Tag Archive: adolescents

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

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    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. 

  2. 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.

  3. Is My Teen Playing Too Many Video Games?

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    video games teens couch addiction

    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.

  4. The Healing Power of Reading

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    study read learn girl woman

    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.

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

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    mental health teen girl

    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.

The people at Sustain Recovery are truly passionate about their work. They put all their love, energy and spiritual strength in to it. They continue to support me today as I continue my ongoing journey in my personal recovery. I now have over a year of sobriety, my own apartment, a job, true friends and a support network that is always available to me. Although all that stuff is great, what matters most today is that I love myself and have the ability to love others. Thank you to all who had a hand and heart in Sustain Recovery

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