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Alumni Feelings Mental Health Recovery

How Can You Stay Motivated After Treatment?

It’s important to stay motivated after you leave treatment. But that’s not always as easy as it sounds

Treatment provides a protective and supportive cocoon where clients can discover, lean into and heal from their difficulties.  One discovers a broadening network of support and a plan to maintain it. Still, it isn’t always easy to stay motivated. Some clients move back to their home state, where there isn’t quite enough support or where meetings and sober options are slim.  Phone conversations are helpful, but often times, there is a need for real-time human interaction. Skype or FaceTime are viable options here.

Here are some tools to help you make a solid plan to stay motivated:

  • Know your needs. Write them down. Be specific and spare nothing.
  • Have a list of people you can call and connect with on a regular basis that not only know your goals, but also will support them wholeheartedly.
  • Understand that there will be rough days. Getting sober doesn’t mean everything becomes perfect or that you live happily ever after. This is life, after all, and that means that stuff will happen. Some days, we will handle the difficulties with grace, and some days, we may fall. It’s ok. You are human.
  • Expectations: Are they realistic? Unrealistic expectations can create more suffering then good. Thoughts like, “If I stay sober, I’ll get ____” or “If I stay sober, so and so will love me again.” Getting sober provides the opportunity for change, but positive change takes time. Addiction and untreated mental illness caused harm and restoring the good requires a commitment to affecting this positive change.
  • Remember WHY you got sober. Some experience the “pink cloud” syndrome in early recovery, where everything is all sunshine and roses, but when that pink cloud dissipates, one is left with reality, and reality sucks sometimes. Especially when everything was so “perfect” for a period of time.
  • Make an effort to remember the good. According to Rick Hanson, Ph.D., in his book Buddha’s Brain, “Your brain preferentially scans for, registers, stores, recalls, and reacts to unpleasant experiences; as we’ve said, it’s like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones.” He goes on to wisely say, “The remedy is not to suppress negative experiences; when they happen, they happen. Rather, it is to foster positive experiences – and in particular, take them in so they become a permanent part of you.”
  • Journal daily, or write as close to daily as you can muster. This can help you process what’s going on, experience the negative and revel in the positive.
  • Gratitude lists: I swear by these. Even in the darkest of times, there are things to be grateful for. Write them down. Sometimes, the things you are grateful for are simple and seemingly plain, but they are something. Yes, that means if on Tuesday, you are grateful for toast, and hot tea, and a shower, it’s ok. Nothing is too small, or too insignificant.

Staying motivated means that you have an inclination of enthusiasm for what you are doing. Note the good that is coming from your recovery, the positive things that have arisen and the negative ones that are beginning to move through. You cannot magically think your way out of your troubles. Feel them, name them, and give them emotional space to heal; The only way out is through.

Categories
Adolescence Mental Health Parenting Recovery

Accepting Your LGBT Teen

Identifying as an LGBT teen

for the first time is a courageous, albeit scary leap toward self-acceptance. Often times, one embarks on this leap with great trepidation, avoiding conflict with aversive family and friends while creating a whirlwind of conflict within. In cases where there is little to no familial support, this process can really be challenging. We have hosted several LGBT youth in our programs and we offer them a wide variety of support while also encouraging them to be unabashedly who they are.

 

I asked Joseph Rogers, one of our teachers and the Education Coordinator at our Day School, to identify some ways to support LGBT teens in their recovery. Joseph says,

“I think one of the most important aspects of recovery for an LGBT teen is the availability of LGBT meetings. Additionally, it is important for LGBT youth to develop a mentor relationship with someone who has dealt with the challenges of growing up as an LGBT youth in American society. LGBT youth, like all young people who get sober, need to see that there is a life beyond drugs and alcohol; that there is a life to be had and a life to be built.”

 

Some other challenges LGBT youth often face is familial discord and deep resistance to a sexual identity different from the family’s perspective on societal norms.  Often times, families are more concerned about what others thing rather than focusing on what their teen needs. When I asked Garth LeMaster, MA, LMFT, and therapist at our Outpatient Program about what parents can do in order to support their teen, he said,

“The most important thing for a parent to do is get support for any feelings that may arise.  The kid may be dealing with enough regarding their feelings, so parents must provide a safe place for them to land.  If they do not, they make like infinitely more difficult for the kid and can seriously damage the relationship.”

 

A component of our treatment programs are our family support groups and we offer them to parents throughout their teen’s treatment. These groups are a terrific resource for parents to use and lean into. They can provide the group support necessary to help parents unravel the tangle of emotional difficulties they may be experiencing. It’s also beneficial for parents who are having difficulty accepting their LGBT teen to have individual therapy, which facilitate a deeper unraveling and investigation of the root causes of resistance.

 

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) shared incredible statistics about the connection between familial support and the betterment of behavioral health. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) announced their new resource “A Practioner’s Resource Guide:  Helping Families to Support Their LGBT Children,” which can be downloaded for free. The statistics show LGBT teens with low or no family support, who experience rejection instead of acceptance were:

  • 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide
  • 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression
  • 3.4 times more likely to use illicit drugs; and
  • 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sex—

Compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection.

Family acceptance helps:

  • Protect against depression, suicidal behavior and substance abuse;
  • Promote self-esteem, social support, and overall health.

 

LGBT teens faced with this inner conflict can often feel like outcasts, castigated for not being like “everyone else,” and challenged to conform. If we as a community can provide support for your LGBT teen, we can help normalize the transition from feeling apart from to feeling a part of a community.

 

Creating a safe, supportive space for a teen coming to grips with their sexual identity is a necessary component in allowing them to land on both feet in their recovery and in their process of self-acceptance. Showing our kids that they are loved and cared for, regardless of who they are, is an invaluable gift we can give our kids.

Categories
Addiction Eating Disorders Mental Health Recovery Service Therapy Treatment

Visions’ Los Angeles Outpatient

Los Angeles outpatient facilities are typically where one goes in order to transition from the intensive setting of being in an inpatient treatment facility to the wide-open world.  The outpatient setting is the perfect environment for clients to reintegrate themselves into their new mode of living a life in recovery. On occasion, outpatient can also be the first place one goes to get help when an inpatient facility seems like too much and trying to recover on his or her own has been futile..

At Visions’ Los Angeles outpatient facility, we focus on the entire family, ardently continuing the work that was begun at inpatient. We not only work with the clients but with their families in order to provide a continuum of support. We do this via schooling, team-building activities, therapeutic support, 12-step meetings, and various process groups. We address building and refining communication skills as well as nurturing the spiritual well being of our clients, all of which helps them understand how to be in recovery. We teach our families problem-solving skills, and help them develop new, healthy friendships. We host a variety of alumni and unity events, all of which foster a better relationship to being in recovery. The beauty of these events is, they naturally build community among the clients, showing them that they have sober support and a recovery community. Additionally, we encourage relationships with 12-step sponsors and participation in 12-step meetings, which inspires clients to be active participants in the continuum of their recovery.

In addition to our Intensive Outpatient program, we also have Launch, which is a wonderful Los Angeles outpatient program geared toward young adults transitioning out of adolescence and into adulthood. Launch is a life-skills program focusing on vocational, educational, and social skills.

Outpatient provides an amazing opportunity for our families: it’s the stepping stone between being in the controlled environment of a facility and interacting with the world at large but with the helping hand of a skilled support team. Entering recovery is frightening. It’s new, different, and at times overwhelming, but nothing is impossible when you have a support team guiding you along.