Tag Archive: triggers

  1. Marijuana Aftercare and Relapse Prevention

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    The current state of marijuana use and abuse can present a barrel of contradictions for adults and teens alike. Medical and recreational use of marijuana is increasing, yet the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency continues to treat marijuana as a prohibited substance. Regardless of the medical or other benefits that are highlighted by marijuana proponents, marijuana can be addictive, and excessive use of marijuana can impair a young person’s physical and emotional health. Teens who have become addicted to marijuana will have a difficult time breaking patterns of marijuana use. Keeping a teen away from marijuana requires an active aftercare and relapse prevention program.

    “Determining Root Cause”
    A useful first step in an aftercare addiction recovery program is to determine the root causes for the addict’s use of drugs or alcohol. Addicts might turn to various substances in an attempt to treat other conditions, like depression or anxiety. Many younger addicts use marijuana to alleviate stress in school or as a lever to help them fit in with preferred social cliques. Sometimes, marijuana use begins primarily because the substance is so easy to obtain, and a teen is bored and has little else to do. Solving, or at least understanding the underlying problem can go a long way toward preventing a relapse. Treating the underlying problem often removes the primary general catalyst that fostered a person’s marijuana addiction.

    Likewise, a teen may associate marijuana use directly with specific triggers, including specific friends or places where he and his friends would go to use marijuana. A teen who is committed to breaking a marijuana habit can work with a counselor to identify triggers and to develop responses and methodologies to handle them when they tempt him back toward marijuana use.

    “Customized Recovery”
    A good marijuana aftercare and relapse prevention program will combine different methodologies in a treatment plan that is personalized and customized to give each individual addict the best opportunity to succeed. That program might include intervention counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy in individual and group settings. These methodologies teach coping skills and help a marijuana addict to develop specific positive responses to help handle temptations to go back to using marijuana. The program might also include motivational therapy that gives a recovering marijuana addict specific positive rewards for meeting and adhering to certain goals. Family therapy can also be productive to teach a teen’s parents and siblings how to help a recovering marijuana addict stay away from the drug. These family programs require all other members of a recovering marijuana addict’s family to stop using marijuana.

    “Perception of Marijuana”
    Recovering from any addiction with no relapses will require a long-term commitment with regular monitoring and review of an addict’s attitudes about his own use of and perceptions about marijuana. Even if marijuana gains the same level of societal acceptance as alcohol, marijuana addicts will need to permanently refrain from marijuana use. Marijuana addiction, like alcoholism, can create serious chronic physical and psychological problems while simultaneously impairing a person’s ability to maintain employment and social and family relationships. Like alcohol, marijuana is a mind-altering substance that can alter an adolescent’s brain chemistry and psychological health. It may have legitimate medical uses when utilized under a physician’s care, but it is also easily abused in ways that can lead to addiction.

    Sustain Recovery Services in southern California structures individualized marijuana aftercare and relapse prevention programs for adolescents and young adults to. Please see our website or call us at 949-407-9052 for more information about our marijuana addiction aftercare services or to arrange a confidential consultation with one of our counselors.

  2. Avoiding Relapse

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    avoiding relapseEveryone knows that rehab is a long, hard road, but maintaining sobriety in the long-term can be just as difficult of a process—especially since it’s entirely up to the recovering person to manage. For adolescents, it’s even harder. Any parent who wants the best odds of success for their child should make sure that he or she regularly attends community support groups—like 12 step programs—as well as maintain a network of support within your home and in the child’s social life.  Support and attention is everything.


    Avoiding Temptation

    A common refrain among the casual public is that temptation is unavoidable, so the addict must learn to resist. Avoiding temptation is entirely practical; teens and young adults don’t need to be in those situations anyway. Families should do whatever they can to make sure their loved one doesn’t relapse, even if it means teaching them to avoid certain friends, even if they’re good people. It’s not hard to determine if a situation or scenario is high risk for temptation so create a sensible plan for checking in and making plans together.


    Maintaining a Support System

    This is what should replace the tempting elements from the adolescent’s previous, pre-rehab life. It can be more difficult than it sounds, because it’s not always bad people that encourage bad behavior. Sometimes, unfortunately, the relationships that comfort us most happen to be counterproductive. Maybe those friends or family members are drug users themselves; maybe something about their personality triggers cravings; or maybe the memories the teen associates with that person steer their mind toward a bad place. Comfort and support are not mutually exclusive, but they can be totally separate. Recognizing that divide is an important part of any program of recovery.


    Don’t Get Cocky

    When life on the outside seems to be progressing, and the responsibilities become more and more time-consuming, teens may begin to slack on group meetings or therapy. It feels like a step forward, moving on with life, but addiction doesn’t just fizzle out completely; it sits and waits to be sparked up again. Life is unpredictable. More than half of heroin, alcohol, cocaine, meth, and marijuana addicts relapse after treatment. Having a sobriety system doesn’t mean your life is a mess; it’s a fail-safe to maintain clean living. Active participation in aftercare should continue for several years before returning to activities and environments that could be considered trigger-worthy.


    Don’t Abandoning Ship

    If you’ve ever spent hours writing an essay or assignment of some kind, only to have your computer crash and all progress lost–you know the urge to say “Screw it” and walk away from the assignment altogether. How could you possibly start over? The same goes for recovering addicts. Once they relapse, they have to two choices: either accept the incident as a slip, a setback, and simply push forward; or continue using and enter full-fledged relapse. The best way to handle a relapse is to figure out what triggered your cravings and make a note to avoid that situation in the future.  But don’t give up on your sobriety altogether.


    To someone who has never experienced drug addiction, the recovery process might seem open-and-shut: admit your problem, accept treatment, get better, and put it all behind you. The reality of addiction is that sobriety will always be a challenge, the urge to use lingers for years to come, and addicts must learn to identify, understand, and avoid the psychological triggers that lead to relapse.

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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