Tag Archive: treatment

  1. How Can I Help My Teen Build a Healthier Community After Treatment?

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    How Can I Help My Teen Build a Healthier Community After Treatment?

    When your teen returns home from treatment, they will need to change many things about their lives. This includes the people they spend time with. By building a healthier community that supports their mental health and sobriety, your teen can connect with others and enjoy themselves in new friendships. However, this step toward cultivating a new community can be challenging. As a parent, you can support your teen through this transition by encouraging them to try out new things and by helping them discover what type of community they might enjoy.

    When you are considering how to help your teen build a healthier community, it is essential to first consider what that means. A healthy community will vary for each adolescent based on their interests, personality, and preferences; this includes close friendships. These are trustworthy friends who will support your teen with kindness and respect.

    The Value of a Healthier Community

    A healthy community helps your teen stay on the right track. Adolescence is a time in your child’s life when many things are developing, including their brain. As a result, your teen is more susceptible to stress and addiction. After treatment, this is particularly true. Having a community that encourages your teen to maintain their sobriety will help decrease their risk of using drugs and alcohol again.

    A healthy community is filled with good friendships, which also helps your teen’s health. Researchers have found that adolescents with no community or friendships have an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and hospitalization for health concerns. Therefore, the friendships and community your teen forms after treatment can help them maintain their health far into adulthood.

    Helping Your Teen Find a Healthier Community

    As a parent, you can help your teen take the necessary steps to find and connect with a healthier community. When your teen arrives home after treatment, you might wonder how to facilitate this change and what it looks like to support them. Remember that the time after treatment can be challenging for both you and your teen. You can get through it and provide the support they need.

    Working With Your Teen

    When considering how to support your teen, it is essential to remember to work with them. This means that you are not planning and directing them. Instead, try discussing your mutual expectations and helping them discover what kind of community might work for them.

    Working with your teen includes you being open about your expectations and why you hold these expectations. Explain that you are concerned about them spending time with their old community and why. After treatment, your teen may already be aware of the changes they need to make. However, you need to be on the same page to work together.

    The next step is to help them explore what a new and healthier community might look like for them. Try asking them questions that make them think about the type of community they might enjoy. If this is not effective, you could also make a list of suggestions for them to consider. This might include sports teams, arts groups, or other activities that provide a healthy community.

    When working with your teen, it is important to remember that they are growing and developing. Therefore, they might want to try connecting with a community that you wouldn’t expect. If it is a healthy place for them, encouraging these changes can help them to grow and explore their options outside of the community of people they used to spend time with.

    Supporting Your Teen

    Building a new and healthier community is not a one-step process. Once you have initiated the first step and made a plan with your teen, you must provide continued support for them. Setting a regular check-in time throughout the week can help you stay engaged and provide a structured time for them to open up with you.

    Supporting your teen also means helping them explore their options. People of all ages often do not find the right fit the first time. If your teen tries spending time in a community and doesn’t like it, that is okay. Accepting that it isn’t a good fit and helping them find a community they enjoy or connect with better is the best option. In doing so, you are encouraging them while showing them how to explore their options healthily.

    While it is essential to work with your teen and support them, remember you do not always have to say yes. Saying yes often leads to enabling. As a parent of a teen just out of treatment, there is a time for you to say no. Supporting your teen while building a healthier community means helping your teen by providing precise and consistent boundaries. Over time, your teen will understand the value of these boundaries and how they relate to their continued mental health and sobriety.

    A healthy community is essential for people of all ages. However, for adolescents recently out of treatment, it is crucial. As a parent, you can support your teen by helping them understand the value of a healthy community. Additionally, your encouragement and structure can help them build a community that they enjoy and is healthy. At Sustain Recovery, we believe that all teens can learn the necessary skills to change their lives. In our programs, we help teens learn new skills that will help them to build a community after treatment and into adulthood. To learn more about our programs and how we can help your teen, call us at (949) 407-9052 today. 

  2. Can Exercise Help Prevent Teen Relapse?

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    Can Exercise Help Prevent Teen Relapse?

    Parenting a teen who is in recovery is not an easy job. It is normal for parents to feel concerned about the risk of their teen’s relapse. While adolescents must learn to take responsibility for their sobriety, as a parent you can help them. This is particularly important if your teen is just out of treatment. One way to help is to encourage and assist them in building healthy habits, including exercise. In doing so, you are helping them reduce their risk of relapse now and in the future.

    Importance of Avoiding Relapse Immediately After Treatment

    Getting treatment for your teen is the first step to helping them heal. However, addiction is a chronic disease in which individuals are prone to relapse. As a result, avoiding relapse is one of the main goals of recovery. A particularly important time to help your teen avoid relapse is immediately after treatment.

    When your teen is freshly out of treatment, they return home to an environment where they have struggled with substance use in the past. Therefore, the surroundings and relationships are more likely to facilitate them using drugs and alcohol again. This makes the time immediately after treatment an important time to help your teen manage their risk of relapse. While it will look different for each individual, helping your teen find ways to build a new lifestyle will help.

    Contributing Factors to Teen Relapse

    The first step to managing relapse is understanding what contributes to your teen’s risk of relapse. Each individual will have a unique blend of factors that play a role. However, mental health, social groups, and stress often impact the risk.

    Mental Health

    Addiction and mental health are closely linked. Many teens who struggle with addiction have co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety. Additionally, other aspects of mental health, such as self-esteem, are often impacted by substance use and play a role in relapse. As a result, poor mental health will impact your teen’s risk of relapse. Therefore, helping your teen improve their mental health is one tool to aid in their relapse management.

    Social Groups

    Before treatment, your teen likely participated in and was a part of certain social groups. Teens who use substances commonly spend time with peers who also use drugs and alcohol. When your teen returns to their life after treatment, they are unlikely to find adequate support from these social groups.

    One way to manage your teen’s risk of relapsing is to support them in finding set social groups that help them stay sober. Research supports this idea. Findings indicate that a lack of adequate social support is one of the primary factors in adolescent addiction and relapse, making social groups an important contributing factor in your teen’s risk of relapse.


    There are many reasons why adolescence is a stressful period in your child’s life. Many physical, emotional, and mental changes occur during this time, which can cause stress. Additional negative life events can increase stress for teens. However, it’s important to understand that stress is a contributing factor to relapse. Research shows that chronic stress in adolescents increases their vulnerability to addiction and relapse. Helping your adolescent to find healthy ways to manage stress can therefore help them decrease their risk of relapse.

    How Exercise Can Decrease Risk of Relapse in Your Teen

    Exercise is a simple and effective method to help your teen manage factors commonly contributing to relapse. By improving their mental health, building new social groups, and giving them a healthy outlet for stress, increased exercise can make a huge difference in your teen’s life.

    Helping your adolescent get more exercise will have a positive impact on their mental health. Whether they are struggling with a specific mental health disorder or not, exercise helps adolescents to improve their self-esteem. It also helps decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise can also help them feel more energized and focused while releasing physical energy that is pent up from more sedentary activities.

    After treatment, helping your teen build a new social circle can be challenging. You do not want to encourage them to spend time with their old social circles if they encourage substance use or unhealthy behaviors. However, it is crucial for your teen to have a community. Exercise is an easy way for teens to build new relationships that are centered around sports or other activities. Helping your teen find an exercise they enjoy can help them bond with others over a mutual interest.

    Finally, exercise is a healthy way for teens to manage stress. When they are experiencing stress, getting exercise can release the feelings they have built up. However, it can also help them become more resilient to stress overall. Both of these are positive outcomes of exercise that can provide your teen with important tools to maintain their sobriety. In doing so, your teen will build a foundation that supports their recovery – now and in the future.

    Exercise is a way for teens to release energy, improve their mental health, and manage stress. As a parent, your encouragement and support can help your teen find ways to get more exercise and build a community around it. At Sustain Recovery, we believe that recovery is a result of making sustainable changes. In our programs, we use evidence-based clinical treatment modalities that help our clients learn new skills and habits that support their mental health and sobriety. We offer multiple levels of care that can be individualized to meet each client’s needs. If you are interested in learning more about our program and how we can help your teen, call us today at (949) 407-9052.

  3. Helping Adolescents Maintain Joyful Exercise After Treatment

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    Helping Adolescents Maintain Joyful Exercise After Treatment

    When returning home after treatment, adolescents will need to build and develop a new lifestyle. Many aspects of their lifestyle can help them thrive after treatment, including exercise. While some teens will enjoy more stereotypical routes of exercise like running or going to the gym, others may find these more of a chore. As a parent, you can help your adolescent child to find a type of exercise that is joyful. When they incorporate it into their lives, they are more likely to stick with it long-term, which can help them maintain their sobriety and mental health after treatment.

    Helping Your Teen Find Joyful Exercise

    Due to the current culture, exercise is often thought of as going to the gym or jogging. For many adolescents, however, these activities can be dull and more of a chore than anything else. However, as a parent, you can encourage and support your adolescent in finding alternative methods to exercise that bring them true joy.

    The first step is to open your mind to all the ways an adolescent can exercise. It is helpful to think of exercise as physical movement. Help your teen find ways to get physical movement and increase their heart rate. This means that activities like playing frisbees, hiking, or dancing are all methods of exercise. Looking outside the box and exploring activities like martial arts is also an option.

    Supporting your teen in finding joyful exercise means taking the time to try multiple options. As a parent, you can help facilitate this by encouraging them to try something new. Then, ask them how they felt about it. Did it bring them joy? Do they want to go back? If not, were there any aspects that they enjoyed? By asking questions and listening, you can help your adolescent child discover how they feel about different forms of exercise. Over time, you can help them find what types and parts of different kinds of exercise they enjoy. This information will help them to find an exercise that they enjoy now; it can be adjusted in the future as needed.

    Importance of Finding Joyful Exercise

    When your teen is recently out of treatment, they need to find alternative ways to cope with life that do not include substance use. Exercising in a way they enjoy is a coping method with many benefits, including improving their mood, creating long-term healthy habits, and re-discovering how to feel happy without substances.

    Creating Long-Term Habits

    Adolescents who are in recovery benefit from long-term habits that support their physical and mental health. The lifestyle they have in their teenage years will often persist into adulthood. As a parent, you can help your teen develop habits that make a difference in their recovery – both now and in the future.

    When you help your adolescent discover how exercising can bring joy to their lives, you help them create long-term healthy habits. Research has found that joy and passion are two of the strongest driving forces for physical activity. Therefore, helping your teen discover ways of exercising that bring them joy will help them develop long-term positive habits.

    Improving Mood

    Many adolescents who struggle with addiction have mood disorders or struggle with their mood. Exercising is well known to impact mood in adolescents and adults; exercising joyfully is even more impactful. While each individual has unique triggers for relapse, improving their mood can help decrease their risk of relapse. Immediately after treatment, it is particularly important to help your teen find methods to manage their mood and other triggers.

    Rediscovering Joy Outside of Substances

    Addiction is a disease that impacts the brain. According to the US Surgeon General, every drug has a different effect on the brain, but addictive drugs cause a surge of pleasure neurotransmitters in the brain. The size of the neurotransmitter surge is significantly larger than what is produced in other healthy activities like social bonding or food. This results in activities that used to bring joy being overrun by the neurotransmitters released from substance use.

    As a parent, you can help your adolescent rediscover joy after treatment. In doing so, you are helping them to heal from addiction. Exercise is one way to remodel the reward system in the brain. You may have heard of a runner’s high, which describes the positive feelings an individual gets from running. This is a natural production of dopamine.

    By helping your adolescent find ways to exercise in a joyful way, you are encouraging them to remodel their life. When they find enjoyment through exercising they have an activity they can connect with that makes them feel good. This helps them to build a new life where they feel happiness and satisfaction that does not involve using substances.

    Not all teens enjoy stereotypical exercise methods like team sports or going to the gym. Fortunately, there are many ways to get the benefits of increased exercise. As a parent, you can help your child discover methods of exercise that they enjoy. This in turn will help them to participate in exercise long-term and build a life outside of substance use. At Sustain Recovery, our goal is to facilitate education and improved awareness and build new behaviors that support adolescents in recovery. We offer a variety of treatment levels that can meet your teen where they are. To learn more about our programs and how we can help, call us today at (949) 407-9052

  4. The Repercussions of Increased Media Coverage of Societal Violence

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    The Repercussions of Increased Media Coverage of Societal Violence

    The amount of societal violence has greatly increased and so has the media coverage of violence. From social media to news outlets, videos of violent acts from around the world are easily available to be watched. As a consequence, adolescents are exposed to more violent acts.

    Exposure to imagery and videos that show societal violence affects adolescents. It can lead to increased levels of trauma, poor mental health, and behavioral issues such as increased violent behaviors. In part, this is due to the fact that adolescents are still developing, both emotionally and physically. Therefore, while violent media coverage can impact all, adolescents are particularly sensitive to its effects.

    Media Coverage of Societal Violence

    In 2021, there were nearly 700,000 violent crimes in the United States alone. So many of these and other traumatic events are reported on the news and spread across many social media outlets. Due to the increase in media coverage, adolescents have more and more exposure to societal violence.

    Exposure to societal violence includes photos, videos, and interviews that provide full detail of violent events. Depending on the incident or event, media coverage of societal violence may go on for days or even weeks. The extended and thorough news coverage is hard to resist watching and following. This results in adolescents being directly exposed to violent crimes and violent, traumatic events regardless of location.

    Impact of Societal Violence Media Coverage on Adolescents

    Adolescents are at a sensitive point in their lives. Because they are still developing emotional and mental skills, they are more vulnerable to negative environmental exposure, including violence. Exposure to violence can result in trauma, desensitization, and behavioral changes that include increased aggressive behaviors. While impacts on each individual will differ, long-term effects as a result of ongoing media coverage of various types of societal violence can occur.


    Violence in the media is hard for many people to resist. Some say this is due to concerns over safety or an effort to be informed of current events. Others believe that media is alluring in its method of presentation. Regardless of the reason, it is common for adolescents to have a high amount of exposure to violence in the media.

    Trauma can result from exposure to violent events, which can imitate trauma that is a result of violence one experiences firsthand. Research completed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found that watching news related to the Oklahoma City bombing contributed to increased post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While media coverage can draw adolescents in, it can also increase symptoms of trauma related to violence.


    Being consistently exposed to violence through media coverage can desensitize adolescents both emotionally and physically to violent events. Research has shown that high exposure to violence decreases the emotional empathy of adolescents, and decreases their reaction to violence. By being exposed to a large amount of violence in the media, adolescents are more likely to normalize violence; normal responses to violence, including an increase in blood pressure and emotional distress, can decrease, depending on the individual.

    Observational Learning From Media Coverage

    It is well known that children and adolescents learn from what they observe. This is called observational learning. Their social behavior continues to grow and change based on what they see and how they interact with others. Because of the way memory works, some of what children and adolescents learn is stored, and thus impacts them long after they have had that specific experience.

    Research has shown that observation of violence creates changes in a child’s understanding of the world. These changes can increase their aggression. In adolescents, these beliefs get solidified. As these beliefs become normal for adolescents, they learn that violence is acceptable and normal behavior. These changes occur due to the violence that they experience as well as the violence that they observe. Due to this method of learning, media coverage creates and helps to solidify increased aggression regardless of an adolescent’s background.


    Media coverage impacts how a person feels. A presentation in the media that shows violence creates feelings of anger and excitement in the viewer. Due to the rise of these feelings, media coverage impacts how an adolescent feels directly after watching violent incidents.

    This plays a role in the behavior of adolescents. Immediately following a media presentation, arousal can cause more aggressive responses to provocation and increased violent behaviors.


    The process of priming is one in which part of the brain is activated by an external event. Then, this brain activation causes a certain thought, emotion, or behavior. As a concept, this means that there is a certain association with items, behaviors, or feelings that are displayed in the media. For example, a news report that shows a gun could create a feeling of aggression or a desire for violence. In theory, this means that when aggression is more front and center in the news, it is more likely to prime aggression in viewers, including adolescents.

    Societal violence has greatly increased, and so has the media coverage of violence. Adolescents have a huge amount of access to violence from all over the globe. The repercussions of this widespread exposure to imagery of actual violence can be seen in increased levels of trauma, mental health episodes, and behavioral issues in adolescents. Sustain Recovery is aware of how adolescents are impacted by media coverage of violence. We use trauma-informed practices to help each teen feel safe and calm in our environment. Our recovery program offers a unique opportunity for teens to heal from trauma and addiction. Call us today at (949) 407-9052 to learn more about our program for adolescents. 

  5. Preparing Your Child to Go Back to School After Treatment

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    Preparing Your Child to Go Back to School After Treatment

    Going back to school can be exciting but can also cause anxiety for teens. There is the academic element, including preparing for college and adulthood, but the social aspect can cause a lot of pressure, too. Imagine, then, how much more stressful going back to school might be for your teen after they have been in treatment for substance abuse and mental health disorders. They will face all of these pressures while they are still new to recovery and dealing with cravings and triggers. As a parent or caregiver, it is essential to emotionally prepare your child to return to school after treatment.

    Creating a Supportive Environment for Your Teen

    One of the most helpful things you can do for your child as they take this big step after treatment is to maintain a healthy, supportive relationship with them. Help them understand that you are there for them and will listen to them and support them in any way you can. In addition to being available to talk when needed, your support might include:

    • Rides to therapy appointments
    • Walking or exercising with them
    • Providing them with healthy food choices
    • Access to support meetings
    • Setting and maintaining accountability for behaviors and choices
    • Providing academic support, such as tutoring, if needed

    By providing for their needs and also holding them accountable for their actions, you demonstrate your love for them in tangible ways. Being there for them, involved in their lives in realistic ways while also allowing them independence and the opportunity to make choices, you provide them with a supportive environment for their recovery.

    Facing the Rigors of Academic Achievement

    Every student faces stress from academic endeavors, even those for whom school is relatively easy. The workload is demanding, and the curriculum can be challenging, even for the most scholarly of students. The pressure to get good grades to be able to attend the college or university of their choice only adds to the stress level.

    This pressure can easily lead your child to relapse if they are unprepared. Talking with your teen about the academic expectations and assuring them that their mental wellness takes priority over academic achievement will help relieve some of this stress. Discussing realistic plans for managing homework, preparing for tests, and completing projects and assignments while still maintaining their daily recovery routine can help them create the right priorities and mindsets to face this pressure without relapsing.

    Managing the Social Pressures of Peers

    Social pressures can cause the most anxiety for teens returning to school. Meeting new people and making new friends or healing old relationships can create a wide range of emotions, and thus, behaviors. These emotions are powerful and can change very quickly as social circumstances change, making teens particularly emotionally volatile.

    Given that emotional triggers can easily cause relapse, it is important that you talk to your teen about managing the social pressures of school in advance. You can talk with them about preparing for situations that make them anxious, like meeting new people or being embarrassed, as well as situations that make them particularly emotional, such as friends that make them sad or angry.

    Making a Plan to Cope With Triggers at School

    Having established a supportive environment at home, your teen will need to develop a plan to cope with emotional triggers or cravings while they are at school. This may include involving a trusted adult, such as a school counselor or favorite teacher, who can offer a safe place to go when necessary. If possible, having a support network of at least one trusted friend at school can also help. Making sure your child practices coping strategies they can use in the moment, such as breathing techniques, urge surfing, and mindfulness meditation, can also help prepare them.

    Avoiding People, Places, and Activities That Could Cause a Relapse

    The most obvious triggers of returning to school will be the potential exposure to the people, places, and activities they associate with prior substance use or exposure to new opportunities for substance use. Facing these situations will be very difficult, and if they face them while under stress, these situations will be even more difficult.

    Making plans to avoid triggering situations as much as possible in the first place will help so that your teen is not tempting fate. Talking about potential situations in advance and helping your teen mentally walk through different scenarios and practice saying no or walking away from various situations will help them be prepared when situations arise. Knowing that you are aware of the challenges they will be facing and are there to support them will also help them to prevent a relapse.

    Helping your child prepare to return to school after treatment for substance use or mental health disorders can be very challenging. They will face anxiety about the academic rigors and social pressures that come with school. By providing them with love and support and helping them to make plans in advance to prevent a relapse, you can help your teen be successful. At Sustain Recovery, we believe that family is a part of recovery and that your support is invaluable at a time like this. Being a part of your child’s relapse prevention plan will help both of you be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. Our Irvine, California, extended residential treatment program aims to help families prepare for relapse prevention by offering the education and coping skills needed to face stressful situations like returning to school. Call us at (949) 407-9052 to learn more.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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

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    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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

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.