Tag Archive: support

  1. Helping Families Navigate Educational Services

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    Helping Families Navigate Educational Services

    When it comes to accessing educational services for their student, most families have no idea what services are available. Many schools are not very forthcoming about what they have to offer, either. While some school districts are helpful and informative about the process to receive educational services, most parents find navigating this process completely foreign and overwhelming. As a professional working with adolescents, you can provide much-needed information and support to these families.

    When Knowledge Truly Is Power

    Some kids who come into treatment did not previously have any problems in school, while for others, struggling in school may have been one of the reasons they turned to drugs or alcohol. Either way, chances are that many of these families did not have a good working knowledge of how to best access educational services for their child.

    For programs that are supposed to help students with learning disabilities, they can be shockingly complicated to access. Teachers, schools, and districts are often overwhelmed with requests for services and exceptionally short on resources. Parents typically have no idea that services are available.

    Sometimes, teachers simply do not do the simple math and put two and two together and arrive at the answer that with a certain resource, a particular student could go from struggling to excelling. Also, there is sometimes information that parents have at home regarding the student’s functioning that the school does not have; the school may not be aware that the student has a disability, for example. Knowledge truly is power.

    The importance of Being a Third-Party Resource

    This is where you, as a mental healthcare worker, can be an invaluable resource. You have access to knowledge about the student’s abilities and limitations, how they function at home and school, and much more. When you add some knowledge about accessing educational services in your area, you can become an important link between home and school to help the student access the services they need.

    How Do I Know How to Help?

    There is plenty of information available online about accessing services, and there are also webinars, seminars, and training that can educate you about the basics as well. You do not need to become a legal scholar or a paid advocate to be helpful; any knowledge of the system will be helpful to your clients and their families.

    For example, it is important to know the difference between an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and a 504 Plan. The IEP is a legal, binding document based on a determined disability or need and requires a team involving parents, teachers, and school staff members. Support services are listed with requirements to be met by the school or the district and annual goals made for the student’s academic growth. This is ideal for a student with a mental health diagnosis or learning disability.

    In contrast, a 504 plan is not legally binding but is rather a document that makes recommendations to teachers for the academic support of a student. A 504 plan might be helpful for a student who is returning from treatment and trying to catch up, for example.

    Offering Support to Families Through Information

    There are multiple ways that you can support your client and their families in navigating educational services. The most helpful is through information. By learning the basics of navigating the educational support system and then learning which services are available at their school and in their district, you can help families know what to ask for when it comes to getting help for their student.

    You do not need to be an expert or necessarily diagnose a specific disability to make recommendations for the types of services that could help your client. For example, if your client expresses to you that math is very stressful for them, but you see that they have previously managed good grades in math, perhaps all they need is extra time on tests and assignments. As a third party, your recommendations mean a lot in this process.

    Supporting Families in Person

    Some people enjoy supporting families in this process so much that they become paid advocates and immerse themselves in IEP law. That is not necessary, however, as anyone can be invited to an IEP meeting to support a family or student. When the IEP invitation is sent to the parents and the student, simply have them add you. You may attend meetings with them and speak as to what you know about the student to help determine services (maintaining client confidentiality, of course.) Sometimes, these meetings need someone to say a few positive things about the student, too. Either way, your support is valuable, whether simply by offering knowledge or by showing up in person.

    Navigating educational services to get academic support for students can be overwhelming for families. As a third party, you have the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge to share with all of your clients and offer support in this process. Whether you choose to simply pass along this knowledge or take the extra time to show up and offer support in person, you can be an invaluable part of your client’s academic success. At Sustain Recovery, our primary focus is helping adolescents put their lives back on track. This includes finding a balance with educational goals, which may require academic support to maintain. Our extended residential program offers students three hours per day, five days per week, of intensive studies with individual attention due to our very small class size. We tailor our educational approach to each individual’s needs. Contact Sustain today at (949) 407-9052 to find out if our program is right for your client.

  2. The Value of Being Part of a Group

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

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

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

    Why Being Part of a Group Can Help

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

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

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

    Groups Within Treatment Programs Create Bonds

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

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

    Look for Groups Based on Common Interests

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


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


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

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

  3. Structure + Support = Success

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    Structure + Support = Success

    An adolescent’s successful recovery from substance abuse must include both structure and support. These things help to focus on the problem (mental illness and trauma) and the solution the adolescent is using to cope (substance abuse). Both structure and support are necessary because the problem and solution are so deeply intertwined. If either of these areas are ignored during the adolescent’s treatment, they cannot be successful.

    In order to help your adolescent client have the best chance at a successful recovery, it’s important to stress the implementation of both structure and support. There are many ways that you can help facilitate this process.


    When an adolescent is participating in inpatient treatment, they adhere to a strict schedule. As they transition away from treatment and return home, it’s crucial that they maintain a similar healthy structure. As humans, we thrive on routine. This is why our brains settle into a habit once a behavior has begun to repeat itself. Our brains jump at every opportunity to create these routines. Unfortunately, our brains cannot differentiate which behaviors are healthy or unhealthy.

    Thus, it takes time and effort to break bad habits — and this is why structure is so important. If an adolescent is left with too much idle time, they’ll fall back into old habits. By having a structure to their day, the adolescent’s brain is working hard to retrain their brain into creating healthier habits. Not only does structure help keep the adolescent out of trouble, it also keeps them focused on their responsibilities and goals.

    As the professional who is currently treating them, you can help your adolescent client form a healthy structure and make sure that they are allotting ample time for their responsibilities and goals. Their biggest responsibility is usually school, so it’s vital to stress the importance of attending school and making their schoolwork a priority. This routine should include waking up at the same time each morning, eating a healthy breakfast, and arriving to school on time. There should also be a set time for completing homework and projects in their schedule.

    Including time for their recovery is also important, such as regularly attending 12-Step groups, attending therapy, or practicing mindful techniques. It’s also important to remember that they are still kids. You should encourage them to make time for play. Whatever they enjoy, encourage them to spend time doing something they love, such as playing a sport, being creative, or spending time with friends. Finding a balanced structure helps them focus on what is important while also giving them the space to be kids.


    An adolescent’s recovery should also include support. Recovery isn’t a one-person show, especially for adolescents. They still rely on their parents for many things while also exploring their independence. Finding a welcoming community can be extremely beneficial for adolescents in recovery. It’s not uncommon for peer support to make a stronger impact with adolescents than support that comes from adults.

    This is where like-minded adolescents of the same age who are also in recovery can be so helpful. A supportive community of adolescents in different stages of recovery can help them all thrive. If your client is newly sober, finding peers who have been sober for a while can be especially motivating. They’ll see all the wonderful opportunities that have been made available for their peers, which can inspire and encourage them to stay on the right path.

    A supportive community can also help with the mental health aspect of treatment. Mental illness and trauma can be so isolating for many adolescents. They feel like they are the only person going through what they are going through, which often leads them to substance use.

    By integrating your adolescent client into a supportive community that has gone through similar experiences, they are able to learn from their peers and feel less alone. They can see that their peers have been successful without substances, so they begin to think that maybe they can be successful without substances, too.


    You can help your adolescent client reach their full potential by including structure and support in their recovery. When you are working with your client to build a healthy and individualized routine, make sure you include all the necessary elements and keep their routine balanced. Focusing too much on substance use means that you aren’t spending enough time helping them work through their problems or giving them time to be kids.

    You can also encourage them to find a supportive community that works for them. Lastly, a successful recovery means that your client gets what they need when they need it, not what they want when they want it. You have the power to help your client transform their life — use that power for good.

    Sustain Recovery is here to help you set your adolescent clients up for a successful recovery. This means treating both the root problems and the unhealthy solutions they have been using to cope. You can do this by encouraging your client to make structure a part of their lives and build a community of support. Over time, the adolescent will learn to go from talking the talk to walking the walk. Sustain Recovery is a treatment facility founded upon evidence-based clinical treatment modalities and best practice principles. Let’s work together to help your clients succeed. To learn more, call us today at (949) 407-9052.

  4. Inspiring Motivation Through Change

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    Inspiring Motivation Through ChangeRecovery begins with change. Somewhere in their life, a person in recovery has decided their habits aren’t working anymore and they need to make a change. This decision is a fundamental component of addiction recovery. Still, wanting to change is much different than actually changing – and many addicts require a lot of extra support to get to the point where they can make active changes.

    What’s more, patients sometimes come to recovery through a court mandate or a parent’s ultimatum. How can a provider motivate a teen or adolescent who doesn’t even think they need to change? Understanding the process of behavioral changes is critical to inspiring motivation in these types of patients.

    Stages of Change

    The “Stages of Change” model was first introduced in the 1970s. It attempted to explain the process of change in humans as occurring in stages and not all at once. So two researchers – James Prochaska, Ph.D. and Carlo DiClimente, Ph.D. – set out to define these stages. They tested and refined the model until it became the most widely-used and accepted model in addiction treatment.

    The model describes the six stages of change as follows:

    • Pre-Contemplation: The person is aware they have an addiction and are aware of its harmful effects. Still, they have little motivation for changing as they view using as more beneficial than sobriety.
    • Contemplation: The person is aware of the adverse effects that using is causing them. They see sobriety as the most effective option – however, they may lack confidence in their change.
    • Preparation: The person acknowledges responsibility for change in their behavior. They may begin developing a plan, asking for support, or building confidence.
    • Action: The person consciously makes an effort towards changing their behaviors. This can include going to rehab or engaging in self-directed change efforts.
    • Maintenance: The person has developed self-control and healthier behavioral patterns. They can maintain these changes with less effort as well.
    • Termination: The person has established full lifestyle and behavior changes. They don’t succumb to urges or impulses and make healthier life decisions.

    It’s important to remember that relapse can occur at any stage in this model. Furthermore, not all patients come to rehab out of their own will. Sometimes, especially in the case of youths, they are mandated by a court or their parent(s) gives them an ultimatum. It is not their internal dialogue that is motivating them – it is their external environment.

    This means they usually enter treatment at Stage 1 or Stage 2. In this case, the purpose of therapy should be developing motivation rather than trying to change behaviors. One way this can be achieved is through motivational interviewing (MI).

    Motivational Interviewing

    MI is a technique in which a trained interviewer becomes a facilitator of the change process and expresses acceptance towards an addict. MI has two primary goals: 1) to increase a person’s motivation and 2) to guide the person towards a commitment to change. MI works just like any other therapy session. A motivational interviewer tries to influence a dialogue towards why the person needs or wants to change. This method can be effective for those who do not voluntarily seek treatment, as the interviewer reflects the person’s thoughts back to them to initiate introspective thinking.

    Empathy is an integral part of MI. It establishes a safe and accepting environment that allows a person to examine their behaviors and talk about their addiction. An empathetic approach to MI involves listening rather than telling, offering sincere compliments rather than criticism, encouraging a non-judgmental collaborative attitude, and communicating respect for the addict. Motivational Interviewing is more successful when there is a relationship of trust between the interviewer and patient.

    Supporting Self-Efficacy

    A person’s belief in their own ability to change is essential in motivation toward addiction recovery. Self-education is one way to foster self-efficacy. Credible, understandable, and timely information helps people understand how their addiction drives some of their behaviors or impacts their life. This gives them an idea of where to start changing their behaviors. They begin to see which actions trigger their cravings the most, or which ones help them overcome their triggers the best.

    There are a few techniques to help support self-efficacy in recovery:

    • Give the patient hope by explaining there is no “right way” to change.
    • Help the patient believe that they can improve by inquiring about other successful changes they’ve made in the past and complimenting their success.
    • Explore barriers that may cause low self-confidence in patients such as trauma or psychological issues.
    • Share examples of others’ success in addiction recovery. No one wants to feel like they are the only one experiencing something.

    Ultimately, teens and adolescents need an empathetic, non-judgmental entity that will help them develop motivation toward recovery. A motivational interviewer becomes this person as they approach their patient with respect and act as a reflector of thoughts and behaviors. It’s also vital that patients understand their role in recovery as an active player – they are responsible for their own success. By supporting them with empathy and education, we can help them overcome their own ambivalence.

    To learn more about motivational-based therapies and how they can be used to foster recovery and improved mental health, contact Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052.

  5. Motivating Kids Into Recovery

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    Motivating Kids Into RecoveryDealing with children in addiction recovery can be tricky. Their motivations may lie in the wrong places, or they may have no motivation whatsoever. Many youths do not see their drug use as an issue and may be in denial about their addiction. It is essential to motivate children to be mindful of their health and seek treatment for substance abuse if and when it’s needed. One way to do this is Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT), a treatment model that focuses on the addict’s family as well as community engagement.

    How Does CRAFT Work?

    CRAFT teaches family and friends successful strategies for helping their child change their behavior and feel better about themselves. CRAFT works to affect a child’s behavior by changing how their family interacts with them, and vice versa. This treatment model is designed to help by:

    • Assisting families in motivating their child to seek treatment
    • Reducing alcohol and drug use, whether or not your child has sought treatment yet
    • Improving the lives of family and friends.

    CRAFT helps families foster a non-judgmental attitude towards their loved ones struggling with addiction. It teaches that detachment and confrontation are unhealthy to both the family and the child. CRAFT has been proven to be more effective than interventions or leveraging.

    Another aspect of CRAFT is community reinforcement. The therapeutic practices of CRAFT are adapted from the Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA). CRA is a psychosocial intervention for individuals with alcohol and other drug use disorders. It has been adapted for several populations, including adolescents and family members of individuals who are resistant or reluctant to enter treatment. The focus is to help children find healthier ways to deal with their social or emotional needs without using drugs or alcohol.

    In CRAFT, children are asked to invite a person who may be affected by their drug use, usually a parent or sibling. This is helpful for providers to understand triggers a child may have that influence their drug use. During treatment, children and families learn useful skills to meet their recovery goals, including communication, problem-solving, and self-care. These skills remain helpful in the long term for both families and children struggling with addiction.

    Evidence in Support of CRAFT

    The first studies on CRAFT were completed in 1986. These studies showed that six out of seven family members using the CRAFT model could get their loved ones to enter treatment. Typically, it took them about seven sessions to achieve this. Loved ones also cut their number of drinking days in half during the time their family members were training in CRAFT.

    Since then, other studies have been done to analyze the success of CRAFT in teen addiction recovery. When compared to programs such as AL-ANON and the Johnson Institute Intervention, CRAFT was substantially more effective. It produced three times as much engagement as the other conventional approaches, and two-thirds of resistant patients attended treatment. These results were able to be replicated in at least two more studies concerning the success of CRAFT compared to traditional treatment models.

    Overall, the studies show that a family’s engagement rate in CRAFT is significantly higher than other treatment models. CRAFT teaches families invaluable skills to cope with the psychological issues that stem from a family member’s substance abuse. For parents, this model shows more engagement partly because the family is encouraged to join the child in treatment. This method applies to all cultural, ethnic, and religious groups, making it more universally successful than other models.

    Why Is CRAFT More Successful?

    Theories on why CRAFT is so successful are plentiful. First, it is believed that teaching social-learning skills helps children reconnect with their peers and families in a healthy way. Unlike traditional interventions, CRAFT is non-confrontational. Families do not confront their loved ones to break through their denial – instead, they learn how to set appropriate boundaries. In CRAFT, families also learn practical skills that can be used to disengage themselves from the pattern of their loved one’s use. They are able to invite changes in their loved ones while changing their own lives at the same time.

    CRAFT also teaches important communication skills. Families are taught how to take advantage of windows of opportunity for having difficult conversations and how to talk about treatment in a way that makes it more appealing and interesting to their loved ones. The high rate of addicted children who seek treatment after participating in CRAFT indicates that these methods are indeed successful.

    To learn more about CRAFT and how it can help families struggling with substance abuse, contact Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052.

  6. Importance of Family Support in Addiction Recovery

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    leap jump risk

    Learning to cope with addiction in the family can be a difficult thing. Taking one’s own journey to healing requires support and courage. Learn more about how to move through fear to take the step towards recovery.

    Moving Past Fear

    A powerful motivator, fear can motivate people often in the wrong direction, away from things which allow individuals to grow. This may keep people from experiencing opportunities for growth. People who grow up in homes with addictive behaviors can train individuals to understand what is fearful can become true which builds a mindset away from success towards failure in the future.

    Battling Demons

    Being raised around addiction and alcoholism can teach a person that the lifestyle surrounding them is the only way to live. The problem is that as people grow, the true reality of things as a youth may not be true anymore and living life based on fears from the past means letting go of things that protected individuals from really moving forward and reaching full potential.

    The following five steps can be helpful in getting started on the path to recovery with the help of family.

    Face the Demons

    Find out what truly brings out the fear. It may not be the obvious reasons or things holding a person back. If a person resists doing something new or is unwilling to take on a challenge, figure out how to say ‘no’ to the voices that make no sense and turn towards what is healthy and positive.

    Explain away fear

    Fear can keep people stuck. Overcome discomfort from fear by looking at the person that is struggling with addiction and reasoning why it is best to tackle this head on rather than give into fear.

    Have an Argument

    Apply logic to the circumstances and ask if it still makes sense to hold to the fear. If a person was told over and over to not do something, is it still true today? Look for evidence to support whether to keep or let go of fear.

    Reject and Replace

    After looking at fear head on, look to take the situation with the loved one and reject old ways of thinking to replace them with new ones. It is likely an old habit and when applied to life can replace old fears with what is true today. Working from this place is the best way to provide family support for a loved one with addiction.

    Work with It

    The fear may be applicable but allowing oneself to embrace and receive that is important for recovery. Accept what is rather than seek what is not true. Acknowledge it may take time to get help and guidance and move forward from knowing what’s best is to help the loved one move forward.

    Recovery is about coming face to face with fears. Sustain works with families to support adolescents in getting the care they need. Call us to find out how we can help support your family to make the transition from addiction to recovery and health.

Sustain Recovery changed my life in a way I never considered remotely possible. I arrived in a place where I knew nobody. Sustain Recovery gave me tools so that I never had to be alone again. I learned how to live like an adult and have genuine relationships with other human beings. I gained a sense of self respect, love, and pride from the challenges I was given by staff. I was able to work through the recent loss of my father and I achieved my goal of not taking any psychiatric medication.
I learned that life is an endless balancing act. I have to continually work on myself and my relationships with the people in my life. The staff at Sustain Recovery are all incredibly experienced and spiritual. They were available to me whether I wanted their help or not. Through their efforts and experience, I experienced the inner workings of having an intimate, loving relationship with a loving creator.
Sustain Recovery is “home” for me. I discovered a loving, caring family that helped launch me to a place I would have never dreamed and, if I would have dreamed it, I would never have believed I would be able to accomplish it.

© 2023 OCTLC Inc.