Tag Archive: recovery

  1. Maintaining the Motivation for Compassionate Care

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    Maintaining the Motivation for Compassionate Care

    You are the heroes of mental healthcare. You see it all – teens at their lowest, their highest, and those who want to die at their own hands. You chose this field because of the compassion you have for teens with substance use and mental health disorders, but what if that compassion wears thin? What do you do when that compassion runs out? How do you maintain the motivation for compassionate care?

    The Elements of Compassionate Care

    According to research presented in a 2020 Frontiers in Psychology review, “Compassion is among the most important virtues in medicine, expected from medical professionals, and anticipated by patients.” Compassionate care has been shown to be crucial to better outcomes for patients. Yet maintaining the motivation for compassionate care is one of the most challenging aspects of the job for health care providers, especially for those in the mental health industry.

    The word compassion comes from the Latin root “compati,” which means “to suffer with.” If you have chosen this industry, then clearly you have compassion for those suffering from mental health disorders. There are five basic elements to compassionate care:

    • Recognizing human suffering
    • Understanding human suffering
    • Feeling for the person suffering
    • Tolerating uncomfortable feelings
    • Motivation to alleviate human suffering

    These elements extend far beyond empathy, concern, and sympathy. Together, they create the motivation to act. Together, they demonstrate that you are willing to “suffer with” your clients. But what happens if you feel that slipping? What if you lose the motivation for compassionate care?

    Finding Your “Why” as a Provider

    One of the strongest motivators is finding your “why.” What was it that made you enter this field? Are you in recovery? Did you lose a family member or friend to drug or alcohol addiction, suicide, or other mental health crisis? What is it that gets you out of bed every day, that motivates you to keep doing this job when everything seems stacked against you?

    Having a “why” and knowing what it is that got you into this field will give you that rock, that foundation to come back to every time you feel like you are a little burned out in the area of compassion.

    Avoiding Compassion Burnout

    Some of the ways to avoid compassion burnout include:

    • Prioritizing breaks and vacations
    • Attending individual and group therapy or meetings for yourself
    • Setting clear boundaries between work and home
    • Practicing gratitude, including a gratitude journal
    • Connecting with peers
    • Maintaining friendships and other relationships outside of work
    • Building your support network
    • Seeking serenity, courage, and wisdom, such as the words from The Serenity Prayer, attributed to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:
      God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    As you actively seek to avoid compassion burnout, you will find solutions that will help you maintain your motivation for compassion, including self-care and self-compassion.

    Recharging Your Batteries

    Using self-care is something you teach your clients, but are you guilty of letting your batteries run out? With growing caseloads and shrinking funding, it may seem like you do not have time to recharge your batteries and practice self-care. Yet you teach your young clients that to be able to care for others, you have to take care of yourself first.

    Self-care can be the daily things you do for yourself, including:

    • Good diet
    • Exercise
    • Good sleep hygiene
    • Mindfulness meditation/yoga

    However, self-care can extend to making time to find things that fuel you and keep you passionate about life and your work. You may take only 15 to 30 minutes a day for this self-care, but find something that inspires you, such as:

    • Gardening
    • Cooking/eating new foods
    • Reading new books
    • Learning a new skill such as dancing, repairing broken objects, learning a new language, etc.
    • Pick up an old hobby, even one from childhood
    • Find shared hobbies with a partner, your child, or someone close to you

    The list of self-care possibilities is endless. As you refuel your batteries, you will find the motivation again to offer compassion to your clients.

    Practicing Self-Compassion

    Practice what you preach. If your compassion tank is running on empty for your clients, look inward and see if you are exercising self-compassion. Are you offering yourself the same type of loving, caring kindness that you would show to a dear friend or loved one? Especially the kind of compassion you would extend to them in a time of crisis?

    When you can look in the mirror and have compassion for yourself, understanding that the job you have is very, very difficult, but very, very important, you can maintain and extend that same compassion to the human beings you call clients.

    Maintaining the motivation for compassionate care is one of the most difficult aspects of working with teens in the mental healthcare industry. By finding your “why,” taking steps to avoid burnout, practicing self-care, and finding your self-compassion, you will be able to maintain the level of compassion that brought you into this job in the first place. At Sustain Recovery, our staff offers compassionate care to teens with substance use and mental health disorders. Our unique extended residential care offers clients the opportunity to gradually return to their lives on their schedule. Our tough love is served with compassion as we allow our clients to buy into their recovery. Our Irvine, California, program is also unique in that we specialize in clients who have struggled to succeed at other programs. Contact us today at (949) 407-9052 if you have a client who you think may benefit from our program.

  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. Turning a “No” Into a “Yes!”

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    Girl

    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.

  4. Tips for Handling the Holidays With Someone in Recovery

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    Holidays

    The holiday season is almost here, and for many people, that means mostly positive activities and time with loved ones that they look forward to every year. For the guardians of an adolescent in recovery from alcohol or drug use, the holidays can mean extra stress. We all want our children to enjoy old traditions and feel the holiday joy they did in simpler times, but it’s essential to be vigilant in adapting to the child’s newfound recovery. Parents can formulate a plan for monitoring their child for signs of struggling during the holiday season and approaches to take to help them.

    Countering the Indulgence Factor

    The holidays often offer a host of temptations for people to enjoy at home and in social situations. Excessive food consumption can disrupt a person’s healthy food intake or diet, leaving them vowing to make up for it in the new year. It becomes more complicated when alcohol is continuously on the menu, and overindulgence is often excused as just part of the season or what everyone else is doing at a party. 

    If an adolescent’s family in recovery is hosting a get-together, consider making it an alcohol-free event. Making an exotic punch or gourmet hot chocolate with a variety of toppings available the star of the drink table helps guests appreciate something different when they might otherwise have expected alcoholic beverages to be served. If this isn’t possible, parents should make a point to talk to any guests who are aware of their child’s newfound sobriety and give them a gentle reminder not to flaunt alcohol consumption or offer even ‘just one sip’ to their child. 

    Look For Signs of a Pending Relapse

    Parents of a child dealing with alcoholism or addiction know it’s essential to be aware of any warning signs of the child being on the brink of relapse. Still, it’s not always easy to determine is how to recognize and interpret the signs. Look for clues that the child is experiencing difficult emotions. They may exhibit symptoms of anger, depression, frustration, or restlessness. Open a dialogue with your child to let them know that the holiday season can make demands on people’s time, and there are false expectations that everyone has to be jolly and upbeat at all times, which isn’t realistic. Let them know they can talk about any emotions they are experiencing that may tempt them to relapse.

    Other signs to look for that may signal a child is on the brink of losing their sobriety include a change in their attitudes, such as reacting negatively to most conversations and situations. They might begin to isolate and withdraw from everyday activities or refuse to participate in family or group events. The parents may see signs that their child has reestablished contact with people from their past who were part of their history of drinking or using drugs. The adolescent might begin to express doubts about their addiction or alcoholism. You may see them testing the waters by claiming they can drink or use drugs again without it being a problem. 

    Start New Traditions

    Part of the holiday season’s joy is taking part in traditional activities that a family has enjoyed for years. Unfortunately, some of these traditions may be reminders of when a child used to engage in drinking or using drugs. While not all traditional activities have to be avoided now that maintaining sobriety is front and center in a family member’s life, beginning new traditions can be quite helpful. Consider doing something that does not center around drinking, such as visiting a local attraction like a park or the zoo. Volunteer options include wrapping presents for children in need, serving a meal to the homeless, or spending a day working with animals in a shelter. Doing things like this honors the holiday spirit without putting temptation on the table.

    Reach Out to Treatment Team Members

    Remind your child that they are always free to reach out to someone from their treatment team if they feel the holidays are adding too much extra stress. A phone call or online meeting with a therapist between regular visits can help assuage a child’s concerns and give them a boost of support they need. If the child has been to a residential facility, take advantage of any aftercare or alumni programs they offer. If the parent isn’t sure what options they have for that, call the facility and let them know what’s going on. They may offer a telephone or in-person consultation, a group meeting, or other ideas to combat holiday stress and keep the child from giving in to temptation. 

    Even when the holiday season brings a lot of joy to a person’s life, it still is not without stress. When the person is an adolescent who is in recovery for alcoholism or drug addiction, it can be challenging to get through a season that focuses so much on indulgence. Family members need to have a good game plan to recognize signs their child is struggling and step in to help them. Sustain Recovery is a program for adolescents who deal with alcohol and drug use and co-occurring mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. We offer residential treatment, including schooling, individual and group therapy, and work with the family to help them continue their newfound recovery after leaving our treatment. Call us today to find out how we can make this and every holiday season one of health and happiness for the entire family! (949) 407-9052.

     

  5. 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.

  6. Understanding Temptation

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

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

    Preventing Relapse Is A Primary Goal

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

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

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

    Understanding Major Relapse Categories

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

    1. Negative Intrapersonal

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

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

    Finding the Right Approach for Treatment

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

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

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

  7. 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.

  8. Finding Joy in Sobriety As a Teen

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    joy in recovery

    Many adults reflect back on their teenage years professing that it was the time of their life. If you’re an adolescent who is newly sober, you might not agree. How can I possibly have fun with my friends if I can no longer use substances? This question is one that we hear often.

    It’s totally understandable that you might be questioning your ability to fit in and have fun in the absence of substances. Sustain Recovery wants you to know that you can find joy in sobriety. Your life isn’t over because you cannot engage in substance use. In fact, you’ll find that there are opportunities for joy in places you may have never thought to look before.

    Your Life Isn’t Over

    For many people who have addictions, their social life and relaxation time before they entered treatment revolved around drinking alcohol or using drugs. This is especially true for adolescents who engage in substance use. Before treatment, you might have solely based your weekend plans on the opportunity to drink or use.

    It’s also not uncommon to form friendships with other people who use substances. But, now that you have gone through substance use treatment, your lifestyle has changed. You are now working on remaining sober. It can be daunting to return home after treatment where so much of your old lifestyle remains.

    Sustain Recovery is here to encourage you during this difficult time. We’re here to remind you that your life is just beginning! You can’t use substances anymore, but there are so many other opportunities to find joy and have fun in recovery. Now is the time to shift your focus from what have you lost to all that you have gained.

    Endless Opportunities Await You

    Keep your new mindset and goals in mind when you are searching for opportunities that will bring you a healthy dose of joy and fun. Substance use can sometimes stem from the need to feel connected to others. You may have felt pressured to use substances because your friends were using and you wanted to fit in.

    While that sense of connection isn’t going away, there are many other ways to feel connected that don’t involve substance use. Think about sober activities you enjoy. Whether it be playing sports, being creative, learning something new, or helping others, you can build connections through these activities.

    Sports

    If you are looking for a way to make new friends in recovery, sports are a great place to start. There are leagues you can join if you enjoy playing sports, groups that meet up at local games to watch, and online communities that serve as a space to talk about, analyze, and debate sports of all kinds. Meeting and engaging with people who share your love for sports is a great way to build friendships and have fun without engaging in substance use.

    Get Creative

    There are also a plethora of creative activities to try in your recovery. From book clubs to gardening groups, there is a space for you if you enjoy being creative. Not only do these activities foster connection, they also help you find healthy ways to process and express your emotions. Allowing yourself to be creative gives you the space to be vulnerable — and vulnerability gives you the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with others who might be going through similar things as you.

    Learn Something New

    While school gives you the space to learn subjects like language, mathematics, or science, there may be other subjects that you are interested in exploring. Take advantage of your free time in recovery to learn something new. For example, you might be interested in learning how to code or how to cook.

    Check out materials from your local library that give you a step-by-step guide on learning to code or a cookbook with cultural recipes you’d love to try. Learning something new will challenge you in healthy ways and help you explore parts of yourself that were hidden by your addiction.

    Help Others

    One of the best things you can do when you’re struggling is to help others. Not only are you giving others hope when you volunteer, you will feel better about giving back to your community. If you love animals, check out a local shelter and ask how you can help.

    If you are a people person, find groups that help the elderly or those with disabilities. Volunteering can give you the opportunity to meet new people who share your passions. The joy you feel from helping others is something that you won’t find anywhere else.

    You Can Do This

    Giving yourself the space to find excitement in activities that don’t involve alcohol or drugs is necessary in your recovery. Try to let go of any anger you’re holding for not being able to use substances. There’s a whole world out there to explore if you are sober.

    You’ll meet new friends who share your beliefs and similar goals. You’ll find activities that thrill you beyond a buzz or high. Your recovery is going to be as joyful and fun as you make it. Keep an open mind and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Your life is just beginning.

    At Sustain Recovery, we can help you find the joy and fun that you are craving beyond substances. We provide the ideal environment for adolescents to begin their recovery in a serene, structured, and safe place. Let us help you overcome your addiction and show you how amazing life can be. To learn more, call us today at (949) 407-9052.

  9. Putting a Stop to Enabling

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    Putting a Stop to EnablingAdults, especially parents, often act as enablers for an adolescent’s substance abuse. Although they mean well, adults close to adolescents who engage in self-destructive behaviors often have trouble understanding where supporting ends and enabling begins. As the professional, you have the ability to see the situation with clearer eyes. You can help parents and caregivers walk this fine line in a more productive way, so they are no longer contributing to their child’s substance abuse.

    Supporting vs. Enabling

    Parents of adolescents who abuse substances don’t always know how to handle their child’s behavior. Their emotional ties can cloud their decision-making skills and leave them questioning what the right approach is. You can help parents understand where supporting ends and enabling begins. Generally, parents who are supporting their children help their child with things they are not yet capable of doing on their own. On the other hand, parents who are enabling their child’s bad behaviors do so by shielding their child from negative consequences. Enabling sends their child the message that their behavior is okay.

    Parents who are enablers promote their child’s bad behaviors in many different ways. They may make excuses for their child’s behavior, have trouble enforcing rules, or even take it upon themselves to solve their child’s problem for them. While they may think they’re doing the right thing and helping their child, they are actually strengthening the bad behaviors and holding their child back because their child is never left to deal with the consequences of their actions. This typically leads to dependence and is very unhealthy for all involved.

    Problem vs. Solution

    As a professional, you can help parents learn to stop enabling their child by helping them understand the reason for the substance abuse. Instead of looking at the abuse of substances as the problem, you can explain to them that the adolescent used substances to help them cope with the problems they were experiencing. Each time the parents engage in enabling behavior, they’re reinforcing the bad behavior and sending the message that the child’s only problem is their substance abuse. By helping parents reframe how they see their child’s addiction, they can take steps to stop the enabling of their child’s behavior and instead support their child’s journey of recovering from the root problem.

    For example, a parent who routinely makes excuses for their child’s substance abuse is focusing on substances as the problem. If they can shift to looking at substances as their child’s solution, they will be better able to support their child as they process the deep emotions that go along with depression, anxiety, trauma, and other issues. Helping parents retrain their mindset from enabling to supporting is a great way to create lasting healthy change in the adolescent’s recovery.

    Wants vs. Needs

    Adolescents whose parents act as enablers often give their child what they want when they want it. However, adolescents whose parents act as supporters usually give their child what they need when they need it. This is a key difference that can be very helpful to pass along to the parents of the adolescent who engages in substance abuse. You can help parents stand on the right side of the supporting and enabling line by helping them understand the importance of boundaries.

    Boundaries are set by parents who act as supporters, not enablers, because boundaries ensure that the adolescent gets what they need instead of what they want. When their child returns home from treatment, it’s common for them to test limits and see if they can get what they want without any serious consequences. This is where the parents must hold their ground. Enablers usually give in if their buttons are pushed, but supporters will stand their ground and enforce the healthy boundaries that are necessary for their child’s sobriety.

    If their child crosses a boundary, supportive parents will hand down the consequences for their child’s actions. Enablers, on the other hand, make excuses and have trouble enforcing the consequences. As the professional, you can help parents decide what the necessary boundaries are for their child in recovery and help them determine what consequences are appropriate for when the child crosses a boundary.

    Nobody Is Perfect

    Redirecting their child’s unhealthy behavior isn’t going to be an easy task for parents who are used to enabling that behavior. Parents aren’t going to be the only ones who have trouble with this — the adolescent will probably be very surprised when their parents set limits and don’t waver in difficult situations. The adolescent will try to find a way to get what they want and will be uncomfortable when they are met with firm consequences.

    It’s important to remind the family that they shouldn’t be striving for perfection. Encourage the parents to stand tall and firm, reminding them that their child will benefit from supportive behavior in the long run, even if they are upset with it now. Their child will learn to make the right decisions with a little bit of trial and error. They, too, will thrive with the right balance of supportive behavior.

    Recovery is a learning process for both the adolescent and their parents. Sustain Recovery is here to help everyone, including you as their professional, through this process. By helping them understand how they can stop enabling their children, parents will be able to act as supporters and facilitate a healthy and positive recovery. Let’s work together to help your clients and their families heal from substance abuse and addiction. To learn more, call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052.

  10. Setting the Tone for Your Client’s Recovery

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    Setting the Tone for Your Client’s RecoverySetting a successful tone for your adolescent client’s recovery from substance abuse is crucial. It’s not uncommon for adolescents to be skeptical about treatment. Many believe that they don’t have a problem and that their parents are just overreacting. This is why it’s so important to foster a strong sense of connection with the adolescent.

    Here at Sustain Recovery, we believe that if you bring the body, the mind will follow. The first few sessions with the adolescent are vital to helping them understand that their abuse of substances isn’t the root problem — their abuse of substances is how they coped with those problems.

    While at first they may not agree that their present coping mechanism isn’t working, the more they show up and work with you, they will come to understand the impact of their substance abuse and that there are healthier coping skills they can use. As they put these healthier actions into place, the mind will come around and understand that they can lead a happier and healthier life if they maintain their sobriety.

    Holistic Treatment Is Key

    When working with adolescent substance abuse, we cannot stress the importance of holistic treatment enough. Like we said before, substances aren’t the adolescent’s problem. Substances are the adolescent’s solution to their problems. These problems may include depression, anxiety, trauma, a lack of self-esteem, intense feelings of isolation, and more. If you overlook the adolescent’s mental illness and trauma, you’re doing them a huge disservice.

    Think of their substance abuse like a bandage on an infected wound. Slapping a bandage on and moving along may briefly help them forget that the infected wound is there. But after a while, they remember that the wound is still infected. The infection might have grown larger, so they reach for an even larger bandage to cover the infection that has spread.

    Treating only an adolescent’s substance abuse is like using a bandage as a quick solution. While they may maintain their sobriety for a while, they must find another way to cover up the mental illness or trauma that is causing them so much pain — and this is where holistic treatment comes in.

    Holistic treatment for substance abuse is akin to removing the bandage, cleaning the wound, and treating the infection with proper antibiotics. Holistic treatment takes the adolescent’s mind, body, and spirit all into account. With holistic treatment, you can help the adolescent process their trauma so that it no longer has such a suffocating grip on their life.

    By giving them the tools they need for a successful recovery, they will have the knowledge and ability to work through future struggles without turning to substances to help them get by. It’s also important to encourage the adolescent to take care of their physical body by exercising, eating healthy foods, and sleeping enough. Recovery is about helping the adolescent transform their whole being, not just focusing on getting them sober in the present moment. You have the key to set the successful tone for your client’s life-long recovery and unlock their full potential.

    Building Trust

    Your adolescent client’s skepticism helps them remain in control of their situation. As long as they keep telling themselves they don’t have a problem, then they don’t have to deal with their problems. As a professional, you can build trust with the adolescent and help break down the walls they have been putting up. By validating your client’s concerns, you’re telling them I see you and I hear you. This connection helps to build trust and respect between you and your client.

    While others, such as the adolescent’s parents, may try to control and make decisions for the adolescent’s recovery, the fact that you are acknowledging their problems and helping them take active steps in their recovery shows that you can help them be successful in their recovery. Independence is important for adolescents. If you can help them see that they can take steps toward their sobriety, they’ll be more willing to make those changes than if someone else was making those changes for them.

    Helping Them Buy In

    The old saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink” is well-known for a reason. At Sustain Recovery, we like to say that while you can’t make them drink, you can make them thirsty. When working with skeptical adolescents who abuse substances, you can help them buy into treatment. Instead of trying to get the adolescent to think their way into better acting, help them act their way into better thinking.

    The repetition of engaging in positive behaviors retrains the adolescent’s brain. Although it might be uncomfortable for them in the short-term, they’ll come to learn that healthy behaviors come with positive consequences. Their skepticism will soon fade and they’ll take the initiative to engage in healthy behaviors on their own.

    Sustain Recovery is here to help adolescents in their recovery journey. We believe in using holistic treatment to solve the issues below the surface that are causing the adolescent to engage in substance abuse. As a professional, you have the power to set the tone for an adolescent’s successful recovery. Let’s work together to help your client find the path to sobriety. We provide adolescents with a positive and loving environment where they can address their addiction and mental health needs. To learn more about our programs, call us today at (949) 407-9052.

I first met Sayeh in November of 2013 just after my 15 year old daughter had been admitted to a residential treatment program. As part of the program I was required to attend 2-3 AlAnon meetings a week. Sayeh attended the same AlAnon meetings as well as Alumni events as I. It soon became apparent to me that Sayeh had a heart for recovery, program, and God. When I was encouraged to get a sponsor I didn’t hesitate. Dependable, respectful, kind and generous of spirit, she exudes an inner peace that I hope to achieve with her loving guidance, as I work my own program. She is patient, & full of wisdom that she is always happy to share with her sponsees and fellow parents. I am so grateful our journeys brought us together.

Megan
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