Tag Archive: family

  1. Addressing Trauma Individually and as a Family

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    Addressing Trauma Individually and as a Family

    When events happen, the event is actually the same for everyone, but each individual experiences and stores the memories of that event differently. This rule particularly applies to traumatic events. Things that happened in the family that may not have been particularly traumatic to you as a parent or caregiver may still be causing pain for your teen now, even though they happened years ago. This is called trauma, and as your child is healing, it is important to address trauma both individually and as a family.

    Bad Stuff Happens to Everyone; Why Is This Called Trauma?

    In an ideal world, life would be perfect. Unfortunately, negative events affect all of our lives. For many people, these events happen, and then after a short time, the stress is alleviated, and they are able to function normally again, leaving only memories.

    For other people, however, these same events can overwhelm the brain’s capacity to process what has happened, and the negative event gets “stuck,” unprocessed. This is what is referred to as trauma. While seemingly ordinary events can become traumatic for some people, examples of frequently traumatic events can include witnessing or being subjected to events such as:

    • Verbal, physical, or sexual abuse
    • Emotional or physical neglect
    • Fighting or violence in or outside of the home
    • Loss of a loved one
    • Bullying or coercion
    • Accidents or serious illness
    • Violence, such as shootings
    • War or terrorism
    • Natural disasters
    • Divorce or relationship issues
    • Behaviors surrounding addiction or mental health disorders
    • Financial difficulties, such as loss of job

    Why Is My Teen Still Hurting From Childhood Trauma?

    The child’s brain is particularly vulnerable to trauma because it is not yet fully developed. Therefore, it is more likely that negative events will overwhelm the child’s capacity to understand and process emotions surrounding those events, resulting in trauma. These unprocessed emotions can fester, much like a physical wound, and cause pain, and your child may not even be aware of the source of the pain. Instead, they might act out, including seeking drugs or alcohol to try to numb or escape the pain. Unfortunately, the only true escape is finding and processing the emotions surrounding these traumatic experiences.

    The Value of Seeking Individual Therapy

    The best way to identify and process the emotions surrounding trauma of any kind is through individual therapy. A licensed professional can use a variety of therapeutic methods to help your child identify the source of their initial trauma, as well as other events that may have compounded their pain over time.

    The confidentiality of therapy allows your teen to open up and express their emotions surrounding their pain in ways that may be difficult to express within the family or even with trusted friends. In some situations, this may be the first time they have opened up to talk to anyone about their trauma, and a licensed therapist can guide them safely through the process, offering them needed support. Individual therapy gives them a safe place that is theirs to tell their story and express their pain and heal from their trauma, something that is just for them.

    Do We Need Family Therapy for My Teen’s Trauma?

    When the pain from your teen’s trauma has turned to behaviors such as substance abuse, then the trauma affects the entire family. Not only will family therapy be beneficial to help support your teen’s healing, but it will also help your family process what they have suffered due to your child’s related behaviors.

    Family therapy is a safe place for families to express concern and pain as well as love and healing, all with the help of a trained therapist. There is no manual that comes with families to help them work through complex problems like trauma, substance abuse, or mental health diagnoses. Yet there are licensed therapists who can listen and guide families toward healing, helping each family member and the group as a whole to work through trauma and painful experiences.

    Why Both Individual and Family Therapy?

    The ideal way for your child to heal is to have access to both individual and family therapy. Within their individual therapy, they will be able to process their emotions as well as gain skills to help them in the future. Family therapy will provide the support and complete their healing process, as well as provide healing for the entire family. Family therapy can help educate family members about trauma, substance abuse, and mental health diagnoses as well. When trauma is addressed at both the individual and familial level, it provides the most comprehensive healing for both your child and your family.

    We do not have control over the things that happen to us, nor do we have control as to how they affect our child. We do have control over how we address trauma, and by offering access to both individual and family therapy, we can offer the best possible outcome for healing. At Sustain Recovery, we firmly believe that the family is an essential part of the healing process for each adolescent. We understand that many teens have experienced trauma and need the help of their families to be able to heal completely. Substance abuse and mental health diagnoses are not the problems; they are the symptoms of your child’s problems, such as trauma. Our extended residential program seeks to help your teen identify and process trauma as well as learn accountability while they heal from substance abuse. Contact Sustain today at (949) 407-9052 to find out if our program is the right program for your family.

  2. Weeding Out Your Family Tree

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    Weeding Out Your Family Tree

    When there is substance abuse in the family, there is likely some form of dysfunction within your immediate or extended family. Dysfunctional relationships are detrimental to all involved, but when your teen is recovering from substance abuse, having dysfunctional familial relationships can contribute to a relapse. Spring is the perfect time to look at family relationships and set new boundaries to support your child’s recovery and improve their mental wellness.

    Identifying Dysfunctional Relationships

    When there is dysfunction within the immediate family, it will probably not be difficult to identify the whos, whats, and wheres of emotional pain. Personalities, past events, and substance abuse can all create conflicts and pain within families who live together. Despite the fact that we should be at our best for those we love most, dysfunction can splinter loving relationships.

    More difficult to spot could be the dysfunction in extended family relationships. Words, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, and also substance abuse can lie hidden from other family members. If your teen experienced pain or abuse or witnessed substance abuse from extended family members, it is important that you listen and acknowledge their pain.

    Below are some of the ways your child may have witnessed or experienced dysfunction in the family:

    • Degrading words
    • Lack of communication
    • Arguing
    • Bullying
    • Manipulation
    • Emotional or physical neglect
    • Verbal or emotional abuse
    • Physical abuse
    • Sexual abuse
    • Violence within the family
    • Substance use or abuse
    • Mental health disorder

    Addressing Problem Areas

    Once the source or sources of dysfunction are identified, the next step is to address them. This can be incredibly difficult and painful, particularly if there is serious abuse that was hidden or unknown to you as a parent. Always remember that no matter how much you love your extended and immediate family members, your child’s health and safety are your responsibility. Even when legal action needs to be taken against family members, your child is counting on you to protect them and make the right decisions.

    Being honest with family members about the dysfunction and pain they have caused your teen can be difficult, but is necessary for your child to heal. Extended family members are less likely to realize how much pain they have caused, and you have less influence over their decision-making as well.

    Learning New Ways to Communicate

    Sometimes, the dysfunction that seems less extreme is more difficult to weed out. Years of what some family members may consider “teasing” can be challenging to change when those words have caused pain or even traumatic experiences for your child. Just because a person did not mean to harm your child doesn’t mean that your child was not harmed, nor should benign intent give permission for damaging behaviors to continue.

    Simple matters can be addressed within the family, with open communication and making plans for improvement. For more serious dysfunction, family therapy is highly recommended. Some family members may also require individual therapy. Within therapy, you can all learn more positive ways to communicate and heal together.

    Setting Boundaries With Family Members

    One of the more difficult aspects of dealing with dysfunction is setting boundaries with family members. Being related does not give them an all-access pass to cause harm to you or your child. In situations where family members are unwilling to acknowledge the pain they have caused or are unwilling to change their ways, boundaries need to be set.

    Boundaries should be clear, enforceable, and fair. For example, if a family member is physically abusive, you can choose not to allow them in your home or to be around your child anymore. Ever. That may seem extreme, but would you allow a stranger to treat your child like that and then welcome them into your home or spend holidays with them? You have the right to ask for family members to maintain sobriety or any other boundaries when they are interacting with your child or your family.

    For less extreme situations, you may limit the time spent with that family member and restrict access to FaceTime, phone, email, mail, or text interactions. If they are willing to try to change, you can implement a plan which allows them the opportunity to succeed while maintaining the right to revoke the privilege of being a part of your child’s life indefinitely. Discussing with your teen what they are comfortable with before setting boundaries is ideal.

    Building Healthy Roots for Your Child’s Mental Wellness

    If immediate or extended family members are willing to replace unhealthy words and behaviors with healthy family habits and communication, this will help solidify your teen’s mental wellness. You can support their recovery by demonstrating effort, not necessarily immediate perfection. Being willing to overcome the dysfunction and set healthy boundaries this spring season can help weed out your family tree.

    Recognizing and addressing dysfunction within the family can be a very healing process for your teen in recovery. Learning new ways to communicate and setting healthy boundaries will help them rebuild their lives and improve mental wellness. At Sustain Recovery, we emphasize the family in the addiction treatment process. A teen with a substance abuse or mental health disorder means a family with substance abuse or mental health disorder. If your child is experiencing pain due to family dysfunction, that may be the source of their behaviors. You have the power to change as much as they do. Our Irvine, California, extended residential program allows teens to address their substance abuse and mental health behaviors in the context of finding and healing their emotional pain. We know that when families heal together, the healing is more complete. Contact us at (949) 407-9052 to find out if this is the right program for your family.

  3. Relapse Prevention for the Family: Don’t Be Your Child’s Trigger

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    Group of happy family hugging each other
    Group of happy family hugging each other

    Addiction and mental health issues are not limited to your teen. When your child has substance abuse and/or a mental health diagnosis, your family does, too. Perhaps no one else has the diagnosis or abuses substances, but your child’s behaviors and interactions impact the entire family. Most families have improvements they can make in the way they interact, discipline, or enable. When your child is in recovery, your family should be in recovery, too. To prevent a relapse for your child, your family should work hard not to be the trigger for your teen.

    Addiction and Mental Health Are Family Issues

    Some call it “dysfunction,” but whatever you call it, when your teen is abusing substances and has behaviors stemming from a mental health diagnosis, the entire family can be impacted by your child. In fact, in many families, it can feel like the entire family revolves around your teen’s mental health and behaviors. Not in a good way, either. Those who have been in this situation may be more likely to describe it as being held hostage by these behaviors.

    However, just because the teen is creating the drama and getting all of the attention does not mean that the problem is theirs alone. Most families have, usually unintentionally, contributed to the problems the teen is experiencing that are making them act out. Thus, when your child is in treatment, your family needs to seek treatment as well. Exploring family dynamics, relationships, and habits can help to improve communication and strengthen bonds to avoid falling into the same habits.

    How Family Issues Contribute to Addiction and Mental Health

    If kids came with manuals, everyone would parent perfectly. You would know exactly what to say and do in every situation, and you would teach your children to be perfect, too. But they don’t come with manuals, no one is a perfect parent, and it is impossible to get it right every time. Also, you come with your own baggage, and your parents’ baggage, and generations before that. Families require diligence, patience, and understanding from every family member, and that also does not exist. The dynamics of your family, how you communicate, parent, and discipline can cause misunderstandings and pain, which can contribute to substance abuse and mental health issues in your child.

    Family Recovery From Old Habits

    When your child goes into recovery, it gives all of you the opportunity to sit down and communicate about how you can improve to support one another. Was there fighting before? You may blame your child, but it takes two to fight. Did you enable the behaviors by being too lenient or too strict? Or maybe just inconsistent? Did you allow them to manipulate you to get what they want? What is your relationship with your child like? Do you spend time with your teen and communicate well? Or has your child fallen to the bottom of your priorities because of life’s stressors?

    You may not be able to identify the problem. In fact, the best way to identify the problem is to listen to your child. Don’t react or try to defend your words or actions. Listen to where their pain is coming from. Parents often think the problem is one thing when the child is hurting for an entirely different reason. This lack of communication widens the gap between family members and deepens the wounds on both sides of the conversation. Listen with an open heart and mind, and you can have a healthy dialogue and make plans for compromise and change within the family.

    Relapse Prevention for the Family

    One of the relapse prevention techniques your child will learn in treatment is to identify triggers and avoid them. This can be really difficult when you all live under the same roof and spend so much time together. Yet if you relapse into your old habits, your child may relapse into their substance abuse as well. Families need to be fiercely vigilant of boundaries and changes developed in family therapy. Communication is vital, and if someone begins to escalate, there needs to be an escape plan — a place they can go to cool down and be left alone until the storm blows over. Relapse prevention requires planning and cooperation from every member of the family.

    Don’t Be the Trigger for Your Child

    Relapse is a common occurrence in recovery, and if your child is also battling a mental health diagnosis, then it is even more important to pay attention to both the mental health treatment and stick to the family relapse prevention plan. Make boundaries, set guidelines, be willing to listen and communicate without judgment or reaction. The last thing you want as a parent would be to relapse in your recovery and be the trigger for your child.

    Because addiction is a family issue, so is relapse prevention. Listening to your child and their pain can identify where the family needs to heal and support one another to prevent a family relapse. When you maintain your boundaries and keep the lines of communication open, you don’t have to be a trigger for your child. Sustain Recovery is an extended residential care program located in Irvine, California. Through our program, we are able to work with adolescents who may have struggled in other programs or facilities. With a longer duration of care, we can gradually reintegrate them back into their lives again while they are in treatment. We work with families because we know that families need to heal as a unit. Sustain is focused on long-term success; we strive to connect clients to support and resources in their community to increase the probability of success. Call us at (949) 407-9052to learn more.

  4. Helping Adolescents Manage Family Drama During the Holidays

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    A mid adult mother and teen daughter listen to the unrecognizable mid adult female counselor.

    Most adolescents do not find the holidays to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” The holidays bring time with family that is often involuntary, or at least not a preferred activity for many at this age. For too many adolescents, the holidays also mean facing dysfunction, past trauma or abuse, substance abuse, and mental health issues within the extended family. Or, at the minimum, family drama. For adolescents who are in treatment or recovery for substance abuse or mental health diagnoses, facing family dysfunction also puts them at high risk for relapse.

    Familial Risk Factors for Addiction Relapse

    The increased likelihood of alcohol or other substances being used or available in the home around the holidays is an obvious risk for an adolescent coming out of treatment or beginning recovery. In many situations, substance abuse and mental health behaviors stem from addiction, mental illness, abuse, or other dysfunction within the family environment, so being home for the holidays could be the worst place for an adolescent new to sobriety.

    However, those dysfunctional situations are not the only familial risk factors for relapse. According to a 2018 article published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, families who disengage from the adolescent or try to avoid the addiction or mental health issues altogether are linked with greater episodes of relapse. Adolescents in families with dysfunction are less likely to relapse by relying on recovery and other community-based support. Unfortunately, many adolescents who are still living at home or under the age of 18 may not have as much control over their environment, especially during this time of year.

    Teaching Skills to Avoid Buying Into the Drama

    The goal of treatment for addiction is to give the adolescent enough relapse prevention skills as well as practice using those skills to give them a sense of self-efficacy regarding their recovery. Sometimes, this requires longer than a typical residential treatment program to achieve. The adolescent needs to be confident enough to face even the most stressful of situations.

    Adolescents who abuse substances are often using them as a coping mechanism for dealing with their personal problems, and family drama and dysfunction are high on the list of those problems for many of these adolescents. Addressing the actual problems themselves helps significantly to reduce the desire for substance use. Teaching coping skills such as mindfulness, clear communication, and setting clear boundaries can also help them avoid buying into the family drama. By learning and practicing these tools, they can develop the self-efficacy needed to face difficult family situations.

    Supporting Adolescents in Setting Holiday Boundaries

    While adolescents may not make a lot of effort to spend time with a dysfunctional family when given a choice, the traditions of the holiday season make it more difficult for them to set appropriate boundaries for themselves. Cultural and media expectations can add to the difficulty of making the right decisions for themselves. Stressing to them the importance of breaking the cycle of addiction, abuse, and mental illness can help them see the big picture.

    Help them to discover solutions to maintain their sobriety by avoiding excessively stressful or triggering situations, or dinners, parties, or other activities where they know substances will be available. Encourage them to use the support of sober friends and family members, to potentially only attend an early portion of a dinner or party, or to even attend a 12-Step meeting instead. Knowing that it is okay to set boundaries with their family, even during the holidays, will help them avoid additional stress.

    Recommending Alternatives for Adolescents at Risk of Relapse

    For some adolescents, it may not be safe at all for them to be at home. For those who have relapsed multiple times before, an extended residential program may be perfect, especially at this time of the year — not as an avoidance of stressors, but rather to develop the skills, trust, and self-efficacy needed to face familial and other stress later on. They may also be ready for outpatient or intensive outpatient services, a sober living environment, or another environment rather than simply being at home.

    As a clinician, you will be able to evaluate the situation on an individual basis and make the appropriate recommendations for the adolescent and their family, taking into consideration past experiences with family, the support level, and family environment, as well as how the adolescent reacts to and interacts with their family. Determining the risk for relapse also takes into consideration whether or not your client has developed honesty and trust in themselves, as well as the skills and self-efficacy to face difficult family situations. Facing family dysfunction and drama puts adolescents at much higher risk for relapse, but with the right tools and support, they can gain more confidence through their experiences.

    Because families present such high-risk factors for adolescents to relapse during the holidays, teens need the tools and support to help them succeed at this time of the year. Helping them to set boundaries and find alternatives within serious family situations can help them sustain their recovery and develop greater self-efficacy. Sustain Recovery works with families as part of our curriculum. Our extended residential program offers adolescents the opportunity to slowly transition home rather than abruptly leave. We seek to develop trust in themselves and their ability to maintain their recovery by addressing the underlying problems beneath the coping mechanisms of substance abuse and mental health issues. We offer a structured program that teaches them the value of making their own choices and is run by a staff who are passionate about helping adolescents succeed. Call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052 for more information and find out if our program would be a good fit for your client.

  5. Benefits of Including Family in Therapy

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    family therapy

    New parents devote a lot of time to planning for the optimal ways to take care of their new child. Typical subjects like nutrition, socializing, and educational goals rank high among things moms and dads think about. What often comes as a surprise involves an adolescent who develops an addiction to alcohol or drugs. Most parents find themselves unprepared for this development.

    Adding Family to the Therapy Equation

    Parents who have a child struggling with a substance abuse disorder often seek out myriad ways to help them. The parents may utilize approaches like a detox program, residential treatment, and outpatient resources. These treatment plans can offer a significant impact on a child’s recovery. One thing these programs have in common is how they rely solely on the young person to do the hard work to change.

    If you have an adolescent or young adult client who has not yet tried family therapy, this therapeutic intervention may be a key component missing in their recovery. Consult with the parents and explain to them the benefits of coming together as a family during therapy sessions.

    Some parents initially have a chilly reaction to this idea. They mistake family therapy for being a way to blame them for their child’s problems. An initial session with just the parents may help calm their fears. Your client may express initial concerns that the sessions will focus on blaming them for everything. You can also talk privately to your client to ensure they understand that family therapy helps everyone.

    Helping Parents Understand the Value of Family Therapy

    Sometimes a therapist feels concerned that introducing the idea of family therapy to a client or their family might not be favorably received. However, explaining some basic concepts to both the young client and their parents can help everyone see the benefits of family therapy and get on board with trying it.

    Family therapy can involve parents, step-parents, other adults in the family, and age-appropriate younger family members. Talk to everyone about how a family contains interconnected individuals by their relationships with each other. For example, each family member holds a certain amount of influence or ability to be influenced by other members.

    Family therapy helps identify relationship patterns and how people communicate with each other. This therapy benefits individuals and the family unit as a whole to become aware of any unhealthy dynamics taking place. Each person involved in the sessions can have a chance to discuss their feelings and the impact they feel related to how the family currently works. This open discussion allows everyone a potentially eye-opening view of ways to change for the benefit of the child and the entire family.

    Adolescents and young adults who experience a healthy shift in the dynamic of their family relationships often find this spills over into their recovery. When communication skills improve and old patterns get replaced with healthier ones, everyone wins. For your patient, this “new normal” in the family unit may help ease their desire to use drugs or alcohol as a coping skill.

    Other benefits of family therapy include:

    • Bringing topics often not discussed out into the open in a safe environment
    • Learning to establish and respect boundaries with each other
    • Improving the ability to problem-solve promptly
    • Fostering good communication skills
    • Defining roles and related expectations for everyone
    • Offering family members concrete ways to support the child while also holding them responsible for their part in recovering

    Common Objections Some Parents Have to Family Therapy

    If a parent or other family member offers initial reluctance to the idea of family therapy, ask them to talk about their concerns. Many people fear change of any kind, even if it might prove to be positive. Parents may feel uneasy discussing specific topics in front of the entire family. You can guide them as to how to approach this. The family members may feel a lack of confidence in attending therapy together. Explaining the goals can help them get on board.

    Some parents and other family members may simply be exhausted from dealing with the family member who struggles. Help them understand that ignoring the issue will only prolong it. Coming together as a family looking to improve all relationships can help move the child’s recovery along, taking it out of the spotlight as time goes on.

    No matter how well you explain things, a family member may still state they are unwilling to attend family therapy. In this case, let them know that others will be joining the sessions without them. Let the hesitant person know they are free to participate if they change their minds. If the family members begin to see progress made when others attend family sessions, they may feel inspired to become a part of the process.

    Therapists who treat adolescents and young adults with substance use disorders often find solo sessions with their clients are not enough. Introducing the concept of family therapy sessions may leave both their client and the family unsure of what to expect. Explaining how family therapy works and the many benefits of it can help everyone come together with two goals: helping the child stay in recovery and allowing the family to function with healthier dynamics. Sustain Recovery believes in treating their clients while they are in a residential program, as well as giving them and their families the skills to build healthier relationships. We teach our clients to develop empathy for themselves as well as understand how they fit into their particular family. If you have a young client with a substance abuse disorder, call us today at (949) 407-9052 to discuss our long-term programs that help them choose recovery.

  6. Tips for How to Act When Your Child Comes Home From Treatment

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    home from treatment

    Every parent celebrates the moment when their child comes home from treatment for addiction to drugs and alcohol. However, they may not be prepared to address how things have changed. The child who has come home will be different from the one you said goodbye to several weeks ago. Now, you need to learn how to parent the new version of your child.

    This change may seem nerve-wracking at first. Have faith because you can learn how to handle the situation. When parents know how to guide their children and partner up with them, they can repair family relationships.

    How You React Affects How Your Child Acts

    Remember when your child was little and came to you after skinning their knee playing? They needed you to do the obvious thing by tending to the wound. Before you could begin getting out medication and a bandage, your first responsibility came in the form of your reaction.

    A child who runs to their mom or dad with a skinned knee or other problem feels frightened. They rely on their parents to remain calm and address the situation. Imagine if the parent saw the child’s knee and started screaming and panicking. The child would take on that reaction, feel worse, and freak out. A parent’s panicked reaction would compound the pain and fear they already felt.

    The same philosophy applies to reacting to your child in recovery. When they come to you with a dilemma or feel frightened or unsure of themselves, they will gauge your immediate reaction. Your initial impulse may be to react by showing alarm, expressing anger at them, or threatening to discipline them.

    If this happens, the child will likely retreat into their own world. They may feel less likely to go to their parents with future concerns and problems. Make sure you learn to get in the habit of reacting from a calm place.

    A Key Question to Ask Your Child

    Often when a child in recovery arrives home from treatment, they feel unsure how things will go in their homes from now on. They don’t know if their parents will be judgmental of them or react poorly when they struggle.

    Your child may come to you and tell you about an urge to use drugs or alcohol. They may want to express a difficult emotion they are experiencing. They may need to explain that they are feeling overwhelmed by stress.

    Rather than immediately react, pause to ask them a question: How do you need me to react? This question helps put your child in the driver’s seat and feel some control they may be sorely lacking. Now, they can process and consider what they need from you. Identifying the particular need and asking for it creates a partnership in healing between parent and child.

    When initially asking the question of how your child needs you to react, lay out some suggestions. Ask which reaction sounds like the best fit for the situation from your child’s perspective. Try these ideas and add in your own that sound like a good option for your child:

    • “Just listen to me and understand what my emotional status is. Do not try to solve anything for me.”
    • “Recognize that I am feeling alarmed by something. Offer suggestions for seeing the situation with a calmer outlook.”
    • “Help me make a pros and cons list about a situation. I would like to discuss ideas with you.”
    • “Help me remember that I have made progress. I’m feeling down on myself and need reminders of how far I’ve come.”
    • “Give me some space. I feel overwhelmed by my recovery or other responsibilities and need your permission to pull back a bit.”

    Establish a Partnership With Your Child

    You are the parent, which ultimately puts you in charge of what happens in your home. This role allowed you to decide to send your child to treatment. When your child comes home, you may want to rely on the feeling that you always have the upper hand. You may want to feel that you are in charge of your child’s recovery.

    While this reaction has merit up to a point, it cannot be the only way to approach the situation. Your child has to take responsibility for much of their recovery from addiction. When they make their own healthy decisions, they demonstrate growth to themselves and their parents. They develop self-confidence when they realize how powerful they can be.

    Establishing a partnership with your child can empower your child in recovery. Let them know when they come home that you see your role in the next phase of their recovery. Talk about how they can come to you with any questions or issues they have. Together, you can find solutions that keep them on the right path.

    When your child first comes home from treatment for addiction to drugs or alcohol, everyone may be nervous. Our tips for acting and reacting can help you remain calm and instill confidence in your child. Your child ultimately wants to feel you have their back, and they can be honest about any difficulties that crop up during recovery. Asking the right questions can help them feel supported. Sustain Recovery offers long-term treatment programs for adolescents and young adults. We believe that kids don’t have a drug problem; they have a drug solution. We help them identify what caused them to turn to addiction, including any mental health issues, and how to replace self-medicating with a healthy solution. We also provide any needed schooling to help them keep up with academics. Call our Southern California facility today at (949) 407-9052 and find out how we can teach your child to embrace recovery both here and at home.

  7. When Multiple Family Members Experience Addiction

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    When just one member of a family deals with abuse of alcohol or drugs, it takes its toll on the whole family. When more than one family member is suffering from an addiction, it can complicate recovery efforts for everyone involved. Typically, when an adolescent or young adult returns home from residential treatment for an addiction to alcohol or drugs, their recovery often becomes the focus of the family unit. This can prove difficult at times as everyone tries to zero in on how to help the child transition back home, feel supported, and be held accountable for their actions. 

    If more than one addiction exists in the family, it becomes crucial for everyone in the nuclear family to address these issues. The more stable the family is, the greater chance a child has to maintain their own sobriety. While the presence of more than one addiction can initially complicate things, ignoring it will not make the problem go away. Factoring in the addiction of another family member can be a game-changer and ultimately cause everyone involved to decide how best to proceed so that the entire family unit thrives.

    Why Do Multiple Family Members Experience Addiction?

    When it comes to families having more than one member who deals with addiction, no single answer applies to all situations. Multiple studies have been done over the years that show the answer can be at least partially genetic. The University of Utah reports that many different genes can contribute to a person developing an addiction. When people share a genetic history that predisposes them to addiction, they experience an increased likelihood of developing the issue at some point. 

    The home environment can influence a young person who struggles with addiction. If they grow up around one or more family members who struggle with substance abuse disorder, it may normalize the condition for them. A parent or other influential family member who habitually exposes their abuse of drugs or alcohol to a younger person may unknowingly pass on the message that this is normal behavior. The message of “do as I say, not as I do” becomes ineffective. Behavior modeled over a long period makes more of an impact than verbal warnings against it. Even if the relative attempts to hide their addiction and the resulting chaos it incurs, children and teenagers are quick to pick up on the reality of a situation. They often know more than others may think they do.

    Dealing With a Family Member Who Actively Engages in Their Addiction

    A child returning home who has worked hard on becoming sober has their work cut out for them. When they return to living with a parent, sibling, or other family members who are actively drinking or using drugs, a game plan that addresses this should be enacted. This may involve a type of family intervention. This process lets the other family member know that their addiction not only affects their own life but now runs the risk of influencing a loved one to forfeit their sobriety. If possible, separate housing for the child can be established at least long enough to help the young person get to a more stable place in their own recovery.

    If living apart is impossible, establish rules about things like the time the family members spend together. Make it a rule that alcohol or drugs cannot be used in the presence of the child. Sometimes the relative may want to help the younger person but is not willing to address their own addictive behaviors. Asking them to commit to a few basic rules to help their loved one can prove productive and beneficial. You may be surprised at people’s willingness to accommodate the sobriety and wellbeing of young addicted people. 

    When Multiple Family Members Are in Recovery

    Much like being a member of group therapy, having a relative who is also working hard on their recovery can benefit a young person. They can take comfort from knowing someone who understands their situation and the struggles they face. They can even help each other celebrate positive achievements and milestones. Shared family history may also enable the two to do a deep-dive into how addiction has impacted their lives. They can take a look at which family members have suffered from it and which ones may be at risk of developing it. Understanding the family dynamics at this level can prove helpful in terms of personal knowledge as well as discussing that information with a therapist. 

    A family that has more than one member who deals with alcoholism or drug addiction may wonder why this happened. Multiple factors may contribute to the situation, including genetic predisposition and home environment. When a young person returns home from residential treatment for their substance abuse disorder, it can complicate things when other family members struggle with the same condition. Sustain Recovery has extensive experience treating adolescents and young adults who suffer from addiction. Our clients benefit from treatment that addresses their individual needs, including learning to manage co-occurring mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. We also provide schooling to allow them to continue their education. Private and group therapy allows our clients to understand themselves. We send them home prepared to deal with the family environment waiting for them. Call our Southern California location to find out how we can get started on putting your family back together! (949) 407-9052.

  8. Aftercare for the Client and Their Family

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    Family Therapy

    The daily activities in a residential program impact the person a great deal during their stay. Individual counseling, group therapy, and a host of other treatment options help refocus a young person’s mind. These tools also teach them to manage their mental health issues and any accompanying substance abuse problems. While the work done while staying at the residential treatment center is essential, it also sets the tone for either moving into transitional living or returning home.

    Transitional Living Can Help Build a Bridge

    When adolescents have completed their stay at a residential treatment program, they may opt to move to transitional living before returning home. Transitional living creates a buffer between the daily rigor of inpatient treatment and the freedom of living at home. After all, they have spent weeks or months in a highly structured environment. In most cases, it is not recommended that a young person immediately go back into their old home environment. This gives them time to practice new life skills acquired during treatment and test the waters before heading home. 

    Typically this type of program continues some treatment elements such as individual or group therapy. It may also offer assistance in finding a job or volunteer work. Often, several people from the program live in a group setting, sharing living quarters and responsibilities like cooking and cleaning. Shared housing with like-minded individuals in the same age group who are also on the path to recovery can help everyone feel understood and stay on target. 

    Aftercare Options for the Client

    When the client returns home and begins to assimilate back into their family and day-to-day life, it’s often helpful to have some form of aftercare plan in place. For the young person, aftercare typically involves private counseling sessions that build on what they learned while in treatment. Group therapy, including 12-step groups, can be beneficial, too. If they are attending school, make sure to speak with a guidance counselor. They may have some advice about the residential treatment that was completed and provide insight into achieving educational goals, including any college plans. 

    How Aftercare Can Involve the Family

    Aftercare at home is a multi-faceted plan that doesn’t just involve things for the child to accomplish. While the young person is away at treatment, the time spent apart can allow family members some breathing room and aid in addressing their own behaviors and thought patterns. By the time the loved one is back home, everyone will have had a break from the previous tension and approach the situation with a clearer head. 

    Family members can contribute to the child’s well-being in several ways. Family therapy can help parents and siblings understand their loved one’s journey, how they viewed things before they left for treatment, and how they see things now. It can spotlight how each family member might have contributed to or been affected by the hostile family dynamics in play before the person left for treatment. Conversely, it can also help the client try to see how their mental illness and substance abuse have impacted the family unit. When everyone in the immediate family is allowed to step outside their own experiences and emotions and see how others feel, the benefits can help during the aftercare and years to come. 

    Aftercare that involves the family typically involves the parents helping to hold their child responsible for certain things, such as staying sober. They can also utilize what they’ve learned in family therapy to call out behaviors or an attitude that is a return to old habits, rather than using what they learned in treatment. In return, the child can open a dialogue with their parents when they feel they need more support or a different kind than they are being offered.

    The Dangers of Social and Peer Pressure

    One of the most significant risks for a teenager who has entered sobriety is the pressure that can come from their peers and social situations. Part of aftercare means the young person needs to be prepared for possible encouragement to drink or use drugs from friends or people they meet in social situations. Having a few prepared things to say or giving themselves permission to leave the house or location they are at can help arm them to say no to an unwise choice. Parents also can be involved in this aspect of aftercare by monitoring their child’s peer group and which activities they are prone to engage in. Setting limits on where they go and with whom, as well as reasonable curfews, afford the child needed guidance and practice adhering to rules that reinforce sobriety as a top goal. 

    The hard work of residential treatment for adolescents and young adults dealing with mental health issues and addiction can help them a great deal. Still, aftercare is also vital to continue progress once the person returns home. Aftercare may involve transitional living as a step-down procedure. Once the client is back home, aftercare proves essential to the process of managing mental health and staying sober. Things like private counseling, group therapy, 12-step programs, and educational guidance can all help them stay focused. The family also benefits by addressing their own contributions to helping their loved ones and themselves heal. Sustain Recovery understands how to help adolescents while they are in residential treatment and give them the footing to stay on the right path when they leave. Our beautiful California location provides multiple treatment options. Call us today to find out how we can help your loved one and family heal both now and in the future! (949) 407-9052.


  9. What to Do When a Boundary Has Been Crossed

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    What to Do When a Boundary Has Been Crossed

    You probably already know this all too well, but children love to test the boundaries that their parents set for them. They will push the limits and see how much they can get away with. If you aren’t persistent and firm, they take that as an opportunity to cross the line. As they grow up, they learn more about what is right and what is wrong — but this still doesn’t silence their curiosity. Although your child is now a teenager, they are still enthralled with figuring out how far they can go.

    They may be newly sober after spending time in addiction treatment, but returning home is yet another challenge. They will see what buttons they can push to get what they want. If you aren’t confident and consistent with your boundaries and consequences for your child in recovery, they will likely seize every opportunity they can get their hands on. It’s up to you to enforce the necessary consequences when your child has crossed a boundary. This isn’t going to be easy, but it’s crucial.

    Be Calm and Consistent

    A boundary means nothing if you are not willing to enforce consequences when the line has been crossed. It’s important that you hold your child accountable for their actions. They are aware that they have the power to make the choice between right and wrong. They also know that consequences accompany the wrong choice.

    When a boundary has been crossed, remain calm. It’s important to be consistent with appropriate consequences each time your child crosses the line. By reinforcing your expectations, your child will understand their responsibilities. Consequences will not only show your child that you are serious, but they can also help your child understand the dangers of substance use and identify when their sobriety may be in danger. If a boundary has continually been crossed — even after consequences have been enforced — and you see no effort is being made by your child to adjust their behaviors, it might be time to seek a higher level of care.

    Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

    If your child has crossed a boundary, you need to be able to communicate with them in a healthy way. It’s understandable that you might be frustrated and disappointed, but you cannot let these emotions cloud how you communicate. There is still an expectation that you will act in a respectful and honest manner. Try not to let your temper flare when you are communicating after a boundary has been broken. The more calm you are, the more your child will be willing to listen. If you raise your voice and turn the conversation into an argument, they will most likely shut down.

    In addition, you must be firm with your child when they have crossed a boundary. If you give your child second, third, and fourth chances, they will never take the boundary seriously. Refrain from going back on consequences that you have previously laid out. Instead, be direct and firm. Your child must understand that you are not giving them what they want, but what they need. The way you communicate this is vital.

    Parental Self-Care

    Parenting a child with an addiction isn’t an easy task. Your child will try to test you and see what they can get away with. It’s not uncommon for parents to feel some level of burnout if their child is consistently crossing boundaries. You might find that you have low energy, less patience, and a lack of perspective as you continue to deal with difficult times. This is why it’s so important to make sure that you are taking care of your own well-being, too.

    If your child has crossed a boundary and you feel like you are at your wit’s end, take a step back. You don’t have to react immediately when tempers are high, which can lead you to say things you don’t mean and create further problems. Instead, allow yourself to pause and collect your thoughts. Return with a plan of action when you have calmed down. Give yourself time to be sure that you are making the right decisions, and not just reacting based on your anger.

    In addition, make sure that you are taking time to care for yourself. Parents can often get lost in caring for their child with an addiction. It’s understandable to want to do all that you can to help your child, but you cannot possibly care for them if you aren’t caring for yourself. If you are feeling burnt out, take time to help yourself refuel.

    Act with Compassion, Not Control

    It’s important to remember that although you might be frustrated and angry with your child for crossing a boundary or making a mistake, they still deserve to be treated with care and respect. Treating your child with compassion is essential, but make sure that you aren’t trying to control too much. If you are always making decisions for your child that they can and should make for themselves, you aren’t letting them figure out their recovery on their own. There comes a time when you must step back and let them make their own decisions. They will make the right decisions sometimes — but they will also make mistakes. The most important thing is that you give them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Setting and enforcing boundaries can help greatly with this process.

    Sustain Recovery is here to help you and your child throughout their addiction recovery. We know how difficult it can be to parent a child struggling with substance abuse. Working together, we can teach your family how to be successful in sobriety. To learn more, call us today at (949) 407-9052.

  10. 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.

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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