Categories
Adolescence Holidays Prevention Recovery Safety

How To Have a Safe, Sober and Fun Halloween

Happy Halloween
Happy Halloween (Photo credit: Professor Bop)

Did you know that more people drink and drive on Halloween than many other holidays?
“Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that Halloween is among one of the most deadly holidays for drunk driving. For the holiday period — from October 30 through 5:59 a.m. on November 1, 2011 — 74 people died nationwide in a crash involving a drunk driver, a 21 percent increase over the average number of drunk driving deaths per day.” via MADD

We understand that Halloween can be a trigger for some people, particularly those who are newly in recovery, so it’s important to create some guidelines and parameters with which to navigate the holiday. If you were once an enthusiastic celebrant of Halloween, doing it sober may cause you panic and despair. Don’t worry, below are some safe, and fun suggestions. Remember, if this holiday is too triggering for you, you can make it a non-event: go to a meeting, hang out with friends, and keep it simple. If it creates stress, it’s not worth it.

  • Plan something with people who are committed to being sober
  • Surround yourself with people who can hold you accountable.
  • Be honest with yourself and with those around you: talk about your triggers if you have them!
  • Don’t go to a party where you know there will be drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Create a relapse prevention plan using tools you’ve learned at Visions to create a good exit strategy if you should need one.

There are an abundance of sober activities you can do on Halloween, especially as part of the young people’s fellowship. You can:

  • Be of service to your family: take your little brother or sister out to trick or treat.
  • Have a scary movie night
  • Have a monster themed dance party
  • You can go on the Haunted Hay Ride with sober friends
  • Some fellowships may have a Halloween themed dance or event.
  • Host a sober Halloween party with spooky treats and an eerie Halloween music mix
  • Make a creepy, crawly scavenger hunt

This list can go on. I trust that you can come up with a fun sober activity! The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself, stay accountable in your recovery, and endlessly tickle that funny bone.    Embrace this new side of yourself. Being present and aware is a wonderful thing to behold!

Categories
Addiction Adolescence Feelings Mental Health Recovery Service Treatment

Adolescent Treatment In Malibu, California

Visions has been providing Adolescent Treatment in Malibu, California, since 2002.

We know and understand the ins and outs of adolescence, deftly differentiating between “normal” ups and downs and those that are polarizing to the family dynamic: i.e., substance abuse, mental health issues, eating disorders, and video game addiction. The trials and tribulations of adolescence can sometimes go awry, however, placing teens and their parents in situations where seeking outside help is the only solution.  Finding help and asking for help are one of the most difficult positions for a family to find themselves. At Visions, it is always our goal to be able to provide a safe, welcoming environment in which one can confront those fears and get the necessary help they need.

 

An adolescent who is self-harming, playing too many video games, using drugs and alcohol, binging or restricting from food is begging for help via their actions. I try to remember what my own adolescence was like when I consider my reactions to my own adolescent: I remember being terrified and feeling alone, but the mere thought of admitting that was verboten.  The struggles I had were very real, and the need for parental interception was extraordinarily relevent. As parents, it’s natural to feel anger and frustration because our teen is acting out, but if we can step out of the mindset of anger and blame, we may actually be able to show up for our teens in a way that is beneficial to them.  An Adolescent Treatment facility can facilitate that process. When the bridge from parent to child is paved with cracked stones, finding a treatment facility that is facilitated by a skilled clinical staff will encourage the process of mending those cracks; families will learn to create a familial foundation of healing in order to rebuild that bridge back to one another.

 

If you are worried about your child, see if any of these warning signs sound familiar:

  • Is your child away from home for long periods of time and unable to communicate where they’ve been or what they’ve been doing?
  • When they do come home, do they beeline for their room, making no eye contact or conversation?
  • Is there a profound change in behavior: is your child especially angry or easily agitated or are they showing signs of depressions or apathy?
  • Are their grades suddenly dropping?
  • Has their social circle suddenly changed?
  • Have they radically altered their appearance in some way?
  • Are their moods markedly changing?
  • Has there been an abrupt change in weight?

 

Visions Adolescent Treatment in Malibu is here for you 24 hours a day. You can reach us by email or by phone. We would love to hear from you and help your family transition to a place of health and healing.  Be well.

Categories
Adolescence Anniversary Blogs Recovery

Angela Carrillo, Los Angeles Outreach Coordinator

We’d like to welcome Angela Carrillo to the Visions Family as our Los Angeles Outreach Coordinator. Angela brings over five years of clinical outreach experience with her, having successfully extended her reach to the fields of substance abuse, eating disorders and mental health within the treatment industry.  She is an active member of the Women’s Association for Addiction Treatment (WAAT) and the Los Angeles International Association of Eating Disorders (IAEDP LA). We feel fortunate to have someone so passionate and dedicated to recovery as part of our treatment family. She wears her passion for recovery on her sleeve, peppered in joy and enthusiasm for life.

 

Angela was in the US Army for four years, stationed in West Germany. She joined with the desire to change her life, which ended up being part of her path to recovery. She went on to win an award for soldier of the year in her division and was awarded an army commendation medal. Angela eventually came back to the States where she worked as a paralegal for several years. We are grateful she evolved into the recovery maven she is!

 

As Visions’ Los Angeles Outreach Coordinator, you will see her at local industry events; she will represent Visions’ continuum of care in Brentwood and Santa Monica. Please contact her to tour our Adolescent Extended Care—NeXT, Outpatient Counseling Center, Day School, or Young Adult—LAUNCH programs.

 

When asked why she chose to work for Visions, Angela said,

 

“The work that Visions does and the way they do it supports everything I believe about recovery. Everybody gets to be exactly who they are, from the clients to the staff.  Structure without conformity enhances an individual’s path in recovery.  When authenticity in an individual is supported, creativity and individuation occurs which is empowering for clients and staff.”

 

She’s definitely our kind of lady. Welcome to the VTeam, Angela! We are thrilled to have you here.

 

Angela Carrillo: acarrillo@visionsteen.com, cell phone TBD.

Categories
Mental Health Mindfulness Recovery Trauma

Finding Resilience Within

jumping (Photo credit: Coubert)

What is resilience anyway?

To be resilient/to have resilience is to be able to quickly “bounce back” or “recover from” a traumatic/stressful experience. It’s the ability to self-regulate, self-soothe, and get grounded when times are tough.

How do you find your resilience?

Resilience develops when we learn to effectively self-regulate. When we develop the ability to recognize the interconnectivity between our minds and our bodies, noticing their effect on one another, we give our nervous system a chance to reset itself. As we gain resources, our resilience increases, allowing us to “bounce back” more readily than when we are dysregulated. Ultimately, your resources should come from within, because wherever you are, there you are. You can’t escape yourself (trust me, I’ve tried).

Tap into your resources:

  • Breathe – Breathing is our most magnificent resource. It’s portable and it’s always with us. Exhaling longer than your inhale can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, our internal ER.  Try this simple breathing exercise:

Sit in a quiet space where you can relax. Softly close your eyes and begin to notice your breath:

Inhale – one

Exhale – two

Inhale – three

Exhale — four

Do this until you get to 10. Repeat 3 times.

This is a simple mindfulness technique that invites calm. Your parasympathetic nervous system can jump in here, slowing the heart beat and cooling the breath.

  • Meditation and yoga: both of these are contemplative practices that invite you to get back in touch with your internal mechanisms. With practices like meditation and yoga, your internal resources have permission to flourish.

Do we all have it?

Stressful events happen…to all of us. How we recover from them and process them is contingent on our personal histories.  For example, if we are raised in an environment where we are silenced and unheard, then managing stress will be reminiscent of that: we may squash it, bury it, or set it aside. We will try to “deal with it.” In reality, we aren’t dealing with anything when we do that; in fact, we are denying it and allowing it to fester.  At the same time, if we are raised in an environment where communication is encouraged, and feelings are met with understanding, one’s resilience to stress will tend to be higher.

Is it easier for some to access resilience than it is for others?

I believe that most people can develop resilience if they have a support system in place and encouragement to work with their shadows and unpack their traumas. However, there needs to be an opportunity available to do this work, or the desire to seek help.  If one comes from an impoverished environment, their ability to resource would be limited. At the same time, someone with more options would be more likely to have access to resources, making resilience more easily attainable.  I often use myself as a reference when talking about overcoming adversity because I wasn’t provided with the best hand of cards. I definitely had a few jokers in there.  What I did have was a deep desire to change my circumstances. This gave my resilience a chance to develop and for that I am grateful. Being an at-risk teen didn’t provide me with a lot of outside resources.

 

At Visions, we have a remarkable staff of trauma-informed therapists to help families develop resilience. We are forward thinking in our approach to trauma, recognizing that each person requires an individualized process, and understanding the challenges people are faced with when doing this work. At the core, we are lighting the internal fire of hope and healing in our families, empowering each client to discover their ability work with their difficulties in more sustainable, healthy ways. Our nervous systems respond well to kindness and compassion, and with support, these actions can begin to come from ourselves. It means we have to muddle through the shame and grief that plagues us, and give ourselves permission to heal. Recovery is possible; resilience is possible; you are possible.

Categories
Alumni Events Recovery

Alumni Adventure: Halloween Horror Nights

One of the most lauded alumni events at Visions is our Halloween outing.  This year is no different as we expand our adventure and take it to new heights: Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, we are coming your way!  I hear it’s scarier, gorier, and more terrifying than ever.  Rumor has it, Halloween Horror Nights makes Knott’s look like kids’ play! Say it isn’t so!

 

The attractions are fraught with zombies galore, inspired by the Walking Dead as well as some much-needed comic relief. A little screaming, a little laughing: it’s all waiting for you! Check it out:

 

  • The Mazes take you through the “shadowy confines of the West Georgia Correctional Facility,” which of course is chock full of hungry zombies looking for…YOU. In the mazes, there is no “safe haven.”
  • Once you leave the West Georgia Correctional Facility, you can jump on the Terror Tram, where you will find yourself in a zombie filled town of Willbury. The wilderness is filled with “decaying Walkers.”
  • There is some comic relief available with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. I’m sure it’s like, totally most excellent as they take you through the madness of this year’s pop culture adventures.

The rides are there too, albeit scarier than the usual fare. Maybe you’ll be seated next to a zombie on one of these rides: Transformers, Revenge of the Mummy, Jurassic Park — in the Dark, and the Simpson’s Ride.

 

Of course there are also myriad scare zones throughout the park:

  • The Curse of Chucky is in the house, and he is ready to play hide and seek with you.
  • There’s the Purge, where you have to find a way to “survive the night.”
  • We can’t forget the Clowns, right? Those with Coulrophobia (fear of clowns) beware as you find yourself on clown-filled streets of Paris.
  • Next you may find yourself under the shadows of the Scarecrowz Tower, with a new breed of scarecrows waiting for you nearby.
  • And last but not least is the Walking Dead infestation. Stay together, y’all. Zombies are notoriously unpredictable.

 

The excitement for this event is brewing amongst the Visions kids and I can’t help but share their enthusiasm with you all here:

 

“I am so excited for the Visions Alumni event this Friday.  I really am looking forward to going to Universal Studios Haunted Horror Nights with all my new friends I have made at Visions and to see all the alumni kids.  It’ll be a great night for sure.”

 

“I can’t wait! I’m so ecstatic. I personally don’t like scary things, but I’m still so excited.”

 

“I like haunted houses and stuff so that will be cool.  I like sober fun and going with my friends. It will be fun.”

 

Whether you are alumni, a current client, or staff member along for this scary adventure, Halloween Horror Nights will be a night to remember.  What a cool opportunity to be a team: stay together and enjoy the ride! This is what sober fun is all about!

 

Categories
Events Recovery Service

National Youth Recovery Foundation: Over the Edge Event

(Photo credit: swanksalot)

The National Youth Recovery Foundation is going Over the Edge for youth recovery and we are a proud sponsor.

The National Youth Recovery Foundation partnered up with Over the Edge,  an innovative fundraising organization that partners up with non-profit organizations and sends “participants who’ve raised pledges rappelling down an office building.” Wow! This coming Saturday, in an effort to raise money for young people in recovery, 76 brave folks will rappel down the outside of the W Hotel. The National Youth Recovery Foundation is on a mission to raise awareness and affect change–we are looking forward to this event.

 

The National Youth Recovery Foundation is a citizen-run non-profit organization that supports young people in recovery, ages 15-30. The NYRF “funds and promotes programs and initiatives that increase young people’s access to treatment and aftercare.” Their work encourages continuing education, career building, social networking as a means of support, and community building so that young people have a means of breaking barriers and creating sustainable, long-term recovery.

 

Are you interested in participating? The registration fee for National Youth Recovery Foundation’s Over the Edge event is $25, which will go toward the $1500 fundraising goal. There’s only a week left, but anything is possible! Join and fundraise or come down to support the event!

 

This is where it’s all happening:

 

When:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

9 am – 6 pm

 

Where:

W Hollywood Hotel
6250 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028

 

Don’t forget to check out National Youth Recovery Foundation, Over the Edge, and Young People in Recovery for more information on these incredible organizations.

Categories
Body Image Parenting Recovery Teen Activism

Surefire Girls: Teen Girls Empowered

Surefire Girls is a groundbreaking event happening THIS WEEKEND for high-school girls to ask questions, discover ways in which to empower themselves, get internships, and find their voices in relation to media literacy and self-awareness.  The event is, Saturday, October 12, 2013, 10 AM – 5:00 PM at the Art Institute of California:  2900 31st Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405.

 

This Surefire Girls event is smaller and more of a sneak peak into what will be, however a larger event is slated for 2014.  Online registration is closed, however, there will be limited tickets available onsite. There are workshops for parents too, so while teens are working in one workshop, parents are working in another. 

 

Teen workshops include:

  • Your Story & Social Media
  • Fashion
  • Beauty
  • Fitness
  • Change Your World
  • Money Matters

For parents,  workshops include:

  • Websites and apps to make your life easier, and decoding the ones your daughters use
  • How to listen and communicate with your teen
  • Getting back your inner calm
  • How girls can be influenced by the media in body image as well as career choice

 

Being a teen is not easy. Bodies are changing at a rapid pace, the brain is developing, and the individuation process is in full force. To add to the melee, teens are confronted with the influences of media, their peers, pop stars, et cetera, which are often confusing and misleading. Finding our authenticity is hard work, and harder still when you are bombarded with distortion as the status quo.  Surefire Girls presents a wonderful opportunity for forward-thinking, curious young ladies to smash down the existing paradigm of beauty to create a more empowered, sustainable existence.

 

Melanie Klein, MA, writer, speaker, expert contributor at Proud2BMe, a NEDA project, founder and co-coordinator for Women, Action, Media (WAM!), and adjunct teacher at Santa Monica College (teaching Women’s Studies and Sociology) will be doing her Body Collage project at Surefire Girls.  In this workshop, Melanie will talk about the cultural limitations of beauty ideals, and she will facilitate a process of uncovering and discovering that beauty is limitless, dismantling this idea that there is only one type of attainable beauty. The Body Collage involves creating a floor to ceiling montage of commercial images using poster board. The girls stand in front of this and find that they are not represented, viscerally shifting their perspectives on reality. As part of the project, I will be hosting a photo booth, further facilitating the shift toward acceptance. It’s incredibly empowering to see how beautiful YOU are in the midst of photoshopped, surreal imagery.

You can read more about Melanie and the Body Collage Project in this more in-depth interview with her from Shaping Youth.

Categories
Adolescence Recovery Service Teen Activism

Teen Activism: Mutt Match LA

Lulu via @saritphoto

Activism is something that has informed my life since I was a teen. In recovery, activism has been something that has allowed me to soothe my soul and be of service on a deeper, more profound level. Activism has allowed me to step out of myself, opening my heart and invoking deep intentions and inspiration to work with not only my shadow side but also the shadow side of others.  To truly be of service is to allow yourself to hold space for others regardless of the depth of their suffering, finding a way not to take things personally but to instead be a beacon of altruistic light.

 

At Visions, we have been encouraging our teens to take an activist stance as a way to be of service. For example, over the last year, we have sponsored dog adoptions for Mutt Match LA, a “non-specific breed rescue committed to Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-homing of abandoned, homeless and unwanted dogs.” Jesse Engdahl has been a huge source of encouragement in this regard, showing up the first two Saturdays of every month on behalf of Visions with alumni and current outpatient clients alongside him.  It has proven to be a wonderful way to give back to the community.

 

Animal rescue has been an activist cornerstone for the Visions kids. It’s something that’s always touched the hearts of our teens; in fact, my dog, Lulu, was a rescue from one of our alumni!  There’s a visceral sense of being of service when you are active in the process.  Suffice it to say, helping helpless animals feeds the soul.  I asked Jesse about his experience in taking the kids to Mutt Match, and he said, “The kids stay really engaged caring for the dogs.  Walking and feeding the puppies offers a really easy way to be responsible and be of service. They love it. They get to be at Visions with a bunch of puppies!” What’s not to love, right? Puppies and dogs love you regardless of your fashion sense, weight, or financial status. They just love you and want love in return. What a cool way to be of service!

 

If you are an alumni and interested in getting involved with the next Mutt Match LA adoption event, you can email Jesse. The next Mutt Match event is THIS Saturday, 10/12,

 

This is the first of many blogs inspired by activism. The possibilities are endless! If you are interested in sharing your experiences with activism or want to share some ideas with me, please email me directly at srogers@visionsteen.com. Your stories and experiences bring hope and inspiration and I would love to share them.

Categories
Recovery Self-Care Wellness

Cold Season: Invokes a Deeper Need for Self-Care

Folks, it’s cold season and that means now’s a great time for some extra self-care. The changing of the seasons always brings about a higher chance for allergies and colds and even the flu. With a few self-care tips, we can slow down, lessen the severity of, or even prevent a cold. Keep in mind that colds are airborne, so it’s nearly impossible to avoid them. We can, however, bolster our immune systems in the following ways as a preventative. Check it out:

 

  • Lower your stress. Start with taking more walks, taking time outs in situations that overwhelm you, or saying no more often. When we push ourselves beyond our bounds for long periods of time, our nervous systems get taxed and that will have an effect on our immune systems. Self-care is imperative, especially as a means of overcoming chronic stress.
  • Sleep! If you are sleep-deprived, your immune system gets stressed out, which increases its vulnerability to stress, illness, and burnout. They say no less than 6 hours a night and no more than 8 is a good start. Sleep helps your body function optimally.
  • Eat more antioxidants, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. With the accessibility of so many healthy food options, eating wisely and sustainably is easier than it once was. Nourish yourself with sustaining foods like hearty soups– chicken soup still has magical qualities when you feel a cold coming on!
  • Smoke less, or don’t smoke at all.  Smokers, you are at high risk. Smoking damages the lining of your nose and throat, eliminating the protective barrier, which is there to prevent infection. As a result, smokers get more upper respiratory infections than non-smokers. Those frequently exposed to second-hand smoke will have similar vulnerability.
  • Wash your hands. A lot. Remember how I said colds are airborne? Well, doorknobs, railings, shared computer keyboards are places viruses like to hang out.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Drink a minimum 8, 8 oz glasses of water a day. Some say, drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. Your total intake of water will vary based on activity levels, etc. But the base rule is that minimum. Water moistens the respiratory tract and helps it do its job. Drink up!
  • Be kind to yourself. Getting sick is not an opportunity to beat yourself up.
  • Ask for help. Time to call in the troops and tap into your resources.
  • Stay at home if you get sick. In this case, sharing is NOT caring.

It happens: we get colds. We are in shared spaces at school, work, and home, and this doesn’t include all of the public places we traverse during our days. Invoking a sense of self-care and having a heightened awareness of how to do so will benefit you in the end. You may prevent a cold, lesson its intensity, or brave the misery with more compassion than you thought possible. Taking care of ourselves is another piece to the recovery puzzle.  Be well!

Categories
Anniversary Blogs Recovery Service Treatment

Bradley Allenstein, MA, MFT-I

Bradley Allenstein joined the Visions family in 2012 as an MFT Intern. He recently completed his MFT hours under the supervision of the wonderful Heather Colligan. Brad brings incredible passion and enthusiasm to his work with families, adeptly applying a family systems approach to treatment, facilitating the processes of reconnection and healing. He is kind, approachable and earnest in his desire to help others. Brad is able to relate to the clients on a visceral level, sharing his love and excitement about sobriety and recovery, inviting others to embrace the full life that sobriety provides. He fits in perfectly with the Visions family, seamlessly balancing the need for brevity and jocularity. I forgot to mention his remarkable sweet tooth and penchant for hats. Thanks for everything you do, Brad, we are grateful to have you in our midst.

 

More love from the staff:

 

“Brad is an amazingly passionate and inspirational person. He loves helping others and using his personal growth experiences as a springboard. He also happens to be most entertaining as well and is able to laugh at himself, which is an important attribute in our line of work. And don’t even get him started on the topic of cupcakes…!” – Heather Colligan

 

“From day one Bradley jumped in with both feet.  He’s a true Vision’s team player, with a good mixture of humor, passion, and therapeutic skills.  He’s a great role-model for recovery, and a good listener (yes, you read that right, he can listen too!).” – Katie Mason

 

“Brad is an abundance of energy and great at verbally wearing kids down when needed.” Bill Hoban

 

“I really think Visions should pay for genetic testing…Brad has to have lineage to the Keebler Elves…I’m not sure anyone loves sweets more than him.  Brad’s passion for the work he does at Visions oozes out of him without any effort.  His enthusiasm for recovery is linked to every thought he shares.  He is a perfect fit in the Visions family.” – Christina Howard-Micklish

 

“Bradley joined us last year and seamlessly worked his way into our hearts…and stomachs! (His sweet tooth matches my own)  His compassion, dedication to our families and good humor makes him an integral part of our Visions family.  Brad can reach clients and share not only his experience, strength and hope, but his professional point of view as well.  Our families, and our program are better with Brad on the team!” – Amanda and Chris Shumow

 

And what would a staff blog be without 10 questions? Read on:

 

1: Three words to describe yourself, go:

Talkative, verbose, and chatty.

 

2: If you had to lose one of your 5 senses, which would you give up?

Hearing. See #1

 

3: If you could spend the day with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?

Katie Mason, because she is constantly reminding me of what I need to work on as a therapist /human being/man.

 

4: What inspired you to work with teens?

When I was 17 years old, a substance abuse counselor helped me turn my life around. He became my hero and inspiration ever since.

 

5: Sand or Snow? 

Sand.

 

6: What is your favorite hat style?

Guess.

 

7: Favorite restaurant in Los Angeles? 

My mother’s house. Her cooking can’t be beat.

 

8: One thing you can’t live without?

The sound of my own voice.

 

9: What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you come close?

A mime, but I couldn’t stay quiet long enough so I decided to become a therapist.

 

10: Why do you choose to work at Visions?

To carry the message and help kids realize that sobriety is not a death sentence. Being sober is not the end of the party. It’s just the beginning.