Tag Archive: adolescent

  1. Building Relationships of Trust With Clients

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    Whether you are a clinician or professional who has worked with adolescents for years or someone who is just starting out, we can all use a little reminder at times about how it felt to be an adolescent. The world was both exciting and terrifying, freeing and yet so restrictive, and adults could not be trusted. When you are working with adolescents who are abusing substances, have mental health diagnoses, have behaviors, and/or have been through trauma, trust is a really big deal to them. Developing that trust can be difficult, particularly with certain clients. So for a few minutes, forget about seeing adolescents through the eyes of a professional and look at yourself through the eyes of an adolescent to see how you can better build relationships of trust.

    Why Respecting Boundaries Is So Crucial

    Too many adolescents have seen too much. Whether it was trauma inflicted upon them, or the consequences of their own actions, their faith in people, and adults in particular, may be fragile or non-existent. To make matters worse, the people in their lives–parents, school employees, law enforcement personnel, doctors, therapists, case managers, and more–may not have shown respect for their boundaries, either.

    This is where you can really help them to begin to heal. Being cognizant of their personal space, their reactions to visual and audio stimuli, being willing to just sit in silence until they are ready to talk are all physical manifestations that you respect them and their boundaries. Allowing them to progress on their own terms instead of trying to force them through a set program or timeline demonstrates that you recognize and value them as a human being and an individual. Respecting boundaries is one of the first and most crucial steps to building a relationship of trust with adolescents.

    On Being Genuine

    Adolescents are excellent at recognizing someone who is being genuine. Likewise, they will be painfully aware when you are not. They may test you beyond what seems reasonable to make sure they feel safe, that you are going to do what you say and not just give them lip service. They are not necessarily testing you to annoy you or perhaps not even to push you away. Rather, they are likely testing you to find out if they can trust you and if you will trust them back.

    Listen, Listen, Listen, Listen

    There may not be another species on earth that is more acutely aware of when you are not listening than the adolescent. If you are remotely distracted by anything, they will notice it. Perhaps this is because they themselves can be masters of distraction, but when they are crying out for help, they are also looking for someone who is completely present and committed to helping them. Put your phone away, remove other distractions, and listen with your ears, eyes, mind, and heart to a fellow human being in need.

    Respect Is Given Where Respect Is Received

    Being in a position of authority does not mean being authoritative. Nor does it mean that you must act like an adolescent or try to be like them. Gaining respect is different than gaining approval. Trust is a relationship that is built on mutual respect. Professionals and clinicians who can master the art of respecting their adolescent clients have such an advantage because so few adults truly demonstrate respect toward adolescents.

    Respect combines all of the important elements of respecting boundaries, being genuine, and listening to your client. Respect also includes taking the time to ensure that you truly hear what they are saying, whether or not they are expressing that in words. Learning to read body language, make eye contact, and just being willing to invest the time needed will help you to truly understand your client better and show them respect. You can receive respect in turn by modeling effective communication, being consistent, and showing up for them. When you are able to do these things, you create more opportunities to build relationships of trust.

    Trust In Yourself

    Adolescents are also like sharks that smell blood if you exhibit signs of self-doubt or fear. They will take advantage of it and can make life more difficult for all involved. Trusting yourself to be genuine, listen, show respect,  and give them the care they need may be harder than it sounds. Self-doubt in new situations with new clients or in new settings is human, but believing in yourself and your training, experience, and wisdom will help you build trust with your client.

    Sometimes it is even more difficult to admit that they need someone or something else than you have to offer. Trusting in yourself also means that you trust yourself to always do the right thing for your client.

    Sometimes it is helpful to see yourself through the eyes of your client when you are looking to build a relationship of trust. Remembering to respect boundaries, be genuine, listen, and treat your client with respect will help you create a mutually trusting relationship. At Sustain Recovery, we work very hard to build relationships of trust with both our clients and their families. Trust is an important component of healing in situations of substance abuse and mental health, particularly with adolescents. What makes us truly unique is that our program is longer than typical residential treatment for substance abuse, yet shorter than long-term residential. The extended care program allows us to help adolescents transition back home and make connections with others in their community to experience lasting success and mental health. Feel free to call us at (949) 407-9052 to find out more about adolescent extended care and if our program could be right for your child or client.

  2. Creating Consistent Expectations for Your Adolescent

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    Parents usually have the best of intentions, especially when setting guidelines and boundaries for their children. However, when they are stretched by the stressors caused by work, finances, relationships, and the behaviors of their children, consistency in parenting can be difficult to maintain. Although it can be challenging at times, creating and maintaining consistent expectations for your adolescent actually helps them to feel more in control of their lives.

    Pushing Boundaries vs. Pushing Back

    For children to push boundaries is completely normal. In fact, if your adolescent is pushing boundaries, that means that they are becoming more independent and preparing to be an adult. However, the adolescent brain doesn’t fully develop until the age of 25, and the last functions to develop are rational thinking, decision making, and awareness of consequences, so they obviously still need boundaries to keep them safe.

    One of the consequences of inconsistent parenting is that after being pushed so long, a parent will push back with sudden, harsh consequences. Particularly when these behaviors have not had the same consequences before, it leaves the adolescent confused and can cause resentment. This, in turn, can lead to more behaviors and acting out. While parents may think that being strict in certain situations is helpful, it is more important to be consistent.

    What Is the Difference Between Being Strict vs. Being Consistent?

    Your child may tell everyone that you are a strict parent, no matter what you do. However, “strict” parents typically have a lot of rules, exercise more control and intervention within their child’s lives, and impose more consequences as well. Even with the best of intentions, this approach can backfire, as your child will feel as though they have no control over their life.

    Creating consistent expectations does not have a set amount of rules, as some children need more boundaries than others. A consistent parent sets clear boundaries and consequences with their child and then maintains them. Consistency can be considered to be like making and keeping a promise to your child. Even if the “promise” is a consequence for behaviors, you are doing what you said you would do, and that actually builds trust and confidence in you as a parent.

    Preventative Parenting

    Too often, parenting becomes reactive. A child exhibits a behavior, and the parent reacts with a consequence that was not anticipated by the child. While not all behaviors can be anticipated, there is much that parents can do to prevent these situations. Some of the best ways to parent preventatively include:

    • Creating Schedules – sitting down with your child and creating a schedule with them is not only an important life skill, but helps them to have a plan and understand what is coming next. When a child has nothing to do, they are more likely to find trouble.
    • Clear Expectations – when parents set boundaries, it is important that they are very clear and that the child understands them. A curfew, for example, sets a clear expectation of when they are expected to be home. As with anything else, these expectations need to be consistent and maintained.
    • Choose Your Battles – behaviors with serious risks or consequences are worth standing your ground on. Adolescents still need some autonomy, though, or they will never learn to make their own decisions, so choosing your battles is very important.

    The Value of Creating a United Front

    The concept of one parent saying no and the child going to the other parent to try to get what they want is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Children know when they can manipulate their parents, so creating a united front is crucial to consistent parenting. Getting everyone on the same page can be very difficult, particularly in families where there is separation or divorce, but being able to provide that consistency allows your child to understand the consequences of their actions before the behaviors occur.

    Consistency Puts Adolescents in Control

    When your child understands that “if I do this, then that will happen,” internally they understand that the choices they make are their own. When parents impose consequences consistently, no matter how hard children push the boundaries, they learn the value of making good choices.

    Although it may feel like a constant battle for parents, creating consistent expectations is kind of like a security blanket. Your child knows that you will always treat them fairly based on their choices, and that increases feelings of trust and love. They may still push the boundaries constantly, but knowing that you will consistently offer the same consequences allows them to learn accountability for their own choices. Creating consistent expectations puts adolescents in control.

    Creating consistent expectations as a parent can be very difficult to maintain; however, adolescents feel more in control when they understand the consequences of their behaviors. No matter how hard your child pushes the boundaries, staying consistent gives them the opportunity to make their own choices and become accountable for their actions. Creating structure and consistency is the foundation of the Sustain program. We offer extended residential treatment for adolescents so that we can help your child learn consistency. Our approach is to help them learn accountability and understand why they are making choices. Our Orange County, California, program offers multiple levels of care for substance abuse and co-occurring mental health diagnoses. We also help connect them with others during and after treatment and have alumni involvement as well to help them with long-term success. Call us today at (949) 407-9052 to find out if our program is right for your child.

  3. How Can I Earn the Respect of Non-Compliant Adolescents?

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    Adolescents with substance abuse or mental health diagnoses can be difficult to reach. Some clients use their behaviors to avoid treatment to such an extent that they are considered “non-compliant.” As a professional, such behaviors are usually a cry for help, but how do you reach a client who does not seem to want help? How can you earn the respect of non-compliant adolescents?

    The Behavior Is Not the Problem

    How often are adolescents labeled as “bad,” “troubled,” “at-risk,” or more? Too often adolescents have learned that negative attention is still attention. Creating behaviors to deflect from their actual pain and struggles allows them to live down to others’ expectations of them.

    The behaviors themselves are not the problem, however. Substance abuse and mental health diagnoses are not even the actual problem, they are simply diagnoses of the symptoms. Their actual problems are often emotional pain from physical or emotional trauma, serious problems with family, and more. The more distracting the behaviors, the easier it is to simply consider them “difficult” or “non-compliant.” Digging deeper, they are all still human beings, and their behaviors are standing in the way of getting help to heal from their emotional wounds.

    Listen and Observe to Find the Whys

    Behaviors are like puzzles. When you are willing to watch and listen carefully, slowly but surely you can find the whys, or the motivations for their behaviors. Often the adolescents themselves have no idea why they are acting out, using substances, or are unwilling to comply with any form of treatment. This makes it even more important as a professional to listen and observe closely.

    For most adolescents, there is no easy answer, no “aha!” moment where all of their behaviors disappear. Finding answers is more like peeling the layers of an onion, and requires incredible patience. Some adolescents will even increase their behaviors as you get closer to their truths. While this can be very discouraging and frustrating as a professional, remembering why you chose this path and the success stories you have can help you to maintain motivation.

    Offer Adolescents Reasonable Choices

    Simply telling an adolescent “no” is as effective as telling a toddler “no,” except adolescents throw bigger tantrums. Learning to offer consistent, reasonable choices to adolescents takes away the opportunities for distractions, but also gives them responsibility for their choices. Sure, they may only have a choice between something that is not fun and something that is really not fun, but you will gain respect when you hold them accountable for their choices.

    Developing respect and compliance is great in a small group setting, where adolescents can see that others making good choices are rewarded for those choices. Perhaps their initial response is still to act out or not be willing to comply, but eventually, they will want to receive the rewards or privileges for making good choices. Even if their motivation is only the benefit of the good choice, they start making good choices a habit, and eventually will learn that making good choices and receiving positive attention is better than negative attention.

    Giving Adolescents Control Without Giving up Control

    There is a false notion that offering an adolescent control of their own choices means giving up control as a clinician or professional. This concept is actually the opposite of true. As you give an adolescent the opportunity to make their own choices and also to accept the consequences of their choices, you gain more respect from them.

    Respect is far more powerful than the “control” that so many adults seek to impose on young people. An adolescent’s respect empowers both the youth and the adults who are offering them guidance to move past the behaviors, find the source of their pain, and help them to heal and move forward with greater success in life. This is how you can give young people control without giving up your own control.

    Respect Is a Two-Way Street

    As professionals, we sometimes forget that in asking for respect, we need to give respect. Whether you are working with a child, an adolescent, or a young adult, age does not preclude the necessity of offering the same respect that you are asking for. When you are able to effectively demonstrate your respect for your clients, they are more likely to treat you with respect in return.

    Non-compliance should not be confused for a lack of respect, either. Remember that an adolescent’s behaviors are about them, not you. When you can respect them, observe and listen to them, offer them choices and allow them to consistently receive the same consequences for their choices, you are more likely to be able to reach them, too.

    Earning the respect of adolescents with serious behavior issues or who are deemed “non-compliant” can seem like a battle, but it is really more about patience and respect. Remembering that the behavior is not the problem and not taking things personally will allow you to gradually earn respect and hopefully be able to help your client heal. The Sustain Recovery program is built around the concept that the substance abuse and mental health diagnoses are not the problem but rather the adolescent’s maladaptive solutions to the real problem. Our extended care program offers the opportunity for them to not only have more success in treatment but also be able to transition back into their homes and communities. Our staff are committed to providing evidence-based practices and the structure and opportunities for young people to become accountable. Call us today at (949) 407-9052 to find out if our program can be the solution to your child or client’s needs.

  4. Should You Reenter the Dating World When You’re New to Sobriety?

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    When a person who has been in treatment for addiction or alcoholism leaves their treatment program, they have a host of concerns to deal with. They must re-enter their home life, return to school or a job they left behind, and rebuild relationships with their family and friends. Above all, they must strive to continue the sobriety they have achieved. All of those tasks make for a full plate of goals to achieve and maintain.

    Factoring in dating can seem intimidating and complicate things. 12-Step programs recommend that a person refrain from dating for a year after they begin their sobriety, while other programs recommend a shorter waiting time. Consulting with a mental health professional treating the person or a mentor from a support group can help a person decide what is the best choice for them.

    Common Reasons to Put off Dating in Recovery

    Sometimes a person who is fairly new to recovery may end up using a new relationship as a replacement for their drug or behavior of choice without even realizing they are doing it. Their focus needs to stay on what relates to staying sober, like the 12-Steps, individual or group therapy, and anything else they are utilizing to stay well. Dating also can be time-consuming and become an excuse to blow off an appointment or therapy session. Recovery is a time that is often fraught with emotion and most people find their plate is full enough with dealing with emotional fallout related to their recovery. Adding in the inevitable drama, uncertainty, and the emotional highs and lows of dating may lead to overload, causing sobriety and romantic aspects to shatter. 

    Are You Ready to Date Again?

    As a person checks off the days and months that they’ve been in recovery, they may feel a natural urge to add dating to their calendars. The absence of drugs and alcohol that previously clouded the mind makes someone with a newly clearer headspace feel that they are ready to get out there and either date several people or look for one companion. Ask yourself if you truly are ready or just want to be ready.

    Talk to those who know you well and want the best for you and ask them if they see you as ready to head back into the dating world. Think about what pace you would like to establish. Do you see yourself dating several people? Are you looking to settle down? Make sure you know your goals before you make any moves.

    What Can You Bring to the Table in the Dating World?

    Dating after sobriety can be a challenge for both the person dealing with mental health issues and addiction, as well as the people they date. When you meet someone new, ask yourself if you are comfortable being honest with them about your recovery and how many details you want to reveal. At what point do you feel it’s best to bring up the topic? Some people want to put their cards on the table before the first date, letting the person know that they are in recovery and want to make sure the person is comfortable with this. Others choose to wait for a few dates before opening up to see if they feel compatible with the new person. 

    Consider that any person you meet that may date you typically expects a certain amount of things from their new potential love interest. They want someone who is emotionally stable and ready to date. They may want someone who enjoys partying and may feel held back by someone who is sober and intends to stay that way. On the other hand, you may find they also abstain from drugs or alcohol, or are a light drinker who doesn’t mind keeping your sobriety at the front of their minds. Ask yourself where you land with each of these possibilities and how soon you should ask someone you want to date or are already dating about these concerns. 

    Putting off Dating Again Has Its Advantages

    While it can be a disappointment to take a long-term break from the dating world, it doesn’t have to mean a time in which a person is stalled out and just clock-watching. Taking the pressure off yourself by removing dating from your roster of things to do allows for more time to work on your own issues and become stronger in how you deal with your emotions. You will also bank more time being sober. All of this makes you a more viable and steady potential partner for people you date down the line. 

    In addition, someone you ask out later on may feel more confident accepting a date from someone they know has spent more than a year working on themselves and being physically and emotionally sober. In a time in which the pandemic is still causing widespread quarantining and limiting places people typically go on a date, waiting on dating or taking it slow now may be easier than it typically proves to be. Remember that with time and attention to getting through it, every difficult phase ends. The choice to limit your dating life now will not be permanent.

    One of the biggest concerns young people have when they are new to sobriety is if and when they should date. 12-Step programs recommend waiting a year before reentering the dating world and other programs have other time frames. Taking the time to focus on recovery gives you a leg up and can make you a better partner down the line. Make sure you know if you are ready to date, what you bring to the table, and what expectations any potential partners you meet may have. Sustain Recovery understands the special place that dating has in the lives of adolescents and young adults and can help shepherd our clients through this portion of their recovery. Our trained staff offers help with several types of programs that put sobriety front and center, along with dealing with any accompanying mental health issues. Call our Southern California location today at (949) 407-9052 to find out how we can help you or someone you love become whole again.

  5. Understanding Temptation

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    Understanding TemptationAdolescents who are in recovery for substance abuse face many challenges when they step down from inpatient treatment and return home. The structure they are used to during inpatient treatment helps them stay on track by providing a controlled environment. Once they return home, there will be a major adjustment phase. During this adjustment period, they must work on integrating a similar structure into their home life and adopting the new normal they became used to in treatment.

    It’s not uncommon for adolescents to struggle with the temptation to return to alcohol or drug use during this critical transition. As their treating professional, you can work closely with the adolescent to help them understand the temptations they may face and the consequences there will be for crossing the boundaries that have been set for them. The goal is to help them realize that there are other, healthier ways of coping than substance abuse.

    Preventing Relapse Is A Primary Goal

    For adolescents who enter treatment for substance use disorder, relapse prevention is one of the main goals in treatment. It’s important to remember, however, that no one is perfect. Relapses can and will happen, which is why it’s so important to address this issue with the adolescent.

    In a study published by the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, researchers call for relapse to be considered a “clinically significant change point in a course that can cue an individual to carefully consider one’s status in the recovery process.” In other words, instead of viewing potential relapse as an utter failure, it’s important to discuss with the adolescent so there is a plan of action if the situation were to occur. Furthermore, the researchers of the study emphasize the importance of identifying signs that an adolescent may be at risk for a relapse. These include high-risk situations, a lack of healthy and effective coping skills, low self-esteem, and previous relapses.

    The more understanding you have of what can lead to a relapse, the better equipped you are to spot a potential relapse. For adolescents in particular, social pressures are a huge factor in potential relapse. The urge to fit in with their peers, as well as ongoing peer pressure, can lead adolescents to resort back to substance use. Adolescents who have co-occurring mental disorders are also at a greater risk of relapse when they are amidst a negative emotional state. By helping your adolescent client understand the temptations they may face once they step down from a high level of care, they can better understand the situations they will be in, how to prepare for them, and how these situations can impact a potential relapse.

    Understanding Major Relapse Categories

    The study mentioned above outlines five major relapse categories that adolescents often face:

    1. Negative Intrapersonal

      o Coping with frustration or anger
      o Coping with fear
      o Coping with depression
      o Coping with boredom
      o Concern about responsibility
      o Anxiety
      o Feeling like a failure

    2. Negative Physiological States
      o Coping with pain
      o Coping with illness
      o Coping with injury
    3. Other Intrapersonal
      o Getting high
      o Testing personal control
      o Giving in to temptation in the presence of cues
      o Giving in to temptation in the absence of cues
    4. Interpersonal
      o Coping with frustration or anger
      o Feeling criticized
      o Feeling rejected
      o Disappointment in others
      o Tense around others
      o Nervous or uptight around the opposite sex
    5. Social Pressure
      o Coping with direct social pressure such as an offer of substances
      o Coping with indirect social pressure such as cues but no offer of substances

    Finding the Right Approach for Treatment

    The researchers concluded that the adolescents who were included in the study generally fit into two different classes: positive-social class or aversive-social situations class. While studying post-treatment relapses at the 6-month and 12-month mark, however, the researchers found that about half of the adolescents who relapsed did not relapse as a response to the same set of circumstances the second time around. This led the researchers to conclude that adolescent relapse prevention treatment should take a general approach before addressing client-specific situations.

    Because adolescents tend to gravitate toward social situations, it’s important to highlight how healthy cognitive and behavioral approaches to avoiding relapse in a social setting can help the adolescent manage the temptation they may face. This can be done by encouraging the adolescent to develop relationships with peers who do not engage in substance use and reminding the adolescent that they have the control to remove themselves from situations that are not healthy for their recovery. They also do not need substances to reach the emotional states that they are seeking. This is where you as a professional can help them strategize and find healthy alternatives to substance use.

    Sustain Recovery’s programs are so much more than just adolescent sober living. We offer quality care for adolescents who are struggling with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental disorders. Our care is personalized to each adolescent that we treat to ensure their individual needs are met. Working together, we identify the areas in need of support and provide treatment goals to address their recovery needs. At Sustain Recovery, our goal is to help adolescents stop the cycle of relapse, so they can live the happy, healthy, and sober lifestyle they deserve. If you have an adolescent client who might benefit from our programs, call us today at (949) 407-9052.

  6. Adolescents Need Boundaries

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    Adolescents Need BoundariesWhen adolescents return home from addiction treatment, their recovery is far from over. Although they are no longer in a place where they need 24-hour supervision, your child will still need support in managing their sobriety — after all, recovery is a life-long journey. There will be bumps in the road, but your family will get through the difficult times.

    In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, it’s important to implement boundaries at home that are similar to the ones your child had in residential treatment. Boundaries will help your child maintain a sense of structure in this new phase of their recovery, as well as guide them into making safe and healthy choices as they reintegrate into their social life.

    Boundaries Keep Your Child Safe

    Children learn boundaries at a very young age. They may not know what the word means, but they understand that they must follow directions from their parents and teachers. For example, a mother may allow her five-year-old to play in the yard with a friend, as long as they stay within the physical boundary she has set for them. She explains that they are not allowed to go past the end of the driveway because the street is a dangerous place to play. If they go into the street, she tells them, they will have to come inside. This physical boundary helps keep the children safe from speeding cars on the busy street.

    Even if the boundary is simple, children learn that the rule they must follow is there to keep them safe. If they don’t follow the rule, there will be consequences. As children grow older, their boundaries and consequences are adjusted, but the essence remains. They may not like the boundaries that are set for them, but they should understand that the rules are there for their protection. Even though your child is now a teenager with increased responsibilities, it is still up to you to set and uphold boundaries that will keep them safe.

    Boundaries Help Prepare Your Child For Adulthood

    Adolescents who grow up without healthy boundaries are often not as prepared for adulthood as adolescents who had healthy boundaries growing up. Helping your teenager understand responsibility and consequence is crucial, especially when it comes to substance use. If you’re reluctant to set and enforce boundaries, you’re enabling their negative behaviors and giving them a sense of entitlement. If you’re allowing them to cross a boundary and receive no consequence for their action, they are going to assume that they don’t have to follow the rules.

    This will set your child up for a rude awakening. Once they get out into the world of post-secondary education and full-time jobs, they will likely be caught by surprise when boundaries are actually being enforced. You may have let them get away with oversleeping because of excess substance use the night before, but their boss won’t tolerate it. Setting boundaries now with your teen teaches them that there are expectations they must meet and possible consequences if they cross boundaries. Furthermore, your child will learn that they must set boundaries with their peers as well. The way you enforce boundaries with your child today sets the tone for how they will enforce their own boundaries with their peers tomorrow.

    Healthy vs. Unhealthy Boundaries

    Making the boundaries clear when your child returns home from treatment is essential. Sit your child down and discuss your expectations with them. Make sure there is no confusion about what the boundaries and consequences are.

    Let’s start with unhealthy boundaries. It is critical to set boundaries that are firm, but rooted in understanding. You don’t want to be so strict that your child is afraid to come to you when they need support, but you also don’t want to be so relaxed that they take advantage. Other signs of unhealthy boundaries are excusing bad behaviors, putting up with a lack of respect, and making decisions for your child that they are already capable of making for themselves. Furthermore, if you are not enforcing the consequences associated with boundaries, you are contributing to an enabling environment.

    The healthy boundaries that you set must uphold your right to be respected. It’s up to you to explain your expectations to your child and keep your word when those expectations are not met. Fostering a space that allows open dialogue is also important. Your child should feel comfortable coming to you when they need support. Encourage honesty and do your best to be rooted in understanding. Your child’s recovery isn’t going to be perfect — they are going to make mistakes. Creating a space where they feel comfortable coming to you is important. You must, however, still uphold your boundaries and the consequences that come when a line is crossed.


    Sustain Recovery is here to help you set healthy and functional boundaries for your child in recovery. We understand the difficulty that comes with a child returning home from the structure and security of addiction treatment. If you have questions or are struggling with boundaries, Sustain Recovery can help. Your child needs your support to stay on their recovery journey. Try not to get discouraged when a wrong decision has been made. Working together, we can help them get back on track and build a happy life without drugs and alcohol.

    Call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052.

  7. Making Recovery Tangible

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    Making Recovery TangibleAdolescents aren’t usually thrilled to be in treatment for substance abuse. Many adolescents don’t even believe they have a problem — it’s their parents who want them to get sober. If the adolescent isn’t keen on the idea of recovery, it can be difficult to keep them engaged in treatment. As a professional, you can make recovery a bit more tangible for your adolescent client. Getting them on board, interested, and engaged in their recovery isn’t always an easy task, but it’s crucial for a successful recovery.

    Treatment Should Be Personalized

    If your treatment isn’t tailored to the adolescent client that you’re working with, you aren’t going to reach the adolescent when it counts. Individualized treatment is so important for each adolescent that you work with. Everyone comes to treatment with their own story. Some adolescents will have a background rooted in trauma, while others deal with co-occurring mental disorders. Beyond their background, it’s also important to connect with the adolescent you are treating on a personal level. The more you understand what they are passionate about, the easier it will be to help tie those passions into treatment.

    Treatment Should Be Engaging

    Along with individualized treatment, you should also try to make the process as engaging as possible for the adolescent. If you’re only getting management and compliance from your adolescent client, that is the bare minimum. If this is the case, they aren’t engaged in their treatment at all. To help make their recovery more tangible, try to tie the recovery to their future. What does the adolescent want their future to look like? How can they achieve their goals? What things do they see as roadblocks to their goals? How can you help them bolster their healthy coping skills, so that they can reach — or even exceed — their goals?

    Some adolescents might not have any concrete future plans or goals. In your treatment, you can help them identify places where they want to be more successful. Encouraging them to create goals is a great way to keep them engaged in their treatment.

    Goals Must Be SMART

    Some adolescents dream of becoming a doctor or professional athlete, but they often don’t consider the small daily steps it takes to build up to the accomplishment of achieving those dreams. If your adolescent client is serious about these dreams, you can help them identify ways to start making meaningful changes that can help propel them toward their dreams. One way to help make their dream — and overall recovery — more tangible is to create goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely).

    If your adolescent client is interested in sports and considers that to be something important to them, you can help them work on skills that will help them reach their goal of playing a sport at a higher level. If they want to be a serious athlete, they must understand that there are certain expectations of athletes. One major expectation is that athletes must be able to pass random drug tests. They also must possess a strong work ethic, be able to collaborate with a team, and control their emotions. While your adolescent client may not be able to do all of these at the beginning of their treatment, you can help them make changes to their lifestyle so these skills become attainable.

    Putting Goals Into Practice

    For example, if your adolescent client is using drugs recreationally, they can work on decreasing their drug use over a set period of time until they are no longer using. You can help with the specifics of making sure that this goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. As for other goals, you can help your adolescent client work on making changes in their daily life that set them up for future success and keep them on the path they want to be on for the long term. If your adolescent client wants to increase their work ethic, teamwork skills, and emotional regulation, you can encourage them to create goals such as attending school and completing their work on time and to the best of their abilities, working on interpersonal relationship skills, and coping with their emotions in healthy and safe ways. The more you are able to keep the treatment personalized and engaged, the better success you will have with your adolescent client’s recovery.

    Lastly, it’s important that your adolescent client feels like they are setting these goals for themselves. Many adolescents don’t follow through with their treatment because they feel like their caregivers are pushing it onto them. It’s important to give your adolescent client the space they need to let their interests guide their goals. If the goals don’t have any meaning for them, there’s a good chance they won’t care about achieving them. Similarly, goals that are too broad can be difficult to accomplish because they don’t feel real to your adolescent client. By making sure that you hit all the important areas of successful goals, your adolescent client will feel more in control of their recovery.

    Sustain Recovery provides quality care to adolescents who are struggling with substance abuse and other co-occurring disorders. If you have any adolescent clients who could benefit from our programs, contact us for more information. We are here to help your adolescent clients achieve their goals and build a successful and sober future.

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

  8. The Family Drug Intervention Process

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    meeting youth

    The intervention process involves careful planning and execution. It’s not just an opportunity for the family to let loose its dramatic feelings, although it’s certainly the time to do so. An intervention is a chance for the addict to start the treatment process—right then and there.

    No one is an enabler on purpose. Sometimes it’s just too painful not to be an enabler. Either that or you don’t quite realize you’re enabling. It’s not easy to kick out someone you love or quite giving them money, and breaking a friendship can feel just as wrong and devastating.

    Interventions aren’t always necessary, but for people caught up in awful addiction cycles, they’re an important tool to consider using. Addicts avoid seeking help by nature; that’s why they’re addicted. They need to be pushed, either by someone else or by hitting rock bottom. The latter, we like to avoid—which is why a good intervention comes early.

    Even the most hardcore addicts tend to open up during interventions, and that’s because they see, for the first time, a quick and simple escape from their hell: Literally, they can walk out the door, hop in the car, and get situated at the clinic within hours. For a moment, there’s no stigma, only love.

    Consult with a Licensed Intervention Specialist

    You’re not required to consult with a specialist, but you certainly should. When an addiction is this serious—enough to warrant an intervention—it’s always best to seek professional help. Mental health crisis management is tricky ground.   

    Plan Details

    Who’s involved, where you’ll all meet, what time – etc, etc. Interventions are a bit like planning a surprise party. The addict doesn’t know it’s happening, so you have to plan for contingencies. Know for certain when and where he or she will show up.

    Speak with Love, Care and Respect

    Any resentment you feel toward the addict takes a back seat during an intervention. It’s okay to let them know they hurt you, so long as it reflects on their own problem. Keep the focus on their situation and their happiness.

    Stay Calm

    That’s the beautiful paradox of interventions: the collected, organized manner in which emotion is let loose conducted. Don’t abandon your script, even if you feel tears or anger coming on. Normally, these elements mark the end of a rational conversation, but not today.


    To get in contact with an intervention specialist, or to discuss treatment options for yourself or a loved one, give us a call: 949-637-5499

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.