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Anorexia in Teens, Anorexic Teenager

Anorexia in Teens, Anorexic Teenager

The teenage years can be a confusing time. With so many hormonal changes and transitionary life steps, this period can feel overwhelming, leading to low self-esteem. This is just one of the many reasons why eating disorders impact adolescents. Having an eating disorder can be scary for the young person and for their family members too.

If you or your loved one has anorexia you are likely to have a lot of questions. You might wonder why your teenager isn’t eating, or what happens if a person has anorexia during puberty. This article looks at questions about anorexia and the options for treatment and recovery.

What Is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa (also known as anorexia) is a common eating disorder characterized by a distorted perception of one’s weight or body shape. The person often sees themselves as overweight even though they may be at a healthy weight or underweight. People with anorexia experience intense fear about gaining weight and go to extreme lengths to pursue weight loss, often to the point that it negatively impacts their health and life.

The eating disorder commonly first manifests as dieting to “get into shape” or “eat healthier,” but then progresses into unhealthy and extreme weight loss. Individuals with anorexia nervosa will usually recruit a variety of methods to lose weight, including:

  • extreme exercise
  • excessively limiting their caloric intake
  • using laxatives
  • vomiting after eating, called purging
  • diet aids
  • binge eating food

What Is Anorexia Nervosa?

Research shows that when someone has an eating disorder, the brain’s processes that control hunger and food intake adjust to reinforce this behavior. The structures of the reward response and impulse control centers are altered by this process, worsening the person’s difficult relationship with food.

A common misunderstanding about eating disorders is that people who have them are always overly thin. However, it is impossible to diagnose someone purely from the way they look. This is the case across all common eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and more.

Another common misconception is that eating disorders are about choice or that the person is doing it for attention. However, this condition is a serious mental illness that commonly coincides with anxiety and depression.

Who Is Affected by Anorexia Nervosa?

Eating disorders can impact anyone of any weight, age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. Research shows that around 28.8 million Americans deal with one in their lifetime.

Compared to males, females are twice as likely to have an eating disorder. Data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R) shows that 3.8% of females develop an eating disorder while 1.5% of males do.

Although teenage boys are less at risk for developing anorexia, they may experience more barriers when accessing treatment due to the stigma around men’s mental health and the stereotypes associated with eating disorders.

What Age Does Anorexia Nervosa Usually Begin?

Research has found that the median age for the onset of anorexia nervosa is 18 years old and that this is also the case for bulimia. This is slightly younger than the median age for binge eating disorder, the most common eating disorder in the US, which has been found to be 21 years old. It’s worth noting that eating disorders can develop at any time in life. Some people may be diagnosed late in adulthood and others when they are children.

What Is the Cause of Eating Disorders in Teens?

While the exact cause of developing an eating disorder is still unknown, there are a number of risk factors that increase the chances of experiencing one. These are complex to pinpoint, including a range of biological, psychological, and sociocultural influences. In the past, families were blamed for teen eating disorders. It is now clear that parents do not cause the condition.

The Biology of Adolescence

Developing during adolescence is a confusing time, with teenagers experiencing many physical and emotional challenges as they go through puberty. These can include:

  • the onset of the menstrual cycle
  • an increased amount of sexual thoughts and urges
  • changes in body shape
  • emotional instability
  • weight changes

These sudden changes in body and character can be confusing for young people, leaving many feeling unsure of who they are. Due to puberty being the trigger of these changes, it is usually regarded as the starting point of behaviors linked to eating disorders. The less comfortable a person feels with their physical body, the higher the likelihood of developing an eating disorder.

During adolescence, teenagers undergo changes in brain chemistry and activity. This can result in strong emotional reactions and feelings of frustration. Whether they are feeling angry, tired, or moody, these intense emotions can become overwhelming for many. This increases the risk of developing mental health conditions, including eating disorders.

It is common for people with an eating disorder to also have a co-occurring mental health condition, such as anxiety disorder, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Social Attitudes to Body Appearance

Advertising and social media commonly push a body image that is unattainable, leaving many feeling like they aren’t good enough and striving towards an unrealistic goal. This used to be seen as something that mainly affected young women, but teenage boys can be susceptible to this message too. Every person is on the receiving end of messages about how people should look, what is desirable, and what gives a person social value.

Seeing these messages at any age, but especially during adolescence, can be extremely damaging to self-esteem and body image. It can leave young people with unrealistic ideas about what is considered a “normal” weight. Looking up to celebrities who have regularly undergone surgery can leave fans feeling dissatisfied with their own bodies.

Due to these same mechanisms, social judgment or bullying about body image from others is common during this time. This judgment exacerbates the negative relationship a person may have with their body and contributes further towards eating disorders.

Genetics and Biology

There have been certain genes found that contribute to the risk of developing an eating disorder. Biological factors such as brain chemistry changes and brain function also result in an increased risk of anorexia nervosa.

Stress

Being a teenager in the current political and social climate is extremely stressful. Teens are experiencing increased political unrest, a looming climate crisis, high academic pressures, the minefield of social media, and a 24-hour news cycle, among many other stressors. On top of this are the general stressors of life such as making friends, navigating relationships, illness, family issues, or starting a new job. Closely monitoring food intake is a way that some people regain a sense of control over life when they feel stressed. This unhealthy behavior contributes to the development of eating disorders.

The Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic worsened many people’s mental health problems due to the disruption, isolation, and stress it brought into everyone’s lives. Group activities that people did to regulate their well-being were suspended, plus, an increased amount of exposure to social media for teens may have reinforced unhealthy ideas about body image.

The Pandemic

What Are the Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa?

Mental disorders in teenagers can be difficult to understand. This time of hormonal change can make it hard to decipher if what they are displaying is simply teenage moodiness or something more serious. Another reason that diagnosing an eating disorder can be difficult is that teenagers may deny that anything is wrong when confronted about the issue.

However, loved ones can look out for some warning signs that may reveal that the young person has a problem with eating.

  • The young person may describe an intense fear of gaining weight and express unhappiness about their current weight.
  • Their remarks about their appearance may suggest a distorted body image.
  • There might be behaviors such as cutting food, taking laxatives, or self-induced vomiting.
  • Their weight goes up or down in a way that seems unusual or extreme.
  • The person frequently weighs themselves.
  • Their conversations focus on food, its nutritional content, and its bodily impact.
  • Their eating is restricted, regimented or ritualistic.
  • They avoid situations where they have to eat in front of others.
  • They decline to eat as they “aren’t hungry” or have “already eaten”.
  • They seem to have an unusually high interest in exercise.
  • They have mood swings and seem to have difficulty thinking clearly and focusing.
  • They report constantly feeling cold.
  • There is downy hair growth on their arms and upper back, known as lanugo. Other changes appear such as poor nail quality, hyperactivity, or dry skin.
  • Their menstrual cycle is absent or irregular.

Possible Complications of Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a potentially life-threatening mental illness and should be treated very seriously. When a person experiences an untreated eating disorder over a long period of time they are more likely to experience long-term complications. Eating disorders can affect every area of life, causing issues at work or school, and in relationships with loved ones. Research shows that anorexia nervosa can cause a wide range of medical complications leading to:

  • heart disease
  • skin issues
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • hormone problems
  • blood disease
  • brain disease
  • eye issues
  • lung problems

What Happens if You Have Anorexia Nervosa During Puberty?

Early detection of anorexia is crucial to head off health problems in adolescence and early adulthood. Anorexia can disrupt puberty as the person’s body does not have enough nutrients to grow and develop. The illness also lowers bone mass. This in turn leads to osteopenia and osteoporosis, conditions that lead to early bone loss, shortened height, and painful fractures.

Diagnosis and Treatment for an Eating Disorder

With professional help, eating disorders are treatable. As they are complex conditions, a holistic approach is required to overcome them. If you notice any of the behaviors mentioned above (such as skipping meals, unusual eating habits, or compulsive exercise) and have concerns about your teen’s health, speak to a doctor. Even if your suspicion is wrong, it creates an opportunity for a conversation about healthy eating and body image which could prevent an eating disorder in the future. Early intervention is often useful in treating mental health problems.

How Is Anorexia Nervosa Diagnosed?

How Is Anorexia Nervosa Diagnosed?

To diagnose eating disorders, a doctor will carry out a number of tests. This includes a physical exam, where the individual’s vital signs, body weight, and height are measured. Blood and urine lab tests will also be carried out to investigate the health of the inner body workings, such as liver, kidney, and thyroid function.

A psychological evaluation is vital to make a diagnosis. Here, an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and eating habits will be assessed. Sometimes this step is completed through psychological self-assessment questionnaires.

What Does the Treatment Process for Anorexia Nervosa Look Like?

The first step some people take when treating anorexia nervosa is hospitalization. The condition may cause severe malnutrition, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, psychiatric emergencies, and heart issues. Depending on the specific situation, day treatment may be applicable or a more intense program could need to be laid out.

Medical monitoring needs to be continued over time due to the numerous complications eating disorders can cause. Alongside this, a nutritional rehabilitation program should be crafted. The goal of this is to allow the individual to build healthy eating habits and get back to their healthy body weight.

Both individual and family-based psychological treatments are key when approaching anorexia nervosa. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used to treat eating disorders. The technique helps with the identification of unhelpful thoughts and triggers, then builds coping mechanisms to counteract them. Individual therapy is also valuable to work through any trauma associated with the eating disorder and work on improving low self-esteem.

Eating disorders not only impact the individual with the diagnosis but their loved ones also. Attending family therapy can provide an opportunity for education, allowing for more understanding towards the teen and the chance to learn how best to help them going forward. Any dysfunctional dynamics that could be involved in triggers for unhealthy eating can also be tackled under the supervision of an unbiased third party.

Contact Us

Eating disorders are difficult to deal with at any age. However, you are not alone, with the expertise of the Clearfork Academy staff here to assist you or your loved one through this difficult time.

Clearfork Academy specializes in helping teens recover from all kinds of mental disorders, taking a holistic and personalized approach in doing so. Our staff is trained in a wide range of therapeutic approaches, such as CBT and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), to ensure we are flexible and well-equipped to approach each young person’s needs.

We use a family systems approach, as the support of loved ones is vital to sustaining recovery long into the future. To find out more about our treatment facility based in Fort Worth, Texas, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Teen Mental Disorders

Teen Mental Disorders

Mental health conditions affect your emotions, thinking, behavior, and self-image, impacting your daily life. In the past, a common attitude was that people needed to pull themselves up by their bootstraps or just get on with it. However, mental health disorders should be taken as seriously as physical illnesses because they can be just as damaging, particularly if left untreated.

Globally, mental health disorders are common among teenagers, with one in seven young people aged between ten and 19 experiencing mental illness, according to research shared by the United Nations. The same research shows that suicide is the fourth highest cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds. It is therefore important for adolescent mental health conditions to receive appropriate treatment so that people can go on to thrive in young adulthood.

If you are wondering whether you or a loved one has a mental health problem, read on. This blog outlines some common mental health disorders found among teens. It covers symptoms as well as techniques and treatments that can help. Struggling with one or more mental health disorders can make you feel like life is nothing but difficulties. Rest assured that you are not alone in your situation and there is treatment available for you.

Risk Factors and Reasons for Teen Mental Disorders

Risk Factors and Reasons for Teen Mental Disorders

There are risk factors that make adolescent mental health issues more likely.

  • Genetics – a family history of mental health disorders
  • Stress – prolonged stress can lead to a mental disorder
  • Trauma – such as neglect, physical, emotional, or sexual violence
  • Questioning sexual and gender identities – LGBTQIA+ adolescents are six times more likely to experience symptoms of depression and more than four times as likely to attempt suicide. Forty percent of transgender people attempt suicide in their lives.
  • Problems at home – e.g. parental substance abuse, divorce, and arguing among parents or siblings
  • Social media – can lead to trouble sleeping, problems with body image, cyberbullying, and poor self-esteem
  • Physical health problems – particularly chronic health problems
  • Substance abuse – can worsen or cause anxiety disorders and other mental health conditions.
  • Problems at school – e.g. bullying, not fitting in, or changing schools

Mental health problems can also be triggered by significant losses such as the death of a loved one or a major rejection. Teens who are predisposed to mental illness are more likely to develop a mental health disorder as a result of a major life event.

Common Mental Health Disorders

Common Mental Health Disorders

The sections below discuss some of the most common mental health issues among teenagers. Here you will read about the common symptoms of each disorder as well as ways to manage symptoms. If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from one of these mental health conditions you should seek advice or treatment from mental health professionals.

Anxiety Disorders

An anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive worry that continues for at least six months on more days than not. Having an anxiety disorder is not the same as suffering from worry brought about by a deadline or a presentation. With anxiety, there may be no particular thing you are anxious about, or you may get anxious about small things which do not normally cause you upset. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists six symptoms of anxiety disorders. Anxiety is a diagnosable mental health disorder based on these:

  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • muscle tension
  • trouble sleeping.

Types of anxiety include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.

If you feel that you are suffering from excessive anxiety you should seek support from a mental health professional. Talking therapies and medication such as benzodiazepines or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are typically used to treat anxiety disorders.

Depressive Disorders

Depression is characterized by low mood and a lack of motivation. While it is normal to be sad at times, for example when you experience a loss or a break-up, depression is not the same as simply feeling low in immediate response to an event. With depression, the depressed mood can last for two weeks or for longer.

The 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that 17 percent (4.1 million) of adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the US have experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year.

Signs of depression include:

  • low mood that lasts at least two weeks
  • lack of motivation
  • losing interest in activities once enjoyed
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • excessive regret
  • excessive fear
  • self-harm.

Types of depression include major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, depression with symptoms of psychosis, and seasonal affective disorder.

Depression can be treated with therapy and if this does not work it is common to use medications such as selective SSRIs. People who do not respond to these methods may also receive a non-invasive treatment called transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Warning Signs of Suicide

While most people who suffer from depression do not attempt suicide, it is a risk. It is important to know the warning signs of suicide so that you can help someone in need.

  • Expressing hopelessness
  • Big mood changes
  • Risky or destructive behavior
  • Neglecting personal appearance
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Speaking about death
  • Increased substance use

You can get support by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or texting the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741).

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder are characterized by abnormal eating that affects physical and mental health and the ability to function in daily life. In America, 2.7 percent of 13 to 18-year-olds suffer from an eating disorder at some point and they are more than twice as likely in girls than boys.

The following are signs of an eating disorder.

  • Frequent dieting
  • Skipping meals or not eating much, or eating unusually large amounts of food
  • Eating alone or in secret
  • Refusing to eat certain foods
  • Changes in body weight
  • Food rituals such as excessive chewing
  • Concerns about weight
  • Discomfort eating around others
  • Social withdrawing
  • Low self-esteem
  • Irregular periods
  • Dizziness and fainting

You might think that you can recognize if someone has an eating disorder by looking at their weight, but a person of any size can have an eating disorder, even an athlete. Examples of eating disorders include binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa.

In the long run eating disorders can cause damage to your teeth, bones, heart, digestive system, and mouth. It is important to visit a mental health professional to seek early intervention for eating disorders as soon as possible. Treatment for eating disorders includes therapy, nutrition education, and medical monitoring. Some people may need to be hospitalized or take part in an inpatient treatment program.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is a developmental condition that causes people to experience difficulties with regulating attention. Almost 13 percent, or 3.3 million, of adolescents aged 12 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD according to data from 2016 to 2019.

The following are symptoms of ADHD.

  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
  • Difficulties with organization
  • Easily distracted and has difficulty paying attention
  • Poor concentration

ADHD can get worse in adolescence due to hormonal changes and increased pressure and responsibilities. Teenagers with ADHD may forget assignments, lose textbooks, or become bored with classes.

There are ways to manage some of the issues caused by ADHD. Teens may be helped by daily scheduling, list making, and taking part in activities that stimulate them. Many teenagers will also be prescribed medication such as Adderall.

Medical professionals disagree about whether ADHD should be considered a mental health issue. However, ADHD often occurs alongside an anxiety disorder, which makes it very important to look out for the signs from a mental health perspective.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder can affect thinking, impulse control, emotions, and relationships with others. A person with this mental health condition may have to cope with intense negative emotions throughout the day and night.

Borderline personality disorder affects each person differently, but symptoms can include:

  • inability to regulate emotions
  • impulsive or extremely restrictive behavior
  • problems making and maintaining relationships
  • major mood changes
  • lack of a sense of self
  • fear of abandonment
  • self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

Some people will experience constant symptoms while others may have intermittent periods where they experience relative calm. Borderline personality disorder is often treated with therapy, which helps the person to manage their thoughts and emotions.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental condition that people are born with. It shapes how a person thinks and relates to the world. Autism is not a mental illness but it can be a source of distress to teenagers when other people misunderstand them.

When medical professionals diagnose autism they look for a set of traits listed in the DSM-5.

  • Persistent difficulties in social communication and interaction
  • Repetitive patterns of behavior and restricted interests
  • Sensitivity to sensory input such as smells, sounds, or touch

Since autism appears differently in everyone, it can be difficult to detect. This is also because many people will mask their behavior to fit in. Masking can be damaging because it takes a lot of energy, leading to meltdowns, burnout, and consequences for mental health. If you are autistic it is important to accept yourself for who you are.

Since autism is broad it can help to get an official diagnosis and to learn about it to understand how to manage any issues that arise.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar is characterized by fluctuations in mood, energy, and ability to function. A person with bipolar can experience highs and lows of emotion. It is estimated that 2.9 percent of adolescents aged between 13 and 18 have this mental disorder.

The highs of emotion are commonly described as mania. Symptoms of manic episodes include:

  • feeling wired
  • agitation and irritability
  • overconfidence
  • problems sleeping
  • speaking quickly
  • racing thoughts
  • impulsive behavior.

The depressive symptoms of bipolar are the same as those described for depression. Many people with bipolar are misdiagnosed with depression. It is important that you make your doctor aware of any symptoms of mania if you believe that they have not asked you about this. When people with bipolar are treated with antidepressants this can be dangerous. It can cause rapid cycling between depressive and manic episodes.

Most people with bipolar disorder are treated with medication that helps to stabilize their mood. Medication includes lithium and antidepressants paired with mood stabilizers or antipsychotic medication.

Potential Consequences of Undiagnosed Mental Health Disorders

Undiagnosed mental illnesses can lead to long-term consequences that make treatment more complicated. Some people who do not receive appropriate treatment for conditions such as major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder will self-medicate through alcohol abuse.

Drugs are also a significant problem. Overdose deaths among US adolescents have risen dramatically over the last three years, jumping from 492 in 2019 to 954 in 2020, and to 1146 in 2022, according to provisional data. It is therefore important to make sure that teenagers are getting the support they need.

General Signs of Teen Mental Disorders to Look Out For

You should always get professional help if you or a loved one has a mental health problem that is affecting day-to-day life and is not improving. You do not need to know what your mental health disorder is to seek support for it; it is the job of medical professionals to provide an accurate diagnosis. Below are some general symptoms that could be related to a number of mental health conditions.

  • Low energy
  • Frequently stressed or anxious
  • Frequently have headaches or stomachaches with no physical explanation
  • Cannot sit still
  • Social withdrawal
  • Self-harm
  • Risky behavior
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Poor performance at school

Managing Mental Health Disorders

Teen mental disorders can be damaging to development but there are treatments to make sure the young person will go on to live a happy and healthy life. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides extensive information about mental health disorders. These resources aim to improve the quality and availability of treatment for mental illness.

There are also ways that you can help as a family. Providing teenagers with stability and support will encourage them to share whether they are experiencing the symptoms of a mental health problem. If your teenager is unwell, the way you can support them is by understanding their disorder and the treatment available.

Get Help for a Mental Health Disorder Today

Get Help for a Mental Health Disorder Today

At Clearfork Academy we treat teenagers who are suffering from mental health and substance abuse problems. We believe that a community and family environment is important and therefore allow families to join at the weekend. We also offer intensive outpatient treatment for those who do not need or cannot take part in residential care.

If you are suffering from a co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder, getting treatment is particularly important as there are additional complexities that come with a dual diagnosis.

Our treatment options for teen mental disorders include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy including three-day family intensive workshops
  • Life skills curriculum
  • Outdoor activities such as equine therapy, fitness obstacle course, and paddle boats

Please feel free to visit our website or call us at (866) 650-5212. We would love to welcome you to our center. This is where you can start your journey to recovery.

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What Are Some Common Setbacks to Recovery?

What Are Some Common Setbacks to Recovery?

The recovery journey from drug addiction can be fraught with difficulties. While learning to become sober from alcohol and other drugs is essential, it is not the only vital part of recovery. Because addiction involves a complex web of emotions, drug cravings, and other mental health issues, the struggle to get and stay sober involves more than simply saying “no.” It requires a complete lifestyle change, which involves creating more positive mindsets and developing healthier habits. 

Teenagers and adults alike face many of the same setbacks during their journey to recovery. Because no one is perfect, it’s completely normal to make one big step forward and several little steps backward before achieving long-term sobriety. Your teen may feel discouraged if they are not able to avoid substance use temptations during their first few weeks of recovery. Remind them that it will take time, but as long as they are committed to recovery, they must continue to make the courageous decision to try again.

It is essential to acknowledge some common setbacks that your teen may experience during their recovery journey. 

Navigating Challenging Emotions

Alcohol and drugs can be used as coping mechanisms for many people. Without those methods of “escape,” your teen may experience difficulty with facing painful emotions they had previously tried to avoid. A roller coaster of emotions is normal and expected of the teenage experience, but substance use can exacerbate them more than usual. If your teen is part of a recovery program or seeing a therapist, they must learn healthy coping mechanisms for navigating stress, so they do not relapse back to substance use.

Managing Substance Use Cravings

When healing from addiction, it’s normal to have cravings for drugs or alcohol — even when your teen knows that these substances are harmful. Fortunately, there are many different approaches your teen can take to manage these cravings. These approaches may involve mindfulness practices, such as meditation, or behavioral strategies, such as taking a walk or engaging in other activities to act as a distraction. Treatment will also provide valuable ways to manage cravings.

Navigating Relationship Problems

If your teen was introduced or exposed to substance use through their peer group, a necessary part of their recovery will involve cutting off contact with them. This could be temporary or permanent, depending on the situation. Regardless, this separation will undoubtedly cause your teen to feel isolated and lonely. They may even be angry at you for initiating the separation in the first place. Your teen may also need to repair relationships if they had caused anyone hurt while they actively used substances. 

Unfortunately, it may not be possible to repair all these damaged relationships. Accepting and coping with loss is yet another part of recovery. But with time and therapy, your teen can learn how to form genuine apologies, which can be a good start for repairing relationships. Social support, in the form of a mentor or group therapy, can help your teen navigate some of their losses healthily.

Experiencing Boredom

Abstaining from drugs could introduce a lull in your teen’s life at first. They may not be sure what to do with the time that was spent using with their friends. Boredom can increase your teen’s risk of relapse. Since drugs can elicit feelings of excitement, everything else can be dulled, by comparison, even the hobbies your teen used to enjoy. This is another setback that is best dealt with in therapy or recovery groups, as it will require your teen to engage in hobbies and other lifestyle activities. Be patient with your teen as their brain and body adjusts to living soberly.

Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders

If your teen was previously diagnosed with a mental health disorder, the symptoms of that disorder may be worsened after prolonged substance use. The majority of people who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction have co-occurring mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety. For effective recovery, it’s essential to find a treatment facility that can treat both conditions simultaneously. With time and treatment, your teen will find that sobriety does improve their mental health.

Transitioning Home From Treatment 

If your teen spent a significant amount of time at a residential treatment facility, transitioning back home can be a challenge. Your teen may not feel like they “fit” within their previous role in the family and household. The home may also be a potential trigger, especially if it’s a place where they used substances before. Talk to your teen’s healthcare providers about the next steps you can take to encourage treatment engagement and create a more stable home environment. Your teen will likely benefit from continued care, specifically an outpatient program.

Potential for Relapse

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge the most obvious setback to recovery: relapse. As a parent, this can be particularly heartbreaking after you have invested much of your time and energy into your teen’s treatment. However, relapses do happen, and they are not a sign of failure. It’s normal for people to require several attempts before achieving long-term sobriety. It may be a sign for your teen to try a different or more intensive treatment program. 

Recovery is a lifelong journey. Having a treatment plan is vital for long-term recovery success. Even then, setbacks are to be expected, including the potential for relapse. Setbacks can be devastating, however, with continuing treatment, setbacks can be managed efficiently and effectively. Clearfork Academy is an outdoor adventure treatment program for teens struggling with substance use. We offer a variety of treatment programs for adolescents aged 13-17, including inpatient and outpatient services, detox, and summer programs. Our approach is spiritually-based, with compassionate and licensed staff to mentor and guide teenagers from destructive habits to making healthier choices. We are proud to say that our programs have helped many teens conquer their addiction and go on to live healthy, fulfilling lives without drugs or alcohol. To learn more about our treatment programs, please reach out to us today at (888) 966-8604.

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Who Do You Want to Be?

Who Do You Want to Be?

In treatment and recovery, opportunities abound for individuals to explore the self. For adolescents, this time can be one of great growth and self-exploration. 

It’s a time to discover who they are and what they love. In treatment, teens have the opportunity to learn about themselves and their strengths and weaknesses. 

They can explore their values and beliefs and better understand what makes them tick. In addition to this, treatment allows teens to develop healthy coping skills and a support network of peers and adults. 

This is a time to identify their passions and build upon their strengths. It’s an opportunity to learn who they are apart from their addiction and develop a healthy sense of self. With the proper support, teens can emerge from treatment and recovery stronger than ever.

The Role of Identity

Identity plays a crucial role in treating and recovering teenagers with substance use disorder (SUD). Unfortunately, for many teens, their identity is closely intertwined with their use of substances. 

Teens may see themselves as “party animals” or “potheads” and view drug use as an essential part of their identity. This can make it very difficult for them to give up drugs, even if they want to. 

Therefore, treatment is essential to help teens explore their sense of self and develop a new, drug-free identity. This can involve helping them find new hobbies and activities they enjoy, discovering hidden talents and strengths, and connecting with others who have shared similar experiences. 

By developing a strong and healthy sense of self, teens can begin to build the foundation for a successful recovery.

The Importance of Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance is integral to any treatment or recovery plan for SUD. For teenagers, this is especially crucial, as they are still developing their sense of self. 

In the midst of addiction, teens can lose sight of who they are and what they want in life. As a result, they may feel ashamed of their addiction and believe they are worthless. Unfortunately, these negative beliefs can become self-fulfilling prophecies, leading to further drug use and eventually relapse

It’s essential that teens learn to accept themselves, flaws and all. Only then can they begin to build a foundation for lasting recovery. By working on self-acceptance, teens can see themselves in a more positive light and develop the hope and motivation needed to overcome their addiction.

How Hobbies Help

In treatment and recovery, hobbies can play an important role in helping teens establish a healthy sense of identity. For many teens, their hobbies can provide the following benefits:

  • Hobbies can be a source of pride and accomplishment for teens. When teens invest their time and energy into something they’re passionate about, they can’t help but feel proud of their achievements. This sense of pride can be especially beneficial during those teenage years when self-esteem is often low. In addition, having a hobby gives teens a sense of purpose and helps them feel more connected to their interests and passions.
  •  They provide a way to connect with others who share the same interests. Hobbies can also be used as a way to connect with others who have common interests. Hobbies can help build self-esteem, promote teamwork, and cultivate leadership skills. Hobbies can also help teens stay active and engaged in their recovery process. Hobbies can provide an essential source of support and connection for teens in recovery and help them tap into their creative side. 
  •  Hobbies provide an outlet for self-expression. Hobbies also teach teens how to manage their time, work hard, and set and achieve goals. 
  • Hobbies help teens stay active and can prevent obesity. Hobbies can also help boost self-confidence and self-esteem. In addition, hobbies can be an excellent way for teens to relax and unwind after a long day at school or a busy week of extracurricular activities. Engaging in enjoyable activities can also help teens learn more about themselves and what they are passionate about. 

Hobbies can help teens build skills that will benefit them in their future careers. Whether teens are interested in sports, music, art, dance, or any other activity, it can provide a valuable avenue for personal growth.

They can also help teens deal with stress and anxiety and provide a much-needed outlet for positive energy. In short, hobbies can be the key to teen self-acceptance and identity formation. 

Recovery can be a time of great discovery for teens and their families. Encourage your teen to try new things and have an open mind to change and challenges.

Remember, you are not alone. If you’re struggling with your teen and their substance use, do not hesitate to seek help

Treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) is time-limited, but recovery from addiction is a process that can last a lifetime. For teens, this process can be particularly transformative, as they are at a developmental stage where they are exploring their identity and discovering who they are. Recovery gives teens an opportunity to do this exploration in a safe and supported environment. It’s a time for them to experiment with different aspects of their personality and figure out what kind of person they want to be. Recovery is not only about giving up drugs or alcohol; it’s also about learning how to live a healthy and fulfilling life. For many teens, recovery is the first step on the path to a bright and successful future. For more information on effective treatment and recovery for teens, call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604.

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What Is Unresolved Grief and How to Break Free From the Pain?

What Is Unresolved Grief and How to Break Free From the Pain?

Experiences of grief and loss are inevitable in life. Whether it is the loss of a parent, friend, or something else, every person experiences and processes grief in a unique way. As there is no distinct timeline for grieving, it is essential to work through challenging emotions as they surface rather than ignoring or burying them. Unresolved grief can be problematic and worsen preexisting physical and mental health conditions.

At times, situations of grief can bring about intense feelings of hopelessness. Recognize that your teen not have to know how to move on immediately after experiencing a loss. As a parent, there are ways that you can help your child work through these challenging emotions. By doing so, you can help them break free from debilitating experiences of grief. 

What Are Some Common Causes of Grief?

There is no one root cause for grief. When people consider the term grief, they may initially reflect on the loss of a loved one. While death is certainly a common cause of grief, other causes may include:

  • Divorce
  • Losing a loved one, pet, or friendship
  • Moving to a new location 
  • Tragic current events in the news

Grief can be experienced in other ways aside from losing someone through death. It can involve the loss of a whole way of life, such as leaving behind a familiar city and friendships to move someplace new or the loss of a previous lifestyle in light of a new diagnosis. Grief can take on many different forms and affect many facets of our lives. It’s normal for anyone, but especially teenagers, to take a while to adjust to a new way of life after experiencing such a radical change, whether the change is negative or positive.

The 5 Stages Of Grief

People experience grief differently and move on at different paces. Some people may remain “stuck” in some stages of grief longer than others or skip some altogether. The five stages of grief were developed by the psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and include:

  • Denial: Refusing to accept that someone has died or that something traumatic has happened
  • Anger: Feeling frustrated that the loss or traumatic circumstance occurred
  • Bargaining: Reasoning with personal emotions by entertaining “what if” scenarios
  • Depression: Intense sadness as a result of somewhat accepting the truth of the loss
  • Acceptance: Recognizing that the loss occurred and choosing to move on with life

Many of these stages can look like clinical depression, which is a severe condition that affects an individual’s ability to function normally in daily life. Most people experience deep sadness for a time before reaching the final stage of acceptance. Clinical depression combined with grief can cause someone to remain in the first few stages of grief for quite some time.

What Is Unresolved Grief? 

Unresolved grief is also sometimes called complex grief. When grief is managed, feelings of sadness tend to level out over time. However, complex, unresolved grief can perpetuate your child’s feelings of sadness. This form of grief can make a teenager especially susceptible to the development of an addiction. Sometimes it can be hard to determine whether your teen is moving through the normal stages of grief or is caught up in complex, unresolved grief. If you are concerned about the length and depth of your teen’s grief symptoms, it may be helpful to talk to a therapist.

Signs Of Unresolved Grief

Grief can look like many things, but unresolved grief shares these common signs:

  • Unmanaged anger or irritability
  • Obsession with the lost loved one or the way life was before the grief incident
  • Withdrawing from other relationships and social activities
  • Engaging in addictive or otherwise self-destructive behaviors
  • Avoiding anything that reminds them of the loved one they lost
  • Refusing to talk about the incident behind the grief
  • Feeling guilty or blaming self
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm

There are several options for treatment if your teen shows a combination of these signs including: 

  • Counseling
  • Rehabilitation centers for substance use
  • Anger management 
  • Skills training 

What Is the Connection Between Unresolved Grief and Addiction?

Grief and addiction often go together and tend to exacerbate one another. Alcohol or other drugs can be a convenient way of making unpleasant emotions disappear, or at least numb them for some time. Substances can quickly become a crutch for your child to make it through the day. In reality, self-medicating will only worsen distress over time.

If your teen is struggling with unresolved grief and perhaps relying on substances to make it through, understand that there is help available. Millions of people have gone through the same struggle and have been able to forge a new path forward despite sadness and loss. Finding a treatment that focuses on both grief and addiction is a vital tool for your recovery. When your teen seeks help for both issues together, you greatly increase their chances for a successful recovery. Seeing your teen recover can help resolve your own residual anger and sadness, too.

Losing a loved one or coping after an emotionally difficult situation is hard. However, leaving grief unresolved can worsen mental health. Having a healthy set of coping mechanisms can help your teen weather through the storm of complex, unresolved grief. It is essential to recognize that treatment for grief and trauma is available and can help your teen manage challenging emotions. If your child is struggling with unresolved grief, it is important to get connected with treatment resources as soon as possible. Clearfork Academy is uniquely equipped to help teens and young adults who are struggling with complex grief along with clinical depression or substance use addiction. Treating these co-occurring disorders together is the best path for healing. We want you and your teen to feel supported and encouraged as they work to heal from the challenging effects of grief. To learn more, call us today at (888) 966-8604

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What Are the Real-Life Effects of Cyberbullying?

What Are the Real-Life Effects of Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a serious and growing trend that extends beyond hurtful words on a screen. According to research, “11% of high school students have been victims of cyberbullying with 4% reported acting as cyberbullies, and 7% had been both a cyberbullied and a victim of cyberbullying.” The consequences reveal themselves in the victims’ behavior, emotional state, and overall mental health. 

What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying refers to using electronic communication to bully, often sending abusive messages or images about someone. Cyberbullying transpires via digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. 

Many people think cyberbullying is simply making fun of someone online and that it’s not as severe as face-to-face bullying. This is not true. Some experts say cyberbullying is worse than face-to-face bullying because it never ends. Some examples of cyberbullying:

  • Harassment: Sending offensive, vulgar, or threatening messages or images. This includes making lewd comments that target someone. 
  • Recording: Some forms of cyberbullying utilize mobile phones to video record fights, bullying behavior, and other criminal activities. These videos are widely shared online.
  • Flaming: Flaming involves fighting others online using electronic messages with angry or vulgar words.
  • Denigration: Denigration involves persecuting others online via gossip, rumors, or false statements.
  • Impersonation: Impersonation involves adopting another’s identity to post material that ruins the person’s persona, gets them in trouble, danger, or damages their reputation.
  • Doxxing and trickery: Doxxing refers to revealing private information about a person without their permission. 
  • Exclusion: Exclusion involves intentionally excluding someone from an online group.

The Difference Between Cyberbullying and Bullying

Since cyberbullying happens online, victims cannot escape their bullies. Here are some ways that cyberbullying is different from traditional bullying:

  • Anonymity: Bullies may use different devices or usernames to access social media platforms so others cannot trace them. As a result of this anonymity, bullies often feel emboldened to say things to their victims that they wouldn’t know in person because they don’t have to face the consequences of their actions.
  • Reach: The Internet makes it possible to reach a much bigger audience more quickly than face-to-face bullying. Thus, bullies can post a rumor on social media and watch it viral. 
  • Permanence: The Internet is permanent. Even if you delete a post or an account, traces of the information may remain somewhere, especially in others’ hands. Some teens may feel their mistakes will follow them for life.
  • No escape: Victims can’t get away from the harassment. It goes with them wherever they go because the victim’s cell phone is always with them.

The Warning Signs of CyberBullying

Many parents aren’t aware of the severe and sometimes lasting effects. There are a variety of signs and symptoms that could indicate your child is being cyberbullied:

  • Watch for a sudden change in mood or behavior when they’re on the computer or cell phone
  • Check for physical changes like weight loss, low energy levels, headaches, stomach issues, and other physical reactions to anxiety and stress
  • Look for changes to their sleep patterns like difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping more than usual
  • Withdrawing from activities that once made them happy
  • Expect poor academic performance. Depressed individuals tend to miss more school and perform poorly on tests
  • They may choose to stop using their electronics to avoid harassment

How to Help Cyberbullied Teens

Depending on how your teen is being bullied, you may need to help them with the following steps:

  • Block the bully. If someone is harassing your child through social media, texts, or other digital means, help them block the bully.
  • Report the bullying. Depending on how it’s happening and who’s involved, you may need to report cyberbullying to an online service provider or school officials. If your child’s school isn’t helpful, contact your local police department or district attorney’s office immediately.
  • Save the evidence. You must work with your teen to save proof of cyberbullying. This may be necessary if you decide to take legal action against a school or an individual.
  • Educate yourself about social media. Most teens spend plenty of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media sites. 
  • Monitor your child’s computer usage. The best way to protect your teen from cyberbullying is through adequate supervision, which includes setting ground rules for internet use and monitoring their computers and cell phones for evidence of potential problems. 
  • Don’t engage with the bully or bullies. Do not reply to any messages or posts from the bully or his friends. If you respond, you become part of the problem.
  • Talk to your teen about online bullying. Explain that once something has been posted online, it is there forever, even if taken down from the site. 
  • Consider professional help. If they need further assistance to process the trauma of bullying, seek counseling or a treatment program for the teen’s mental health. 

Cyberbullying can have detrimental consequences on the lives of teenagers. Teens often lack the coping mechanisms necessary to handle such trauma. They may suffer from clinical depression, PTSD, and SUD. If your teen has experienced cyberbullying, we recommend seeking help right away to prevent the lasting effects of trauma. By helping your child find a healthy way to cope with their situation, you can drastically improve their chances for long-term recovery. At Clearfork Academy, we know how to help teens. Our mission is to advance adolescent emotional, mental, and behavioral health for all teens suffering from SUD and any underlying issues like trauma and bullying. We provide non-judgmental services tailored to each teen’s needs. More importantly, we believe that these capabilities are essential to helping adolescents lead meaningful and productive lives. For more information about our treatment program, call us today at (888) 966-8604.

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The Challenging Stigmas of Males Mental Health

The Challenging Stigmas of Males Mental Health

Adolescent males dealing with mental health disorders often have a hard time opening up about their struggles and asking for the help they need due to the societal stigma of males. This negative mindset continues to stray individuals away from receiving the help they need for fear of looking different from their peers in society. Understanding this stigma and working to support everyone to get the help they need can help our society become a more accepting space for everyone to feel comfortable.

Social Stigma

The negative social stigma regarding males and mental health has caused many individuals to feel isolated. This stigma refers to the negative perception of individuals with mental health disorders and false accusations of where these disorders arise. In men, this can be perceived as weak and shameful. The social assumption for men is that they are expected to be dominant, strong, and brave figures. Having a mental health disorder can be portrayed as a sign of weakness.

This social stigma is extremely dangerous for the minds of adolescent males. While mental health awareness is becoming more common, it is not often discussed or accepted in the adolescent age group. Men and women both deal with mental health disorders, and both need support to overcome them. If adolescents your age open up about having a mental health problem, work to support them and provide a safe space for them. Showing your emotions and being vulnerable does not make you weak.

Overcoming the Stigma

It can be intimidating to admit you are struggling with a mental health disorder as an adolescent. It is understandable to be full of fear; however, the rewards from your honesty may be worth jumping over this fear. There are many ways you can open up about your mental health disorders without receiving much backlash. It is crucial to remember the importance of your mental health and avoid allowing negative comments to get into your head.

Online Effects

Many adolescents spend a great deal of time on social media and feel greatly influenced by the posts and comments of their peers. While there may be a variety of negativity online in regards to mental health disorders, there are also a variety of pages and resources that work to spread awareness on these issues. Joining these online forums and opening up about your struggles in a supportive environment online can help you to feel more comfortable on the matter and encourage you to open up to other support systems. 

Focus on Yourself

During this time, it is important to get the help you need. You may receive some negative feedback about receiving treatment or struggling with mental health, but remind yourself that many people go through this. If individuals are giving you a hard time, reach out to your support system. Try to only engage with individuals that encourage your recovery and want the best for you. It can be hard to ignore negative comments, especially during this strong emotional phase, but giving in to these comments only gives the other individual more power. 

Having confidence in your decision and being honest about your mental health state can help other peers understand where you are coming from. Many individuals fear speaking up on the matter due to possible bullying or backlash; however, sticking up for mental health awareness can help increase the level of acceptance of your peers.

Understand the Commonality

Mental health disorders are present in one in four individuals on average. Being aware of this statistic can help you not feel alone with your disorder. There are likely many other individuals in your surrounding peer groups that also struggle with mental health and have these same fears of negative stigmas. 

Through open and honest communication, you may discover friends that are struggling with similar issues. Increasing the population that is willing to open up about their mental health disorders can help people to accept these feelings and decrease the negative thoughts put into place.

Spread Awareness

After allowing yourself to open up about your emotional state and finding other peers who either are struggling with similar issues or are supportive of these matters, you may develop a community of support. Look into starting a club or meetings to help spread awareness. By working together with a group of people, the awareness can become more accepted within your school and social group. There is power in numbers. Spreading this knowledge and acquiring supportive allies can help yourself and others feel supported when in treatment.

Admitting you struggle with a mental health disorder and seeking treatment can be intimidating due to the negative stigma on mental health. There are a variety of societal standards for men that hinder males from opening up about their emotional state. At Clearfork Academy, we understand that addressing these social stigmas and spreading awareness can help others feel safe to open up. Seeking professional treatment will help you develop healthy ways to cope and improve communication with your family and peers. As challenging as it may be, it is extremely important to focus on yourself and your needs during this time. Getting the help you need is more important than impressing your peers. There are many ways you can use this time to influence others and be a support to your peers. To learn more about the challenges of stigmas in mental health, contact us today at (888) 966-8604.

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How Can Art & Music Therapy Help Your Teen in Their Mental Health & Recovery Journey?

How Can Art & Music Therapy Help Your Teen In Their Mental Health & Recovery Journey?

Art and music are revered for their restorative and healing powers. Many turn to art for its ability to relieve stress and promote self-expression. In comparison, music provides an outlet for many to release, process, and express their emotions. Together, art and music therapy aid individuals in exploring, understanding, and resolving their internal issues. For this reason, Clearfork Academy places excellent value on art and music therapy for teen participants seeking recovery from SUD and mental health issues.

How Does Art Therapy Work?

Art therapy employs various art media as the primary mode of expression and communication during these psychotherapy sessions. Art therapists work with people to improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being using the creative process and the resulting artwork developed in sessions.

As trained mental health professionals, art therapists assess the needs of their participants by observing verbal and nonverbal communication within the participant’s artwork. Then, the therapist interprets the meaning of the art concerning the client’s life. The therapist may explore the symbolic meaning of an image with the participant or encourage the person to express thoughts or feelings through art without analyzing the art itself. Art therapists may use paper, paint, clay, and other materials to create images that reflect the participant’s suppressed issues.

The therapist applies a variety of methods to evaluate the participant’s artwork and other creative processes, including:

  • Visual processing
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Emotional maturity
  • Social skills
  • Decision-making ability
  • Behavioral problems
  • Adaptive behaviors
  • Coping skills
  • Family dynamics
  • Peer relations
  • Self-concepts/self-esteem
  • Developmental issues such as gender roles, body image, and belief systems

What Happens During Art Therapy?

The art therapy process begins with assessing participants and establishing rapport. The therapist may also ask the teen to take a personality test or other psychological measure to help establish baseline levels of functioning. In subsequent sessions, the focus will turn to processing the teen’s emotions through art and identifying patterns of maladaptive behaviors causing distress. The therapist will encourage teens to engage in various art media like drawing, painting, or sculpting in each session.

As patients become comfortable expressing themselves visually, they may use their artwork to explore problems or feelings they previously failed to discuss. As the teen works on their art project, the therapist often asks questions about what inspired different aspects of their project and their feelings. As the treatment continues, teens will gain insight into their inner worlds and identify patterns they may want to change.

How Does Music Therapy Work?

Music therapy employs music to address individuals’ physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. Music therapists are trained in music, psychology, and counseling to understand how people respond to music at different stages of development.

Music therapy serves to strengthen participants’ life skills and emotional processing. Research supports music therapy’s effectiveness in boosting motivation, emotional support, and self-expression.

What Happens During Music Therapy?

Therapy sessions often occur in groups but may also transpire in one-on-one sessions. Sessions may include writing or singing songs, playing instruments, or simply listening to music together to facilitate change in behaviors, moods, and emotions. For example, if a teen has trouble expressing anger or frustration, a music therapist may lead drumming exercises as an outlet for these feelings.

The therapist might also have the teen listen to calming music or sing calming songs when feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Some sessions may include composing music or writing lyrics to reflect what they have learned during their treatment. The therapist uses the client’s preferred music as much as possible to feel connected to what is happening in sessions.

Why Should You Consider Art and Music Therapy for Your Teen?

Art and music therapy effectively treat teens and young adults recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, particularly with other mental health disorders. At trauma-focused treatment centers like Clearfork Academy, we use art and music therapy to help teens develop a healthy, sober lifestyle.

Here are some of the benefits of art and music therapy for teens in recovery:

  • Many young addicts suffer from anxiety or depression, both of which can make it difficult to express what you’re feeling. Art and music therapy provide an outlet for those emotions.
  • Art and music therapy can give your teen something to do when they feel bored or restless.
  • When your teen creates music or artwork with their peers, it provides an opportunity to bond with their peers safely without substances. Teens can also learn how to give helpful feedback to others.
  • When your teen is learning a new skill, they’ll gain confidence in their newfound abilities, which can raise their self-esteem, too.
  • Teens can work through addiction triggers and cravings by expressing their feelings or releasing tension through music or art.
  •  These therapies can help teens learn the skills they need to manage stress, such as patience, persistence, following through on tasks, problem-solving, and decision making.

Art and music therapy help struggling teens find peace as they journey toward healing. Regardless of the type of art or music a teen creates, the outlet can bring them to a place of calmness, fueling their recovery process. At Clearfork Academy, we believe this form of therapy can nourish a teen’s journey, and it could be just the thing they need to break through mental barriers on the path to recovery. With help from a professional art therapist or music therapist, teens will develop new skills and learn to deal with their addiction using healthy methods. Your teen deserves the best chance for long-term sobriety. And that’s what you’ll get at Clearfork Academy. Our highly experienced professionals and nurturing environment offer a path to lasting change through evidence-based practices. If you want to give your teen the best chance at a sober, happy life, then contact us today at (888) 966-8604.

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Why Should You Be Worried About the Benzodiazepine Epidemic?

Why Should You Be Worried About the Benzodiazepine Epidemic?

An alarming trend among teens and young adults is the growing use of Benzodiazepine. This class of drugs is more commonly known as “benzos.” Some of the most common forms of benzodiazepines include Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and Librium. 

What you might not know is that they are some of the most addictive substances on the market, even more so than tobacco and alcohol. Due to this fact, they are taking lives faster than cocaine and heroin combined. This epidemic has made an impact on a lot of people. The National Institute On Drug Abuse states that overdose deaths involving “benzos” increased nearly ten folds since 1999

What Are Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines are a class of medications that work in the brain and central nervous system. They are often prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. They also treat muscle spasms, seizures, trouble sleeping, alcohol, and withdrawal. 

Essentially, benzodiazepines act on receptors in the brain that help regulate the body’s response to stress. They increase the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that inhibits activity in your central nervous system. Some examples of benzodiazepines include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Estazolam (ProSom)
  • Flurazepam (Dalmane)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

Benzodiazepines Impact on the Brain

The human body naturally produces chemical compounds known as endocannabinoids that influence receptors in the brain. According to scientific research, benzodiazepine drugs bind to these same receptors to produce their effects. Most benzos work by enhancing the impact of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that suppresses or dampens nerve activity in the brain. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that sends messages from one neuron to another, telling them to slow down or stop firing nerve impulses.

Benzos also affect another part of the brain called the mesolimbic system, responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure. With repeated use, benzos enhance these feelings, causing dopamine to flood through the brain. This reinforces behaviors like taking more benzos, building up addiction.

The Addictive Nature of Benzodiazepines

Unfortunately, benzodiazepine abuse has become a much more common occurrence among teens and young adults. While these medications can be helpful for the short-term treatment of anxiety or trouble sleeping, they are not intended for long-term use because they can cause mental and physical dependence. For the following reasons,  benzodiazepines prove a high risk for dependence and addiction

  • Widely available: Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States, with over 100 million prescriptions written last year. Even teenagers can easily obtain benzos. This is because benzos are often prescribed to teens to treat anxiety and depression. Teens can access benzos even without a prescription from peers or family members.
  • Intense feelings of euphoria: Benzos, potent sedatives prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia, can lead to feelings of euphoria even when used as directed. As a result, many users increase their dosages or take several doses throughout the day to maintain the euphoria or sedative effect. Addiction becomes more likely since a greater dosage produces an even more incredible sensation of relaxation and bliss. 
  • Benzodiazepines act quickly: Benzodiazepines produce their calming effect within 20 minutes to 2 hours after ingestion. This fast-acting effect makes benzodiazepines very tempting for people who need relief from anxiety or stress. Other anti-anxiety medications may take several weeks before they start working at total capacity, which makes benzos more attractive for people. 
  • Withdrawal symptoms: Though benzodiazepines work quickly, they leave the body quickly. Subsequently, they may cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms when they wear off. Additionally, long-term benzodiazepine users may suffer withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit, making it hard for those who abuse the drug to stop. Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, nausea, muscle cramps, irritability, and even severe seizures.
  • Combining it with other substances: Some teens combine benzos with other substances. They often mix benzos with other drugs like alcohol or opioids, increasing their sedative effects. Such a combination also increases the risk of overdose and dependence.
  • The teen’s brain: Scientists show the impact of the brain’s hyperactive reward system during adolescence. The reward center of a teenager’s brain responds when they think they will receive something positive. Unfortunately, drug use can trigger this same response, leading to addiction. Ultimately, the more often teens use benzodiazepines, the more their brains adapt to their presence. It can lead to tolerance and dependence, which means teens will need to detox from it. 

Benzodiazepine Treatment for Teens with SUD

Treating a benzodiazepine addiction can take months. However, with the right combination of detoxification and therapy, teen addicts can become sober, healthy, and happy. 

With detoxification, the body eliminates Benzodiazepine from its system. Teens can do this with medical supervision at a detox center or hospital. Once the body clears the body of the substances, the teen can receive therapy and educational counseling. These sessions usually transpire in one-on-one or group settings with other teens who share similar problems. Counseling and therapy work hand-in-hand to resolve the issues behind their addiction and prevent relapse.

Dependence can quickly develop when teens use prescribed benzodiazepines to treat anxiety or depression. Teens hold a greater risk of abusing these substances due to the recreational use of benzo. Teens also face significant stressors from peers, parents, teachers, school, financial problems, and self-esteem. The onset of SUD is a clear indication that your teen needs help from an addiction treatment center like Clearfork Academy. With us, your teen will develop the tools necessary to live a life free from addiction. We offer a warm environment to help your teen feel safe as they work through treatment. Our program utilizes evidence-based practices, and our staff consists of some of the most highly regarded professionals in the field. If you suspect that your child has benzo addiction, seek professional help today. Our admissions staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn more,  contact us at (888) 966-8604.

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What Are the Challenges Teens Face in Addiction Recovery?

What Are the Challenges Teens Face in Addiction Recovery?

New to the discussion about addiction and treatment? Often, when teens or their families seek help for addiction, they sometimes face obstacles that could keep them from getting the treatment they need. Addiction may be taboo in society, and the fear of receiving shame or judgment while seeking help can be a significant obstacle. Teens often face fears and barriers when raising the courage to ask for help.

Obstacles and Fears Holding Teens Back From Seeking Addiction Treatment

Here are some common fears that prevent teens from seeking SUD treatment, along with ways parents can relieve their anxiety.

“They’ll force me to stop.”

A top concern for teens is the fear of being forced to quit cold turkey. The notion of suddenly stopping drug use is frightening for many teenagers. Teens fear withdrawal — both the physical and mental symptoms of the detox process.

The good news is that most teens don’t have to go through withdrawal cold turkey. Detox programs employ a range of treatments to help ease the transition, including medications that can reduce cravings and other symptoms. In addition, a medical team will be on hand to ensure their safety and comfort.

“Will the treatment center be safe?”

The safety of the addiction treatment facility is a common concern among parents and teens. While no rehabilitation facility can be considered 100% safe, parents can take steps to reduce this risk. For example, choosing an accredited facility with 24-hour supervision will help prevent drug use on the premises or nefarious activities.

“What can expect at this treatment center?”

Most parents and teens have so many questions about drug treatment. Parents can review the treatment’s facility and routine before their child enters to ease the teen’s worries. Familiarizing your child with the facility, staff, routine, and policies prepares them for their treatment, and this can go a long way towards easing their anxiety about the treatment experience.

“They’ll lock me up for months!”

Many teenagers fear that addiction treatment will take them away from friends and family for months at a time. Some even fear that they’ll be locked up for months. However, this isn’t the case with most teen rehab programs. Most offer outpatient care, which allows your teen to continue living at home. Additionally, many offer visiting hours so friends and family can see them.

“Will there be other teens there?”

Many teens fear that the facility will group them with adults, not other teens. Parents should ask about age-specific services and speak with the facility’s staff about the scope of their programs for young adults and teens.

“What will my friends say if they find out?”

Some teens might feel embarrassed to admit they have a substance abuse problem or fear others will think about their decision to seek rehab. Teens should know that there’s nothing shameful about getting help for an addiction problem, and parents can offer support by highlighting positive role models who went through treatment and recovered.

“What if I fail or relapse?”

Many teens fear that they can’t stay away from drugs or alcohol or think rehabilitation won’t adequately prepare them for life outside of treatment. A parent can help by being realistic about the potential for relapse, emphasizing the importance of ongoing support, and planning for a healthy future.

Many people who complete rehab remain sober. While relapse may happen, it does not mean that treatment has failed.

“Can my family afford the treatment?”

Many teens fear that their parents will be unable to afford treatment and resent them for it. Fortunately, many rehab centers accept private health insurance and work with other state health coverage providers, including Medicaid or Medicare. Thus, parents can discuss the issue of payment before the teen leaves for rehab. Talking about finances calmly, without anger or blame to help ease their worries or feelings of guilt.

“Will they keep things confidential?”

Teens may worry that patient confidentiality laws do not bind substance abuse treatment centers, and they will be “outed” by staff members who don’t respect their privacy rights. It’s important to note that federal law protects patients’ right to confidentiality in outpatient and residential addiction treatment programs.

“What about school?”

Teens concerned about missing schoolwork might unwillingly prolong their drug use because they aren’t sure how they’ll catch up on missed work when they return to school after rehab. This is a common concern, especially among high achieving students who haven’t experienced failure. Consider finding a treatment facility that incorporates academics for teens. At Clearfork Academy, high school students can continue their studies with our partnership with the University of Texas Charter School.

“I’ll be bored!”

Teens fear that they will find the experience in rehab entirely dull. However, treatment centers, like Clearfork Academy, offer a variety of activities for teens to participate in and enjoy. These include:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Sports and recreation
  • Nutrition classes
  • Music programs
  • Ropes courses
  • Classes or tutoring

The stigma surrounding the disease of addiction often prevents teenagers from seeking help. Today, parents can find effective treatment options for their children. Clinicians at Clearfork Academy specialize in treating adolescents who have substance use and co-occurring mental health issues. We make every effort to ease every teen’s worries by focusing on the whole person with our cutting-edge therapeutic approach. As you consider the best treatment for your child, it’s essential to remain mindful of the obstacles preventing teens from seeking treatment, and we can help. We work to ensure the best chance of recovery or relapse prevention, but it all begins with taking action now. Doing so could mean the difference between helping your teen get better and causing further harm to their development. We have helped hundreds of teens improve their outlook on life. To find out more about our programs, contact us today by calling (888) 966-8604.

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What Is Trauma-Informed Care?

What Is Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma-Informed Care aims to help relieve the pain and distress associated with the trauma. This type of care helps survivors rebuild their lives and sustain long-term health. Considering that substance abuse and trauma often co-occur, trauma-Informed care may best serve teens with a SUD since it aims to provide the highest level of care.

What Is Trauma-Informed Care?

Trauma-Informed Care is an interdisciplinary approach to mental health care that addresses the neurobiological effects of trauma. It is a crucial tool for clinicians and caregivers to decrease the re-victimization of participants during treatment, especially teens. Effectively treating people with a history of trauma requires understanding how the human brain processes traumatic experiences and the resulting symptoms of such trauma. Armed with such information, qualified clinicians can properly assist individuals in managing the physiological signs of trauma.

The Neurobiology of Trauma

Understanding the neurobiology of trauma is an integral part of effective treatment. For instance,  trauma disrupts the flow of the limbic system, which stores emotional responses to incidents. It is why people commonly have strong emotional reactions when remembering stressful events. The brain tries to make sense of what has happened, but it is constantly overwhelmed by the emotions associated with trauma. This can cause fear, anger, and sadness that overwhelm the individual. In some cases, this can lead to physical symptoms such as loss of control over one’s movements or thoughts, increased anxiety or depression, or even a personality change.

The Three Foundations of Trauma-Informed Care

The three main themes of trauma-informed care are central to its effectiveness. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), three key ideas form the backbone of trauma-informed care. They include promoting recovery from a strengths-based approach, minimizing the risk of re-traumatization, and identifying and offering trauma-informed supports. Hope runs through these three foundations.

  1. Strength-based approach. Clinicians begin with helping the participant understand how most symptoms of trauma and trauma responses occur as a result of their brain trying to protect them from further harm. By imparting the psychoeducational behind a participant’s condition, a therapist hopes to instill a transformative understanding of their condition that can alter how they relate to it. The person will gain a newfound hope for recovery. Essentially,  if the person can see how they are already keeping themselves safe, it may be easier to help them adopt a more effective coping method.
  2. Minimize the risk of re-traumatization. Revisiting trauma is not easy. Trauma-informed care understands that when participants feel safe, they are in the best position to begin processing the trauma with the assistance of their therapist. From the beginning, the clinician will cultivate security and peace via sowing stability, adequate support, and coping skills. Trauma-informed clinicians focus on creating a safe place for the participant before asking the person about their trauma history.
  3. Identifying and offering trauma-informed support. Trauma-informed care provides trauma-sensitive interventions that link people with providers or services beyond therapy that assists with trauma symptoms. It may include medication management and social support.

Trauma Experiences Leading to Substance Use and Mental Health Issues

According to research, trauma experiences can significantly impact substance abuse. Substance use often occurs due to personal, family, social, and economic stressors. As such, people may turn to substance use to self-medicate, numb, or manage the symptoms of trauma experiences. Some of the main symptoms of trauma experiences often include mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, flashbacks, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Unlike other therapies, Trauma-Informed care focuses on treating the symptoms, not just the trauma narrative. Alleviating the trauma symptoms will relieve the person enough to not self-medicate or participate in self-destructive behaviors. They can find solace and hope in better coping skills and a caring team. Then, the person can safely face and process their trauma stories with far less likelihood of relapsing to substance use.

Benefits of Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care has many benefits that are worth considering. Trauma-informed care:

  • Helps to prevent the re-victimization or re-traumatization of participants during treatment.
  • Prioritizes decreasing trauma symptoms, which helps a person get back on their feet sooner and longer.
  • Empowers participants to engage more fully in their overall treatment plan.
  • Participants can form a trusting relationship with their mental health care providers based on patience and sensitivity.
  • Improve the quality of life more immediately and thoroughly for the person by teaching them coping skills and empowering them with the knowledge of their condition.
  • Purposefully delivers a safe and calming environment to process their symptoms.

The central idea behind trauma-informed care is to shift the paradigm away from normalizing the devastating effects of trauma. It focuses on the problem instead of what is “wrong” with the teen. It seeks to understand the victim/survivor’s experience of the trauma symptoms to find out what methods produce results. Most importantly, it emphasizes that people who achieve healing find empowerment with knowledge and a safe, supportive treatment team. At Clearfork Academy, we help teens with SUD recover more effectively from the underlying symptoms of stressful and traumatic situations by creating a safe space for them, teaching them improved coping skills, and building trust with them. Our team of qualified clinicians took the initiative to understand the effects of trauma on the brain to more efficiently treat distressed teens with a SUD. Our approach leads to long-term recovery. To find out more about our programs, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling (888) 966-8604.

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What Is Polysubstance Abuse?

What Is Polysubstance Abuse?

Polysubstance abuse is a problem that’s growing at an alarming rate. The term “polysubstance abuse” refers to using more than one drug or alcohol simultaneously. More and more people are mixing their drugs and alcohol, which can lead to many addictions, mental health issues, and even physical health problems. 

Dangers of Polysubstance Abuse

Combining drugs often intensifies the effects of the drugs. Though the user may experience a more significant high, combining drugs perpetuates risks to the individual’s life. The combination of drugs can have various harmful effects on the body and mind. Certain drug combinations may produce the following results:

  • Mixing stimulants, such as ecstasy and cocaine can increase the risk of a heart attack.
  • Consuming alcohol with painkillers may numb the user but increase the risk of dependence and overdose.
  • Cocaine and alcohol may heighten feelings of euphoria and energy. However, the combination leaves the user vulnerable to high blood pressure, organ damage, aggressive behavior, or death. 

Ultimately, the risks of polysubstance use are very high. Polydrug abuse can easily lead to emergency room visits, and many people die because of this dangerous and unhealthy behavior. Other risks of polysubstance use include: 

  • Increased risks for heart-related issues, stroke, and other causes of death
  •  Impaired thinking and judgment
  • Decreased or rapid breathing
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Hallucinations or strange thoughts
  • Loss of control over thoughts and behavior
  • Coma
  • Liver failure
  • Damage to the brain, lungs, or other major organs
  • Respiratory Failure
  • Developing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety

Polysubstance Use Among Adolescents 

The combination of drugs can have alarming effects on adolescents’ developing minds and bodies. Yet, teens, more than adults, tend to mix substances. Following reports conclude that the most common mixture for teens involves alcohol and marijuana. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, about 70% of nonmedical adolescent users reportedly combined prescription opioids with other substances. 

Furthermore, in one study of diverse high school seniors, approximately 29% of the students reported engaging in simultaneous polysubstance use during the past year. Reducing teen polysubstance use calls for more comprehensive drug-use prevention programs and limiting teens’ access to these substances. Parents can seek treatment for teens currently suffering from polysubstance use disorder. 

The number of people who mix and abuse drugs has increased in recent years, but the consequences for society vary greatly depending on the type of drug involved. 

Drugs Commonly Mixed With Alcohol

Users commonly mix alcohol with other substances like cocaine, sleeping pills, and heroin. 

  • Heroin and Alcohol: This dangerous combination can cause respiratory failure, a loss of oxygen and blood to the brain, and permanent brain damage. The two substances slow down brain activity, making them effective for relaxation. Yet, users still combine them for the sensation and experiences produced when taken together.
  • Combining Sleeping Pills and Alcohol: When you mix alcohol and sleeping pills, you’re inviting a host of adverse side effects. Though some people hope the mix will improve their sleep, the combination often leaves them vulnerable to falling into a coma, overdosing, or shallow breathing. 
  • Cocaine and Alcohol: Combining alcohol and cocaine provides the user with more physical energy while speeding the user’s heart activity. The combination of cocaine and alcohol creates a new chemical in the body known as cocaethylene. This dangerous chemical yields the highest level of cardiovascular activity that sets extreme pressure and stress on the heart, which often leads to cardiac arrest and death. Mixing alcohol with other stimulants produces similar results. 

Combining Heroin and Cocaine

Users combine Heroin (a depressant) and Cocaine (a stimulant) in hopes of experiencing an entirely new euphoria without the adverse effects of each drug. Users hope the combination will cancel each drug’s adverse effect. Yet, such a fallacy has led to many overdoses. 

Additionally, such a combination leaves users vulnerable to respiratory failure. Users often refer to the mix as “speedball” or “speedballing.” 

Combining Cocaine With Ecstasy or Another Stimulant

When you mix cocaine and ecstasy, the user can experience a rush of energy and euphoria. Yet, combining two stimulants increases heart activity, leaving the users extremely vulnerable to a heart attack or stroke. Combining other stimulants like prescription Adderall and meth can ensure the same effect.

Combining Prescription Drugs

When people mix prescription drugs, they do it to self-medicate even if a mental health professional with good reason prescribed them said drug. Combining prescription drugs like opioids, benzodiazepines, and stimulants can be fatal. However, mixing prescription drugs with illicit drugs or alcohol can also lead to death. 

Polysubstance Abuse is a significant problem that has become more prevalent among teens. Many drugs are addictive and harmful when mixed. Using alcohol, marijuana, and amphetamine together puts the individual at risk for overdose or death. Additionally, with polysubstance Abuse, a person is more likely to develop a secondary addiction to another substance. Thus, the user’s treatment is more complex because of the additional substances involved in their SUD. Yet, by seeking treatment for Polysubstance Abuse, individuals can begin the necessary steps to recovery and leave their harmful substance abuse behind them. At Clearfork Academy, we work with teens who have problems related to polysubstance use disorder. Our qualified team works with each individual to support and tailor treatment plans to focus on their education and recovery. Don’t wait to speak with our admissions team; act today. To learn more about our treatment plan, call us today at (888) 966-8604.

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What Is Dual Diagnosis or Co-occurring Mean?

What Is Dual Diagnosis or Co-occurring Mean?

One of the most common diagnoses in the mental health field is dual diagnosis. For people who have a substance use disorder, there is a high chance that they have an underlying mental health disorder. 

Teens often use substances for many reasons, and sometimes they use them to cope with symptoms of an underlying mental disorder. If you are a teen or a parent of a teen with a dual diagnosis, you must seek treatment that acknowledges both diagnoses. 

What Is a Dual Diagnosis?

A person with a dual diagnosis has both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. You may also hear clinicians refer to them as co-occurring illnesses or comorbidity. Roughly half of the people with a mental health disorder will have a substance use problem and vice versa. Often there may be a misdiagnosis or one disorder diagnosed before the other. That could be because some symptoms are easier to identify than others, or substance use suppresses certain symptoms that would otherwise be present. 

Both disorders have their own set of symptoms that may often overlap, making it hard to find diagnoses. Both disorders can impair a person’s daily functioning and live a fulfilling life. 

What Causes Co-occurring Illnesses?

All classifications of mental health disorders and substance use disorders can co-occur. Many mental disorders are common with substance use, such as borderline personality disorder, ADHD, and schizophrenia. These mood and anxiety disorders include:

One of the most common causes of a dual diagnosis is that drugs become a coping mechanism. However, using drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism can do more harm than good and turn substance use into addiction

Teens who engage in self-medication through substances will often consume high amounts to reach their desired effect. It can develop a high tolerance and a dependency on the drug to function through uncomfortable symptoms. Regular substance use can also lead to developing additional disorders during adulthood, thus making it much harder to overcome if they do not seek help now. 

Warning Signs of Co-occurring Disorders

Symptoms of mental health disorders and substance use are different for everyone. Self-medication is when a person uses substances to suppress or mask underlying symptoms of another disorder. While substances may cause temporary relief, the relief is short-lived and is not substantial for short or long-term health. You should be on the lookout for a few warning signs if you believe your teen is experiencing co-occurring disorders. These warning signs include: 

  • Partaking in alcohol or drugs in a social setting or when emotional
  • Sudden changes in behaviors
  • Extreme or drastic mood swings
  • Neglecting hygiene and health 
  • Social withdrawal
  • Mentions of suicide or self-harm
  • No self-awareness of behaviors
  • Physical changes
  • Sleep difficulties such as insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Difficulty with concentration or attention
  • Drop-in academic performance

Getting Help for a Dual-Diagnosis

If you or someone you love has a dual diagnosis, it is imperative that you have a treatment plan that addresses and treats both disorders. Sometimes one disorder is diagnosed before the other, and treatment may begin for that illness. Once the second diagnosis happens, your treatment plan needs reevaluation to fit the needs of both disorders. Due to the high use of substances and exacerbated mental health symptoms, seeking professional help is the best route for receiving proper treatment. 

Seek Inpatient Care 

Attending an inpatient treatment center is highly recommended for someone with co-occurring disorders because of the close level of care. When looking for a treatment center, make sure that they treat the specific addiction and mental health disorder in need. 

If you are a teen or have a child going to an addiction treatment facility and believe you may have an underlying mental health condition, make sure to get an evaluation by a pediatric psychiatrist first. Once inpatient services have begun, the detoxification process may begin for those who need it. From there, therapy services, medication, and group activities will begin once the detox and withdrawal process has started. 

Family Involvement

Family involvement is a crucial aspect of teen recovery. It can be hard knowing that your child is experiencing addiction and mental health symptoms, but getting help is their best option for living a healthy and fulfilling life. Make sure to support them as they put the hard work into sobriety and be their support system along the way. 

When deciding on which treatment center will suit your teen, the programs offered must meet all of their needs. If your teen has received a dual diagnosis, they must seek treatment for both disorders. Here at Clearfork Academy, we believe in treating not only addiction but getting to the root cause of our patient’s addiction. We offer a full detox and inpatient treatment option for our clients who need more intensive 24-hour care. We also provide outpatient and therapy services for those who do not require inpatient care. If your teen needs a safe and compassionate addiction and mental health treatment center, the time to get help is today. Our center provides a highly trained staff committed to helping our patients achieve a sober-free lifestyle. Our goal is to assist teenagers in managing their substance and mental health issues and realize their greatest potential. To learn more about our programs, call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604.

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What Are Some Helpful Adolescent Substance Use Statistics?

What Are Some Helpful Adolescent Substance Use Statistics?

High school is a critical time for teenagers because high school is where many teens encounter drugs and alcohol for the first time. The latest statistics on substance use among teens offer parents vital information to protect and help their children regarding this danger. 

Effects and Realities of Drug Use in High School

Drug use during high school often leads to a  higher risk of social problems, criminal activity, mental health problems,  physical health issues, and academic difficulties. 

Despite the risks, many adolescents find themselves susceptible to drug use. 

  • Nearly 20 percent of teens encounter drug use on school premises.
  • To deal with academic pressures, research shows about 35.3% of all students use Adderall, Ritalin, or dextroamphetamine without a prescription to aid their studying habits. 
  • 24.6% of 14- to 15-year-olds report engaging in underage drinking due to peer pressure, stress, and newly found independence.
  • Despite the high stakes, teenage brains tend to disregard the problematic aspects of their behavior in favor of the rewards. So the so-called short-term pleasures of substance are very tempting to an adolescent mind. 

Learn the Risks and Be Proactive

More than ever, parental guidance plays a vital role in helping adolescents make sound decisions regarding substance use. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 2014 National Survey, teens who consistently learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t. This occurs because these children receive more comprehensive and accurate information on drug dangers and addiction.

Why does this matter? Approximately 90% of people with SUD start using substances in their early teen years. Delaying drug use education leaves teens more prone to substance use. Subsequently, we recommend parents intervene early in their child’s lives. 

A recent and ongoing study compared two control groups of parents. Parents who provided early intervention and solid parent-child management practices showed delayed initiation of substance use at the 6-year follow-up, as opposed to other parents who chose otherwise. 

Popular Substances Teens Use

It is alarming that nearly 25 percent of high school seniors reported using at least one illicit drug during the past 30 days. Most common drugs include: 

  • Amphetamines
  • Cough medicine
  • Hallucinogens
  • Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • LSD
  • Cocaine
  • Inhalants
  • Salvia

Adolescent Alcohol Consumption Statistics

Alcohol continues to stand as the most used substance by high schoolers. Though fewer teens choose not to drink, too many adolescents frequently indulge in binge drinking episodes. In the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, high school students reported their alcohol consumption during a 30-day window. Reports found: 

  • 29% consumed alcohol.
  • 14% binge drank.
  • Five percent chose to drive after drinking alcohol.
  • 17% decided to ride with a teen driver who just consumed alcohol.

Furthermore, the dangers of underage drinking reach far. Reports show:

  • Nearly 5,000 youth die every year from accidents related to underage drinking.
  • Disruption of normal mental, sexual,  or emotional development.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Problems with their memory and decision-making.
  • Misuse of other substances or vulnerable to developing alcoholism later in life. 

The early introduction of drinking is often associated with alcohol use disorder in later life. As a result, people who drink before they are ready may find that their alcohol dependence becomes stronger and longer-lasting than those who don’t start drinking until later in life.

Prescription Drug Statistics

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that prescription drugs are the third most commonly abused substance among Americans age 14 and older. According to a 2021 report:

  •  Four percent of high school seniors shared that they misused a prescription drug.
  •  Nearly two percent of high school seniors shared that they misused sedatives.
  •  Nearly 3.0% of 8th graders, three percent of 10th graders, and 2.3% of 12th graders shared that they misused amphetamines.

Adolescent Marijuana Consumption Statistics

Marijuana use continues to gain traction. Marijuana is the most commonly used drug among teenagers in the United States. According to the CDC, nearly 40% of high school students reported using or trying marijuana during their lifetime. The same study shows that about 2 out of 10 high school students use marijuana. 

Yet, this substance poses so many risks for adolescents. Another recent study revealed the harmful effects of marijuana on the adolescent brain. Continued marijuana use can lead to risky behaviors, poor academic performance,  aggression, and delinquency. For instance, usage rates for marijuana heavily influence high schoolers’ academic achievement. According to a CDC report, about 10% of students earning higher grade point averages report using marijuana. This is in contrast with 48% of students who use marijuana earning a failing grade point average.

Drug abuse is a disease that starts with its root: addiction. Parents need to know about the different types of drugs, their dangers, and how to help their children avoid becoming addicted. In addition, parents need to learn how to recognize the signs of drug abuse in their children and take action if they see them using drugs. When parents take affirmative steps such as talking about addiction with their children and intervening if necessary, they carve a better future for their children. Clearfork Academy is designed specifically for teenagers struggling with a SUD, and our experienced staff will work tirelessly with you to get your child the help they need. We tailor treatment plans to meet your child’s needs. We provide mental health care, educational counseling, adventure therapy, and more to achieve this goal. To learn more about our treatment programs and their related resources, contact us today by calling (888) 966-8604.

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Underage Binge Drinking

Underage Binge Drinking

Alcohol is one of the most abused substances among teenagers in the US. The minimum drinking age in the United States is 21 years old, but that hasn’t stopped teenagers from participating in alcohol consumption. Studies show that young people between the ages of 12 to 20 consume almost 13% of the country’s alcohol in a calendar year due to binge drinking. 

No matter the age, binge drinking can pose serious health risks to anyone engaging in overdrinking, including teens. The health risks associated with the overconsumption of alcohol should be of concern to parents. Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to dependency and, oftentimes, requires professional intervention. 

What Is Binge Drinking?

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as when a person consumes enough alcohol to bring their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher. For adults, binge drinking is when a man or woman consumes four to five drinks in a two-hour time frame. However, it takes fewer drinks for youth, roughly three to four consumed in the same timeframe for the same effects as adults. 

While binge drinking can happen at any age, there has been a recent trend in teens and young adults to binge drink during social occasions. Excessive drinking can have many health effects that can develop dependency and mental health issues. 

The Impact of Binge Drinking on the Teen Brain

Alcohol has adverse effects on the brain. Further, heavy alcohol use can hinder the development of a teenager’s brain. Binge drinking impacts cognitive functions such as memory, coordination, attention, and social functioning. During the teenage years, the frontal lobe and hippocampus share a relationship with impulse control, addiction, motivation, and long-and-short term memory. 

Alcohol is also a form of neurotoxin. Neurotoxins are natural or synthetic substances that cause damage or impair parts of the brain, specifically the central and peripheral nervous systems. They increase the chance of developing heart disease; brain inquires, cancer, and other serious health problems. Long-term alcohol use in teens can also develop an array of disorders known as alcohol-related brain injuries (ARBI).

Health Risks for Teens

Heavy drinking impacts teens’ physical, mental, and behavioral health on many different levels. Although side effects and health risks are different for everyone, there are common risks associated with binge drinking, including: 

  • Physical Health: Studies show that teens who binge-drink throughout high school have a higher chance of becoming overweight before turning 25. Long-term alcohol use can also cause high blood pressure, which can lead to heart complications. It prevents the heart from pumping enough blood, causing the heart to weaken over time. It can also cause an abnormal heart rhythm where it beats too fast, slow, or irregularly. 
  • Mental Health: Heavy alcohol use also has serious effects on teens’ mental health both in the present and later on in life. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant meaning it can slow down the brain’s functioning. When you over-drink, it can trigger depression and anxiety. Some teens consume alcohol to cope or suppress their feelings of anxiety and depression. At first, they may receive the stimulation they crave and feel less tense and anxious as they drink. But as soon as the buzz goes away, their depression or anxiety may be more intense than before, especially after a hangover. 
  • Behavioral Health: Underage drinking leads to numerous behavioral issues in teens, many of which have serious consequences. Teens who binge drink engage in more violent behaviors such as rape, assault, and physical altercations. Car accidents caused by drunk driving are one of the leading causes of death among younger people. Issues like peer pressure or social settings often cause teens to get behind the wheel impaired and lead to car accidents where some result in death.   

Treatment for Alcohol Use 

When it comes to quitting heavy alcohol use, always consult a professional for help. Withdrawal symptoms from any substance can be very intense, and there should always be medical help around if needed. Although binge drinking is not considered full alcohol addiction, for teens who drink alcohol heavily, quitting cold turkey without any help is not recommended. 

Treatment options for alcohol use range from full 24-hour care in a residential or inpatient treatment center to intensive outpatient treatment and therapy services. Due to the differences in symptoms and health risks in teens compared to adults, you should find treatment options and mental health professionals specializing in treating teens and adolescents. Understand that there is help available to meet your teen’s individual needs.

If you are a teen and notice that you or a friend have been consuming high amounts of alcohol, you may be engaging in binge drinking. Understand that serious health risks come with consuming high amounts of alcohol in a short or long time frame. Clearfork Academy understands the importance of getting alcohol abuse under control before it spirals into full addiction. Although binge drinking is not alcoholism itself, it can lead to a substance use disorder when left untreated. We help our patients take the first step towards sobriety through our medical detox program and intensive inpatient treatment. We also offer outpatient treatment for teens who may not require 24-hour care. If you or someone you love needs help for an addiction or mental health issue, then get help today. To find out more about our treatment programs and therapies, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling us at (888) 966-8604.

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What Are the Dangers of Teen Self-Harm?

What are the dangers of teen self-harm?

Self-harm refers to any form of self-injury. Adolescents who engage in self-harm use it to cope with feelings of inadequacy, anger, depression, loneliness, and self-consciousness.

Different Types of Self-Harm

Most self-harm acts include cutting or scratching with a sharp object. In a ritualistic way, teens carve words or symbols into their skin to express their feelings of alienation, loneliness, anger, hurt, or low self-worth. Other types of self-harm include:

  • Biting, scratching, or piercing their skin with sharp tools
  • Burning their skin
  • Hitting or punching themselves or the walls
  • Picking and seeking fights to experience pain
  • Slamming their head or body against walls and other objects
  • Reckless driving
  • Engaging in risky sexual acts
  • Tearing out their hair
  • Inserting objects into the body
  • Overdosing on drugs or excessive drinking
  • Overexercising to the point of injury

The Signs and Dangers of Self-Harm

Long-term self-harm can lead to severe repercussions for teens. These include:

  • Physical health problems
  • Social isolation and alienation
  • Feelings of guilt and regret
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Decreased sense of self-worth
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness

There are a few signs that your teenager is self-harming, but the most common ones are:

  • Withdrawing from friends, family, or activities.
  • Sudden changes in eating habits.
  • Extreme weight loss or gain.
  • Suicidal thoughts or acts.
  • Unexplained scars, cuts, scratches, bruises, or scabs, especially on the wrists, arms, thighs, or torso.
  • Behaving impulsively and erratically.
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness.
  • Often seeking privacy.
  • Unexplained blood stains on bedding, clothing, or towels.
  • Keeping sharp objects in their possession, like razors, safety pins, nails, scissors, knives, needles, or pieces of glass.

Pressures That Teenage Boys Face

Often teenagers turn to self-harm to relieve the pressures they feel from the circumstances of everyday life. Some of the typical pressures include:

#1. Chasing Popularity: Many teenagers feel the pressure to fit in with their peers. Instead of chasing popularity, we suggest teens pursue hobbies or passions where they can meet like-minded peers.

#2. Family Dynamics: Teens in families that lack trust, compassion, guidance, and communication skills often deal with feelings of anxiety, ostracization, and negligence. It sets them up for emotional distress when interacting with their parents or other family members. We recommend families take some steps to improve lines of communication, like family therapy.

#3. Anxiety and Stress: Teenagers face a lot of pressure and stress trying to find their place in the world. It can lead to self-harm to cope with these feelings. Instead, we suggest teaching teen boys healthy coping skills for dealing with stress and pursuing goals.

#4. Dissatisfied With Their Body Image: Many teenagers view photos of the “ideal body” through social media, magazines, and tv. This can lead to self-harm practices like poor nutrition or overexercising to build their self-worth and control their bodies.

#5. Educational Achievements: When teenage boys experience the pressure of pursuing academic achievement, they often struggle with feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness. Some schools provide students with counseling, peer-to-peer support systems, and educational programs to alleviate stress.

#6. Playing on a Sports Team: Teenage boys experience pressure to play sports and win. If they fail to win or make it on the team, it can cause them to feel self-conscious or inferior. They may push their bodies beyond the breaking point as punishment for not meeting specific benchmarks. We suggest teaching teens that the value of sports extends beyond winning. Instead, they can learn to value sports for its comradeship and opportunities for growth.

#7. Internet: They can find websites, forums, and social media groups that support and glamorize self-harm. These sources provide information on the different methods of self-harm and hiding it. Overconsumption of digital media takes teens away from healthier activities and coping mechanisms. Thus, we recommend that teens unplug and reduce digital media activity.

Treating Self-Harm

You can use a few methods to help your teenager stop self-harm. Some of these methods include:

  • Talking and listening to them about their pain and anxiety.
  • Giving them access to safe and healthy activities can reduce the pain and anxiety they may experience.
  • A good therapist can help your teen identify the reasons behind their self-harm and provide resources to help them cope.
  • Consider proper medication like antidepressants from a medical professional.
  • Having a support network that will listen and help them.
  • As a parent, learn the ins and outs of self-harm. Then, you can better serve your child through the healing process.
  • A support group of peers can provide your teen with a space where you can talk about their feelings, ask for advice, and find others who have experienced the same thing.

There are many things you can do to help your teenager stop self-harm. If your teenager is harming themselves, there are effective treatments and therapies that will help them work through their pain. At Clearfork Academy, we offer various services that help teens and young adults overcome addiction, self-harm, and other mental health-related issues. Our program functions to provide lasting change for those affected by these problems. Our qualified clinicians provide expert-driven counseling, medication management, adventure therapy, individualized treatment plans, medical detoxes, and relapse prevention strategies. With us, your child will have the right access to care and establish who they are and their place in this world. Our goal is to instill hope and motivation for teens to become their best selves. If your teen is currently struggling to manage their mental health needs, get help today. To learn more about our comprehensive treatment program, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling (888) 966-8604.

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Why Is Clearfork Academy a Good Choice for My Adolescent?

Why is Clearfork Academy a good choice for my adolescent?

At Clearfork Academy, we provide a comprehensive treatment to help teens with SUD recover and start living a healthy, sober life. Our treatment concentrates on the individualized needs and concerns of teenagers. We understand SUD often goes in hand with trauma or mental health issues.

Let us help you help your son gain a new purpose for living that goes beyond the pain of SUD and toward a fulfilling life.

Searching for the Best Rehabilitation Center

When it comes to finding a good drug rehab for your teen, there are a few things you should keep in mind. You will want to seek treatment that includes:

  • Licensed and certified facilities
  • Special services or programming such as 12-step programs, cognitive behavioral therapy, or adventure therapy
  • Qualified and experienced staff that can treat teens
  • Therapy that incorporates the family members into the treatment plan

The Core Values Behind Clearfork Academy

At Clearfork Academy,  we view addiction as a treatable condition, not a moral failing. As such, Austin Davis LPC-S, the facility’s founder, spent 15 years fine-tuning and practicing the program’s philosophy and methodology before opening Clearfork Academy. Today, we offer an innovative treatment plan that restores teenagers’ well-being from the grapples of SUD and the pain of trauma. Your teen has 24/7 access to our medical detox program, residential treatment program, and intensive outpatient care.

Clearfork Academy employs narrative therapy to help teens discover the “real” story hidden inside themselves to achieve their goals. Instead of allowing past trauma or pain to hinder recovery, we use the family systems perspective to help teens face the trauma and reframe their narrative as a victorious one. Drawing power from their “inner survivor,” teens leave here empowered with the leadership skills to take charge of their God-given life.

How It Works

Our clinicians identify and target the symptoms of SUD and mental health issues. Effectively, we employ the sequential scope of our interconnected treatment to permeate the deeply-rooted problems in each teen. For example, each week, we present a Clearfork core value to help teens take action in their recovery. As an acronym, our seven core values stand for “hustle&fun”:

  1. Honor
  2. Unity
  3. Sacrifice
  4. Transparency
  5. Legacy
  6. Excellence
  7. Fun

Ultimately, Clearfork’s core values uphold and unify: “honoring God, self, and one’s neighbor.”

Our Partnership With the University of Texas Charter School

At Clearfork Academy, our treatment emphasizes cultivating a safe, structured setting for teens. For this reason, we partnered with the University of Texas Charter School to provide our students with the best possible education. The innovative partnership provides our participants with access to a world-class education that prepares them for college and career success.

In addition, our parents find our on-campus classes with state-accredited curricula impressive. As part of the University of Texas Charter School satellite campus, our teachers meet the individual needs of their children while also providing support services such as homework assistance, tutoring, and educational resources on campus.

Benefits of Our Partnership With the University of Texas Charter School

Your child will benefit significantly from our academic classes. Expect to find the following:

  • Increased academic achievement. We prepare students thoroughly with no educational compromises when they graduate from our program.
  • Reduced probability of drug abuse or addiction. A structured, academic environment allows our students to overcome dependency and addiction healthily and with compassion. Plus, teens learn to deal with the stresses of academics without turning to drug use but instead to our support team.
  • More time to focus on personal development. Our students have the opportunity to focus on their personal and academic growth while in treatment. They can discover and develop their academic skills with teachers and staff who care. They can also develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which will serve them in society and work life.
  • Reduced stress. Our program provides an environment that is both supportive and challenging for teenagers.
  • Maintain their good standing. Our classes help students maintain their course load and grades.

An Assortment of Therapeutic Models

We provide various therapeutic models to meet the individualized needs of each teen. Our therapies include:

Our Picturesque Campus: A Viable Opportunity for Adventure Therapy

Residing on 80 acres in North Fort Worth, our campus overlooks Eagle Mountain Lake. Our picturesque grounds host deers, wild turkeys, and the occasional bald eagle. Privy to the beauty and power of nature, adventure therapy shines here. As teens detox from drugs and alcohol, they learn new things about themselves and the world. Additionally, teens find solace and opportunities for growth by participating in our fitness obstacle course, which includes:

  • Volleyball court
  • Basketball court
  • Garden
  • Ropes course (all elements)

 A well-structured therapeutic program serves as an excellent option for treatment from a SUD. A structured, therapeutic environment will help your child address their addictions and mental health issues, including trauma. We highly recommend long-term treatment plans that identify the root cause of teens’ substance use and mental health issues. At Clearfork Academy, we promote the rehabilitation, development, and enhancement of an individual’s physical, social, and psychological well-being by applying unifying core values and therapeutic activities. Our safe and supportive treatment setting provides guidance and care as your child recovers their narrative and vitality for living. We offer unique programs that will match your needs and provide support through every step of the process. Our admissions staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you find the right treatment plan for your child. To learn more about our programs and their related resources, contact us today by calling (888) 966-8604.

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A Guide for Parents: How to Better Support Your Sober Teen

A Guide For Parents: How to Better Support Your Sober Teen

Supporting a teen in recovery is an exciting time. While this is a moment to celebrate progress, the work doesn’t stop after inpatient or outpatient treatment. As a parent, knowing how to support your child’s sober lifestyle after treatment will prepare them for long-term sobriety. 

Here are six tips to help you offer support for your child’s sobriety after intensive treatment

#1. Be a Good Support System 

Treatment centers and programs offer a constant professional support system for your child. However, when it’s time for your teen to come back home, you will become the ultimate and constant support system that they will need to lean on. Aftercare is always an option, but you are their caregiver and will be with them for the majority of their day. 

One of the most important aspects of teen addiction recovery is family involvement. It is not an easy task, but it is necessary to make sure your teen stays on the right track. Being a good support system means providing them with emotional, mental, and physical support. Validating their emotions, being a listening ear, and offering a shoulder to lean all contribute to helping prevent relapse

#2. Keep Communication Open 

Poor communication could be one of the most damaging aspects of your parent-child relationship. Poor communication habits may involve constant lying, arguing, manipulation, or avoiding communication altogether. It is vital to develop strong communication skills through individual and family therapy. Knowing how to respectfully and truthfully talk to one another will be key to working towards long-term sobriety. 

While respecting boundaries and allowing your child the space to be themselves, walking on eggshells or keeping secrets should no longer be allowed. Creating a new relationship where your child feels safe enough to tell you when they slip up or express their emotions will be essential to developing good communication in the future.

#3. Don’t Bring Up the Past

Everyone makes mistakes. You can’t change the past, and you can’t predict the future. You must focus on the present moment and understand who you and your child are now that you are both on the journey to recovery. Constantly reminding your child of their past actions can be hurtful to their recovery. 

Addiction is a complex and damaging disease that is extremely hard for a parent to watch their children battle. The healing process won’t be overnight and won’t happen in front of everyone. Allow your child room to grow into someone new and accept them for who they become. 

#4. Rebuild the Relationship

In order to rebuild a relationship after addiction, you both should acknowledge that you are not the same person as before. Spend time with your child and get to know them better and who they are becoming after treatment. Show them that you care and are willing to do your part in making amends. Forgiveness and full trust will take time, and building a new relationship won’t happen overnight. An effort is necessary from both ends for a new connection to develop.

#5. Educate Yourself on Addiction

The saying “addiction is a disease” is real. It means there is much to study about addiction to understand it. Addiction is not limited to alcohol or hard drugs. Identify what kind of addiction your teen has and start doing your research. Learn the causes and risk factors along with symptoms and how they change the brain. 

Understanding the complexities of addiction and what it encompasses will help you understand what they are going through and give you insight on how to help. It can also bring a sense of compassion when you understand that it is the addiction and drugs causing your child’s behavior and not who they are. 

#6. Keep Them Accountable

Codependent relationships are very common for people with addiction. In the past, it may have been hard to stand your ground against your child who was battling addiction. Now that they have entered sobriety, accountability will be crucial to staying successful and becoming independent. Your teen should incorporate goals in their treatment plan. Help them stick to the goals they set, and hold them accountable when they don’t follow through. 

The road to long-term sobriety is not a straight path, so know that there will be slip-ups and a few bumps in the road. Offer them grace and compassion but still remind them what they are striving to accomplish. Try to help them stay as consistent as possible with their goals and any treatment they have left. 

Whether your teen is just starting to use drugs or whether they are under the weight of addiction, it is never too late or too soon to reach out for help. Clearfork Academy is committed to helping our patients grow and recover from their addiction and restore their relationships with their families. Addiction recovery is not a task any parent should have to do alone. We offer programs that give both you and your child the tools you need to continue living a sober lifestyle after intensive treatment. Substance use disorders can also perpetuate underlying mental health conditions such as depression, PTSD, or anxiety. At Clearfork, we aim to get to the root of their addiction, which is why we also work to treat any underlying co-occurring mental health disorder. If your teen is in need of addiction or mental health treatment, get help today. To learn more, call Clearfork Academy at (888) 966-8604

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Common Mood Disorders in Teens: Signs and Treatment

Common Mood Disorders in Teens: Signs and Treatment

The teen years entail some of the most mood-related changes a person will experience in life. Whether through the blossoming of hormones, navigating new worlds and people, or childhood trauma, the mood is an ever-changing phenomenon for teens. 

Some young people may experience extreme fluctuations in their mood, which can raise a flag that professional help is needed. Mood disorders can happen at any age yet are challenging to diagnose in teens. 

What causes mood disorders in teens?

Mood disorders are a form of mental health illness that clinicians use to describe depression and bipolar disorder. Mood disorders affect a person’s emotional state, where they can experience extremes in moods such as happiness, sadness, or both. There is no known specific cause of what leads to having a mood disorder; instead, professionals believe that it is a combination of factors. Risk factors include:

  • Brain structure and chemical imbalances 
  • Family history
  • Trauma, major life changes, or stressors
  • Physical illness or use of medications
  • Developmental, learning, or conduct disorders

Types of Mood disorders

Although mood disorders describe a range of illnesses between bipolar disorder and depression, they all have their unique features. 

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression or unipolar depression, is characterized by persistent sadness. It is not related to the occasional low mood or depression that most people may experience in their life. Major depression severely disrupts a person’s daily functioning, such as lack of hygiene, sleep patterns, neglecting responsibilities, and loss of pleasure in activities. 

Bipolar Disorder 

Formerly known as manic-depression, bipolar disorder consists of extreme mood swings between episodes of mania/hypomania and depression. To receive a diagnosis for bipolar disorder, the person must show symptoms that meet the criteria for mania or depression. 

There are different forms of bipolar disorder: Type I, Type II, cyclothymia, rapid-cycling, and unspecified. Some people with bipolar disorder experience mixed episodes, characterized by experiencing both manic and depressive symptoms. 

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder, or dysthymia, is a form of mild to moderate depression that is long-term. It involves experiencing a low or dark mood for most of the day, and for teens, these symptoms must occur for two years or more. Symptoms of dysthymia are similar to depression but are experienced at a less intense level.  

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a serious condition that affects young girls and women of child-bearing age in the weeks before their period. People with PMDD experience a spike in hormones before their period starts which their body becomes extra sensitive to and goes away when it starts. Symptoms include depressed or low moods, crying spells, mood swings, irritability or anger, and other physical symptoms such as cramps and body aches. 

Symptoms of Mood Disorders

Anyone of any race, gender, or age can develop and find a diagnosis for a mood disorder. However, symptoms in children don’t always look the same as adults – which can make finding a diagnosis in adolescents trickier. Symptoms include: 

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Low-self esteem
  • Suicidal thoughts or ideations
  • Loss of interest in daily activities 
  • Anhedonia or the loss of pleasure
  • Self-harm
  • Sleep difficulties such as insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Attention or concentration difficulties
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Physical complaints or pain
  • Sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Outbursts or hostility 

Diagnosis and Treatment for Teens

Proper diagnosis and treatment for a mood disorder require a professional assessment from your child’s pediatrician or a pediatric mental health physician. Their doctor may first try to rule out physiological causes such as thyroid problems or vitamin deficiencies that may cause symptoms. 

Diagnosis for mental health disorders requires a comprehensive exam conducted by a psychiatrist. Your child’s pediatrician will ask your teen a long series of questions that examine their mood, behavior, and other possible indications of symptoms. 

Treatment for teens will look specific to their individual needs and their age. The best option for receiving the right care is talking to their pediatric physician and developing a treatment plan. Some teens may need medications such as mood stabilizers or antidepressants to help balance brain chemicals. 

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is one of the most used forms of treatment as it has proven effective for most mental health disorders. For teen treatment, family involvement through family therapy is important because that is one of the major relationships in a teen’s life. During therapy, you and your family will work on ways to best support your child and help heal any wounds or trauma that may be causing behaviors.

Clearfork Academy provides safe and supportive treatment programs for teen boys with addiction and mental health problems. Often, substance use disorders share a connection with other mental health disorders that need addressing in order to recover fully. We offer the opportunity for your teen to take the first step towards sobriety through our medical detox program. We also guide them through different forms of therapy. Family involvement is essential to teen recovery and we incorporate family therapy in our teen’s treatment when desired. For both addiction and mental disorders, time is a crucial component for reaching a better quality of life. Symptoms can worsen over time and can potentially become treatment-resistant. Don’t wait until it is too late to help you or your teen get the needed and necessary help. Call Clearfork Academy at (888) 966-8604 today to get started on the steps towards living a healthy and sober lifestyle. 

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How Can You Manage Your Panic Attacks?

How Can You Manage Your Panic Attacks?

Panic Attacks are an authentic experience that can cause significant harm to a teen’s mental and physical health. Teens experience panic attacks for various reasons: overwhelming fear or worry, stress from school or social activities, and a lack of understanding and support from family or friends. 

Signs of a Panic Attack in Teens

Feelings of anxiety or stress often precede panic attacks and generate adrenaline. They can last anywhere from seconds to minutes. Many find panic attacks intense and disabling. Thoughts or situations that cause fear or anxiety trigger these panic attacks. Yet, they can also occur during everyday activities like taking a walk or going for a run.

Here are some signs of a panic attack:  

  • Heart palpitations, chest pain, or tightness
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • An intense feeling of fear, helplessness,  or devastation anxiety
  • Sweating or tears (or even sweat)
  • Body shakes or tremors
  • Adrenaline or intense emotions rush through the body

Causes of Anxiety or Panic Attacks in Teens

A blend of environmental, psychological, and social factors can cause panic attacks. Some possible causes of panic attacks in teens include: 

  • Feeling overstimulated or stressed because of family problems
  • Using drugs and alcohol
  • Behavioral or mental health issues like eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa or Bipolar Disorder
  • Experiencing fear or PTSD after a traumatic experience
  • Fear of abandonment or social rejection leads to loneliness or isolation
  • Pressure from your parents or other authority figures
  • Changes in routine or environment disrupt the person’s equilibrium 
  • Stress from school or family responsibilities
  • Social media exposure such as online bullying may trigger a panic attack
  • Different experiences can cause intense emotions like worry, guilt, and sadness
  • Going through a tough patch at school or work

Tips and Tricks to Help Your Child During an Anxiety or Panic Attack

First and foremost, it is essential to have a plan for dealing with an emergency. Ensure the plan outlines what acts your child can take during a panic attack, such as going to a nearby safe place, getting help from a friend or family member, and calling for help. 

During panic attacks, a parent can also: 

  • Keep them calm. Use calming techniques, like counting to 10, soothing music, deep breathing exercises, or soothing touches or embraces. 
  • Seek professional medical attention. If the attack is severe, do not hesitate to contact medical services.  
  • Draw them to a calming environment. If possible, direct the child to a calming environment, like a comforting room or nature. 
  • Help them focus. Bring awareness to the present moment. Comfort your child with soothing and supportive words. Let them know that you are here for them.
  • Avoid making things worse. When your child is in an anxious or panicked state, it’s important not to make things worse. Instead, relax and calmly guide them through the panic. 

Build Your Teen’s Resilience and Self-Confidence to Prevent Panic Attacks

We recommend helping your child restore their resilience and self-confidence. Such an approach will help them manage their anxiety long-term. Additionally, it allows them to feel comfortable in their skin and grounded in their lives. It also gives them the tools needed for the challenges of life. 

#1. Find a hobby or passion. Talk to your child about their worries and educate them on the best activities to deal with anxiety or stress. 

#2. Show the value of helping others. Helping others will allow your teen to use their talents or skills to benefit others. It will build your child’s confidence in themselves and their skills.  

#3. Be aware of the expectations you set for your child. Everyone, including children, makes mistakes. Teens are trying to determine their identity, aspirations, and core network. Hence, many find this period stressful, especially if their parents hold the bar so high for them. Instead, focus on helping them take a step back to reassess for proper, steady growth. It’s essential to be aware of your expectations of your teen and how you’re going to help them cope.

#4. Practice relaxation techniques with your child. Suggest to them to focus on positive and helpful things in their lives. It can help take the edge off of their anxiety. Some great relaxation techniques include deep stretching, exercise, deep breathing, meditation, and reciting positive affirmations.

#5. Highlight your teen’s strengths instead of their weaknesses. It’s easy to focus on the negative, but what if we focus on the positives? Consider discussing your child’s strengths with them. Discuss the qualities that make them friendly, caring, intelligent, athletic, or even creative. This will help your child feel more in control and give them a sense of self-efficacy. It will also help them relax and de-stress.

One of the best ways to deal with stress and anxiety is to practice relaxation techniques with your child. When people can relax, they will find it easier to manage their stress. You can help your teen do this by using different relaxation techniques, building their resilience, and restoring their self-esteem. Some relaxation techniques include deep breathing, counting to 10, or focusing on positive thoughts. Furthermore, to develop your teen’s self-esteem, focus on consistent positive reinforcement by providing growth opportunities and sharing your own experiences with them. To build their resilience, focus on teaching moments or seek professional assistance. At Clearfork, we help teens suffering from SUD and mental health issues like anxiety. If your child is currently in need of professional support, we can help you today. Our admissions staff can provide more information about our treatment programs. To find out more, contact Clearfork Academy by calling (888) 966-8604.
 

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Bipolar Disorder in Teens: Why Is It Hard to Diagnose Adolescents?

Bipolar Disorder in Teens: Why Is It Hard to Diagnosis in Adolescents?

Although bipolar disorder is often diagnosed in early adulthood, symptoms typically manifest in adolescence and teenage years. Despite the presence of symptoms, many challenges come with assessing whether or not a child has bipolar disorder

Getting a diagnosis sooner rather than later is crucial in treating bipolar disorder. If you suspect your child may be showing symptoms of bipolar disorder, it’s time to reach out to their pediatric healthcare provider. 

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes someone to experience a shift in mood and behaviors. In The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), bipolar disorder is classified as a mood disorder

Children and teens experience natural changes in mood and behaviors, but bipolar disorder is not like the normal ups and downs that children go through. Mania, depressive, and mixed episodes have their own set of symptoms that require a diagnosis. 

Bipolar Type I

Bipolar I is characterized by manic and depressive episodes. A person with this diagnosis must have at least one manic episode in their life. When left untreated, manic symptoms can last for a few weeks to a few months. People with Bipolar I disorder typically cycle through manic and depressive episodes and can have long breaks where they are symptom-free. 

A few percentages of people with Bipolar I experience rapid-cycling, which means they can experience periods of mania or depression four or more times a year. 

Bipolar Type II

Bipolar II is characterized by hypomanic and depressive episodes. Hypomanic episodes are not as intense as full-blown manic episodes. People with Bipolar II typically have more episodes of depression than hypomania. 

Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is diagnosed when a patient has some symptoms of bipolar disorder but doesn’t meet the full diagnosis. A psychiatrist may use this diagnosis when a patient’s symptoms resemble bipolar disorder but may fall short of meeting the DSM-5 criteria. It is often diagnosed when a patient has a mood dysfunction, primarily with depression and short episodes of hypomania. 

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in Teens

Mood episodes in bipolar disorder are not as simple as going through cycles of being “happy” or “sad.” These episodes include criteria that acknowledge changes in sleep patterns, behaviors, mood, and energy levels. A person with bipolar disorder must show symptoms of mania, hypomania, depression, or mixed episodes. 

Symptoms of a depressive episode:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, despair, guilt
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Loss of interest in activities that once were preferred 
  • Hypersomnia or sleep difficulties
  • Aggression, hostility, or irritability 
  • Suicidal ideations or thoughts 
  • Problems with attention or decision making

Symptoms of a manic episode:

  • Intense happiness 
  • Fast speech with unclear topics 
  • Insomnia or sleep difficulties
  • Hypersexuality
  • Easily distracted or attention difficulties
  • Sense of euphoria or grandiose
  • Symptoms last for one week or more

Symptoms of Hypomania 

Symptoms of hypomania are the same as mania, just less intense, and must occur for at least four consecutive days.

Mixed Episodes

During mixed episodes, symptoms of mania and depression co-occur. One mood state typically predominates, and the symptoms will be contradictory. Many people who experience mixed episodes describe it as more uncomfortable than experiencing manic or depressive episodes separately. Sometimes people with mixed episodes have higher psychosis symptoms.

Bipolar Disorder in Adolescents and Teens

Spotting signs of bipolar disorder can be tricky because it can look like so many other disorders. Other disorders common in teens, such as anxiety disorders, oppositional defiant disorder, depression, and ADHD, all have symptoms that look like bipolar disorder. Specific medications such as stimulants for ADHD can trigger mania in adolescents and teens with bipolar disorder

This disorder manifests during the teen and early adult years but can also begin during the younger years of childhood. Natural fluctuations in moods also occur during hormonal changes and can be a part of childhood behavior. Adolescents and teens who have bipolar might have more intense mood changes than adults. 

How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed? 

For diagnosis, your teen must experience manic or hypomanic and depressive symptoms, whereas some individuals with this disorder can experience mixed episodes. The healthcare provider will begin to ask an extensive series of questions that pertain to your teen’s mood, behaviors, sleeping patterns, and energy levels. Discussing family history is important because bipolar disorder can be hereditary. 

Going to a healthcare provider specializing in treating and diagnosing adolescents and teens is important for a proper diagnosis. Treatment for bipolar disorder typically involves medications such as antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, along with counseling or psychotherapy. 

Getting the right treatment for your teen with bipolar disorder will improve their overall health and quality of life. Failing to get proper treatment in time can worsen symptoms and a diminished quality of life. Clearfork Academy is an addiction recovery center specializing in treating teens with substance use and co-occurring disorders. Substance use disorder rarely occurs on its own, while bipolar disorder is one of the most common co-occurring disorders with SUD. Our treatment center focuses on guiding your child to a sober lifestyle through proper treatment programs and addressing the root cause of their drug use. If you believe your teen may be using substances to cope with symptoms of bipolar or other mental disorders, we offer treatment options that help you and your teen sustain a stable lifestyle. To learn more about our diagnosis and treatment programs, reach out to us at Clearfork Academy today and call (866) 650-5212

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How to Maintain a Relationship While in Recovery?

How to Maintain a Relationship While in Recovery?

Recovery is about creating a new life for yourself. It’s important to know that everyone’s journey of recovery is different. Such a path can impact a teen’s means to maintain relationships. For this reason, we recommend keeping relationships with people who support recovery. However, many teens may find it hard to find friends who understand or want to understand their recovery journey. Fortunately, there are steps that teens can take to ensure they find uplifting relationships and maintain those relationships.

Repairing  Relationships in Recovery

Healthy relationships are vital to a teen’s well-being and success. Similar to treatment, post-treatment care calls for prioritization. We recommend that teens develop and maintain a strong network of people who care and support their recovery. Failure to do so risks teens feeling isolated and alone, and these emotions could leave them vulnerable to relapse.

Addiction often causes severe damage to relationships with family and friends. There are ways to restore these relationships. To restore the relationships with your family or friends, consider these suggestions:

  • Make Time for Them: Spend quality time with your family or friends. It can be difficult when you have so much homework, but spending time with them can help your recovery. Engage in activities that you both find enjoyable, like going on a hike, cooking, or playing a game. Doing so will create positive memories.
  • Be Open About Your Struggles: Don’t hide what you are going through from your family members because they want to help and support you through this challenging journey. Maintaining an open line of communication allows them to avoid insensitive, detrimental comments or actions to your recovery.

Patience Is a Virtue

Sometimes, recovery can be difficult when friends and family don’t understand the realities of living with a SUD. People don’t know what to say or react when their loved one is managing addiction or mental health disorders. They may hold certain reservations due to the stigma around addiction and mental health issues. They may ask questions to help them understand what you are experiencing.

Listen and encourage them to do some research on their own. Don’t hesitate to provide a list of resourceful books or websites that help you understand SUD and mental illnesses. Try to mind that they might need time to process this information and adjust their perspective on substance use and mental health disorders.

Respond and Reciprocate

Respond positively to people who reach out to you during their times of difficulty. We must take care of ourselves and others in our lives. We should be there for each other and show compassion, even if we don’t always understand what someone needs at a particular time or how best to do so. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or colleague reaching out for support, the best thing that anyone can do is be there for them and offer help where possible.

Sobriety provides us with the gift to show up for others in need.

Be Aware of the Warning Signs

Some relationships and friendships are harmful to recovery. If you notice red flags such as increased jealousy, possessiveness, or unwillingness to share time, this indicates that this might not be a healthy relationship. They may also change their personality to be friendly only when they need something from you; this is a sign that they are trying to take advantage of you. These behaviors can be challenging to detect. Therefore, your friends and family must support you.

Surround Yourself With Healthy People

Before maintaining a relationship, you need to restore healthy, worthwhile relationships. Communities are full of support groups for teenagers who struggle with SUD. Look to your local recovery groups or online recovery groups for teens. These groups offer a safe place for teens to discuss problems in their lives without judgment or stigma. Often, these people will understand your struggles and triumphs since they are on the same journey. Moreso, engage in activities centered around recovery like volunteering, working at a program for teens in recovery, or participating in activities or events popular among teens recovering from SUD.

Take a break from social media for a few weeks and get back into being active in the real world. It will give you more opportunities to meet people and build relationships with people who choose sobriety. Furthermore, find someone with something in common with you besides substance use. Whether you are an artist, athlete, musician, or hobbyist, there are people that you can connect and build relationships with. You can look to your community for opportunities to participate in activities and meet other people.

Substance use and mental health disorders are difficult to manage alone. Developing healthy relationships are essential for recovery, and strong relationships will support your teen during the challenging times in recovery. At Clearfork Academy, we provide a safe and comfortable environment for your teen to develop the skills to cultivate healthy relationships. Our programs offer individual, peer, and family support groups to ensure your teen has the opportunity to develop strong relationships and understand that they are never alone in their journey of recovery. While we specialize in providing evidence-based therapies for teens addicted to drugs or alcohol, we provide various holistic therapies to help teens develop life skills necessary for sustaining recovery. If your child struggles to maintain healthy relationships and manage their recovery, then the time to reach out for help is now. To find out more about our treatment programs, call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604.

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Tips for Supporting a Friend With a Mental Illness

Tips for Supporting a Friend with a Mental Illness

The adolescent and teenage years are often the most vulnerable time for mental illnesses to develop. However, teens tend to feel more comfortable turning to their friends for help with their mental illness rather than talking with their parents or professionals.

If you and your friends look to each other for help, it is important to know how to support one another when it comes to mental health.

Understanding Mental Illness

It is not always obvious when someone is dealing with a mental illness. Mental illnesses are often referred to as “invisible illnesses” because a person’s symptoms are not always visible to those around them. While some people are comfortable with sharing their diagnoses, others feel uncomfortable.

While it can be frustrating to feel like your friend is withholding information from you, don’t take it personally if your friend does not open up to you right away. It is important to remember that not everyone has the same experience with mental illnesses.

What Can You Do to Support a Friend With a Mental Illness?

Friends are essential in your developmental process because they lend a sense of connection and add to your self-worth. As a teen, you may find that you and your friends turn to each other for help more than you turn to your parents. Therefore, learning about disorders and how they affect individuals provides the best opportunity to support them. Here are six tips to support your friends when they come to you for help:

  1. Listen to Them: People with a mental illness often feel like others don’t listen to their experiences and what they are going through. If your friends feel comfortable talking to you about their disorder, be respectful and listen without judgment. You don’t have to wholly understand their experience or know all of the answers to their questions. Sometimes, they are not looking for an answer. Sometimes showing them that you are willing to offer a listening ear can help them feel more comfortable with expressing how they feel.
  2. Learn the Warning Signs: Getting help as early as possible is important when treating a mental illness. Learning to spot the warning signs of mental illnesses can help your friend find proper treatment. Spotting the warning signs requires learning about specific disorders and the symptoms that encompass them. If you notice your friend behaving in unusual ways to how they usually carry themselves, this is also a clear indication that they might need help.
  3. Respect Their Boundaries: Allow your friends to share as much or as little as they would like about how they feel. Don’t push them to tell you more than what they feel comfortable with; doing so might cause them to pull away from you. They may have specific boundaries to help them deal with their symptoms and how they talk about them. They may also want to avoid specific topics that are too triggering for them, and you must respect this, too. It is important to talk with your friends about boundaries and remember to uphold these boundaries.
  4. Don’t Always Bring Up Their Illness: Some mental illnesses require constant attention including, medication, being aware of moods, dietary changes, and navigating life with coping mechanisms that keep their symptoms at ease. However, your friend is not their illness, and their mental illness does not need to be the topic of every discussion. Sometimes spending time with the people they love offers a break from having to acknowledge their illness. You don’t have to mention or discuss their illness every time you hang out with or talk to them.
  5. Don’t Tell Your Friend How They Should Feel: Each individual’s experience with a mental illness is their own experience. Even if you know a lot about other illnesses, it is important to remember that you are not a medical or mental health expert, so understand that there are many things you don’t know about their illness. Avoid acting like a therapist or a psychiatrist when addressing your friend’s feelings. When they share their feelings with you, it is important to remain a friend and listen.
  6. Keep Your Questions Open Ended: Asking open-ended questions allows your friend the chance to share what they would like. Instead of saying to them, “You seem sad or lethargic today,” you can ask, “How are you feeling today?” Asking how they feel rather than how you think they feel allows them to share what they would like and not feel pushed to answer something outside their comfort zone.

It can be scary watching your friends manage their mental illnesses, especially during the adolescent stage. Clearfork Academy specializes in teen addiction and mental health treatment and offers specialized programs that help teens manage mental illnesses and substance use disorders. In addition to our clinical approaches, we also utilize holistic approaches such as art and adventure therapy. If your child is currently experiencing a substance use disorder that is interfering with their mental health, we will safely guide them through the detox and withdrawal phase of treatment. From there, we will get to the root of their substance use and identify any underlying conditions such as mental illnesses that may be influencing their substance use. Our goal is to help your teen reach sobriety and maintain long-term sobriety by teaching them healthy coping strategies and life skills. If your teen needs treatment, don’t wait. Call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604

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Sober & Single: How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Recovery?

Sober & Single: How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Recovery?

Valentine’s day is a special day to celebrate love and relationships. For some people in recovery, romantic relationships could be detrimental to the recovery process. This tip sheet offers some great ideas to help you plan a happy and healthy Valentine’s day celebration.

Factors to Remember When Planning Your Valentine’s Day

Our guide aims to help your planning process. We serve you some fun and budget-friendly ideas to make Valentine’s Day special. As you review our list, remember to consider if and how you can apply these ideas because the success of your Valentine’s Day could depend on the following:

  • Parental permission
  • Your Budget
  • Transportation needs and resources
  • Curfew times
  • Adult supervision requirements
  • Your interest and other participant’s interests

Using Your Creativity to Express Love

Often, the simple and thoughtful things bring our loved ones joy. To help, consider what makes the person in your life unique, rather than focusing on material things like gifts or expensive dinners. Instead of buying a generic gift, you create your own, like a beautiful card made from construction paper, glue, and scissors. You may consider writing a special poem or song for your loved one that expresses your gratitude for their support of your recovery.

Take Care of Yourself

We recommend not limiting this day to just your loved ones. Take time to give yourself love, too. Loving yourself can help your confidence in relationships. It helps to feel good about the person you are. Essentially, show appreciation for what you have and how far you have come in recovery. Take care of yourself by:

  • Waking up early and practicing positive affirmations
  • Arranging a “date” with yourself. Watch your favorite movie, go out with your favorite friends, visit a museum, play a sport, or read a good book.
  • Do something that makes you feel good about yourself, like a hike, meditation, or cooking.
  • Take time to reflect and express your concerns and happiness with journaling, therapy, or talking to a trusted loved one.

Valentine’s day calls for showing appreciation for all that you have accomplished and how much you care about the people in your life.

Valentine’s Day Date Ideas for Teenage Couples or Friend Groups

Valentine’s day is a special time when to celebrate love and romance. The holiday can be challenging to navigate as a teenager, and here are some ideas to help you find your way through this season.

  • Scavenger Hunt: Create or find a scavenger hunt that you and your partner can do together. Include unique or memorable spots relevant to your relationship, like the first place you met.
  • Romantic Stroll: Take a romantic walk around the neighborhood.
  • Be Active: Consider going on a hike, to an amusement park,  or bowling.
  • Nighttime Picnic: Consider having a picnic in your backyard.
  • Explore Your City: Take advantage of your city’s public art galleries,  museums, or parks. Art and nature often bring couples and friends closer.
  • Party: Invite your classmates and family over for a party. Just make sure there are rules in place, so everyone has sober, safe fun.
  • Baking or Cooking Get-together: Invite people over to hold a fun Valentine’s day cooking or baking session, then spend the evening enjoying the meal or treats together.

Budget-Friendly Gifts

Stores use this time of year to sell products. Yet, Valentine’s day calls for expressing love in meaningful ways, which applies to your gift-giving. You can create meaningful gifts on a budget that will please everyone. Here are some budget-friendly gifts to consider:

  • Make your own decoupage heart (or card) using your favorite pictures of loved ones.
  • Write a letter that tells your partner what makes them unique and how they make your life better. You can even make little cards with stickers that let people know how much they mean to you.
  • Have a photo session with family members. Ask everyone to dress up or wear their favorite clothes. You can use any camera, including the camera on your phone.
  • Give your significant other an edible gift. You can make a special homemade treat sweet or savory, so long as it is your partner’s favorite.
  • Get the perfect gift by taking pictures of yourself at places relevant to your relationship, like where you first met or your first date. Compile all those photos with meaningful captions into a slideshow video.
  • Buy flowers from a local shop or farmer’s market and ask them to create an arrangement with your loved one’s favorite colors. You might even include balloons and a card with the flowers.

Valentine’s Day encourages people to express themselves more openly to their family, friends, and loved ones. Teens can show how they feel about the special people in their life, regardless of whether it is a friendship or romance. It is important to put your recovery needs first when planning. If you cannot put your health first, or if Valentine’s Day is creating negative feelings, and you are considering using substances to cope, then the time to get help is now. At Clearfork Academy, we understand that while Valentine’s Day can be a day to celebrate love, it can also become a day where you feel lonely. Getting ahead and taking measures to help you manage a happy and healthy Valentine’s day is critical. Our treatment programs provide both initial and continuing care so you are never without a treatment option. To learn more about our programs, call us today at (888) 966-8604.

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Going Back to School After Addiction Treatment

Going Back to School After Addiction Treatment

Returning to school following addiction treatment can be jarring. Certainly, you are a different person than you were upon entering treatment, but your peers might not understand this, and that can be intimidating. However, with the right support in place, returning to school doesn’t have to be such a scary thought. View it as a fresh start towards achieving your goals, improving your academic performance, and the opportunity to meet new people.

Here’s what you can do to go back to school with confidence:

Address Your Fears

Addiction causes people to act and behave in ways that damage themselves and others. It could cause you to hang around the wrong people, experience traumatic situations, and it can cause you to lose focus on your academic goals. Certainly, admitting you have a substance use disorder takes courage. Doing so could make you feel like an outsider; it could also make you feel like you betrayed the peers that used substances with you.

There is no shame in admitting you are a little fearful of returning to school. Try to think about all the hard work you put into returning to everyday life. Think about how life is better now that you are sober, and think about how you are no longer the person you were when you used substances.

The beautiful part of graduating from recovery is that you have the chance to start fresh, and sometimes adjusting back to every day takes a little planning.

Have an Aftercare Plan

After your recovery program graduation, you still have options for aftercare programs to support your transition back into the real world. Aftercare provides a plan for what to do after treatment to maintain sobriety and prevent relapse. You and your therapist can work together to create an aftercare plan. The plan can include:

  • A list of people to contact that can help you after treatment, including family, friends, professionals, and peers
  • Coping strategies you can use to face cravings
  • Programs you can participate in that offer continuing care

Staying successful in school will be an important part of your aftercare plan, too. You and your therapist should incorporate into your plan resources and strategies that will help support you academically. Some of these resources and strategies might include:

  • Having a list of your school’s guidance counselors and health service providers
  • Creating a mental health team specific to your needs
  • Meeting with your therapist regularly to talk about your triggers and how to avoid them
  • Having a relapse prevention plan
  • Finding local support through community support groups or other activities

Recovery Continues After Treatment

Returning to school is just a new step in your recovery process. It may feel like you are stepping back into an environment that will lead to drug use. However, after treatment, you will look at school with a new perspective. The first step to returning could include speaking with your teachers to restore your relationship with them. Ask about what you need to do to catch up with assignments?

The lifestyle change required after treatment also includes making adjustments at school. It’s time to have those hard conversations with old friends about who you are now that you are sober. You may have to consider ending the friendship so you can focus on recovery.

Alternatively, you can form new friendships that aren’t potential triggers for relapse that support your sobriety. Finally, once you get acclimated into school and balance your new sober lifestyle, don’t be afraid to get involved in new hobbies or sports.

Create A Routine

After leaving treatment, everyday life might feel foreign to you. Creating a routine to help you get back into the swing of things can help the transition feel less overwhelming. Classes typically start around the same time every day, so go ahead and set your schedule around this. A schedule will help you plan what to do with your time before and after class. Consider the things you do in the morning that can help you start your days off on a positive note.

After school, take time to time study and practice self-care. While taking care of your responsibilities should be a priority, making sure you are nourishing your mental and physical needs, too. After you study, get into the routine of doing something nice for yourself that helps you relax, such as reading, taking a hot bath, or exercising. Remember, stress can be one of the biggest triggers for relapse, so having self-care options can help prevent that.

Returning to school can be a rewarding experience when you have the right tools to help you succeed. Before you go back, dedicate some time with your mental health professionals and treatment staff towards making an aftercare plan. Don’t be afraid to reach out and lean on the people who have supported you during your recovery. They still want to see you succeed even after completing intensive treatment. At Clearfork Academy, we recognize the importance and challenges of returning to school following recovery. Our program combines a structured therapeutic atmosphere with the academic lifestyle necessary for teen development. We also partner with the University of Texas Charter School to offer classes that allow teens who manage sobriety to maintain school work. If your child struggles to manage sobriety and academics, get help today. To learn more about our programs and how they can meet your teen’s needs, reach out to Call Clearfork Academy by calling (888) 966-8604

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How to Spot Alcohol or Drug Activity?

Mother embracing her teen daughter to comfort her

Parents play a huge role in the lives of their children. They know their kids better than anyone else and are on hand to notice when something isn’t right. That’s why every parent needs to be aware of the signs to look out for regarding alcohol or drug abuse in teens.

Here are some ways to spot alcohol or drug use to help your teen stay safe and healthy.

How to Detect Alcohol or Drug Activity

Alcohol or drug use can be challenging to detect. However, there are some tell-tale signs that your teen is struggling with substance abuse. One of the best ways to detect alcohol or drug use in teens is to look at their space, including their room and postings on social media. Their activity on social media may tell you about your teen’s problems.

Another way to detect alcohol or drug use is to monitor your teen’s behavior. If your teen has sudden mood swings, seems more withdrawn, and starts hanging out with people they don’t usually hang out with, these are all indicators that something might be wrong.

Communicate With Your Child

You and your teen need to establish an open dialogue about subjects like drugs and alcohol. Listen to your child and withhold judgment when they speak. Doing so will build trust and help your child understand that you support them.

Together, you and your child can address what is bothering them and find ways to help manage the symptoms they are experiencing. You should consider seeking professional care to provide additional methods to help your child overcome the challenges of school and life that may trigger them to use substances.

Tell-Tale Signs of Drug Use or Consumption of Alcohol

The effects of alcohol and drugs vary depending on the person and how often they use them. It’s not always easy to spot a person using these substances because some don’t show outward signs. Some of the most common symptoms include changes in behavior, appearance, and emotions. The following list highlights the tell-tale signs:

Mental Health Related Signs of Substance Use:

  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue and decreased motivation
  • Increased paranoia and hallucinations caused by high doses and intense periods of substance use
  • Have difficulty focusing on the tasks at hand
  • Exhibit antisocial behavior such as aggression or increased impulsiveness
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Suspiciousness of others, including you as a parent
  • Inability to focus or concentrate a decrease in short-term memory

Physical Signs of Substance Use:

  • Constant bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils (than usual)
  • Rubbing the nose frequently because of a continuously running or irritable nose
  • Redness of the skin around the mouth
  • A lack of coordination with movement due to impaired brain function
  • Dilated nostrils or mouth due to snorting or inhalation
  • An odor, like alcohol,  on the breath or clothes
  • Decrease in appetite with consequent weight loss over time
  • Track marks on arms or legs from intravenous drug use
  • Needles and syringes are lying around
  • Small baggies with white powder lying around their stuff
  • Withdrawal symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, agitation)
  • There are more scabs or bruises from picking at skin compulsively (common among people who abuse stimulants)

Behavioral Signs of Substance Use:

  • A sudden change in friends or hanging out with a new crowd
  • Anger issues such as rage attacks (breaking things)
  • Exhibit antisocial behavior such as aggression or increased impulsiveness
  • New or more significant secretive behavior
  • Sudden changes in grades
  • Staying out late, withdrawing from the family, or wanting to isolate
  • Problems with the law, such as frequent run-ins with police
  • Stealing objects in the house that they can sell or asking you for money
  • Vague responses when asked what’s wrong or how they feel; their answer is always “fine” or “good”
  • Lack of motivation or interest in activities once enjoyed by the individual
  • Increased absenteeism from school or extracurricular activities

If you see any of these signs in your teen, it’s essential to talk to them and get them help.

How to Help Your Teen?

Parents can help their teens recover from drugs with treatment, including counseling, drug education, medication, and family therapy. Parents can also provide support by participating in their child’s recovery process via counseling and by continuing to strengthen the lines of communication. The more resources for help you provide your child, the better chance they have at a successful recovery.

At Clearfork Academy, our treatment programs involve therapy, holistic services, education on relapse prevention, and peer support to reduce the urge for substance use.

If you find yourself questioning whether your teen is drinking or doing drugs, take action. Talk with them, educate yourself about substance use, and get them the help they need. At Clearfork Academy, we encourage and help parents lookout for any signs of alcohol or drugs. Our programs help educate parents and teens about substance use. Having an understanding of substance use will also allow parents, teens, and health professionals with diagnosis and find appropriate treatment. We provide evidence-based treatments, various therapeutic options, and holistic services that serve your teen’s recovery goals. Our goal is to help your teen overcome substance use and establish the confidence necessary to live life to its fullest potential. Stop your teen’s struggles with substance use from worsening by contacting our specialists at Clearfork Academy. Our admissions are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn more about our programs, contact us today by calling (888) 966-8604.

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The Importance of Family Involvement in Teen Addiction Treatment

The Importance of Family Involvement in Teen Addiction Treatment

Addiction is known as a family disease due to its complexity and invasiveness in a person’s life. Therefore, addiction treatment should consist of both teen and parental involvement. Having support from family during treatment can lead to long-lasting recovery.

Let’s take a closer look at the importance of family involvement in the treatment process.

Teen Addiction Treatment

Addiction and substance use is not exclusive to adults; adolescents and teens also develop substance use disorders. However, substances influence teens’ psychological and emotional development differently than adults because teens are still developing. Therefore, treatment options must be age-specific.

If your teen is not getting the care that speaks to their needs, they might not see improvement. It is crucial to seek professional help and explore the best options for the child. Some effective and age-appropriate teen addiction treatment options include:

Co-occurring Disorders

Many teens could develop co-occurring disorders that can influence or affect drug use. Mental health disorders such as depression, ADHD, OCD, and personality disorders have symptoms that can be uncomfortable for teens to manage. When a teen experiences these symptoms, they can turn to substances to cope. Treatment programs should also consider these underlying conditions and have options that address both substance abuse and co-occurring disorders.

A thorough diagnosis consisting of family health history, type of substance use, and behavioral patterns will help determine if the child has a co-occurring disorder.

The Importance of Family Involvement in Teen Recovery

Parents, or caregivers, are essential components to how a child will grow up and interact with the world. While it may be difficult to hear,  parents often play a role in developing their teen’s mental health or substance use disorder. Of course, this does not imply they are a terrible parent, that parents are the root cause of their child’s disorder. However, it explains that the environment and relationship dynamic of how teens interact with their families play a part in their behavioral development.

Becoming involved in a teen’s recovery will help parents understand that seeking treatment will be a lifestyle change for everyone involved. Therapy might change how the parent interacts with their child. For example, how they communicate and express, their emotions will improve. It will also help the parent and teen develop practices to strengthen the family support structure as they embark on their recovery journey. When a family can confront challenges together, they will prevail.

Family-Based Treatment

Family-based treatment comes in many different forms of therapies. They are typically always led by a therapist or counselor and include the child, the parent, caregiver, and other family members such as siblings. These settings provide structure for families to communicate healthily. Having a professional moderate will also help keep the conversation constructive rather than confrontational. After a few sessions, the family begins to form healthy communication skills and implement them into their everyday lives. Here are some effective family-based treatments:

  • Family Behavioral Therapy: Family Behavioral Therapy involves at least one parent and the child in their treatment program. The therapist will help identify issues within the dynamic and teach behavioral strategies to use in the home environment and other settings that are familiar to the child.
  • Brief Strategic Family Therapy: Since the family dynamic plays a role in a teen’s behavior, this therapy observes the interactions between family members. A therapist will observe the interactions between each family member and assist with changing negative behaviors.
  • Multidimensional Family Therapy: Multidimensional Family Therapy provides help for teens who are high-risk for behavioral problems such as misconduct, delinquency, and severe substance use. The goal of MDFT is to incorporate multiple facets of a teen’s life while incorporating the family. For example, it may look like having therapy sessions or treatment programs in the child’s school, community, or court system.
  • Functional Family Therapy: Functional Family Therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on helping the family identify and recognize the necessary changes during teen treatment, understand the need to commit to their role, communicate, and develop problem-solving skills.
  • Multisystemic Therapy (MST): Multisystemic Therapy is for adolescents with a severe history of substance abuse or engaging in delinquent behaviors. MST measures substance abuse through the child’s personal beliefs towards their family, friends, schools, peers, environment, and own personal beliefs. Therapy may include the family as a whole, but a therapist will also meet individually with the child and parents.

Although addiction may feel like an adult issue, substance use is common among teens. If you notice your child developing a substance addiction, don’t wait; seek help. At Clearfork Academy, we work to find appropriate treatment options that provide care for your teens’ mental health or substance use disorders. Our refined diagnosis process will also identify and diagnose co-occurring disorders. With an array of treatment options, your teen will have limitless opportunities to form strong relationships and get in touch with their inner passions. We also incorporate the family into our programs because your teen needs your support. Together, we help facilitate a healthy family dynamic that can work together to repair relationships and sustain long-term recovery. With an admissions staff available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there is never a wrong time to reach out. Start your journey today. To find out more about our programs, reach out to Clearfork Academy by calling (888) 966-8604 today. 

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What Are the Reasons Adolescents Don’t Want to Go to Addiction Treatment?

What Are The Reasons Adolescents Don’t Want To Go To Addiction Treatment ?

Adolescent Teens struggling with substance use disorders (SUD) face many obstacles that prevent them from seeking treatment. These include fear, shame, stigma, and self-perception. It is important to help teens address their fears surrounding addiction treatment and offer them resources to help them.

Treatments Available to Teens

Thankfully, teens struggling with SUD can find various treatment options. Parents can choose from three types of treatment available to teenagers and young adults including:

  1. Inpatient Treatment: Inpatient treatment is the most common treatment for teens and young adults. They may enter into rehab or a residential facility.
  2. Intensive Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient treatment varies according to the offered services’ type, intensity, and frequency. Some facilities mainly deliver their therapeutic sessions individually or in a group format. Participants in outpatient programs spend 3 hours a day at least twice a week. They may offer drug abuse prevention programming or other behavioral interventions.
  3. Partial Hospitalization: Teens with more severe substance use disorders may receive referrals to a partial hospitalization setting for day treatment. During the day, adolescents participate in treatment 4–6 hours a day, five days a week while living at home.

Reasons That Make It Difficult for Teens To Seek Treatment

Regardless of the treatment options, many teens are hesitant about seeking treatment. Some of their concerns include:

  • Embarrassment: Some adolescents may find it embarrassing to admit that they have a substance use problem. Carried away by shame, they rather hide their condition. Some teens fear how others will perceive or treat them after entering treatment. They may fear that a stigma will follow them for the rest of their life.
  • Discussing Their SUD: Teenagers have a lot going on in their lives. For some, it may seem easier to live in denial or avoid the topic as they continue to live out their routine. Others are unsure if peers will understand their predicament. We suggest parents create a safe environment for their child to share their concerns and feelings.
  • Doubt Treatment’s Effectiveness: Some teens refuse to go to rehab because they doubt treatment can make a difference. Sometimes that results from them not knowing the type of support services available. They often feel that these facilities may not fit their recovery goals or desired approach.
  • Leaving Friends or Family Behind: They want to stay with their friends and family instead of going into treatment. Essentially, they fear missing out on events regarding family or friends.
  • Commitment: Teenagers don’t know how long it will take to detox and recover. So they fear committing to the process. Regardless of the treatment program, recovery is a life-long journey.
  • School: Some teens may hold certain reservations about missing school and falling behind in their classwork. They may worry about its impact on graduating or applying to colleges.

Easing Your Teen’s Worries About Treatment

There are many ways to approach this issue with your child, including:

  • Plan: Make sure all of the teen’s primary caregivers devise a plan that all parties find suitable. A unified front will grant your more headway into the situation and assure the teen that they have a support system.
  • Review the Consequences: Discuss their well-being and recovery effects if they continue to refuse treatment. Mention how their behavior affected others and how it could affect them if they decide not to go into rehab for treatment.
  • Explain the Benefits of Treatment: Inform them of the many benefits. They will gain the ability to restore their self-esteem and relationships with loved ones. They will also develop better coping skills to deal with triggers, avoid relapses, and face life’s challenges.
  • Be a Good Listener: A teen struggling with an addiction will likely have many questions about treatment. Listen to the child and answer questions as honestly as possible without judgment.
  • Assure Them: Let them know that you’ll be there to help them throughout the process. Review how often you will visit them during their stay.
  • Help Them Express Their Emotions: To ease their worries, encourage them to share their feelings and concerns. Help them express any feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, and fear. Ask your teen questions about their experience with SUD.

How Parents Can Help

Teens may have a variety of fears and other obstacles that prevent them from getting help for their addiction, such as fear, shame, stigma, or self-perception. Parents can help ease their teens’ worries by showing compassion and understanding. Take time to hear their concerns, and listen without judgment. Explain their treatment options, the consequences of SUD, and the benefits of treatment.

Teens with a substance use disorder are often hesitant to seek treatment. What actions can you take to help them overcome these fears? At Clearfork Academy, we can ease your child’s worries and help them transition into our program. Clearfork Academy also offers comprehensive programs that include individual, group, and family therapy sessions. Our various evidence-based and holistic therapies will ensure that your teen finds the right treatment plan to fit their needs. Our treatment programs also help teens understand SUD as a disease and provide life skills that will help them prevent relapses and sustain recovery. Participants can complete their long-term treatment without compromising their educational opportunities. Ultimately, our qualified team will help ease you and your child’s reservations about treatment. If your teen is currently in need of help, don’t wait; consult a professional today. To learn more about our treatment program, reach out to Clearfork Academy and call (888) 966-8604

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5 Ways to Regain Your Parents Trust

5 Ways to Regain Your Parents Trust

The weight of addiction can cause you to break promises, neglect loved ones, and isolate yourself. A crucial element to sustaining lasting recovery requires repairing relationships damaged by active substance use.

How SUD Breaks Trust

Addiction does not only affect you; it affects your family, too. For most teens, substance use is generally not allowed by parents. Parents may create rules to prevent substances from entering the household or prevent their children from being around peers who use substances. Despite having parents who have strict rules surrounding substances, you may use substances and hide your habits from your parents. You might hide your substance use and sneak off to places where you can use substances as a way to avoid your parents finding out. Or, you might sneak substances into the house as a way of rebelling against the boundaries and rules set by your parents.

Ultimately, when you repeatedly betray the trust between you and your parents, it will take a lot of effort to restore the relationship. Here are five practices you can utilize to help you regain your parents’ trust:

1. Be Open and Communicate

Lack of communication between you and your parents is sure to deteriorate trust within the relationship. However, when you work with a therapist, you will learn to develop healthy communication skills. Once you and your parents acknowledge that you would like to repair your relationship, ask them what you can do to regain their trust? Doing this shows that you care about repairing the relationship and are willing to listen to them.

Open communication means speaking up when you feel like expectations are too much to achieve. Even after recovery, you are still learning to navigate a sober lifestyle without professional guidance. You may make mistakes, and it will also take time for you to adjust. When you feel like your parents are too demanding, voice your concerns and let them know that it might be much for you to live up to at the moment.

2. Show Through Your Actions

The saying “actions speak louder than words” is true. Certainly, you can promise not to miss curfew or pick up a bottle of alcohol again, but until you see through that promise, it is unlikely that you will have the trust of your parents. The best way to prove that you have changed and are working towards getting their trust again is through changed action.

3. Be Patient

Forming relationships takes time; therefore, it will take time to repair them. Your parents support you and should support the recovery process. You and your parents should understand that recovery is about starting over and forming new bonds. It is crucial during this process to remember that repairing relationships is part of the process and will take time. You have to be patient. Not only do you have to be patient with them, but you also have to be patient with yourself. Your parents must also be patient.

Long-term sobriety is a difficult but worthwhile process that will require you to be cautious of how you treat yourself, how you treat others and how others treat you. Patience is the crux to achieving this kind of trust in your relationship.

4. Have Accountability

Substance use can cause you to blame your actions on others instead of taking accountability for your actions. For example, you might blame your substance use on the friends you hang around with because they use it.

Taking Accountability for your actions and mistakes is a key component to showing the change in your behaviors and self-awareness. Accountability also allows you to think before your act. Taking responsibility and thinking before you act will help you look inward and better understand yourself and your situation. Over time you will develop the resilience to overcome impulses and triggers and endure challenging situations.

5. Stay Consistent

Mistakes are bound to happen in life, and they will definitely occur during the journey to recovery. You may even have a few slip-ups here and there; however, focus on staying as consistent as possible. If your parents set a curfew that you one day find you may be late for, go ahead and let them know rather than avoid not telling them. Behavior like this allows your parents to know that you still are respectful about their role. If you know that you may slip up, address these thoughts through open communication. Remember to be consistent, and you will improve your relationships.

Substance use can diminish the trust between teens and parents. With hard work and commitment, restoring trust is possible. Restoring trust between teens and their parents requires help from mental health professionals and substance counselors who specialize in treating mental health and substance use disorders. Clearfork Academy understands the importance of the parent-child relationship when it comes to recovery. We offer various group, family, and individual treatment options to help teens develop the skills necessary to restore relationships with friends, family, and themselves. We also provide a comfortable space for teens to connect with healthy activities that speak to their needs. Your teen has a bright future waiting for them, so don’t wait any longer to get help, take action today. Our staff is here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn more about our treatment options and how to get started on the recovery process call Clearfork Academy at (888) 966-8604

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What Is an Effective Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Teens?

Mental health and addiction

The number of adolescents diagnosed with mental health disorders and addiction is increasing. Dual diagnosis treatment is an effective way to help teens address mental health issues and substance use disorders (SUD). This comprehensive guide will help you learn how to identify your teen’s symptoms, what treatments are available, and effective dual diagnosis programs.

The Symptoms of Dual Diagnosis in Teens

The symptoms of dual diagnosis in teens can vary depending on the type and severity. Some common signs include:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Trouble concentrating

In addition to this list, other possible symptoms may present themselves, such as:

  • Increased drug use
  • Withdrawal from friends and family members
  • An inability to maintain healthy relationships with those around them
  • Self-harm behaviors such as cutting or scratching oneself
  • Suicide attempts or suicidal ideation
  • Your teen’s grades have been dropping off
  • Their work performance has become erratic

Common Co-Occurring Mental Disorders

The prevalence of co-occurring mental disorders and SUD among teens is becoming problematic. Over 17 percent of young people have an emotional, mental, or behavioral disorder. The most commonly diagnosed conditions are substance abuse, followed closely by anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. The risk for co-occurring mental disorders increases significantly if an individual experiences trauma or neglect during childhood. The most common co-occurring mental illness with a SUD are:

  • Bipolar Disorder: One of the most common mental disorders among adolescents is bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder causes emotional highs and lows. Some may experience symptoms related to mania or hypomania, including increased energy levels.
  • Depressive Disorders: Young people with depressive disorders may experience hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, and guilt. These feelings may lead to an obsession with self-harm. Depression makes it difficult for individuals to function.
  • Anxiety Disorders: This condition is the most common mental disorder in children and adolescents. Symptoms of anxiety disorders can include panic attacks, fear of social rejection, and chronic worrying. Anxiety disorders commonly co-occur with other mental health issues like depression, substance use disorder, or eating disorders.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):  OCD can cause teens to spend hours on activities that will bring them relief from their symptoms. However, it’s not as common as other anxiety disorders.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD develops after a person experiences a traumatic event, such as abuse, neglect, or witnessing violence. Symptoms of PTSD include anxiety and flashbacks.

Treating a Dual Diagnosis

Teenagers with mental health issues can improve their health by seeking a qualified professional who can provide treatment options. As with all mental health conditions, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Treatment for dual diagnosis requires mental health treatment like counseling or therapy and substance use treatment like detoxification or addiction rehabilitation. Some common treatments include:

  • Intensive Inpatient treatment: Treatment at residential facilities or psychiatric hospitals provides the best option for teens with serious mental and addiction disorders. It provides care that effectively addresses both disorders. In an intensive program, teens will live onsite at a facility that has 24-hour professional support. Teens also receive individualized therapy and medication as needed. Another benefit of intensive inpatient treatment is that it provides daily structure.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):  CBT helps teens recognize negative thoughts and emotions that may trigger a relapse. This type of therapy can help teens build their self-esteem, improve their moods and feelings of shame. When CBT combines with dual diagnosis treatment, the effects are more impactful. This kind of treatment gives teens the tools to make positive life changes.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy: DBT is particularly effective for teens struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction, or borderline personality disorder. DBT focuses on teaching teens how to effectively recognize and manage their emotions to improve their behaviors.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is a popular and effective therapy for treating trauma. EMDR helps alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and trauma. EMDR therapists guide the patient through bilateral stimulation using eye movements over some sessions. The treatment helps the teen process traumatic events and any trauma-related memories.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs): IOPs are a treatment that aims to help teens with SUD and mental health disorders. They provide adolescents with the ability to have treatment in an outpatient setting while still pursuing other commitments. It allows adolescents to work with counselors, psychiatrists, therapists, and other specialists with more flexibility. It also includes group therapy as well as individual sessions. IOPs work in a way where your teen can practice or attend treatment on their time. IOPs generally do not last as long as residential treatment.

Co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders affect many teens across the US. Therefore, dual diagnosis treatment is vital. Dual diagnosis programs provide appropriate ways to treat teens’ co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. At Clearfork Academy, we utilize a comprehensive approach that addresses the needs of teens with a dual diagnosis. Such programs allow teens to heal from their struggles. We accomplish this by designing a comprehensive treatment plan to help teens manage symptoms and develop healthy coping skills. Our treatment includes therapy, familial support, medication management, and intensive treatment at an inpatient psychiatric hospital or residential facility. While finding the right help for a dual diagnosis can be difficult, there is help for you and your teen. If your teen has been diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder, the time to get help is today. To learn more about our treatment programs, reach out to us today by calling (888) 966-8604.

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How to Overcome Mental Health Stereotypes

How to Overcome Mental Health Stereotypes

Many stereotypes surround mental health disorders. Inaccurate displays of symptoms through media and films have further perpetuated a misunderstanding of these disorders. Mental health stereotypes also cause people to avoid seeking help or feel ashamed about their diagnosis. Overcoming stereotypes around mental health is necessary for creating a safer environment for people to share their stories and encourage others to get help.

What Are the Harmful Effects of Stereotypes?

Stereotypes are harmful beliefs that society has about a particular subject. Stereotypes of mental health can have detrimental effects for those who have mental health disorders, including:

  • Internalizing negative beliefs. Unkind or offensive words can shape stereotypes. These words and actions can cause someone with a mental health disorder to form a negative self-perception, leading to depression, anxiety, and even self-harm.
  • Isolation and alienation. People with mental health disorders may feel ashamed of their illness, and such feelings could cause someone to isolate themselves from others for fear of being judged. Isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness that manifest into depression or anxiety. Family members, friends, and even society can often alienate those with severe mental illnesses because they don’t understand how to treat someone with a mental illness.
  • Lack of criminal justice. Stereotypes have created an association between mental health disorders and violence. However, this is not true. Individuals with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence and trauma. Still, the stereotypes could create a lack of justice and improper treatment of those with a mental illness.
  • Substance use. Substance use disorder is the most common co-occurring disorder for individuals with a mental health disorder. Individuals use substances as a coping mechanism to manage the symptoms of their disorder. They also use substances to help them deal with negative self-beliefs due to stereotypes. Substances do not provide any substantial or lasting relief. Heavy alcohol use can worsen anxiety and depressive symptoms and cause substance-induced psychosis.

How to Overcome Mental Health Stereotypes

Overcoming the stereotypes and putting health first can be a difficult task. It requires work and seeking good resources. Here are five ways that an individual can begin working to overcome the stigmas surrounding their mental health.

  1. Educate Yourself and Others: Taking the time to research and read about mental health disorders helps individuals and their loved ones better understand their mental health disorders. Some mental health clinics or community centers offer classes that educate about mental health disorders.
  2. Create Healthy Conversations About Mental Health: The lack of clear conversations about mental health also contributes to stereotypes. Therefore, having healthy conversations about mental health topics will raise awareness. Remember, conversations require the willingness to listen to understand, and share experiences with others. They also require the ability to reserve judgment, and doing so will help cultivate a healthy and comfortable space for the conversation to grow.
  3. Become a Mental Health Advocate: Parents and their teens can become mental health advocates. Mental health advocates help provide more resources, information, and awareness about mental health disorders. An individual can become an advocate by seeking volunteer opportunities at mental health centers or clinics. They can also attend group meetings and become mentors for others managing a mental health disorder. One could also share your their through social media outlets. Sharing personal stories or taking speaking positions also helps raise awareness and strengthen the community, providing more opportunities to learn about mental health.
  4. Make Sure That You Are Taking Care of Your Mental Health: Taking care of mental health requires individuals to advocate for themselves and pursue resources dedicated to managing mental health. Stereotypes can cause people to neglect their self-care needs due to the fear of acknowledging they have an illness. Therefore, staying active in treatment plans and taking appropriate medication will help manage mental health.
  5. Don’t Let Stereotypes Bring Self-doubt or Shame: Society is not solely responsible for creating stereotypes; stereotypes can continue to evolve internally. Forming negative thoughts about a particular mental health disorder cultivates a negative self-perception and shame. Self-stigma happens when an individual repeatedly faces discrimination concerning their mental health disorder. Soon they might start to view their mental health disorder negatively.

Overcoming mental health stereotypes requires grace and compassion. Seeking education and advocating for oneself helps society learn that what a person is dealing with is not a defect. Overcoming the stereotypes requires continued treatment, building healthy relationships, and becoming more confident in managing the disorder. Doing so will improve self-esteem. It all begins with taking action to get help.

Although mental health disorders face many stereotypes in society, resources are available that offer professional knowledge on how to treat them. At Clearkfork Academy, we offer a space for teenage boys to overcome stereotypes and learn about their mental health and substance use disorders. We strive to provide a comfortable place where teens no longer have to suffer in silence. Our group and family programs offer the support necessary to learn about ways to discuss and manage the symptoms related to mental health and substance use disorders. With us, your teen will develop the confidence and voice to recognize that they are not their disorders. They will also build strong support networks with other peers that share similar experiences. The first step to recovery is acknowledging that you need help and taking appropriate action to get help. To learn more about our programs, reach out to Clearfork Academy today by calling (888) 966-8604

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Is Your Teen Vaping? What Are the Signs and Risks of Vaping?

Is your teen vaping? What are the signs and risks of vaping?

The growing popularity of vaping among teens occurs due to the easy accessibility of e-cigarettes. E-cigarette companies have been actively marketing their products as an alternative to traditional cigarettes, which has led to the rise of this new trend among teenagers. Many vape shops and online retailers sell flavored nicotine liquids that appeal to younger consumers who want something unique and fun.

Most teens are not aware nor do they understand the potential harms associated with vaping, such as developing an addiction and other health problems.

What Is Vaping?

Vaping is a method of inhaling nicotine through the mouth using an e-cigarette. The e-cigarette provides the sensation of a traditional cigarette but without the smoke, tar, and carbon monoxide. The user inhales nicotine from a liquid cartridge in the device through a mouthpiece that heats and vaporizes the liquid. It accomplishes this illusion of “smoke” by using heating coils to burn either propylene glycol or vegetable glycerol to create the vapor.

The liquid cartridges come in various colors and provide different flavors, such as fruit juices and cotton candy.

The Rise of Teen Vaping

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), a recent study discovered an alarming increase in vaping among US teens grades 8-12. The number of 12th-grade students who reported vaping has increased since 2017, from 28 to 37percent. 12th graders who vape marijuana products also increased from 5 to 13 percent. Notably, more than 10 percent of eighth-graders reported that they vaped nicotine this past year.

According to Dr. Richard Miech, the lead researcher of this NIH study, “Vaping is reversing hard-fought declines in the number of adolescents who use nicotine.” The rise of vaping has led to increased nicotine use among teens. “These results suggest that vaping is leading youth into nicotine use and nicotine addiction, not away from it.”

These products may attract teens because they seem fun and harmless, but they can cause a lot of physical and mental health damage from long-term use. Teens and their parents must understand the risks associated with vaping.

Reasons Teens Vape

Teens are curious, and they enjoy exploring new things. So, what happens if they try smoking? It’s not only a bad idea, but it can also create physical and mental health issues. There are many reasons why teens vape and some common reasons include:

  • Affordability: Teens consider vaping cheaper than cigarettes. The cost of e-cigarettes has dropped since they came on the market.
  • Discreet: They are discreet; no one knows your doing it unless you tell them.
  • Flavoring: Vendors provide many flavors like strawberry milk and watermelon lemonade.
  • Different Vaping Features: New vaping features come out daily, including temperature control settings and downloadable software apps. Each allows customization options like changing colors, patterns, textures of coils, and creating custom liquids.
  • Alternative to Tobacco: Teens view vaping as healthier than smoking cigarettes because no tobacco products are involved.
  • Socially Acceptable: Many teenagers see vaping as socially acceptable among peers.

The Harmful Impact of Vaping

Teens might think that vaping is harmless, but the truth is that vaping is harmful to their health. Adolescents’ developing brains may permanently change due to vaping, just like other illicit substances can affect adolescents’ developing minds. It can create a nicotine addiction that lasts into adulthood. It could also cause:

  • Lung damage
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer

How to Quit Vaping

To help your teen quit vaping, we suggest working with them to create a comprehensive prevention strategy. Such a plan should address their needs and goals. A good plan will also help them maintain motivation to endure challenging times. Furthermore, seeking professional help and treatments will allow them to learn about and manage their triggers, withdrawal symptoms, and cravings. For example, when cravings hit, a good plan consisting of professional and home support will incorporate activities that provide healthy distractions from vaping. Other ways that parents can help include:

  • Removing all vaping devices and liquids from the home.
  • Keep communication open and continue to talk to your teen about the dangers of vaping.
  • Seeking professional help geared toward teenage needs, such as the help we offer at Clearfork Academy.
  • Encouraging teens to build a network of support to aid them on their journey to recovery.
  • Educate yourself and your child that e-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals and metals that are toxic.

Counseling and behavioral therapy also help teenagers change their behaviors associated with vaping. Some teens may benefit from NRTs, bupropion, or varenicline medications.

If you think your teen needs any of these treatments, seek professional help today.

Teens are often unaware or lack the understanding of the potential harms of vaping, including addiction and other health problems. Therefore, the growing popularity of vaping among teens needs attention and action from parents and professionals to help eradicate this trend. If you’re concerned about your teen’s vaping habit, Clearfork Academy can help. Our treatment center provides support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure that you get the information and assistance you need. The team at Clearfork Academy specializes in treating teenagers struggling to manage their addictions to drugs and alcohol. We also treat teenagers struggling with mental illnesses including but not limited to, depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders. Our professional and holistic therapies are evidence-based, and the variety of therapies we offer will ensure that you find the right fit to meet your teen’s needs. To learn more about our treatment program, call us today at (888) 966-8604.

 

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Navigating Mental Health Content in the World of Social Media

Navigating Mental Health Content in the World of Social Media

As humans, our need for connection is necessary to thrive in life and feel a sense of self-worth. While social media offers this sense of connection, there are some negative aspects to the content you consume. If not handled appropriately, mental health content can be among the most misleading and damaging content. Since mental health is becoming more discussed on social media, it is important to control what content you read.

Positive Effects of Social Media

When used the right way, social media offers many benefits. Some positives of social media include:

  • Staying Connected: Social media allows you to keep in contact and communicate with friends, family, and people from around the world. Connection is an integral part of everyday living. Apps like Instagram allow you to share pictures of your favorite moments in life and share them with your loved ones.
  • Providing a Creative Outlet: Many people use social apps as a creative outlet. Artists such as painters, writers, and musicians can post their work, generate a following, and develop a career.
  • Networking: In today’s society, networking is a big part of growing a community and meeting new people. Social media allows you to connect and meet potential business partners from across the world. If you struggle with social anxiety, this is a great way to meet people without the anxiousness that could come from meeting in person.

Negative Effects of Social Media

Social media also has many negative aspects. The negatives of social media include:

  • Cyberbullying: People tend to feel bolder online because they do not need to worry about physical interaction. However, this can lead to cyberbullying, which consists of people leaving rude, unwanted, and opinionated comments on your posts. Cyberbullying can affect your mental health and perpetuate disorders such as depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphia.
  • Social Media Addiction: Studies have found that some individuals can develop an addiction to social media. While not considered an actual disorder or diagnosis, it is a form of behavioral addiction. Social media addiction is the uncontrollable urge to commit more time to social media than interacting in person.
  • Feelings of Inadequacy or Self-absorption: Social media has become about sharing selfies, posting body transformations, and personal achievements. While there is nothing wrong with posting this kind of content, overindulgence is a form of self-absorption. It could make you feel inadequate because you believe you don’t measure up to these standards or get as many likes on your selfies as others. It can also worsen symptoms of disorders such as depression or body dysmorphia.

Filter Who You Follow

One of the best ways to control your online experience is to regulate who you follow. Make sure you are following accounts posting accurate and positive mental health content. There are blogs and accounts dedicated to spreading mental health awareness that post information about disorders and ways to cope. You can also follow organizations or people who are advocates and share personal stories.

Follow Credible Sources

Social media is also a host for misinformation and stereotypes about mental health. Here are a few credible sources to follow on social media instead:

Report Harmful Posts

Misinformation about mental health creates stigmas and influences people toward taking the wrong steps to get help. However, most apps give you the option to report such harmful or disturbing posts. If you come across content that speaks about mental health in a degrading or damaging way, take the time to report the post. Reporting posts not only helps you manage your social media algorithm but helps prevent the spread of harmful posts for others to consume.

Reporting harmful posts will also allow the app to establish boundaries and standards for its users. While you cannot eradicate all negative posts, taking time to report such posts will help cultivate a positive community.

Take Some Time Off

Social media can become addicting, and you may find yourself spending hours upon hours using social media. It is not healthy to consume a large amount of information from other people’s lives daily.

Taking time to step away from social media is great for your mental health. However, you might struggle to unplug from social media. If you have difficulty getting away from social media, try to set specific hours that you cannot engage in social media throughout the day. Having a set schedule will help you stay focused and accountable. You might use this time to read, draw, journal or have physical interactions with friends and family.

Social media is one of today’s most influential platforms for teens, which may lead your child to try unhealthy coping strategies such as substance use. Clearfork Academy can help. Our treatment programs include highly trained and certified staff members that offer a compassionate approach. Located on an inviting and charming ranch, we provide a home away from home for teens in need of substance use and mental illness treatment. Whether your teen is going through our inpatient or outpatient programs, our sole focus will be on recovery and creating a healthy and drug-free lifestyle for your teen. While we do not exclude smartphones, we do provide a space free of social media to allow teens to get in touch with their innermost passions, whether it be art, music, acting, or writing. If your teen needs a safe and professional treatment program, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling us at (888) 966-8604

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What Are the Warnings Signs & Causes of Teen Suicide?

What are the Warnings Signs & Causes of Teen Suicide?

America faces a growing crisis, with teens losing their lives to suicide. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the rate of suicide deaths among individuals 10-24 years old increased 56 percent between 2007 and 2017. The CDC noted in 2015 that the suicide rate for males aged 15–19 years was 14.2 percent per 100,000 population.

As the issue continues to affect teens, parents need to understand the signs of suicide.

Consider the Data of Teenage Suicide

In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34. The number of student suicides is staggering, but it’s even more troubling that one out of every 15 high school students report attempting suicide each year. With figures like this, you can understand why one out of every 53 high school students needs professional care.

Parents, guardians, and family members can play a crucial role in preventing suicide. You don’t need to go through this alone; seeking professional help will allow you and your teen the education and treatment options necessary to overcome thoughts and behaviors related to suicide.

Signs of Teenage Suicide

Signs of teenage suicide can include a change in behavior, depression, and anxiety. Other symptoms include talking about death or wishing they were dead. Pay attention to statements indicating they feel hopeless, helpless, trapped, have no reason to live anymore, or think life isn’t worth living anymore. Further signs include:

  • Having trouble sleeping or eating well
  • Sudden change in behavior or mood, such as a noticeable increase or decrease in school performance
  • Unexplained withdrawal from friends and family members
  • Making frequent and detailed plans for death, such as writing out instructions on how they would like their body disposed of after death
  • Expressing feelings about the world being better off without them around
  • Saying that life that makes no sense and expressing an inexplicable desire to die
  • Talking repeatedly about wanting to” go away”
  • Feeling hopeless about the future without any specific reason given for their feelings
  • Neglecting personal appearance and hygiene
  • Running away from home
  • Risk-taking behavior, such as reckless driving or being sexually promiscuous

Triggers of Teenage Suicide

The factors that could trigger a teenager’s decision to commit suicide vary from person to person. Some triggering factors include mental illness, substance abuse, bullying, social media, physical or sexual abuse, or a family history of substance use disorders. It also involves them experiencing intense stress at home, work, and school with no apparent cause to explain such stress. Other triggers include:

  • Problems with drug or alcohol use
  • Witnessing the suicide of a family member or peer, especially a close one
  • Problems at school, like failing classes or struggling to comprehend school material
  • Loss of a parent or immediate family member through death or divorce
  • The stresses of physical changes associated with puberty, chronic illness, and sexually transmitted infections
  • Uncertainty surrounding sexual orientation
  • Struggles with an eating disorder

The Impact of Suicide Attempt

The impact of suicide attempts can vary depending on the severity and type of incident. Some physical effects include:

  • Bruising,
  • Broken bones,
  • Organ damage from falls;
  • Loss of consciousness due to a concussion or other brain injury may occur as well.

Psychological effects such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD are common in cases with self-harm.

Helping Your Teen

There are specific steps you can take to prevent teen suicide. You must remember that this is a mental illness and not something someone wakes up one day and decides. Please provide your child with the support they need. There are many different ways to do this:

  • Unconditional love,
  • Listening without judgment
  • Talking with them about what they’re going through and how you can help them

Such actions will help make the teen’s home safe and protected. Providing your child with these kinds of support will give them hope that they can overcome their struggles and get back on their feet.

Seek Professional Help

Consider sending them to a treatment center like Clearfork Academy. Such facilities provide comprehensive care and therapies. Mental health professionals offer teens coping and problem-solving skills to help teens deal with their struggles without becoming overwhelmed. Treatment centers ensure teens have access to good resources and tools to allow self-reflection and growth in areas important to teens. They also help with medication management, provide support groups and remain a source of support should they need help in the future. With proper help, your child can get through this challenging time and find their way back to health.

If your teen has been exhibiting signs of contemplating suicide, you need to talk with them. Remember to remain open to any concerns your child may have, no matter how vague they seem. Sometimes talking through this process will help them realize that there are other options than taking their own life. You should also plan to seek professional help. Being open and honest with your child about the support they need from you and professionals could help them find the courage to embrace treatment. At Clearfork Academy, we utilize treatments and therapies to help parents and teenagers deal with adolescent depression and the causes behind their suicide ideation. Our participants receive a safe place to discuss their feelings and receive support from professionals, family, friends, and peers. Our admissions staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Find out more about our programs and contact us by calling (888) 966-8604.

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Understanding Self-Harm: A Guide for Parents

Understanding Self Harm - A Guide for Parents

Teenage and young adult years are often when self-harm behaviors develop. Mental health challenges, navigating emotions, and environment each contribute to such behavior. It can be disheartening and painful to find out that your child is inflicting harm upon themselves.

If you are concerned that your child is engaging in self-harm, there are a few things that you should understand that will guide you to take the proper steps towards helping your child.

What Is Self Harm?

Self-harm is the act of a person intentionally causing physical damage to their body. Self-harm is not an illness but a maladaptive coping mechanism for an individual with emotional distress. Mental disorders such as depression, body dysmorphia, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder can co-exist with self-harm.

During the adolescent years, many stressors can weigh on your child. Teens typically deal with stress from school, family issues, peer relationships, and hormonal changes. Upon graduation, teens come closer to the reality of having to figure out their next step after high school.

Why Do Teens Self-Harm?

There are many different reasons teens may harm themselves, and there is no discrimination across race, socioeconomic status, or culture. As a parent, you may ask yourself why teens want to harm themselves? Although every child has their reasons, here are a few of the most common:

  • They want to bring punishment to themselves
  • To show a sign of needing help
  • Bring a feeling of something other than numbness, even if it is a pain
  • Have control over one’s body
  • Release intense feeling

Risk factors that can serve as potential engagement in self-harm include:

  • Children abused or have intense trauma
  • Low-self esteem
  • Bullying
  • Mental health issues
  • Substance use

Self-harm is not always a sign that your teen intends to kill themselves. Non-suicidal self-injury is deliberately inflicting physical damage to one’s own body without the intention of suicide. It is important to note that although self-harm is not always a sign of wanting to commit suicide, those who do engage in self-harm are at a higher risk for suicide. For most individuals, it is a way to bring physical pain reflective of their emotional pain.

Warning Signs

People who self-injure are often discrete and have specific ways of hiding their scars or injuries. The most common areas of the body that people tend to self-harm are the arms, wrist, legs, and torso. Teens may wear specific clothing to hide scars, such as wearing long-sleeve shirts to cover their arms. Other warning signs include:

  • Burn or cut marks that are consistent on specific areas of the body
  • Bruises from head banging or self-hitting
  • Their peers or friends engage in self-harm behaviors
  • Finding sharp objects in their possession
  • Explosive anger that leads to them taking it out on themselves
  • Mood changes
  • Making excuses to explain visible injuries

Individuals may have a specific preference for how they prefer to self-injure. If you notice any unusual behaviors displayed by your teen that cause concern for self-harm, know that there are treatment options available.

Treatment Options

If you are worried or know that your child is self-harming, it is important to take the appropriate measures toward getting the right help for your child. Try not to be judgmental or overly critical of their behaviors. Self-harm is a sign that the child is in pain or emotionally stressed. Addressing the situation with empathy will help your child feel comfortable opening up to you. Some treatment options include:

  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is used to help individuals work through and verbalize their feelings and emotions. It can help identify what triggers them to self-harm and identify any underlying conditions that may influence their behavior. The therapist will also help by teaching healthy coping skills, developing self-esteem and problem-solving skills.
  • Intensive Treatment: If the self-injurious behaviors are more severe and appear to be frequent, your teen may require an intensive form of treatment. Short-term hospitalization or psychiatric care provides a safe and professional care setting to help monitor and treat your teen. If your child has an underlying mental health disorder, inpatient treatment will help find an appropriate medication.
  • Support Groups: Talking to others who share similar experiences offers your child a sense of connection and relatability. Support groups provide the opportunity to hear other techniques that people use, and it opens up the space to verbalize and communicate feelings to other people. Continuing to build strong support systems will reassure you and your child that they always have help in times of challenge.

Seeing your child bring harm to themselves can be a painful reality, and you shouldn’t have to face this challenging circumstance alone. At Clearfork Academy, our qualified staff offers a measured and empathetic approach to helping teens recover from substance abuse and mental health disorders. We accomplish this by offering individual therapy that allows your teen to identify the pain related to their substance use and impulse to use self-injurious behaviors. As we work with your teen to identify their feelings, we teach them healthy coping skills to use in times of distress. Remember, teenagers experience stress unique to them, and such stress can weigh heavily on them and lead them to find unhealthy ways to cope. Please don’t wait until it’s too late to seek help for your child. To learn more about our programs and how they can benefit your teen’s recovery process, Call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604.  

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How Can You Help Teens Struggling With a Parent’s Divorce?

Parents help their teens through a divorce

Divorce is hard, especially for children. Teens often face many negative consequences following their parent’s divorce, including loss of identity, emotional turmoil, and difficulties in future relationships. Yet, parental guidance and support can make all the difference during this period.

Here are some ways parents can help their teens feel better after a divorce.

Teens and Addiction Risks

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) define trauma as “an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that an individual experiences as physically, emotionally harmful or life-threatening. Trauma has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.” Most youths experience their parents’ divorce as a trauma. Notably, teens who experience trauma are more susceptible to turning to substances.

Subsequently, we suggest that parents pay attention to any signs of their teen struggling to handle the divorce and other related changes in their lives. Some divorce-related changes include:

  • Moving and selling of their childhood home
  • Changing schools
  • Having to make new friends because of moving
  • Division of time between parents
  • Schedule changes that negatively impact their time with friends or extracurricular activities

Such significant changes resulting from childhood trauma can impact their mental, emotional, and physical health. Though SUD is a complex condition, data shows a strong link between trauma and developing addictions.

How Does Divorce Affect Teens?

The effect of divorce on teens is complex and varies from person to person. However, it impacts youth emotionally, relationally, and mentally including:

  • Fearing the Future: Following their parent’s divorce, teenagers might feel like nothing will ever work out for them or their family again.
  • Disappointment: Teens might feel disappointed with themselves or their parents because of poor communication and past interactions with their parents.
  • Lack of Self-worth: They might also have difficulty believing that they’re worthy of love and happiness, especially if they blame themselves for the parent’s divorce.
  • Lack of Identity: Teens need a strong sense of self to develop confidence and self-esteem. When they lose that identity, it can create confusion and doubt.
  • Emotional Turmoil: Divorce can be an overwhelming experience for teens, especially when figuring out their own emotions and how to deal with challenges. Your teen might find themselves going through cycles of sadness, anger, and even depression as they try to cope with the changes happening in their life.
  • Difficulty Forming Relationships: Divorce can make it difficult for them to develop healthy relationships in the future. They might not feel ready to put themselves out there because they still feel vulnerable.

Despite these consequences, there are ways for parents to improve the odds and conditions for their children.

Help Your Teen Feel Better

Though challenging for all involved, you can find powerful options to make the best out of this situation for your children. Some options include:

  • Being Emotionally Supportive: You can’t fix your teen’s feelings after a divorce, but you can help them accept the situation. Take time to listen, empathize, and talk through their feelings. We also suggest spending more time with your teen, guiding them to make healthy choices in food and lifestyle, and offering emotional support.
  • Improving Their Social Life: Most teens consider extracurricular activities meaningful and a place of belonging. Such activities serve as outlets to release stress and emotions. We suggest parents look for activities that might help their teens feel better about themselves, such as volunteering or joining extracurricular activities like sports, art lessons, or church youth groups.
  • Seek Counseling: If your teen is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, they may need professional counseling or psychiatric help from a mental health professional. Treatment centers, such as Clearfork Academy, specialize in helping teens with post-divorce trauma.
  • School Support: You can also work with your teen’s school counselor, teachers, or social worker to ensure they’re getting the care they need.
  • Create Familiarity: Make sure your teen has comfortable and familiar places in your home that lend support and security. It’s essential for them to feel like they have a “home” where they can relax after a tough day.
  • Seek Input: When possible, involve your teen’s decisions regarding specific life changes. Consider holding discussions with them before and after you make your final decisions. Doing this will let them know what’s going on in their life.
  • Therapy: Consider individual or family therapy for your teen. Family therapy helps teens struggling with any number of personal or familial issues, including anxiety, depression, anger management, and learning coping skills. Evidence-based treatments like CBT also provide comprehensive support for your teen.

Divorce is one of the most challenging decisions a person can make. The emotional and psychological impacts can be devastating to a teen’s emotional well-being. However, there are ways for teens to cope with divorce. To start, consider family therapy, acknowledge their feelings, and create a safe space for them. At Clearfork Academy, we utilize comprehensive treatments to help parents and teenagers resolve teen trauma or divorce-related behavioral issues. We also provide the space where teens can discuss their feelings and receive support from professionals, family, friends, and peers. Our goal is to address and treat any underlying mental health and substance use disorders, including co-occurring disorders. If your child is currently in need of professional support, don’t wait; get help today. Our admissions staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To find out more about our programs, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling (888) 966-8604.

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Holiday Depression and Anxiety: Why It Happens, How to Mitigate It, and What To Do

Holiday Depression and Anxiety: Why It Happens, How to Mitigate It, and What To Do

The holidays can bring about a lot of anxiety, stress, and depression. You might even try to avoid these feelings by suppressing them. However, doing so could perpetuate negative thoughts and behaviors. It is important to manage your emotions properly. Let’s look at some ways to help you healthily deal with holiday stressors.

The Link Between Stress and the Holidays

Many factors can affect your mental health, such as financial stress, family responsibilities, and increased social demand. As you can imagine, there are many links between addiction and anxiety. Some of these links are more indirect, while others are direct.

Stress is one of the biggest causes of relapse. Individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders tend to become more prone to using substances to manage stress. For example, social events like Christmas parties or family gatherings can trigger your impulse to use. Substances, such as alcohol, act as a sedative for the nervous system and reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as shaking hands, sweating palms, and nausea. However, this is not a viable nor sustainable solution to manage anxiety.

Common Holiday Triggers

You may encounter many triggers during the holiday season. These triggers could relate to religious practices, expectations from society, and family traditions. However, it is imperative if you struggle with a substance use disorder to maintain recovery, and knowing your triggers will help.

Some of the common triggers include:

  • Change of Routine: Routines help sustain recovery. During the holiday season, you might experience a disruption in your routine. In many ways, the holiday season could show up as a significant change in your life, especially in early recovery. Take certain precautions to deal with changes in your habits, like attending more recovery group meetings.
  • Social Events: There are many social gatherings during the holiday season. You may experience pressure to join your peers by drinking or using during these gatherings. Or, you may find the whole experience stressful, especially if you struggle with social anxiety. Being around so many people may trigger you to find a chemical sedative to relieve stress. Therefore, try to attend events that put your recovery needs first. Many recovery groups hold sober parties during the holiday season.
  • Family Stress: Family stress develops from many things outside your control. However, you can minimize stress by keeping your holiday expectations simple. Focus on enjoying the company of your family and the blessing of your recovery.

8  Effective Ways to Deal With Holiday Depression and Anxiety

Creating a plan for this holiday season will help. such plans should include self-care practices to help you manage holiday stress or depression.

#1. Plan. Planning will help you stay on track with your goals and allow you to deal with stress in a way that doesn’t overwhelm you. Try planning out your breaks, doctor visits, exercise plans, or anything else to help you prioritize what needs to happen so that you can stay healthy during this time of year.

#2. Find your happy place. Every person has their unique way of dealing with depression and anxiety, but some people find that certain areas make them feel better. Try to think about the last time you had an excellent feeling of happiness or satisfaction, and find ways to recreate those feelings.

#3. Meditate. Meditation is a great way to relax and relieve stress. The best part is, you can meditate anywhere. You can utilize an app or a comfortable space such as your bedroom and create an atmosphere conducive to self-care and comfort.

#4. Take a break from social media. You’re likely to get bombarded with posts, ads, and other content that might make you feel guilty or ashamed. Comparing yourself to others on social media is not helpful for your recovery. Instead, take a break from social media.

#5. Spend time with family or friends. Sometimes, spending time with the people who care about you the most can help you forget about all of your worries. Focus on positive interactions with loved ones rather than worrying about problems.

#6. Exercise. Exercise lowers stress levels by releasing endorphins which will help you feel better emotionally and physically. It will also help you sleep better at night.

#7. Eat well. Eating well helps keep your stress levels down by providing the necessary nutrients to stay healthy and strong during the holidays.

#8. Allow yourself to experience emotions: Let your emotions flow through you. Laugh if you’d like, or cry if you feel the urge to cry. Share how you feel with loved ones that you trust. Doing so will help you release some of the stress and realize that you are not alone in how you feel.

Besides these suggestions, consider going to a treatment center like Clearfork Academy. We offer inpatient and intensive outpatient care to ensure that you get the care you need.

Many factors affect mental health, such as financial stress, family responsibilities, and increased social demand. Since the holidays involve many social events, many teens find it very stressful, especially if they struggle with social anxiety. At Clearfork Academy, we offer professional support to help your teen manage anxiety, stress, and depression. If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, we also provide appropriate resources to support them. Our programs work with both parents and teens to help them understand addiction and how it affects the whole family. With us, your teen will learn effective ways to express emotions and develop the self-confidence and self-assurance necessary to manage the challenges of maintaining sobriety and managing emotions. Our goal is to create better communication within the family dynamic. If you or a loved one currently needs help, then the time to act is now. Find out more about our programs and contact Clearfork Academy today by calling (866) 650-5212.

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How to Help Your Teen Build Recovery Skills?

How to Help Your Teen Build Recovery Skills?

Recovery is a lifelong and transformative process. Recovery is also not without its share of challenges. What does this mean for teens struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD)?

Teens need help to develop the skills necessary to stay sober and sustain recovery. Helping teens address and manage their SUDs can prevent relapse. Let’s take a closer look at different methods that will help your teen’s continued growth in recovery.

The Benefit of Recovery Skills

Developing practical recovery skills will allow your teen to maintain abstinence. Such a skill set will decrease the likelihood of them relapsing. Strong recovery skills will also help them “bounce back” should they relapse. Essentially, these skills provide the tools for navigating life’s challenges without resorting to self-destructive behaviors.

Your teen can apply these skills in everyday life. For example, relapse prevention strategies such as self-monitoring and setting proper boundaries will help them navigate relationships with friends or family members in a healthy manner. Additionally, these skills will help teens find meaning in their lives outside of their SUD.

Other benefits include:

  • Increased self-esteem
  • Improved relationships with loved ones and significant others
  • Healthier habits such as exercise or healthy eating choices
  • Reduced stress levels due to less anxiety about relapse potentials

Avoid Risky Situations

While in recovery, we suggest that your teen avoid situations that involve any alcohol or drug use. Therefore your teen must understand their limitations. Being in such risky situations can leave them feeling confused, unable to assess the problem, and incapable of making good decisions. They could succumb to their urges and return to patterns of addictive behaviors. Therefore, we recommend that they participate in activities that support their sobriety.

Find a Peer Support Group

Many teens who struggle with a SUD may feel isolated and alone. They might also find it difficult to discuss their problems with friends and family. Such a predicament may cause them to feel different or unable to fit in with other teens. However, a peer support group will benefit your teen.

In a peer support group, teens share their experiences with other teens managing a SUD. Being among peers that share similar experiences creates a comforting environment where your teen can express themselves without judgment.

A peer support group also helps teens develop communication, conflict resolution, and stress management skills. These are crucial life skills that will help them stay sober and safe in recovery.

Manage Triggers and Cravings

Triggers happen when individuals with a SUD are exposed to certain stimuli that remind them of using substances. Certain sights, sounds, or people could all be potential triggers. When triggered, the brain seeks to relieve stress and increase feel-good emotions, and too often, the method of choice is using substances. Therefore, such a process can make staying sober difficult for your teen.

However, your teen can manage their triggers using techniques that include:

Consider Behavioral Therapies

Research shows that behavioral therapies successfully treat SUD symptoms and causes. Such therapies focus on identifying, understanding, and changing behavioral patterns to achieve long-term change.

The goal is to replace harmful habits with healthy habits. Long-term therapy will also reduce negative experiences and implement positive ones.

Find a Distraction

Sometimes your teen may feel restless thinking about how they cannot use substances. Therefore, having a healthy distraction like a hobby or pursuing a passion will help distract them from thinking about substances.

A hobby can also give them a new sense of purpose and motivation. Such hobbies include:

  • Painting
  • Sports
  • Hiking
  • Playing music
  • Going for a walk

Ultimately, participating in healthy activities will help your teenager expand their outlook on life without feeling pressured to use substances.

Managing Stress

Many teens lead stressful lives. Schoolwork, peer pressure, extracurricular activities, and searching for colleges contribute to stress. Adopting healthy ways to manage stress can help them learn how to handle these situations.

Here are some of the most effective methods of coping:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Spend time outside
  • Talk about thoughts and feelings openly

Since stress can occur at any moment, your teen needs to understand their stressors and triggers. Knowing what contributes to their desire to use substances will help them manage their stress and cravings.

Support Good Mental Health

Untreated mental health disorders can also contribute to relapse. Individuals who struggle with a mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or bipolar disorder are prone to using substances. Therefore, seeking professional help for mental health disorders will help prevent relapse.

Recovery is a life-long journey that requires persistence, motivation, and support. At Clearfork Academy, we offer teen-specific treatments that appropriately speak to their needs. We also work with teens and their families to educate them about substance use disorders and how to work together to overcome challenges. Our resources to care also include individual therapy, peer-supported groups, and holistic approaches. With our help, your teen will learn to deal with stressors and manage their addiction. We understand that recovery can be challenging, which is why we remain a pillar of support should your teen need help at any point in their recovery. Our aftercare programs also ensure that your teen stays involved in the recovery community. If your teenager is currently having difficulty sustaining their recovery, then the time to seek help is now. To find out more about our therapies and treatment programs, contact Clearfork Academy today and call (888) 966-8604.

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What Are Some Common Obstacles in Early Recovery?

What Are Some Common Obstacles in Early Recovery?

Many teens in recovery face challenges that are hard to overcome. Such obstacles impede their ability to get through their day-to-day responsibilities. Therefore, support and guidance are necessary for sustaining recovery. At Clearfork Academy, we work to help your teen understand the journey of sobriety. Further, proper coping skills will help teens overcome these obstacles. Let’s look at ways to recognize and help with the challenges teens face in early recovery.

Boredom and Loneliness

Sometimes teenagers on the road to recovery become isolated. They may have to end friendships or take time off from school to attend a treatment center. Such loneliness can lead to a deep sense of boredom and depression that may cause them to relapse. Therefore, support and encouragement are necessary throughout the recovery process, so teens don’t give up when things get tough.

They may even need someone else to help them navigate the struggles of addiction recovery. We suggest they look to supportive family members and other peers in recovery to show more understanding and provide healthy support.

Teenagers Have Different Needs

Like any other young person, recovering teens have different needs, and they most likely can’t return to friends or hangouts related to their former drug use. However, they can benefit from forming new, healthy routines and meaningful activities.

Long-term recovery involves finding a healthy balance of self-care, hobbies and building healthy support networks of family, friends, and peers.

Leaving a Treatment Program

Qualified treatment centers like Clearfork Academy offer participants an intensive, specialized program that helps teenagers overcome substance use and begin their journey to recovery. While many teens leave treatment programs sober, adjusting to their new lifestyle will take time – especially without constant supervision. Therefore, post-treatment involves certain risks because they return to their everyday lives.

Such risks include:

  • Depression: They may experience a lack of motivation or need for continuous self-improvement outside of the treatment center. Make sure to find a recovery group to maintain motivation.
  • Anxiety: Without the intensive support of inpatient care, they could develop fears and anxiety about staying sober. Please encourage them to continue their growth. Consider helping them draw and work on an action plan to mitigate such fears.

Cravings for Drugs or Alcohol

Many teens experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings in the early stages of their recovery. They may find it increasingly difficult to manage them without proper coping skills.

We suggest these coping skills:

  • Attending recovery group meetings and finding a sponsor
  • Talking to a friend or family member
  • Seeking assistance from a therapist or drug counselor
  • Undergoing an outpatient care program
  • Joining a class or a sport as a distraction from using substances

End Toxic Friendships

One of the biggest problems that teenagers face is how to handle friends who use drugs. In such friendships, they may feel the pressure to use again, and their shared past of drug use can trigger a relapse. These kinds of friendships put your child’s recovery at risk. We suggest ceasing all contact with such friends. Doing so will prevent them from reliving or rationalizing their former drug use with that friend.

It would be more beneficial to form friendships that support their recovery.

Keeping Drugs and Alcohol in the Home

Without a doubt, keeping drugs and alcohol poses a risk in a teen’s early sobriety. They may become exposed to controlled substances such as prescription drugs and other potentially dangerous substances.

We recommend decreasing their exposure by:

  • Locking drugs or alcohol in a secure place and out of their reach.
  • Get rid of as many of these substances as possible.
  • Not bringing any of them into the house.
  • As a parent, consider having drinks only outside of the home.

Intense Emotions

Teenagers who have recovered from substance use or addiction can often experience significant irritability or emotional distress. Teens must learn to recognize the signs of intense emotions and deal with them appropriately. We recommend teens learn coping skills like meditation, breathing exercises,  or talking to a loved one.

When dealing with emotional issues, it can be helpful for teens to use physical activity like long walks or runs to release their emotions. Seeking professional care such as therapy or counseling will also benefit their recovery.

Untreated Mental Health Issues

Research shows that one of the most significant risk factors for relapse is untreated mental health issues. An effective treatment plan can help minimize depression symptoms caused by chemical dependency, trauma, or stress.

Effective treatments include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication therapy
  • Group therapy sessions
  • 12-step programs

Teenagers will face many obstacles in their journey of recovery. Some of these obstacles could interfere with recovery and perpetuate stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms. At Clearfork Academy, we understand that addiction is a disease that requires accurate information about drug use and specific coping skills to manage life’s challenges. Our goal is to educate both teens and their parents about addiction so they can work together to overcome obstacles using healthy resources. We accomplish this through our family therapy and aftercare programs. At Clearfork Academy, your teenager will have the appropriate resources to achieve sobriety, build healthy relationships and stay involved in healthy activities within the community. Recovery is all about accomplishing goals and building the life you want. If your teen is struggling to manage their addiction, get help today. To find out more about our treatment and programs, reach out to Clearfork Academy and call us at (844) 387-8780.

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How to Help Teens Abusing ADHD Medications?

How to Help Teens Abusing ADHD Medications?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological condition that affects concentration, focus, and impulse. It can cause problems with self-control in both children and adolescents. ADHD could also interfere with teens’ education performance and social relationships because of impulsivity issues.

While medication can help, some teens develop an addiction to these medications. Therefore, understanding the addictive process and medication management can prevent teenagers from developing a substance use disorder (SUD).

What Is ADHD, and How Does It Relate to Addiction?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 10 percent of children in the United States. ADHD creates hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention among those with this disorder. Further, ADHD develops more frequently in males than females.

If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, it’s important to remember that this disorder is not a “moral or character flaw” or a sign of weakness. Successful treatment exists to help improve your child’s quality of life.

Effective treatments for ADHD include:

  • Medications
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Educational interventions such as tutoring

Many children outgrow the symptoms and learn how to cope with them as they get older, but for some kids, treatment may need to continue into adulthood for them to live up to their full potential.

Developing a Substance Use Disorder

Youth with ADHD experience an increased risk for addiction and other psychiatric issues such as anxiety or depression.

ADHD can also lead to addiction because of the following:

  • Inability to regulate themselves during periods of high-stress levels.
  • The inability of individuals with ADHD to regulate their emotions or moods leads them to self-destructive behavior.
  • Have a hard time resisting impulses, which leads them toward risky behaviors like substance use and gambling.
  • Struggle with impulsiveness or lack of self-control when faced with temptation or stressors.
  • Difficulty in delaying gratification or resisting temptation.
  • Impulsiveness leads to a lack of self-control over one’s actions.

The Ramifications of Teens Developing an ADHD Medication Dependency

Teens use the stimulant medications that have been prescribed to them for their ADHD to get high. Stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin are used as a “study drug” by students who need help staying focused on studying or cramming for tests.

How Do ADHD Medications Work?

ADHD medications work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain, and these drugs can provide a sense of motivation that increases their focus and ability to complete tasks. Once teens feel like they need more and more of their ADHD medication to keep these good feelings, they become dependent on their ADHD medications to get by and feel good. As such, some teens may take more than prescribed to maintain the effects of the stimulation.

Other activities or therapies cease to work unless they receive proper treatment for this SUD. We recommend that parents monitor their child’s intake of ADHD medication. Such precaution will reduce the likelihood of their teen abusing prescription medicines and become mindful about what activities their teen might be engaging in while using these substances.

Signs That a Teen Is Addicted to ADHD Medication

The first signs of a SUD might involve teens spending too much time on their medication, missing activities they once enjoyed and needing to use substances more frequently.

Further symptoms include:

  • Legal Trouble: Teens may get into trouble with the law if they take their medications “too much” or share them with others. Teenagers who misuse ADHD drugs could get into fights or participate in criminal behavior.
  • Depression: Many teens report feeling depressed when they abuse their ADHD medication. It can happen because the drug changes brain chemistry and can reduce dopamine levels in the brain.
  • Other Substance Use: There is a chance that teens abusing their ADHD medication will start using other substances like alcohol or marijuana. Such behavior could lead to addiction and withdrawal symptoms.

How Can You Help?

At Clearfork Academy, we recommend talking to your child about the dangers of using ADHD medications from the get-go. If you notice any changes, it’s essential to speak with your child’s doctor to determine whether the medicine should be changed or stopped. Early intervention can also prevent co-occurring disorders from developing.

It is essential to encourage your child to seek professional help when struggling with addiction. Educational counseling and therapy are incredibly beneficial for learning how to manage ADHD without relying on meds. A reputable treatment center like Clearfork Academy will offer these options in a structured plan.

ADHD is a condition that affects a person’s ability to focus and control impulses. If not appropriately managed, teenagers can develop a dependency on the medications prescribed for their ADHD. At Clearfork Academy, we can help you and your teen learn ways to manage their ADHD and medication before developing a dependence. We offer a variety of treatment programs and therapies to address the needs and challenges specific to teens. Our treatments and therapies include residential care, outpatient therapy sessions, group counseling sessions, and individualized care. With us, teenagers will attain the skills necessary to develop the confidence and resiliency needed to manage their mental health and substance use disorders. After treatment, we also remain a point of support to ensure your teen always has access to help. If your teenager is currently struggling to manage their ADHD and is developing a dependency on medication, it is time to get help. Find out more by calling (888) 966-8604

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How to Help Your Teenager Make New Friends?

How to Help Your Teenager Make New Friends?

As parents, we want to ensure that our teenagers live a healthy, happy life of recovery. However, recovery is challenging and some teenagers may fall into toxic social circles and use substances to cope with challenges. Understand, part of accomplishing successful recovery involves forming healthy relationships. Let’s look at ways to help your teen develop healthier friendships.

Cut Ties With Friends Who Use Substances

Your teen should avoid associating with other teens who use substances. Research shows that having friends who use substances increases the likelihood of teens using drugs. Especially in early recovery, such associations increase the possibility of a relapse.

Still, teens may find it difficult to end such friendships because of their shared past or interests. Remind them that self-care and maintaining their recovery matter the most.  Building new friendships with other teens who support their recovery will help them eliminate toxic relationships in their lives.

Challenges of Making New Friends

Too often, teens struggle to cultivate friendships, especially healthy ones. Some experience anxiety when trying to find their place in high school. When suffering from a negative self-perception, they could see themselves as outcasts among their peers. When they see themselves as an outsider, they start to believe it and could isolate themselves and turn to substances to cope.

Parental support will make all the difference in such instances. Offer them encouragement and support during this time. Listen, offer positive reinforcement, be patient, and offer them guidance with creating an action plan that will serve them in the long run.

Benefits of Friendships for Teen’s Recovery

The main benefits of friendships for a teen’s recovery are:

  • They help teens to stay positive and feel better.
  • They provide support and encouragement.
  • They help teens build self-esteem.
  • They help teens reduce depression and other mental health issues.
  • They help teens develop social skills.
  • They increase the likelihood that teens will seek professional care for substance abuse or other mental health issues.

Six Ways to Make New Friends

When teens struggle with drugs, alcohol, or other substances, they need support from family, friends, teachers, and other positive influences. You will want to make sure that your teenager has a wide variety of friends so they can diversify their social networks and maintain healthy relationships.

Here are six ways that you can help your teenager do just that:

#1. Volunteer: Volunteering can be effective for teens to form healthy relationships. It is a great way for your teenager to increase their social skills. It could also help them make new friends, have a better sense of community, and feel important in their circle. Volunteering can even help them reduce stress, build a positive outlook on life, and improve self-confidence.

#2. Participate in Sports: Intramural sports are a great way to get your teen involved. Intramural sports focus on fitness, fun, and community. They’re an excellent alternative for teens to socialize with their peers and have some fun. With intramural sports, teens get a chance to make new friends outside of their school. In addition, intramural sports allow your teen to meet other teens who share the same interests. These friendships can develop into lasting relationships that will support your teen’s recovery.

#3. Seek Clubs and Hobbies: Participating in activities such as sports, art, or cooking can benefit teens in recovery because they interact with people who share their interests. It also allows them to explore interests without the pressures of using substances.

#4. Seek Recovery Groups: Support networks provide teens with a safe environment to share their experiences and concerns about life after addiction. Recovery groups, like 12-step meetings, provide teens an opportunity to make new friends, learn about recovery, and build self-esteem. Some 12-step groups focus on teens and their recovery, while others focus on family, friends, and work-related issues. Participants find it beneficial to share their experiences and learn to help each other stay sober.

#5. Maintain Friendships From Treatment: Many participants form friendships while undergoing treatment at a recovery facility. Maintaining these friendships post-treatment is essential for lasting sobriety. Peers from recovery meetings understand the challenges of recovery.

#6. Canvas Existing Friends: One of the simplest ways to help your teen maintain a sound support system is to reinforce their current relationships with their peers. Perhaps, your teen strained or broke healthy friendships because they were using. Now they can work on rebuilding these friendships. Additionally, they can reach out to these friends for further advice or networking opportunities. They can also help your teen tap into other social groups of healthy peers.

Teens thrive in a healthy setting; therefore, forming a healthy network of friends, family, and peers that support recovery is essential to maintaining success. At Clearfork Academy, our approach to care utilizes both conventional and holistic approaches to ensure your teenager gets the support and resources they need. Our programs work to help your teen understand addiction, restore confidence, social skills, and form healthy friendships. Our aftercare support encourages teenagers to stay active within the community by joining clubs, playing sports, and attending church and other community gatherings. All these options offer your teen an opportunity to form healthy relationships, maintain recovery and achieve their greatest goals. Our support staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so there is never a wrong time to reach out. To find out more about our teen male-focused programs, reach out to us at Clearfork Academy today by calling (866) 650-5212.

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How to Know if Your Teen Needs Residential Treatment?

How to Know if Your Teen Needs Residential Treatment?

Residential treatment is a form of therapeutic care that provides an environment for adolescents with a substance use disorder (SUD) to heal from the effects of trauma, addiction, or mental illness. Such an environment offers a safe space for teens to develop the confidence and resiliency needed to sustain sobriety.

Residential treatment also helps teens and their parents understand addiction and develop ways to help them manage their disorder. Let’s explore residential treatment, and determine if this is a good option for your teen.

The Basics of Substance Abuse

Substance use disorders involve using any drug or chemical substance that alters one’s mood or behavior. Some of these drugs are legal, and others are not. When teens experience addiction, they may go through withdrawal symptoms when they cannot access substances.

A SUD can also lead to risky behaviors resulting in injury or death. If you think your teen has a problem with substance abuse, it’s essential to discuss this issue with them calmly and without judgment. Listen to their concerns and help them find the best residential treatment facilities.

Does My Teen Need Rehab?

Teens turn to drugs and alcohol for many reasons. Some turn to substances when they want to escape reality or increase their dopamine levels. Others turn to them for fun or because of peer pressure. Whatever their reason, addiction can take over. It’s crucial for you as a parent or guardian to look for any signs of drug or alcohol use in your child so that you can seek help.

Some of the most common signs of teen substance use include:

  • A sudden change in their behavioral patterns.
  • Changes in appearance or hygiene.
  • Poor performance or absences from school.
  • Increase in hostility and aggression.
  • Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed.
  • Frequent mood changes.
  • Lying about how much they use to hide their addiction.
  • Risky behavior such as unprotected sex with multiple partners when under the influence.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • The inability to meet their responsibilities.
  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down on alcohol or other drug use.
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, depression, and cravings when they cannot use their drug of choice.

What Happens During Residential Treatment?

Research suggests that residential treatment significantly decreases teens’ chances to use substances. Treatment will not only help your child overcome their addiction but also manage any co-occurring mental health disorders.

Residential treatment provides stability for kids to focus on their recovery without the distraction of problems in school or with friends. The good news is that rehabilitation is successful for many teens addicted to substances. Residential treatment works because of the supportive environment and length of stay.

Residential treatment also helps teenagers:

  • Identify the problems they’re having with their substance use.
  • Learn how to make healthy decisions in the future.
  • Develop life skills such as coping skills.
  • Receive counseling to help them deal with their SUD and related problems.
  • They offer the means for your teen to continue schooling with academic support.

Early Steps of Treatment

The first step of treatment usually involves detoxification from drugs or alcohol before moving into a residential program where teens are monitored 24/7 while receiving therapy and learning new strategies for coping.

Their individualized recovery plan will also include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help identify triggers.
  • Educational counseling to help them avoid triggering situations that lead to relapse.
  • Learn positive coping skills that will allow them to manage their lives and recovery successfully.

Finally, treatment centers such as Clearfork Academy provide aftercare services that assist with post-treatment adjustments like outside therapy, support groups, and academic support.

How to Select The Right Rehab Center?

If you’re looking for a teen rehab center, it’s essential to choose one with an excellent reputation and fully licensed staff. Take into account how many years the facility has been around; this will give you an idea about its experience with teens dealing with addiction disorders. It will also be helpful if they offer both residential treatment programs and outpatient options so that your child can continue their education while undergoing treatment.

Some questions to consider include:

  • What services do they offer for teenagers?
  • How long can your child stay at a residential facility?
  • Do they offer individual or group therapy options, wilderness programs, or a variety of treatment modalities?
  • Are family members welcome to visit regularly?
  • Do they include family therapy to improve familial relations?
  • Will they offer academic support, so your child stays on track with their academics?

At Clearfork Academy, our residential treatment programs help teens develop better coping mechanisms to manage their mental health and substance use disorders. Our models of treatment and therapies improve self-esteem, social skills and build healthy support networks consisting of family, friends, and peers. With us, your teenager will have a comfortable space to explore their potential and develop the skills and enthusiasm necessary to go after their greatest dreams. Our strong presence within the community also ensures that your teenager has access to support long after initial treatment. While embarking on the journey to recovery can be intimidating, remember, it all begins with taking the first step. If your teenager is currently struggling with mental health and substance use disorders, get help today. With provided admissions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there’s no excuse not to reach out. To learn more about our programs, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling (888)966-8604.

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What Causes Adolescent Meltdowns?

What Causes Adolescent Meltdowns?

Many circumstances can cause adolescents to experience meltdowns. Common signs of a meltdown include emotional distress, aggression, stress, and sadness. When it comes to meltdowns, there are a few things you can do as a parent to help your child manage them.

Understanding the signs of a meltdown, taking action, and talking with your child about why they feel this way are all effective ways to address a meltdown. Let’s further explore how you can support and help your child manage and avoid meltdowns.

What Causes Meltdowns?

A meltdown is when the brain becomes overloaded with too many stimuli, such as sounds, sights, tastes, or textures. Often, too much sensory input contributes to an adolescent’s meltdown. Your child might become overwhelmed by all the stimulation happening within their brain. They might experience anxiety because sensory overload can create confusion by disrupting the brain’s chemical balance. When this occurs, the nervous system goes on high alert because it cannot handle what’s happening, which could also lead to a panic attack.

Adolescents experience sensory overload due to their stressors. Such stressors involve hormonal changes, social pressures, and expectations from family members, peers, and teachers.

Additional everyday stressors include:

  • Overexposure to new and confusing situations
  • Emotional distress or stress
  • Unexpected changes to routines or life situations like parents divorcing
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Lack of social support
  • Feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities
  • Relationship, career, or familial challenges

Have a Meltdown Plan

A plan will provide consistency and preparation in responding when your child experiences a meltdown. Together, both of you can react appropriately to the situation. When creating your plan, the number-one consideration should always be safety. Consider your child’s safety, your safety, and any other family members in the proximity.

Ultimately, there are four elements to crafting an effective meltdown plan:

#1. Recognize the triggers.

#2. Identify the underlying emotion.

#3. Apply coping strategies.

#4. Follow through on your plan.

How to Help During the Meltdown

The first and most obvious reaction to a meltdown is to help your child deescalate. While some may find it tempting to run away from the meltdown, this will not resolve the issue. You’re only denying your child the space to vent their frustrations by avoiding their needs.

It is more effective to stay calm and let your child feel safe enough to express themselves. As a parent, you must know where your child falls on this spectrum so that you can act accordingly.

Here are some tips to help you get ahead as a parent:

  • Acknowledge the problem and ask them questions about their feelings and everyday experiences.
  • Help your child have a “cool down” with soothing tools like relaxing music.
  • Try to alleviate some of your child’s stress through practices such as yoga.
  • Monitor behavior to understand the situation and utilize this information to help you in the future.
  • Avoid yelling, aggressive or accusatory behavior. Instead, show your child support. Remember, they are vulnerable and unable to control their emotions, and yelling will only upset them.
  • Avoid being judgemental. Instead, listen and talk with your child about what’s happening. Being a source of comfort instead of confrontation will further help your child understand that they will feel safe going to you for help.
  • Help them sit down and take care of themselves until the meltdown ends.
  • Offer the option of taking a break when needed.
  • Don’t leave your child alone if they feel threatened by others’ reactions.
  • Listen, show empathy by listening to the problem-solver.
  • Don’t treat them like they have done something wrong.
  • Don’t make comparisons to their processing of emotions with another person.

After the Meltdown

Following your child’s meltdown, take some time for yourself. Taking time for yourself allows you to process the episode, reset and deal with future meltdowns more effectively. It will also help you address and process your emotions. Remember, self-care is essential for nourishing physical and mental health needs.

To recharge your batteries, consider the following self-care techniques:

  • Journaling
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Talking with friends and family

Mental Health Treatment for Adolescent Meltdown

If your adolescent has a pattern of meltdowns, consider seeking the help of mental health professionals. Professionals will be able to diagnose and treat your child accurately. Some treatment options include a partial hospitalization program (PHP), intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), or a residential treatment center for teens.

These forms of treatments teach evidence-based ways to reduce stress during out-of-control moments. They also help teens learn how to “ride the waves” of emotions as smoothly as possible. Therefore seeking help is always the best option for your child’s care.

Adolescents can become overwhelmed by new experiences, relationships, school, and social settings, leading to meltdowns. Intense feelings such as yelling, crying, lashing out at other people, fleeing from situations, and shutting down are all signs of a meltdown. Therefore it is essential to find ways to help your child stay calm during these trying times, and Clearfork Academy can help. At Clearfork Academy, we utilize treatments and therapies to help parents and teenagers become aware of the signs of a meltdown. We also provide comfortable spaces where teens can discuss their feelings and receive support from professionals, family, friends, and peers. We also address and treat any underlying mental health and substance use disorders. If your child is currently in need of professional support, don’t wait; get help today. Our admissions staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Find out more about our programs and contact us by calling (888) 966-8604

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Tips for Getting Through Winter Break

Tips for Getting Through Winter Break

Winter break is a time when kids can take time away from school for the winter holidays and relax while being with family. For most people, the winter season and holidays serve as one of the most exciting times of the year. 

The excitement of spending time with family, Christmas, and having a break from work and school creates a time for celebration. But this time of the year is not always easy for everyone, and for some teens, winter break can feel more like a dread than an opportunity to relax.

Challenges The Holidays Present for Teens With SUD

Although school and academic work does not necessarily bring a sense of pleasure for teens, the routine of going to school and seeing their peers is essential in their life. Winter break can serve as a disruption to the routine with prolonged time away from that structure. The decrease in activity can lead to the feeling of boredom and loneliness. As a way to cope, teens may begin to experiment with things that bring them a sense of pleasure including drug and alcohol use. For teens who already have a history of abusing substances, this break can trigger use again. 

With the holidays comes a surplus in planned events such as visiting relatives, travel arrangements, and Holiday activities. This can make teens feel like winter is a hectic time and cause sensory overload for some. The swell of stress and anxiety has been shown to trickle into depression and may result in other symptoms of mental health challenges. 

Signs your Teen is Struggling with Winter Break 

If you are worried that winter break has an adverse effect on your teen’s emotional and mental health, here are some warning signs to consider.

  • Increase in unusual or disruptive behaviors (aggression, irritability, sadness, explosive outburst)
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Lack of interest in holiday activities
  • Negative self-talk or mentions of suicidal thoughts and self-harm
  • Disinterest in social interactions

Mental health symptoms don’t always externalize and become evident to other people. Depression and anxiety can be an internal battle for teens, where some hold everything in and “pretend” they are ok. If you suspect that your teen may be internally suppressing their emotions, set aside time to have them verbally express how they feel. 

Tips to Help Make Winter Break Easier for your Teen

As a parent, wanting to help your teen when you see them struggling is often the first thing you want to do. However,  you may find that offering a helping hand is seemingly easier said than done. If you are looking for ways to support your teen through winter break, consider these tips to get you started. 

Introduce Self-care Options

Winter break is still a time to let kids wind down and relax from the stress of school. While filling the free time with other responsibilities, teach them how to take the free time to care for themselves. Introduce different activities that help them unplug like, reading books for enjoyment. Relaxing activities like painting, drawing, or creative writing also allow them to clear their head creatively, and they may find that they have a talent for it. Spending time doing activities that help them release any negative feelings through healthier stress-relieving actions. 

Volunteer or Seasonal Employment

The free time of winter break can make the days feel longer and lonelier. Finding seasonal employment or volunteer opportunities is a great way for them to fill their days doing something productive. This gives a sense of structure and responsibility that they can commit to daily or during a scheduled time. Seasonal employment allows them to earn money that they can then spend on themselves and feel proud of earning.  

Physical Activity

Spending every day only playing video games or surfing the internet can lead to many downfalls for teens. With all the free time winter break has to offer, teens may find themselves forming a video game addiction or internet addiction,   due to relying on the pleasure these actions bring. Although the weather may not always permit outdoor activities, encourage them to hit the gym to exercise or play a sport. Exercise not only keeps the body in physical shape but also releases positive endorphins. The rigorous movement has been known to reduce symptoms of depression and, over time, can serve as a release for negative emotions. 

Set Aside Fun Time for Them

Have a specific day or time dedicated to doing something they enjoy. This could be going to their favorite ice cream shop or taking them somewhere fun for the weekend. Offer your child something to look forward to that isn’t necessarily related to the holidays. Going on a family outing or inviting their friends over can help put your teen in the right spirit while taking their mind off of any destructive ideas.

Teens often hide their feelings and emotions from adults, along with their substance use. For teens with SUD, the holidays can be an emotionally difficult time.  With all of the free time that winter break brings, it can leave time for their minds to roam and resort back to self-destructive coping mechanisms such as drug and alcohol use. At Clearfork Academy, we want to help teens identify the stressors in their life and teach them healthy coping strategies instead of self-destructive behaviors. We offer a range of behavioral therapies based on a treatment plan that is specific to your son’s needs. Our residential facility creates a safe, empathic, and judgment-free space that allows our patients to focus on recovery surrounded by staff and peers dedicated to helping them grow. Call Clearfork Academy at (888) 966-8604 to learn more about our treatment programs and get your teen the help they need today. 

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Understanding Self-Care as Essential to SUD Recovery

Understanding Self-Care as Essential to SUD Recovery

Addiction impacts various areas of your life, leading to serious self-neglect. Substance abuse causes poor diet and lack of physical activity,  affecting mental and psychological health. 

Due to the self-neglect that comes with substance abuse, you may find yourself engaging in self-destructive behaviors. During recovery, you will learn the importance of why self-care is essential for long-term sobriety.

What Is Self-Care? 

Self-care is understood as the conscious act of taking responsibility for oneself through behaviors that encourage overall healthy well-being. Self-care can manifest, whether spiritually, mentally, physically, or emotionally.  It can look like creating daily routines and incorporating habits such as exercise or journaling that help keep you grounded. 

Why Is It Important To SUD Recovery?

Substance abuse dramatically affects a person by negatively impacting different areas of life. Addiction affects your mood, appetite, physical and emotional well-being, personal relationships, finances, and many other areas of life. Maintaining long-term sobriety will require various lifestyle changes. The decision to actively commit to the choices that help take care of your mental, physical and emotional health is vital to overcoming addiction.

Mental Self-Care

How you think has a significant impact on your overall well-being—mental self-care consist of doing things that keep your mind clear from negative and self-loathing thoughts. The following actions will help you stay mentally healthy if you use them during stressful periods of your life. 

  • Practice mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness means creating a space that helps you stay connected and conscious of the present moment. This is an essential part of recovery because you can easily find yourself thinking about the past and begin to feel guilt, shame, and sadness over the lifestyle you used to live. You can start practicing mindfulness in small ways like limiting your screen time each day. The most important thing to remember is to stay healthily connected with your day. Mindfulness is a practice, so it will take time to feel like second nature to you.
  • Have alone time. Spending time by yourself is an important form of mental self-care because it allows you to recharge your energy. Having time set aside to be alone allows you to take a break from the social responsibilities that may overwhelm you throughout the day. This gives you the chance to refresh your mind and thoughts while establishing a positive bond with yourself. 
  • Set boundaries. Substance abuse causes many individuals to damage relationships with their friends and loved ones. A part of addiction recovery will be learning how to repair and create new healthy relationships. Healthy relationships involve setting clear boundaries, which are not present while using substances. Boundaries teach everyone involved within your circle how to treat you through a set of rules. An example of setting boundaries for yourself can be not wanting anyone to bring drugs or alcohol around you at any given time.

Physical Self-Care

Substance abuse is a complex and aggressive disorder because it causes many forms of self-neglect such as lack of oral and physical hygiene, undereating, and reduced sleep. Your body and mind are connected, so it is essential to take care of both aspects for your overall well-being. Physical self-care involves incorporating activities into your day that keep your body healthy and active.

  • Physical Activity. Take some time out of the day to get your body moving. Physical exercise keeps your body in shape and even improves your emotional state. When you work out, your body releases endorphins (brain chemicals) that help improve mood, sleep, appetite and lessen depression. 
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep. Sleep plays a vital role in giving your body the rest it needs to recuperate from the day. Lack of sleep impacts many areas of your health, such as slower cognitive functioning, irregular heartbeat, and irritability.  Establish a set time at night that you decide to wind down and get sleep.
  • Personal hygiene. One of the most prominent aspects of addiction is the lack of personal hygiene. Many individuals neglect daily habits that take care of their hygiene.  In recovery, you may still find it difficult to form an effective personal hygiene routine. Work with your therapist and staff to get into the habit of creating a hygiene routine that works for you.

Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care is just as necessary as other forms of self-care. Spirituality is different for everyone and doesn’t have to be associated with any specific religion. Spiritual self-care is anything that allows you to connect with yourself on a deeper level. It is necessary to stay in tune with yourself instead of masking your feelings. Here are a few ways to incorporate spiritual self-care into your life.

Holistic Treatment 

One form of treatment that has shown to be beneficial for some people is holistic treatment approaches. In addition to counseling and medication, facilities will also offer holistic wellness services that include:

Connect with Nature 

Going out and getting a breath of fresh air allows you to not only find mental clarity but allows you to connect with your natural surroundings. Putting down your phone and going out to get some sun or go for a walk is an all-encompassing approach to your self-care journey, as this action honors each modality of respecting who you are and where you want to be. 

Gain Insight from Better Sources

Being decisive about what you consume is a form of self-preservation as it impacts how you perceive yourself and the world around you. Reading books and articles or listening to podcasts that expand your mind and inspire different ways to connect with who you are, feeds you positive information you can use every day to establish symbiotic relationships at school, with friends, and within your home.

One of the key components to having a successful recovery is knowing how to take care of yourself, especially during stressful times in your life. Addiction causes self-neglect which can worsen symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and physical health. At Clearfork Academy, our goal is to give your teen struggling with addiction the tools to live a healthy and drug-free lifestyle. We understand the hardships teenagers may face and how difficult it can be for them to express their pain, causing them to turn to unhealthy coping styles. Through our residential and intensive outpatient programs, we are able to help your teen learn the importance of self-care and help them identify techniques they can use when life becomes stressful. If you are in need of a safe and therapeutic facility that will help your teen recover from addiction and other co-occurring disorders, reach out to Clearfork Academy today (844) 387-8780.

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What Is “Urge Surfing” and How Does It Work?

female surfer floating on surfboard in sea

Many individuals with SUD deal with urges to use substances again. Sometimes urges can become so powerful that you cannot resist them. However, what if you could harness your urges? A new SUD recovery strategy called Urge Surfing has been gaining popularity as an innovative way to manage substance-related urges. 

Urge Surfing encourages individuals to ride out or “surf” their cravings rather than act on them. Real-world experiences with this method can help individuals avoid relapse. Let’s take a closer look at what urge surfing is and how it benefits recovery.  

Why Do Urges Occur? 

Urges occur for many reasons. Urges are common for individuals with a SUD. Urges stem from the body’s cravings to use substances. Regardless, if the individual stops using substances, they may experience certain feelings, circumstances, thoughts, or experiences that will trigger the urges. Some specific triggers include:

  • Experiencing withdrawal from drugs increases the intensity of urges
  • Going through a stressful moment in life
  • Experiencing mental health issues, especially if not treated by professionals
  • Lack of a support system can leave recovery vulnerable to urges

What Is Urge Surfing?

Urge surfing sessions can last minutes or hours, depending on the severity of your craving. However, listening to your thoughts and actively engaging with the urge reduces your impulse to use. Urge surfing accomplishes this by implementing the power of mindfulness into the practice, which can help you overcome cravings by actively engaging with them rather than trying to resist them. 

In contrast to other relapse prevention techniques, urge surfing relies on learning to use your innate urges to keep your craving in check. If you live with a SUD, challenges often arise in resisting the temptation. Yet, this technique teaches you to face the temptation head-on with confidence and preparation. 

How to Practice Urge Surfing

During the initial sessions with a practitioner, you will acquire somewhat of a roadmap to understand your urges. The practitioner will also explain the fleeting nature of urges. 

As such, participants must refrain from reinforcing the nature of these urges. Instead of indulging the urge by resuming substance use, you can choose to let it pass. Allowing it to pass increases the odds of it subsiding.

Over time, this practice helps strengthen your resolve and reduce your urges. However, if you choose to feed the urges, the urge will continue to grow stronger. For this reason, the practitioner will emphasize the belief that you have control over your choices. Essentially, you can choose to ride the urge with this mindful practice. 

Here are some effective steps to help you get started on the practice of urge surfing.

  • Focus on Your Urge: Pay attention to the urge, the length of time, and how strong it is. Doing so might help you become aware of what triggers your urge to use substances.
  • Choice: Make an active choice to engage with the urge. Instead of seeking a distraction, face it directly. Allow your emotions to flow through you. Doing so will help you understand the “what” and the “why” behind your feelings.
  • Find a Comfortable Position: You can stand or sit in any position, so long as you are comfortable.
  • Resist Judgment: Do not judge yourself during this process. Doing so will only perpetuate anxiety and negative thoughts.
  • Breathing: Deep breathing techniques help calm your central nervous system and reduce stress and anxiety during an urge. Taking a few minutes in your day to regulate your breathing will also improve your mood.

Now, you can start surfacing. Realize that you don’t need to use drugs. Instead, focus on surfing to the point where the urge passes through your mind. Ultimately, this technique gives your mind time to quiet down. Moreso, it gives you a break before taking action. It allows you to get in touch with what is truly important in life, like keeping yourself and your relationships happy and healthy

Is Urge Surfing Right for You? 

Sitting with and facing your emotions is a necessary part of recovery. Therefore, urge surfing can be a beneficial tool because it incorporates other effective methods such as mindfulness into the practice. Such practices are essential for continuing to help you develop resilience, confidence, and the persistence necessary to continue to grow in recovery

Additionally, urge surfing is a practice that helps you avoid suppressing emotions or triggering shame and instead uses self-compassion techniques to help you overcome unhealthy habits. It might take some time to implement and use effectively, but it will be a pursuit well worth the effort. 

Urge surfing is a valuable technique that can help teenagers recover from a SUD. However, some teens find it difficult to handle their urges concerning substance use, but Clearfork Acadamey can help. We offer various options to care, including mindfulness and breathwork techniques. Additionally, our medically-supervised detoxes and behavioral therapy will provide the atmosphere necessary to develop the skills to resist urges. When your teen learns how to manage their urges, they can continue to build upon these learned techniques to develop resiliency long after treatment. Soon, your teenager will have the education and confidence necessary to navigate the challenges that come with recovery. Of course, if they should ever meet a challenge they cannot face, we remain a point of support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If your teen needs help, get help today. To learn more, reach out to Clearfork Academy and call (866) 650-5212.
 

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How to Find a Therapist Who Is a Good Fit for You?

close up of a therapist during session

Choosing a therapist that’s a good fit for your teen can be both challenging and overwhelming. However, with some guidance, patience, and persistence you will find the right therapist. Let’s take a closer look at some of the things you can consider that will help you in your search to find a suitable therapist for your teenage son.

What Are the Types of Teen Counseling?

While there is a range of therapies, there are three main types of therapies that can benefit your teen’s needs.  

They include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT works best for those with an eating disorder, stress, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), SUD,  or social anxiety disorder. This form of psychotherapy will teach your teen to identify, change, and manage the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that negatively affect their well-being. CBT will help your teen gain the ability to identify the stressors that lead to their behaviors, like using substances, and learn coping techniques to help them change these behaviors.
  • Family Systematic Therapy (FTS): FTS is a holistic approach to mental health that emphasizes the importance of family systems in the development, maintenance, and resolution of mental health problems. This treatment method helps people understand the core problems affecting their relationships with others and assists them in making changes to improve their lives. It is a treatment plan that allows teens to learn healthy, productive life skills and behavior management skills.
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: This form of therapy calls for participants to explore their innermost thoughts and feelings head-on to identify underlying conflicts or motivations for behavior. Therapists most often use psychodynamic psychotherapy in cases of mood disorders and psychological trauma. Psychodynamic psychotherapy will allow your teen to recover from these issues and achieve better mental wellness and long-term recovery. Their therapist helps them determine the reasons for their initial substance use and find an alternative for substance use.

Factors in Choosing a Therapist

When choosing an effective therapist, consider these factors.

  • Cost: Therapy ranges from $25 per session up to $200 per hour. Therefore, you should consider how many sessions are needed to improve your son’s condition. Depending on the length of care, this can potentially affect you financially. Fortunately, most therapists accept insurance or accept new participants via sliding scale payments.
  • Goals and Needs: Understand your son’s goals and needs. Your son may have been unsuccessful with past therapists because they didn’t have the right skills to address the issue. However, if your son is interested in working on their anxiety, depression, or relationship issues along with SUD, then a therapist specializing in those areas will be a good match.
  • Understands the Depth of SUD: SUD is a progressive disease with many different stages and effects on the body and mind. The potential therapist must understand this to effectively help an individual with a SUD in their recovery process. They must also be willing to put in time and effort into working with them to bring them back from the depths of SUD.
  • Specializations: Specialized therapists have a professional background, a strong support network, and a specialized set of techniques for treating different types of SUD or mental health issues. They demonstrate their specialty via evidence of their case studies, training, and experience.
  • Fully Qualified: Many regulations protect the public from unqualified therapists and ensure that therapists’ practices are ethical and legitimate. Therapists who are in good standing with the State will be licensed to practice. Most licenses call for therapists to hold at least a Master’s degree in a mental health field and complete hours of continuing education or training.
  • Cultural Background: A therapist should be mindful of the culture of the client. A culturally sensitive therapist can help you better understand your experience and find the best ways to express how you feel.
  • Progress: When a good therapist starts with a new person, they provide a treatment plan. The plan helps both you and the therapist track your progress and recognize the benefits of these therapy sessions.
  • Therapeutic Options: A range of therapy options can assist a person with a SUD. Therapists usually use psychotherapy and behavioral therapies. Many modalities fall under these two broad categories. It’s essential to consider and discuss these options with therapists to determine the best therapy for your son.

Therapists can assess your son’s needs and recommend treatment options to help your son achieve long-term wellness. Therapy is an important tool for self-care, achieving personal goals, and overcoming depression, anxiety, and SUD. It’s not just about what the participants want, it is about what the therapist can do to help their participants achieve the life they deserve.

At Clearfork Academy, we understand the importance of therapy. Each participant of our treatment program receives an aftercare plan that guides their search for a suitable therapist. Our treatment facilities provide participants therapy with fully licensed therapists. Our range of effective therapies to treat SUD includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and family therapy. Each of our therapies holds benefits that will serve your son’s recovery long after treatment. They will also be among peers that share similar experiences which helps cultivate a strong support network that will offer the comfort and security they need. If your teenage son is currently struggling to overcome a SUD and needs help, don’t wait. We provide admissions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you can reach out the moment you need help. Find out more information about our programs by contacting us at Clearfork Acadamy today by calling (866) 650-5212. 

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Thoughts on a New Identity: Hope for a New You in Recovery

woman smiling in a mirror

An element not often discussed in addiction recovery is the identity change you experience while recovering from substance use or chemical dependency. While the change is ongoing, recovery is a huge life transition. It is much more than just stopping or quitting harmful substance use habits; it is about altering your lifestyle and understanding your worthiness of sober, joyful living. 

Explaining Identity

The term identity encompasses the set of qualities, experiences, relationships, and values that make one person different from others. Everyone’s identity is subjective and shaped through personal experiences. Everything that makes you, you contribute to your identity. Identity consists of all characteristics that determine who a person is. 

Examples of identity include:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Sexuality
  • Physical attributes
  • Gender
  • Religious beliefs
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Age

When addiction and substance use becomes an important factor in your life, your identity becomes clouded. Since drugs and alcohol cause intense and severe cravings, especially long-term, you could prioritize substances over everything else. Soon, your identity could become only drugs and alcohol. 

What is an Identity Crisis? 

An identity crisis is a period of mental fog, confusion, and uncertainty regarding understanding your identity. Identity crises usually happen during big transitions or because of intense stressors in life. Sometimes, you may experience an identity crisis first, which leads to substance use. Other times, substance use comes first, and the identity crisis happens due to your use. 

Rebuilding A New Identity In Recovery

Some factors of your identity are ones that you are born with and others become shaped through challenging or difficult life experiences. Although identity crises can seem overwhelming and scary, it can be great to have a fresh identity. One major benefit of recovery is that it allows you to start over. By learning and understanding your need for recovery, you are already building and establishing new boundaries for yourself. 

Self-awareness is a key factor in being able to recognize unhealthy feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Recovery will give you numerous tools and resources to help you discover deeper parts of yourself, which will increase your sense of self-awareness. It will help you achieve resilience and sustain recovery because resilience enables you to persevere through adversity. 

Stay Motivated

If you truly want to live healthily and be a better person for yourself and your family, it is essential that you recognize the importance of motivation. What is your motivation for recovery? If your only reason for recovery is that others forced you to do it, you will not experience success on your journey. 

If your motivation for recovery is that you know you deserve to be healthy and not rely on substances to cope with stress, you will experience success. You have chosen to walk away from substances, and your purpose for recovery will fuel long-term success. 

Here are some examples of ways to kickstart your recovery and self-discovery journey:

  • Switch up your daily routine.
  • Drink more water. It is so simple but also life-changing!
  • Meditate, pray, and focus on the present moment.
  • Reach out to your loved ones and let them know how grateful you are for them.
  • Journal your strengths, weaknesses, goals, passions, etc. Revisit these weekly.
  • Try a new sport or hobby.
  • Build new friendships and connections.
  • Switch up your wardrobe.
  • Learn a new skill.
  • Find new responses for battling stress and anxiety.

Understanding That Recovery is Uncomfortable

It may be helpful to understand and prepare that recovery is an uncomfortable experience, especially when it comes to rebuilding your identity. As you become a new version of yourself, of course, you will be nervous and perhaps uncomfortable. Remember that growth happens outside of your comfort zone. 

Many people who go through the recovery process will feel periods of emptiness, numbers, and loss. Recovery means that you are actively choosing to give up a considerable part of your identity, being your addiction. It is time to acknowledge that you are more worthy and deserving of a life where your substance use does not determine your identity. 

Surrender to Recovery

Part of recovery means accepting your past. If you continue to hold onto the past, you risk creating more challenges in recovery. Therefore, you must surrender to your recovery, your treatment experience, and your former self. You can reclaim your identity by reconnecting with the deepest parts of yourself. What were your interests and goals before using substances? What are your goals now that you are sober? By redefining yourself and your life, you will connect better with your thoughts and experiences. 

At Clearfork Academy, we understand that identity evolves through a collection of experiences, behaviors, relationships, and qualities. Although self-discovery and forming a new identity can be uncomfortable, it is necessary for long-term recovery. Our effort is to help teenage males establish the foundational elements necessary to create a healthy identity. Our programs involve both conventional and holistic approaches that will motivate, inspire and educate teenagers on mental health and substance use disorders. We also work with the whole family. Our family programs allow parents and their teens the opportunity to communicate in healthier ways and work together to handle the challenges of addiction and addiction recovery. We believe that substance use rehabilitation requires more than just quitting a substance, but requires a change of heart. Of course, we remain a pillar of support should a teenager need help following treatment. For more information about our programs and resources, call us today at (866) 650-5212.

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Moving Past the Stigma of Taking Medication For Mental Health in Recovery

woman talking with doctor

Although the stigma associated with mental illness has decreased over the last few decades, there is still a heavy stigma associated with taking medication for mental health. Therefore, millions of people neglect to get the help they need to alleviate their physical and mental distress. 

Additionally, unhelpful, stigmatizing attitudes towards taking medication could exacerbate symptoms. While many people can experience an alleviation of anxiety from psychotherapy, many treatment experiences also involve prescription medications to help a struggling person experience mental clarity and bring balance to the chemicals within their brain. 

Stigma and Medication

It is important to understand that the stigma associated with taking medications does not target just one drug category. The stigmas surrounding taking and being prescribed medication involve all drugs related to mental health conditions. 

Prescription medications for mental health include, but are not limited to:

  • Antipsychotics (for conditions and symptoms related to delusions or hallucinations)
  • Antidepressants (for depression symptoms such as being unable to get out of bed in the morning)
  • Anti-anxiety medications (for anxiety symptoms such as panic attacks or extreme worry)
  • Stimulants (for increasing attention, concentration, and energy)
  • Mood stabilizers (used to treat mood and personality disorders for symptoms such as mania)

Understanding When And Why Medication Is Necessary

After clinical evaluation, a therapist or psychiatrist may recommend or prescribe medication for a variety of reasons. Each condition may require a different dosage or type of medication based on the intensity of negative symptoms experienced. For example, antidepressant medication treats people experiencing intense, negative symptoms associated with a depression diagnosis. 

As depression can be crippling, depression occurs through faulty mood regulation within the brain. Antidepressant medications increase and balance the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain, lessening the distressing symptoms associated with the condition. In many cases, medication is necessary because certain mental health conditions cause an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. 

Medication and Physical Health

Another way to understand the importance of medication in mental health is to look at medication associated with physical health. Most medications treat or cure a given condition. For example, antibiotic medication helps to cure infections, and in some cases, is the only solution to cure a certain infection. Further, medication for mental health is prescribed for a certain amount of time to attempt to cure a condition or relieve symptoms completely. Sometimes, this requires a person to wean off medication and lessen dosages over time. 

In severe cases, medication also helps people with certain mental conditions return to a normal (or a new normal) version of functioning. Medication can also reduce symptoms enough to enhance the effectiveness of other treatment modalities. For instance, psychotherapy is often recommended to enhance wellbeing and help people navigate through social situations. 

If a person presents psychotic symptoms, they may not feel safe enough to explore their concerns and intrusive thoughts in a psychotherapy setting. In this case, antipsychotic medication may help the psychotherapy process and help a person get the mental clarity that they deserve. 

Addressing the Misconceptions

There are many misconceptions and beliefs about the use of medication to treat mental health disorders. Some of which prevent individuals from seeking the help they need. 

Common misconceptions and stigmas associated with taking medication might include:

  • Taking Medication Makes a Person Weak: When people use medication, it is highly likely that they truly need that medication in order to function properly. Therapists and psychiatrists do not take prescription medication lightly, especially because certain medications are often abused. Stigmatizing taking medication as being weak implies that if an individual only worked harder and more intentionally through their mental distress, they would not need to rely on medication. It is both insensitive and inaccurate. If anything, there is strength in acknowledging and accepting the help that an individual may need from a particular condition. 
  • Medication Does Not Provide a Long-Term Solution: As mentioned previously, medication can help to reduce and alleviate negative symptoms associated with certain mental illnesses. Medication is not merely a solution to mental illness, although it is a great start. Medication can enhance a treatment experience and make a person discuss and work through their mental processing. Medication allows individuals to reach a point where they are able to cope and manage their symptoms. Sometimes people can continue their prescription for years, whereas others may only need them for a short period of time. Although it may not provide a long-term solution, it can encourage a person to accept further support and guidance in their treatment experience.

The stigma surrounding needing and taking medication for mental health continues to cause people to neglect to get the help they need for their symptoms of distress. Many mental health conditions create an imbalance of chemicals and hormones in the brain and body, causing severe negative symptoms. Medications are necessary because they help to increase and balance chemicals in the brain necessary for overall wellbeing. While some medications reduce symptoms, others can cure conditions. In many cases, medications help enhance the mental health treatment experience, especially in psychotherapy settings. At Clearfork Academy, we acknowledge that prescription medications may be necessary in severe cases of mental health distress. We offer intentional, comprehensive treatment experiences for teenage males suffering from the effects of addiction and mental health challenges. We believe in a better future for your teen and will celebrate their victories with them during their journey. To find out more, call us today at (866) 650-5212.

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What Are Some Ways to Help Self-Harm?

teenage with a bruise around his eye

Self-harm is a major problem facing teens. It is self-destructive, dangerous, and can even cause long-term damage to a teen’s body. Further, physical self-harm is any self-injury that involves intentionally inflicting harm on the body. Let’s explore what self-harm is and how a teen can find help.  

Why Self-Harm

There is a range of reasons why adolescents self-harm. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • To cope with anxiety, stress, loneliness, or depression.
  • To feel better for the moment by numbing.
  • To regulate their emotions.
  • To release tension or feel less pressured.
  • To deal with difficult emotions and experiences.
  • To cope with the stigma associated with mental health issues.
  • To feel a sense of control when they are feeling hopeless or helpless.
  • To show others their emotions without having to say anything.
  • To cope with trauma.

Teens often turn to self-harm as a response to the pressures they face in their lives. Some of these pressures involve school, family troubles, or peer influence. When parents and teens learn about the reasons for self-harm, they can work together to manage the emotions and feelings that lead to this behavior. 

What Are the Warning Signs of Self-Harm?

Understanding the warning signs of self-harm can help both parents and teenagers find appropriate care. 

Some of the symptoms that are associated with self-harm include:

  • Frequent, unexplained injuries or bruises
  • Changes in mood or behavior over a short period of time
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Avoiding social interactions
  • Often wearing long clothing that hides the injuries
  • Expressing thoughts of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Showing reckless behavior
  • Loss of interest in extracurricular activities or school
  • Harmful items such as blades, broken glass, scissors, lighters, or knives found in their space

The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Self-Harm

Self-harm and SUD cause similar feelings of cravings in a person. Additionally, adolescents who experience self-harm have a higher-than-average risk of developing a SUD. These teens may also have a history of traumatic experiences, including being sexually or physically abused, bullied, or witnessing violence. 

Like SUD, self-harm serves as a coping mechanism that allows teens to deal with severe emotional or psychological trauma. A person feels more in control and believes they have the power to change their situation. 

Substance use can also increase the risk of self-injury. Sometimes, teenagers start by self-harming then progress to drug use. Under the influence, teens often lose sight of their actions, which leaves them vulnerable to hurting themselves. Both untreated SUD and self-harm can lead to long-term effects such as depression, self-esteem issues, and mental or emotional issues.

Resisting the Urge to Self-Harm

Therapy helps with healing this condition. However, some techniques can help teens manage their urges.

  • Distraction: Writing, exercise, meditation, watching a movie, or calling a friend, can serve as distractions until the urges pass.
  • Soothe and Calming Techniques: Finding a healthy method to relieve stressful emotions such as meditation, exercise, a bath, breathing exercises, self-care activities, walking nature, or hanging out with friends are great ways to help teens relax.
    • Express Pain and Deep Emotion: Many teens find it challenging to find a safe person to express their feelings – especially the painful ones. There is always the fear that their peers or loved ones will judge them or that they will not be supportive of them. At Clearfork Academy, we recommend practicing active listening and refraining from judging.
  • Connect With Others: Connecting with supportive people benefits recovery and long-term wellbeing. Such settings help teenagers connect through hobbies, sports, or volunteering. Participating in these activities helps teens live well and avoid destructive choices.
  • Release Tension: Some teens who self-harm use it for the sensation of releasing tension from their bodies. When tension builds for an extended period of time, our bodies become sick with the stress. Those who self-harm can use relaxation techniques such as massages, stretching, or pilates to gain the same sensation.

Help Your Teen Cope With Their Emotions

Being overwhelmed is normal when teens face the emotions associated with school stress. Many teens do not tell their parents about their self-harm because they feel ashamed. To help create a safe environment for teens to feel sad, mad, frustrated, or scared requires assisting teens to develop healthy ways to manage their stress or pain. 

Consider working through their feelings with them by doing things they enjoy, such as playing a game, reading a book, or watching a funny movie. Additionally, consider a treatment program like the intensive outpatient program offered at Clearfork Academy. 

Self-harm is most often used as a form of emotional self-regulation to cope with painful emotions.  Teens who turn to self-harm may also experience guilt, anxiety, and depression. Such feelings could also result in them turning to drugs or alcohol. Therefore it is crucial to understand the underlying causes of your teens’ behavior, and Clearfork Academy can help. We provide resources for teens to manage their urges to self-harm through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), motivational interviewing, problem-solving skills training, and trauma-focused treatment. With us, teens will develop healthy habits to help them avoid self-harm urges long after treatment. If your teenager is currently struggling to overcome their self-harm behaviors, then the time to get help is now. We offer admissions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so there is never a wrong time to reach out. To learn more, contact us at Clearfork Academy today and call (855) 580-1638. 

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How Does the “Flight or Fight” Response Affect Recovery?

man looking stressed while in traffic

Most of us have experienced the “flight or fight” response at some point in our lives. It is an involuntary response to stress in the human body when someone becomes startled, threatened, or scared. Such stressors can also be a significant trigger for substance use disorders (SUD) and lead to relapse. Let’s take a look at the relationship between “fight or flight” responses and SUDs to help you understand how to manage these behaviors and lead a healthy recovery.

What Is the “Flight or Fight” Response?

The “flight or fight” response is an instinctive reaction in your body’s survival system. When you are scared, anxious, or in a stressful situation, the body sends “fight or flight” hormones to help get you through the situation. Therefore, when you see a threat in a trauma situation, your brain automatically releases adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are what help you think logically to respond to danger. However, when stress is overwhelming, these hormones can inhibit your ability to respond to triggers and disrupt normal thought processes.

Anxiety Is a Byproduct of “Fight and Flight” Response

“Fight or flight” is a natural reaction to danger. However, such a response often creates intense episodes of anxiety. Although anxiety can be a natural reaction to scary situations, it can also lead you to experience anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and social anxieties.  

Anxiety can affect how you think, feel, and behave. It can take over your life and leave you feeling confused and overwhelmed. Anxiety can also cause you to feel like you can’t cope with daily life anymore. All these tense feelings could cause you to seek substances to help you cope. 

The Dangers of the “Fight or Flight” Response

The main downside of the fight and flight response is the fact that it triggers intense stress. In this period of crisis or danger, the body produces stress-related hormones. It can also cause a decrease in GABA, the neurotransmitter that helps relax the body and mind. 

Subsequently,  because the body produces high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, it could leave you even more susceptible to prolonged anxiety. In some cases, such prolonged feelings could perpetuate symptoms of other mental health issues like PTSD. 

It Affects the Whole Family

Unfortunately, mental health issues like anxiety can be debilitating to the whole family – especially if SUD is a concern. It’s important to remember that dealing with a SUD requires shifting from your worries to focusing on the present. Living in constant fear or under the weight of anxiety will not help you. Being in such a state is detrimental to your recovery and family relationships. 

If you experience constant anxiety, you risk relapse or developing a drug and alcohol dependence to self-medicate your symptoms. However, drugs and alcohol can also bring about heightened anxiety levels and make your symptoms worse. Over time, you might find yourself caught in a cycle of frequently managing your anxiety with substances. 

When this happens, it can cause you to isolate yourself from family or become irritable with family members. 

Taming the Fight or Flight Response for Your Recovery

Chronic exposure to stressful situations can increase the risk of relapse. Anxiety can also cause overwhelming fear or a sense of helplessness that often leads to self-defeating behaviors. Ultimately, finding ways to manage your stress and cope with the stress-related triggers that lead to relapse is an essential part of staying sober. 

There are many different ways to manage stress and anxiety. Some of them, such as exercising and listening to music, are not always effective for everyone. Yet, some find comfort in practicing mindfulness and yoga to manage stress and anxiety. Additionally, participating in activities that bring you joy helps alleviate stress and negative emotions.  

Other stress-relieving activities include:

  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Getting enough nutrients and water
  • Making time for your self-care
  • Participating in hobbies and activities
  • Practicing mindfulness meditation
  • Joining and attending recovery support groups

Seek Help From a Professional

Sometimes the fight or flight response can be a beneficial instinct. However, it can also become a chronic response that can lead to stress and anxiety. Too much cortisol circulating in the body can trigger too many uncomfortable emotions. Not only does this affect your brain and behavior, but it also impedes your ability to recover from substance use disorder. Therefore, If you can’t handle your stress and anxiety, you should talk with a mental health professional about treatment options.

Living under the weight of anxiety can hinder the quality of your teen’s life. However, they are not alone and help exists. At Clearfork Academy, we focus on the needs of teenage males and provide appropriate care to address their mental health and substance use disorders. With a range of behavioral therapies and activities, we will create a treatment plan that will speak directly to your teen’s needs. During these sessions, your teen will learn strategies and practices on how to process their stress and develop coping skills to manage them. The foundational elements learned with us will set your teen up for a lifetime of success in recovery. We also provide resources to aftercare should your teen need additional help getting back to their everyday life. With us, you will always have support and options to care. Don’t wait to get help. To find out more, contact us at Clearfork Academy today by calling (866) 650-5212. 

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