Categories
Adolescence Mental Health Mindfulness Recovery

Can Contemplative Practices Foster Recovery?

In addition to our therapeutic programs, Visions offers contemplative practices to our medflashmob-27teens that teach and encourage skills for self-regulation and self-care. We have regular yoga classes and a weekly meditation group.

 

Jessica Rosen, founder of One Down Dog in Silverlake, heads up our yoga program. She brings in a playful element to yoga that the kids love. This allows them to reconnect with themselves in a profound way. I spoke to Jessica and asked her what she feels she brings to the clients, and how contemplative practices are helpful in recovery. She said, “Through the practice of yoga I hope to offer students the tools to get comfortable in discomfort. Through yoga and meditation we explore our challenges, we confront our inner critic, we gain clarity and find acceptance. For example, the ability to sit in a hip opener may help us sit through a tough breakup, or better handle confrontation and fights with our friends/parents, and gain confidence in ourselves and our appearance.”

 

I also asked Joseph Rogers, Visions Education Coordinator at the Visions Day School, Chaplain and meditation facilitator, how he feels meditation is helping the clients.  Joseph said, “The most immediate and greatest benefit is that the clients learn how to, as the Big Book says, ‘stop and pause when agitated.’ Additionally, I try to make a great deal of effort to put these kids on the path of compassion for themselves and others.”

 

The contemplative practices can have a profound effect on one’s ability to self-regulate, self-soothe, and connect with the present moment. Both offer a chance to pause, to look inward, and to come to a place of equanimity (mental calmness and composure) when faced with difficulty.

 

I too teach yoga to youth, and one thing I notice are the high levels of stress these kids face. The pressures of being cool, getting good grades, and the discomfort of the rapid physical changes can be overwhelming. This is where contemplative practices are useful. I’ve found that teaching kids the ability to take a deep breath and pause before responding or reacting to difficulty is hugely beneficial. Developing a sense of self-awareness helps eliminate the sense of perpetual urgency to respond or act on an impulse. The contemplative practices also engage the parasympathetic nervous system—the area within our nervous system that quiets the fight or flight response, quells anxiety, and brings things back into harmony.

 

There are three key tools for self-regulation, and the contemplative practices are the perfect conduit for them:

 

Grounding, Resourcing, and Orienting.

 

Grounding: Reconnecting to the present moment, your emotions and physical sensations. One grounds themselves by noticing their feet on the floor, or placing your hands on something solid in order to help themselves get back into the body. Taking deep breaths while you are doing this can help you track the sensations mindfully. Taking a time out when you are dysregulated is the first step to getting grounded.

 

Resourcing:  We all have resources within us or outside of ourselves. Resources are tools we can easily access that make us reconnect with calm. For example, breath can be a resource. Your hands on your belly or lap can be a resource. Your pet can be a resource. A resource is something that helps you feel good when everything around you is dismal.

 

Orienting:  Checking in with your surroundings. When we are not self-regulated, we check out. This is a disembodying experience–one that feels determinedly unsafe and out of control.  So when we orient, we do so by consciously noticing our surroundings and we do this by looking around the room, noticing where we are, where we are sitting or standing—Orienting is acute observation or present-time awareness.

 

The contemplatice practices of yoga and meditation provide a means of engaging the parasympathetic nervous system. They create a sense of awareness, and allow the practitioner to be ok with not being ok, and to accept where they are emotionally and physically in that particular moment in space and time.  Addiction and mental illness are dysregulating, but the use of contemplative practices opens the door to self-regulation, which does foster recovery.

Categories
Adolescence Holidays Prevention Recovery Safety

How To Have a Safe, Sober and Fun 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
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
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
Addiction Adolescence Alumni Guest Posts Recovery

Alumni Post: What I’ve Learned About Myself in Treatment

submitted by Grayson

I have learned a lot about myself in treatment so far. I have learned that I have a lot of insecurities about myself and that was a large factor in why I was using drugs. I was using so much because I didn’t want to feel anything at all. I didn’t want to think about if people liked me or didn’t want to be around me, so I would use drugs to drown out those thoughts.

I know that a big reason why I feel like I can’t talk to people and have conversations is because I basically forgot how. I was isolated for so long and didn’t have conversations with people for such a long time that I forgot how to and what to talk about with people. But what I’m realizing now that I’ve been sober and in treatment is that it’s really not that hard to talk to people and to meet new people. I have also learned that there is a lot to like about me, which I haven’t thought of in a long time, and it feels good.

I have seen how fun life can be while being sober. I have not thought in a long time that I would go a day without using, but that has changed. I see how drugs have affected me physically. I never really thought that I looked any different because of drugs or while I’m on drugs. But I can now see how much of an effect it had on me physically. Since the day I got here, my face has changed a lot. I see the picture they took of me on my first day, and I look so much healthier now that I’m sober. Also my attitude has changed a lot since I’ve been sober. I think much more highly of myself, my ability to talk to others, my ability to talk in front of groups, and the way I look at myself. I do not plan to ever use drugs again in my life. I have realized that I have such a strong addictive personality, and when I use once I won’t stop.

This place has had a great impact on my life and the way I look at life. I have realized that life can be an awesome experience when sober, much better than when using. I want to continue the way I think about myself and my outlook on life.