Tag Archive: Teenagers

  1. Fostering Independence in Teenagers and Young Adults

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    Licensed counselors who treat teenagers and young adults see a variety of conditions in their patients. One common issue that arises relates to fostering an independent attitude and nature in a young person.

    When a therapist has a young patient who has difficulty establishing independence, the issue may spring from several sources. Helping the patient get to the root cause can assist in motivating them to change. This act involves both conversations with the therapist and with the family of the patient.

    Does the Child Deal With Helicopter Parents?

    The term “helicopter parenting” became popular over the past decade. This term describes parents who act in overprotective ways with their children. They often step in to make decisions or take actions that their adolescent or young adult child should be able to handle on their own.

    The parent may fear their child will not know how to deal with situations. Their intent may be to “save” their child, but instead, they may end up fostering a lifelong sense of dependence on their parents.

    If you believe your patient may have a helicopter parent, open up a discussion about it with the child. Ask questions such as:

    • When your parent constantly steps in to make or override your decisions, how does it make you feel?
    • Do you feel confident in taking action, no matter how minuscule, without first consulting with a parent?
    • Does a lack of feeling independent contribute to increased amounts of anxiety or depression?
    • Do you sense that helicopter parenting reflects a parental belief that your instincts are not to be trusted?
    • What decisions do you wish you had more power making by yourself?

    When possible, invite the patient’s parents to attend a counseling session. Go over how the child feels when the helicopter buzzes near them. Parents often need help understanding they are hindering their child’s chances of dealing well with adult situations if they do not have practice making them.

    Create a List of Ways to Be Independent

    Many young patients demonstrate a lack of experience in experimenting with independence. Talk to them about what they feel holds them back. If fear of failure presents as the root cause, assure them that everyone learns by making mistakes.

    Help your patient create a list of ways they think people in their age group should establish their independence. Then go over the list to get their input on where they stand with each task. The list can include things like:

    • The ability to do schoolwork and prepare for tests
    • Being responsible for getting themselves up in the morning on time
    • Postponing something pleasurable to do now to enjoy a bigger payoff later
    • Shop for and prepare their own meals and snacks
    • Project into the future and make realistic plans for how to achieve what they want
    • Set goals and meet them within reasonable amounts of time
    • Spend time socializing away from the family
    • Participate in sports, hobbies, and community activities independent of ones their family enjoys

    Young patients often benefit from having a clear idea of their capabilities concerning how independently they act. The child can share their list with a parent to increase communication between the two. A therapist may need to remind the parent to strike a healthy balance between checking in to make sure their child continues to work on the list and giving them the breathing room to do so.

    When Drug and Alcohol Addiction Is Part of the Equation

    Independence can be a tricky thing for a patient who has a history of drug and alcohol addiction. Parents may have well-founded reasons to doubt their children sometimes when it comes to accountability.

    Talk to your patient about whether their prior substance use disorder may factor into difficulty establishing independence. The patient may feel their parents do not allow them a range of free time or the ability to make their own decisions. These restrictions may come from fearing their child will associate with toxic people or make other decisions that tempt them to drink or use drugs again.

    If the child has made progress in their recovery, ask them to initiate a conversation with their parents. The patient can cite examples of time spent in recovery and smart decisions they have made. This open dialogue may lead a parent to offer greater freedom to their child.

    Remind everyone involved that no progress can be made if the child isn’t allowed room to strike out on their own. Even if they make a poor decision, this decision will enable them to take responsibility for it and learn from it.

    Children who develop a substance use disorder during adolescence will inevitably age into adulthood. If they have been allowed room to grow and shown that they can exercise independence, they are less likely to relapse in their recovery.

    Licensed counselors who treat adolescents and young adults often find the topic of independence comes up. Many young clients struggle with insecurity about being independent, while others have helicopter parents who tend to run their child’s life for them. Opening up several dialogues about what independence means to a patient and specific ways to achieve it can help them make immense progress. Sustain Recovery has experience treating adolescents and young adults who need help striking a balance between developing their independence and keeping their sobriety in mind. We treat young people with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. We offer long-term residential programs that foster real independence in our clients, allowing them to learn to become responsible adults who put their recovery at the forefront. Call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052 to discuss how we can help your young client.


  2. One-Third of Adolescents Experience Anxiety

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

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

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

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

    Signs That Your Child May Suffer From Anxiety

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

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

    What Causes Anxiety in Children and Teenagers?

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

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

    How to Help Your Adolescent with Anxiety

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

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

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

    Getting a Professional Evaluation for Anxiety

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

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

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

  3. That Was Then; This Is Now: The Art of Leaving the Past Behind

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    leaving past mistakesOften a young person feels like once they make a decision or hold negative self-perceptions, they cannot alter either. A lack of years worth of life experiences contributes to their inability to see how much power they possess. When your client talks to you in tunnel vision terms, you can challenge them to see the broader scope.

    People of all ages can learn how to leave their past mistakes behind and improve their self-esteem. Understanding how much power they have to leave their pasts behind adds to their empowerment. Open up a dialogue with your young clients about the art of separating their pasts from the present.

    The Dangers of Living By a Label

    The classic 1980’s film The Breakfast Club resonated with millions of teenagers. The movie tells the story of five different individuals forced to spend a Saturday in detention together at their high school. Each student represents one of the major social groups in a typical high school: the jock, the prom queen, the nerd, the outcast, and the burnout. By the end of the film, the characters have broken through their labels and bonded with each other.

    Many people felt touched by this film because they recognized themselves in one of the characters. Teenage clients of yours may have already told you what label they claim. It may feel like a natural fit, or it may have been forced on them by classmates.

    Labels are best for canned goods and laundry instructions. A teenager who shows a talent for sports may also feel like they don’t fit in with the popular group. A teenager who excels in science and math classes may also be the class president. Students who do well in all of their academics may also be experimenting with drugs or alcohol. People are complicated and don’t fit easily into just one category.

    Teenagers Who Know They Can Change May Experience Less Depression

    Research reported in 2014 by the University of Texas at Austin compared the depression rates of teens when educated about the changeable nature of personality traits. One group was given information about how their personalities can change. The data assured them that it was not because they had a deficient or non-malleable personality if they were bullied. The other group was not offered this same information.

    Nine months later, a follow-up on the two groups found something surprising. The rates of clinically significant depressive symptoms in the group not given the information about the ability to change who they are rose by about 39 percent. The group of kids given the affirmative information showed no increase in depressive symptoms.

    Try talking to your young clients about this phenomenon. Even if the teenage years prove difficult, as they often do, the knowledge that their lives are not written in stone can help them fight off mood disorder symptoms.

    Make a List Defining the Differences Between Then and Now

    Adolescent clients who are dealing with a substance use disorder have their hands full. They often obsess over the poor decisions made in the past. They may feel their hands are tied when it comes to reinventing themselves. Try asking these young people to make a list of what in their lives feels like it belongs in the past. Have them make another list of what actions or emotions they would like to see replace their previous choices or experiences.

    Examples from a list like this might include:

    Then: I used drugs or alcohol as a sedative to mask difficult emotions and experiences.
    Now: I talk openly to my therapist and family about how I feel and what challenges me.

    Then: I became frustrated easily, which caused me to give up on challenging schoolwork.
    Now: I keep my teachers in the loop about any extra help I need. I dedicate time to do homework and keep my parents informed about my progress.

    Then: I once felt shame about my mental health issues and try to hide my condition.
    Now: I talk to my therapist about my symptoms. We brainstorm ways to avoid feeling embarrassed for a condition that is not my fault.

    Applying Then vs. Now to Others

    Once your clients better understand the concept of leaving the past behind, they can go one step further. Ask them to think about which people in their lives might fit a similar bill. Maybe a parent used to treat them in what felt like an unfair manner. Is that parent trying to leave that behavior behind and be more supportive?

    Maybe the child feels an urge to judge a fellow student who doesn’t fit in. Ask them to consider what label this other teenager might be trying to reject. When we all try to let go of prejudgments, everyone wins. Just as a client can reinvent themselves, they might want to acknowledge those around them who are attempting to do the same.

    Many young people struggling with addiction to alcohol or drugs find themselves taking up residence in the past. They dwell on previous negative choices and mistakenly believe they cannot change themselves. Teaching your clients the art of separating then from now can help them move forward with confidence. They benefit from being taught that they are capable of rejecting labels and can reinvent themselves. It can be eye-opening to apply this same knowledge to those around them. Sustain Recovery specializes in teaching adolescents and young adults how to leave their pasts behind. We treat substance abuse disorders and co-occurring mental health issues. Our long-term programs can help your clients face their addictions and leave them in the past. If you have a client who has not thrived in previous treatment programs, call us today at (949) 407-9052. We are happy to discuss how we can help them embrace recovery fully.

  4. How Sober Living Homes Help Teens In Recovery

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    Graduating from drug rehab is a personal triumph for any teenager who has struggled with substance abuse, and it’s easy to get carried away. If your teenager just finished an inpatient treatment program, it’s okay to be proud of them, but remember that your teen isn’t “cured” by any means. If this sharp transition into the real world seems like too much, even with outpatient services going on, and even if your teen thinks they’re totally fine, you may want to research sober homes. Many of these facilities are built specifically for teenagers.

    Benefits of Sober Homes


    According to research, sober living homes are highly effective recovery services. A study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs linked the use of these homes to improvements in several key recovery areas:

    • Alcohol and drug use declined
    • Involvement in 12-step programs increased
    • Employment rates were higher
    • Psychiatric symptoms were less severe

    Most sober living homes make use of the twelve-step program; at the least, they all require regular meeting attendance from all their live-ins. Wherever these meetings take place, they are usually open to the general public.

    Teens in sober homes must follow rules, but they are also given some personal freedoms they didn’t have in rehab. They have the tools and guidance they need to recovery–a curfew, a weekly activities schedule, a support network of fellow recoveries–yet they can also go to school, work part-time jobs, spend time with their families, and so forth.


    • No alcohol or drugs
    • Residents must follow a curfew
    • No guests after certain hours.
    • Must attend counseling sessions or community meetings.
    • Teens must participate in house meetings.
    • Teens are assigned chores and tasks
    • Teens must go to school or work at a job

    The strictness isn’t meant to punish, but to teach and encourage discipline. Many teens in sober homes will find themselves contributing to order and organization themselves.

    Finding a Sober Home


    Sober living homes can be found in all states. Some are privately owned and can be found in big towns; others are located within addiction treatment clinics so that residents there can easily advance forward once they’ve completed traditional rehab, which must come first. Most addiction programs offer the service by default once your teen’s treatment is over, but you should look elsewhere as well. You need a facility that appears right for your teen and his or her personal growth, not just the most expensive option. Pay attention to where the facility is located to make sure there are no negative influences too close by.

    Before you can adopt a sober life, you have to overcome your addiction. For a consultation, give us a call at (949) 637-5499

  5. Steroid use Among Teenagers

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    Are Steroids Addictive?


    Absolutely. Anabolic steroids can be extremely addictive, and that’s partly why they’re illegal. Teen steroid users affected just like anyone else. Here we’ll address the behaviors and symptoms associated with steroid abuse.

    How Can I Spot a Steroid User?


    People who abuse anabolic steroids are known to spend a lot of money obtaining the drugs. They often withdraw from social relations as a means of concealing their habit; it’s not an easy addiction to hide. Apart from rapid muscle growth, there are other obvious symptoms, mainly aggressive behavior. Steroids affect the limbic system, the brain region that controls mood, in some scary ways. Users become aggressive for long periods of time. That’s much of the appeal, in fact. Many gyms rats enjoy the rush and believe that they benefit from it. Outside the gym, however, “roid rage” can lead to trouble. Paranoid, jealous, or otherwise delusional behavior is common among steroid abusers.

    What Are Some More Symptoms?


    As well as aggressive mood swings, steroids can cause fatigue, high-energy, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, reduced sex drive, powerful cravings, and depression. All these symptoms can last for a year or longer.

    Traditional overdose through atherosclerosis, a condition that causes fat to build up inside arteries and block blood flow, is also common. On top of that, these drugs can also kill indirectly. People who inject anabolic steroids using needles may or other equipment may contract or spread a number of serious viral infections such as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis.

    Why Do Some People Abuse Steroids?


    At least some of the drawbacks of steroids are well known. Still, there is a big demand for these drugs, particularly among adolescent boys—which has led many experts to link steroid abuse with low self-esteem and poor body image, rather than athletic prowess.

    Teens who chronically use anabolic steroids can’t be expected to kick the habit on their own, even after detox. It runs too deep. They need to get their body image issues under control, and to do that, they need professional help as well as the love and support of a support network at home.

    Steroid abuse often requires inpatient treatment and rigorous psychological services. It can some time for the body and brain to heal itself from the significant damage to the central nervous system and the brain’s mood regulation system. Call (949) 637-5499 for help as soon as possible.

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

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