Tag Archive: relationships

  1. How Community Can Help Adolescents Heal

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    How Community Can Help Adolescents Heal

    Building a healthy community is often challenging for teens who struggle with addiction and mental health disorders. However, friendships and community are essential in supporting teens’ mental health and helping them learn how to build healthy relationships as an adult.

    By learning to communicate effectively and build strong bonds of friendships, teens can heal from mental health issues and addiction. However, communication and building friendships are not easy skills. Teens who are struggling with addiction and mental health disorders can work with a treatment center to improve these skills and reap the benefits of community as a teen and in the future.

    Challenges of Building Community

    When teens are struggling with mental health challenges or addiction, it is difficult for them to be a part of a healthy community. Mental health and addiction are extremely isolating. For teens, the symptoms caused by mental health difficulties and addiction lead to their experiences in life being very different from many of their peers. As a result, they can feel like they are out of the loop or don’t fit in with those around them.

    Additionally, difficulties with mental health and addiction can be embarrassing for teens. Feelings of shame can make it difficult to acknowledge and open up about their experiences. However, being open with others is a crucial part of building relationships. Therefore, even if a teen is spending time with a community, they need to learn to be open and form healthy bonds.

    How Adolescents Benefit From Community

    Adolescents who struggle with their mental health or addiction commonly isolate. However, there are many benefits of them learning to build a healthy community. It can help in the healing process from mental health disorders, improve their feelings of self-worth, and set them up for success in adulthood.

    Healing From Mental Health Issues

    There are many challenges in adolescence, and many teens experience mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and other disorders. Healing from these mental health issues is not simple. However, having healthy close friendships and a community can be beneficial.

    Researchers have found that adolescents with solid friendships have a decreased risk of depression and anxiety by early adulthood. It is important to note that close friendships do not mean having a huge group of friends. Rather, such friendships indicate that the relationships are strong and healthy bonds. Research suggests that when adolescents prioritize these close friendships, they are better prepared to cope with the stress in early adulthood.

    Improving Self-Worth

    When teens feel lonely and isolated, they often feel bad about themselves. Research indicates that teens who lack community and friendships have decreased self-worth. This is particularly problematic for adolescents who are struggling with their mental health or addiction, as they increase their feelings of shame. By improving their community and friendships, teens begin to improve their self-worth and see themselves as valuable.

    Learning Communication Skills

    Having good communication skills is very important for people at any age in order to build relationships, work together, and solve problems. However, communication is a skill, something that can help teens decrease loneliness and build genuine friendships.

    Adolescence is an important time for development, including cultivating communication skills. When a teen builds a community, they can practice how to create and maintain friendships. While they may make mistakes, it is an ideal time to learn how to solve problems, compromise, and work with others.

    Developing these skills as a teen will help them as an adult in numerous ways. It will help them to maintain positive personal relationships and build connections in the workplace and other settings.

    Decreased Risk of Addiction

    Many teens who struggle with their mental health use drugs and alcohol. Long-term use of drugs and alcohol can result in physical dependency and emotional patterns of addiction. Researchers have found that teens with better communication skills have a decreased risk of substance abuse. Therefore, by building a community and improving communication skills, teens are less likely to develop substance use disorders (SUDs).

    Learning to Build a Community

    Being part of a community is essential for teens. However, building and maintaining friendships and community take effort and social skills. For teens who struggle with mental health issues or addiction, these skills are often underdeveloped. However, teens can learn how to effectively build a community.

    By working with a mental health care professional or treatment program, teens can improve their social skills. This involves working with a counselor to solve individual issues and participating in group activities that are supervised. In this setting, teens can learn new skills and practice them with others. As they return to life after treatment, they will be more prepared and have a toolbox of social skills to use as a teen and later as an adult.

    Many teens who struggle with addiction and mental health disorders lack a solid community. However, being a part of a community and learning to form healthy relationships can help teens heal from both mental health issues and addiction. By learning improved social skills, teens have decreased risk of addiction, improved mental health, and a better sense of self-worth. At Sustain Recovery, our programs help teens to build better communication skills. Our programs are an integrated balance of clinical interventions, 12-Step recovery, and holistic care. To learn more about our programs and how they help teens improve communication skills and build community, call us today at (949) 407-9052 to speak with a staff member. 

  2. Building Relationships of Trust With Clients

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    Whether you are a clinician or professional who has worked with adolescents for years or someone who is just starting out, we can all use a little reminder at times about how it felt to be an adolescent. The world was both exciting and terrifying, freeing and yet so restrictive, and adults could not be trusted. When you are working with adolescents who are abusing substances, have mental health diagnoses, have behaviors, and/or have been through trauma, trust is a really big deal to them. Developing that trust can be difficult, particularly with certain clients. So for a few minutes, forget about seeing adolescents through the eyes of a professional and look at yourself through the eyes of an adolescent to see how you can better build relationships of trust.

    Why Respecting Boundaries Is So Crucial

    Too many adolescents have seen too much. Whether it was trauma inflicted upon them, or the consequences of their own actions, their faith in people, and adults in particular, may be fragile or non-existent. To make matters worse, the people in their lives–parents, school employees, law enforcement personnel, doctors, therapists, case managers, and more–may not have shown respect for their boundaries, either.

    This is where you can really help them to begin to heal. Being cognizant of their personal space, their reactions to visual and audio stimuli, being willing to just sit in silence until they are ready to talk are all physical manifestations that you respect them and their boundaries. Allowing them to progress on their own terms instead of trying to force them through a set program or timeline demonstrates that you recognize and value them as a human being and an individual. Respecting boundaries is one of the first and most crucial steps to building a relationship of trust with adolescents.

    On Being Genuine

    Adolescents are excellent at recognizing someone who is being genuine. Likewise, they will be painfully aware when you are not. They may test you beyond what seems reasonable to make sure they feel safe, that you are going to do what you say and not just give them lip service. They are not necessarily testing you to annoy you or perhaps not even to push you away. Rather, they are likely testing you to find out if they can trust you and if you will trust them back.

    Listen, Listen, Listen, Listen

    There may not be another species on earth that is more acutely aware of when you are not listening than the adolescent. If you are remotely distracted by anything, they will notice it. Perhaps this is because they themselves can be masters of distraction, but when they are crying out for help, they are also looking for someone who is completely present and committed to helping them. Put your phone away, remove other distractions, and listen with your ears, eyes, mind, and heart to a fellow human being in need.

    Respect Is Given Where Respect Is Received

    Being in a position of authority does not mean being authoritative. Nor does it mean that you must act like an adolescent or try to be like them. Gaining respect is different than gaining approval. Trust is a relationship that is built on mutual respect. Professionals and clinicians who can master the art of respecting their adolescent clients have such an advantage because so few adults truly demonstrate respect toward adolescents.

    Respect combines all of the important elements of respecting boundaries, being genuine, and listening to your client. Respect also includes taking the time to ensure that you truly hear what they are saying, whether or not they are expressing that in words. Learning to read body language, make eye contact, and just being willing to invest the time needed will help you to truly understand your client better and show them respect. You can receive respect in turn by modeling effective communication, being consistent, and showing up for them. When you are able to do these things, you create more opportunities to build relationships of trust.

    Trust In Yourself

    Adolescents are also like sharks that smell blood if you exhibit signs of self-doubt or fear. They will take advantage of it and can make life more difficult for all involved. Trusting yourself to be genuine, listen, show respect,  and give them the care they need may be harder than it sounds. Self-doubt in new situations with new clients or in new settings is human, but believing in yourself and your training, experience, and wisdom will help you build trust with your client.

    Sometimes it is even more difficult to admit that they need someone or something else than you have to offer. Trusting in yourself also means that you trust yourself to always do the right thing for your client.

    Sometimes it is helpful to see yourself through the eyes of your client when you are looking to build a relationship of trust. Remembering to respect boundaries, be genuine, listen, and treat your client with respect will help you create a mutually trusting relationship. At Sustain Recovery, we work very hard to build relationships of trust with both our clients and their families. Trust is an important component of healing in situations of substance abuse and mental health, particularly with adolescents. What makes us truly unique is that our program is longer than typical residential treatment for substance abuse, yet shorter than long-term residential. The extended care program allows us to help adolescents transition back home and make connections with others in their community to experience lasting success and mental health. Feel free to call us at (949) 407-9052 to find out more about adolescent extended care and if our program could be right for your child or client.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. How to Know if the Stress is Too Much

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    Stress occurs when the individual perceives that demands placed on them — such as work, school or relationships — exceed their ability to cope. Not all stress is a bad thing. A little bit of stress can keep the individual alert, motivated and ready to respond to threat. Whether it’s preparing for a job interview or getting out of the way of a speeding car, it’s stress that gets the job done. However, unregulated stress can take its toll on the body and brain. A lot of repeated stress has been linked to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, anxiety, chronic pain and depression, among others. So how can stress be identified?

    Identifying Stress

    It is important to deal with stress, but it can be tricky to identify whether what the individual is feeling is stress or something else. This can be difficult because stress is subjective and reveals itself differently in different people. Some common signs of stress may be:

    • Shallow breathing.
    • Tensed body, like hunched shoulders and stiff neck. Clenching of the fists and jaw.
    • Skin break outs. Stress raises the levels of cortisol in the body which boosts oil production in the skin and can result in acne and blemishes.
    • Fatigue.
    • Difficulty sleeping.
    • Constantly worrying.
    • Physically shaky.
    • Thinning hair. Stress can cause the body to put a halt on hair growth.
    • More than usual use of substances like alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
    • Feeling feverish. Psychological stress can raise body temperature.
    • Grinding teeth while sleeping.
    • Brittle nails.
    • Troubled digestive tract, suffering from constipation, indigestion or diarrhea.
    • Feeling restless and fidgety.
    • Difficulty in decision making.
    • Trouble concentrating and thinking clearly.
    • Very emotional.
    • Feeling unhappy without any real cause.
    • Changes in eating patterns.  

    Tips to Manage Stress

    What is the individual to do when they are stressed? Dealing with stress is an individual pursuit, just like stress itself is subjective. Some techniques to reduce stress are:

    • Take a break – The individual should give themselves permission to step away from whatever it is that’s stressing them out. Doing something else, even for a short amount of time, will allow the individual to feel less overwhelmed.
    • Exercise – There are multiple benefits to exercise for the mind as well as the body. A short walk or run, pool time, yoga class, any form of exercise in the midst of a stressful time can immediately calm the individual down and keep them calm for several hours.
    • Social support – It can often help to call a friend, or send an email to a loved one. Sharing one’s concerns or feelings with another person can help relieve stress.
    • Meditate – One of the most popular ways to relieve stress, mindful meditation can help the mind and body to relax. Meditation can help release emotions that the individual has been holding on to which is causing them stress. Similar to exercising, even brief meditation sessions can reap immediate benefits.

    Stress can’t be eliminated, but it can be identified, and by finding positive and healthy ways to deal with it, can be managed.


    Sustain Recovery offers extended stay treatment programs for adolescents. Learn to deal with stress and other issues in a safe, structured environment. Call us to find out more.

  6. Healthy Dating In Recovery

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    Healthy Dating In RecoveryDating is a topic that comes up often in 12 step meetings, and the response is usually this:

    Don’t date — at least not for a while.

    Could it really be that cut and dry, though? Recovery never truly “ends,” yet most people can’t just stay single forever. Exactly how long should you wait to start dating again? 

    Generally, it’s recommended that you wait at least three to four months after treatment to attempt a romantic relationship, but it really comes down to the individual and their progress. Some people need longer to become emotionally stable again; only then might they be ready. Knowing when that time has come is trickier than it sounds, because a big part of recovery, along with all the difficulties, is experiencing dramatic boosts in confidence – sometimes too dramatic — toward the end. That cockiness is what leads so many people back to the bars, the casino, or the dating scene–and then back into the addiction cycle.


    Relationships and Relapse

    Relationships cause emotional turmoil even for regular people; even the good emotions can be too much for someone trying to stay calm and collected, though the biggest threat is, of course, the fighting. For recovering addicts trying to avoid relapse, relationships are like minefields. No matter how safe they seem–explosions happen. Before an addict jumps into a relationship, they should run the idea by their sponsor, their therapist, or someone else involved in their treatment aftercare. Hear them out, no matter how much it hurts. An outside voice is important to have.  A failed relationship or broken heart could be a major relapse trigger.


    Relationships and Compromise

    The addict may not be an active user anymore, but they’ll always be in recovery, which means the condition isn’t just some dark event from the past that needn’t be mentioned; it’s ongoing. If a recovering addict decides to go ahead and date–whether they’re ready or not–it’s essential that the partner understands the territory, and that both partners share the same top priority: sobriety.

    That could be a big sacrifice for the non-addict, and it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes painful decisions must be made. If the partner won’t stop drinking or smoking, or there’s too much bickering going on–the relationship must end.


    Relationships and Healing

    If an addict relapses while in a relationship, it doesn’t necessarily mean he should break up with his partner or that it was the relationship’s fault. A relapse doesn’t necessarily mean someone wasn’t ready for normal life (jobs, children, relationships, etc). Recovery is a bumpy road; slips happen. Many addicts swerve into full-blown relapse and land themselves back at square one; others, however, manage to regain control. If someone vows to stay sober despite these setbacks, and the partner wants to stick around and continue to help, there’s no need to object. In fact, the emotional support can serve as a useful tool. Remember, though, that just because you’re clean and sober and happy doesn’t mean your partner has a responsibility to date you forever. Never hold your condition against someone. At the end of the day, you want someone whom you make happy, not a co-dependent partner whose perception of happiness revolves around yours.


    Ready to get your life back by seeking recovery from addiction?

    Contact Sustain Recovery today to learn about your treatment and aftercare options.

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

© 2023 OCTLC Inc.