Tag Archive: substance abuse

  1. How Self-Awareness Helps Teens Heal From Substance Abuse

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    How Self-Awareness Helps Teens Heal From Substance Abuse

    Helping teens heal from substance abuse has a significant impact on their lives, both in adolescence and adulthood. To effectively help teens, it is important that they learn skills that protect them from further challenges with their mental health and substance abuse. That is why treatment at Sustain Recovery focuses on improving skills like self-awareness that make a lasting impact. Self-awareness helps teens heal from substance abuse, while giving them a tool that makes a lasting difference in their ability to manage challenges in the future without looking to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope.

    Substance Abuse in Teens

    Many teens are at high risk for substance abuse. While every situation is unique, risk factors for teen substance abuse include:

    • Family history of substance use/abuse
    • Lack of parental monitoring
    • Substance use at home
    • Lack of social connections and engagement in school
    • Abuse or neglect
    • Mental health disorders

    When teens begin to abuse substances, it impacts them in a unique way. This is because teens are at an important stage in their development. Substance abuse impacts their development and often creates issues both in their teenage years and far into adulthood. As a result, it is important that teens learn skills that help them heal and manage their mental health and substance use into adulthood.

    Helping Teens Improve Self-Awareness

    Teens are in the process of learning about themselves. During adolescence, teens learn many things about themselves. This includes learning to identify emotions, thoughts, and reactions. Additionally, it often means learning about how they are and have been impacted by experiences in their lives, including societal violence and trauma.

    It takes time for teens to improve their self-awareness. However, treatment at Sustain Recovery utilizes many different tools that help. Traditional psychotherapy techniques aid teens by giving them a space to be open and process their experiences, feelings, and thoughts, while getting feedback from a counselor who helps them improve their self-awareness. Additionally, other therapeutic techniques, like group therapy, family therapy, and non-traditional therapies, help provide teens a space to improve awareness of social needs in a safe and supported space.

    Self-Awareness Helps Teens Heal

    Healing from substance abuse issues is very challenging for teens. Teens are often not aware of what factors influence their substance use and why it is so important for them to take strides toward healing. Fortunately, learning to improve their self-awareness helps teens understand how to care for their needs and cope without abusing substances.

    Mental Health and Self-Awareness

    Substance abuse and mental health issues often go hand in hand. Each teen struggling with their mental health and substance abuse will have their own unique challenges. However, their mental health challenges put them at more risk for substance abuse. Therefore, it is important to help teens understand this connection and build skills like self-awareness that help them manage both mental health and substance abuse challenges.

    There are many unique reasons why a teen will struggle with both a mental health disorder and substance use disorder (SUD). However, many teens with mental health disorders struggle daily with symptoms that disrupt their life. To cope, they may begin to use substances to get through the day. Unfortunately, this results in substance abuse. Improving self-awareness helps teens understand the mental health challenges they are facing and how substance abuse often makes them worse over time. While self-awareness is not the end of the line, it is essential in helping teens understand how to manage their mental health.

    Self-Awareness Helps Teens Struggling with Substance Abuse

    Teens abuse substances for many reasons, including trauma, social pressure, and the lack of emotional coping skills. Self-awareness of the specific challenges they face helps teens heal. It is only when they understand what is causing them to reach for substances that they can learn new skills that help them feel like they have a choice in how they cope.

    Often, when a teen struggles with substance abuse, they also struggle with emotional issues. For some, these emotional challenges may originate from trauma. However, many teens also struggle to identify and manage their emotions in general. Unregulated emotions often lead to substance use as a way to cope with the anguish they are feeling inside. Fortunately, by improving awareness, teens can identify how they are feeling. Through treatment, they can learn new skills and methods to manage these emotions, which helps with both short-term and long-term substance abuse recovery.

    Self-awareness is extremely helpful in ensuring that teens know how to manage social pressures with substance use. This is because self-awareness helps teens improve resistance skills. Resistance skills are necessary for teens to know when they are going to feel pressured socially to use substances and how to manage these situations. Therefore, by improving self-awareness, teens can manage these situations. This results in long-term behavioral changes surrounding substance abuse.

    Teens commonly lack self-awareness and are in the process of learning about themselves and their needs. Helping a teen do so now can set them up for success later on in life. Doing so also helps them heal from substance abuse and can help them stay sober long-term. At Sustain Recovery, we believe in providing treatment that makes a lasting impact on a teen’s life. Therefore, we incorporate skills such as self-awareness that, once learned, help teens manage their mental health and heal. If you are interested in learning more about our treatment programs and how they help teens build a foundation of skills, call us today at (949) 407-9052.

  2. Holding Yourself Accountable as a Parent

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    As a parent, you may find it difficult to say “I was wrong,” “I’m sorry,” or “I made a mistake.” Some people view this as a sign of weakness or fallibility, something they cannot show to their children. Others view their roles as authoritative and feel it will undermine their power to admit to a mistake. Still others struggle to acknowledge that they did something wrong, but children are always watching. Especially when you do something that you have told them not to do, they will notice. That scenario is likely to happen at some point—we are all human— but whether or not you are accountable for your words and actions as a parent is what truly impacts your child.

    “Do What I Say, Not What I Do”

    Whether it is cursing because another driver cut you off on the road, having your cell phone at the dinner table, or drinking heavily, your child will absolutely notice a double standard between what they are expected to do and what you are doing as a parent. Obviously, your child will have more stringent guidelines to follow, but they will also find hypocrisy when you have asked them to comply with a rule for the benefit of the family and you yourself do not also comply.

    Some parents really struggle with following their own rules and might tell their children “Do what I say, not what I do.” The lack of accountability in that statement alone is not only confusing but can cause anger and resentment toward you as well. If you set an expectation, you need to also follow it and be accountable to your child and the family when you don’t.

    Exposure and Availability of Substances in the Home

    Both the attitudes about and the usage of substances in the home can impact a child’s future attitudes and substance use. The availability of substances in the home can also be a factor, as children often first use substances in the home. Studies have shown that exposure to substance use and the availability of substances in the home are associated with an earlier initial use of substances by children. Additionally, early availability and exposure to substances within the home can be a predictor of heavier substance use even in young adulthood or later.

    Parents can be accountable for their words and actions surrounding substance use. When parents educate children about responsible alcohol use, but their actions demonstrate otherwise, the mixed messages can almost seem like permission to a child. While some children may be so driven to escape that they will use common household products like glue, gasoline, cough syrup, and more, having easy access to prescription medications, marijuana, illegal drugs, and alcohol can make it easier for them to begin experimenting. Parents who keep medications and alcohol locked up or do not keep them in the home demonstrate that their actions match their words.

    To Err Is Human, to Be Accountable Is to Earn Respect

    One of the most important lessons you can teach your child is that making mistakes is human. Even more important is to teach your child to be accountable for their actions. Whether this is about mental health, substance use, responsibility, how you treat others, or any other important life lesson, we all make mistakes. Being able to tell your child that you made a poor choice, be accountable for it, correct anything possible, and then not do it again is a way to truly earn respect.

    Respect is a two-way street. Even more important than you earning their respect is that you are showing by example how they can be accountable, too. If they witness you being disingenuous or dishonest, they will assume that it is okay for them to do that, too. However, when they see that you not only talk the talk, but you walk the walk, they will learn by your example. Taking responsibility for your words and actions is a powerful life lesson for your child.

    Accountability Can Keep the Lines of Communication Open

    When a child sees you do something that is not in line with your values or guidelines, not only can they become confused, angry, or resentful to you, but they may shut down and not be willing to communicate with you. Accountability builds trust, and trust and mutual respect are important to open communication in any relationship, but particularly with the parent-child relationship.

    Trust and open communication are vital when your child is struggling through their adolescent years. At a time when they are trying to be independent, yet still need so much guidance, an honest, open, transparent relationship can help them to make better choices. Accountability as a parent is a crucial component of this type of relationship. When you are who you say you are, your child knows they can depend on you.

    Parents are not perfect, but you can be perfectly accountable. Your child learns the most from watching you, including your attitudes and actions surrounding substances and mental health. At Sustain, teaching our clients accountability is a priority. We also work with the families to help create an environment for the child to thrive in after treatment. Our Southern California residential treatment program for adolescents is committed to restoring accountability and integrity as a part of recovery from their substance abuse and mental health diagnoses. We offer extended residential care for those who need more than the traditional length of treatment, as well as opportunities for adolescents to reintegrate into their homes and community as they transition back home. We also help them stay connected post-treatment and offer involvement opportunities for alumni. Call us at (949) 407-9052 to find out if our program is the right program for you and your family.

  3. Creating Consistent Expectations for Your Adolescent

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    Parents usually have the best of intentions, especially when setting guidelines and boundaries for their children. However, when they are stretched by the stressors caused by work, finances, relationships, and the behaviors of their children, consistency in parenting can be difficult to maintain. Although it can be challenging at times, creating and maintaining consistent expectations for your adolescent actually helps them to feel more in control of their lives.

    Pushing Boundaries vs. Pushing Back

    For children to push boundaries is completely normal. In fact, if your adolescent is pushing boundaries, that means that they are becoming more independent and preparing to be an adult. However, the adolescent brain doesn’t fully develop until the age of 25, and the last functions to develop are rational thinking, decision making, and awareness of consequences, so they obviously still need boundaries to keep them safe.

    One of the consequences of inconsistent parenting is that after being pushed so long, a parent will push back with sudden, harsh consequences. Particularly when these behaviors have not had the same consequences before, it leaves the adolescent confused and can cause resentment. This, in turn, can lead to more behaviors and acting out. While parents may think that being strict in certain situations is helpful, it is more important to be consistent.

    What Is the Difference Between Being Strict vs. Being Consistent?

    Your child may tell everyone that you are a strict parent, no matter what you do. However, “strict” parents typically have a lot of rules, exercise more control and intervention within their child’s lives, and impose more consequences as well. Even with the best of intentions, this approach can backfire, as your child will feel as though they have no control over their life.

    Creating consistent expectations does not have a set amount of rules, as some children need more boundaries than others. A consistent parent sets clear boundaries and consequences with their child and then maintains them. Consistency can be considered to be like making and keeping a promise to your child. Even if the “promise” is a consequence for behaviors, you are doing what you said you would do, and that actually builds trust and confidence in you as a parent.

    Preventative Parenting

    Too often, parenting becomes reactive. A child exhibits a behavior, and the parent reacts with a consequence that was not anticipated by the child. While not all behaviors can be anticipated, there is much that parents can do to prevent these situations. Some of the best ways to parent preventatively include:

    • Creating Schedules – sitting down with your child and creating a schedule with them is not only an important life skill, but helps them to have a plan and understand what is coming next. When a child has nothing to do, they are more likely to find trouble.
    • Clear Expectations – when parents set boundaries, it is important that they are very clear and that the child understands them. A curfew, for example, sets a clear expectation of when they are expected to be home. As with anything else, these expectations need to be consistent and maintained.
    • Choose Your Battles – behaviors with serious risks or consequences are worth standing your ground on. Adolescents still need some autonomy, though, or they will never learn to make their own decisions, so choosing your battles is very important.

    The Value of Creating a United Front

    The concept of one parent saying no and the child going to the other parent to try to get what they want is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Children know when they can manipulate their parents, so creating a united front is crucial to consistent parenting. Getting everyone on the same page can be very difficult, particularly in families where there is separation or divorce, but being able to provide that consistency allows your child to understand the consequences of their actions before the behaviors occur.

    Consistency Puts Adolescents in Control

    When your child understands that “if I do this, then that will happen,” internally they understand that the choices they make are their own. When parents impose consequences consistently, no matter how hard children push the boundaries, they learn the value of making good choices.

    Although it may feel like a constant battle for parents, creating consistent expectations is kind of like a security blanket. Your child knows that you will always treat them fairly based on their choices, and that increases feelings of trust and love. They may still push the boundaries constantly, but knowing that you will consistently offer the same consequences allows them to learn accountability for their own choices. Creating consistent expectations puts adolescents in control.

    Creating consistent expectations as a parent can be very difficult to maintain; however, adolescents feel more in control when they understand the consequences of their behaviors. No matter how hard your child pushes the boundaries, staying consistent gives them the opportunity to make their own choices and become accountable for their actions. Creating structure and consistency is the foundation of the Sustain program. We offer extended residential treatment for adolescents so that we can help your child learn consistency. Our approach is to help them learn accountability and understand why they are making choices. Our Orange County, California, program offers multiple levels of care for substance abuse and co-occurring mental health diagnoses. We also help connect them with others during and after treatment and have alumni involvement as well to help them with long-term success. Call us today at (949) 407-9052 to find out if our program is right for your child.

  4. Recovery is Evolving

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    doctor and female patient talk about mental health

    In the 1970s, treatment professionals became aware of a real correlation between mental illnesses and substance abuse. Initially, the terms ‘dual diagnosis’ or ‘dual disorder’ were used to describe this but were confusing in that they implied there were only two diagnoses in place when there could be multiples ones. The term ‘co-occurring disorders’ has since replaced those terms and is defined as having one or more alcohol or drug abuse disorders and mental health challenges.

    The mental illnesses that can co-occur with substance abuse include:

    • Anxiety Disorders
    • Depression
    • Bipolar Disorder
    • Eating Disorders
    • Schizophrenia
    • Borderline Personality Disorder
    • ADHD (Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder)
    • OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)

    Public Awareness Allows For More Acceptance

    Increased awareness of mental health issues has gone a long way in helping people seek treatment. For generations, people were taught to hide their symptoms and, if they sought treatment, to keep it quiet. “Therapy is for crazy people” was a jaded and common way to view those seeking help for their mental health conditions. Nowadays, the general public has become much more aware of the reality of living with a condition such as bipolar disorder or depression, taking away some of the stigmas. Today’s younger generation is much more accepting of mental health issues and more likely to speak openly about their own experiences with it. 

    The same is true for alcoholism and addiction. While in the past, it was relegated to something people with no self-control experienced. It is widely understood today that people suffer from the disease of addiction and alcoholism, and with the proper diagnosis and treatment, they can achieve sobriety. Similarly to mental illness, those who struggled with substance abuse were encouraged to keep it a secret. Currently, there is a much more open climate in which people can talk about their experiences. 

    One Size Does Not Fit All

    Society has come a long way in how they treat and view co-occurring mental illnesses. For a long time, many people who needed individualized care, instead suffered in facilities reminiscent of the one featured in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. These asylums were a last resort that didn’t so much focus on providing what each patient needed but kept them out of society and from harming themselves or others. Many patients were pronounced hopeless either due to mismanagement or a lack of understanding of how to help them.

    Today there are many more options, such as PHP (partial hospitalization program), IOP (intensive outpatient program), and residential programs in which each person is fully evaluated for co-occurring illnesses, and a treatment plan is created specifically for them. Patients are not expected to fit a pre-formed mold; they are given the respect of discovering who they are and what they need to manage their illnesses and live a productive life. Often families are offered the opportunity to participate via family therapy appointments, which gives them a better understanding of what their loved one is experiencing and arms them with ways to assist them.

    Legislation Has Helped Treatment Evolve

    In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, which was a game-changer for millions. While offering newfound protection to those with physical disabilities, it also reclassified several mental illnesses as disabilities, opening the door for many to experience assistance with obtaining and understanding the rights to employment, schooling, public service and accommodation, and home life situations. President George H.W. Bush signed the Act into law, and it is considered by many to be more than just protection, but a piece of civil rights legislation. 

    When the Affordable Care Act was passed under the Obama Administration, it offered protection from insurance companies that typically refuse to cover pre-existing conditions. For someone suffering from mental health challenges that often require long-term care, allowing coverage for pre-existing conditions can mean the difference between having access to treatment options, and not being able to afford any treatment at all. For example, someone suffering from an eating disorder may benefit from seeking individual counseling, a nutritionist, going to an IOP or residential program, and after-care treatment. If all of these become something they can only fund out-of-pocket, many sufferers or their families have no options to provide for professional help. 

    Treatment Options for Your Clients

    Clients who need help dealing with co-occurring diagnoses are fortunate to live in a time where there are many treatment options available. Studies on genetic predisposition and the environment in which a person lives or grew up, continue to shed light on what causes co-occurring disorders and how best to treat them. The continued revising of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) creates an ongoing conversation about what treatment professionals know and what modalities and definitions can be updated. All of this provides myriad options for designing a treatment plan for those who need help with their co-occurring disorders. 

    Once upon a time, there were few options for treating either addiction or mental illnesses for people of all ages. Nowadays, incredible strides have been made in understanding both conditions, as well as the commonly co-occurring disorders that afflict so many people. Sustain Recovery provides Outpatient Services, Intensive Outpatient Programs, Partial Hospitalization Programs, and Residential or Inpatient Services. We understand the unique challenges that face adolescents who struggle with co-occurring disorders, and our professional staff can help design a treatment plan that addresses all of them. Our California programs provide the specialized treatment that adolescents in trouble require. If you need assistance finding help for a child who deals with both the disease of addiction and mental illness, call us today to discuss how we can help them heal and become whole again.

    Get your child on the road to wellness today! (949) 407-9052


  5. Treating the Underlying Issues of Your Child’s Addiction

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    child's addiction

    Coming to terms with your child’s addiction isn’t always an easy thing to do. You might wrestle with questions or place the blame on yourself. When did the substance use start? Why did the substance use start? What could I have done differently? It’s natural to want to retrace your steps, examine every decision you made, and try to figure out where it all began.

    It’s important to remember, however, that you cannot change the past, no matter how hard you try. The focus now should be on getting your child the help they need to get and stay sober. This process is going to require your family to dig deep and uncover difficult emotions that have been buried for a very long time. Sustain Recovery can help.

    Be Rooted in Understanding and Compassion

    In order to be successful in their recovery, your teenager is going to have to make some major changes. It’s going to take hard work and dedication, but they are going to learn, grow, and find their path on their recovery journey. The same is true of you. As caregivers, you must be ready to support your child when they return home from treatment. This will probably require some changes from your end, too. A good place to start is to be rooted in understanding.

    There are often a lot of deep and painful emotions surrounding substance abuse. You will likely be disappointed with your child, and even with yourself. It’s important to feel these emotions instead of bottling them up and burying them deep inside of you — but you cannot harbor them forever. Start by letting go of any judgment or blame you are holding on to. As you move into a mode of understanding, these emotions no longer serve a purpose. The longer you cling to anger, the farther recovery will feel for your family.

    Instead, commit to being rooted in understanding and compassion. The closer you look at your child’s substance abuse, the more you will realize that substances are not the problem — they are now the solution.

    Using Substances as Coping Mechanisms

    Stress has been known to contribute to one’s susceptibility to addiction, and adolescents in today’s world are not immune to either. In fact, because their brains are not fully developed, they are more likely to engage in impulsivity to help them cope with stressors in their lives. Adolescents don’t have enough life experience to see that their stressors are often temporary or that the impulsive methods they are using to cope have long-term consequences. They often see the world in black or white, ignoring the gray that can give them a sense of clarity.

    When your child is dealing with experiences that are stressful for them, they’ll try to find any way to remove the stressor from their life. Whether it be depression, anxiety, trouble with relationships, trouble in school, or other traumas they have endured, your child will find some way to cope. Unfortunately, they often turn to self-defeating behaviors to do so. It’s not uncommon for adolescents to experiment with alcohol or drugs in an attempt to reduce stress or self-medicate to numb their feelings.

    Over time, as your child learned to cope by using substances, an addiction formed. Their brain learned to depend on the substances to feel better and engaging in substance use was no longer a choice. Cravings and compulsions to use became so strong that not even negative consequences of their substance use was enough to stop them.

    The Science Behind Stress and Addiction

    The more stressors that your child is experiencing, the more vulnerable they are to substance abuse. In a study published by the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, researchers describe how chronic adversity leads to an increased vulnerability to substance use. The study focused on three primary areas of adversity — recent negative life events, past trauma and maltreatment, and lifetime exposure to stressors. The greater the number of stressors that an individual is exposed to, the higher the risk of developing an addiction.

    It’s important to understand that your child was doing their best to cope with their problems. Although their coping mechanism wasn’t a healthy option, it was the one they chose. You cannot change the past. Instead of blaming them and being angry, it’s your job to now help them get the support and treatment they need for the underlying issues they were trying to cope with. If you allow yourself to come from a place of understanding and compassion, you will give your child the space to begin their recovery with your support.

    Hope for the Future

    There is help out there for your child. It’s important to understand that they need help not only for their addiction, but for the underlying issues as well. Think of their addiction like a weed growing in a flower garden. If you only pull the part of the weed that you can see and leave the rest, a new weed will soon grow in the old one’s place.

    To successfully get rid of the weed, you must remove the roots. If you only get your child help for their substance abuse without dealing with the underlying stress and trauma, there will soon be unhealthy coping mechanisms that show up in the addiction’s place. The key is to treat the underlying issues as well and give your child the necessary tools they need to cope in healthy ways when stress returns.

    Recovery from an addiction is hard work. If your child is returning home from treatment, know that the work is just beginning. No one expects perfection, so stop striving for perfection. Do your best to be supportive and give your child what they need, not what they want.

    Sustain Recovery is here to help you and your child in their addiction recovery. We provide adolescents with a positive and loving environment where they can address their addiction and mental health issues and find the path to sobriety. Any treatment would be incomplete without the inclusion of the families who suffer alongside them, and that is why we include weekly family therapy in the recovery process as well. Let us help your child and your family heal together. To learn more, call us today at (949) 407-9052.

  6. 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.

  7. The Connection Between Religion, Science and Substance Abuse

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    How do religion, science and substance abuse fit together? According to a two year study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), combining the power of religion with the power of science and professional medicine can prevent and treat substance abuse and addiction.

    It is unfortunate that very few, if any, clergy receive training for substance abuse. It is even more unfortunate that many medical professionals, especially psychiatrists don’t see the value in taking advantage of spirituality and religion to treat their patients who are struggling with addiction.

    Religion and Science in the United States

    Religion is a big deal in the United States. 92% of Americans are affiliated with a particular religion and the country has a wide variety of places of worship including cathedrals, churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. As one of the most medically advanced countries in the world as well, the United States has some of the most sophisticated health care available. However, religion and science remain separated, and in some cases this may mean that the individual is denied the help that may aid their recovery and ease their pain, particularly relating to substance abuse. For many individuals in recovery, God and religion have played a part in their journey to sobriety.

    The CASA study mentioned previously, surveyed an unprecedented amount of clergy and heads of theology schools, and some of its findings show that individuals who don’t consider religious beliefs important are more than one-and-a-half times likely to smoke, three times likelier to binge-drink, almost four times likelier to use an illicit drug apart from marijuana and more than six times likelier to smoke pot than individuals who have closely held religious beliefs.

    So what are the disconnects between religion and the prevention and treatment of addiction? There are two significant ones. First, the extent to which clergy see substance abuse as a problem in their congregations and their lack of training to deal with it, and second, the medical profession’s failure to tap into the importance of religion and spirituality while dealing with the patients who struggle with addiction.

    The Clergy Disconnect

    The CASA study showed that 94% of the clergy surveyed consider substance abuse and addiction to be an important problem in their congregations. However, only 12.5% of them had received any training about handling substance abuse, and only 36% said that they preach a sermon on that issue more than once a year.

    Recently, the Vatican’s Council for Health Care Workers released a 200 page manual on drugs and addiction, focusing on the church’s role in prevention and treatment. Among suggestions like church sponsored treatment programs, the manual urges the clergy to listen to their parishioners concerns about drugs and alcohol abuse.

    The Doctor-Patient Disconnect

    Medical professionals, particularly psychiatrists and  psychologists tend not to recognize the importance of God, religion and spirituality in treating patients struggling with substance abuse and addiction. Only 40% to 45% of mental health practitioners believe in God and only 57%  of psychiatrists would recommend that a patient consult their priest. 65% of psychiatrists said that religion was not included in their training.

    It is clear that the chasm extends on both sides. If religious leaders became more engaged in addressing addiction issues, and medical professionals understood the importance of religion in their patients’ lives, then this would be a new, barely tapped resource in the battle against addiction.

    At the core of Sustain Recovery is a structured extended care program geared towards adolescents, focusing on living skills, education, and fun in recovery. Contact us to learn more about the elements of transitioning to sober living.

  8. Learn About the Heroin Problem in the United States

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    The problem of heroin within the United States is not a new one but it is one that is growing in intensity across the states and within communities. Learn more about the issue of heroin, addiction and what is being done.

    Heroin in Vermont

    Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin spoke on the problem of heroin in his community. Nearly two million dollars worth of heroin is flowing into Vermont on a weekly basis while nearly 80% of inmates in prison are there for drug related crimes. Heroin-related deaths in the state of Vermont nearly doubled last year and the number of people treated for addiction to heroin has increased 770% since the year 2000.

    An American Problem

    The nation’s attention is focused solidly around the crisis devastating communities. Heroin abuse is still considered a uniquely ‘Hollywood issue,’ whereas the epidemic is spreading far and wide, affecting everyone in its path. People still struggle to believe overdoses are occurring daily in neighborhood backyards and homes.

    Wrestling with Addiction

    Heroin addiction can have a far reaching and long lasting impact. It can feel like an uphill battle fraught with disappointment and challenges. Promises get made but at the end of the day what does it mean to really wrestle with and win the battle against heroin? Everyone from actors to actresses, singers to songwriters in Hollywood are opening up about struggles but it can be harder to hear it come from neighbors, friends or even loved ones. It is worth listening to the stories kids and young adults are telling to find out the truth behind heroin addiction.

    Sobering Reality

    The UN Office on Drugs and Crime released a World Drug Report in 2016 which outlined the true extent of the problem. Heroin is the deadliest drug in the world with one million users across the United States. Many theories exist on why the trend is going up for heroin use. The theory is posited that cracking down on prescription drugs has slowed the abuse of those drugs down while heroin use went up. Heroin is an illegal drug, not available by prescription and the surge in demand likely drove an increase in supply from other countries.

    A sharp decline globally in opium production may also impact the drug’s availability. More devastating is the increase in funding to address a growing problem with heroin and fentanyl. Prescription opioid painkillers is a real emergency for people who are being overprescribed and overdosing. Heroin abuse in prisons is going up and can lead to dangerous consequences. Mental health therapies are being offered to cope with addiction to the drug and target both substance abuse and mental health issues.


    Sustain Recovery provides an approach to adolescent care that is unique and supportive of individual’s needs. Clients who need short or long term solutions are welcome to check out our programs to find a way back from addiction.

  9. Addiction Treatment for People Who Are Homeless

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    homeless youth street drugs

    Substance abuse is a challenging topic, especially when discussing whether it causes homelessness or the other way around. People experiencing homelessness are one demographic that desperately needs addiction treatment. Learn more about what options are available to support the homeless.

    Homelessness and Addiction

    Recent studies estimate nearly half of all homeless individuals abuse substances. This includes a higher rate of substance abuse than the rest of the general population. People who are homeless are much more likely to also suffer from mental health disorders including depression, mood disorders and schizophrenia.

    Treatment Options

    Options for treatment of people experiencing homelessness and substance abuse issues varies but treatment may include the following:

    • Educational and vocational services to help individuals become self-sufficient after treatment
    • Health services such as routine checkups and medical services
    • Mental health services including addiction treatment
    • Residential services and beds, giving homeless individuals a safe place to live during treatment

    In spite of extra help provided to the homeless individuals addicted to drugs or alcohol, the basics of addiction treatment remain largely the same across the board.

    Assessment – first step which allows doctors and treatment specialists to determine extend of homeless individual’s addiction treatment

    Detox – person experiencing homelessness attempts to get rid of remaining substances in the body and mind. Usually results in uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Typically done in a dedicated detox facility under medical supervision

    Treatment – multi-faceted approach that requires a great deal of time and hard work to complete. Individual behavioral therapy as well as group therapy make up a large majority of the work along with medications to support issues with cravings

    Social services – individuals will often have access to educational, vocational, financial and residential social services. Helps prepare the homeless individual to become self-sufficient and remain drug-free

    Aftercare – last step in homeless drug addiction treatment which may include weekly outpatient counseling, group therapy and a stay in transitional living housing to help make sure the individual stays clean. Underlying mental health issues will require a mental health specialist to monitor progress and medication.

    Treatment Barriers

    Individuals who are homeless face many barriers to treatment. Some of the more common ones include:

    • Denial
    • Fear of authority
    • Financial difficulty
    • Lack of insurance
    • Unsure of where to go

    Hospitals and community clinics provide good spaces for individuals to turn to when looking for treatment. The facilities point individuals in the right direction but may also help the people figure out how to cover the cost of treatment as well. The goal is to support the whole person and make sure he or she is receiving all necessary services.

    Sustain Recovery provides a unique approach to adolescent care. We offer Gender Separate Extended Care treatment for people completing a primary treatment program or need longer-term solutions. Call us to learn more about our programs.

  10. Self Identity and What It Means for Teen Recovery

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    Addiction counselors and therapists have long recognized the connection between self-esteem and substance abuse. Individuals with lower levels of self-esteem are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to bury self-esteem problems or to give them a temporary boost from the low self-opinions that they have developed. Low self-esteem is a particularly insidious problem for teen and adolescent drug addicts and alcoholics, whose struggles with their own identities and their respective places in society can overwhelm even the strongest of personalities. Teens who are in a drug recovery program can assure the success of that program if they can develop a strong and healthy sense of themselves as they move toward long-term sobriety.

    “Self Identity”
    A teen or adolescent who has developed a low sense of self-esteem will see himself as being unliked and without friends, having little worth or value, and being the object of ridicule and bullying from peers and classmates who have a greater sense of self-assurance. These feelings form an identity of worthlessness, which leads a teen to seek solace in drugs or alcohol. A teen or adolescent who goes through a substance abuse recovery program without addressing these feelings will be prone to relapses and deeper problems with drugs and alcohol. That teen will also be more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders.

    “Drug Treatment Program”
    Alternately, a teen who goes into a drug treatment program with an already weak self-identity might adopt the label of being an alcoholic or addict as the strongest marker of his identity. He might look back on his experiences while he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and decide, either consciously or subconsciously, that he preferred the personality that he exhibited during those times. A person naturally forms the foundation of his identity during his teen years. Adopting the “addict” moniker during these years can lead to lifelong drug and alcohol problems. Counselors and therapists as well as family members and friends need to take great care not to reinforce the “addict” label when dealing with teens and adolescents because of the risk of imprinting that label as the person’s primary self-identity marker.

    “Drug Addiction”
    A teen who is struggling to overcome drug addiction or alcoholism can develop a positive self-identity by making sure that all of his or her issues, and not just substance abuse, are addressed and treated during recovery. Positive affirmations from family and friends and a supportive environment are also crucial to allow a teen to develop a healthy platform to build and sustain his self-worth. This may require relocating a teen to a new school or neighborhood, and helping him to develop new hobbies and activities that better suit his natural talents. Family members may need to learn new ways to communicate in order to replace old and possibly hurtful interactions that had tendencies to reduce a teen’s self esteem.

    From a more positive perspective, a teen’s family can be the best resource he has to build or rebuild a positive self-identity. His family will know his talents and skills better than friends or counselors and they can channel that knowledge into activities that help a teen realize his own self-worth. All parents will understand that raising and nurturing a teen is a challenge even without having to help the teen with his self-identity or to keep him on track in an addiction recovery program. Families might find that the added challenge of helping a teen to gain his own positive self-identity will make all of the other challenges they face that much easier and more manageable.

    Sustain Recovery Services in southern California works with adolescents and young adults who are striving to develop a strong and positive self-identity while working to overcome drug addiction and alcoholism. Please see our website or call us at 949-407-9052 for more information about our individual and family services or to arrange a confidential consultation with one of our counselors.

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.