Tag Archive: mental health

  1. Expanding Horizons Can Teach Self-Esteem

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    Adolescents with addiction or mental health conditions experience negative thought patterns that can lead to poor self-esteem. Changing those patterns can be a challenge for mental health care professionals, particularly when relying primarily on traditional talk therapy. Getting teens to buy into treatment and choose to improve their lives is another obstacle in the recovery process. One way to overcome these challenges is to expand their horizons by introducing them to new experiences.

    The Value of Sharing New Experiences

    A teen with behavioral challenges related to addiction or mental health issues rarely chooses to go to treatment. They are typically being sent to therapy or treatment by parents, school or law enforcement, or any combination of those. If they don’t want to be there, then why would they talk to you? Why would they do the work of getting healthy if they have no desire or incentive to change? Creating motivation for them through talk therapy is particularly challenging. When their only experiences are sitting in groups or classes, they can feel stifled, and these methods may even be counterproductive.

    This is where expanding their horizons by sharing new experiences with your teen clients can help. Finding ways to reach them with activities instead of words can help them not only buy into their treatment but also change their negative thinking. When you are able to get your adolescent clients to change their thought patterns, their self-esteem is boosted as well. They feel self-worth by participating or learning, and they can see the value in improving their thought patterns as well.

    Ideas for Expanding Horizons

    Keeping in mind that the activities you use need to be at least somewhat appealing to teens, not necessarily you, you can choose experiences that will help them become engaged in their treatment process. Some ideas for expanding their horizons are:

    • Use experiential therapies such as art, music, adventure, or animal therapy to introduce new experiences
    • Create a library of books about travel or other interests to offer to them to read
    • Challenge them to try new foods and cuisines
    • Help them learn new skills or hobbies
    • Teach them dance, yoga, or a new sport
    • Include them in group therapy to encourage peer support and social skills
    • Learn about something that interests them so you can participate in or talk about it

    Changing Negative Thought Patterns Through Experiences

    While traditional therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) function to help change negative thought patterns, they are not successful if the client is not a willing participant. Even if engaging them in an experience is still difficult, they are more likely to participate, especially if it is something they are curious about.

    As teens expand their horizons, they open their minds not only to new experiences but also to new ways of thinking. A teen may be willing to accept new ideas and interact with new people who treat them differently, allowing the teen to see themselves differently. As their views change with experiences, their thought processes can change as well.

    Improving Self-Esteem Through Learning

    Education is empowering; this is not a secret. Learning increases knowledge, and knowledge increases opportunities. Learning also helps teens to gain confidence in their abilities and awareness. As they are empowered to become more confident, their self-esteem increases.

    Experiential learning is a particularly effective way for teens to gain knowledge. Gaining new skills or being exposed to new cultures, experiences, and ideas helps them to expand their minds and their horizons. They are able to share their knowledge with others, further increasing their self-esteem as they feel valued and worthwhile. For some of these teens, gaining experiences like these can be life-changing and help them to feel respected and to respect themselves.

    Creating Lifelong Commitment by Expanding Horizons

    Finding new interests and hobbies can give teens a sense of purpose and help them make decisions now and for their future education and careers. Offering teens new opportunities not only expands their horizons but also can forge a commitment to themselves and their recovery. The experiences you offer them can help bind them to their healing and maintain the motivation to stay well.

    New experiences can literally be life-changing for some adolescents. They may be inspired to change their vocational plans or to help or inspire others. Your investment in their lives may even inspire them to follow in your footsteps. Most importantly, the experiences they have with you can restore their self-esteem. Believing in themselves is a priceless gift that can ultimately change the trajectory of their lives.

    Giving adolescents with addiction or mental health conditions new experiences can expand their horizons and help them to buy into their treatment. Helping them to learn and grow builds confidence, which ultimately can help restore their self-esteem. Taking advantage of these opportunities to expose them to new opportunities can be a life-changing experience for them. At Sustain Recovery, our passion is changing lives. Our extended residential program is designed to fill a gap between traditional residential treatment and long-term treatment. We understand that addiction or behaviors are not the problem but rather the way they are coping with the actual problems. We offer structure and consistency within a loving environment during the treatment process. Our program helps them to learn more about themselves and rebuild their self-belief. Please contact our Irvine, California, facility at (949) 407-9052 if you have a client who could use something more than traditional residential care. 

  2. One-Third of Adolescents Experience Anxiety

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    Raising teenagers gives parents a lot of reasons to worry. They concern themselves with ensuring their children have a good education, access to healthcare, and a safe place to call home. Parents prioritize keeping their kids away from drugs and alcohol, and seek help if they develop an issue with substances.

    One thing a lot of parents don’t have on their list of things to worry about is this: Does my child deal with anxiety?

    The National Institute of Mental Health reports some alarming statistics about anxiety among young people. These facts include:

    • Approximately one-third of adolescents have some type of anxiety disorder
    • Of those individuals, eight percent experience a severe impairment
    • The number of female adolescents who have an anxiety disorder is 38.0%
    • Male adolescents experience anxiety disorders at a rate of 26.1%

    Signs That Your Child May Suffer From Anxiety

    Symptoms of a child suffering from an anxiety disorder vary. Common signs include:

    • Constantly worrying about both general and specific things
    • Having panic attacks
    • Feeling fidgety
    • Constant negative feelings and irritability
    • A drop in grades
    • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
    • Loss of interest in school activities and hobbies
    • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
    • Heart palpitations
    • Often feeling cold or sweaty
    • Tingling in hands or feet
    • Chronic complaints of headaches, nausea, and digestion problems
    • Use of drugs or alcohol

    What Causes Anxiety in Children and Teenagers?

    Adolescents who struggle with an anxiety disorder may have one or more reasons for developing one. These are some of the common contributing causes:

    • Adapting to the Pandemic: Children and teenagers do not have a lot of life experience to fall back on. When the world became consumed by the coronavirus, everything familiar to adolescents became altered. Learning new skills like social distancing, attending school from home via a computer, and losing in-person friendships caused much stress.
    • Re-entry agoraphobia” has entered the lexicon, as many people are finding it difficult to return to their old lives. Some adolescents experience anxiety related to returning to school and going places in public.
    • Fear of public violence: Children today have spent their entire lives being taught to prepare for violent acts in public. Schools practice regular drills about how to react to a school shooter. News reports about mass gun shootings cause many children to fear going to everyday places, such as the grocery store or mall.
    • Social media: Websites like Instagram, Tiktok, and Facebook can foster a sense of anxiety in people of all ages. Adolescents, in particular, can live or die by how many likes or views their posts get. They unfairly compare their lives to those of others.
    • Academic pressure: The focus on standardized testing in school can cause many kids to obsess about their grades. Children just beginning elementary school often feel the pressure to compete with each other, whether for daily grades or to get into good college years later.
    • Unstable home environments: Children living in homes with high-stress levels may internalize the stress. Situations like parents who have an unhappy marriage, violence in the home, or economic instability can cause a rise in anxiety levels.

    How to Help Your Adolescent with Anxiety

    Start a conversation with your child about anxiety. Let them know that people of all ages sometimes struggle with it, and it’s nothing to feel shame about. Ask them about specific situations and if these make them feel anxious. Suggest things like school, friendships, family situations, social lives, the pandemic, and worrying about the future.

    Discuss how social media can often present a false image of a person’s life. A friend or classmate may often post about fun activities or enjoying romantic attention. These posts do not paint a full picture of their lives. Many people are dishonest on social media out of their own insecurities. Likes and follows do not equal worthiness.

    Ask yourself what sort of expectations you set for your child and how these may impact them. There is nothing wrong with wanting your kids to succeed in life. Just make sure to help them set reasonable goals and give them time off to relax and enjoy their youth. While some families want their kids to become doctors or corporate executives, parents need to allow individuality and personal interests to emerge.

    Getting a Professional Evaluation for Anxiety

    If you suspect your child or teenager may be overwhelmed by anxiety, make an appointment for an evaluation. Doctors and licensed counselors offer anxiety screenings to help both the parents and child understand what’s going on.

    Many prescription medications can help young people minimize their anxiety symptoms. Speaking with a therapist and exploring professional treatment programs also offer help managing anxiety disorders. Often, just knowing there is a name for what a child is experiencing and proper help can help reduce some of their anxiety.

    About one-third of adolescents experience anxiety in their lives. Reasons for their anxiety can include living during the pandemic, a fear of violence, academic pressure, unstable home environments, and the competitive nature of social media. Parents can help their children by having ongoing discussions about their anxiety levels and how to manage them. A professional medical evaluation, therapy, and medication can offer positive results. Sustain Recovery understands the pressures that adolescents are under today and offers programs that address anxiety disorders and other mental health issues. We also treat addiction to drugs and alcohol in our long-term treatment programs. We offer continuing education, so your child stays up-to-date with their academics. If your child had sought treatment before but did not flourish, we can help. We also keep in touch after program completion to help ensure continued success. Call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052 to help your child start to heal.

  3. Does Your Child Suffer From Failure to Launch?

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    Shortly before the coronavirus pandemic began, a high number of young adults still lived with their parents. A study from the Pew Research Center showed that 47% of people ages 18-29 lived at home with one or more parents before the pandemic. In July of 2020, that number went up to 52%.

    This trend crossed all race, gender, and geographical region lines. Eleven percent of these young adults were neither employed nor attending school.

    Younger People Do Not Feel as Much Pressure to Couple up

    Another study done by the Pew Research Center last year showed that many adults have become frustrated and less interested in dating than previous generations. Of those who are not married or in a relationship but want to date, 67% said their dating lives are not doing well. In addition, 75% said finding someone to date in the previous year proved to be difficult. This trend contributes to many younger people not being in a hurry to have their own place.

    Students Often Return Home After Trouble Adjusting to College

    In past generations, the expectation for graduating high school students was that they attend a four-year university. Going back home after getting their diploma was not a given for those going to school out of town. Today’s generation often postpones college plans or opts not to go at all.

    Many young adults who do begin a college career become overwhelmed when adjusting to academic life. The pressures of adult academics, school work, and choosing a career can place enormous pressure on a person.

    Many people who have parents who tended to do a lot for them find it challenging to switch to “adulting” while away at college. Tasks like waking up on time, paying their bills, and doing their laundry can prove daunting.

    Difficulty Learning to Postpone Payoffs

    One of the fundamental truths in life has to do with learning to postpone satisfaction. College students have to wait years before receiving their diplomas. When entering the workforce, they typically begin at an entry-level position. These young adults must learn to work hard before payoffs like promotions, raises, and better benefits start.

    For individuals raised in the age of the internet, this type of patience may not come easily. Their formative years were spent being able to access information immediately. Communication with friends, family, and strangers around the world was just a few keystrokes away.

    Music and movies can be downloaded in seconds. Whatever cuisine a young adult craves can be delivered to their front door in minutes.

    Growing up in a world that does not foster a sense of working hard and waiting for payoffs can have a negative impact on becoming an adult. This trend makes it difficult for many people to have the patience to develop a career that doesn’t provide instant satisfaction and benefits.

    For this reason, many simply do not leave the nest because they don’t have a complete understanding of how the adult world works.

    Addiction and Mental Health Issues Can Contribute to Failure to Launch

    Sometimes a young adult who has no real plan to leave home may be dealing with some very grownup problems. If they suffer from addiction to alcohol or drugs, this likely contributes to a lack of desire to move out and accept more responsibility.

    Young people who struggle to manage their mental health often feel a need to stick close to home. They may be afraid to grow up and live independently due to a fear of their mental health becoming worse.

    These individuals may not fully understand the skills they need to be out on their own. These skills can include budgeting, bill paying, grocery shopping, and cooking. For them, staying home and letting mom or dad stay at the helm feels safer.

    Seeking Help for Failure to Launch

    When a child has demonstrated a clear failure to launch, a conversation with them can start the ball rolling. Parents should let their children know that while they understand they need assistance in changing, they also have to take some responsibility. A parent can offer empathy and make it clear that everyone has to grow up; adulting does not fall under the heading of “optional.”

    Professional programs can address the issue of failure to launch. These treatment programs typically require the adult child attends a residential facility. The program will provide the individual with time away from their parents’ home, providing a needed break for both the child and their parents.

    This type of program teaches young adults basic life skills that take away some of the mystery of being responsible for themselves. They also offer educational and career counseling to help their clients set goals. Sessions with counselors help young people transition into lasting adulthood.

    Parents should look for programs that address any substance use disorders or mental health diagnoses that accompany the failure to launch. The combined treatment modalities of these types of programs help young adults become confident and eager to assume adult status.

    If you have an adult child who still lives at home and shows no desire to move out, you may be dealing with what’s called a “failure to launch.” This condition involves an adult who still lives with their parents and seems unwilling to grow up and move out. They may suffer from uncertainty about how to be an adult, experience addiction, or have mental health issues. Sustain Recovery treats young adults who have demonstrated a failure to launch. We help them develop excitement about growing up, gaining autonomy, and living on their own. We teach life skills, provide educational and career counseling, and offer regular therapy sessions to help young people develop an understanding of their issues and how to resolve them. We also treat addiction and mental health issues. If you need help launching your child into permanent adulthood, call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052 to get started.

  4. Re-Entry Agoraphobia Causes Patients to Fear Returning to Their Pre-COVID Lives

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    Months ago, many could frame the expectation of life after COVID-19 as exciting and ultimately optimistic. For a lot of people, the reality is shaping up to be quite the opposite. Dr. Arthur Bregman, a Miami-based psychiatrist, refers to the reaction some people have as “cave syndrome.”

    People who fall into this category do not find themselves excited about rejoining society. After spending more than a year engaged in isolation at home, being homebound has become the comfort zone for many. Staying away from people and social situations felt foreign at first. At some point, isolation morphed into feeling comfortable.

    Dr. Bregman indicates that this problem will be widespread. “A lot of people are scared to death of going out,” he said. “Cave syndrome” may be more likely to affect patients who already deal with anxiety-related issues.

    Initial Mental Health and Substance Use Related to the Pandemic Began Early On

    As early into the pandemic as June 2020, people were already combatting mental health-related repercussions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found some startling results. The CDC reported each of the following statistics as being tied directly to living in a world consumed by the coronavirus:

    • 40% of U.S. adults reported dealing with mental health and substance use
    • 31% experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression
    • 26% reported trauma or a stressor-related disorder

    Many Patients Have Developed Re-entry Agoraphobia

    The fear of casting aside the pandemic rules and rejoining society has started presenting itself in many therapists’ offices. Symptoms are similar to that of agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is defined as an extreme or irrational fear of leaving one’s home or entering open or crowded places.

    While those with agoraphobia often do not understand the source of their condition, many attribute this fear to an anxiety disorder. Re-entry agoraphobia stems from being forced to live under severe pandemic conditions for a lengthy amount of time.

    Humans have a natural tendency to be sociable. They often live with others, including family, friends, or roommates. They engage in regular social activities. Leaving their homes for work, shopping, dining out, and spending time with others is natural. COVID-19 forced the world to ignore their social inclinations and live like cave dwellers.

    For many, the “cave” became quite comfortable. They do not share the excitement with others about visiting their favorite restaurant or taking a trip. They have become accustomed to their pandemic lives, and fear of changing it has taken root.

    Some Fear Revolves Around Virus Safety

    Many people suffering from re-entry agoraphobia trace their anxiety to safety concerns. Society racked up over a year of being overwhelmed by deadly statistics and predictions of health hazards. Initially, wearing masks and socially distancing felt foreign. After a while, these changes became the new normal.

    Many people can’t imagine not putting on a mask or being around others who aren’t wearing one. They cringe at the idea of standing close to others in public. Even the thought of hugging a relative or sharing close quarters with a close friend intimidates them. They feel too conditioned to fear this kind of contact to imagine letting it go.

    For them, the world closed in a long time ago. Our once healthy, active lives now revolve around hand sanitizer and avoiding leaving the house. Some even entertain the idea that their lives will always be like this. What started as pandemic-related agoraphobia can turn into a longer-term challenge.

    Treating Patients with a Fear of Returning to Their Old Lives

    Patients who talk to their treatment providers may not fully understand why they developed the fears they now experience. Let them know they have a lot of company. Many people in their circle of friends and family may feel similarly but are afraid to talk about it. People have spent an excessive amount of time dreaming about getting back to normal. Now that society is on the precipice of normalcy, these people worry about why they feel fear and dread.

    Remind your patients that they can take their time easing back into old ways of living. Help them set goals that begin with baby steps. They can start by taking a walk in their neighborhood. The next move might be sitting in an uncrowded area of a public park. Tell them to gradually step up their goals as they become more comfortable reintegrating.

    Discuss the possibility of utilizing medication to help deal with anxiety. Remind your patients that many people use short-term prescriptions to help get them over a difficult transition. Introduce the idea of treatments on the holistic side, such as meditation, aromatherapy, and massage therapy. Feeling they have an arsenal of ways to combat re-entry agoraphobia can help your patients achieve their goals.

    For more than a year, people became trained to wear masks, socially distance, and fear the coronavirus. Now that society is reopening, some find that this has become a habit they find challenging to overcome. Many treatment professionals are finding their patients have developed a form of re-entry agoraphobia. They are afraid to return to pre-pandemic life and need help addressing this fear. Sustain Recovery has a world-class treatment program for adolescents and young adults struggling with substance use disorder and mental health issues. We have adapted our treatment to include anxiety related to COVID-19. We understand how to help young people embrace recovery, manage their mental health, and deal with pandemic-related fears. Our goal is to send them home prepared to re-enter society both in terms of sobriety and a world returning to its old ways. Call us now at (949) 407-9052 to discuss how we can help your clients build a healthy future.

  5. Getting Kids Outside to Exercise

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    exercising outsideCold weather naturally causes many people to stay indoors more often. The added pressure of needing to socially distance for the past year increased time spent inside. Many spent much of that time leading a sedentary lifestyle. Now that the temperature is warmer and the days are longer, it’s time to guide your child into moving around outside.

    Warmer months mean people get outside more and have more options for outdoor exercise. Many adolescents and young adults who struggle with an addiction to alcohol and drugs find that their physical health has suffered, too. Regular exercise can help them improve their physical health. Exercise also establishes a healthy routine that can help replace previous, unhealthy habits.

    If your child is prone to passing the time by staring at screens, exercise becomes even more vital. Take advantage of warmer temperatures and fresh air to give your child a memorable summer. Often it just takes a trip or two outside to remind them of the joys of sunny days and moving their bodies.

    Group Activities Flourish In the Summertime

    Look for group activities that emphasize being physical. Team sports such as soccer and baseball provide a great way to get some exercise. Check neighborhood organizations and community listings for summer teams that are forming. You can also talk to other parents for suggestions on what activities their kids enjoy.

    Activities that don’t feature an actual sport can still provide needed movement for a child. Camping provides an opportunity for hiking, setting up camp, and building muscles while carrying equipment. Young peer groups that go camping together experience multiple benefits. They engage in exercise, problem-solve as a team, and enjoy relaxing time around a fire or gazing up at the stars.

    Membership to a local swimming pool can help your child be among others while they enjoy regular swim sessions. A family membership can help the entire family enjoy time together splashing around.

    Volunteer work that involves being physical also provides a child a chance to get some exercise. Seek out groups that build housing for those in need or require volunteers to help exercise dogs at a shelter. Doing a good deed while working on their physical self can do wonders for a child.

    Exercising Solo Helps Get Your Child Moving

    Your child can also enjoy the sunshine and fresh air with solo activities. Riding a bicycle, skateboarding, and inline skating can give a child an opportunity to move around outside. Track and field events also provide the ability to get their heart rates up. Encourage your child to consider solo exercise-related hobbies that get them moving.

    Exercise Can Help Manage Mental Health

    Many young people who have a substance use disorder also cope with co-occurring disorders. These include mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other conditions. Exercise can also do wonders for mental health by reducing levels of anxiety and elevating positive moods.

    Establishing a habit of engaging in regular exercise can offer the one-two punch that kids need. Their new exercise routines can help them stay on the recovery path and manage their mental health. Addressing both issues provides a young person with a way to feel empowered and healthier.

    If Your Child Is Hesitant to Join a Group or Team

    A child who might have spent a lot of time isolating due to their addiction may be wary of becoming social again. Being part of a group working together as a team can offer benefits. Forming friendships and developing bonds with other members of their age group can have lasting effects.

    Talk to your child about any hesitancy they may feel about becoming more social this summer. Assure them that many kids may be nervous at first when they become part of a new group. Your child may have attended a residential treatment program in the past. If so, remind them of how they likely felt unsure of that in the beginning. They likely shifted to occupying a comfort zone reasonably quickly.

    Similar to adolescents grouped together in a treatment program, summer activities can help bond them. The members all work towards making good use of free time and socialization. Everyone wants to end the summer with good memories of the fun they had and new friends they made. This sort of experience can help a young person focus on maintaining their sobriety.

    Planning For Staying Safe This Summer

    Each community and activity will have its own rules for social distancing. You can check around to see what each activity requires and then determine your comfort level with your child participating in a group or program.

    Pandemic restrictions on movement meant many people have missed out on getting outside to enjoy some exercise. Now that society is starting to reopen and summer is almost here, it’s a whole new ballgame. If your child who copes with a substance use disorder is coming off months of lethargy and staying indoors, you can help them get excited about getting outdoors again. Exercise opportunities include group and solo sports, outside hobbies, and volunteer work. These can benefit their physical and mental health. Sustain Recovery offers well-rounded, long-term programs that help young people embrace recovery. We treat co-occurring mental health disorders and prepare your child for rejoining the family in a healthier mind and body. Our sunny Southern California location offers programs that help kids who may not have responded well to other treatment plans. Call us now at (949) 407-9052 to discuss how we can help bring your child back to an active life.

  6. 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.

  7. The Value of Being Part of a Group

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    Many young people isolate themselves as part of their mental illness and addiction. While they might once have participated group dedicated to hobbies or a sport, they might have dropped out. Isolating becomes the norm. When adolescents have made their “home base” the center of their world, it can make recovery more challenging. Healing does not happen while consistently hiding out alone in a bedroom. 

    One common mental health condition among adolescents and young adults is depression. This overpowering mental illness often leads to them experiencing a lack of interest in socializing. They may also deal with general anxiety or social anxiety, which causes them to fear being part of a group. As these young people make a long-term habit out of isolation, it becomes more challenging to break out of it.

    While the pandemic and related social isolation has narrowed down many opportunities to get out of the house, not all hope is lost. Looking for ways to develop and sustain hobbies can contribute to elevating a person’s mood. Parents and other family members can help their loved ones look for groups to join. Treatment professionals can also be a valuable resource.

    Why Being Part of a Group Can Help

    The World Health Organization (WHO) points out that experiencing happiness is an integral part of a person’s overall health. Studies show that the happiness levels of people in a group can affect one another. Being a member of a group with shared interests and goals can help a person stop isolating and feeling alone. When young people create bonds, they feel more inspired to maintain their sobriety and mental health.

    When a young person has a history of isolation, becoming part of a group can help prepare them for significant life events. Once high school and college campuses are fully open again, students already comfortable in groups have an advantage. Knowing how to be a “team player” might be advantageous to their careers when entering the workforce. 

    Having a comfort level in being part of a group can also spill over into family life. Many sullen teenagers have a history of avoiding family get-togethers. Experience as a person using healthy coping skills to deal with their sobriety and mental illness makes participating in group activities easier. When the family unit comes together to help the young person succeed, great things can happen.

    Groups Within Treatment Programs Create Bonds

    A successful component of seeking addiction treatment often includes going to a residential facility. One advantage of this situation comes from removing the adolescent from negative influences. When surrounded by a peer group that focuses on the abuse of drugs or alcohol, the peer group often impacts their choices and moods. Once in a residential facility, exposure to peers with a different mindset begins. Living among a community of individuals in pursuit of recovery can help influence each person in the group. 

    After leaving a residential program, opportunities to be part of a positive group are plentiful. Group therapy and 12-Step based groups commonly offer young people opportunities to stay focused on their goals. New friendships can form that help replace the toxic ones they left behind when going to treatment. A treatment professional or sponsor can help influence the young person to stay on the path to recovery. Experiencing success by engaging with like-minded peers often increases their chances of staying sober. 

    Look for Groups Based on Common Interests

    Once a young person has completed residential treatment and returned home, look for ways to socialize. If suffering from addiction and mental illness forced them to lose interest in previous hobbies, try helping them jumpstart one or two. Turning over a new leaf can involve finding a new hobby. Ask them if they would like to try something new. Suggestions can include:

     

    • Learning to play a musical instrument
    • Working with shelter animals that need companionship
    • Becoming a budding champion at board games
    • Making jewelry
    • Learning a new language
    • Enjoying a new sport

     

    While the pandemic has limited a lot of hobbies, society has begun to reopen. Keep an eye on safety protocol that allows for gathering together to play sports and other in-person activities. In the meantime, take advantage of options allowing for connections with a group that don’t have to occur in person. The internet offers endless choices for classes that are often free of charge. A young person can use the internet to play chess or other games with opponents. They can use videos to practice guitar or speaking French, which will better prepare them for advanced classes when social distancing is a thing of the past. 

    A common issue of teenagers and young adults who suffer from addiction and mental health concerns is isolation. They often withdraw from social groups and family life, further complicating their ability to receive help. Studies show that being a part of groups and sharing their lives has excellent benefits. Participating in family events and hobbies can help sustain their recovery and lay a healthy blueprint for their adult lives. Sustain Recovery offers multiple levels of care for our clients. We provide inpatient, outpatient, and residential treatment. If other programs have not worked for you or your loved one, we can offer a long-term treatment system that can help achieve long-lasting sobriety. Our Southern California location provides the perfect setting for beginning treatment that is tailor-made for young people. We will help you set and achieve your goals for a new beginning. Call us today to get started on a whole new life! (949) 407-9052.

  8. Why You Should Participate in National Unplugging Day

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    Unplug

    March 5 is National Unplugging Day. This annual event challenges people to go 24 hours without using electronics such as cell phones, computers, televisions, gaming systems, and anything else related to technology. The idea is to spend a day without relying on the internet and screen-based entertainment to connect in other ways of passing the time and accomplishing tasks. Pew Research reports that nine out of ten households have at least one technology-related device, with the average being five. Eighteen percent of households have a whopping ten or more devices. 

    The younger the person, the more likely they are to have access to multiple devices. An entire generation is growing up with no memory of a world where they could not immediately access information and entertainment on a handheld, portable device. For adolescents and young adults, the idea of spending 24 hours without engaging in their tech habits can be scary and frustrating; however, there are benefits for any age group to “unplug” from the e-world. A short respite from electronic life can offer a person the opportunity to let their minds quiet down and recharge

    Engaging the Five Senses

    While there is no denying the convenience of electronic devices, often, they rob a person of the advantages of real-time, in-person contact. Having a phone call instead of texting allows a person to hear things like tone of voice and laughter. However, speaking in-person opens the spectrum up even more. Face-to-face conversations allow for:

    • Seeing body language 
    • Establishing eye contact
    • Feeling a real connection 

    Many people enjoy cooking shows and recipe apps but do not take the next step of testing their skills in the kitchen. Spending some time trying a new recipe or fiddling around with an old one provides a person with the ability to smell cooking aromas and taste the results. 

    If a person considers playing a sport virtually as exercise, it’s time to rethink this. Toggling a few buttons or keys to play baseball or other sports does not provide the benefits of being on your feet, exercising, and getting fresh air. Choose activities that incorporate some or all five senses, making for a richer experience than one coming from electronic devices.

    Less Screen Time Can Mean Better Sleep

    Just the act of setting aside smartphones or turning off screens can mean a person is more likely to engage in other activities. Taking a brisk walk to stretch your legs or other exercise and getting fresh air lends itself to better sleeping patterns, and stop all screen time at least a half-hour before going to bed. Cell phones emit a type of blue light that affects melatonin production–the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle and circadian rhythm. When this is compromised, falling asleep and waking can be much more difficult. 

    Once a person is in bed, choosing a peaceful way to transition to sleep can decrease the amount of time to fall asleep. Reading a book (the physical kind, not an e-book) or listening to calming music are excellent choices. Even activities that seem harmless, like reading the news or scrolling through social media apps, can trick the brain into thinking it needs to stay awake to think about items read. Some news stories or updates on social media sites illicit strong reactions, such as anger, frustration, or sorrow. The mind may remain focused on these feelings rather than making a relaxing transition to sleep.

    Being Plugged in Can Be an Avoidance Technique

    Many people can relate to the idea of “just one more game” or “five more minutes” as an excuse to keep themselves occupied with electronics. In particular, adolescents will jockey for more time doing what feels most comfortable and most fun for them, making it imperative for parents to challenge them. Too often, burying one’s head in electronic devices can be a way of distracting a young person when dealing with mental health issues or sobriety. 

    While National Unplugging Day occurs once annually, unplugging from devices can be done on any day throughout the year. A parent or treatment professional can sit down with a young person to help them plan for a day of being “unplugged.” Discuss what activities they might be avoiding by being tethered to their devices. Make a list of things to accomplish on their “day off,” which could include household chores, studying, getting outside, socializing, journaling, doing volunteer work, or engaging in creative pursuits. Make sure kids understand that being unplugged for a day is not a punishment. Being “unplugged” is an opportunity to shake up a routine and see what one can accomplish.

    National Unplugging Day is a day set aside for people to abstain from their electronic devices, such as smartphones, televisions, computers, video gaming systems, and streaming services. The idea is to reconnect with non-electronic pastimes that involve movement and engaging in all five senses. Doing so can promote better sleep and counter the tendency to avoid accomplishing necessary tasks. When a young person seeks help from Sustain Recovery, we allow them the ability to unplug from their daily life to concentrate on healing. Our clients often find that being removed from their familiar home environment and any unhealthy temptations among peers proves beneficial to hitting the “reset button.” This allows them to learn to thrive in sobriety and manage any co-occurring mental illnesses. When they return home, they are equipped with the skills needed to heal and move forward. Call us today to find out how we can help your child unplug and rejoin life! (949) 407-9052

  9. National Write Down Your Story Day

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    Journal

    Did you know that March 14 is National Write Down Your Story Day? Whether you are more comfortable using pen and paper or utilizing a keyboard, the goal for this day is telling your story. You have many stories to tell, and when it comes to the value of written communication, there are many options available. You might want to choose one particular story to disclose, such as a memorable event from earlier in your life. You might prefer to describe an ongoing process you are involved in that deserves to be explored in storytelling form. 

    However you decide to tell your story, great value abounds in giving your thoughts and experiences a voice. Well-known benefits of writing down your thoughts, feelings, and goals can include: 

    • Boosting your self-esteem
    • Improving your mood 
    • Reducing stress 
    • Improving memory
    • Inspiring creativity

    Keeping a Journal Keeps Your Life in Focus

    If you are new to journaling, the task might feel a bit foolish at first. However, when done regularly over time, there are multiple benefits. Recording impactful life events helps you “in the moment” by allowing you to sort through your feelings and reactions to what is occurring. The process of “laying it out” in written terms gives you a unique overview of events, as well as assistance in making decisions regarding your next move. 

    It also can prove helpful to look back on what you wrote in the future, as you may record details that otherwise would be forgotten. Patterns may emerge in terms of the behavior of yourself or others, which are beneficial to recognize. 

    Write Your Autobiography

    If you have ever read an autobiography, which is the story of one person’s life written by that person, you know how interesting it can be to see the arc of a person’s life played out in a book. One need not be famous to author their autobiography. Make a goal to spend a certain amount of time per day or week to write your history. Sketch out the usual details, such as when and where you were born, your family members, and details related to schooling. Fill in with memories of important events that happened to you and relationships that began or evolved. 

    Fleshing out your life history will likely trigger memories you might not have visited in a long time. Writing can help you better understand things related to your mental health issues and recurring patterns. As these patterns present themselves, you can discuss them with a treatment professional, such as a therapist, to see how you can move forward with this awareness. It might mean you recognize ineffective behavior in yourself or harmful actions from those around you more quickly, allowing you to make smarter decisions and change course if needed.

    Write Your Story That Hasn’t Happened Yet

    There can be great value in writing about the story you would like to live eventually and detail in your journal or life story. Planning for the future can help focus a young person’s mind and give them something tangible to review while learning to manage their mental health and sobriety. Use your new writing pastime to map out what you want your future to be. Start with bigger goals, then break each one down into small steps that move you closer to achieving your goal. Imagine your life after conquering this list and how you might tell this story of accomplishments to others.

    Use “Choose Your Ending” Story Options

    Many virtual and e-stories include the option to “choose your ending,” meaning at specific points in the story, the reader can choose which direction the main character goes. The character might have the option to go through one of three doors, visit a specific city, or engage with a choice of characters. “Choose your ending” means having several chapters that lead to a variety of endings. 

    Try exercising this option in telling your story to anticipate what results you might see, depending on your choices. If you have an upcoming decision to make, consider how things might go, depending on what choices you make. For example, you might be invited to attend an event that could make staying sober difficult. Write out different versions of what you anticipate resulting feelings and actions will be, including if you decline the invitation, go without mental preparation, and go with a plan of action. Ask yourself which is the best outcome for you. 

    You can use the “choose your ending” exercise to help make healthy choices related to many situations in your life!

    March 14 is National Write Down Your Story Day, which gives you ample opportunity to document your past, think about your present, and make choices that help build a better future. Keeping a journal is a popular way to help organize your thoughts and delve into emotions. You can also write your autobiography, plan goals for the story you will tell about your future, and help plan ways to handle difficult situations. At Sustain Recovery, we understand how to guide adolescents in identifying their own stories. Our skilled treatment professionals help our clients put their past in perspective and make better decisions related to their mental health, struggles with addiction, and life goals. We offer various programs to suit the needs of a young person who needs residential treatment and other kinds of assistance. Call us today to find out how we can help put your family back together! (949) 407-9052

  10. Spring Clean Your Way Into Action

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    Happy woman cleaning

    March 20 is the first day of Spring 2021, which brings to mind the long-honored tradition of “spring cleaning.” Many people use the warmer weather as inspiration to throw open the windows and begin a deep cleansing of their homes. Deep cleaning tasks avoided for months,  like cleaning out contents of drawers, closets, and underneath the bed, help organize the house and give a renewed sense of order in people’s lives. 

    Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be restricted solely to cleaning the house. It can be applied to mental health and addiction, too. Spring affords an excellent opportunity to take stock of and clean out old belief systems that hold a young person back. Spring is a time to replace these beliefs with newer, more productive ones. 

    Take Stock of Your Self-Esteem

    Often, when adolescents or young adults begin a treatment program, they lack a positive view of themselves. If a person doesn’t make a habit of monitoring their self-views and work to keep them elevated, they can lose the ground they gained during treatment. Low self-esteem holds many people back in several areas of their sobriety and management of mental illness. Cleaning out any negative thoughts that have set up camp in their head is essential. 

    To monitor where your self-esteem level is, ask yourself what situations tend to trigger negative feelings. Common culprits include work, school, family situations, and romantic relationships. Journal about how you react to each situation and what negative thoughts come up that you can challenge. Work on erasing negative assumptions and “all-or-nothing” thinking, such as “I always fail when I try to do this” or “If this doesn’t work out, I will have messed up everything forever.” Differentiate between feelings and facts. You may feel that a task is impossible; however, this doesn’t mean that you cannot achieve your desired outcome.

    Review Your Mental Health Goals and Accomplishments

    Dealing with mental health diagnoses requires daily action. It is imperative to review what goals you and your treatment professionals set and see where you stand. These goals might include:

     

    • One-on-one therapy sessions 
    • Participating in group meetings
    • Taking any prescribed medications 

     

    Ensure that being “cooped up” during the colder climate and pandemic has not contributed to being less diligent about maintaining these essential tasks. 

    If you have utilized tasks or approaches to manage your mental health that no longer work, “spring clean” those out and restock with ones that work now. You can discuss your options with a member of your treatment team. You can also do research online and read books focused on general mental health topics or your specific diagnosis. Often a new, streamlined approach helps a person feel more inspired as they move into the new season of recovery. Make sure you give yourself credit for all you have accomplished.

    Start Envisioning How Your Future Will Look

    A young person dealing with mental health and addiction issues may have trouble seeing their future as bright and full of possibilities. Remind yourself that you do not need to have every plan sorted out right now. Moving forward requires making individual decisions about things like school and career options. If you are still in high school, talk to your school’s counselor about college choices. If you have certain universities in mind, check their websites to see the degrees offered. If you are not yet sure what field you would like to study, research can offer ideas and inspiration. 

    If you have a general interest, like photography, teaching, or law enforcement, talk to school counselors or treatment team members. Look to anyone you know working in that field for guidance. Brainstorm what degrees would allow you to learn about this field to build a career. Remember that even if you have some college classes under your belt, you can always change direction and work towards a career path that suits the new you.

    Planting a Spring Garden

    While most gardens bring to mind things like flowers and herbs, it is possible to plant a mental garden related to your future. Think about things you would like to come to fruition that take time to grow. It might be having a better relationship with a family member. You can begin by having a calm, sit-down conversation with them to discuss ways the two of you can better understand each other and become closer. 

    You might be interested in looking for new friends. As the coronavirus vaccine becomes more widely distributed and society begins to reopen, more options for socializing will open up. Look around for groups centered around an interest or hobby you enjoy. Try volunteer work focused on something you have an interest in, such as outdoor activities or animals. Building a new circle of friends or social activities takes time. Planning for fun with our friends in the spring can make for a meaningful summer and year ahead.

    Spring cleaning isn’t just about going through closets and cleaning behind the refrigerator. It can be adapted to include ways to take stock of where you are in handling mental health, addiction issues, and general life goals. After a winter full of cold weather and pandemic-related isolation, spring affords an opportunity to review where you are now and plan for growth over the rest of the year. Sustain Recovery can help adolescents and young adults begin their spring cleaning with various programs designed to treat youth who need individualized attention. We offer residential treatment that includes schooling and aftercare programs. Our approaches include clinical interventions, 12-step recovery, and other programs that are well-suited for either a client new to recovery or a person who has been “treatment-resistant” in the past. Call us now at our Southern California location to find out how we can help you or your loved one get on the path to wellness and a bright future! (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

Jenn
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