Tag Archive: treatment

  1. Making Respect a Habit: Using Person-First Language

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    Making Respect a Habit: Using Person-first Language

    The mental health field can be highly challenging. Providers deal with mental, physical, and emotional challenges that cannot simply be solved with some routine labwork and some penicillin. Because substance abuse and mental health issues are so complex, the person and the patient can get lost in the process. Remembering to be respectful, put the person first, and use person-first language can make a difference for both patients and providers.

    What Is Person-First Language?

    While some might complain about the world becoming too “politically correct,” there are many areas in which language can dignify or degrade, and person-first language is a perfect example of language that can dignify. Person-first language puts the person before the disability. The language defines what a person has, not who the person is.

    Some examples that substance abuse and mental health care providers might use include:

    • Person with a substance use disorder instead of addict
    • Person with an alcohol use disorder instead of alcoholic
    • Person with a mental health diagnosis instead of emotionally disturbed or mentally ill
    • Person with autism instead of autistic
    • Person with a learning disability instead of learning disabled
    • Student that receives special education services instead of special ed student

    Why Should the Person Come Before the Disorder?

    When your words matter, you demonstrate that the person matters. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) offers information on why words matter in the treatment of substance use and mental health disorders. Placing the person before the disability or diagnosis verbally makes the statement to the patient, yourself, and everyone else that the person is the most important part of the discussion. How you address your patients also impacts the stigma surrounding mental health care.

    When the diagnosis or disability is first, it denotes that the person is that diagnosis or disability. A disability or diagnosis should not be allowed to define someone, rather the person should always come first. Just as it is inappropriate to say “that pimple-faced boy over there,” because the boy is not defined by his acne, a mental health or substance use disorder should not define a person either.

    Can Respect Make a Significant Difference?

    Showing respect for your patients as human beings first can make a significant difference in their treatment. Self-esteem is a major part of mental wellness and is particularly important for adolescents. When you label them as their diagnosis or disorder, they own that and can believe that they are less than others.

    On the contrary, the respect you demonstrate to them as their provider by using person-first language can significantly improve their self-esteem by letting them know that you see them as a human being, not as their diagnosis. By showing them respect, they learn to respect themselves as well. You can empower your patients with your word choices.

    What Does Person-First Language Communicate to the Patient?

    When you use person-first language, that simple display of respect tells your patient that they are a person first and foremost. Language tells them that their diagnosis or disorder does not define them and that perhaps their diagnosis or disorder is something they have control over rather than something that controls their outcome.

    Using person-first language communicates to the patient that you see them as human, that you understand that they are a person first, and their condition is secondary. Person-first language communicates compassion and understanding of their struggles rather than labeling them as their struggles. The language you use also can affect how they see you as a provider.

    Can the Language Providers Use Affect the Provider?

    Likewise, the language that providers use toward their patients’ impacts how they see the patient. Are they a human being? Or are they a medical condition? Are they a person that is worth respect and dignity? Or are they a label, a patient number, a name on a caseload?

    Providers who use person-first language see the person first and can offer more compassionate care. Offering the patient the respect and dignity of person-first language can help providers to remember the purpose of their care – the person. When care is offered with compassion and respect, you are a better provider of care.

    How Does Person-First Language Affect the Industry?

    Person-first language helps to reduce stigma and increase humanity within the mental health care and substance abuse treatment industry. By creating a habit of respecting your patients, you create the expectation for other providers to do the same.

    You also create the expectation for the patients to see themselves as human, to build their self-esteem, and increase the expectations they have for themselves to overcome challenges rather than use those challenges to define themselves. The language that you use can have a ripple effect for better or for worse. By using person-first language, you make the world a better place.

    While the mental health field can be particularly challenging, showing respect to your patients and using person-first language can impact your patients’ lives, outcomes, and quality of care. By being willing to put the person first, you can help decrease stigma and increase respect for patients and their diagnoses. Sustain Recovery knows that respect is crucial to get teens to buy into their treatment. Showing respect for the patient earns their respect for you and increases the chances of a positive treatment outcome. Our extended residential care facility is located in Irvine, California, and offers teens the chance to be a person first and to receive treatment for their diagnosis. We specialize in treating patients who have not succeeded in traditional residential care settings. If you have a client who needs more care than they are receiving, contact us at (949) 407-9052 to see if our program is a better fit for them.

  2. Ways for Therapists to Specialize in Treating Pandemic-Related Conditions

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    The COVID-19 global pandemic impacted many people who have sought therapy for help adjusting to the changes in everyday life. Even though society has now plunged into the first stages of reopening, the damage done to millions of people remains palpable.

    For many treatment professionals, the fallout from the pandemic presented new challenges. We had to develop adaptive approaches to treat our clients who experience anxiety and depression related to the coronavirus. Some have found themselves leading the charge in how to best approach this new demand for therapeutic assistance. Others have put together a combination of different plans of attack.

    Many therapists now find themselves presented with a new opportunity: expanding their practice to focus on pandemic-related mental health. The sheer volume of Americans seeking help for this means an increase in treatment plans and providers has taken center stage. If you find yourself interested in addressing this call, consider the populations that most commonly need help.

    First Responders and Medical Personnel Took a Huge Emotional Hit

    First responders and medical personnel make up a significant portion of people impacted by COVID-19 stress. This group has spent over a year dealing with high numbers of patients with the coronavirus, and many medical workers might have been exposed to the virus themselves. Although training for the unlikely events of a pandemic can be taught, no amount of training can take away the shock of how quickly the virus spread across the world.

    While medical training might have been in place, preparation for the emotional fallout was next to impossible. The mental health of many first responders and medical personnel in the U.S. took an enormous hit.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that job stress related to the pandemic can turn into more serious conditions. These include acute stress disorder, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and secondary traumatic stress. The CDC issued guidelines for signs that first responders may experience:

    • Feeling helpless
    • Feeling overwhelmed
    • Exhaustion
    • Anger or irritation
    • Depression
    • Anxiety or nervousness
    • A change in sleep pattern
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Lack of motivation
    • Compassion fatigue
    • Job burnout

    These experiences represent a high population of clients who will need help dealing with the fallout. Many current or new clients may want to continue in their chosen career field. Those who do can benefit from professional guidance in dealing with the impact that has already occurred. Their therapists can help guide them in handling ongoing stress that will likely continue for an extended period.

    Business Owners and Employees Need Help Adjusting

    Before the pandemic, company owners had not counted working from home as part of their business model and found themselves forced to adapt. In many cases, many employees found themselves allocated to home offices overnight.

    For the owners and many management positions, this change meant rethinking how their businesses function. Learning to manage and motivate a team of employees who were now primarily home-based landed as a significant challenge on their desk. Millions of employees suddenly found their commute consisted of walking down a hallway in their home to a room with a computer. Both groups of workers found challenges in adapting to this new way of work life.

    As the coronavirus vaccine becomes more widely distributed, many businesses are opening their office doors again. Many of these employees will need help adjusting to changing gears. Being exposed to people in close quarters again may concern them. They may have differing opinions about residual safety guidelines at work regarding things like wearing masks and keeping a distance.

    Several companies find that the work-from-home approach suits many of their employees and don’t plan to switch back. These employees may need help adapting to working from home permanently.

    Some therapists may want to contemplate offering regular therapy to those impacted by job-related pandemic stress. They might also consider offering seminars or short-term workshops targeting directly at specific businesses. A game plan that the bosses, employees, and therapists sign off on can help ease the anxiety of moving into the next phase of post-pandemic employment.

    Children and Teenagers Need Help Adjusting to Re-entry

    The underage population took an enormous hit during the pandemic. Children found it challenging to process the dramatic changes in their lives. Teenagers found themselves impacted due to their youth and inexperience with handling grandiose life developments. For therapists who treat children, these changes open an opportunity to offer specialized treatment to this population.

    Many parents find themselves at a loss for how to help their kids. They understand that their child feels anxious or depressed, but they might not know where to turn. If the child already struggles with mental health issues, life during quarantine may have worsened them.

    Some therapists might want to consider treatment specifically targeted at helping kids process their pandemic-related feelings. Those who specialize in holistic approaches like art and music therapy might want to take this route to help kids. Getting out the word that your practice can help children deal with the coronavirus can lead to helping a great deal of them move forward.

    Most treatment professionals have found untold numbers of their patients need help dealing with pandemic-related stress and anxiety. Many developed mental health issues due to living through such an ordeal, while those who already experienced mental health challenges found that theirs increased. Some therapists now find themselves faced with the opportunity to focus their practice on pandemic-related issues. They may want to offer treatment to populations such as medical personnel, first responders, business owners and employees, and children. Sustain Recovery provides long-term treatment for adolescents and young adults who struggle with addiction and managing their mental health. We also offer our clients COVID-related stress management. Our Southern California location provides a beautiful backdrop to help your young client begin their healing process. We provide multiple treatment modalities to help kids prepare to re-enter a world now healing from the pandemic. Call us today at (949) 407-9052 to discuss your clients’ needs.

  3. Tips for How to Act When Your Child Comes Home From Treatment

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    home from treatment

    Every parent celebrates the moment when their child comes home from treatment for addiction to drugs and alcohol. However, they may not be prepared to address how things have changed. The child who has come home will be different from the one you said goodbye to several weeks ago. Now, you need to learn how to parent the new version of your child.

    This change may seem nerve-wracking at first. Have faith because you can learn how to handle the situation. When parents know how to guide their children and partner up with them, they can repair family relationships.

    How You React Affects How Your Child Acts

    Remember when your child was little and came to you after skinning their knee playing? They needed you to do the obvious thing by tending to the wound. Before you could begin getting out medication and a bandage, your first responsibility came in the form of your reaction.

    A child who runs to their mom or dad with a skinned knee or other problem feels frightened. They rely on their parents to remain calm and address the situation. Imagine if the parent saw the child’s knee and started screaming and panicking. The child would take on that reaction, feel worse, and freak out. A parent’s panicked reaction would compound the pain and fear they already felt.

    The same philosophy applies to reacting to your child in recovery. When they come to you with a dilemma or feel frightened or unsure of themselves, they will gauge your immediate reaction. Your initial impulse may be to react by showing alarm, expressing anger at them, or threatening to discipline them.

    If this happens, the child will likely retreat into their own world. They may feel less likely to go to their parents with future concerns and problems. Make sure you learn to get in the habit of reacting from a calm place.

    A Key Question to Ask Your Child

    Often when a child in recovery arrives home from treatment, they feel unsure how things will go in their homes from now on. They don’t know if their parents will be judgmental of them or react poorly when they struggle.

    Your child may come to you and tell you about an urge to use drugs or alcohol. They may want to express a difficult emotion they are experiencing. They may need to explain that they are feeling overwhelmed by stress.

    Rather than immediately react, pause to ask them a question: How do you need me to react? This question helps put your child in the driver’s seat and feel some control they may be sorely lacking. Now, they can process and consider what they need from you. Identifying the particular need and asking for it creates a partnership in healing between parent and child.

    When initially asking the question of how your child needs you to react, lay out some suggestions. Ask which reaction sounds like the best fit for the situation from your child’s perspective. Try these ideas and add in your own that sound like a good option for your child:

    • “Just listen to me and understand what my emotional status is. Do not try to solve anything for me.”
    • “Recognize that I am feeling alarmed by something. Offer suggestions for seeing the situation with a calmer outlook.”
    • “Help me make a pros and cons list about a situation. I would like to discuss ideas with you.”
    • “Help me remember that I have made progress. I’m feeling down on myself and need reminders of how far I’ve come.”
    • “Give me some space. I feel overwhelmed by my recovery or other responsibilities and need your permission to pull back a bit.”

    Establish a Partnership With Your Child

    You are the parent, which ultimately puts you in charge of what happens in your home. This role allowed you to decide to send your child to treatment. When your child comes home, you may want to rely on the feeling that you always have the upper hand. You may want to feel that you are in charge of your child’s recovery.

    While this reaction has merit up to a point, it cannot be the only way to approach the situation. Your child has to take responsibility for much of their recovery from addiction. When they make their own healthy decisions, they demonstrate growth to themselves and their parents. They develop self-confidence when they realize how powerful they can be.

    Establishing a partnership with your child can empower your child in recovery. Let them know when they come home that you see your role in the next phase of their recovery. Talk about how they can come to you with any questions or issues they have. Together, you can find solutions that keep them on the right path.

    When your child first comes home from treatment for addiction to drugs or alcohol, everyone may be nervous. Our tips for acting and reacting can help you remain calm and instill confidence in your child. Your child ultimately wants to feel you have their back, and they can be honest about any difficulties that crop up during recovery. Asking the right questions can help them feel supported. Sustain Recovery offers long-term treatment programs for adolescents and young adults. We believe that kids don’t have a drug problem; they have a drug solution. We help them identify what caused them to turn to addiction, including any mental health issues, and how to replace self-medicating with a healthy solution. We also provide any needed schooling to help them keep up with academics. Call our Southern California facility today at (949) 407-9052 and find out how we can teach your child to embrace recovery both here and at home.

  4. Exploring Alternative Treatments for Recovery

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    Support groups, medical treatment, and therapeutic appointments are hallmarks of managing addiction to drugs and alcohol. Often adding more options can create a well-rounded treatment plan. Multiple options can also benefit people learning to manage their mental health issues. 

    Some people might initially look at options outside the typical medical and therapeutic ones as questionable. It is crucial to help clients understand that having an arsenal of choices is a good thing. Remind them that not everything they attempt will be a perfect fit. What counts is knowing they are open to trying new things. They often are surprised when what they initially doubted ends up making a positive difference. 

    The Benefits of Yoga

    Practicing yoga has been a popular activity among all age groups for decades. It can be done as a solo act or as part of a class. Expenses for beginning yoga typically just include the cost of a mat. As the warmer weather moves in, clients can take their mat outside and enjoy nature while getting in a workout. Some of the benefits of yoga include:


    • Relaxation
    • Elevates your energy level
    • Improves sleeping patterns
    • Eases pain from certain medical conditions
    • Provides stress relief
    • Helps improve moods
    • Promotes a healthy heart
    • Enhances a person’s balance and flexibility


    Learning to Center the Mind Through Meditation

    It can be challenging for those who deal with addiction and mental health issues to focus their thinking. Racing thoughts and anxiety-prone reactions can impair their ability to feel control over their lives. Meditation helps center a person’s mind, which lends itself to feelings of confidence and positivity. Discuss with your client what they can achieve by making meditation a regular activity in their lives. Benefits can include:


    • Reduces stress levels
    • Lessened anxiety
    • Reduces symptoms of depression
    • Decreases blood pressure
    • Increases positive feelings about yourself and others
    • Improves sleep patterns
    • Boosts circulation and aids in pain releif
    • Lengthens attention spans


    Letting Go on a Massage Table

    Massage therapy can seem self-indulgent if taken only at face value. Many clients may not understand that it can be part of a person’s recovery and overall good mental health. Many people experience getting massages as self-care, which may be a new thing for them. More than one type of massage exists, including deep tissue, Swedish, sports-related, and trigger point. 

    If a client is reticent to try massage therapy, discuss how the benefits can include:


    • Reduces stress hormones
    • Promotes relaxation
    • Reduces pain and sore muscles
    • Improves skin tone
    • Increases joint mobility
    • Improves circulation
    • Improves energy
    • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
    • Lessens muscle tension
    • Improves soft tissue injuries


    Treat What’s “Needling” a Person With Acupuncture

    The ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture has been used for generations. Acupuncture is a medical procedure in which a practitioner inserts very thin needles into strategic points of a person’s body. Those who are inexperienced with the practice may assume it is a painful procedure, but the types of needles used are different than those typically found in a physician’s office. Most patients report feeling little or no pain when the needles are inserted or removed. 

    Traditional Chinese practitioners point to acupuncture to help balance the energy flow in a person’s body. Western practitioners tend to focus more on the benefits related to stimulating body parts. These can include muscles, nerves, and tissues. Many patients believe they experience a myriad of benefits from both sets of ideals, which keeps them returning for more sessions.

    Benefits from acupuncture can include:


    • Reduces headaches and migraines
    • Reduces neck and back pain
    • Helps reduce menstrual cramps
    • Promotes relaxation
    • Reduces stress levels
    • Improves the immune system
    • Enhances mental clarity
    • Helps increase energy levels
    • Reduces nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy


    How Aromatherapy Can Help Recovery

    Aromatherapy can seem like some “new age” hobby to some people. While it is a holistic type of treatment, many people derive positive benefits from aromatherapy. One way to engage in aromatherapy is by using essential oils. These are extracted from natural plants and often used in conjunction with a diffuser. Other ways to employ aromatherapy include the use of spritzers, inhalers, bath salts, body oils, and lotions.

    There are also less formal ways to employ the use of aromas to promote mental health benefits. Many people enjoy using scented candles and favorite scents of incense. Those who receive benefits from aromatherapy count improved health related to their bodies and minds. These benefits can include:


    • Improves sleep patterns
    • Reduces anxiety levels
    • Helps reduce stress
    • Improves digestion
    • Helps manage pain
    • Reduces headaches and migraines
    • Helps boost immunity
    • Aids in fighting bacteria


    When it comes to recovery for addiction and mental health issues, a few approaches are common. Medical interventions and therapy prove helpful to many people. It can expand a person’s recovery when they explore alternative treatment methods to complement the more traditional ones. These can include yoga, meditation, massage therapy, acupuncture, and aromatherapy. Sustain Recovery recognizes that their clients are individuals and knows how to formulate the right treatment program for them. If you have an adolescent or young adult client who needs help with addiction to drugs or alcohol, we are happy to explore our options for them. We also treat co-occurring mental health conditions. We offer inpatient, outpatient, and residential programs for young people looking to change their lives. Our beautiful Southern California location offers proven programs that teach young people how to take responsibility for their lives and embrace long-lasting recovery. Call us to discuss the needs of your clients today! (949) 407-9052.

  5. National Write Down Your Story Day

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    Did you know that March 14 is National Write Down Your Story Day? Whether you are more comfortable using pen and paper or utilizing a keyboard, the goal for this day is telling your story. You have many stories to tell, and when it comes to the value of written communication, there are many options available. You might want to choose one particular story to disclose, such as a memorable event from earlier in your life. You might prefer to describe an ongoing process you are involved in that deserves to be explored in storytelling form. 

    However you decide to tell your story, great value abounds in giving your thoughts and experiences a voice. Well-known benefits of writing down your thoughts, feelings, and goals can include: 

    • Boosting your self-esteem
    • Improving your mood 
    • Reducing stress 
    • Improving memory
    • Inspiring creativity

    Keeping a Journal Keeps Your Life in Focus

    If you are new to journaling, the task might feel a bit foolish at first. However, when done regularly over time, there are multiple benefits. Recording impactful life events helps you “in the moment” by allowing you to sort through your feelings and reactions to what is occurring. The process of “laying it out” in written terms gives you a unique overview of events, as well as assistance in making decisions regarding your next move. 

    It also can prove helpful to look back on what you wrote in the future, as you may record details that otherwise would be forgotten. Patterns may emerge in terms of the behavior of yourself or others, which are beneficial to recognize. 

    Write Your Autobiography

    If you have ever read an autobiography, which is the story of one person’s life written by that person, you know how interesting it can be to see the arc of a person’s life played out in a book. One need not be famous to author their autobiography. Make a goal to spend a certain amount of time per day or week to write your history. Sketch out the usual details, such as when and where you were born, your family members, and details related to schooling. Fill in with memories of important events that happened to you and relationships that began or evolved. 

    Fleshing out your life history will likely trigger memories you might not have visited in a long time. Writing can help you better understand things related to your mental health issues and recurring patterns. As these patterns present themselves, you can discuss them with a treatment professional, such as a therapist, to see how you can move forward with this awareness. It might mean you recognize ineffective behavior in yourself or harmful actions from those around you more quickly, allowing you to make smarter decisions and change course if needed.

    Write Your Story That Hasn’t Happened Yet

    There can be great value in writing about the story you would like to live eventually and detail in your journal or life story. Planning for the future can help focus a young person’s mind and give them something tangible to review while learning to manage their mental health and sobriety. Use your new writing pastime to map out what you want your future to be. Start with bigger goals, then break each one down into small steps that move you closer to achieving your goal. Imagine your life after conquering this list and how you might tell this story of accomplishments to others.

    Use “Choose Your Ending” Story Options

    Many virtual and e-stories include the option to “choose your ending,” meaning at specific points in the story, the reader can choose which direction the main character goes. The character might have the option to go through one of three doors, visit a specific city, or engage with a choice of characters. “Choose your ending” means having several chapters that lead to a variety of endings. 

    Try exercising this option in telling your story to anticipate what results you might see, depending on your choices. If you have an upcoming decision to make, consider how things might go, depending on what choices you make. For example, you might be invited to attend an event that could make staying sober difficult. Write out different versions of what you anticipate resulting feelings and actions will be, including if you decline the invitation, go without mental preparation, and go with a plan of action. Ask yourself which is the best outcome for you. 

    You can use the “choose your ending” exercise to help make healthy choices related to many situations in your life!

    March 14 is National Write Down Your Story Day, which gives you ample opportunity to document your past, think about your present, and make choices that help build a better future. Keeping a journal is a popular way to help organize your thoughts and delve into emotions. You can also write your autobiography, plan goals for the story you will tell about your future, and help plan ways to handle difficult situations. At Sustain Recovery, we understand how to guide adolescents in identifying their own stories. Our skilled treatment professionals help our clients put their past in perspective and make better decisions related to their mental health, struggles with addiction, and life goals. We offer various programs to suit the needs of a young person who needs residential treatment and other kinds of assistance. Call us today to find out how we can help put your family back together! (949) 407-9052

  6. Fake It ‘Til You Make It

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    counseling session

    Clients seeking therapeutic treatment often work hard to understand where they currently are when they begin therapy and gain an overview of where they want to be in the future. A lot of work may go into determining steps to take to formulate a defining path from Point A to Point B. These clients sometimes come up short in finding the right mindset to propel them forward toward their goals. 

    “Fake It ‘Til You Make It” is a commonly used phrase that means acting and reacting in a certain way even if it doesn’t yet feel comfortable. The idea is to practice doing so to give your mind time to adjust to a new way of thinking and doing things. Professionals can help their clients develop the art of faking it until they make it. This strategy includes having patience and giving new habits enough time to become comfortable and occur more naturally. Tell them that they may not be able to think their way into action, but they can act their way into thinking differently. 

    Draw Inspiration From Role Models

    Choosing a person whose approach to life feels worth emulating can inspire a client to stay on the path to positive change. Begin a discussion with them about who they admire and why. It can be a family member, a friend, someone in their local community, a historical figure, or even a celebrity. Ask what traits and habits this person has that they admire and how adopting them will help them reach their goals. 

    If your client has chosen a role model they know, they might want to set aside some time to talk to this person about how they got where they are. They can ask questions about why the person made certain decisions. Was it challenging to change how they see themselves? How long did it take them to feel like they had made real progress? Having a mentor can also serve as an inspiration and provide a reality check on how one progresses to their goals in a timely manner.

    Remember That Patience Is an Art Form

    Adolescents are often tempted to give up on an approach if there aren’t speedy results. Their lack of life experience and accountability creates an attitude that it must not be working if something doesn’t feel comfortable immediately. Wanting instant results is one of the hallmarks of youth, making it essential to help your young client learn the art of patience while allowing time for their mindset to change.

    Remind your client that even as they make progress changing how they act and think, moments and situations that test them are inevitable. The road to developing a healthy frame of mind that becomes second nature is not linear. Even a person they have chosen as a role model did not walk an effortless, problem-free path to their new attitude. Bumps and detours appear along the way for everyone. It’s crucial to understand that even those who have forged a path before them did not do so without experiencing setbacks. Every goal worth reaching will include experiencing doubt, fear, and other difficult emotions along the way. Part of maturing into adulthood includes learning this lesson. 

    Take Notice of Your Success Along the Path

    When a make-it victory follows a client’s fake-it moment, remind them to take a moment to acknowledge it and be proud of themselves. Write down what happened as a reminder, so they can look back on it with pride and use it as inspiration in the future. Having concrete examples to reference can be a real inspiration when a person reaches another moment in which they feel unsure of what to do or like they just want to give up. It’s vital to incorporate self-talk that includes remembering how they powered through a difficult challenge. The more success a person banks, the more confident they are, and the less they feel like they are faking things. 

    Remember That Anxiety Is Normal

    It can be tempting to walk away from any experience the moment it makes a person feel anxious. Part of faking it until you make it is identifying that difficult emotions like anxiety, stress, or dread may be present. Nonetheless, it is up to the person to decide whether they get to call the shots. Often when a scary task is completed, your client may reflect on how the anxiety leading up to it was worse than the actual act itself. Even professional athletes, famous people in the acting community, and public speakers sometimes report feeling anxious before going on the field or stage. They have had to learn to push past those emotions by faking confidence, which ultimately resulted in them achieving their goals with a new mindset.

    You’ve probably heard the phrase “Fake It ‘Til You Make It” but do you know what it involves? Sometimes when a person is having trouble shifting their way of thinking to something positive, they need to force themselves to act or react a certain way multiple times to allow their mindset to shift and allow new, healthy ways of thinking to become second nature. Sustain Recovery understands what a challenge it can be for adolescents and young adults to change how they view managing their mental illness and become comfortable with healthier habits and ways of thinking. Our professional staff in our beautiful Southern California treatment center understands how to help your loved ones turn their lives around and return home with a new way of seeing life and ready to utilize their newfound strengths. Call us now and let us help you plan out a bright future with genuine hope! (949) 407-9052


  7. Awareness, Advocacy, Accessibility, and Action

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    teen mental health

    Professional treatment providers are expected to have multiple options for their clients in need of care for their mental health issues. There is no one-size-fits-all plan that applies to all clients, making it imperative that professionals balance what is already in their roster of choices with the latest studies and modalities that arise. 

    Fifty-six percent of Americans are seeking mental health services for themselves or a loved one. Those doing so are more likely to be young, living with a low income, or have a military background. When you factor in that 50% of lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, it is clear that the need for timely and impactful mental health for all is of great importance.


    Raising awareness has long proven beneficial when it comes to shining a spotlight on mental health. When awareness of a specific issue that requires therapeutic treatment is heightened, there are multiple benefits. When more people become aware of one of these conditions, or better comprehend the details of living with them, it promotes a better understanding of it. This, in turn, makes it easier for someone who requires diagnosis or has already been diagnosed to speak up about their struggles. Awareness also can lead to increased funding for organizations. 

    The National Alliance on Mental Health helps promote Mental Illness Awareness Week to bring awareness to millions each year. The theme for it this year is “What People with Mental Illness Want You to Know”. The week includes such activities as National Depression Screening Day and Walkathons. 


    There are many ways to advocate for mental health. When professionals and sufferers speak out about their experiences, in person, and via outlets like social media, they are letting others know the reality of their situations. They can, in turn, ask them to assist in advocating for the cause. A vital way to provide help for countless individuals is to help campaign for legislation that benefits those in need of services. Too often, politicians and grass-roots organizations have an opportunity to vote or sway the opinions of those in power, but not enough people know about their causes. Starting a petition, volunteering to help mail out information, making phone calls, or donating can help get the word out. So often, there is an untapped number of people who want to advocate but don’t know there are opportunities like this to lend a hand.

    Encouragement of kinder language can help, such as when a concerted effort was made to retire the word “retarded” from the lexicon, especially when used as an insult. When it becomes less socially acceptable to make jokes or dismiss mental health issues as the propriety of lesser people, everyone benefits. 


    A 2018 study by the Cohen’s Veteran Network and National Council for Behavioral Health stated that America’s mental health services have proved insufficient. The main problem is the lack of access to it. The study cites that the high cost of help is a huge hindrance to many, especially those who lack insurance coverage. People in rural areas sometimes must drive a long distance to receive support due to a lack of treatment providers near their homes. Many professionals have a long wait time for an available appointment, causing some people to want to give up on trying to get help. 


    Taking action to help those with mental health challenges can take many forms, some already discussed, such as spreading awareness and becoming an advocate. People can also contact local mental health organizations and facilities and inquire about volunteering. Even just a few hours a month can make a huge difference. 

    Sometimes action comes in what may feel like one small step but is huge to the person on the receiving end. If you know someone who deals with an issue like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, let them know that you would be happy to help them with anything they need. Someone struggling may be too shy to ask for help or assume that they will be judged. Let the person know you are available to help them with making an appointment or driving them to pick up their medication. Mental health issues often are made worse when someone feels they have no choice but to go it alone. Try offering to be a sympathetic ear or a sounding board. Knowing even just one person is on their side can motivate them to take action.

    Utilizing the 4 A’s

    Talk to your fellow treatment professionals to brainstorm how you can utilize awareness, advocacy, accessibility, and action to give hope and a hand up to those dealing with the fragility of living with mental illness. Lasting, positive change for those in need of assistance managing their mental health is possible when all four avenues are explored.

    When your child is struggling with a mental illness, it can feel like a hopeless proposition. Many parents begin a frantic search for information about helping their child, not knowing what their exact needs are or what approaches will work best. Sustain Recovery provides several options for treating mental illness in adolescents, including using the 4 A’s: Awareness, Advocacy, Accessibility, and Action. We offer several program options that address a variety of mental health conditions and addiction to substances and alcohol. Our California facilities offer various clinical interventions, 12-Step recovery, education, and empowerment of our clients. We include the family to establish separate support groups for them and implement a total plan to help everyone succeed when the child returns home.

    Call us now and let us help your family! (949) 407-9052.


  8. Going Beyond the Surface

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    mother asking questions to explore deeper

    The great challenge for any treatment professional is to find out why their client acts and feels the way they do. If an individual struggles with substance abuse, they may feel like their family members, friends, and even previous treatment providers wrote them off as ‘just’ an addict. Too often, the assumption is that the problem has been identified, and treating it alone will lead to recovery and no recurrence of addiction.

    It’s imperative to go beyond the surface and dig deep into what the real issues are. The parents of an adolescent struggling with addiction are better prepared to help their loved one when they reframe the situation and understand that a child typically abuses alcohol or drugs as an attempt to deal with their problems, rather than the addiction being the actual problem. When the people treating the adolescent help the client explore the depths of their issues, there is a much-improved chance for long-term success.

    Mental Illness Often Accompanies Addiction

    More than 60% of adolescents in community-based substance use disorder treatment programs also meet diagnostic criteria for another mental illness. Drug use often begins during adolescence, which is also a typical time for mental illnesses to start showing signs. Studies show that youth who abuse drugs are at a greater risk for the development of mental illness. As well, minors with mental health conditions may go on to develop an addiction. 

    Therapy that involves making a connection between addiction and mental illness can help a young person realize that their problem isn’t so black-and-white. They did not choose to experiment with substances and become addicted to them out of immaturity or thoughtlessness. Removing the guilt factor this way allows the person to begin to make progress towards treating their underlying issues to reduce the need for drugs and alcohol to self-medicate.

    Multiple Options Allow Clients to Go Deep

    When assessing an adolescent for treatment, it’s important to draw from several options when putting together a success plan. In the past, the stereotype of a patient lying on a couch and engaging solely in talk therapy was often seen as the best, and only, option. Today there are several approaches to take when treating an adolescent dealing with mental health and addiction diagnoses. Individual therapy remains essential for each person, but ideally, other avenues are incorporated, too. The more appropriate options explored, the more likely it is to go beyond the surface in treatment.

    EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) provides a patient with a newfound ability to process traumatic events and lower their anxiety levels. Addressing physical health is an approach with many options. Exercise, including gentler forms of it such as yoga, can help when they are incorporated regularly. Picking a particular sport or pastime, such as mixed martial arts, gives new focus and the potential for experiencing pride as the young person begins to master this new activity. 

    Power in Numbers

    Group therapy can provide an eye-opening experience for young people. They may have spent a great deal of time believing they were alone in their problems and are relieved to see others their age have had similar emotions and experiences. Peer support often offers an effective way to help a young person open up and feel less isolated. Twelve-Step based groups are a much-used source for adults and youth alike to address their struggles with addiction. Like group therapy, they assist in removing the feeling of isolation or not knowing anyone who understands the person’s struggles. Research suggests that adolescent’s strategies based on a 12-Step program may contribute to the individual attending outpatient treatment. 

    Including the Family in Treatment

    When a young person dealing with co-occurring disorders sees that their family is involved in educating themselves and learning to help them succeed, it can provide a much-needed boost in confidence. When one family member is wrapped up in their issues, the entire family is fractured, making it essential for them to move individually and as a unit to help become whole again. It allows each family member to consider what they might have contributed to the problem, and how they can help change the family dynamic to something healthier. The family can participate in therapy while the child is in a residential program and continue on an outpatient basis.


    Many mental health conditions respond favorably to prescription medications. A full assessment of the client by a physician or psychiatrist is vital to decide which route to take. Many people are nervous about taking a new medication, making it important to reassure them that they will be monitored for any side effects or a need to discontinue the medication. There is commonly a fear of being on a drug for the rest of their lives. While this may be true for some, many people who begin taking prescription meds will only use them temporarily, which should be pointed out to the individual.

    When your child is suffering from addiction and mental illness, you want to help them immediately. The problems did not develop overnight, which means the treatment will take time. Sustain Recovery understands that going beyond the surface is important when it comes to designing a treatment plan for your child. Our long-term programs for adolescents dive deep into how we can help them understand the issues and commit to treatment, both while attending our programs and after they return home. We offer comprehensive treatment, including individual therapy, 12-Step programs, holistic modalities, and residential schooling. Our California facilities are the perfect place to let your child start over. We are eager to talk to you about how we can help your child turn their life around and how your family can become whole again.

    Call us now! (949) 407-9052.


  9. What to Do When a Boundary Has Been Crossed

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    What to Do When a Boundary Has Been Crossed

    You probably already know this all too well, but children love to test the boundaries that their parents set for them. They will push the limits and see how much they can get away with. If you aren’t persistent and firm, they take that as an opportunity to cross the line. As they grow up, they learn more about what is right and what is wrong — but this still doesn’t silence their curiosity. Although your child is now a teenager, they are still enthralled with figuring out how far they can go.

    They may be newly sober after spending time in addiction treatment, but returning home is yet another challenge. They will see what buttons they can push to get what they want. If you aren’t confident and consistent with your boundaries and consequences for your child in recovery, they will likely seize every opportunity they can get their hands on. It’s up to you to enforce the necessary consequences when your child has crossed a boundary. This isn’t going to be easy, but it’s crucial.

    Be Calm and Consistent

    A boundary means nothing if you are not willing to enforce consequences when the line has been crossed. It’s important that you hold your child accountable for their actions. They are aware that they have the power to make the choice between right and wrong. They also know that consequences accompany the wrong choice.

    When a boundary has been crossed, remain calm. It’s important to be consistent with appropriate consequences each time your child crosses the line. By reinforcing your expectations, your child will understand their responsibilities. Consequences will not only show your child that you are serious, but they can also help your child understand the dangers of substance use and identify when their sobriety may be in danger. If a boundary has continually been crossed — even after consequences have been enforced — and you see no effort is being made by your child to adjust their behaviors, it might be time to seek a higher level of care.

    Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

    If your child has crossed a boundary, you need to be able to communicate with them in a healthy way. It’s understandable that you might be frustrated and disappointed, but you cannot let these emotions cloud how you communicate. There is still an expectation that you will act in a respectful and honest manner. Try not to let your temper flare when you are communicating after a boundary has been broken. The more calm you are, the more your child will be willing to listen. If you raise your voice and turn the conversation into an argument, they will most likely shut down.

    In addition, you must be firm with your child when they have crossed a boundary. If you give your child second, third, and fourth chances, they will never take the boundary seriously. Refrain from going back on consequences that you have previously laid out. Instead, be direct and firm. Your child must understand that you are not giving them what they want, but what they need. The way you communicate this is vital.

    Parental Self-Care

    Parenting a child with an addiction isn’t an easy task. Your child will try to test you and see what they can get away with. It’s not uncommon for parents to feel some level of burnout if their child is consistently crossing boundaries. You might find that you have low energy, less patience, and a lack of perspective as you continue to deal with difficult times. This is why it’s so important to make sure that you are taking care of your own well-being, too.

    If your child has crossed a boundary and you feel like you are at your wit’s end, take a step back. You don’t have to react immediately when tempers are high, which can lead you to say things you don’t mean and create further problems. Instead, allow yourself to pause and collect your thoughts. Return with a plan of action when you have calmed down. Give yourself time to be sure that you are making the right decisions, and not just reacting based on your anger.

    In addition, make sure that you are taking time to care for yourself. Parents can often get lost in caring for their child with an addiction. It’s understandable to want to do all that you can to help your child, but you cannot possibly care for them if you aren’t caring for yourself. If you are feeling burnt out, take time to help yourself refuel.

    Act with Compassion, Not Control

    It’s important to remember that although you might be frustrated and angry with your child for crossing a boundary or making a mistake, they still deserve to be treated with care and respect. Treating your child with compassion is essential, but make sure that you aren’t trying to control too much. If you are always making decisions for your child that they can and should make for themselves, you aren’t letting them figure out their recovery on their own. There comes a time when you must step back and let them make their own decisions. They will make the right decisions sometimes — but they will also make mistakes. The most important thing is that you give them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Setting and enforcing boundaries can help greatly with this process.

    Sustain Recovery is here to help you and your child throughout their addiction recovery. We know how difficult it can be to parent a child struggling with substance abuse. Working together, we can teach your family how to be successful in sobriety. To learn more, call us today at (949) 407-9052.

  10. Understanding Temptation

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

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

    Preventing Relapse Is A Primary Goal

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

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

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

    Understanding Major Relapse Categories

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

    1. Negative Intrapersonal

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

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

    Finding the Right Approach for Treatment

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

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

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

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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