with urges. Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) is an emerging treatment focused on preventing relapse post-treatment.

    Skills learned from practicing mindfulness can include:

    • Observation – paying attention to their environment and feelings
    • Description – gaining the ability to describe and recognize their feelings
    • Participation – taking control of their choices
    • Taking a nonjudgmental stance – accepting what is instead of dwelling on what could be
    • Focusing on the moment to moment – living in the moment helps deal with urges
    • Effectiveness – learning what works best for you and doing those things without second-guessing

    Mindfulness helps children become aware when they are acting on auto-pilot; using trait-based tendencies on impulse. They are aware of their behaviors and how they are impacting themselves and others. This is part of the skill of observation. Mindfulness also teaches them that their choices are theirs and they are active participants in their lives. This gives them the self-confidence to make decisions regarding their well-being without doubting themselves. These are all skills that will follow them into adult life and can only benefit them in the long run.

    Techniques for Mindfulness-based Treatments

    There are a few different techniques that can be used to practice mindfulness. These are not one size fits all, so they should be applied with discretion. The most well-known is traditional meditation. This involves sitting in a peaceful place, in a comfortable position, with the eyes closed. The person focuses on their breathing and completely relaxes their body. This is definitely a cornerstone of mindfulness exercises, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work for everyone. Many people find it hard to focus on their breathing and issues like anxiety or panic can prevent the relaxation they need. It’s important to find what works best for an individual.

    Yoga has grown in popularity for several uses in the past decade. It’s an exercise that allows an individual to stretch their body and practice breathing exercises. This type of deep stretching and breathing is another form of meditation. This is why yoga is such a valuable tool for those who practice it. In recovery, children need to learn that self-care is important, not just on an emotional level, but on a physical level, as well. Yoga seems to be an exercise that a majority of kids can take part in, unless they have physical limitations. Again, this is not a one-size-fits-all technique.

    Practicing stillness may be the easiest mindfulness technique, because it’s simply taking a moment to be still and experience one’s surroundings. This is a perfect exercise to do in nature or somewhere a person finds peaceful. Stillness can be something as simple as watching the sunrise or birds in flight through the sky. It provides a moment of silent reflection and an opportunity to reconnect with what it feels like to experience life. These are just a few of the techniques to introduce into treatment for adolescents and teens. There are many resources available for those interested in incorporating them into their treatment curriculum.

    Supporting Mindfulness in Recovery

    Professionals are the first line of support a child will likely receive in recovery. It’s vital to foster an environment where children feel comfortable enough to become self-aware. It is a practice that can make them feel very vulnerable, and that feeling can lend itself to harmful urges. Thus, engaging in mindfulness techniques with a child helps build a relationship of trust. Children are also prone to learning through example and not instruction. To see a professional use the same techniques gives credence to their efficacy. It also helps promote acceptance and a non-judgmental attitude.

    Children typically don’t appreciate feeling as if they are the only ones experiencing what they feel. It’s important that they are met with compassion and empathy. Helping them realize that many people struggle through life and they can succeed in recovery is essential. Furthermore, teaching them self-empathy and loving compassion will help them develop ways to better manage their feelings. It promotes self-care which is just as critical in recovery as treatment.

    The bottom line is that children will have to learn a completely different lifestyle and perhaps find a completely different set of friends while in recovery. This can be incredibly stressful, almost earth-shattering for many kids. The structure they are used to is gone and again, they may feel vulnerable. Supporting their recovery with mindfulness exercises will help them deal with these situations not only in recovery, but all facets of life.

    Mindfulness practices can be extremely beneficial for adolescents in recovery. At Sustain Recovery, we often utilize this type of therapy to help youths recover from addiction and lead happier, healthier lives.

    Contact us today at (949) 407-9052 to learn more.

  4. Outpatient Rehab For Teens

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    responsible school

    Many parents would like to postpone enrolling their teenager in a treatment program because they don’t want his or her life to suffer.  However, treatment is often necessary for a teen to get better. If a teen can benefit from outpatient rehab, it’s a great way to heal while maintaining responsibilities.

    It may take time out of your teenager’s day, but addiction, if left untreated, will take a lot more. The longer the substance abuse is allowed to continue, the harder it can be to bounce back.


    In the US, most public schools and universities have programs in place to help teens in recovery make it through. If a teen is functional at school, they may be awarded special scheduling adjustments. In this case especially, outpatient treatment can be very effective. Independent education plan (IEP) is an effective clinician-designed tool used for incorporating a teenager’s schoolwork into their overall recovery goals. Tutors may also be available during specific days and hours, as well as supervised peer study groups.

    Not only are teens in outpatient recovery expected to continue their responsibilities–they’re expected to do well. Recovery is about learning to live sober; rehab is tailored toward accountability–keeping up with homework, organizing, scheduling.

    If an outside goal is valuable to you, it’s valuable to the clinicians, who only want to see their patients continue on a good path. If a patient needs assistance with homework or college applications, they need only ask.

    It’s Not Always Enough

    Please understand that, no matter how inconvenient inpatient treatment may seem, many teenagers simply need it. Because peer pressure and other social influences are so rampant among this age group, some teens need intensive help overcoming addictions most adults wouldn’t take so seriously: marijuana, ecstasy, etc. It’s the environment that’s so strong.


    Teens can thrive in a structured environment which provides outpatient treatment tailored to their needs. Call us to find out how we can support your teen through our recovery programs.

  5. Encouraging Honesty in Adolescent Recovery

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    Encouraging Honesty in Adolescent RecoveryThe psychological toll of addiction in an adolescent’s life is far-reaching. New ways of thinking and habitual patterns of conduct take over, due to the rewiring of their thought processes by drugs and alcohol. Ultimately an adolescent suffering from addiction finds themselves unable to be honest. First and foremost, they find difficulty in being honest about the severity of their using problems. Honestly expressing their emotions, needs, or fears becomes an equally challenging, but necessary process.

    Regaining the ability to be honest is a development found only in recovery from drugs and alcohol. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states that “developing a manager of living which demands rigorous honesty” is the key to recovery. In order to recover, one must have the “capacity to be honest”. The first step of the infamous 12 steps involves admitting powerlessness over substance abuse and recognizing the unmanageable state life has reached. The moment the adolescent in your life suffering from drug and alcohol addiction is honest about their problem, recovery begins. Along the journey of treatment and after care, tools will be developed for expanding practices in honesty.

    Encourage the adolescent in your life to admit their mistakes as soon as is possible after it happens. Recovery programs help addicts to do this by teaching them to take regular personal inventories of their lives. Shedding layers of shame and guilt, it is helpful to continuously clean the slate. Maintaining a daily journal or having a daily phone call with a 12 step sponsor is an easy way to do this. As a parent, family member, or loved one, demonstrate your own dedication to honesty as well. Exemplify humility in your own life by owning up to your own shortcomings and committing yourself to righting your wrongs. Taking these small steps toward honesty in recovery help the process become easier for you and your recovering teen or adolescent.     

    A recovering addict’s failure to develop a renewed sense of honesty can lead to relapses only to be covered with more lies and denial. Any one incident of dishonesty will make it easier for an addict to be dishonest again. Developing new patterns is a fragile process, vulnerable to backtracking. Both honesty and dishonesty will build on prior incidents. With perseverance, you will both begin to see how a recovered sense of honesty will help not only in long term sobriety but living a fulfilling life.


    Sustain Recovery Services offers a unique aftercare treatment program for adolescents in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on our transformational program, please call 949-407-9052.

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.

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