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Family Recovery Sober Lifestyle

Teen Recovery: 7 Support Tips

The earliest few months after beginning the recovery process – from detox and rehab to therapy – might be the most important. One thing both parents and recovering teens need to know is that there is no real “end” to the recovery process. If you’ve struggled with a substance abuse disorder, some part of you will always need to dedicate itself to leading a life free of drugs and their effect. That’s not easy to do without help, which brings us to support for teen recovery.

Robust Support for Teen Recovery

Whether it’s family or friends, or both, we all need support systems. Teens recovering from a substance use disorder need more robust support systems than most. Doing your part to help your best friend or your child recover from addiction involves more than looking out for any signs of relapse or keeping in touch with their therapist and doctor. It means being involved in the recovery process, helping them find new meaning in life, helping them reclaim their self-confidence and their identity, helping them figure out who they want to be, and keeping them accountable throughout the process.

Tips for Teen Recovery

As part of the process, here are seven support tips for teen recovery.

1. Get Informed

First and foremost, keep on learning. Find reputable sources to discover more about how addiction works, and what we know about treating it.

There are countless different online resources for learning about addiction, mental health conditions, and addiction treatment, but not all of them are useful. Learning to differentiate between junk sources and good science is an important part of the process. A good tip would be to take an online class on reading and dissecting research papers, and diving through journals that focus on mental health treatment and addiction.

Another option is to speak directly to the professionals your teen is working with. They might be able to point you towards current, up-to-date books and resources for learning more about addiction as we know it.

Understanding how addiction works can help bring you a step closer to your loved one. Many people find themselves in a position where their relative or friend begins to struggle with drug use, and while most are sympathetic about it, some can’t help but feel judgmental. Understanding how addiction truly works can help you develop a greater feeling of empathy for your friend or loved one, and it can help inform, fuel, and guide your support.

2. Get Involved

Some therapists and doctors will encourage the participation of family members and friends in the recovery process, not only as a source of support and as the foundation for a long-standing support network, but as participants in family therapy or group therapy sessions, for example.

Getting involved also means working in tandem with your friend or loved one to help them find therapy groups in their area, providing your number as an emergency contact if the urge to use or any sign of relapse comes up, and more.

3. Help Your Teen Set Goals

Goal setting can help teens recontextualize recovery as a journey of self-improvement and reflection, rather than a penance or a short-term treatment process. Recovering from addiction usually entails finding new meaning in life through activities, hobbies, and interests that are far removed from the context of drug use, or the lifestyle that contributed to a teen’s drug habits in the past. It means turning a new leaf and dedicating your time towards something valuable to yourself, incentivizing sobriety, and making your old habits less and less attractive with each passing day.

Encourage simple goals at first. They could be physically oriented, career-based, or school-based. It could be something like improving their grades across the board with the help of a tutor, or getting back in shape enough to compete in their favorite sports. As time passes, bigger, greater goals are needed – like getting accepted into a specific college, making varsity, or compiling and finishing a first professional artist’s portfolio.

Short- and long-term goals help teens positively develop coping skills and reorient themselves in the same basic fashion as an addictive drug – yet instead of the positive reinforcement of a substance, their reinforcement is coming in the form of self-satisfaction and achievement, no matter how small.

4. Teach Them New Skills

Learning new things is exciting and a great way to develop new interests, create new hobbies, meet new people, and find brand new passions. It can also be a way for a family member or close friend to bond with their loved one after a potential falling out.

Many relationships don’t survive addiction or are harmed by it. It can erode friendships and even break family ties. Finding ways to spend more time together can provide opportunities for healing.

5. Improve Your Health Together

It’s no wonder that addiction takes a toll on the mind and the body. Some of the side effects of long-term drug use can include drastic weight gain or weight loss, malnutrition, long-term neurological effects (including neuropathy), and organ damage.

In addition to medical attention, both diet and exercise play an important part in potentially reversing many of the lasting effects of drug abuse. However, forcing a teen to figure out their own health is daunting, especially after rehab. They need to be eased into independence and self-sufficiency and will rely on support for some time. That means leading by example and working together to reach health goals through a cleaner diet and regular exercise.

6. Support Their Dream

Regular goal setting and healthier living are core tenets of sustainable sobriety, but if your teen has something they’re specifically very passionate about – something that they feel they can dedicate themselves to, wholly – do your best to support that dream.

7. Don’t Expect the World of Them

This doesn’t mean you should give up any hope of long-term recovery, but it’s important to note that addiction can be a severe illness, and it can take a long time – and multiple relapses – before your teen friend or loved one manages to overcome their drug use indefinitely, and lead a healthier, fulfilling life.

Until then, there may be times when you’re hurt, frustrated, or disappointed by their lack of progress or by their regression into negative and destructive habits. Learn to create boundaries to protect yourself and prioritize your own mental health when you’re feeling down.

Understand that relapses and frustrating moments can happen and that you should not set your expectations too high when starting out. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Starting the Recovery Journey at Visions

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, reach out to us to get the help you need and deserve.

Don’t wait. Start your recovery journey today at Visions Treatment Centers.

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Mental Health Recovery School Therapy

Teen Academic Support During Therapy

In both inpatient and outpatient cases, teens undergoing treatment for a psychiatric condition will face daily challenges and undergo a long-term transformation. Yet, in inpatient treatment cases, teens will often be asked to leave behind their friends, school, and family to spend time in a completely different setting, whether for just a few weeks or several months. And while this is happening, it’s natural to ponder about continuing academia or teen academic support during therapy.

This can be a reason for some teens to reconsider or worry about the implications of mental health treatment. Is it worth putting everything on hold to “get better”? And what if it doesn’t work?

Not Being Left Behind

Life is challenging as it is – juggling relationships, family, and school responsibilities can be daunting, and for many teens, seeking help might mean having to forego some of these responsibilities. Teens don’t want to be left behind, whether it’s academically or socially.

Assuaging these fears is important. And this is why academic support is crucial.

A New Setting Can be Overwhelming

Residential treatment centers usually entail taking a teen out of their usual environment and putting them in a completely new setting, with new peers, new therapists, and different faces. This can be overwhelming – but it’s not all new. Teens in residential therapy will still have school responsibilities, they will still have teachers, they will still have lessons and curriculums, and they will still have peers to talk to.

Consistency is Key

Having these elements stay consistent in a teen’s life, both within and outside the context of therapy, is important. Conditions like depression, anxiety, and even psychosis can thrive in chaos and confusion. Consistent schedules, ongoing responsibilities, and opportunities for self-improvement can help teens focus on the day-to-day task at hand, avoid rumination, and build up their self-esteem – while keeping them on an equal playing field with their friends and peers back in school.

Should Teens in School Go into Treatment?

This is a trick question – mental health treatment needs to be made available to everyone who needs it and wants it, and everyone who needs or wants it should be able to confidently seek help from a mental health professional and get a treatment plan tailored to their circumstances and symptoms.

Teens are no exception, and in fact, adolescence is one of the most important periods to tackle mental health issues, as it provides greater opportunities for therapists and mental health professionals to impart the importance of healthy coping skills, and help teens tackle their symptoms before they grow worse in adulthood or lead to co-dependent health issues later in life.

However, treatment for teens needs to take their circumstances into account just as much as it does for adults. Adults who cannot afford to leave work won’t be able to consider residential treatment as an option, for example.

Teen Residential Treatment and Therapeutic Day School

In the case of teen treatment, residential treatment can be made possible through a robust and accredited academic program that continues to instruct teens as per state- or school-specific curriculum, offering them the opportunity to keep up with their peers while seeking help for their symptoms.

It’s still work. Teens in treatment will be expected to show up to lessons, do homework, and prepare for exams – all while continuing to attend treatment sessions, both individually and in groups, and participating in group activities. Preparing for your SATs or college application deadlines while going to therapy for a dual diagnosis can be tough.

But a day school in a residential treatment facility sets itself apart from a regular day-to-day classroom in that teens in treatment can seek individualized tutoring and may be better able to learn within the setting of a residential treatment clinic versus a conventional classroom.

Synergizing Academic Achievement and Mental Health Treatment

Meanwhile, there is synergy between promoting academic achievement and the mental health treatment process. Just as doing better mentally can help you study, an individually tailored academic program can help you feel better mentally.

Some teens don’t respond well to the typical structure of a school day or haven’t managed to find a way to study that suits them, especially if they’re struggling with the symptoms of a neurobehavioral disorder like ADHD.

Individualized Support and Education

Individualized support in the form of a day school at a residential treatment center can help teens balance studying with their mental health, improve their ability to cope with stressors while retaining information, and find alternative ways to prepare for tests and learn without the pressure and classroom setting of a normal school. Furthermore, day school programs help teens ensure that they aren’t left behind while in therapy and synergize treatment with a teen’s day-to-day academic responsibilities.

Helping teens improve their responses to stressors and prepare for the challenges that lie ahead are important parts of therapy. Some teens are too afraid to speak up about their depressive feelings or anxiety symptoms because they don’t want these things to jeopardize their chances at college, affect their relationships, or be a burden on their grades. But they are – if left untreated.

Teens with mental health issues have a much harder time retaining information and doing well at school – and these issues can continue to be exacerbated later in adulthood.

Furthermore, adolescence is a crucial chapter in the rest of a teen’s life – academic performance can have an impact on career options and college opportunities. Helping teens improve their grades through residential treatment serves as a major boon for the rest of their lives.

Choosing a Residential Treatment Clinic

Residential treatment centers differ in the modalities they offer and the facilities they have. Not all residential treatment clinics offer a day school and teen academic support programs for teens. When choosing a treatment clinic for yourself or your loved one, choose one with an accredited academic program and a reputation for helping teens continue their studies while in treatment.

A residential or inpatient treatment clinic is often just the first step in a longer journey. In many cases, mental health isn’t about curing a defect, but about learning to cope with one’s unique circumstances, and living a full and happy life in spite of the challenges one faces.

Teen Academic Support During Therapy at Visions Treatment Centers

If you or your teen is considering entering into residential treatment but worried about falling behind in academics, contact us today.

At Visions Treatment Centers, we offer Day School for teen academic support while receiving therapy. With a consistent schedule and custom-made curriculum plan, you or your teen will get the professional help they need while maintaining grades, social activities, and more.

Categories
Addiction Family Recovery

Role of Parenting Styles in Teen Drug Abuse

It’s difficult to treat teen drug abuse, especially when a drug has its hooks firmly in a teen’s head. Just like everybody else, they need support – and it’s often the parents, not the peers or the therapists or the doctors, who help their kids stay sober the most. How a parent interacts with their child is important, as is their parenting style

What Are Parenting Styles?

Parenting styles are archetypes of parental philosophies characterized by certain behavior and viewpoints that parents share. For example, an authoritarian parent might overtly control their teen’s behavior and activities, emphasizing obedience above other qualities in their relationship with their child. An authoritarian parent will punish their child for talking back and refuse to engage in a conversation with them when questioned. Children are to take orders and comply unquestioningly until they’re old enough to stand on their own. In other words: kids should be seen, not heard. While psychologists and experts have identified several different parenting styles over the years, most of them can be split between the following four

  • Authoritarian: As explained previously, authoritarian parents command their children. They are restrictive and enforce their rules with punishment. 
  • Authoritative: Authoritarian parents provide limits and rules for their children but take the time to explain those restrictions when asked. They also work hard to foster a positive relationship with their children by taking an interest in what they do and what they like and encouraging their growth. 
  • Permissive: Permissive parents have a “kids will be kids” attitude towards misbehavior and generally do not enforce their rules or may not even provide clear boundaries for their children. 
  • Uninvolved: Uninvolved parents are neglectful and show neither care nor particular disdain for their children. Some are simply severely overworked or don’t really know how to take care of their child’s emotional needs. 

Note that these archetypes describe a general parenting style and are not necessarily rulebooks. An authoritarian parent may be relaxed at times, and an authoritative parent may resort to more punishment than necessary out of frustration. In contrast, a permissive parent may occasionally be adamant about certain rules. Parenting styles help us interpret how certain qualities and relationships between parents and children affect the children’s choices and behaviors both now and later in life and their choice in peers and partners or their choices regarding substance use. 

Why Parenting Styles Matter

Drugs like alcohol, cocaine, and heroin are inherently addictive, so it’s usually the circumstances that lead to initial use that play the greatest role in a teen’s potential substance use problem. While no substance use disorder starts with hit number one, or the first drink, most drugs prime the brain for another session because they contain substances that very closely mimic – and even overpower – ones our own brain produces to incentivize and promote certain behavior, from eating to procreation. 

In that sense, half of the battle against addiction keeps kids from using drugs to begin with. The resilience against addiction seems to increase with age, as young people using drugs are more likely to form a lasting substance use issue than if they had the first contact with a drug well into their mid-20s. Peer pressure is often blamed on why and how kids begin experimenting with drugs at home – but research shows that parents play an even greater part.

Parenting styles affect the kind of relationship a child has with their parents – and in turn, with others around them. A poor relationship can lead to trust issues, early self-reliance, an unbalanced mental state, and isolation. Parents who are too uninvolved or enforce rules too rigidly may cause their children to seek out unhealthy attachments or struggle massively with social interaction, especially anger management, adaptation, verbal expression, and healthy coping.

Addictive drugs cause addiction of their very own accord. Still, emotional and social factors make substance use disorder more or less likely, even after a teen was exposed to drugs. A healthy relationship – an authoritative one – with one’s parent more often translates into better relationships with other people, improved social skills, better coping skills, higher self-esteem, and a lower risk of getting addicted. Addiction usually affects the vulnerable the most, after all.

But just as parents can have a significant impact on their children’s behavior, even well into their rebellious teen phase, so too do they play a crucial role in preventing teen drug abuse. Parents with a positive, strong bond to their children will have an easier time helping them through their addiction than a parent who is too harsh or too distant. Punishing or neglecting a child for their choices and experiences will only reinforce negative behavior and make it that much harder to recover from a substance use problem.

What About Peer Pressure?

Despite a drop in numbers for most illicit drugs among adolescent users during the pandemic, COVID-19 saw alcohol and cannabis use rise among teens as millions of young people struggling with social isolation. About half of surveyed teens reported using these drugs alone, without digital nor face-to-face contact with peers. Peer pressure has always played some part in teen drug abuse, but it’s a case of putting the cart before the horse in many cases. Peer choices are often driven by a teen’s general attitude and relationship with their parents, as are drug choices.

Peers with a positive relationship with their parents are also far more resilient to peer pressure. While wanting to be popular can be seen as a valid motivation for drug use and experimentation, it usually does not weigh as heavily into a teen’s relationship with their parents. This does not change significantly until after the teen years, around the age most kids move away or are beginning to form long-term bonds of their own. 

The Importance of Protective Factors

Addiction risk factors are a common point of discussion when discussing teen drug abuse – but it’s just as important to highlight protective factors. These can also play a role in substance use cessation and long-term recovery. Alongside a healthy relationship with their parents, other protective factors for teens include:

  • Healthy social interaction with other teens.
  • Having a strong attachment to the neighborhood, feeling safe and comfortable at home.
  • Having parents that are involved in a child’s interests and activities.
  • Enforced anti-drug use policies at school.
  • And more.

A parent’s love might not be enough to rout addiction, but it is an important component for many teens.

Categories
Recovery Wellness

Teens’ Guide to Nutritional Healing in Recovery

Addiction treatment centers around the idea of recovery – both in a physical and mental sense. Patients are given the necessary resources and tools to counteract the long-term effects of substance use and are encouraged to continue using these resources and tools in the future to try and deal with cravings, cope with stressors, and avoid relapses. Nutritional healing plays an important role in this process because many teens suffering from addiction tend to neglect their physical needs while high or withdrawn. Good food also helps provide an important foundation for other treatments, alongside social support, regular exercise, and healthy coping mechanisms.

The Role of Nutritional Healing During Recovery

Addiction recovery is always about more than sitting in a circle and talking. Group therapy is one of many modalities used to prepare teens for drug-free living in the real world by helping them empathize with others, learn from their experiences, mistakes, and breakthroughs, and learn how certain lessons taught during recovery might be applied in practice throughout the recovery journey.

But drug recovery needs a strong foundation to work. Teens aren’t pulled out of their drug habit and stuck right into a seminar about avoid maladaptive coping mechanisms and recognizing the signs of a substance use disorder. Regular drug use, particularly over months and years, takes a huge toll on the body.

Its effects are especially pronounced in teens, no matter what drug is being taken. This is because teens are younger, still growing, and more susceptible to the long-term effects of continued substance abuse. Reversing that damage – and helping teens learn to deal with their cravings – requires addressing many of the fundamental ways in which drugs can change a person’s body and mind.

People consider detox to be the first step towards recovering physically from addiction. Yet, the body needs much more time to really recover. Therefore, a solid nutritional healing plan is central to helping teens reconstitute themselves over the course of their treatment and continue to bring the benefits of a balanced diet into their long-term recovery journey.

Nutritional healing plans help address deficiencies that can contribute to the physical effects and mental health consequences of substance abuse, help improve and stabilize mood in the long-term, and provide an outlet for teens to learn self-sufficiency, learn new skills, and even apply therapeutic concepts such as mindfulness through the step-by-step cooking process of a healthy meal.

How Substance Use Disorder Can Affect Eating Habits

Nutrition doesn’t just play a role in recovery – the addiction itself plays a role in developing poor eating habits. So reinforcing a better diet can be an important step towards breaking those habits and their association with drug use. Addictive drugs affect the brain by manipulating the neurotransmitters our body relies on for communication and coordination, particularly ones like dopamine, which are heavily associated with reinforced behaviors and reward-seeking.

Many addictive drugs can also affect the way the body regulates satiety and hunger, increasing or reducing appetite and negatively impacting our body’s natural mechanisms for triggering food intake. This can lead to rapid weight gain or weight loss in teens with substance use issues, particularly for drugs like Adderall or methamphetamine (which can drastically reduce appetite) and marijuana or alcohol (which increase appetite or cause weight gain through excessive calorie consumption).

It is also noted that excessive drug use correlates with poor nutrient absorption and malnutrition. However, drugs alone – or at least, how they affect our appetite – aren’t always to blame. Other factors, including mood and mental health and eating disorders that may have begun before or after drug use.

The Link Between Substance Use and Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are an understudied yet perilous mental health issue, causing more deaths per case than any other set of mental health conditions. Therefore, teaching good nutritional healing habits is crucial when treating a case of substance use disorder rooted or related to the diagnosis of eating disorders, such as:

These are complex mental health conditions that require both medical and psychological attention to treat. Addiction can complicate things further, and a team of specialists is usually needed to develop a patient-specific treatment plan that helps address their patient’s physical and mental needs, help introduce healthier eating and behavioral habits, and ensure the development of a strong support network around the patient to build on their long-term health.

Even so, nutrition is often just one part of a much bigger treatment plan. In such cases, nutritional healing advice takes time to introduce and internalize. Thus, overwhelming a teen patient with food advice can be counterproductive, especially when they are mentally susceptible to taking certain guidelines too far or misinterpreting flexible dietary suggestions as hardline rules.

What Constitutes Proper Nutrition?

One of the hardest things about introducing and teaching teens good nutritional healing habits is that everybody has different needs when it comes to food. In addition, there are genetic differences in how we process and react to certain foods. So, while it is helpful to understand concepts such as calories in and calories out for healthy weight management, there is much more to having a complete understanding of good nutrition.

In general, teens will be given healthy, balanced meals to help them recover strength, both physically and mentally, throughout the treatment process. In addition, many recovery programs will also cover nutrition to help give teens an idea of the importance of food in their overall well-being. Most nutritional lessons won’t focus on the pros and cons of a vegan diet versus a paleo diet or whether you should go low-carb to lose weight.

Instead, some of the basics in helping teens achieve good nutritional healing habits throughout and after recovery include consistent mealtimes, learning to choose healthier ingredients, cooking basics, and even cooking healthy on a budget. Most teens aren’t financially independent and will likely rely on their parents or siblings to help put food on the table – so, sometimes, it’s important to involve the family in nutritional healing lessons.

This can mean prioritizing filling foods (high in protein or fiber) and nutrition-dense foods (so-called “superfoods,” which provide a variety of minerals and vitamins per portion), cutting down on snacking, substituting high-calorie snack options for cheap and healthy alternatives, learning about (and internalizing) healthy portion sizes, and more.

Teens with special nutritional healing needs might need to work with a nutritionist to figure out what foods to avoid for better overall health and incorporate nutritious alternatives that don’t break the bank. After all, we are what we eat – and good nutritional habits are a cornerstone of physical and mental health during addiction recovery.

Categories
Recovery Trauma

Awareness—Rape Culture and Addiction

Rape isn’t a new problem. Everyone in the world knows about someone in their family, a friend, or neighbor that has been affected by an incident of sexual assault. Acts like rape ruin lives, and it has to stop. When we think about rape victims, many people don’t quite understand that everything stops and nothing is ever the same for them. Victims of rape are at the highest rate for alcohol and substance abuse, where addiction and self-isolation—that delicately toes the line for suicide—takes hold of their world and makes them a prisoner to the unsafe place that is now their home.

The Brock Turner Case Issue

The case of the State vs. Brock Turner isn’t a case we can think of where justice has been served, but where the justice system has fallen short once again. For those victims of rape, thoughts about what it felt like are refreshed with this injustice. For men and women, young teens and children all over the world that have experienced something like this, we know there is nothing that can be done to reverse what’s happened in the past.

No life sentence can change the way you feel when someone invades your personal space, the difficulty you have when trying to engage in romantic activity with your partner, or how you feel about yourself throughout your lifetime. What justice does, is bring awareness to the issue.

Building awareness about rape and the problems that come flooding into the lives of the victims is what needs to happen now. The issues that come up about people of color and white privilege come to the surface. To stop rape from occurring as well as the snowball of social, mental and physical health problems that ensue from it, we must teach our children to care for one another and to know what’s right from wrong. We can’t allow people to think it’s okay or that it’s something minor and that a person should be more careful because this isn’t the issue. We cannot ask victims if they egged someone on or if they are sure they didn’t allow it to happen. Think before you put someone down and discount their struggle with rape. It’s never okay.

We at Visions Adolescent Treatment Center understand that every voice must be heard, and therapy is essential to rebuild, in some capacity, a safe and comforting space. Therapy helps victims understand why they react the way they do from physical touch and anything sensory.

We encourage our clients to speak out and inspire others to do so as well. When we come together and bring awareness to the world, the chances for rape to occur and for victims to isolate is reduced. When we say it’s not okay, that’s when we can lift the veil and help people deal with their broken worlds.

If you or a loved one suffers from addiction and struggles with sexual assault, call Visions Adolescent Treatment Center today at (818) 889-3665.

Categories
Recovery

We Mourn Orlando

The LGBTQ Community and Suicide

Thinking back on the incredible tragedy that occurred just a week ago in Florida, we remember that hate crimes like this have affected the LGBTQ community for decades and will continue unless we open our hearts. The story of the man that committed this crime has brought to light some things about suicide rates of the queer community that don’t have the support they need to feel part of and accepted.

Teens are at high risk for suicide, up to 30% of LGBTQ youth commit suicide as reported by the US Department of Health and Human Services. It comes down to a combination of responsibilities we have to our LGBTQ friends, family and fellow humans: awareness, community support, and vital mental health services.

Awareness

A few things happen when tragedy strikes, the first is that eyes are opened. The second is that once we are aware, we can’t help but see the problems we contribute to every single day. Privilege is a real thing, and it’s important that we understand privileges that straight couples hold, being able to show affection to your loved one without comment. How many of us can say that we’ve never thought about that? Not only are those in the LGBTQ community afraid to show their love freely, but may not feel able to express themselves as queer because of these obstacles.

When we are forced to live in fear and can’t express who we are, feeling isolated and disposable is what’s left. Depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide are a terrible side effect of these feelings. Our society unfortunately breeds fear and makes people feel unsafe to express themselves as they are. It’s up to us to create a safe and comforting environment to help those in the LGBTQ community feel supported and loved.

Community Support

Queer people need the support of the community now, more than ever before. We must say no to hate, and that enough is enough. At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, Alumni Coordinator Roxie says, “We treat so many kids from the community with love and respect AND even have kids come out in treatment because of how safe they feel.” Suicide rates are high, but we continually need to reach out and pull someone back from the edge. Over 25% of those in the LGBTQ community are victimized daily, and this continues without counseling or support; this problem is often ignored.

We see adolescents every day that lack the sincere support of their families and their community to accomplish their goals. When you feel alone, your confidence is low, and things seem that much harder. Coming to terms with and accepting who we are is hard enough without people behaving negatively. We can change this by replacing fear with confidence and love.

Mental Health Needs

This man took the lives of over 50 people because he could not come to terms with who he was and was undoubtedly in need of mental health services; this story is an extreme case that we hope will never happen again in our lifetime, or ever from this point on. About this individual, externalization of guilt and hatred toward the LGBTQ community was bottled and tragically expressed.

If mental health services were offered, this might have been handled within a safe and therapeutic environment to avoid this unhealthy and heinous crime. In the world of mental health and addiction services, you can’t treat one without treating the other; it’s our turn to reach out and step up to the plate to be more and be human.

We mourn Orlando and all of the families that have felt loss at this time and will continually throughout their lives. At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, we offer our alumni, youth, and their families all the support they need and reach out into the community to promote awareness. Call Visions today to talk more about our adolescent addiction and mental health services at (818) 889-3665. Our eyes and hands are open.

Categories
Recovery

What You Need to Know about Liquid Marijuana

Marijuana legalization continues to spread nationwide, despite concerns by adolescent drug rehabilitation centers and others that this process is posing a serious danger to younger drug users. Now, a new danger has surfaced in the form of liquid marijuana, a synthetic substance that has sent many users to the hospital due to its potentially lethal side effects. This latest form of synthetic marijuana is concerning on a number of levels, which is why parents and teens need to be aware of what liquid marijuana is and just how harmful it can be.

What is Liquid Marijuana?
Synthetic marijuana has come onto the market in recent years as manufacturers have been able to skirt around the law to get this product to convenience stores and online retailers. The products are sold as “incense” or other household products, “not for human consumption.” However, those looking for a fast, intense high know exactly what to do with products dubbed K2 and Spice, with a variety of ways to consume the product.

Liquid marijuana is a colorless, odorless form of synthetic marijuana. The liquid is usually sold in cartridges or small bottles, labeled with names like “Cloud Nine” and marketed as incense. The substance was specifically designed to be used in “vape pens,” a type of e-cigarette that teens are using more and more to inhale flavored vapors and some drugs.

Higher Concentrations mean Greater Risks
Like other forms of synthetic marijuana, the greatest danger in liquid pot may be in the increased concentration of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. While marijuana leaves contain around 20 percent THC, synthetic forms may contain anywhere from 50-90 percent THC. Because the products are unregulated it is impossible to know the precise concentration in any dose. It is also unknown whether there are other potentially dangerous chemicals or substances in the mix.

The higher THC concentration largely counters the arguments from marijuana advocates that the drug is “safe.” While marijuana leaves are dangerous enough, synthetic substances greatly increase the risk of severe side effects, overdose and death. In addition, the higher concentrations of THC can make synthetic marijuana much more addictive.

Hiding the Drug in Vape Pens
Another major concern with the increasing popularity of liquid marijuana is the ability to smoke this substance undetected. Vape pens are commonly used for liquid marijuana. Because the liquid is both colorless and odorless, it is impossible to distinguish this substance from other liquids used in the devices. Liquid marijuana can even be combined with other substances like flavored liquids that further mask the possible signs substance while smoking.

Social media is filled with posts from teens across the country that have bragged about using drugs in vape pens in their bedrooms and even in classrooms. Parents and teachers are unaware of what the substances are inside and even if they were suspicious, it is likely laboratory tests would be required to accurately identify the substances used in these devices.

Liquid marijuana is one more way pot is becoming a more lethal substance in our world today. If you or someone you know is struggling with marijuana abuse or dependency, it is time to seek help from an adolescent drug rehabilitation center. Contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers at 866-889-3665 today to get the help you need.

Categories
Recovery

The Truth about Vaping

The e-cigarette has been touted by manufacturers as the safer electronic alternative to the cancer-causing cigarettes people have been smoking for many years. Now, the vaping trend has grown exponentially to include many young adults and teenagers. As the popularity has grown, so has concerns over the actual safety of this practice, including those in adolescent alcohol rehab centers that are worried vaping could evolve into more serious and dangerous drug use.

What is Vaping?
Vaping uses battery-powered devices known as vape pens to inhale a water vapor. The vape pen has a coil inside to heat the water and create the vapor, which is inhaled into the lungs and then blown out like a regular cigarette. The water is often flavored with “kid-friendly” selections like root beer and bubble gum. Many may contain nicotine and other substances as well. There is no regulation on the water vapors sold for the vape pens, which means consumers may not know everything in the solution that is going into their lungs.

Popularity of Vaping
Despite the many unknowns of vaping to date, use of these devices is soaring nationwide. According to data from the National Youth Tobacco Surveys sponsored by the FDA and CDC, e-cigarette use among high school students rose from 1.1 to 3.9 percent in 2014 alone. A survey found that more than 16 percent of 10th graders had vaped in the past 30 days versus seven percent that admitted to smoking cigarettes.

The perception that vaping is safe has also risen, with a University of Michigan study finding that just over 12 percent of 12th graders thought the practice was harmful. However, recent studies are finding that this perception may be very incorrect.

Risks Associated with Vaping
Researchers are discovering a number of risks associated with the vaping trend:

Nicotine Dangers – Many vaping liquids contain nicotine, the same addictive substance found in cigarettes. Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis determined that nicotine in e-cigarette liquids caused lung inflammation in mice and even e-cigarette fluid without nicotine could cause a degree of inflammation.

Free Radical Damage – A scientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York found that e-cigarette vapors emit free radicals, environmental substances that damage cells in the body and affect immune function. Some free radicals accelerate the aging process while others increase the body’s risk for some types of diseases.

Immune System Compromised – Another researcher from the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System discovered that vaping can suppress immune system function, making it harder for the body to ward off some types of germs. Scientists from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health made similar conclusions from their studies on the connection between vaping and immune dysfunction.

Fear of the Unknown One of the biggest concerns surrounding the vaping trend is the fact that it is impossible to know precisely what an e-cigarette user is vaping. While the smells associated with traditional cigarettes and marijuana joints belied the substances inside, the water vapors for e-cigarettes can take on nearly any type of odor or no odor at all. This means users can place any type of substances, including illicit drugs, into their device without anyone knowing.

Barbara Carreno, a spokesperson for the DEA, told CNN last fall that social media is filled with posts from young users claiming to be vaping drugs right in their classrooms or bedrooms. In addition to vaping pot, users are finding that synthetic drugs like Spice and K2 can be vaped as well.

Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers is an adolescent alcohol rehab center that is concerned about the vaping trend among our youth on many different levels. If you would like more information on this trend, contact us today at 866-889-3665.

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Recovery

Tobacco Addictions among Teens

While drug and alcohol addictions among teens seem to garner the most attention, some scientists believe focusing on tobacco addiction could be even more beneficial to teen health. Last November, University of Georgia researchers determined the same programs used to get teens off of drugs and alcohol could be effective for tobacco addiction. By weaning teens off of tobacco, researchers also suggested treatment for drug and alcohol dependencies could be more effective as well.

The Dangers of Tobacco
Nicotine is the ingredient in tobacco that is addictive and it is particularly dangerous for younger smokers. Because the teen brain is still “under construction” it is more vulnerable to the effects of nicotine. This also makes the young brain more vulnerable to nicotine addiction, even after a just a few cigarettes. In addition to nicotine, cigarettes contain carbon monoxide, tar and other substances that can lead to damage of vital organs like the heart and lungs.

Prevalence of Teen Smoking
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that more than 2,500 kids under the age of 18 try smoking every day. Peak years for trying cigarettes appears to be between the ages of 11 and 13, with 14.8 percent of students admitting to trying out the habit by the end of eighth grade. Of those who experiment with cigarettes, approximately 580 become regular smokers each day.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that tobacco prematurely takes the lives of around 480,000 U.S. residents every year. That makes up around 20 percent of all deaths in the U.S. and equates to 1,300 deaths every day.

Access to Treatment Options
Researchers in this recent study analyzed 22 substance abuse treatment centers across the U.S. to determine whether any of the facilities focused on helping patients overcome tobacco addiction. The scientists discovered that a very few number of counselors in these centers implemented tobacco cessation programs, despite the fact that they have the knowledge to oversee these programs and the ability to prescribe medications to help those with a tobacco addiction.

While the researchers found that counselors at treatment centers were focused on other types of substance abuse, including drugs and alcohol, those that encouraged tobacco cessation at the same time saw fewer patients relapse during their recovery. This realization led the researchers of the study to recommend smoking cessation programs at treatment centers, since these programs may offer far-reaching benefits to patients struggling with more than one type of addiction.

Many Risks of Tobacco
Today, cigarettes are not the only way people can become addicted to tobacco. Chewing tobacco is also addictive and leads to serious health problems like mouth and throat cancer, gum disease and tooth loss. Smokers that use water pipes (hookahs) or electronic cigarettes can also suffer the consequences of the dangerous chemicals they inhale through these devices. In fact, lack of sufficient studies in this area leave users at a loss as to just how much damage they are doing. Some experts estimate the exposure to the harmful chemicals could be higher, making these forms of smoking even more dangerous than traditional cigarettes.

Tobacco is just one type of addiction plaguing young people in the U.S. today. If you or someone you know is battling an addiction, help is available. Contact the team at Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers at 866-889-3665 to find out how we can help you overcome your substance addiction today.

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Recovery

Popular Teen Apps Parents Need to Know About

Visions, an adolescent residential treatment center located in Southern California, has a warning to parents about what their kids are looking at on their mobile devices. Today, there are many apps that pose dangers to young users, giving them access to sexual material, making cyberbullying easier and allowing kids to hide the information on their phones from their parents. By learning about the most popular teen apps today, you will be equipped to check the devices of your own children to make sure no potential risks are lurking.

Hiding the Evidence
Kids are using apps that look innocent enough, but are really fronts for much more offensive material inside. For example, “calculator” apps like Best Secret Folder, KYMS (Keep Your Media Safe) and Private Photo are all disguised as calculator apps but secretly store photos and other material away from parents’ prying eyes.

Audio Manager is another app used for this purpose. While the name implies the app is to be used for managing music files or controlling sound quality, the real purpose is to keep photos, videos and even other apps safely hidden from view. All you need to do to unlock the screen is hold down the Audio Manager app and press in your code.

Erasing the Evidence
While some apps hide photos and messages, others promise to destroy messages after a determined period of time. Snapchat is the most common app for this purpose, but Burn Note has also been gaining steam recently.

The problem with these apps is that they can give teens a false sense of security that whatever they post on the app will not be permanent. This can lead to teens posting photos and messages they would not necessarily post otherwise. Unfortunately, there are numerous ways to recover the information that has “self-destructed” on these apps, allowing the inappropriate material to get into the hands of total strangers and even sexual predators.

Conversing with Strangers
Another serious danger with many of the apps today is that they allow teens to interact with random strangers with few if any limits on the content of the conversations. The result can be messages filled with sexual content, bullying and references to drugs and alcohol. Some of the most popular apps in this category include Omegle, Whisper and Yik Yak.

Dating apps like Tinder and Blendr also appeal to some teens, particularly the ability to post videos, photos and messages and have them “rated” by other members of the community. Both of these apps feature GPS tracking, which makes it far too easy to connect adults and unsuspecting kids. The rating feature can also be used as a bullying tool, as kids can gang up on one person’s profile.

The Link to Substance Abuse
In addition to the blatant risks listed above, there are other potential dangers hiding behind many of these apps. Even when the messages found within are not sexual in nature, many of them can be very dark – referring to depression, suicide and substance abuse. Kids that have not been exposed to these subjects at school or within their friend groups may find themselves immersed on their mobile devices, without the assistance of adults to navigate the confusing and sometimes scary issues.

Visions is an adolescent residential treatment center concerned with all aspects of teen health as a means to prevent substance abuse and addiction. To learn more about our treatment programs, contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers today at 866-889-3665.