Tag Archive: adolescents

  1. When Adolescents Need More Help for Eating Disorders

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    When Adolescents Need More Help for Eating Disorders

    When thinking of the current status of adolescent eating disorders, one might wish they had the advice given over two thousand years ago. The Buddha is quoted, “To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” Yet, the messaging given to adolescents today is a far cry from this age-old advice. That is why it is crucial to combat the current social climate of body shaming and help adolescents avoid, mitigate, and overcome eating disorders by any means necessary.

    Adolescents often try to hide their eating disorders, but there are important signs that can help to access the diagnosis and help they need. While many healthcare professionals may try to treat eating disorders on their own, it is important to understand when a diagnosis requires more help than you can give them.

    Warning Signs: What to Look For in Adolescent Eating Disorders

    One of the first steps in helping adolescents with a potential eating disorder is being able to recognize the signs. This is often easier said than done because adolescents often try to hide their negative eating behaviors. It is also important to distinguish a potential eating disorder from something less severe like “disordered eating” or the more common poor eating habits often exhibited by teens.

    Here are some, but not all, of the warning signs that an eating disorder may be present:

    • A sallow appearance, which includes poor skin, hair loss, and extremely low body fat
    • Excessive gastrointestinal problems
    • Overuse of laxatives, weight loss teas, or over-the-counter stimulants to aid in weight loss
    • Avoiding meals altogether
    • Binge eating, followed by self-induced vomiting
    • Organ failure
    • Self-harm associated with body image
    • Suicidal ideations associated with body image
    • Suicide attempts associated with body image

    If any of these signs are present, it is advised that you intervene immediately, but what happens if you do not have the tools or resources to help properly? In these cases, you should reach out to the right facility, center, or institution that can. Sustain Recovery can help with this.

    Diagnosing an Adolescent Eating Disorder

    If any of the previously mentioned warning signs are present, it is possible that a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder (ED) can be made. However, diagnosing an ED does not equal the ability to treat it. Also, an ED should not be definitively diagnosed by anyone other than a professional trained in this field.

    Here are just a few of the specific diagnoses of eating disorders:

    • Anorexia Nervosa involves avoidance of food and a preoccupation with weight loss and body image
    • Bulimia Nervosa involves the process of binging and purging food, either with vomiting or excessive laxative use
    • Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is the consumption of large amounts of food in short periods of time and is associated with a loss of control
    • Orthorexia is an excessive preoccupation with “health” and the cutting out of an increasing number of food groups that are vital for normal body function (carbs, fats, or sugars, for example)
    • Compulsive Exercise focuses on extreme amounts of exercise that interfere with daily life and create unhealthy levels of weight loss

    While these are some specific EDs, it is also important to remember that they often coexist with other mental health issues. These comorbidities are yet another reason to ensure that you are getting an adolescent the proper care they need.

    Dual Diagnosis: Comorbidities and Eating Disorders

    Often, EDs don’t simply arise from the act of ingesting food itself. Rather, they often stem from more deeply rooted mental or emotional issues.

    These issues may include childhood trauma, anxiety or depression, or a number of other mood disorders (obsessive-compulsive disorder or bipolar disorder, for example). EDs may also be accompanied by other disorders that arise from the previously mentioned problems.

    EDs have been shown to be accompanied often by alcohol and substance use disorders (SUD). This is because both illicit substance use and eating disorders can be used as a “quick fix solution” to these deeper-rooted problems.

    It is because these comorbidities often exist that proper care must be sought out. For example, if you can treat one of the mental health or eating disorders but not the other, then the risk is that neither of the disorders is adequately being treated or resolved.

    Finding and Administering the Best Care

    EDs, including those with comorbidities, need to be detected, diagnosed, and treated as soon as possible. The reality of EDs is that they can have life-long negative effects and can even be fatal if not treated properly.

    If you do not feel like you can adequately treat an ED, it is crucial that you find professional help that can. Sustain Recovery can be that help because no child should needlessly suffer any longer than they have to.

    More often than not, an eating disorder exists with one or more other disorders. That is why it is critical to gain a better understanding of the exact disorder the adolescent is experiencing. Depending on the behavior and symptoms, the child may need more help than a certain facility or treatment center can offer. It is important to get a proper diagnosis so that the best treatment and care can be administered. This will give the child the best chance at recovery. We have the resources to help you better understand and treat EDs with comorbidities. We invite you to inquire about what we can offer. Please contact Sustain Recovery at (949) 407-9052 for more information.

  2. Changing Disordered Eating Patterns Before They Become Eating Disorders

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    The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius says, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” This concept can certainly be applied to a significant number of adolescents who have begun to exhibit signs of disordered eating.

    The 21st-century social media boom has brought with it significant insecurities when it comes to both adolescent body image and eating habits. With social media prevalence, the “beauty ideal” has not only become severely skewed toward the unhealthy (this includes both excessive weight loss and weight gain), but dangerous eating habits have become normalized as well.

    While social media cannot take full blame for disordered eating, it has certainly contributed. Yes, disordered eating has existed for an extensive period of time (examples can certainly be plucked from any era). Still, many believe that it has not been as prevalent as it is now in the adolescent arena.

    Adolescents often exhibit plenty of signs of disordered eating. For some, if left unchecked, these unhealthy patterns can become eating disorders. Recognizing and helping to change unhealthy eating patterns early on can help prevent teens from developing a severe clinical diagnosis.

    Awareness Regarding Disordered Eating in Adolescents

    One of the most pivotal aspects in treating disordered eating is first recognizing it. Having an awareness of what to look for (the red flags) can help to both mitigate the effects of disordered eating and potentially impede the development of a more serious eating disorder.

    Here are some of the red flags to look out for when assessing if disordered eating behavior may be present:

    • Excessively restricting diet (this may include not eating enough or becoming averse to “normal” foods due to a belief that they may cause weight gain)
    • Making excuses to avoid eating
    • Using over-the-counter supplements to quell the feeling of hunger and aid in weight loss
    • Binge eating or excessive eating throughout the day
    • Obsessing about weight loss, or excessive eating
    • An aversion to or the inability to eat in front of others

    These are merely a few of the warning signs of disordered eating, but if any of them are present, it could be cause for concern. However, it is also important to assess whether what is being observed is disordered eating or simply a “poor diet” that many adolescents often indulge in.

    Disordered Eating Versus “Poor Diet”

    There are some significant differences between poor diet and disordered eating. The good news is that they are easily distinguished.

    Here are some signs that a teen is merely exhibiting signs of a poor diet:

    • There is a clear correlation between weight gain and caloric intake from “processed” junk foods (these may include sugary sodas, energy drinks, fast food, and excessively salty and sugary snacks)
    • There is a clear correlation between avoiding healthy foods due to the want of less healthy alternatives (for example, avoiding broccoli due to taste is significantly different than avoiding food due to fear of weight gain)
    • Initial weight loss due to increased athletic activity (this is common when a school sport is taken on, but if excessive weight loss continues, it should be noted as a key for concern)

    Being able to discern between poor eating habits and disordered eating habits is important. However, discerning between disordered eating habits and the presence of an eating disorder is even more crucial.

    Red Flags for Adolescent Eating Disorders

    It is critical to understand that there is a significant difference between disordered eating, which may develop into an eating disorder, and an eating disorder that is already present.

    Here are some of the red flags that an adolescent eating disorder may already exist:

    • The adolescent is displaying visible physical symptoms, such as poor skin condition, hair loss, and gastrointestinal problems
    • The child is detected as having self-induced vomiting after meals or throughout the day
    • The level of body fat has become dangerously low
    • Organ failure
    • Using laxatives to help avoid weight gain or aid in weight loss
    • The inability to stop eating, even after it creates discomfort or becomes painful
    • The level of body fat has become dangerously high and begins interfering with everyday life
    • The child exhibits signs of self-harm or suicidal ideations due to body image

    If any of these signs are discovered, professional help must be sought immediately, as eating disorders can have life-long consequences and can be fatal.

    Treatment: The Why, When, and How

    It is important to understand that treating an eating disorder is very serious work, often involving professional treatment and therapy. If you cannot provide the proper care, it is critical that you seek a facility that can.

    Now, if disordered eating is discovered, it is also highly recommended that professional treatment be sought because there is a very real danger of an eating disorder developing. Even a poor diet, which is often just a sign of “normal” teenage behavior, should arouse a little more attention so it does not lead into the realm of disordered eating.

    Sustain Recovery has professional care that can help with adolescent body image and eating habits. There is no need for senseless struggle when it comes to any aspect of adolescent mental health, including disordered eating.

    It is critical that disordered eating in adolescents be recognized as soon as possible. However, it is important to understand that there is a difference between poor eating habits and disordered eating. Being able to distinguish these differences and recognize if there are signs of a more serious problem is vital. This early detection can better help get these children the proper care and treatment that they need. It is possible that, upon observation, no dangerous disordered eating habits are present, but it is important to know what to do if there are. We welcome you to inquire about our services. We are here to connect, inform, and help. For more information, please contact Sustain Recovery at (949) 407-9052.

  3. Strategies for Adolescents With Sensory Processing Disorder

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    Strategies for Adolescents With Sensory Processing Disorder

    The adolescent years are difficult enough for the typical teen, but for those with a sensory processing disorder (SPD), they can be literally overwhelming. Learning strategies to address issues like auditory flooding, mono-channel processing, and synesthesia can greatly help your teen clients.

    How Do Sensory Processing Disorders Affect Adolescents?

    When the brain receives sensory input and the corresponding motor and behavioral responses are not typical or appropriate, it is known as having an SPD. For adolescents, this can be particularly distressing because their need for social acceptance is crucial to their emotional well-being at this stage of their lives. Having an SPD can also be incredibly confusing, causing teens to isolate themselves as a result.

    Sometimes, the sensory input is simply overwhelming and causes teens to shut down, which can be confusing for others around them. Helping teens learn about their SPDs and understand strategies for coping can help them be more successful now in their educational pursuits, as well as later on throughout their lives.

    What Is It Like to Experience Auditory Flooding?

    Auditory flooding is a form of sensory overload involving sound. The person becomes overwhelmed by specific sounds like sirens, traffic, shouting, or loud music. The individual can also just become generally overwhelmed by sounds in their environment. Reactions may be anything from distraction or withdrawal to distress symptoms like fight-or-flight response or becoming severely irritable and angry.

    This type of SPD can be particularly embarrassing for teens when they want to go to a party or an athletic event where there are loud, potentially triggering sounds. Trying to fit in when your auditory senses are so easily overwhelmed can be very difficult.

    How Mono-Channel Processing Affects Adolescents

    Adolescents with mono-channel processing are very literally only able to process one sense at a time. For example, if you want them to hear what you are saying, they cannot also look at you; they cannot process visual and auditory input simultaneously.

    While their processing of each sense works well enough, mono-channel processing is increasingly difficult in a world where teens are often presented with multimedia information. For example, in school, they may get into trouble with an instructor if they do not make eye contact. They may also be expected to watch a visual presentation and be responsible for the auditory information that is being presented at the same time. Socially, they may struggle to interact with videos or movies, video games, and other audiovisual stimuli and may be teased or bullied for not being able to process information from more than one sense simultaneously.

    How Do Teens Experience Synesthesia?

    The phenomenon of synesthesia has been documented for hundreds of years but has only recently begun to be truly studied. Synesthesia is an experience where the property of one stimulus, such as color, evokes the property of another stimulus, such as music or sound. Interestingly, one study found that some forms of synesthesia are more common in those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Teens might describe how something tastes by using colors or other visual descriptions or may see colors when they listen to music.

    While many people find those with synesthesia very interesting, it can be frustrating for teens not to be able to process stimuli in a typical way. When asked to describe things for others in class, for example, they may be ridiculed or even questioned by an instructor when they describe how they process the input they receive.

    Developing Strategies for Adolescents With SPDs

    The struggle for adults who work with adolescents with SPDs is to help them develop coping strategies for real-world interactions that allow them to function in spite of their sensory processing challenges. For example, a teen who experiences auditory flooding may need to keep earplugs and/or headphones with them to prevent becoming overwhelmed by the sounds around them.

    Someone with mono-channel processing may request an accommodation in school to be able to have information presented in a single media format. They might need to view multimedia presentations multiple times to process each sense individually.

    On the other hand, a teen who experiences synesthesia may be able to use their processing differences to their advantage. For example, they could offer alternative descriptions of sensory experiences, allowing others to have insights into different ways that the brain can receive and process information.

    While having SPDs can be frustrating and overwhelming, addressing each adolescent and their sensory processing experiences as unique individuals will be helpful. In doing so, teens can develop individual strategies that work for them and their situations.

    Developing strategies for dealing with sensory processing disorders (SPDs) is crucial for adolescents. Whether they are experiencing something like auditory flooding, mono-channel processing, or synesthesia, teens need real-world strategies to prevent them from being overwhelmed in their day-to-day lives. Developing unique strategies that take into account the SPDs of each individual adolescent helps them to feel understood. They will be able to survive in a world that can seem overwhelming to them. Sustain Recovery in Irvine, California, helps teens with addiction and mental health diagnoses, including those with SPDs. We understand that the behaviors are not the problem. We help adolescents seek real solutions to the underlying problems that make them seek substances. Our program is an extended residential program that helps teens transition back to their lives properly and increases their chances of a successful recovery. Call us today at (949) 407-9052.

  4. The Pros and Cons of Telehealth for Adolescents

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    The Pros and Cons of Telehealth for Adolescents

    Prior to COVID-19, the use of telehealth was not a common practice. However, with the onset of a global pandemic, the mental and behavioral health community was forced to use telehealth as a primary form of service. Now that restrictions have eased, and there are options available once again, do you continue to offer telehealth exclusively? Do you only see clients in person? Or should you offer both options when working with adolescents?

    Advantages of Using Telehealth With Adolescents

    The pandemic saw a complete change in the way mental healthcare was accessed. These changes and challenges were detailed in the September 25, 2020 edition of The American Journal of Psychiatry online in an article entitled “Psychotherapy at a Distance,” which determined that for providers, telehealth was a limited substitute for more direct contact with clients.

    While telehealth has limitations for certain people, adolescents are a group that typically finds remote mental healthcare through the use of technology both simple and efficient. With the demand for mental healthcare so impacted, there are many advantages for your clients, including:

    • Increased access to care: If clients do not have their own transportation, they can still access care on their own
    • Ease in scheduling: For clients who are busy and struggle to make time to drive to an office, telehealth takes less time and offers more flexibility in scheduling
    • More availability in crisis situations: Both client and caregiver are more likely to find time to quickly meet via telehealth in a crisis situation than they are to match up schedules for an in-office visit
    • Comfortable setting for the client: Clients can be at home or in a setting that feels safe and comfortable for them for sessions rather than traveling to an unfamiliar office
    • Greater consistency of care: Adolescents can be seen more consistently due to improved scheduling, availability, and accessibility
    • Comfortable with technology: Most adolescents are very comfortable with technology and have no issues with accessing care via telehealth

    When Telehealth Should Not Be Used

    Telehealth is not indicated for every client or situation. Some of the situations in which telehealth should not be used are:

    • Clients with serious mental health diagnoses
    • Clients who are suicidal or dangerous to others
    • Client with a dysfunctional or unsafe living situation

    When In-Person Therapy Is a Better Option

    In many situations, being in-person is simply a better option for your client. Some of the reasons might include:

    • When a client lacks access to technology, high-speed internet, or phone signal
    • When you know a client has no access to privacy for confidentiality purposes
    • Clients who have distractions in their homes or are easily distracted
    • Clients who struggle with verbal communication and may need to show nonverbal cues to be understood
    • Specific therapeutic modalities that need to be in-person
    • Group therapy typically is more successful when in-person

    Advantages of Using Both In-Person and Telehealth

    For many teen clients, there may be advantages to using both telehealth and in-person therapy. By using both methods, your client gets the best of both worlds. They can still have productive and fulfilling in-person office visits at whatever intervals work for both parties while also being able to access telehealth for maintenance, crisis situations, or when they would be otherwise unable to access care at all.

    Challenges for Mental Healthcare Providers for Teens

    For mental healthcare providers, telehealth provides many of the same scheduling and accessibility conveniences but also the same challenges as well as perceived challenges. Some of these same challenges include technical difficulties due to internet connectivity issues on either end, distractions for the client both on devices and in their environment, and concern for protecting the client’s confidentiality. Additionally, therapy is more challenging and less personal via telehealth without the ability to read nonverbal cues or make direct eye contact with clients.

    There are some new advantages to treating clients with telehealth, as it gives providers direct access to witness information about a patient’s environment that teens may or may not speak about in person. While pets, siblings, parents, or other distractions may arise, providers also have the opportunity to meet those stakeholders in the client’s life and see them interact. In this instance, telehealth is the equivalent of making home visits without having to travel from your own home or office space.

    While there may be more challenges than benefits for providers, telehealth can provide another facet of treatment previously not accessible. When used together with traditional, in-person therapy, telehealth can add to the overall access to care for adolescent clients and improve their outcomes.

    There are both pros and cons to using telehealth to treat adolescents with addiction or mental health diagnoses. While telehealth can increase accessibility and convenience for clients, it may reduce the quality of care and has other limitations. Providers also have increased convenience but struggle to achieve the same results as they do with in-person visits. Offering both options may be the best solution for adolescent clients. Sustain Recovery offers structured care in an extended residential setting for teens with substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. Our program offers clients the opportunity to build support during treatment so they have a network in place when they return home. Our facility is located in Irvine, California, but we also work to connect clients with support in their own communities. If you have a client you think may benefit from our program, call us at (949) 407-9052 to learn more.

  5. Can Mental Health Apps Help My Client?

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    Can Mental Health Apps Help My Client?

    A plethora of mental health apps is available now to help track moods, manage symptoms of anxiety or depression, practice mindfulness, and more. The number of these apps continues to grow constantly, and they are becoming increasingly popular with adolescents and young adults. Are these apps just a fad? Or can these mental health apps actually help your clients?

    Types of Mental Health Apps

    Adolescents have a wide range of apps to choose from for their phones and other devices that they can use to support their mental health. Apps are available that offer coping strategies, guided meditation, or stress management techniques. Other apps offer affirmations, inspirational messages, or help with daily routines and self-care. Some apps provide simulated coaching based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), while others offer specific crisis support to help those struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

    Apps have also been developed that help identify and track moods. Many of these apps feature specific tools such as coping strategies, journaling options, goal setting, affirmations, medication reminders, support and safety plans, sleep tracking, and various activities to improve moods. A key feature of most of these apps is the ability to download and share mood-tracking information with mental health providers. All of these apps are designed to be user-friendly and particularly appealing to adolescents and young adults.

    Apps That Provide Support for Your Clients

    Many mental health apps are designed to provide daily support available in the place most adolescents spend much of their time–on their phones or other devices. Much of the support is interactive, and many of the apps have customizable features to provide support that can be specifically tailored to the user. All of these apps are available through the app stores to download for your phone or other devices. Some of the most popular support apps include:

    • Calm—meditation
    • Headspace—meditation
    • Simple Habit—meditation
    • Aura—meditation
    • Stop Breathe and Think—meditation
    • Pacifica—stress management
    • Happify—stress management
    • Fabulous Self Care—daily routines and self-care
    • Unique Daily Affirmations—affirmations
    • Three Good Things—daily journal
    • Emotionary—identifying/managing emotions
    • Insight Timer—guided meditations, talks, and music
    • MindShift—simulated coach for coping based on CBT
    • PTSD Coach—support for PTSD
    • My3—crisis support for teens with suicidal ideation
    • Calm Harm—crisis support for teens who self-harm

    Mood-Tracking Apps Can Help You as a Provider

    The apps that track moods are helpful for both clients and treatment providers. Your clients can track their moods daily or even throughout the day and view their moods over time by day, week, or month to help them better understand and manage their moods. The simple act of tracking their moods can help create more self-awareness for them and help them understand when they need help in real life.

    For providers, the apps that offer downloadable information to share can be incredibly helpful. These reports can give you mood-tracking information that is likely to be the most accurate due to the easy-to-use interface. Some apps are even specific to your client’s diagnoses, providing the best questions and data for their experiences. A few of the most popular mood-tracking apps for teens include:

    • Moodfit
    • Daylio
    • Moodpath
    • MoodKit
    • Worry Watch (anxiety)
    • Mood Tools (depression)
    • eMoods Bipolar Mood Tracker (bipolar disorder)

    Benefits of Using Mental Health Apps

    A key benefit to mental health apps is that they are available 24/7. These apps provide support and tracking of moods for your client 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While many providers might like to offer that type of support to their clients, it is not at all feasible. Having the app accessible can constantly help your client to self-calm, learn to cope, and learn more about themselves as they track their moods and learn about what influences their moods. Some of the apps can even provide crisis care, with access to important phone numbers and information to help them in the moment.

    No App Can Replace Mental Health Care

    Obviously, no app can replace actual mental health care from a licensed provider. Not even the best artificial intelligence is capable of reading moods and subtle nonverbal cues, let alone providing complex therapy or even understanding how the human mind works. However, having these apps available to adolescents can provide them with an extra measure of support in their daily lives and in times of need. The mood-tracking information can be integrated into your care and offer you more insight as a mental health care provider to help you better serve your clients and their needs. While these apps could never replace the mental health care you provide, they can be helpful for adolescents.

    Can mental health apps help your client? If your client is willing to use them, they absolutely can. Mental health apps can provide support in the form of meditation, stress management, and coping skills. Other apps provide important methods for tracking moods as well as other tools to help identify and improve mood in teens. As a provider, having access to mood-tracking information can be an invaluable resource for you in your therapy. Sustain Recovery believes in the responsible use of technology for teens. Our Irvine, California, facility offers extended residential care to teens with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We understand the value of support and strive to ensure that each client has the opportunity to build support in their own community before returning home. If you have a client you think may benefit from our program, call us at (949) 407-9052 to learn more.

  6. Teaching Adolescents Gratitude: Fake It Till You Make It

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    teenager smiling at lady

    Let’s face it; gratitude is not something that a typical adolescent is known for. With the changes in their bodies and in their lives, as well as the decisions they are facing, it really should not be a surprise that adolescents spend most of their time thinking about themselves. This becomes even more true for those who abuse substances. The concept of gratitude may not even be in their vocabulary, let alone their lifestyle. Acknowledging or expressing gratitude may come naturally to some, but for most people, it is a learned skill.

    How do you take someone who thinks primarily of themself and get them to look outside themselves and be grateful for the people and blessings in their life? The answer is not always quick or easy. However, gratitude is a healing tool that has many benefits both now and throughout life. For adolescents who are in active substance abuse and/or have mental health diagnoses, they may have to “fake it till they make it.”

    Why Gratitude Helps in the Healing Process

    While the word gratitude represents different things to different people, a generalized concept of gratitude would be appreciating what is valuable and meaningful to the individual. What you are grateful for and what your child is grateful for will likely be very different, but the result is the same: by recalling, acknowledging, or expressing gratitude, positive feelings are generated, which in turn help to improve mood and heal emotionally and physically.

    Behaviors associated with substance abuse and mental health diagnoses often are the result of negative thinking, experiences, and self-image. Gratitude can help to create positive thoughts and feelings, reframing or replacing the negative thoughts and experiences to help heal and create new behaviors and find greater satisfaction in life. Being grateful can also help to improve self-image when your adolescent actively seeks to find the positive things in themself and in their life.

    Benefits of Teaching Adolescents Gratitude

    Parents may embrace the concept of a grateful teen for their own honor and satisfaction, but for the adolescent, developing grateful habits also increases their own self-image and life satisfaction. In addition to the healing benefits for adolescents who have abused substances or had mental health diagnoses, seeing their cup half full not only gives them a more positive outlook on life but also increases their ability to enjoy their life, from the mundane daily tasks to the bigger events and milestones.

    Making Gratitude a Daily Habit

    The saying “You are what you think” has merit. By putting gratitude into action on a daily or regular basis, your adolescent can develop a true sense of gratefulness. Some of the ways to form grateful habits include:

    • Say thank you – make an effort to simply say thank you to parents, friends, teachers, and others when something is given to or done for them
    • Keep a gratitude journal – write at least five times per week about at least one thing per day to be grateful for
    • Count your blessings – instead of counting sheep, at the end of the day, count all of the blessings received that day
    • Give genuine compliments to others – the act of noticing something specific that someone else has done creates positive feelings for both parties
    • Write thank-you notes – particularly after receiving gifts or help from others, take the time to put gratitude in writing

    Finding the Silver Linings

    Adolescents who have experienced trauma, loss, substance abuse, or mental health diagnoses may have a lot of negative experiences and memories that contribute to negative thinking. Practicing gratitude allows them to see the silver lining even within those past experiences. They can learn to look back at what they learned, how far they’ve come, or how they have taken control of their lives to avoid those negative experiences in the future.

    Finding the silver linings in their experiences allows them to reframe negative experiences and appreciate what they have, how they have changed, and most importantly, who they are now because of their past. This, in turn, creates neutral or positive feelings surrounding these events or memories, which helps adolescents to heal and move forward.

    Why Faking It Leads to a Grateful Mentality

    For someone who has not previously acknowledged, expressed, or recalled gratitude, there is not a magic wand that instantaneously turns their hearts and minds into those of a truly grateful human being. Being grateful is something that happens by acting upon the concept first. The intent may not be completely there in the beginning, but as your adolescent practices gratitude on a regular basis, eventually, they can become convinced by their words and actions and develop a truly grateful mentality.
     The concept of gratitude may not come naturally for many adolescents, but learning to acknowledge and express gratitude can help to heal and increase your child’s life satisfaction. By attempting to express gratitude daily, your adolescent can develop a true sense of gratitude throughout their life. Helping adolescents heal from substance abuse and mental health diagnoses is our passion at Sustain Recovery. We understand that your child’s substance abuse is not the problem but rather their solution to their own pain and problems. We offer extended residential care for those who need more than the standard length of care, and we help your adolescent to reintegrate into their community and family during the treatment process. Our goal is to help the families and adolescents in active substance abuse to heal and connect them with long-term solutions for their recovery. Call us at (949) 407-9052 to determine if our Irvine, California, program is suitable for your family. 

  7. Turning a “No” Into a “Yes!”

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    Often a person making their way through recovery from mental illness or addiction relies on negative thinking. When this pattern becomes ingrained, it can be a go-to response they use without even thinking about it. Being willing to say “yes” to new ways to manage their recovery is vital for success. The sooner a client embraces this philosophy, the more quickly they make progress.

    A negative attitude can be particularly present in adolescents and young adults. Teens and young adults might lean towards being “overly dramatic.” While this is harmless as just a regular teenage attitude, negative thinking might be problematic when it affects their recovery.

    Recognizing a Negative Pattern

    A client may not realize how negative their attitude has become. Help them establish their baseline response to understand how often negativity arises in their thinking. You might suggest you go through a list of options for new tasks or activities they can try. Ask your client to give an automatic response to whether or not they want to try each suggestion. 

    They can add a brief reason why they are not interested in each item. Justifications for saying “no” may include: 


    • “It sounds too difficult.”
    • “It’s a waste of time.”
    • “I already tried it, and it doesn’t work.”
    • “I’ll fail at doing that.”
    • “I heard that doesn’t help anyone.”
    • “I don’t have the energy to try that.”


    Helping a Client Change Negatives Into Positives

    Once the client has countered several suggestions with negative reactions, open a discussion with them about how this go-to response hinders their progress. Go through the list again and challenge them to redirect their negative assumptions to positive ones. New answers may include:


    • “It may not be initially easy, but I will learn how to do it.”
    • “Anything worthwhile takes time.”
    • “Sometimes it takes a second or third attempt to achieve something.”
    • “I can accomplish many things when I make up my mind to do it.”
    • “My outcome may be different from that of others.”
    • “I will push through a desire to quit and see what I can accomplish.”


    Make a Habit of Documenting Positive Accomplishments

    It can be easy to forget specific accomplishments made during recovery. Days turn into weeks and weeks into months. When a client looks back on the effort they put into recovery; they may not remember how adopting a positive attitude proved helpful. Neglecting to recognize a change from a negative attitude to a positive one can make it easy to forget the impact of positivity on their sobriety and mental health challenges.

    Ask your clients to keep a positivity diary. When they replace a negative attitude or assumption with a positive one, they can record the details. Sometimes just seeing something written down helps reinforce it. As positivity becomes a habit they regularly choose, they can reflect on this in their writing. It serves as a reminder that they are capable of reaching for positive responses regularly.

    Reading over their history from time to time can help keep positivity front and center in their minds. Significant benefits can come from remembering how fear and uncertainty once ruled their decision-making. Reviewing their change in thinking helps shore up how well it works. This mindset will prove beneficial beyond their time in treatment.

    Adopting Sales Tactics to Change a “No” Into a “Yes!”

    While it might seem odd at first, tips from people who are in sales for a career can help. They rely on their abilities to change a potential customer’s “no” into a “yes.” Ask your client to treat their negative responses as if they are coming from a customer. Ask them to counter them with the following tactics: 

    • Find out why “no” is the first response. Provide reasons why that may be faulty thinking.
    • Ask if self-doubt is coming into play. Provide a reminder that they can accomplish great things even when they initially doubt themselves.
    • Determine their strengths and how to use those to their advantage in completing a task.
    • Ask if someone else’s voice is interfering. Are they afraid someone else has a lack of faith in them or will ridicule their choice?
    • Have a counterpoint for each objection. Simply throwing up their hands and giving up gets them nowhere!
    • Don’t allow anger or impatience to make decisions—diffuse negative emotions by allowing time to reframe them.
    • If ultimately the prospect considered doesn’t feel right, empower them to move on. Not every question will have a “yes” response. 

    Often adolescent and young adult clients have a habit of thinking negatively. Their go-to response to any challenge to change their thinking or behavior may be met with a “no.” Teaching them to identify when negativity impacts their recovery is imperative. When they learn to flip a “no” to a “yes,” they open up new options for making progress. If you have a client who needs treatment for their addiction to drugs or alcohol, we can help. Sustain Recovery provides skilled professionals who understand how to help young people choose recovery. We also treat co-occurring diagnoses of addiction with mental health concerns. Our residential, inpatient and outpatient treatment programs are founded on evidence-based clinical treatment modalities and best practice principles. We provide 12-Step recovery, group and individual therapy, and continued education for our clients. Call us today to see how we can help your clients say “yes” to recovery and start over! (949) 407-9052.

  8. Is My Teen Playing Too Many Video Games?

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    Teens who have challenges limiting video game or screen time may struggle with impulse control disorders such as compulsive gambling, sex or shopping. Researchers spend time looking into what scientifically defines problematic gaming and came up with some general criteria to follow. Learn the signs of addiction and how to identify them in a teen.

    Impulse Control Disorder?

    When teens become addicted to gaming, it can be problematic but what if a teen is just playing a lot of video games? Is that the same as addiction? The three main symptoms of video game problems according to researchers begin with the following:

    • Cravings, urges or growing tension before video gaming
    • Relief or pleasure following the gaming experience
    • Repeated gaming in spite of negative consequences

    Not the Parents Problem

    Video game addiction and problematic gaming are not defined by family issues or concerns with gaming. The relationship between teens and parents can often skew objective reasoning when it comes to addiction to gaming. Diagnostic criteria as outlined by professionals is generally the best way to determine if a problem with gaming does, indeed, exist.

    Too Much Play

    Effects from too much video-gaming vary person to person and may be positive or negative. In spite of mixed views and opinions, researchers have found little to no evidence of recreational play having a role in promoting negative consequences in a teen’s life. However, what a normal amount of play amounts to may vary teen to teen. How does one know when it crosses the line? The following are some basic guidelines experts agree on:

    • Teens (boys, especially) who play more than 3 hours of video games per day may be more likely to smoke, use drugs or fight
    • Pathological gaming has a median threshold of around 31-38 hours per week

    Every teen is different but some of the information presented can be used to help compare a teen to the average norm.


    When trying to limit one’s own or a teen’s video game play time, it can be helpful to compare gaming addiction levels except that excessive gaming is subjective. Setting an internal standard of acceptability can be helpful when determining what and how much is too much. Quality of life issues may play a factor such as social, emotional or physical time spent in other activities. When a person starts to exhibit signs of video game addiction, an individual may consider real and immediate help to combat the negative consequences.


    Sustain Recovery provides a safe, structured environment for adolescents to learn about living substance free. To learn more about the elements of transitioning to sober living, contact us about our programs and how it can help you.

  9. The Healing Power of Reading

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    Reading is a powerful tool as books hold the capacity to develop literacy but also think differently about the world in which a person resides. Reading can truly change lives and have healing powers that are helpful for individuals in addiction recovery.


    Words were invented to help make sense of the world and communicate needs, wants and desires to others. When people read, it is possible to be transported and transformed. Words on the page come alive with meaning and become ingrained in the memory. Spiritual experiences happen when reading as passages can inspire people to make life changing decisions or radically alter the course of one’s life. Reading is now being evaluated as a treatment method for various mental health conditions and in addiction treatment settings.


    The process of bibliotherapy is that of combining reading with cognitive therapy. This means using selected books to guide a person in the area he or she seeks help in. It is like having a dialogue with a book, using concepts as food for thought and trying to slowly apply it in life. What is read in books stays with people for a long time. In that time, neuroscience shows the brains are rewired each day visualizing and thinking through how the words make a person feel. Memory recall can release chemicals such as dopamine, the pleasure transmitter which plays a role in addiction.

    Shelf Help vs Self Help

    There is a distinction that has to be made between bibliotherapy and self help. Whole bookcases in bookstores are filled with self-help guides. Fiction takes people out of places and the self but

    An individual may be inclined to identify with characters and experiences while committing to the journey of a character in books which mirror the commitment made to the self on the journey of recovery.

    Getting Started

    Reading for recovery is nothing new. Twelve step programs have used The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous since first publication. The Big Book is full of personal experiences, letters and stories. Since release, the Big Book engaged millions of people worldwide in pages which offer insight to alcoholism and a solution for recovery. Faith based recovery programs use biblical texts or religious texts and help guide people with spiritual experiences through the healing power of words. Whichever form of reading is used, it is bound to be a great experience for the reader and build on insights gained through therapy and in community with others on the same journey.


    Sustain Recovery helps adolescents who are recovering from addiction. Minimum stays are 90 days but many may be with the program six months or longer. Call us to find out if our programs are a good fit for your adolescent.

  10. Reasons Why Young Adults with Mental Illness Less Likely to Receive Treatment

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    The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, as reported to SAMHSA, reported only a third of young adults suffering from mental illness in a given year received treatment.  Young adults aged 18 to 25 are less likely to receive mental health services other than any age group. Approximately 44% of adults in need aged 26 to 49 years of age received some type of mental health services. Learn more about why young adults with mental illness may be less likely to receive treatment.


    In terms of young adults receiving help, the breakdown of services accessed includes only a quarter receiving prescription medication while less than 25% received outpatient services. Inpatient mental health services proved to be the least likely treatment option with only under 4% receiving inpatient services for mental illness. Given the nature of mental illness, many more young people should have access to intensive treatment. In light of this statistic, more than 3.7% of the young people suffering from mental illness over a year might require intensive inpatient services but are struggling to receive them.

    Benefits of Treatment

    SAMHSA believes young adults could benefit from developmentally appropriate services to facilitate the transition to adulthood. Several programs provide vital information on the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and offer referral and treatment services to young people in need. Beyond mental health professionals, it is possible mentors, life coaches and teachers can fill the gap. Trained professionals have frequent interactions with young adults that could provide help to those in need.

    Seeking Help

    Young people are in high need of proper services tailored to meet their unique needs. When thinking about the needs of young people, it is necessary to understand that treatment options are not always available to those in need due to financial circumstances but when mental health is concerned, it is difficult to understand how young people in need are not able to access necessary lifesaving services. Supporting young people in achieving the goal of getting help for mental illness can be beneficial for the long term not only for the young adult but families, communities and everyone who is invested in the youth of America.


    Sustain Recovery provides support to adolescents in recovery. Addiction can be devastating but teens should have access to treatment. Learn more about the ways Sustain Recovery can support adolescents with addiction.

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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