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Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens

Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens

Personality is one of the factors which distinguishes us from others. Informing how we interact with others, how we approach life, and what we like and don’t like, our personalities are unique to us and can shape our lives.

Aspects of our personality can be genetic, while other personality traits are formed by life events. Sometimes, due to several factors, people develop a personality disorder. This can happen at any age but it most commonly presents during adolescence. Personality disorders impact the way people behave and think about the world.

Our personalities can be impacted by life experiences without the presence of a personality disorder. If we go through big changes, grief, or hardship our character may be temporarily altered, but usually, over time we become ourselves again. For this reason, identifying when somebody is living with a personality disorder can be complex.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a form of personality disorder, which manifests in experiencing very extreme emotions which are difficult to de-escalate. Living with borderline personality disorder can have significant impacts on a person’s life. In this blog, we are going to look at the impacts of borderline personality disorder in teens and identify signs of the condition and effective treatment options.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder predominantly affects a person’s thoughts and behaviors, which can result in intense and unstable relationships, self-destructive behaviors, and extreme emotional reactions. BPD symptoms vary between people but they can include fluctuating mood, distrust of other people, difficulties socializing, and extreme anxiety about the future.

People with borderline personality disorder find it difficult to manage and regulate emotions which can interfere with their ability to function and complete daily tasks. Somebody with this condition may have a distorted view of themselves and the world around them.

Borderline personality disorder typically presents first in the teenage or early adult years. During this time, all young people go through a number of changes and challenges. This increases the need for professional mental health support in accurately diagnosing and treating the condition.

BPD can be triggered by a number of things, often underneath the condition is underlying trauma or co-occurring mental health conditions. Although there is no specific cure, symptoms of BPD can be well managed and people living with the condition can achieve full and happy lives. There are several treatment options to support people living with the condition to find healthier strategies for coping with their condition.

Research has focused on this condition in recent years, and we have a better understanding of the signs of a developing borderline personality disorder, who is at risk, and how to manage it.

BPD in Teens and Young People

As a condition that impacts personality, every case is different and ranges significantly from person to person. Typically, it appears first in adolescence and may continue into adult years.

Young people with BPD are likely to find forming and maintaining relationships difficult. Unfortunately, this can result in loneliness and isolation, perpetuating depressive symptoms of the condition.

The teenage years can be turbulent regardless of a person’s mental health, when this is combined with a mental health condition like BPD young people can feel extremely lost and ungrounded. This means that experiences which may otherwise be straightforward, like going to school or the shop, can be tense and difficult.

Fortunately with increasing research on the condition diagnosing the condition is easier and there are a growing number of effective treatments for young people with BPD. Diagnosing borderline personality disorder does not have to limit somebody’s life. Instead, it can empower them to make positive changes that improve their mental well-being.

Common Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens

Common Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens

Teenage years can throw up significant challenges, relationship changes, and fluctuating hormones. Young people may behave in ways that are little understood by adults around them, but this is often a natural response to the changes they are experiencing. If these fluctuating moods become more intense, interfering with everyday life and inhibiting a young person’s ability to engage with peers this could indicate something more than typical teen behavior.

If it feels as though a teenager is dominated by their mood swings, unable to take control over how they behave, they could be living with a mental health condition.

Distinguishing between natural teen developments and the presence of mental health disorders is important in order to respond in a helpful way. The earlier BPD is diagnosed, the more successfully it can be managed.

Some common borderline personality disorder symptoms include the following:

  • Extreme emotional reactions
  • Disproportionate responses to situations
  • Distorted perception of self and others
  • Very low self-esteem
  • Confusion about own identity
  • Difficulty connecting with others
  • Trouble connecting and forming relationships
  • Unable to empathize with others
  • Fear of being abandoned
  • Dysmorphia which can lead to disordered eating
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Self-medicating with substances
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Extreme anxiety can lead to panic attacks or a loss of reality
  • Impulsive behaviors which can be of a sexual or drug-taking nature
  • Difficulty making decisions, fluctuating between things frequently
  • Self-harming behaviors, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts.

Why Does BPD Develop?

Why Does BPD Develop?

It’s still unclear exactly what causes borderline personality disorder, but it is thought that a number of factors including genes, environment, and social influences could increase the risk of developing the condition. Below we look at some of these.

Genetics

Those with BPD in the family are at a higher risk of developing the condition. This is thought to be a combination of genes and environmental factors. One study looking at family members and twins suggested the heritability rate of BPD was approximately 40%.

Brain Structure

Research would suggest that individuals with borderline personality disorder may have differences in brain structure and function, especially in regions that control impulse and emotional health. It is still unclear whether these occur as a response

However, the studies do not demonstrate whether these changes were risk factors for the illness or if such changes were caused by the disorder.

Environmental Risk Factors

Childhood trauma such as abuse, neglect, significant illness, or hardship is associated with borderline personality disorder.

Social Risk Factors

It is thought that problematic socializing, including abusive relationships or conflict-heavy relationships, could lead to borderline personality disorder.

These factors have been linked to borderline personality, but not everybody who experiences these things will go on to develop a condition. Similarly, some people who have BPD will not have had any of these experiences.

Some of these contributing factors can impact a person’s ability to recover. It’s crucial to seek help from mental health professionals in order to work through underlying factors which contribute to the condition. If a young person in your life is living with BPD it’s important to be patient and compassionate, healing can take time but the journey is worth it.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) suggests that people who don’t access adequate treatment for BPD are at a higher risk of developing other serious medical or mental disorders.

Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder in Teens

Through a proper diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, teens can access treatment that significantly improves their quality of life.

New, evidence-based treatments are increasing the options for young adults with this condition. With the right treatment, teens can experience improved functioning, decreased symptoms, and a more positive outlook on life.

It’s crucial that treatment is administered by a licensed mental health professional. Unlicensed treatment could put the young person could be ineffective at best, or dangerous at worst.

Recovery should not exclusively revolve around treating the condition, it should incorporate educating young people about their mental health disorder, creating appropriate coping methods, and managing their symptoms. By understanding their symptom, teens can feel empowered to deal with their diagnosis and approach the future with more hope and confidence.

Treatment for young people should be specific, their lives and needs are different than those of adults and this should be reflected in their recovery.

Talk therapy is usually the initial treatment choice, unlike some other mental disorders where medication is the first option. Talk therapy varies in range and scope, but people could expect between 1 & 4 sessions a week depending on their circumstances.

There are several treatment modalities that can be used to manage borderline personality disorder symptoms. Below we look at some of them.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

This method of treatment was designed specifically for the management of BPD symptoms and is concerned with mindfulness and focusing on the present moment rather than getting stuck in the past or future. DBT helps people find ways to manage their emotions in healthier ways, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve communication skills. DBT works to accept the past and promotes change for the future.

Taking a problem-solving approach, DBT empowers young people to strategize for their own well-being and future mental health. Dialectical behavior therapy is the most commonly studied treatment for BPD and is considered one of the most effective.

Good Psychiatric Management (GPM)

Good psychiatric management is a form of treatment designed to support people living with BPD. GPM is a flexible program of treatment that can be tailored to the specific needs of the individual and can be carried out with few resources. Through GPM individuals learn to understand their symptoms and behavior through the interpersonal hypersensitivity model. In GPM treatment, symptoms of BPD which include self-harming or suicidal behavior are understood as responses to a disconnection from others.

Mentalization-based therapy (MBT)

This form of therapy helps people to identify the feelings associated with their condition, recognize trigger points, and increase their ability to empathize with others. Through MBT people can better understand themselves and those around them.

Transference-focused therapy (TFP)

This form of therapy aims to help people better understand their feelings and interpersonal relationships. It is designed to help people understand their emotions and interpersonal problems through the relationship between the client and therapist. They then apply the insights they learn to other situations.

Medications

Some people can benefit from medication in treating BPD, despite the fact that there are currently no FDA-approved options specifically for the disorder. Although medication cannot cure the condition, it can relieve symptoms associated with it. Depression, anxiety, psychosis, and impulsivity are all linked with the disorder, and these can be eased with medication. Before trying medication, other treatments are usually tried, especially in the case of teens and young adults.

If medication is used, it should be incorporated as a wider program of care, complementing traditional talk and alternative therapies.

General Self-Care

Generally taking good care of your physical and mental health is beneficial for the treatment of BPD. Incorporating regular physical exercise, maintaining a good sleep routine, eating a nutritious, balanced diet, and managing stress in healthy ways can do wonders for BPD recovery.

Caring for yourself, listening to your needs, and responding to them can lead to improved mood, reduce impulsivity, and balance emotions.

Some aspects of borderline personality disorder are easier to treat than others. Volatility, anger, and self-harm tend to reduce with treatment, while deep-rooted fears of abandonment or emptiness can take longer.

Those who have other mental health disorders such as a substance use disorder, eating disorder or PTSD may take longer to recover.

Clearfork Mental Health Support for Teens

At Clearfork Academy, we believe that every young person deserves to live out their youth happily and healthily. We know how difficult it can be to manage mental health disorders, especially during the tumultuous teen years, but that’s where we step in. We have a range of treatment options that aim to treat the mind and body, encouraging young people to build healthier coping mechanisms for the future.

Living with mental illness as a young person can be extremely complex and challenging, but our team specializes in treating borderline personality disorder in teens. We take a person-centered approach to treatment, offering tailored treatment programs with a diverse range of holistic and alternative therapies.

We have a number of treatment options that address the specific needs of young people that aim to give them hope for the future. Clearfork Academy offers intensive outpatient and inpatient options for young people living with borderline personality disorder.

Reach out to us today at Clearfork Academy to find out how we can help.

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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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Why do Teens Drink Alcohol

Why Do Teens Drink Alcohol?

If you are a parent, teacher, or friend of a teenager who is misusing alcohol you may ask, why do teens drink? Teens drink alcohol for a number of reasons, in this blog we will look into some of the causes and triggers of alcohol abuse, how to manage it, and ways of preventing underage drinking.

What is Teen Alcohol Abuse?

Alcohol is the most commonly used drug among teens and young adults and the consequences of this are severe. Thousands of young people experience health issues as a response to drinking too much alcohol, resulting in underage drinking becoming a leading public health problem in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention carry out specific research to monitor behavior that incurs health risks in teens between the ages of 13 and 17. This includes the use of alcohol and illegal drugs.

2019 results from one study by the CDC found that 15% of teens had their first drink before the age of thirteen. Further research found that 29.2% of high school students currently drink alcohol.

Research by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that 90 percent of drinks consumed by teens are binged. Binge drinking is defined as drinking alcohol to a level that brings blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 percent or more. In adults, this usually equates to around four or more drinks for a woman or five or more drinks for a man. In youth, this is usually even less, with three or more drinks for a girl, and three to five drinks or more for a boy, depending on their build and composition.

What Are the Risks of Drinking Alcohol?

What Are the Risks of Drinking Alcohol?

Teenage drinking can be just as, and at times more dangerous, than adult drinking. In the United States alone, excessive drinking is the cause of death in 3,900 young people, and responsible for 225,000 lost years of potential life in youths below the age of 21.

So what makes underage drinking so risky?

Physical Risks

In the short term, adolescent alcohol use can lead to hangovers and lowered immune systems. Sometimes the consequences of hangovers mean that young people miss out on school or social activities.

Teens who drink increase the risk of physical and mental illness, including addiction to other drugs. Adolescent alcohol use increases the risk of developing a number of physical conditions such as high blood pressure and obesity. It can also lead to alcohol poisoning which can result in low blood sugar, vomiting, seizures, and in some cases, coma.

Alcohol affects emotional and psychological well-being, which can lead to violent and aggressive behavior. In some cases this can result in physical or sexual abuse, in other cases it can lead to homicide or suicide.

Development Problems

Using alcohol as a teen can result in impaired or damaged development. This can impact adult well-being. Young people who drink alcohol are at risk of memory issues, disrupted brain development and functioning, and stunted growth and sexual development.

Teen drinking can also lead to increased chances of developing a substance use disorder, both imminently and later in life. Research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that young people who display symptoms of substance misuse are not likely to grow out of their addictive tendencies in adulthood.

Social and Behavioral Risks

Teen drinking can lead to reduced judgment and danger assessment in several situations. This can lead to social and health risks. Young people who are drinking alcohol may engage in unsafe, unprotected sex, which can lead to sexually transmitted infections or unplanned pregnancies. They may also experience social issues such as fighting or loss of normal teenage experiences.

Underage alcohol use can lead people to engage in risky behavior and risk-taking such as drunk driving, increasing the chances of being involved in a motor accident.

Legal and Educational Consequences

Engaging in underage drinking can lead to issues at school such as high rates of absences or failing classes. Some young people may run into legal issues as a result of their drinking, such as driving illegally or being physically violent.

Why Do Teens Drink Alcohol?

Why Do Teens Drink Alcohol?

Given the extensive list of issues that can stem from underage drinking, you may find yourself asking why teens drink at all. We know from research that not all teenagers drink, so below we look at factors that contribute to this risk-taking behavior.

Drinking alcohol at a young age is commonly associated with dissatisfaction, pain, or distress. Some young people may drink alcohol as a response to anger they are suppressing, when under the influence it is easier to express these feelings. Other youths may drink to numb feelings of sadness which could be associated with grief, loneliness, or mental health issues. Alcohol is also used as an escape, young people may crave the initial feelings of calm and happiness that drinking gives them. Drinking alcohol at a young age is sometimes linked to asserting independence or rebelling against authorities.

Underage drinking is not restricted to one gender or demographic, although research suggests that it is impacted by these things. Throughout the 20th century, boys were more likely to engage in drinking and binge drinking than their female counterparts. Over recent years there has been a reversal. Underage drinking has been reduced in teen boys, with more teen girls reporting alcohol use and binge drinking than boys.

We look at some answers to the question, why do teens drink?

To Feel Accepted

Some young people drink in response to peer pressure from their friends or other young people. They may feel that everyone else is drinking and they will be left out if they don’t.

It’s normal for young people to have low self-esteem and a lack of confidence during their teen years. This is a time of significant changes and trying to ‘fit in’ can feel very important. Many young people begin drinking as a way to be part of the group. They may feel that other people won’t accept them if they don’t start drinking too. Peer pressure is consistently described as one of the main reasons why adolescents drink.

Additionally, alcohol increases confidence and lowers inhibitions which can make socializing easier. Young people who struggle with social anxiety may find that alcohol reduces their anxious feelings.

To Feel Happy

Alcohol affects the central nervous system, when we first drink our body releases extra dopamine which travels to the reward center of our brain making us feel good. Young people may drink to achieve this feeling of euphoria. They may be looking for feelings of happiness that they can’t find elsewhere. This can be the start of an addiction, given that alcohol interacts with our pleasure and reward system.

To Escape

One reason teens drink is to escape difficult feelings and emotions. Alcohol is often used to numb emotional distress which may be associated with mental illness such as depression, or anxiety disorders. Mental health conditions such as these, combined with low confidence, isolation, and confusion can see young people using alcohol to self-medicate.

Even without mental health issues, adolescence is a difficult time with so many changes and developments. Teens and young adults have to cope with relationship issues at home and school, family stresses, and fluctuating hormone levels, amongst other things. Challenging teen years can lead people to drink alcohol as a way of coping.

To Manage Change

Throughout the teenage years there can be a lot of change to manage, both within the individual and around them. This includes changes to their body, friend groups, family life, school, or moving house. These changes can be a lot for young people to manage, and drinking alcohol may be a way of managing the challenges.

To Try it Out

Alcohol is easily accessible and it’s widely accepted in the United States. People are usually aware of alcohol from a young age, they may see family members or friends drinking, and they may be curious to try it. In our teenage years, it is natural to seek out new experiences, including ones that may feel exciting, new, and even dangerous. This is a natural time for people to explore what is around them, test out different experiences and discover what they like. Alcohol may be part of this exploratory phase.

Rebellion

Drinking alcohol can sometimes be an act of rebellion. Throughout their teen years, it’s likely that young people will come against some resistance from adults around them. It’s common for youth to react to rules or discipline with rebellious behavior, for some people this may be consuming alcohol. Some young people seek attention from adults or others around them and they may feel the only way to achieve it is by rebelling.

Childhood Trauma

Childhood experiences can greatly impact a young person’s behavior. Substance misuse, physical, verbal or sexual abuse, or mental illness in the family can lead to unprocessed trauma. Teens who are dealing with the symptoms of trauma alone may turn to alcohol before the legal drinking age.

Exposure to Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol is often represented on screen, in films, and on TV. Additionally, many young people are around people who consume alcohol during their childhood. If adults around have drinking problems or drink excessively, it can lead to a normalization of drinking.

Even in our teenage years, we are capable of modeling our parents’ behavior. If they are regularly drinking alcohol around their children they put them at risk of developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

Education

In the United States, alcohol is so ubiquitous we even see adverts promoting drinking. If young people are not receiving adequate information about the consequences of alcohol they are at greater risk of abusing it. Many teachers and parents are worried about their children drinking alcohol so they avoid the topic completely. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lack of clear information.

Genes

Genetics and family life play a big part in developing a substance misuse disorder. The APA suggests that children who have a parent with an alcohol use disorder are between four and ten times more likely to also develop a drinking problem. This is in part to do with genes but is also related to environmental factors such as the normalization of alcohol.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Understanding common signs of alcohol misuse can help you or a young person in your life seek help as soon as possible. The good news is, with early intervention problem drinking can be effectively treated.

Some of the common indicators of alcohol abuse and alcoholism can also be signs of other mental health conditions or substance use disorders. If you believe someone you know is at risk of developing a drinking problem, seek professional advice.

Signs of a drinking problem include:

  • Fluctuating mood
  • Lowered school attendance and grades
  • Anger or violence
  • Fatigue
  • Letting go of personal hygiene
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Coordination issues

What Does Research Say about Youth Drinking Risks?

What Does Research Say about Youth Drinking Risks?

The risk factors associated with youth alcohol abuse are extensive. They range from social, to legal, to physical and mental health risks.

Research by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that in 2011 188,000 youths under 21 years old visited emergency rooms for injuries related to alcohol use.

Youths who engage in drinking are more likely to be victims and perpetrators of physical and sexual assault. Alcohol causes people to lose their inhibitions and make poor judgments about what is safe.

As aforementioned, one of the main risk factors associated with youth drinking is developing further substance use disorders. People who start drinking below the age of fifteen are more likely to go on to develop an alcohol problem as an adult. Furthermore, they may go on to develop an addiction to other drugs.

Alcohol causes people to make poor judgments, when this is combined with other dangerous behavior such as driving, it can be extremely risky. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 5% of U.S high school students drove a vehicle after drinking alcohol. Further to this, 17% of high school students reported riding in a car with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

Preventing Underage Drinking

There is no easy way to ensure a young person never engages in problem drinking. Given the accessibility of alcohol, it will likely always be one of the most commonly used substances by young people. However, there are steps you can take to make the lives of young people safer, whether you are a parent, friend, teacher, or young person yourself.

Below we look at some important steps to reducing the risks of alcohol.

Face the Issue

Many parents will be in denial about their child’s behavior. Accepting that they are drinking at a young age can bring about all sorts of emotions; anger, guilt, shame, and regret. These feelings will not help you or your child. It’s normal to feel upset or concerned, but if you see signs of drinking or substance abuse seek help right away. There are many support groups for parents which can help you to feel less isolated and well-supported too.

Communication

Maintaining strong communication with the young person in your life is crucial. If they feel understood and listened to they are more likely to be honest with you about their issues. Some adults may feel intimidated about speaking to a young person about drinking problems, but staying silent will only increase the problem.

Listening to what is going on with your child can help you to understand the motives of their drinking. If you are aware of the triggers, fears, and emotions which lie behind your child’s alcohol use, you can begin to guide them in the right direction.

Educate Yourself

Learning about alcohol use disorders and how they take hold is a helpful thing you can do for your teen. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are complex conditions that require patience and determination to get through. Try to find a safe space where you can learn about alcohol, be that in a support group, online, or through mental health practitioners.

Understanding substance abuse yourself means you can help your child to learn too. It’s possible they haven’t had clear information about the consequences of substance use, hearing it from a caregiver who loves them can be the most effective education.

Look After Yourself

Taking care of your own mental well-being may not be your priority right now, but it should be. If you are not feeling emotionally strong it will be very difficult to take care of your young person. If you are able to seek mental health support for yourself, it can greatly improve the situation for everyone. You are a role model for your child and if they see you taking care of yourself, they are more likely to incorporate this behavior into their own lives.

Distraction

If your young person is trying to recover and resist alcohol use, you can help them by filling their time with healthier lifestyle choices and activities. This could mean spending time together in the garden or park, going for walks or swimming together, sewing or cooking. All of these activities are mindful and can be extremely effective for improving mental health.

Create Clear Boundaries

Whatever your parenting style, it’s important to create clear boundaries for your child. Don’t feel afraid to ask them who they are spending time with, invite them over to the house and have a meal together so you can see for yourself how they interact. Good friends are important for your child’s well-being, so it’s crucial not to deny them of that time.

Having clear rules about what is allowed and what isn’t can help a young person recover. This doesn’t just involve alcohol use, rather it can include what you expect from each other as family members.

Treatment Center

If you believe your young person is struggling with alcohol or substance use, get in touch with a treatment center today. At Clearfork, we are a residential treatment center for teens, we know how challenging drug and alcohol abuse is for both teens and their parents.

Focussing on your child’s recovery we run a licensed education program to make sure your child doesn’t slip back academically. We offer medical detox, with residential and outpatient treatment options available depending on your circumstances. Our experienced nursing staff is on hand round the clock to ensure your child’s safety and well-being is prioritized. Furthermore, we incorporate the whole family unit in our treatment, with our family-intensive week.

We understand that alcohol and drug abuse usually start as a response to unmanaged mental health symptoms, and many people turn to alcohol as a response to anxiety or depression. We treat these conditions at the same time as tackling their alcohol use so that your young person can achieve a sustainable and complete recovery.

Get in touch with us today to speak to a member of staff at Clearfork Academy, we are confident that our team can help you and your child.

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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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Substance Abuse and Treatment Statistics for Teens

Substance Abuse and Treatment Statistics for Teens

Illicit substances and risky behaviors are often a part of growing up. Statistics show that a worrying number of teens report using alcohol, marijuana, and other substances. Peer pressure and inexperience can make many teens and young adults vulnerable to drug use or alcohol abuse. For young people, alcohol or drug use can be a way to numb difficult emotions. They may also believe that it helps them in social situations. The danger to teens and young adults is that misuse can lead to dependence, addiction, health problems, and unsatisfactory life choices.

This blog is about teenagers and substance abuse in the US. It examines the reasons why alcohol and drug use can become a serious problem for teens and young adults and looks at the statistics. This blog also outlines the options for treatment and the interventions available to prevent problems from developing in the first place. There are positive ways to move forward from this tough situation. If teen substance abuse is a problem in your family or you yourself are struggling with addiction, read on. You have reasons to be hopeful.

What is Substance Abuse?

What is Substance Abuse?

Substance abuse refers to the misuse of illegal drugs, prescription drugs, or alcohol. Alcohol and prescription drugs are legal in many circumstances. Illegal drugs are banned substances. Substance abuse can be understood in two ways. It is the use of a substance in a way that is forbidden by law. It also means taking a substance in a way that risks health and encourages dependence and addiction.

  • Prescription drug abuse means taking a medication in a way that is not prescribed by a medical professional. This could mean taking somebody else’s medication or taking your own more frequently, in higher doses, or administered in a different way than prescribed.
  • Alcohol abuse is not only drinking when the law forbids it, it is also drinking excessive amounts, leading to dependence and addiction.
  • Illicit drug abuse means taking drugs that are prohibited by law.

How Many Teens Abuse Substances?

The most common substance of abuse in both adults and teenagers is alcohol but drug use is also a significant problem. In this blog, we will look at the statistics to see how many teens report using and abusing alcohol as well as other drugs such as marijuana.

Alcohol Abuse

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors health-risk behaviors including alcohol and illicit drug use among teens aged 13 to 17. For high school students, it provides percentages across the whole country. However, for middle schoolers, country-wide data is not available. The information below, therefore, focuses on the statistics related to high school students (9th to 12th grade).

When questioned, a significant number of teenagers report using alcohol. The results of the YRBSS from 2019 show that 29.2 percent of high schoolers say they drank alcohol in the last month. Legally, this is substance abuse since it involves underage drinking. Worryingly, 13.7 percent of high school students report binge drinking in the last month, and 3.1 percent report drinking ten or more alcoholic beverages in a row. In total, the statistics show that 61.5 percent of teenagers report using alcohol by 12th grade and 16.8 percent consume five or more drinks in a row.

Statistics show that more than 90 percent of drinks drunk by teenagers are consumed when binge drinking. Given that they are below the minimum legal drinking age, you may be surprised by how many teenagers report using alcohol in the last month and by 12th grade.

Drug Abuse

Marijuana is the next most-used substance according to the statistics. The survey found that 36.8 percent of high school students report using it at some point in their lives. Among respondents, 5.6 percent say they tried it before they were 13, and 21.7 percent report using it in the last month. The survey also found that synthetic marijuana use was at 7.3 percent.

In terms of other selected illicit drugs such as cocaine, inhalants, heroin, methamphetamines, ecstasy, and hallucinogens, 14.8 percent of high schoolers reported using them at some point in their life. A small proportion, 1.6 percent, had injected an illicit drug.

Other research suggests that the number of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders using illicit drugs fell between 2003 to 2020. For example, in 2011, 40 percent of 12th graders report using illicit drugs in the last 12 months. In 2020 this fell to 37 percent, and by 2021 it fell to 32 percent. Some people think this may have been related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The findings about prescription pain relievers in this age group are worrying because these opioids can lead to other forms of drug abuse. Many heroin users report using prescription opioids before moving on to heroin. In these scenarios, the person develops opioid dependence and addiction while taking prescription drugs and then switches to heroin as a cheaper and more accessible option.

Why Do Teens Abuse Substances?

You may be wondering why some teens report using alcohol and drugs while others in the same age group do not. Teen drug use occurs because of a complex set of factors. There are many factors that contribute to this, including:

  • Peer pressure. This may take the form of direct pressure from friends or other peers. It also stems from the perception that everyone is using and that they need to do the same to fit in with others in the same age group.
  • Distancing from parents. Teenagers starting to distance themselves from their parents as a natural part of growing up may feel that taking drugs such as marijuana is a rebellious or grown-up thing to do.
  • Stress and mental health. Teenagers may abuse alcohol and other drugs to cope with difficult emotions or mental illness. At this age, young people suffer from uncertainty due to experiencing enormous amounts of change. This also makes them vulnerable to peer pressure.
  • Emotional development. It is natural for teenagers to seek out new situations as they explore who they are and their independence. This is an important part of the development of identity. Taking illicit substances may feel like an adventure at this age.
  • Early exposure to substance abuse. Views about drug and alcohol use develop early by watching other people and depictions of abuse in the media and popular culture. Spending time in your youth around adults who use alcohol to excess, or who use marijuana or harder drugs, may lead you to normalize these behaviors in your mind.
  • Genetics. It is thought that up to 50 percent of the risk of developing a substance use disorder comes down to genetics. Children of a parent with an alcohol use disorder are four to ten times more likely to develop one later in life. This is partly genetic but also environmental due to the influence that adults have on children.

Signs of Substance Abuse

Recognizing the signs of substance abuse can help you or a loved one get help as soon as possible. The earlier it is caught, the better. It is even possible to prevent a substance use disorder from developing in you or your child.

The following features might be signs of alcohol or drug abuse in your loved one. However, be aware that teens and young adults can present these behaviors for reasons other than alcohol or drug use.

  • Changes in mood
  • Decreased performance at school or work
  • Rebelliousness
  • Low energy
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Coordination problems
  • Problems concentrating or remembering

Risks of Substance Abuse

Teen drug use and alcohol abuse come with a variety of risks. At the most extreme end, it can lead to death due to an impaired ability to judge situations. In the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey around 5 percent of high school students who could drive report using alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Another 17 percent reported using a car as a passenger with a driver who had been drinking.

Other risks of substance use include:

  • Alcohol-related injuries. In 2011, 188,000 people aged under 21 visited emergency rooms for alcohol-related injuries
  • Physical and sexual assault. There is a higher risk of experiencing physical and sexual assault when you are drinking or taking drugs. You are also more likely to be the perpetrator of this sort of violence
  • Future difficulties with drugs and alcoholic beverages. Teen drug abuse leads to an increased risk of substance problems later in life. Those who start drinking before they are 15 are more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder as adults. One study showed that people aged 26 are 5.6 more likely to report having an alcohol use disorder in the past year when they started drinking before 15 compared to when they were 21 or older. Fifteen percent of high schoolers had their first drink (other than a few sips) before they were 13.

Overdose

A significant risk of substance abuse is overdose. From 2010 to 2019 the number of adolescents dying from overdoses remained relatively stable, falling from 518 in 2010 to 492 in 2019. However, from 2019 to 2020 there was a huge leap up to 954 deaths and provisional data suggests that 1146 adolescents died from an overdose in 2021. Information on this is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Statistics show that the death rate due to overdose is peaking at younger ages, currently in the mid-thirties.

What we have also seen is a change in the level of contamination of street drugs with fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. In 2021, 77 percent of adolescent overdose deaths involved fentanyl. A teen may think they are buying the branded version of Oxycontin, Xanax, or Adderall but it can be very difficult to tell the differences between counterfeit prescription drugs and the real deal. You may then get a substance mixed with something you did not intend to take.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid painkiller that is used to treat severe pain for those who have developed a tolerance to other opioids. Fentanyl is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. As little as 2 mg of fentanyl can be a lethal dose depending on the person. In 2021, the DEA found that four out of ten pills contained at least 2 mg of fentanyl. While fentanyl can be a prescribed drug it is also a commonly produced illicit substance, which is mixed with other things to reduce the cost for drug producers and dealers.

Signs of an Overdose

It is important to understand the symptoms of an overdose so that you can help someone if they are experiencing one. Common symptoms include:

  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Rapid or slow heartbeat depending on if the overdose is due to stimulants or depressants
  • Abnormal breathing such as irregular or shallow breathing, potentially leading to respiratory arrest
  • Vomiting
  • Pale or blue lips and fingertips

If you see someone experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately. You can put them in the recovery position if they are unconscious so they do not choke if they vomit.

Tackling Teen Substance Abuse

Tackling Teen Substance Abuse

Joseph Friedman, who has studied trends in drug overdose deaths in adolescents has said that once overdose deaths increase exponentially after being stable, they tend to continue to increase in this way for some time. To prevent this rise and to deal with other negative effects of substance abuse, we need to work hard to make sure that teenagers do not abuse drugs or alcohol.

Most policies to reduce teen substance abuse are aimed at restricting access to drugs and alcohol. According to the 2019 YRBSS statistics, 21.8 percent of high schoolers have been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property, and 43.5 percent were usually given alcohol by someone else. Policies, therefore, try to tackle this as well as increasing the price of alcohol and putting in strict laws for behaviors such as drinking and driving.

Approaches to prevent teen drug use need to look at the reasons they are taking. Some approaches for reducing the harm caused by substance abuse focus on individual, family, school, and community-level interventions.

School Level Interventions

Large numbers of young people attend schools and this can make these institutions a fertile ground for the spread of drugs and alcohol within the same age group. Naturally, attempts to counter this include school-level campaigns that focus on the worst dangers of teen drug abuse such as death. These campaigns may be ignored by teens who see friends drink and take drugs without experiencing these dire results. In these cases, teens may even feel they are being lied to about the dangers of teen drug abuse and alcohol abuse. When sharing stories about the dangers of drugs it is important to focus on the risks without dramatizing in a way that strikes teens as unbelievable.

In any school-level intervention there should be three main focuses:

  • Social resistance skills training. This aims to increase awareness of the social influences that promote drug abuse and alcohol abuse and to teach skills to avoid peer pressure and media influence.
  • Normative education. This aims to educate about the prevalence of substance abuse since it is commonly much lower than teenagers expect. It also aims to educate about the risks of drug use and what happens when you abuse alcohol.
  • Competence enhancement skills training. This aims to increase personal and social skills. Poor skills have been shown to make people susceptible to influence from adults and others in their same age group. This approach teaches general problem-solving and decision-making skills, general cognitive skills for resisting personal and media influences, skills for increasing self-control and self-esteem, strategies for relieving stress and anxiety, and general social and assertiveness skills.

It is also of paramount importance to put in place measures to protect against overdoses at schools. Naloxone is a medication that rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Policies should be put in place to require schools and colleges to stock naloxone and to train staff to be able to administer it.

Family Level Interventions

Family can greatly affect how teenagers feel about and use drugs. If teens have access to drugs and alcohol and develop a familiar attitude about them, there is a higher chance that they will abuse them. Family interventions involve teaching parents and guardians effective ways to monitor and communicate with their teenagers. The aim here is to learn how to make and enforce family rules about substance abuse. As with school interventions, many people feel they need to tell their children the most extreme potential outcomes of alcohol and drug abuse. However, this tends not to work.

It is important that parents build open and honest relationships with their teenagers. If their child understands that their parents support them without condition and that substance abuse will not lead to punishment, they are more likely to report using drugs or alcohol to them. Often a no-tolerance policy will lead to rebellion and lying rather than abstinence. It is important to teach about safe drug use while also teaching about the risks of drugs, for example, the unpredictable nature of taking pills as they could contain substances such as fentanyl.

Community and Policy Level Interventions

Community-based interventions are generally led by local coalitions. They aim to connect organizations such as youth agencies, cultural associations, research institutions, law enforcement, and local businesses. When these groups listen to those who have been impacted by substance abuse it helps to make sure that interventions can reach those most in need. Interventions can also be based on up-to-date research. If the whole community is involved in decision-making, it is more likely that interventions will be developed that everyone agrees with and supports.

Policy-level interventions tend to work to make drinks and drugs harder to get. Examples include raising the price of alcoholic drinks, putting in place a minimum age for drinking, and operating no-tolerance responses for behaviors such as drunk driving. However, these do not deal with the reasons that people are drinking or misusing drugs. It is therefore of paramount importance to have interventions such as school-level interventions that deal with self-esteem.

Allowing access to therapy on a policy level may also help to deal with substance use. Mental health problems are a risk factor for substance abuse. Many people use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate underlying mental health problems. Therapy is a way to develop healthy coping mechanisms. It also allows a mental health professional to assess whether someone requires medication or alternative treatments before they develop a substance use disorder.

Substance Abuse Treatment

Substance abuse treatment statistics for teens reveal a worrying result. According to a 2011 study of 1.5 million teenagers who met the requirement for a substance use disorder, only 111,000 were receiving treatment. This is in part due to stigma but may also relate to poor health care coverage, lack of motivation to seek help, and lack of specialized treatment programs for teenagers. It is important to make sure that teenagers who need treatment are getting it.

The first step to recovery is accepting that you have a problem and reaching out for support. If you have developed a dependence, an inpatient treatment program may be the best option. This is particularly true if you have a dependence on alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opioids. These can cause very unpleasant and even fatal withdrawal symptoms when you quit. In an inpatient program, you will undergo detox under 24-hour supervision. This means that if you are struggling with physical or psychological symptoms, doctors and psychologists can give you the treatment needed to be as comfortable as possible and give you the best chance of long-term recovery.

Contact Us Today

Whether you have an illicit drug use disorder or you are abusing alcohol or prescription drugs, Clearfork Academy is here to help. We specifically focus on substance abuse and mental and behavioral health in young adults aged 13 to 18. We support both the individual and their family to make sure that everyone involved in their life can help with the recovery process. Part of this is allowing families to join at the weekend to take part in therapeutic activities.

We offer a variety of treatment options so that we can create a treatment program that suits your individual needs. Your treatment may take place as part of an inpatient or intensive outpatient program. You may also start with one and move to another if it suits you better. Our treatment options include:

  • Medical detox
  • Individual therapy to understand the underlying causes of substance abuse and develop positive behaviors
  • Group therapy, which allows you to speak with people going through a similar experience and help you to understand that you are not alone
  • Family therapy, which can help members to understand each other and communicate with each other better

If you would like more information or are ready to seek support, please visit our website or call us at (866) 650-5212.

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My Child Tried Drugs – What Should I Do?

My Child Tried Drugs - What Should I Do?

How to Handle Teenage Drug Use

Feeling concerned about your child’s drug use can be very stressful. Some parents try to help, while others put up with it without saying much. If you are in doubt about whether to step back or step up and offer support, there are some tips about how to handle teenage drug abuse.

Understanding Drug or Alcohol Use

Various misconceptions about addiction prevent people from accepting, coping, or dealing with their child’s drug abuse. It also prevents them from helping to stop it.

Out of the 5.1 million adolescents with a substance use disorder in 2018, nearly 9 in 10 did not get treatment.

But drugs or alcohol react differently in the brains of adolescents than they do in adult brains, which places young people in a vulnerable position. It makes them more prone to addiction. Studies found that among people aged 26 and over, those who began drinking before 15 were five times more likely to report having an alcohol use disorder than those who waited until age 21. Substance use also has long-term effects on a developing brain. This means that concerned parents might have to rightfully remain so.

The best protection against drug use or a drug problem is by giving children the facts even before they are at risk. But in the case that a child is already using drugs or has a problem with substance abuse, understanding exactly what it means can greatly help prevent it from progressing or repeating. Getting them the treatment they need may help prevent a series of risks.

Substance Abuse

In case there are mental health issues in a family, there should be extra caution about a child taking drugs. Mental health and addiction are often related. But while substance abuse has been linked to mood swings, depression, and many other serious mental health issues, anyone runs the risk of an overdose from taking drugs. That even includes healthy, fit, young people. The risk depends more on the type of drug, whether it is mixed with other drugs, and how much of it is taken.

Most young people are experimenting with drugs, and this often causes concerned adults to accept risky behavior as a phase of adolescence. They assume their children won’t become regular users, and even though this possibility truly exists, moving away from it may cause a person to miss a crucial part of the bigger picture. Catching a child smoking once or being drunk once and addressing it may seem enough, but parents may not know the whole scope of their children’s substance use. That is why it is never too soon or too protective to speak up, even when someone is sure their child is simply experimenting.

As teens commonly exhibit risky behavior, drug abuse increases these risks and can have serious and potentially life-threatening effects on them. Out-of-character behavior may lead to injury, unprotected sex, drunk driving, or overdose and can completely change a young person’s life. These risks can come even by just experimenting.

A developing brain can be damaged in the long run if it is exposed to substance use. It can lead to learning difficulties in adulthood, and according to the CDC, can contribute to the development of adult health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and sleep disorders.

How to Handle Teenage Drug Use?

How to Handle Teenage Drug Use

While it is a frightening time when suspecting a child is using drugs, the most crucial thing to do is to confront it so that you may support your child.

Neither talking to your teen about drug abuse, nor the help of addiction professionals can happen too early. But how would you talk to your child?

Like any important conversation, taking time to prepare and plan may be best. While the most important thing may be simply listening and talking to your child, taking a deep breath and planning what to say can help.

Be Informed

Knowing about drug and alcohol abuse is key. Being aware of the signs of substance abuse can help prevent the continuation of it, and can enable a person to take action right away. But it is also important to learn the common reasons why young people develop a drug problem. This may help someone spot any underlying cause for their child’s substance use and seek help to address this.

Different types of drugs bring about different effects and the reasons for taking them accordingly. Finding out about the specific drug a teen is using could inform a person greatly of what the child may be experiencing when taking the drug, the reasons for taking it, and the consequences of it. Many parents may prefer to stay out of the details, but to provide children with facts and warn them, adults may have to do some research and address any of their own questions about symptoms, types of treatment, and possible recovery.

Be Aware

Some young people could use drugs or alcohol for years without anyone knowing. By the time someone suspects a possible problem with drugs, it may already have developed to be serious. Teens may be very secretive about their alcohol or drug abuse, while adults may also be preoccupied or not notice a change in their child’s behavior.

Being aware of a teen’s behavior may mean paying more attention to social changes, warning signs of substance abuse, or keeping a closer eye on their activities. It can also mean being more attentive to a child’s stress, their coping mechanisms and knowing when they are going through tough times.

Fostering a safe environment and one that is free of drugs is also vital, so parents may have to become aware of their personal alcohol use, or the general health of the household.

Don’t Turn a Blind Eye

It can be difficult, but turning a blind eye may only make matters worse. This is especially true when kids are using alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, or when they are at risk for developing an addiction. If a bothering feeling has been around, it is best to trust these instincts.

A teen’s drug use may lead them to a downward spiral and place them in serious harm if someone does not intervene immediately. Discovering the first signs of drug or alcohol abuse means that it is already the best time to act.

Remaining active in a child’s life is important; instead of looking the other way, know who their friends are, how they are feeling, and how they are spending their free time. Talking about the dangers or the influence of drugs or alcohol is one way of being active. Share and explain the possible jail time or fines for drunk driving as a consequence of using illegal drugs, or the possibility that someone may be seriously injured or killed.

Be Indirect

Often people who think their children may be using drugs may panic. Young people who experiment with drugs may not develop any issues, but even considering the risk that they do, it is best to stay calm. A successful conversation with a teen about substances may require a person to act and react informed and composed.

Direct accusations of involvement with drugs, showing anger, or being overly emotional may not work. Substance abuse behaviors may have been mistaken for symptoms of depression, anxiety, or another mental health problem, or a teen may be experiencing pressure at school and may not have shared the details. That is why the conversation may be best started with questions and indirect statements.

Sharing news about drugs used in professional sports is an indirect channel to start a conversation and provide information about the risks of drugs. Keeping the subject broad and not reacting in a way that may shut down the conversation helps. Open-ended questions about your child’s friends or what they like or dislike about their school avoid a yes or no answer from them, and can start a conversation. A nonjudgmental, caring manner of asking questions is more likely to provoke honest answers, while a lack of confidence or distrust may cause a child to shut down.

Allowing a lot of time for response, keeping open communication, truly paying attention, and not rushing the conversation can help.

Timing

Often kids come forward with concerns or questions when their self-esteem is boosted. Making talking a regular part of the day may make this particular conversation stand out less. Try to talk to your child after their achievements are praised, or when engaging in activities where you can stay connected. Attempting to talk to them when they are high may not be the right time. Walking together or driving in the car may be a time to bring up a conversation, as some teens are more likely to talk when they do not have to make eye contact.

Don’t Give Up

Teens may refuse to talk, may deny that they are taking drugs, or become aggressive. It may require patience and a little more time from parents to get through to them, but the important thing is not to give up.

If a child refuses to talk, it is important not to panic, but instead, address the behavior. Instead of emphasizing the drugs, a person could set clear limits about behavior they find unacceptable, or that it may come with consequences. Continuing to highlight things that worry a parent, and expressing concern over a child’s well-being, without blaming the behaviors on substance use, is important.

Be Prepared

It may be helpful to be fully prepared. That means, for every possible outcome.

A child may open up about their use of drugs and ask for help, in which case a parent should have done their research and have an available treatment option ready. They might need to know exactly how to respond to make their child feel safe and let them know that asking for help is okay or be able to share treatment options and their benefits.

A parent may have to be prepared for when a child is using drugs and denies it, too. Many parents find physical evidence of their child’s substance use and may want to use this as a means of insisting, while other parents believe that looking through their teen’s things is an invasion of their privacy. Either way, following up and monitoring their behavior is vital with, or without evidence.

Before attempting the conversation, it may be useful to think of any rules or consequences of breaking these may be, or what exactly a parent wishes to express and how. The details of a parent’s concern should be fully expressed to both the child and perhaps a child’s pediatrician. This may help determine whether a teen has a medical or mental health problem underlying substance use, or causing behavioral changes on its own.

Having a goal or desired outcome for the initial conversation with a child may make it go better. While it may be best to keep expectations low, and unrealistic to expect admittance and a pledge to stop right away, an objective of expressing to them that you don’t want them to use drugs is the first win. The first conversation may only achieve the initiation of speaking, but by setting a small goal and moving toward it step by step, other conversations may be very successful.

Professional Help

While it is critical for a parent to establish whether their child has developed a substance use disorder or has made drugs a habit, professional help can help at any point. Even if a teen does not admit to regular abuse of drugs, or they do not show signs of addiction, they may still be at risk for developing one when they are adults.

Drugs and alcohol can affect a teen differently than they would at other ages, and mental health professionals at treatment centers have expertise on how to help. Substance use disorders are very difficult and sometimes impossible to overcome without treatment help, and the earlier help is sought, the better.

Support Groups

There are many support groups available for the family members of addicted individuals. Here, family members can learn how to support their children, how to deal with altered family dynamics, as well as to voice their feelings. They can lean on others and learn from their coping strategies while being in touch with a community group that understands the challenges they may have.

Where Can I Find a Treatment Center?

Where Can I Find a Treatment Center?

If you are worried about your teen’s addiction to drugs or their mental well-being, Clearfork can help. As a center specializing in behavioral health treatment for substance use, mental health, and the co-occurrence of the two, Clearfork’s residential rehab for teens provides the most supportive environment for your child and family members.

By including individual, family, and group therapies, we can help any young person who struggles with the physical, mental and social bonds of chemical dependency and mental health. With our outdoor adventure program and 24/7 staff and nursing support, Clearfork can provide your child with a healthy future, starting today.

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Teen Phone Addiction

Teen Phone Addiction

Most of us are probably guilty of spending too much time on our phones. With continuous technological advancements, endless apps, and the possibility to communicate while being physically absent, software companies continue to find ways to draw people into their digital products. And teens are their perfect target audience.

Teenagers have grown up in an era where they are learning how to use cell phones younger than ever before. Cell phone use is ingrained in teenagers from an early age, increasing the risk of developing a cell phone addiction later on in their lives.

But what exactly is teen cell phone addiction and why are so many adolescents falling into the same trap? This page will explore what cell phone addiction is, the possible causes, red flags that may indicate a cell phone addiction, and steps that parents can take to help their teenagers avoid this modern phenomenon.

What is Teen Cell Phone Addiction?

What is Teen Cell Phone Addiction?

Cell phone addiction puts into question many stereotypical assumptions about addiction. While parents once worried about their teens falling into substance abuse and the possibility of drug addiction, recently, the addiction landscape has shifted. Parents now also worry about their teenagers having too much screen time and their risk of developing a cell phone addiction.

On average, teens have been found to spend around seven hours a day on their mobile phones, compared to adults who have a screen time of around four hours a day. But teen cell phone addiction is so much more than talking and texting. For teenagers, cell phones open a gateway to an escape from reality, it includes games, apps, and the biggest time consumer of them all, social media.

When it comes to interaction amongst peers, teens now like to admire and approve, comment, and criticize. They aren’t always communicating one on one but instead are constantly checking for responses and likes to their posts and others.

Smartphone addiction is real and the more that teenagers are using the apps, the more their behavior is reinforced by the dopamine that is induced through their mobile phone usage.

Why Are Teens Addicted to Their Phones?

Why Are Teens Addicted to Their Phones?

Teenagers tend to be naturally more sociable, they are at an age of questioning life and the things that happen around them. Interacting with new people is a part of this process. The evolution of technology has created a new possibility for socializing and allows for this generation to do exactly this, but online. Teens communicate through an array of social websites and apps that allow for these connections to be built even if individuals are thousands of miles apart.

The majority of phone apps are developed to keep users coming back time and time again. When these apps are used and teens are met with positive interactions, positive messages from friends, and believe quality relationships are blossoming, dopamine is released.

Mass research has found that excessive cell phone usage, specifically social media, can heavily impact the brain. In fact, cell phone use can cause similar chemical responses within the brain that are caused by drug addiction. Dopamine is a natural chemical found within the brain that is associated with positive reinforcement and pleasure. When a teenager receives positive comments, new likes, or new followers online, a burst of dopamine is received in their brain. Similarly to a drug’s high, as the use of social media increases, the more engagement a user will crave.

As this reward cycle starts to solidify in place, the time that is spent using social media platforms will increase. Teenage cell phone addiction is defined as a behavioral disorder, meaning that the obsessive use of a cell phone is affecting the functioning of their day-to-day life.

But as we have discussed, cell phone addiction goes much further than simply using cell phones as a talking device. Teen smartphone addiction includes compulsive and repetitive use of a cell phone for other activities, and although these behaviors are normal from time to time, they become dangerous when they turn into an obsessive compulsion.

Signs Someone Is Addicted to Their Cell Phone

Signs Someone Is Addicted to Their Cell Phone

Similar to other behavioral addictions, there are certain telltale signs of teen cell phone addiction. By having an awareness of these red flags, you can attempt to catch the problem before it develops into a serious technology addiction.

  • They are experiencing mental health problems such as symptoms of anxiety or depression
  • Constantly on his or her phone and unable to be without it, even if for a short period of time
  • Neglecting activities they once enjoyed
  • Academic performance has declined
  • They are impatient, irritable, or angry
  • Teens become obsessed with documenting everything they are doing, such as selfies and pictures
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty sleeping despite feeling tired a lot of the time, as the time before bedtime is spent on their cell phone
  • They are unable to keep track of time when using their cell phone
  • They opt to stay in their bedrooms on their cell phones rather than spend time outside with friends
  • Teen has trouble cutting back on his or her cell phone use
  • They lie about how much time they are spending on their cell phone

On top of these signs, they may also think they hear their phone buzz when in fact, it doesn’t. These are called phantom vibrations and they often occur throughout school or times when your teen is unable to access their mobile phone. Time without the phone can even lead to a withdrawal that is similar to a drug withdrawal. Symptoms can include headaches, sweating, shaking, or nausea.

If you believe teenage cell phone addiction is affecting someone you love, it is important to know that you are not alone and help is available. Teen smartphone addiction is extremely common, in fact around 50% of teenagers believe that they have a cell phone addiction and although more than a third of teenagers try to reduce the amount of time that they spend on their cell phones, the majority of them are unable to do so.

Social Media Use

Social Media Use

The generations that have grown up with social media platforms and regular cell phone use are at risk of developing emotional and social challenges that have not been encountered before. While teenagers once worried about rumors being spread amongst peers or gossip circulating in their schools, many now live in fear of public shaming online.

Users can now have hundreds of followers on different platforms and sharing online is as simple as pressing a single button. Research has found that 62% of teenagers use some form of social media every day while only one-third of teens say that they actually enjoy their use of social media ‘a lot’.

How Social Media Affects Mental Health

Research has found that a teen’s use of social media is closely related to an increase in low levels of life satisfaction and teen depression. Although the effects of social media can be worrying for everyone, the impact on teens is even more concerning.

The brain of a teenager is still developing in functions such as emotional regulation, self-control, impulse control, decision-making, and cognitive controlling, this combined with the constant flow of new content can overwhelm a teenager’s ability to manage and process the input.

One study that looked at 13-year-olds and their social media use found that participants who reported to have checked their social media from 50 to 100 times every day were found to be 37% more distressed compared to individuals who checked their social media a few times a day. Some of the ways in which social media can contribute to teen anxiety and depression may include:

  • Enduring public criticism
  • Comparing themselves to beauty standards that are shown on social media
  • Jealousy or envy over the lives of people online
  • Obsessive over whether they have enough likes, comments, or shares
  • Having the fear of missing out on certain events

Effects of Phone Addiction

Effects of Phone Addiction

Teen cell phone addiction can have many negative effects on a teenager’s day-to-day life. Cell phone addiction has been linked to a decrease in participating in extracurricular activities as well as a decline in school grades, 61% of kids found that the use of their smartphone negatively impacted their schoolwork. Below are the possible risks of a cell phone addiction and the consequences that may harm teenagers well being and safety.

Mental Health

As we have discussed, the teenage brain is still developing and is therefore more vulnerable to certain things that could possibly lead to mental health issues. Studies have found that teenagers who spend large amounts of time on social media apps are at risk of suffering from higher levels of mental health issues. For example, anxiety levels can increase when a teenager’s phone is not readily available.

A recent study that surveyed over 300 university students aimed to investigate whether high engagement with mobile phones affected the user’s well-being. They found that individuals who described themselves as displaying addictive-like behaviors towards their phones scored higher on anxiety and depression scales.

Physical Health

Excessive screen time can also affect a teenager’s physical health. The blue light that is radiated from a phone can pose risks of developing eye problems. Phone addiction can also lead to negative health consequences, including:

  • Blurred vision or eye strain from staring at a small screen
  • Chronic strain on the neck from constantly looking down at a phone
  • Eye fatigue
  • Headaches and migraines

Sleeping Behaviors

When a teen is going to bed, the location of their phone can be an indicator of potential smartphone addiction. 62% of teenagers say that they use their cell phones after their bedtime and 66% say that their phones negatively impact their sleep.

Cybersecurity

Phone and internet addiction are linked to certain cybersecurity behaviors. Cybersecurity basically means the protection of your personal information, things that could happen include online scams or identity theft. It is always important to educate your teen about cybersecurity.

Cybercriminals are all over the internet and at times it can be difficult to judge whether someone on an online forum is to be trusted or not. Additionally, teenagers are at risk of cyberbullying. Other users are able to comfortably hide behind a screen and send harmful comments or information to others.

Road Safety

We are all aware of the dangers of driving while talking or texting on the phone. Unfortunately, teenage cell phone addiction increases the likelihood of these dangers happening. When teen drivers are using a phone, they are unable to direct all of their attention to the road. 34% of teenagers reported that they had texted while driving and 52% said that they had spoken on the phone while driving. Similar to other addictions, cell phone addiction can lead to poor decision-making and recklessness, this combined with driving can result in risky outcomes.

Tips on How to Help Avoid Teen Cell Phone Addiction

Tips on How to Help Avoid Teen Cell Phone Addiction

Parents are able to limit their teenager’s cell phone use in a variety of ways. It’s important to set structure, limitations, and boundaries to avoid teen cell phone addiction. Some cell phone rules and intervention measures that a parent may consider include:

  • Set time limits for your teen’s cell phone use
  • No phones at bedtime or in bed
  • Try and introduce mobile-free days, as a family, it can work by leaving all cell phones at home while enjoying an activity together
  • No cell phones at the dinner table
  • Set up screen-free periods throughout the day
  • Teach your teenager about the dangers of social media and the consequences of spending too much on their mobile devices
  • Limit access to social media – it is possible to set time restrictions on certain apps
  • Turn off notifications so their screens are not constantly flashing

As a parent, you understand your child more than anyway and you are aware of what preventive measures are appropriate to use. Although anyone with a mobile phone is at risk of developing a mobile phone addiction, teenagers are at a heightened risk, especially without parental supervision.

Treatment at Clearfork

Clearfork academy is a residential treatment center for teenagers. We provide substance abuse disorder treatment and help for teens who are experiencing mental health concerns, such as depression or anxiety. Our outdoor adventure program serves adolescent girls and boys from the ages of 13 – 17. We provide a structured and supportive environment for youth who may be struggling with their mental, physical and social bonds of mental health and chemical dependency.

Our program was designed for today’s teenagers and each module that they encounter reflects both our core values and therapeutic approaches that have been proven to be effective. We offer a medical detox which is essential for a healing process to begin. Individualized treatment plans are created to ensure a quick recovery and an easy transition to our residential programs.

Our residential treatment helps teenagers recover from drug or alcohol addiction in a safe and comfortable space on a scenic Texas Ranch. We also offer intensive outpatient treatment which is perfect for those teenagers who may be in the early stages of their substance abuse or addiction and need ongoing guidance and support to help avoid any long-term issues.

If you want to find out more about how we at Clearfork Academy can help you or a loved one, then contact us today. Remember, we are here to help you.

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Personality Disorders in Teens

Personality Disorders in Teens

A personality disorder is a general term given for a number of mental health conditions that affect a person’s character, social abilities, and emotional reactions. These conditions commonly, though not exclusively, develop in adolescence.

There are several personality disorders that typically fit into one of three clusters. Although they all have distinct features they generally share unhealthy patterns of behavior and disordered cognition. Somebody living with a personality disorder may have their social, personal, school, or college life impacted by their condition.

If left untreated, personality disorders can go on to cause significant distress and difficulties throughout their teen and adult life. Due to the fact that teenagers are still developing physically and mentally, these conditions are often called emerging personality disorders. This reflects the fact that a formal diagnosis may be delayed, even though certain symptoms are present.

Recognizing a Personality Disorder

Although each condition has key defining personality traits, there are some agreed characteristics that help in the diagnosis process. These include:

  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Disordered thought patterns
  • Loss of impulse or, conversely, extremely restrictive behavior
  • Difficulties in making and maintaining relationships

Personality Disorder Clusters

Personality Disorder Clusters

The three personality disorder clusters are usually referred to as clusters A, B, and C. Below we will go into some of the symptoms associated with each condition.

Cluster A Personality Disorders

There are three conditions within this group, they share some symptoms and can lead people to behave in ways that might seem strange or confusing to others.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

A young person with paranoid personality disorder is likely to experience significant distrust and suspicion of others. They may believe that others are trying to hurt or trick them. People with paranoid personality disorder are likely to feel attacked easily and don’t trust those around them, leading to difficulties in relationships.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

Somebody living with schizoid personality disorder is likely to be uninterested in making connections with others, preferring to be alone. They may feel that relationships add complexities to their life that they don’t want. Other people may interpret somebody with schizoid personality disorder as cold or numb.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Somebody living with schizotypal personality disorder may struggle to form relationships and will find socializing challenging. People with this schizotypal personality disorder may experience significant social anxiety and stunted emotions. Their behavior may seem odd or eccentric to others.

Cluster B Personality Disorders

There are four conditions within this group, they have distinct symptoms but they all at times may lead to highly emotional and unpredictable behavior.

Antisocial Personality Disorder 

This condition is not diagnosed in young people under the age of 18, although some people display indicators of antisocial personality disorder as children and teens, and then go on to receive a diagnosis as an adult. It is thought that children with conduct disorder have a higher chance of developing this condition later on as adults.

People living with antisocial personality disorder are likely to show a lack of consideration for other people. This could be characterized by dishonesty, stealing, aggression, or violence.

Those with antisocial personality disorder may find it difficult to show care or understanding toward others. Furthermore, they may lack consideration for consequences, thus resulting in serious, sometimes legal, trouble.

Common symptoms of antisocial personality disorder include:

  • Being unable to learn the consequences of their behavior
  • Impulsiveness
  • Taking part in behavior that damages themselves, those around them, or their environment
  • Dishonesty and lying
  • Difficulty attaching emotionally to others
  • Aggression or violence

Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder is also sometimes referred to as emotionally unstable personality disorder. This is a condition that results in the person experiencing very extreme, fluctuating emotions. For somebody with borderline personality disorder, it can be very difficult to calm down once an emotion is triggered.

It can be very difficult for those with borderline personality disorder to have stable relationships due to their unpredictable mood and behavior. They may experience severe depression and suicidal ideation. Some people with this condition will experience episodes of intense distress, and other times of relative calm, where their symptoms abate. Others will experience continuous symptoms of the condition.

Common symptoms include:

  • Severely fluctuating and unregulated emotions
  • A deep fear of abandonment
  • Complex, or unhealthy relationship patterns
  • Impulsive or risky behavior
  • A lack of sense of self
  • Self-harm or suicidal ideation
  • Anger or aggression
  • Numbness

Histrionic Personality Disorder  

Histrionic Personality Disorder is considered a condition within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, although some people describe it as a branch of narcissistic personality disorder.

Young people with histrionic personality disorder are likely to display some of the symptoms below. In order to have a diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder, they must have five of the following, and they must persist for at least one year:

  • A strong desire to be the focus of attention
  • Seek reassurance or approval from others
  • Inappropriate behavior including that of a sexual nature
  • Fluctuating moods and emotions
  • Preoccupation with physical appearance
  • Prone to being led or manipulated by others
  • May behave in a dramatic way, even about simple matters
  • Is likely to misunderstand relationships

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Young adults with narcissistic personality disorder are living with an extreme version of narcissism. This condition is more common in young people than in adults, affecting more males than females overall. Typically, narcissistic personality disorder begins in adolescence, but it can go on to impact people throughout their adulthood.

Somebody with this condition is likely to have overblown beliefs about themselves, they may believe that they are capable of things that others are not. Narcissists usually look for validation and admiration from others around them and strive to be in control at all times. They may be overly concerned with achievement, success, and power.

Furthermore, narcissistic teens may find it difficult to empathize with others, behaving in ways that serve themselves but not others. They may struggle to keep relationships due to their lack of care and compassion for others.

Underneath these symptoms, people living with narcissistic personality disorder are likely to have deep feelings of insecurity and fear.

Cluster C Personality Disorders

Cluster C Personality Disorders

There are three mental health conditions within this group, and all three involve anxious and fearful behavior although they have different manifestations.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Young adults with this condition are likely to be extremely sensitive to criticism and may be very shy and withdrawn. This tends to lead to isolation and loneliness.

These symptoms usually begin in early childhood, and sometimes dissipate as the child grows. In other circumstances, the shyness, anxiety, and fear of rejection remain through their teens and adulthood. This can make it complicated to distinguish between shyness and a fully developed avoidant personality disorder. For this reason, it is not common to diagnose children with the condition.

Dependent Personality Disorder 

This condition sees young people behave in a particularly clingy and needy way, finding it difficult to consider being alone or looking after themselves.

Young adults with dependent personality disorder typically need others to reassure and encourage them, even for tasks that may seem like everyday events to others. They may be gripped by anxiety or fear at the thought of being alone or doing things by themselves.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is distinct from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) which is an anxiety disorder, although they frequently get mistaken for one another. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is likely to display itself with the following symptoms:

  • Extremely neat, to a point that if they can’t maintain neatness of themselves or their space they get extremely anxious
  • Perfectionism over several areas of their life
  • Controlling over their own lives, and others
  • May put work before other people, including loved ones
  • Extremely restrictive and strict about rules and order

How Are Adolescent Personality Disorders Diagnosed?

Emerging personality disorder diagnoses can be complex given the symptoms overlap with some common behaviors of being a teen or early adulthood. Additionally, for a personality disorder diagnosis, symptoms must be clearly present for a period of time, interfering with the young person’s everyday life, and causing difficulty in normal functioning. This limits the chances of an early diagnosis which can in turn mean treatment is more complicated and drawn out.

Furthermore, some symptoms of teen personality disorders share symptoms of other mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety. Involving the help of a trusted medical professional is crucial for this reason.

What Causes Personality Disorders in Teens?

What Causes Personality Disorders in Teens?

It’s still not known exactly why teen personality disorders develop, but research suggests that a number of factors including genetics, brain structure, environment, and trauma could all contribute.

  • Genetics: It is thought that individuals with a family history of personality disorders are at higher risk of developing one themselves.
  • Brain Structure and Function: Research suggests that individuals with some forms of emerging personality disorder may experience structural and functional changes in the brain, particularly in the impulse control and emotion regulation regions. It is still unknown whether these are causal factors for the condition developing or if indeed the changes are a result of the disorder.
  • Environment and Childhood: It’s common for people with personality disorders – especially borderline personality disorder – to have a history of trauma, which could include sexual, physical, or verbal abuse, neglect, abandonment, grief, or family mental health issues.
  • Sensitivity: People who are particularly sensitive to stimuli such as noise, light, and touch are thought to be more at risk of developing a personality disorder. High reactivity in children can result in withdrawn and nervous personalities which could lead to mental disorders such as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, or dependent personality disorder.

It’s important to say that not everybody who experiences the above will go on to develop an emerging personality disorder. On the other hand, some people will develop personality disorders without the above experiences. Mental illness is a widely researched area of health, but there is still a lot we don’t understand about why conditions develop. The good news is, with better and smarter science we know more about these illnesses every day and that means treatment has never been better.

It’s crucial to work with a team of specialists in the case of a personality disorder, given the complexities involved. There is a range of traditional and alternative therapies which can be effective, but receiving care from an unlicensed practitioner can be dangerous and put your child at risk.

Some people will respond well to the first treatment they try, while others will need to persevere with several attempts. The important thing is sticking to your treatment plan and remaining good communication with your doctor and support system.

Treatment for Young People with Personality Disorders

Treatment for Young People with Personality Disorders

Usually, specialists will advise young people to start with talk therapy in the treatment of emerging personality disorders. How this develops will depend on the treatment center chosen, some people may choose to recover in an inpatient center, while others will choose outpatient. Discussing these options with your family doctor will ensure you go for the most suitable option for your child’s needs.

Treatment is likely to take some time, with some symptoms easing more quickly than others. Certain therapies and medications may decrease the high emotions, depression, and anxiety of these disorders, whereas deep-seated fears and worries will take longer to dissipate.

It’s common for people with personality disorders to live with co-occurring disorders, such as eating disorders, PTSD, depression, borderline personality disorder (BPD), or anxiety. It’s important that this is taken into consideration in the treatment planning process. Conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may also be involved.

Help for Teens and Young Adults

Receiving a personality disorder diagnosis can sometimes be a little scary, for the young person and their family and loved ones. But the good news is, there are many ways to support each other through this time. With good communication, compassion, and patience you can learn to adapt to the needs of one another. It’s crucial for the wellbeing of your child, and yourself, that you involve mental health professionals to guide you through the early days of a diagnosis.

A trained medic who has experience in personality disorders will be able to help you and your family understand the condition, learn healthy coping strategies, and identify trigger points. They will be able to offer your young person a safe environment where they can talk about their experiences, share their concerns, and make plans for the future.

Seeking Support

If you are concerned that your child is displaying symptoms of an emerging personality disorder, get in touch with your family doctor. A proper diagnosis is the important first step in your child’s process as without this they are unable to access the support and treatment they need.

There could be additional underlying conditions, either mental or physical, which are contributing to your child’s distress. Seeking support through your local doctor or psychiatric clinic can help you to clarify symptoms and concerns.

Treatment Options

Treatment Options

There are a number of treatment approaches that can be used in the case of an emerging personality disorder. Most people respond well to a combination of therapies, but every person is different and it’s important to consider their unique circumstances and needs before formulating a plan.

Most young people will need to attend a treatment center, this could be inpatient or outpatient care depending on their situation. Facilities and therapeutic options vary from center to center, but there are some common treatments and changes which can improve symptoms of personality disorders.

Some of these include the following:

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): This therapy is concerned with focussing on the present moment and any emotions that are currently being felt. Through DBT therapy people learn to control difficult emotions that surface, decrease self-sabotaging behavior, manage stress, and improve communication. DBT both works to accept the current situation, and work on improvements for the future. This form of therapy was specifically designed for the treatment of borderline personality disorder (BPD) and it is used commonly for conditions in all three clusters. DBT is often found to be the most effective form of treatment for personality disorders.

Mentalization-based therapy (MBT): This is a form of talk therapy that helps people living with mental illnesses to develop a better awareness of what others around them might be thinking and feeling. In turn, this can improve their communication and relationships, both of which are crucial for good mental health.

Transference-focused therapy (TFP): This treatment focuses on helping people to better identify and understand the root causes of their mental health condition. Clients will work with their therapist to use this knowledge and apply it to their experiences.

Family Therapy: Family therapy can be extremely beneficial for young people living with a personality disorder. These conditions can impact everyone around the person who has been diagnosed and engaging in treatment together can help to heal broken communication pathways. Gaining a better understanding of how and what everyone is feeling can enable you to find strategies to manage together.

Medications: Sometimes medication is used in the treatment of personality disorders, although it cannot cure these conditions, it can ease other symptoms associated such as anxiety or depression.

Healthy lifestyle changes: Ensuring that your child gets adequate fresh air and exercise, quality sleep, a healthy and varied diet, and uses good stress management techniques can aid them in their recovery significantly.

Encourage Everyday Activities

Restoring links with friends and family can be extremely beneficial for the treatment of these conditions. This can support the recovery process and re-establish a sense of normality for your teen. Encouraging your child or teen to engage in activities they once enjoyed can be a good way of establishing structure in their day. This can start with walks in the park, making time to read, and progress onto meeting friends or going to the cinema for example.

Clearfork Academy

At Clearfork Academy, our team specializes in adolescent psychiatry and are experts in youth mental health. We understand the need for age-appropriate treatment and we take this into consideration at every step of the journey. We tailor our programs to the specific needs of you and your child, ensuring the safety, comfort, and health of everyone involved.

Our therapy offerings include family and individual therapy, as well as alternative options such as adventure and music therapy. We believe all young people deserve to live out their youth, mental illness shouldn’t get in the way.

If you would like to hear more about our admissions process, our facilities, or treatment services, get in touch with us today.

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Eating Disorders in Teenagers

Eating Disorders in Teenagers

What is an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are characterized by a persistent hyperfocus on food, body weight, and exercise that causes a person to go to extremes. This complex group of mental illnesses facilitates dangerous eating behaviors in the person dealing with it and negatively impacts their health, emotions, and ability to function.

Eating disorders have serious physical consequences, having the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders. The conditions commonly result in the body not receiving appropriate nutrition and lead to damage in multiple regions of the body, such as the:

  • Heart
  • Digestive system
  • Bones
  • Teeth
  • Mouth

It is a common myth that you can tell someone has an eating disorder just by looking at them. In reality, people dealing with the condition can have a variety of body shapes – even athletes that look incredibly in shape can be coping with an eating disorder. Eating disorders can also impact people of any age, though typically they occur during adolescence.

What Are the Symptoms of Eating Disorders in Teens?

What Are the Symptoms of Eating Disorders in Teens?

There are multiple kinds of eating disorders with a range of symptoms. Depending on the disorder that a person has, different symptoms will take shape. However, there are some general signs that indicate an eating disorder, many focusing on behavior around meals, unusual eating habits, and overall health.

Some more specific symptoms include:

  • Behaviors and attitudes that suggest dieting, weight loss, and control of food are primary concerns
  • Skipping meals or only eating small portions
  • Frequent dieting
  • Noticeable changes and fluctuations in body weight
  • Extreme concern for body shape and size
  • Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, carbohydrates, fat grams, and dieting
  • Refusing to eat certain foods or food groups
  • Appears uncomfortable eating around others
  • Food rituals – not allowing food to touch, excessive chewing, only eating particular food groups
  • Withdrawing socially
  • Low self-esteem
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Sleep problems
  • Frequent checking of their reflection
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Impaired immune functioning
  • Dental issues
  • Dry skin, thin hair, brittle nails

Types of Eating Disorders

The most three common eating disorders in teens are:

Other common eating disorders include avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder and rumination disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa

People with Anorexia Nervosa take serious measures to try and avoid eating, and the quantity and quality of the food intake they do have are highly controlled. Teens with this condition become extremely thin for their body, though due to their distorted body image, they continue to diet even at this unhealthy weight.

Signs of Anorexia Nervosa

  • Rapid and excessive weight loss
  • Restricting, hiding, or discarding food
  • Obsessively counting calories or grams of fat in the diet
  • Denial of feelings of hunger
  • Developing rituals around preparing food and eating
  • A distorted view of one’s body weight, size, or shape, sees self as “too fat”
  • Compulsive or excessive exercise – despite weather conditions, illness, injury, or fatigue
  • Dresses in layers to disguise weight loss or to stay warm
  • Emotional changes – such as irritability, anxiety, and depression
  • Restricting relationships and pleasurable activities, leading to social withdrawal
  • Thinning hair
  • Feeling cold, tired, and weak
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Irregularities or absence of menstrual periods (in females)

Bulimia Nervosa

This eating disorder causes individuals to engage in overeating (binging), which most commonly occurs during the evening and nighttime. The clinical definition of the disorder defines Bulimia Nervosa as binging and purging on average once a week for at least three consecutive months.

After binging, people with Bulimia Nervosa carry out compensatory behavior to lose weight, this can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Excessive exercise
  • Fasting
  • Taking laxities
  • Enemas

As teenagers with Bulimia Nervosa can maintain a normal weight and can present as seemingly healthy, this illness often goes unnoticed.

Signs of Bulimia Nervosa

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food with no apparent change in weight
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom after meals
  • Peculiar eating habits or rituals
  • Hiding food or discarded food containers and wrappers
  • The disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time
  • Excessive exercise or fasting
  • Inappropriate use of laxatives, diuretics, or other cathartics
  • Overachieving and impulsive behaviors
  • Frequently clogged showers or toilets
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Dental issues and discolored teeth
  • Odor in breath, plus use of excessive mouthwash, mints, or gum to cover it up
  • Stomach pain
  • Irregularities or absence of menstrual periods (in females)
  • Scarring/calluses on the hands caused by self-inducing vomiting
  • Drinking excessive amounts of water or non-caloric beverages

Binge-Eating Disorder

Binge-Eating Disorder is characterized by excessive and uncontrollable eating, soon followed by feelings of guilt and shame. This is similar to Bulimia Nervosa, though individuals affected by Binge-Eating do not compensate to lose weight after overeating – consequently leading to weight gain. A medical professional will diagnose a teenager with Binge-Eating disorder when they binge at least once a week for three consecutive months.

Signs of Binge-Eating Disorder

  • Eating an unusually large amount of food within a few hours
  • Gaining weight
  • Feeling the inability to control how much they eat
  • Feelings of disgust, depression, or guilt after overeating
  • Eating in secret because of feeling embarrassed by how much they are eating
  • Hiding food or discarded food containers and wrappers
  • Eating to cope with negative emotions
  • Low self-esteem
  • Experimentation with different diets
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Skin disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Irregularities or absence of menstrual periods (in females)

Diagnosing Eating Disorders

Diagnosing Eating Disorders

To identify an eating disorder a physical exam and psychological evaluation will be carried out to identify specific signs, symptoms, and eating habits. The earlier a person’s condition is diagnosed, the higher the chance they have of a complete recovery. However, diagnosing eating disorders in adolescents is difficult as:

  • Many hide their symptoms
  • Many are in denial about their condition, as well as those around them
  • Family and friends may not know the signs to look out for
  • They can seemingly look a ‘healthy weight,’ yet may be very malnourished
  • Many secretly restrict food, binge, purge, and over-exercise, while behaving normally in front of others

This means teens with eating disorders commonly do not receive any medical diagnosis until their eating disorders are at advanced stages.

Treating Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can be extremely complex to treat and require close supervision throughout the process. However, it is vital that teenagers engage in treatment as these conditions are unlikely to go away on their own. Eating disorders are often co-occurring with other mental health conditions, meaning a comprehensive evaluation should first be completed by the person with the eating disorder and their family to understand how to best tackle treatment. A mental health professional should also keep in close contact throughout this time, as medical complications are frequent during the process.

For the best success when treating an eating disorder in teens, a multi-pronged, individualized approach should be taken covering many areas of the person’s well-being. Even when an individual may not fit into the clinical definition of a particular eating disorder – for example, their unhealthy behavior has not occurred over consecutive months – they should still seek medical guidance on how to overcome their negative relationship with food and body image.

Medical Treatment

Medical Treatment

Due to malnutrition and the strain under or overeating can cause, the person undergoing treatment firstly needs a health check-up. After, appropriate personalized care can be administered, whether that be a hospitalization, intravenous therapy, or medication.

Psychiatric Treatment

Psychiatric medication may be prescribed to ease any simultaneous mental illnesses – with substance abuse, anxiety, and depression co-occurring most frequently with eating disorders. It is also common that teenagers in this position also suffer from trauma, causing them to participate in self-harming behavior – such as cutting or burning themselves – and have an increased risk of suicide. For these reasons, individual therapy is an essential part of treatment.

Individual therapy uses both cognitive and behavioral techniques to help people identify harmful thoughts, behaviors, and triggers associated with their eating habits. It then educates on how to build healthier coping mechanisms to modify how to handle these difficult thoughts and emotions. It also deals with the trauma that may be behind eating disorders, aiming to heal the person from the past to build a healthier future.

Family therapy is also advised when tackling eating disorders. Loved ones play a vital role in the recovery, with the education and understanding attending therapy together brings making a world of difference. Family therapy also allows any trauma that initially came from the family unit to be addressed and the conditions the eating disorder was built in to be changed, meaning a higher chance of a successful recovery.

Group therapy can also be extremely valuable as it allows the recovering person to talk about their condition in a safe, judgment-free space full of people who understand what they have been through. This opportunity also allows the individual to hear what tools other people used to move forward from their eating disorder, acting as a source of inspiration and giving hope in overcoming their disorder.

Nutritional Rehabilitation

The goal of nutritional rehabilitation is to restore a person’s health and reach a healthy body weight – this can mean losing or gaining weight depending on the eating disorder being treated. This kind of counseling includes a combination of healthy eating, meal planning, nutritional rehabilitation, and goal setting. This allows for a healthier relationship with food to be cultivated and teaches the individual skills on how to consume a balanced diet going forward.

Contact Us

Eating disorders can be challenging to overcome, but it’s important to remember recovery is absolutely possible. At Clearfork, our team of highly trained staff is here to assist you in this process, giving each one of our clients high-quality and individualized care. Please don’t hesitate in contacting us today to find out more about how we can help get your’s or your loved one’s life back on track.

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Teenage Video Game Addiction

Teenage Video Game Addiction

Today, most young teens have a Playstation or an Xbox in their room. Many will play video games for hours, sometimes until the next morning. Many parents have a question on their minds about when a video game starts affecting their child’s mental health.

When does playing video games develop into teenage video game addiction?

The Effects of Playing Video Games

As a popular pastime for young adults, getting lost in a virtual world through excessive video gaming can have various effects. Family members may be right in having concerns about a possible video game addiction, while some positive effects are also there.

Positive Effects

Often video gamers engage in virtual problem-solving skills. They may have to use creativity, and this could increase their motivation to solve a problem. In attempting to achieve goals and overcome obstacles, playing could enhance their problem-solving skills in the real world. Video game time can also enhance someone’s ability to multitask.

Especially in online games, players are forced to interact with others. Even though this happens remotely, they may communicate with people from all around the world and can connect with friends through video gameplay. The cooperative nature of these games may enhance an aspect of their social skills, especially when they struggle with it in the real world.

Video gameplay can also train the brain to pay attention and pick up more visual detail. This could enhance eyesight, which has been shown to be better than in those who don’t play video games.

Some games have educational purposes, and these are often ignored when considering the harms. Some promote physical movement or puzzle-solving, which can be beneficial for a person’s well-being.

Negative Consequences

Excessive gaming causes the nervous system to be constantly overstimulated and in a state of hyperarousal. When the body is in this state, it produces higher levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone.

Stress from chronic hyperarousal combined with the sedentary nature of video gaming comes with physical issues, including irritability, depression, unstable blood sugar levels, and a lower immune system. Low blood sugar levels have resulted in children eating more sweets and sugary foods while playing. There are also cases where children may avoid stopping a game even when they need to go to the restroom or take a shower, which can lead to several health and hygiene issues.

Often young people become addicted to video games as a means to self-medicate. It is a way of hiding from uncomfortable or negative feelings, or sometimes situations. Video gaming can act as a coping mechanism, whereby they may deal with or avoid arguments, bad grades, or feeling sad. This is dangerous as it replaces healthy coping mechanisms, much like what happens in the case of substance abuse.

Excessive gaming could have a ‘dualistic effect’ on children. It may serve as a way for gamers to improve low self-esteem, or in some cases deal with symptoms of depression, but at the same time hurts their chances of having a normal social life.

When a person spends so much time on the video game console, other areas of their life are easily neglected. Even though online friendships may exist, a teen addicted to video games usually does not have many real-world friends, and they may grow more distant from family and friends with whom they were previously close.

Video gaming addiction in teens can negatively affect their academic performance in school. They may skip homework or leave it unfinished as they play video games, and go to school tired as they could play until very late.

Internet gaming addiction

Online gaming comes with additional pressure. Teens spend their days playing an online role, but when they log off, they miss out. Multiplayer games easily cause them to stay connected or feel guilty when they are not, since the game continues to change every second.

Going back to real life may be harder, as they could be preoccupied with what is happening in the virtual world.

Long-term Effects

When playing video games over a long period, children run the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, typically common among adults who use computers long-term at work. Carpal tunnel syndrome comes from pressure on a nerve in the wrist, which causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and fingers.

Another common long-term effect is ‘gamer’s thumb’, which is an injury that comes with tendonitis and swelling caused by the repetitive use of the thumb. More serious effects include the risk of seizures from flickering graphics, colors, and lights, especially triggering for people with epilepsy. A higher risk of obesity, cholesterol, and high blood pressure can easily arise from a lifestyle that is sedentary and without exercise.

Over time, a teenage video game addiction can change the brain. Game addiction has been considered to have similar effects on a teen’s brain as alcoholism or substance abuse. A more sensitive amygdala-striatal system found in gamers who spend hours playing video games is not the only evidence. Other studies have shown decreased density of white brain matter in areas of the brains of those with internet gaming disorder, showing decreased capacities in behavioral inhibition, decision-making, and emotion regulation.

Video Game Addiction

Video Game Addiction

What makes an online gaming disorder or online gaming addiction occur very easily is the fact that game developers make gamers believe that success is around the corner. A gamer will retry to overcome enticing challenges countless times, as in each attempt they may feel close to unlocking the next level or completing the challenge.

It is safe to say that gaming addiction can be harmful, especially so for those who suffer from mental disorders or other health issues. But what exactly is a video game addiction, and what makes it different from someone who simply loves to play a lot?

There are signs to look out for. A video game addiction refers to continuous compulsive behavior despite negative effects on physical, mental, or social health. The World Health Organization notes gaming disorder as a mental health condition, which occurs when teens play video games to the point that it impairs vital areas of life. For diagnosis, a behavior pattern has to be severe enough to impair personal, family, social, educational, or occupational areas of functioning, and signs must be present for at least 12 months.

The risk of addiction can be passed down, meaning that there are genetic factors involved, but environmental factors can also cause addiction. Things like bullying, trauma, or the loss of a loved one can put gamers at higher risk for developing a gaming disorder.

But most importantly, increasingly playing video games can cause physical changes in the brain, making it produce more dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for feeling pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation, and is related to the brain’s reward system. The release of dopamine can create the demand to have more of it, once again much like what happens in a substance use disorder.

Common Signs of Video Game Addiction

Needing to spend more and more time gaming to be satisfied – similar to building up a tolerance to a substance- is one sign of a gaming disorder or gaming addiction. Someone who has a gaming addiction may deceive themselves and their parents about how much time they spend playing. They may also experience anxiety, and irritability when they are deprived of video games.

The following are other warning signs of video game addiction:

  • Extreme anger
  • Depression
  • Being moody when having to stop playing video games
  • A need to play to feel happy
  • Constantly thinking about gaming, when playing or not
  • Problems at home, work, or school because of preoccupation with video games
  • An inability to cut down on time or abstain from playing
  • Lack of interest in hobbies or activities once enjoyed

What Can Help Improve a Video Gaming Disorder?

What Can Help Improve a Video Gaming Disorder?

There are some things a person can someone do when they see their child’s addictive behaviors.

Some Limitations

Although completely banning an avid gamer from playing will probably not work, setting some rules around playing may be necessary. Unlike drugs or alcohol, a video game addiction means that a teen is tied to a computer or console. Computers often form part of everyday life, and could also be required for school work. As such, treatment centers usually advise controlled use instead of attempting abstinence.

Limiting the time a child spends gaming can greatly decrease compulsive gaming. This could come in the form of not allowing gaming time until homework is done, or only gaming on specific days of the week.

To increase social interaction with the family, and avoid a child’s social isolation through video gaming, a parent could allocate some days for all family members to disconnect from electronics.

Screen time is something that can also be avoided at night. Keeping electronic devices, consoles, or computers outside of the room during bedtime can break the cycle of video game addiction, while also improving sleep.

The most popular video games are intended for children above the age of 17. Placing the gaming console in a common area of the house not only prevents children from being exposed to harmful material but also serves as a way to limit time and keep a child less isolated.

Communication

As with most challenges in life, talking about them is important and can make a big difference. Communicating with your child about gaming disorder and the effects it could have on their physical and mental health can make a difference.

Explaining the difference between success in the virtual world versus that of real life is important. Good grades at school, real-life friendships, and learning skills are more valuable than earning points in an imaginary world, and this should be conveyed to children who are addicted.

Hobbies and Activities

The negative effects of video game addiction can be avoided when a parent instills a balance between playing video games and doing other things. Hobbies and activities could replace video game addiction, or they can create a balance so that a child plays healthily.

If a child likes sports and group activities it should not be hard to get them involved in a sports team. But in the case that they have lost interest, something as small as taking a long walk or riding a bike with them could make a difference.

Try other activities like hiking, kayaking, camping, or rafting. Hobbies provide an opportunity to disconnect from the console and can be especially beneficial when it involves physical activity.

When stepping away from teenage video game addiction, a child may be moody, edgy, and resistant. Artistic activities are useful as they have a calming effect. Engaging in coloring, drawing, sculpting or painting are endeavors that teens can enjoy, and it could help break a video game addiction.

Treatment

Seeking addiction treatment is always a good option. Concern over a child’s screen time or a possible video gaming addiction can be addressed by behavioral therapy.

Similar to a gambling addiction, video game addiction is related to impulse control. Treatment for it is similar to that of other behavioral addictions, which can include individual, group, and family therapies.

Often those who are diagnosed with gaming addiction or a gaming disorder have a co-occurring mental health disorder or illness. This could include depression, anxiety, PTSD, autism, or ADHD.

Since a video game addiction is often a means for teens to deal with underlying mental health issues, treatment could be vital. Addiction specialists not only provide behavioral tools for improving video game addiction, but they also address mental health conditions.

Treatment Center

If you are seeking treatment for your teen’s video game addiction, Clearfork Academy can help. As a treatment center specifically built for today’s teenagers, our treatment programs allow for continuing education as teens recover.

Our caring and experienced staff provide treatment according to a person’s specific needs, in both residential and outpatient programs.

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Symptoms of Suicidal Teenagers: Suicide Signs in Teens

Symptoms of Suicidal Teenagers: Suicide Signs in Teens

Young people go through a lot of changes during their teen years. Emotionally, socially and hormonally things can feel extremely turbulent and for some, things can seem unmanageable. Peer pressure, social media, and a desire to fit in can all put a serious amount of strain on kids as they navigate their youth.

Additionally, adolescence is a common time for mental health problems to develop. Conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are likely to first occur in teenagers.

Whether a teenager has a diagnosed mental health condition or not, they could still be at risk of developing suicidal thoughts and ideation.

For anyone going through a mental health crisis, it can be extremely scary, lonely, and isolating. Witnessing this as a parent, friend or teacher can incur all of these feelings too. It can be complex to differentiate between low mood or hormonal changes, and something more serious such as depression or suicidal behavior.

Here we look at some warning signs of teen suicide. If you are concerned about a young person in your life, get in touch with a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Some people may feel as though they don’t want to interfere or they are unsure how to help, but seeking expert advice can save a life.

What Causes Young People to Attempt Suicide?

Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have found that in the United States suicide is the second leading cause of death in children aged 10 – 14 and the third leading cause of death in teenagers aged 15-19. On a global scale, suicide is the fourth highest cause of death in adolescents aged 15-19. These are devastating statistics, suicide affects not only the family but the friends, school peers, teachers, and community around the young person.

Going through the adjustments of adolescence can be challenging. Young people go through big changes within their bodies, minds, emotions, and their beliefs about the world. This can cause them to feel distressed, frightened, and alone. These can be confounded by some other big developments which we look at below.

Challenges of Adolescence

  • Family breakdown, divorce, or movement
  • Problems with friends
  • Difficulty at school
  • Death of a loved one or friend
  • Worrying global events
  • Pressure to conform
  • Worries about image or appearance

The combination of these experiences can feel so overwhelming for some young people, they feel that suicide is the only option. We look at some of these risk factors in a little more detail below:

Pre-existing Mental Illness

Studies suggest that overall, around 90% of people who die by suicide have experienced at least one mental health disorder.

Living with any untreated disorder is likely to decrease the overall well-being of a young person. The following mental health conditions are found to be linked:

Social Pressure and Challenges

Many young people experience bullying, peer pressure, and loneliness due to being left out of groups and cliques. Unfortunately, sometimes the repercussions of this can lead to teen suicide. In many cases, young people don’t feel able to talk to anyone about what they are going through which can further isolate them.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suggests that young people who experience bullying and those who bully are at the highest risk of having suicidal feelings and behaviors.

Studies have found that individuals from the LGBTQIA+ community are more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual individuals – around 20% of the community surveyed had attempted suicide. With the risk increasing in transgender communities — 43% of transgender people have attempted suicide in their lifetime.

Stressful Life Events

There are a number of family or life events that could increase the suicide risk of a young person. These risk factors include things such as:

  • Substance misuse in the family
  • The death of a loved one
  • Prejudice or racism, from individuals or institutional
  • Family problems such as arguing, relationship breakdown, or divorce
  • Academic pressure
  • Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Losing friends or relationships

Family Factors

Although a lot more research is needed on the topic, there is often a correlation between a family history of mental disorders in close relations – such as depression and substance abuse — and suicide attempts in young people. It is still not known exactly how these factors influence each other, it is thought to be a combination of genetics, behavior modeling, environment, and communication. It is important to note it is certainly not always the case that young people with a family history of suicide and mental illness will result in further cases.

Warning Signs That Your Teen May Be Suicidal

Being aware of the warning signs of suicide in young people can help you to seek help from a medical professional. Suicide is nobody’s fault, trying to navigate this experience alone can be extremely difficult and can lead to your own mental health deterioration. Reach out for help if any of the following symptoms resonate with you.

Some of these warning signs are symptoms of depressive disorders. If your young person experiences depression, try to notice if any of their symptoms develop or change.

  • Very low mood
  • Change in sleeping habits – sleeping a lot or very little
  • Changes in appetite
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Becoming isolated from friends and family
  • Substance use
  • Risk-taking
  • Becoming obsessed with, talking about, death and dying
  • Exhaustion
  • Physical health issues such as headaches
  • Loss of interest or effort at school
  • Difficulties paying attention
  • Feeling or remarking that they want to die

Some young people may show other warning signs of suicidal intent which are not common symptoms of depressive disorders. These include:

  • Speaking about death, dying, or killing themselves
  • Making comments about the future such as ‘I won’t be here then’
  • Giving away or getting rid of personal possessions
  • Suddenly becoming happy after a period of deep depression
  • Writing suicide notes, emails, or social media posts
  • Having suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation

In younger children, symptoms may be slightly different. You could expect to see symptoms such as:

  • Frequent and uncontrollable tantrums
  • Physical pain such as stomach or headache
  • Feeling very fearful or worried
  • Having bad dreams
  • Having problems at school

Being aware of the signs of potential suicide risk is important, but remember that it takes trained medical professionals to manage this situation and it’s critical you involve them.

If any of these symptoms of suicidal behavior sound familiar, you are not alone. Help is available.

What Can I Do If My Teen Is Suicidal?

Talking about suicide can be difficult with anyone, let alone with children and teens. However, having open conversations with your friends and family members can help to decrease the stigma and assure youth they are not alone.

The way you approach the discussion can really impact the outcome. Trying to remain calm, non-judgmental, and compassionate can encourage them to talk more honestly. Essentially, the safer you feel, the more they will too.

Some people may feel they have to come up with solutions or answers for their child’s pain, in actual fact just listening and enabling them to feel heard as your child speaks is often the most important thing.

Try not to make any comparisons, between you, your child, their siblings, or their friends. It can be hard to comprehend how they are feeling but the best thing you can do is listen.

Reaching Out for Professional Help

Your child or teen may find it difficult to open up to you about how they feel, for fear that you may be scared, judgmental, or angry. This is why talking to a mental health professional who is removed from the situation can be so helpful.

Although a trained doctor will have a lot of care and empathy for your child, they won’t feel as emotionally involved as you which can help them formulate a practical plan with you and your child. This can be used when your child is thinking about suicide, attempting suicide, or is showing suicidal behavior. For every child, this emergency plan will be different so it’s important to involve them in the planning process.

It may be helpful to remind your child that professionals are trained to work through these kinds of difficult feelings with people. For some children and teens, this may remind them they are not alone in their emotions.

For some people, online therapy or community groups can be beneficial, both for you and your child. It’s crucial in this time that you look after your own well-being, attending therapy or a teen suicide support group for parents can give you the guidance and strength you need to keep going.

Treatment for Young People

Treatment varies depending on the circumstances of your child. They will likely take part in a mental health evaluation and a treatment plan will be formulated reflecting their age, physical and mental health history, and the severity of their condition.

If your child is in immediate danger it may be advised that they stay in a residential setting for some days to ensure your child’s safety. It’s possible that your child will receive some of the following components of care, depending on their needs:

  • An extended stay in hospital until suicidal behaviors have reduced
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Intensive outpatient care
  • Structured environments
  • Residential facilities
  • Partial hospital care
  • Outpatient therapy

Every child is different, and their treatment plan should reflect this. Although most adolescents would prefer to be at home, sometimes for safety reasons they will need to stay in a residential environment. If they do come home with you, the medical team will help you to create a safe space for your child.

Moving Forward from Suicide Attempts

Transitioning from residential care back to home life can be challenging, regardless of how long your child has spent there. It will take time for everybody to adjust and there are likely to be a lot of difficult emotions and feelings in the house.

One Day at a Time

Focus on the day in front of you instead of getting caught up in the past or the future, this is helpful for everyone.

Returning to Everyday Activities

When you are confident that your child has fully started their healing process and they are fully in recovery, you can begin to re-introduce everyday activities. This could include, sports, school, and socializing. It’s important to note that these should all happen at the pace of the child, rushing into things can be detrimental.

Maintaining Communication

Keeping good communication up with your child about their feelings, their experiences, what they do and don’t feel comfortable with and their progress is crucial to their recovery. It’s easy to miss certain indicators and trigger points during this time and the best way to understand them is to maintain a good dialogue.

Clearfork Academy

Teen suicide is a devastating experience that affects everyone around the young person. Suicide rates are increasing amongst children and teens, indicating we need to increase our conversations around this topic. If you, a friend, or a family member is affected by suicide, or you believe they are considering committing suicide, seek help today. You can contact the national suicide prevention lifeline on 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor.

Mental health for children and young adults needs a very specific approach. At Clearfork Academy, we specialize in youth services and adolescent psychiatry, taking a person-centered approach to well-being. We offer intensive outpatient and inpatient treatment for children and adolescents who are at risk of suicide, substance misuse, and other co-existing mental health issues.

We have a highly skilled cohort of staff who truly understand the complexities of youth mental illness. We are here for you and your family, and we have all of your best interests at heart. Get in contact with us at Clearfork Academy today to find out how we can help.

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Stress Management for Teens

Stress Management for Teens

Stress can be a positive feeling that protects and motivates you to take action. However, it can also get out of hand, causing negative impacts on both physical and mental health. There are many factors influencing teens today, here we will look at some teen stress management activities.

Research has shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated stress across the country. Additionally, teenagers have grown up in a world of social media and easily accessible information on the internet. While there are many positives to this, there are also problems. Those aged fifteen to twenty-one, also known as, Generation Z, have reported feeling stressed about social issues in the news.

The mental health crisis is particularly affecting teens with a thirty-one percent increase in mental health-related emergency department visits for people aged twelve to seventeen from 2019 to 2020.

What is Stress?

What is Stress?

The stress response is a reaction to change or feeling under pressure. This can be a normal and even helpful response, making us feel motivated and energized to get things done. For example, stress may motivate your teenager to practice their instrument or get their homework done. It can also warn us of danger and keep us alert and awake so that we are prepared.

This could help if your teen comes across danger, for example, if they are on a night out and there is a risk of violence or assault. Short-term everyday stress can therefore be positive in protecting us from harm.

However, stress can become a problem when it is very intense or lasts for a long time. Healthcare professionals often refer to these types of stress as acute and chronic stress.

Acute stress occurs soon after an event and usually lasts for a few weeks. It is very intense and can occur after sudden bereavement, assault, or natural disaster among other events.

Chronic stress lasts for a long time or keeps returning. This could occur if you are under continuous pressure for example if you are a carer or live in poverty.

How Does the Stress Response Work?

When you experience stress an area of your brain called the hypothalamus activates your adrenal glands to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These trigger the fight-or-flight response by working on the autonomic nervous system. Your autonomic nervous system is responsible for regulating functions such as your heart rate, breathing, and digestion.

Stress causes your heart rate to increase and blood vessels to dilate or contract depending on which organ they provide with blood. For example, they dilate to allow blood to reach your muscles and heart and constrict to prevent blood from going to your digestive system and sex organs. Your breathing will also increase in order to provide more oxygen in your blood.

Causes of Stress

There are many potential causes of stress. The teen years are a particularly challenging time in life when you and your surroundings are changing rapidly. You experience unpredictable and intense emotions, deal with making new friends, and experience peer pressure and potentially bullying. Some causes of stress for teens include:

  • Problems at home such as divorce, fighting among parents or siblings, or loss – even apparently positive change such as a new sibling or moving home can cause stress
  • Difficulties at school such as making new friends and dealing with bullies
  • Issues in the news such as rising suicide rates, gun violence, school shootings, climate change, sexual harassment, and treatment of minorities
  • Stress about fitting in such as in romantic relationships, and peer pressure particularly surrounding alcohol and substance use and sex
  • Having more responsibilities than you can cope with such as an overwhelming amount of schoolwork or extracurricular activities
  • Facing discrimination for example racism, sexism, homophobia, or transphobia
  • Large-scale events such as natural disasters, conflict, or the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Mental health problems including anxiety disorders

Signs of Stress

Too much stress can affect your psychological and physical health. Knowing the signs of stress could help you recognize if your teen needs support.

Psychological symptoms of stress include:

  • Irritability and anger
  • Changes in behavior such as suddenly acting out or not leaving the house
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Neglecting responsibilities such as homework

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Chest pain or racing heart
  • Aches and pains
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Dizziness
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Shaking
  • Muscle tension
  • Stomach problems
  • A weak immune system, which you can notice from getting sick often
  • Weight gain or loss due to eating changes

When stress levels decrease, the body returns to normal. But if you experience long-term stress this can cause more permanent damage. Long-term stress can cause damage to blood vessels and arteries, increase blood pressure, and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Common Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Common Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Managing stress can be difficult, especially as a teenager. It is already difficult to navigate what is happening within and around you. Stress makes this more intense. Some teenagers will find unhealthy coping mechanisms to relieve stress. These include:

  • Drinking
  • Smoking
  • Drug use
  • Gambling
  • Overeating (some may even develop an eating disorder)
  • Compulsively seeking sex, shopping, internet browsing, smoking, drug use

These can often make the stress worse. For example, substance use can increase stress by leading to financial and legal worries and exacerbating or causing mental health problems.

Stress Management for Teens

Stress Management for Teens

It is impossible to avoid stress entirely since it is a normal part of life, however, it is possible to prevent it from taking over. We will discuss a few ways that teens can manage stress by incorporating healthy coping skills and stress management activities in their lives. We will then discuss what you can do as parents to support them.

Physical Activity and Time Outdoors

The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that six- to seventeen-year-olds get at least sixty minutes of activity per day. There is evidence that physical activity is an effective technique for stress relief. Study as an example. As little as 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or seventy-five minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week reduces stress.

Spending time outside has also been shown to reduce stress and improve well-being. This is particularly the case for sending time in green spaces but does not only apply to this.

Relaxation Techniques

There are plenty of relaxation techniques that may help with stress. Making time for fun and relaxation is important. For example, playing musical instruments or doing fun activities. There are also more structured relaxation techniques such as tai chi, yoga, and breathing exercises.

Stress can be held in the body. You might notice that when you are consistently stressed, you get a sore back or shoulders, and your muscles feel tight. Tai chi and yoga help both your mind and body relax.

Mindfulness is also a way to reduce stress a 2014 study with thirteen to eighteen-year-olds found that those who learned mindfulness techniques experienced less distress than those who did not.

Journaling and Setting Goals

Journaling has also been shown to help people deal with stress. It allows you to write about and process what you are going through, recognize patterns, and identify your emotions by putting them into words. You can also incorporate gratefulness journalling. This involves focussing on what you have achieved and what you are grateful for rather than what you have not done.

It may also help to set short- and long-term goals. Focussing on specific goals can prevent you from becoming overwhelmed by too many things to do. It is important to set realistic goals, since setting too many goals and failing to meet them could increase stress.

Healthy Living and Relationships

Taking care of your body and mind is important for dealing with stress. This includes your diet and sleep. Eating a balanced diet and avoiding too much sugar can help with stress. Getting enough sleep is also important. Teens should get eight to ten hours of sleep a night.

Another part of healthy living is making sure that you maintain relationships that are good for you. Relationships that make you happy, help you to stay calm, and give you emotional support can be beneficial when you are dealing with stress.

Professional Help

If your stress is particularly intense you may wish to seek help from a mental health professional. Therapy can help you to work through your feelings, hopes, and fears. It allows you to set goals in a safe environment and work on them in collaboration with your therapist. If you are using unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol or drugs, or if you are having suicidal thoughts, therapy may be particularly important. However, you should not feel like you need to be doing “bad enough” to seek therapy.

How Can I Help My Teen?

How Can I Help My Teen?

If you are the parent of a teenager who is experiencing acute or chronic stress, there are things you can do to help support them.

Do Not Always Try to Fix Their Problems

If your teen is feeling stressed, it may feel helpful to fix their problems for them. However, this can create a downwards spiral, where they continue to believe that they cannot manage stressful situations themselves. Rather than fixing their problems, you can help them to develop skills for dealing with them themselves. Perhaps start small by letting them solve small, low-risk problems, assisting them in their issues but not taking the decisions and actions out of their hands.

For example, your teenager may think that they are bad at maths. Rather than doing their homework for them, sit with them and help them while they do it. Encourage and remind them of previous achievements in the subject so that they gain confidence in themselves. It is important that the positive things you say about your child are true and believable so that they can recognize their own strengths.

Internet Literacy

Teens have grown up in a different world than their parents. They have had access to the internet since they were young and are generally very internet savvy in terms of finding what they want. While this can be positive, it also has a dark side. There is a lot of information online, not all good.

Additionally, they may experience cyberbullying and feel pressure from social media about how they should look and the way their life should be. It is important to speak with your teenagers about internet literacy and perhaps even limit screen time, particularly when they are young. Limiting screen time before bed also helps to improve sleep quality.

Encouraging a Healthy Lifestyle

If your teenager is living at home you are in a great position to make sure they are practicing some of the techniques we spoke about earlier. Particularly if they are younger, try to make sure that they are getting to sleep early and not using screens for at least one hour before they go to bed. Making sure they are getting a balanced diet will also help.

Getting External Support When Needed

Sometimes, no matter how much you focus on healthy habits, exercising, sleeping enough, and eating healthy, your teenager will still experience chronic stress. They may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, or they may be under pressure that they cannot avoid. In this case, you may want to consider encouraging them to get therapy.

Although it is difficult to think that this would ever happen to your child. It is also important to understand that some teenagers will turn to drugs or alcohol when they are experiencing chronic stress. If your teenager is in this situation and has developed an alcohol or drug problem, you should encourage them to get professional help as well as get support for yourself so that you can understand what they are going through. It is important to note that forcing teenagers into rehab is unlikely to work, so it is more helpful to encourage them to choose it for themselves.

Get Help Today

At Clearfork Academy we focus on supporting teenagers. We are a residential treatment center that focuses on substance abuse and addiction and co-occurring mental health and behavioral issues. We provide a family-style environment and allow families to join at the weekend to take part in therapeutic activities.

If your teenager is suffering from a substance use problem due to chronic stress we are here to help. We understand that seeking support is difficult and make the recovery process as easy as possible. We focus on peer learning so that those who come to us feel they are understood and supported by their peers.

If you would like more information or are ready to seek support, please visit our website or call us on (866) 650-5212.

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Why Do Teens Use Drugs?

Why Do Teens Use Drugs?

As a parent or educator, you may be wondering why teens use drugs. Are there core issues or influences behind a child’s substance use or addiction? Or are they simply experimenting?

What Are the Risks of Teen Drug Abuse?

Teen drug abuse is no less risky than when adults take drugs.

Teenage drug use can cause poor judgment in both social and interpersonal interactions. It can also expose them to a community where drug use is considered normal, exposing them to potential substance addiction. It may also cause them to engage in unsafe sexual activity, which may lead to sexually transmitted diseases or unplanned pregnancies.

Teen drug use also complicates and increases the risks of mental health issues and disorders. Teenagers run the same risk of potential overdoses or causing physical or psychological damage to themselves and their loved ones through substance abuse, as adults do.

Substance use can in turn lead to drug dependence, and teenagers who use drugs run a higher risk of being involved with serious drug use later in their lives. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, new studies show that adolescents with multiple symptoms of substance use disorder do not easily transition out of symptomatic substance use in adulthood.

Why Do Teens Use Drugs?

Why Do Teens Use Drugs?

Drug abuse among juveniles is commonly seen as an expression of another unspoken, unsatisfied issue. Alcohol is frequently associated with teenagers who wish to release anger, as it allows them to behave aggressively. Prescription medications may be abused simply to get high, while hallucinogens like mushrooms or LSD are often used by young people as a means of escaping to a more kind or idealistic world. Cigarettes are sometimes associated with provoking parents or rebelling and showing independence.

People often want to believe that teenage drug use is just a phase or a means of experimenting. But with drug use among 8th graders going up 61% between 2016 and 2020, there may be some underlying reasons.

To Fit In

Teenage years often come with low self-esteem, many insecurities, and a big fear of not being accepted. Making friends at school can be difficult for young people, and many teens may engage in drug abuse to fit in. If others are considered ‘cool’ and are doing it, kids may fear that they will not be accepted into a social circle if they aren’t using drugs too.

Alcohol and drugs also loosen inhibitions, making social interactions easier and alleviating any social anxiety. Drug use can make teens feel that they have something in common, and a fear of being left out can prompt them to engage in it.

To Do Better

Many parents overlook the possibility that school stress can lead to their teen’s drug use. In a very competitive society, there is immense pressure on kids for athletic and academic performance. Some young adults even turn to illegal prescription stimulants to enhance their school performance.

In and outside of school, young people may want to prove their worth to their peers and their loved ones. Competition to be outstanding comes with a lot of intensity, and sometimes costs teens their sobriety.

To Feel Good

Drugs affect the neurochemistry of the brain and produce pleasurable feelings. Many teens use drugs or alcohol simply to get high. They may be looking for a thrill or an intensified feeling that they may not find in other activities. This is usually where addiction starts, as drugs interact with our brain’s method of producing and experiencing pleasure.

To Feel Better

Feeling good is one thing, but it is vastly different from feeling better when considering teen drug use. Usually, kids who take drugs to ‘feel better’ are in fact trying to cope with something.

It may be that they want to numb or dull very real emotional or psychological pain. They may be battling with something much deeper than peer pressure or school pressure. Teenage years come with everyday drama, challenging family dynamics, and loads of hormones. Rough teenage years can take an emotional toll on children, and they may take drugs to cope.

Adolescents can also suffer from depression, stress-related disorders, and social anxiety. Mental health issues combined with low self-esteem, possible anxiety disorders, and loneliness are often associated with drug abuse as teens use them as self-medication.

To Deal With Change

Change is not easy for most, and for teens, this is no exception. Teens turn to drugs to deal with changing situations. These could include moving, undergoing puberty, changing schools, or dealing with their parent’s divorce. Any change in school, friends, mental health, or self-esteem could prompt a teen to use substances.

To Experiment

Kids are indeed naturally curious and they sometimes stay curious as teenagers. It is common for teens to wonder about the sensations associated with alcohol or other drugs. Adolescents are usually motivated to look for new experiences and ones that are risky, daring, or thrilling are especially tempting. Teen years are the typical time for exploring and learning more about themselves, and this usually involves testing boundaries.

Attention

Teenagers often feel that they are not good enough, or look for something that will make them stand out or make them special. One of these things may be drug abuse, or the feeling of not being good enough can drive them to substance abuse. Sometimes a teenager might act out so that they may receive their teacher’s or parent’s attention.

Childhood

Often things that happen in childhood influence a person’s behaviors or psychology when they grow up. A family history of substance abuse could expose a child to drugs at an early age, and they are more likely to develop a substance abuse issue themselves. Traumatic events such as experiencing a car accident, or low self-esteem stemming from emotional and physical abuse can cause teenagers to take drugs to cope.

Education

Most kids grow up believing that drug or alcohol use is normal. Television shows, movies, and music may advertise or speak about it. A prime example is how easily pills are accepted as a means to deal with emotions or minor ailments like headaches. Teens may not always understand the consequences of drug use either.

Inaccurate information about drugs and alcohol is one of the key contributors for kids taking drugs. Usually, some friends will claim to know about recreational drugs, and can easily reassure others about their safety or minimal risk.

Role Models

Teens see their parents and other adults smoking, vaping, drinking alcohol, or sometimes trying other substances. They most often will imitate the habits of those that are supposed to be their role models. Parents may be permissive to drugs, smoking, or drinking, which places a teen at risk of developing an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol.

What Can Help Prevent Teen Drug Use?

What Can Help Prevent Teen Drug Use

There is no surefire way to end addiction or ensure a teen never does drugs. However, there are effective drug prevention efforts that can reduce risk factors. It has to do with protective factors related to substance abuse.

The Parent or Caregiver Bond

A strong bond with a parent or caregiver can help decrease the risk factors of taking drugs. The first important step if a person suspects their child is struggling with substance abuse, is to not ignore it or its signs. To understand a teen’s drug use, a person has to understand the dynamics, feelings, or pressures behind it. To steer a teen away from harmful substances, a person may have to educate themselves on drugs and alcohol.

Parents or caregivers could talk to their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol regularly. As parents and caregivers are the most important role models in children’s lives, it is important to be aware of one’s behaviors. It may mean not taking drugs, drinking alcohol in moderation, and using prescription medication only as directed.

Taking care of a child’s mental health could include engaging in athletic or community activities, spending quality time together, or teaching them healthy coping skills for dealing with mental issues. Often, treatment centers can help with this. Treatment facilities can also help with any questions regarding a medical condition.

Know About Your Child

It is important to know your teen’s friends, and even better to meet their parents. Encouraging a child to invite their friends over could be a way to know them better, and to see if someone may be a bad influence.

Clear rules about drug use help, and being aware and talking about what a child hears, sees, or is exposed to can be vital.

Treatment Center

If your child’s drug use is worrying you, Clearfork is here to help. As a residential treatment center for teens, we understand how difficult drug and alcohol abuse can be for both teens and their parents.

That is why our treatment involves a family intensive week, while a licensed education program can keep your child’s academics on track. Medical detox, and residential and outpatient treatment options are available, and experienced nursing staff are on hand 24/7.

Clearfork understands that drug and alcohol use among teens may mean that they are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues too. That is why our addiction treatment program includes behavioral health treatment for substance use, mental health, and any co-occurring disorders. Get in contact today to find out how Clearfork Academy can help your teen.

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How Does Social Media Affect Teens?

How Does Social Media Affect Teens?

Social media has rapidly become a ubiquitous part of our lives, allowing us to connect with anyone, anywhere, and at any time. By improving social connectivity across the globe, social media has had the effect of making the world a smaller place and allowing us to learn as much as we can about each other. It is clear that social media platforms have had many beneficial impacts on us all.

However, in light of a new generation of young people who are being raised with this relatively new technology, there are a lot of questions about the downsides of its use. In many ways, this is the normal outcome of the exploration of new and innovative technologies.

However, new research is bringing to light the very real issues that intense social media use can bring about, the negative effects of their use, and which social media platforms we should worry about when it comes to the mental health of young adults.

The Twin Faces of Social Media Sites

The Twin Faces of Social Media Sites

When it comes to social networking sites, information on their use and their detrimental effects can often be contradictory. Their positive effects are often touted, such as:

  • Allowing teens to create online identities
  • Allowing teens to communicate with their peers
  • Allowing teens to fully express themselves

The value of social media in broadening teen social connections cannot be dismissed out of hand. They also have an educational dimension considering that many teens find that social media platforms are the easiest way to access information about current events, as well as to learn valuable technical skills that can aid them in their future professional life.

It has almost become a necessity for young people to have social media accounts in order for them to connect and communicate with their peers with an estimated 45% of all young Americans saying that they they are active on social media. This figure does not include those who use social media platforms such as Facebook Messenger as a tool to talk with their friends, so we can safely assume that the real figure is even higher.

A Common Sense Media report estimates that the actual number of teens participating in social media is as high as 81%. A large part of this can be attributed to the huge peer pressure that teenagers are subjected to. When everyone around you is on social media, it is hard to escape it. This is even more true when it comes to being able to manage your social media use in a healthy manner.

However, all this time online has other consequences on the mental health of teens. These consequences are worth worrying about and should make parents consider limiting their children’s social media use so that they learn to develop a healthy relationship with it, regardless of the positive effects it can sometimes have. There has been extensive research concerning how social media affects teenagers negatively. Some of these impacts are:

  • Troubled sleep patterns
  • Distorted body image
  • Low self-esteem
  • Cyberbullying
  • Increased risk of anxiety disorders
  • Increased risk of depressive symptoms

The growing consensus that social media use can affect teenagers in a negative way has slowly become more outspoken, especially when recent research brings to light the fact that increasing rates of teenage depression are directly proportional to the amount of time they use social media.

It can also be claimed that the prevalence of social media accounts as a tool for teenagers to communicate with other people means that they lack ways to develop their own social skills in an effective and realistic manner. Social media accounts are not always accurate portrayals of people’s lives, and teens can struggle to develop socially if their primary mode of communication is not face-to-face.

However, the fact that social media has become an invaluable tool for people’s social networking (both personally and professionally) is also important to keep in mind and is the reason that advocating for a healthy relationship with social media is so critical.

How Does Social Media Affect Teenagers’ Mental Health?

How Does Social Media Affect Teenagers’ Mental Health?

As we have discussed, the prevalence of physical and psychological consequences as a result of excessive or uncontrolled social media use can vary regardless of its positive aspects. It has been found many times over that the negative effects that social media use can bring about are directly proportional to the amount of time spent online. Subsequently, as a result of all the peer pressure that social media burdens teenagers with, many teenagers might feel that they have no choice but to spend time online to avoid being ostracised by their peers and to avoid feeling left out.

The teenage years are a tumultuous time for everyone. The constant pressure to be active online and to present the very best digital version of yourself can have degrading effects on the mental health and security of teenagers in the United States. For this reason, teaching healthy social media use to teenagers should be an essential role for parents in order to guarantee the well-being of their children.

Research on Social Media

The damaging effects on teenagers’ sleep patterns as a result of excessive media use have been thoroughly researched. A particular study with 467 adolescent test subjects found that teenagers who are more active on social media, or who are more emotionally invested in it, are much more at risk of unhealthy sleep patterns (as well as overall decreased life satisfaction). If this excessive social media use extends to too much screen time during nighttime hours, then this effect is even more prevalent.

In many ways, the manner in that teenagers interact with each other has not become essentially different. The same rules apply in the digital sphere and the same interpersonal problems and dramas are still present, they have simply become digitally transposed. Just as bullying is an issue for many teens at school (and an unfortunate consequence of human behavior), cyberbullying has become a prevalent problem.

Essentially, it is a form of online harassment which can be used to discredit or humiliate other teens. It has also been found that the mental health harms caused by cyber bullying are more likely to affect teenage girls than boys.

Social Media and Anxiety

Issues concerning increased rates of anxiety disorders have been found to correlate with teens’ social media use. Studies have shown that there is some evidence that social media use can be responsible for higher rates of anxiety among teens and adolescents. Despite the fact that there are some questions to be raised about how valid these studies are, it is not something that should be dismissed out of hand.

This is especially important considering that anxiety disorders can lead teenagers to other problems, such as substance abuse disorders. Other systematic reviews have shown that social media usage and anxiety have a bidirectional relationship. Excessive use leads to higher rates of anxiety and teens with already present anxiety disorders, or issues concerning loneliness and social isolation, tend to use social media more often which exacerbates an already present problem.

Likewise, excessive social media use in teens can also lead to an increased prevalence of depressive symptoms among young adults and can be one explanatory factor for increased rates of depression among American teenagers.

However, it should be kept in mind that the prevalence of anxiety or depression-related mental health disorders cannot be explained simply by too much social media use. It is simply one contributory factor among many related to teens’ self-image and how they relate to their peers.

Social Media and Low Self Esteem

When it comes to self-image and self-esteem, one issue that should be addressed is social media’s relationship to body dysmorphia, which affects young people of all genders. Body dysmorphia is defined as an excessive or unrealistic worry about a person’s physical appearance, leading to stress and anxiety.

In many ways, it can be considered almost normal that if teens are constantly pushed images of beautiful people living the “ideal life” then they are forced to reflect on their own appearance, and start to view it as the reason for their lack of online success.

Research has shown that body dysmorphia is on the rise among teens and adolescents, with social media cited as one possible cause. Excessive social media use has been proven to be related to body dissatisfaction, which in turn leads to other sets of problems such as eating disorders. Despite affecting both boys and girls, girls are usually found to be more at risk of developing health disorders that can negatively affect their physical health. It is one more example of how the effects of the normal phenomenon of social comparison is exacerbated by social media use.

Social Media Platforms

Social Media Platforms

In terms of which social media platform is most likely to cause negative effects on teens’ mental health, there is limited research available. This is not unsurprising considering that many social media sites are still relatively new and there has not been enough time to effectively research the effects of their prolonged use.

Sites such as Facebook, which was the main social networking site for many years, have been the center of attention because of their longevity and because of how it has been proven to negatively impact youths. Studies have shown that prolonged use can create skewed perceptions about other people’s lives.

Additionally, statistical research has found that the high use of Facebook is a predictive factor in how people feel generally about themselves, with it having a negative impact on their own subjective idealizations of themselves. Essentially, rather than fulfilling a teenager’s need to connect with others on an emotional level, it can have the opposite effect.

Despite the large availability of research concerning Facebook, it is merely one part of the social media bubble, and parents should not necessarily focus on it as the sole culprit for their children’s self-esteem issue, especially as young people are progressively moving towards other platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

How Can You Limit Your Teenager’s Social Media Usage?

How Can You Limit Your Teenager’s Social Media Usage?

In many ways, social media interactions by teenagers are simply a reflection of their personal identity. Teenagers will always be teenagers, it is just that their behavior has been transposed into the digital sphere.

Parenting is difficult, but it is important to teach teenagers ways of maintaining a healthy relationship with social media so as ensure they do not fall into problems concerning their mental health. Setting proper limits is of utmost importance, while also recognizing that online time has become an essential part of maintaining a successful social identity, even if we disregard peer pressure.

Good parenting extends to digital personas. However, if your child is a heavy social media user it may be time to find some way to help them. It is normal that teenagers have difficulty self-regulating, which is why parental controls are so important. While it may be seen as invasive by teens, it is a good way to make sure they do not develop future body image issues or other related problems such as substance abuse disorders. Parents should focus on providing effective emotional support to their children and help them be more resilient to bullying through effective communication.

Simple actions such as reducing screen time at night can do wonders for teens, both in regard to their sleep patterns and as a method of reducing risks of anxiety or depressive disorders. Less social media at night is therefore highly recommended. In establishing healthy boundaries, they can learn to be more comfortable with themselves and others by limiting social media exposure.

How To Get Help for Your Teenage Children

How To Get Help for Your Teenage Children

If you are worried about your teen’s social media use and the impact it has had on their well-being, then sometimes therapy and treatment are the most effective option to deal with it in a healthy way.

This is also due to the fact that the negative outcomes of social media are simply one factor among many when it comes to mental health issues. Excessive use of networking sites, despite the positive behaviors they can encourage, goes hand in hand with many mental health and substance use disorders.

It can be difficult for parents to keep up to date with modern technology, especially when they are busy managing their own lives and taking care of their children’s needs. It is for this reason that Clearfork helps parents with teenagers who are at risk of these problems.

At Clearfork, teens can visit our facilities in order to get a better and more healthy outlook on everyday life. We offer a range of therapies aimed at supporting young people, including dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and music and art therapy.

Our outdoor therapies can help your teen reconnect with the beauty in life through activities such as yoga, wilderness exploration, and equine therapy.

Get in touch now to find out how we can help improve your teen’s mental health.

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Depressed Teen: How to Help a Teen with Depression

How to Help a Teen with Depression

Depression can affect anyone, but there is growing evidence that teenagers are suffering from the condition in greater numbers. Programs offered by Clearfork can help manage a teen’s depression, but what are some of the factors that could be contributing, and how else can you help?

What Is Depression?

Depression is a condition often characterized by a low mood and poor self-esteem. There are in fact several psychiatric disorders associated with depression, although they all share certain core symptoms, namely periods of especially low mood and sadness.

Depression as a condition is not to be confused with feeling depressed, which is a normal thing that everyone experiences from time to time. Feelings of depression or sadness, often as a result of a loss or some other negative experience, can be powerful in their impact but pass relatively quickly. Depression as a mental illness differs in that these periods can last for weeks or even months, and be accompanied by a host of other symptoms.

Symptoms of Depression

Symptoms of Depression

Some of the key symptoms of depression are prolonged low periods. These periods typically last for at least two weeks, although they can go on for months. Symptoms such as low self-esteem and a profound lack of motivation are also common during depressive periods. Different types of depression have different symptoms. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V (DSM-5) is a document that aids in the assessment of mental health problems. By examining the DSM-5 we can get a better idea of how depression symptoms differ.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a condition often referred to as clinical depression. People suffering from major depression may experience a loss of interest in things they used to enjoy. This can be very sudden and dispiriting and is not the same as boredom or just losing interest normally.

Other symptoms of clinical depression include:

  • feelings of worthlessness
  • misplaced guilt
  • excessive regret
  • feeling helpless or like things are hopeless
  • decreased concentration
  • anxiety
  • fatigue

Symptoms of MDD

There are also more physical symptoms, such as changes in psychomotor function. Psychomotor activities are physical actions that arise from mental activity. This includes things like playing a musical instrument, driving a car, writing, playing sports, and so on.

Someone with MDD may experience psychomotor retardation, which is the slowing down of these activities. Conversely, they may also suffer from psychomotor agitation, which results in unintentional, repetitive actions. One example of this is restless leg syndrome, or ‘jittery legs’.

Disruptions or changes to normal sleep patterns are also potential symptoms. The inability to sleep, known as insomnia, is common and can also exacerbate some of the other symptoms like anxiety. Hypersomnia, or oversleeping, can also occur. This in turn can cause people to miss important engagements or responsibilities, which may make feelings of guilt or hopelessness even worse.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is another mental condition that is associated with depression. Also known as bipolar depression, this condition also involves extended periods of low energy and profound sadness. Where it differs from major depression is that sufferers also experience periods of heightened energy and mood. These periods of elevated energy are known as mania, or manic episodes, leading to the condition sometimes being called manic depression.

During these manic episodes, people experience extreme levels of energy and motivation. They may feel unusually happy or easily annoyed. There is also a tendency towards risky behaviors and decisions, regardless of the consequences.

Someone might, for example, make impulsive purchases beyond what they can afford, or say and do things that have negative social consequences. In many cases, impulsive behaviors during manic episodes lead to even more profound regret and self-loathing during the subsequent depressive episodes.

Some Possible Risk Factors

Some Possible Risk Factors

The loss of a loved one or family member is hard for anyone, but it also represents an important potential influence on the onset of a depressive episode. Major loss, rejection, or disappointment can trigger a depressive episode, especially in people who might have a particular vulnerability or predisposition to depression.

One of the main risk factors for teen depression is a family history of depression. A 2015 study published in the National Library of Medicine (NLM) appeared to show that a positive family history for depression made someone more likely to experience a greater amount of depressive episodes over their lifetime.

Research by Stanford University School of Medicine (summarized here) also suggests that you may be two or three times more likely to develop depression if an immediate family member has also suffered from it.

Substance Abuse and Teen Depression

Depressed teens may also be more susceptible to substance abuse, and may abuse alcohol as well in order to help cope with their symptoms. This can have the opposite effect and may actually make them feel worse in the long run.

Depression is also a potential symptom of drug or alcohol withdrawal, which can trap people into addiction in order to avoid the worst of the suffering. The involvement of illicit substances can not only help instigate but also exacerbate teen depression and is an important risk factor to be aware of.

Adolescent Depression

Medically speaking, adolescent depression has the same diagnostic criteria as it does in adults. The onset of puberty also brings with it many behavioral changes and emotional fluctuations which can mask more serious underlying mental health issues. Mood swings are a very common side effect of puberty, and it’s not uncommon for parents to report confusion over what caused instances of irritability or sadness in their teenage children.

A depressed teenager might burst into tears for no clear reason, or have outbursts of misdirected anger. Unlike those associated with puberty, there may not even be a reason offered for these strong emotions, and the teenager may themselves be unsure why they are feeling this way.

Warning Signs to Watch out For

It can sometimes be hard to tell if someone is going through a hard time or if they are suffering from undiagnosed mental disorders. This is especially the case for teenagers, who often have a lot of major life changes to deal with in a short space of time. For those who may be concerned about a loved one, or even themselves, there are some signs and signals that someone may be suffering from untreated depression.

Some teenage depression signs to look out for include:

  • Sudden changes in sleeping patterns
  • A drastic reduction in appetite
  • Unexplained aches and pains, such as headaches and stomach aches
  • A pronounced drop in school attendance or attainment
  • A trending toward social isolation
  • Increased restlessness and agitation

Taking extra risks

You may also notice a seemingly inexplicable increase in risk-taking behavior, especially in the case of bipolar depression. This can come in many forms, such as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or unprotected sex. The comedown or consequence of these risky behaviors can then contribute to or exacerbate the teen’s symptoms of depression.

Some level of risk-taking is a common part of adolescence and puberty and can help your teen develop their self-esteem, as well as their boundaries. Too much can be dangerous, or one of the warning signs of depression.

Self-harm and Suicidal Thinking

Self-harm and Suicidal Thinking

Another important warning sign of a teen’s depression is self-harm, also known as Nonsuicidal Self Injury (NSSI). This can take many forms, but perhaps the most common is the deliberate cutting of the skin, often on the forearms. This can help some people cope with difficult or painful feelings. People who self-harm might find physical pain to be an easier to manage proxy for when they feel overwhelmed.

In order to conceal these injuries, people might wear long-sleeved tops more frequently, for example, or suddenly go out of their way to avoid showing bare skin. It is important not to jump to conclusions in these cases, as NSSI is not necessarily a sign of suicidal thinking. Some people report that these acts actually help prevent suicidal thoughts from manifesting.

That said, suicidal ideation is a serious warning sign that someone may be depressed. Expressing the desire to take one’s own life, or wishing they were dead is a clear signal that something is wrong. It can be very distressing for a parent or loved one to hear these things from their child, but it is important to take it seriously while trying not to react in a way that closes them off from sharing such things again.

Suicide and Depression

Not everyone who suffers from depression will experience persistent suicidal thoughts, although suffering from depression represents a significant risk in this regard. Sometimes, a suicide attempt may be a cry for help, and it is vital to pick up on these signals and give them the help they need.

According to a 2018 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH), half of all completed suicides are linked to depression or other affective disorders.

Suicide is also the third leading cause of death for teenagers. One study (also by the IJERPH) shows that over 90% of teens who die by suicide have been diagnosed with one or more psychiatric disorders, most often major depression.

This demonstrates how important suicide prevention programs are. If you are worried that you or a loved one may attempt suicide, please contact a mental health professional immediately, or call the national suicide prevention lifeline (also known as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline), or another suicide hotline.

Rates of Depression Amongst Teens

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 8.4% of children between six and seventeen years old were diagnosed with depression in 2011-2012. The number of teenagers suffering from depression has since risen. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that 17% of young adults between twelve and seventeen years old experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2020. This amounts to over 4.1 million teenagers experiencing MDD.

When compared to the rates of adults who have experienced depression, we can see that teenagers are at a greater risk. The same NIMH report showed that around twenty-one million adults experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2020, which represents 8.4% of American adults. This means that teen depression is over twice as common as it is in adults.

Contributing Factors to Teen Depression

With so many teenagers suffering from depression symptoms, it is crucial to understand what factors might be leading to the rise in cases. Young people go through a lot of developmental changes during their teenage years, during which they have an extreme sensitivity to social evaluation. This means that things such as peer pressure, social standing, and friendship groups are more impactful than at any other time.

Social Media

The advent of social media has generated a huge amount of social change in a very short space of time. A teenager today will have in their pocket a device that can instantly connect them to millions of people, while their parents are not likely to have even had a computer or mobile phone at all when they were growing up.

This creates a whole new level of social pressure on teenagers, who are being photographed and recorded far more than previous generations. Most teens are on some form of social media, which means they can be judged, praised, or bullied by their peers constantly.

Body image and self-esteem are under threat as a result of social media use, as a teen’s life is often being displayed to others in near real-time. The quick-fire, visual nature of social media platforms invites comments on pictures and videos, with public comments often remaining in place seemingly indefinitely.

There is growing concern over the mental health impacts of social media use among teenagers, and the current rise in rates of depression also roughly coincides with the spread of smartphones and social media.

School Pressures

High school is a tricky time for many teens, with social and academic pressure increasing each year. Many teens face high expectations and an even higher workload. This comes on top of trying to juggle the sometimes volatile changes brought by puberty, as well as maintaining a positive social standing within the school community.

For these reasons, it is not uncommon for teenagers to display troublesome behaviors, such as aggression or avoidance. These pressures can also contribute to teen depression. With exams and other assignments, many teens can end up feeling like the course of their whole life depends on academic success at that one moment in time.

Many people suffering from depression report extreme responses to failure or rejection. This can make academic attainment even more stressful and lead to spiraling negative thoughts.

Teen Depression and the Covid-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 epidemic resulted in the deaths of millions of people across the world, as well as untold related hospitalizations. Efforts to slow or halt the spread of the disease often took the form of strict restrictions on social and public activity, otherwise known as lockdowns. While these lockdowns undoubtedly saved lives, they also led to profound and widespread mental health impacts, which we are only just beginning to understand.

One of the groups most affected by these lockdowns is adolescents. Their sensitivity to social dynamics, coupled with the increased academic pressure made them especially vulnerable to the impacts of lockdowns. No longer able to physically create and maintain relationships, while losing access to all the systems of support typically offered by schools meant that many teenagers experienced worsening anxiety and depression.

A survey of high school students by the CDC published this year revealed that over a third of respondents experienced poor mental health during the pandemic. A further 44% reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless during the pandemic, common symptoms of teen depression.

How to Help

How to Help

Fortunately, there are many ways you can help manage teen depression. One place to start is to speak with a mental health professional. They can help assess the situation and see if there are any other mental health conditions that could be present. Depression symptoms can be similar to other mental disorders, such as borderline personality disorder. An accurate diagnosis is necessary for effective support.

Parents who are concerned could first speak with their child’s doctor, who will be able to share their advice, as well as put them in contact with specialists in adolescent psychiatry. Some depressed teens might prefer to speak with someone separate, such as a school counselor. They can provide a safe space to discuss why they feel sad or depressed, and also help them seek professional help when they are ready.

Spending time with friends or family can also be a good way to not only bring attention to the problem but also to maintain the social bonds and enjoyment that can be lost as a result of depression.

Treatment Options

Once they have agreed to engage in treatment, there are a number of ways they can receive help. Treatment facilities can create custom programs tailored to a person’s individual needs and circumstances.

Some strategies that can help are getting regular physical exercise and forming routines of going outside at least once a day. Some people also find writing stories to be a good way of getting uncomfortable thoughts out of their heads and onto paper, where they can seem more manageable.

These kinds of strategies are a good way of taking control of one’s own treatment. Aside from these examples, the main kind of treatment they are likely to receive at first is therapy.

Therapeutic Treatment

The use of talk therapy can help people understand their condition, as well as cope with it. A mental health professional might suggest something like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to treat teen depression. This can provide useful strategies for managing manic or depressive episodes, as well as helping to tackle any underlying issues which could be contributing.

Family therapy may also be suggested. This kind of therapy can help family members understand the teen’s feelings, as well as how to help support them in times of need. It can also bring to light circumstances which may explain why the teen is depressed, which might be too difficult to speak about otherwise.

Medical Treatment

Alongside therapy, there are other kinds of medical care that are used to treat depression. Pharmaceutical approaches, such as antidepressant medications, are used to help mitigate some of the symptoms. Antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) must be prescribed by the teen’s doctor and taken under medical supervision in order to ensure the correct dosage and avoid any side effects.

Clearfork Academy

Here at Clearfork Academy, our experts in adolescent psychiatry can help your teen overcome the hurdles they are facing. We offer programs ranging from art and music therapy to medical detoxes for those suffering from the effects of drug or alcohol abuse. Our therapeutic solutions include family therapy, individual therapy, to adventure therapy. Get in contact now to find out more about how we can work together to combat teen depression.

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Suicide prevention for teens

Suicide is not easy to talk about, and often even less so when we face it in our families and friends. The statistics point to an epidemic that affects children and adolescents with particular severity, with 2018 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listing suicide as the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10-24.

This is an upwards trend. Youth suicides, specifically undertaken by minors between the ages of 10 and 17 have increased by a shattering 70% in the past decade. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened what is one of the country’s most existential health problems.

As a part of September’s National Suicide Awareness Prevention Month, we would like to raise our voices at Clearfork Academy and offer this resource for teens who are living with suicidal thoughts, as well as the family members and friends who struggle with this second-hand to offer mental health resources and support. Keep in mind that none of you are alone, and even the most final of acts are preventable.

Understanding Suicidal Ideation

Understanding Suicidal Ideation

When we describe someone as suicidal, it doesn’t mean that they have yet or will attempt to take their own life. Suicidal behavior is generally preceded at length by different forms of suicidal thinking – ruminations about death or the desire to die that can manifest in various ways and worsen before any action is taken.

For every person who attempts suicide, many more are thinking about it. In 2020, 1.2 million Americans attempted suicide, while over 12 million were estimated to have thought seriously about it.

Suicidal ideation can be categorized in two ways:

  • Passive suicidal ideation: thinking about suicide in broader undefined terms, i.e: ruminating on the desire to no longer live, about being dead, imagining other’s lives without them.
  • Active suicidal ideation: thinking about suicide explicitly, specifically about different ways to die, options, and making plans.

Suicidal thoughts can develop into a pattern of escape from the outside world, but even this type of passive ideation can rapidly progress to active planning under the right circumstances. Unfortunately, it is still too easily dismissed. The stigma that surrounds suicide in teens has many people shutting down efforts to talk about passive ideation, both in themselves and in others out of fear or belief that speaking about this terrifying thought pattern is “attention seeking” or lying.

Risk Factors

Suicide doesn’t have any one cause, but several factors can significantly contribute to the risk of adolescents developing suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Effective suicide prevention often means growing awareness of the issues that can exacerbate or worsen suicidal thoughts, many of which can be intervened with directly to reduce the risk of harm.

The following are all significant suicide risk factors, outlined by the suicide prevention resource center:

  • History of foster care
  • Childhood experience of trauma, abuse, or violence
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health issues, especially depression and anxiety
  • Barriers to health care
  • Family history of suicide
  • Chronic or terminal physical health problems, disability
  • Feeling hopeless, alienated, or without support
  • Bullying and social isolation

Concern about suicide is often centered on adolescents that are otherwise living with mental illness. However, any kind of acute adverse event can greatly increase the likelihood that a young person is contemplating ending their life. The suicide prevention resource center describes these as “precipitating factors” – and while these are extremely subjective to each of us as individuals, they often include:

  • Conflict in relationships inside or outside the family
  • Romantic breakup
  • Death or divorce in the immediate family
  • Arrest
  • Financial problems
  • Academic failure, rejection

For many teens, emotional responses are heightened – high school students and young adults can be deeply affected by adverse events in ways that older adults may not immediately spot. At the same time, these are not a checklist or criteria. If someone doesn’t ‘seem’ to be at risk for suicide, but is still exhibiting warning signs, there is cause for action.

Suicide Warning Signs

Suicide Warning Signs

Suicide is a deeply stigmatized, terrifying topic for young people who are experiencing thoughts of it, and their friends and loved ones alike. If someone close to you is struggling with suicidal thoughts, dysphoria, or other mental health problems, they may not feel comfortable sharing this with the people around them.

If passive ideation has progressed to active planning, some urgent signs indicate that this person has developed a driving desire to take their life. A person can be suicidal without exhibiting the following warning signs, but if any of these arise it may be time for an immediate intervention:

  • Expressing the desire to die in person or online
  • Self-harm
  • Acquiring sharp objects, weapons, drugs, chemicals, or other objects that could be used to take one’s life
  • Visiting or reaching out to people to say goodbye
  • Withdrawing from loved ones and friends
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Unexplained mood changes, such as brightening up after a long period of depression
  • Searching online for advice related to suicide, such as methods.

While the following do not necessarily indicate that someone in your life is contemplating suicide, they are significant red flags that something is dearly amiss.

  • expressing feelings of hopelessness, or feeling trapped
  • by substance abuse and underage drinking
  • Rapid weight changes
  • Changes in sleeping patterns, insomnia, or lethargy
  • Loss of interest in maintaining physical appearance or hygiene
  • Risk-taking or self-destructive acts

Teen Suicide Prevention

If you or someone close to you are aware that a crisis is occurring, some actions can be taken to relieve the danger of a harmful act immediately. Organizations like the 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line are available 24-7 to listen and de-escalate acute and risky situations (anyone can text HOME to 741741 at any time to reach a compassionate expert). However, preventing the worst unsurprisingly involves engaging social support systems, performing self-care, and avoiding burnout long before active suicidal thoughts come into play.

Protective Factors

While many risk factors contribute to the likelihood of a teen developing suicidal thoughts, researchers have also identified a variety of protective factors that are related to people’s resilience against suicide.

The major protective factors against suicide do not necessarily cure suicidal thoughts or behavior, but they can be understood as guiding trends that help discourage suicide by improving emotional and mental well-being. These are:

  • Access to behavioral health care
  • Connection, to family, friends, social institutions, and the broader community
  • Practical life skills, including intangibles like cognitive problem-solving skills, coping skills, and flexibility
  • Higher self-esteem
  • An individual sense of purpose or meaning
  • Engagement with spiritual and cultural beliefs

Parents, family members, and friends can help prevent suicide by building up these preventative factors in their loved ones. Normalizing therapy, speaking openly about mental and behavioral health, and building connections that are honest, open, and supportive of the capabilities, interests, and values of your loved one can make a world of difference.

Taking Action: Family and Friends

If you are concerned that your friend or loved one may be suicidal, it’s okay to break the ice. Many people are afraid to broach the topic of teen suicide because of the stigma that has surrounded this loaded topic – but that emotional baggage leaves many people who are having suicidal thoughts to close off and self-isolate. Don’t wait for them, approach them with compassion and let them know you are a safe person to talk to.

Teen suicide prevention often involves talking about therapy, so do some research into the mental health services available in your region.

Responding to a Crisis

If a loved one is experiencing a suicidal crisis and has made immediate plans to take their life, here’s what you can do:

  1. Remain calm as best you can, intense emotional responses may make things worse for your friend or loved one
  2. Stay with the suicidal individual – do not leave them alone
  3. Remove anything that could be used for self-harm from the area, including firearms, drugs, alcohol, razors, and other sharp objects.
  4. If you are not ‘the trusted adult’ yourself – reach out to someone older that you know you can count on. This may be the individual’s parents, older family members, or a school counselor – use your judgment to find someone who can help you and your friend access immediate support and/or a mental health professional.Finding Help

Finding Help

Teens and young adults are more at risk of suicide than they ever have been before. If you, your friend, your child, or a loved one has realized that they’re having thoughts of suicide or has opened up about a suicide attempt, then it’s time to act. However, reacting urgently to mental health crises in teenagers can be complex.

There are options for accessing appropriate mental health services that address the unique needs of young people without disrupting their futures. Clearfork Academy offers intensive outpatient and inpatient options for young people whose lives are endangered by suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, and other co-occurring mental health problems.

Our expert, empathetic staff are here for you if you need help for yourself or your family. We offer individual therapy, group therapy, and even family therapy, and our programs are designed by adolescent psychiatrists. Get in contact with Clearfork Academy today to find out how we can help.

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What To Do When You Find Your Teenager With Drugs

What To Do When You Find Your Teenager With Drugs

Drug use among teens is not uncommon. 48% of high school students report having used illicit drugs by the end of their senior year, while 14% say they have used opioid prescription drugs.

However, drug abuse is dangerous for everyone – and especially for teens. Teen drug use increases the risk of sexual violence, mental health problems, and suicide risk. It also makes it more likely that an individual will struggle with drug addiction as an adult: the majority of adults who meet the criteria for a substance use disorder started using substances as a teen or young adult.

If you find your teenager with drugs, you may feel angry, scared, or confused. However, there are some steps you can take to respond appropriately to the situation and support your child to leave drugs behind.

Why Do Teens Abuse Substances?

Why Do Teens Abuse Substances?

There are many different reasons why a teen might use drugs. Often, they are offered substances by peers at their school, college, or through other social networks.

Some risk factors make high-risk substance abuse more likely. However, teens may also use drugs without experiencing any of these factors.

Some risk factors for high-risk substance use include:

  • Family history of drug and alcohol use
  • Family rejection of gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Spending time with peers who use substances
  • Social isolation
  • Low academic performance
  • Childhood abuse
  • Mental health issues

Why Are Teens So Vulnerable to Drug or Alcohol Use?

A teenager’s brain is still growing and developing in many different ways. Substance abuse can affect this development and produce long-lasting effects on various brain functions and structures.

Current research suggests that substance abuse in adolescents may lead to poorer neurocognitive performance, changes in white matter quality, changes in brain volume, and changes in activation to cognitive tasks. Teens who smoke marijuana are far more likely to develop psychiatric issues if they are already predisposed to the conditions. Moreover, teen drug abuse makes drug addiction as an adult more likely.

What to Do When You Discover Your Child Is Using Drugs?

What to Do When You Discover Your Child Is Using Drugs?

If you discover your teenager is using drugs, it can be tempting to react angrily. However, doing so may be counterproductive and drive your child away, preventing meaningful and productive conversations. Instead, try to follow the following steps:

  1. Take A Deep Breath

Sit down, take a deep breath, and plan the conversation. Your conversation with your teen will be most effective if you are calm and prepared.

  1. Speak With Other Parenting Figures

If you share parenting responsibilities with anyone else, it’s important you get on the same page. Teens often turn to the other parent when one says no.

Try to agree on your position, present a united front, and agree not to undermine each other.

  1. Think About Your Substance Use

If you have ever used drugs, cigarettes, or even alcohol, be prepared for your child to call you out. It’s important to be honest about your drug use, but make sure it can’t be used as an excuse for substance abuse.

For example, if you have used drugs in the past, explain any harmful consequences or why you decided to stop. Make sure they know that drugs affect everyone differently, and even if you were okay, it doesn’t mean they will be. If you still smoke, explain that you know that it is unhealthy.

  1. Collect Evidence

You may want to collect some evidence of their drug use, such as hidden drug paraphernalia or drugs themselves. Be prepared for your child to offer excuses, such as holding the substances for someone else.

  1. Remain Calm

Your child may well react angrily or deny their drug use. If this happens, it’s important to remain calm and avoid a confrontation. Try not to respond angrily yourself.

If you need to, you can take a pause from the conversation and return to it later. Make sure you remind your child throughout that you love them, and that the conversation comes from a place of care.

  1. Be Realistic

Don’t set your goals too high, especially for the first conversation. It may take some time to reach your final goal, such as the end of your child’s drug use. In the beginning, even effectively expressing that you don’t want them to use drugs can be an achievement.

  1. Lay Out Clear Rules

Before you being the conversation, you should establish what your rules will be, and what will happen if your child breaks them. Make sure you are prepared to enforce both the rules and their consequences. However, you should also listen to your child’s feedback and be prepared to adapt them where it seems reasonable.

  1. Speak About Addiction in the Family

If other people in the family have lived with addiction, your child will be more at risk of developing a drug or alcohol problem. Make sure they are aware of this, creating even more reasons for them not to use drugs or alcohol.

Seeking Professional Help

You may have caught your child at the early stages of drug use, and quitting may be relatively easy. However, if you think your teen may be living with a substance use disorder, they will most likely need professional help to recover. Moreover, if they have become dependent on the substance, it may be dangerous for them to stop without medical support.

Some signs of a substance use disorder include:

  • using drugs even when there are negative consequences
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit
  • drug use interfering with school and family responsibilities
  • loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • social isolation

You may want to speak with your child about addiction treatment centers and what options are available. Many treatment centers offer programs specially developed for teens. Researching options yourself can help make the process easier for your child – you could talk with a family doctor or contact rehab centers directly.

If your teenager seems unwilling to attend treatment, you may want to stage an intervention to encourage them to go. A mental health professional should be able to guide you through the intervention process.

Preventing Teen Substance Abuse

Preventing Teen Substance Abuse

Teen substance abuse is a serious concern. However, there are steps that you can take – as a parent as a community – to prevent risky behaviors like substance abuse and promote drug-free kids. These protective factors include:

  • Family engagement
  • Family support
  • Parents disapproving of drug or alcohol abuse
  • School connectedness

Specialized Recovery Support for Teens with Clearfork Academy

At Clearfork Academy, we offer top-tier residential addiction treatment, specifically designed for teens. We believe in the power of each individual to overcome addiction and pursue a fulfilling, vibrant life.

We believe that addiction recovery requires a change in heart as well as evidence-based treatments. Combining the two, we walk with teenagers as they discover the path to a better future.

If your child is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, contact us today to begin the healing process.

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Self-Harm in Teenagers: Why Do Teenagers Cut Themselves?

Self-Harm in Teenagers: Why Do Teenagers Cut Themselves?

Self-harm or self-injury can be defined as a person carrying out deliberate action on themselves which is intended to cause pain. People do this as a coping mechanism for overwhelming and difficult emotions, as they do not have the emotional tools to cope in a healthy manner. Although self-harm is not a mental illness, it is a sign of deep distress and should always be taken seriously.

Different Types of Self-Harm in Teens

Self-harm can manifest in a number of ways, ranging in seriousness and visibility depending on the method, including:

  • Picking at scabs so they don’t heal
  • Hair picking and pulling
  • Burning or grazing the skin
  • Cutting, scratching, carving, branding, or marking the body using sharp objects
  • Someone biting, pinching, bruising, or hitting their own body
  • Hitting a part of the body on something hard to cause themselves physical pain
  • Participating in unsafe sex
  • Substance abuse
  • Starvation

Self-cyberbullying or digital self-harm is also another common form of self-harm in young people – a serious mental health issue that may cause emotional pain. Here, individuals may create an alternative identity on social media platforms and post cruel comments about themselves.

Different Types of Self-Harm in Teens

What Factors Increase the Chance of Self-Harm in Teens?

Self-injury is pretty common in teenagers, with around 15 to 20% harming themselves at least once. There are some factors that result in an increased risk of partaking in the activity, including:

  • Having other mental health conditions (depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders)
  • Having a substance abuse disorder
  • Being female
  • Are in the LBGTQ+ community
  • Are an asylum seeker
  • Are in prison
  • Are a survivor of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Have experienced a loss due to suicide

Complications and Consequences of Self-Harming

If self-harm is continued over an extended period, it can become a habit or compulsion. In turn, this leads to serious scarring, injuries, medical conditions, or accidental death. Individuals who self-harm are also at a higher risk of attempting suicide.

Complications and Consequences of Self-Harming

Why Do Teenagers Self-Harm?

There is a multitude of reasons a person may turn to self-harm as a way to cope with their emotional pain. These include:

  • To gain a sense of control over their feelings: it allows people to feel like they can better control the pain they are experiencing in their body or environment.
  • To experience temporary emotional relief: for example, someone could self-harm during a depressive period to “feel something,” or when they are experiencing grief, using physical pain to create a more intense distracting feeling for a moment.
  • To feel a temporary hit of endorphins: self-inflicting an injury causes a stream of endorphins to be released into the bloodstream, providing a temporary boost in mood and relieving some stress.
  • To try and communicate their feelings: some people use self-harm as an outward sign they need help and feel hopeless.
  • To punish themselves: when someone’s self-esteem is low and they feel as though they hate themselves, self-harm is common. Commonly, people do not know where these feelings have come from and use this activity as a way to express this.

Self-Harm Warning Signs and Symptoms

People usually try to hide their self-harming behavior due to the fear of other people being angry with them, not understanding why they did it, rejecting them, and having general feelings of shame. There are a number of behavioral, emotional, and physical signs to look for if you suspect your loved one may be self-harming.

Behavioral signs of self-injury include:

  • Changes in eating and sleeping schedules
  • Isolating themselves from friends
  • Skipping school
  • A drop in performance in school
  • Always wearing clothing that covers their arms and legs
  • Avoiding activities where their arms, legs, or torso are on display
  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Hiding dangerous or sharp objects, e.g., razor blades, stencil knives, lighters, and matches

Emotional signs of self-injury include:

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Large mood changes
  • Increased irritability
  • Ongoing temper outbursts
  • Stopping caring about their appearance

Physical signs of self-injury include:

  • Has unexplainable injuries they cannot or will not explain
  • Being agitated and lashing out
  • Visible slowness and tiredness due to having little energy

Physical signs of self-injury

How To Help Your Teen Child Who Self Harms

As a parent, finding your child self-harming is likely to bring about many difficult emotions in yourself – including fear, guilt, shock, panic, and anger. With the right guidance and approach, teens can learn to overcome this trying time and learn healthier ways to deal with their emotions.

What To Do When Finding a Teenager Self-Harming

If you find your teen self-harming, it can understandably be difficult to comprehend what is happening and why, with your child not likely having the words to explain it to you. However, it’s important that during this time your loved one feels supported and loved.

This can be achieved by:

  • Staying calm
  • Being respectful
  • Avoiding judgment, threats, and anger
  • Not assuming it’s for attention
  • Actively listening
  • Validate their feelings
  • Trying to gain insight into their thoughts, feelings, and behavior
  • Thinking of some ideas to help with their difficulties
  • Letting them know these difficult and strong feelings are normal

Using these tips, a good way to approach the situation may be to say: “I love you. I can see that you are dealing with really strong emotions that I hadn’t realized were building up this much. I promise you can talk to me about this and I won’t get angry or judge you.”

It is common for people carrying out self-harming behavior to be unresponsive and zoned out during this time. In this situation, calmly ask the person to tell you where they are and if you can get help.

Attending to their injuries with first aid is vital for the self-harming individual’s health and healing, but also to let them know that their body is important and worth caring for. Calmly saying something like “Can I put some antiseptic on to help those cuts heal quicker?” or “I’d like to help you heal those cuts,” can go a long way.

How to Bringing Up the Subject of Self-Harm

It’s important to try and talk to your child about their self-injury, though it’s important to keep in mind they may feel ashamed about their behavior and get defensive. This is why it’s again vital not to judge them and listen slowly without interrupting.

Some good ways to approach the subject can include:

  • “I can imagine you would be scared and upset about all of this. I’m scared too, but together we can work this out.”
  • “The fact you are self-harming shows you are dealing with some difficult, upsetting emotions. I can imagine it’s uncomfortable for you that I’ve found this out and I’m not going to ask you lots of questions. I want to help you any way I can when you’re ready.”
  • “I hope it’s okay that I say this but I saw the scars on your arms. Can you talk to me about the times you’ve hurt yourself?”

How to Help Teens Build Coping Strategies

There are a number of steps that can be carried out to help your teen build up some coping strategies and reduce the chance of harming themselves again. One of these ways is to build their support system by creating a list of trusted adult family members and friends to reach out to when they feel like they need to talk and cope with their stress. This could include anyone from a grandparent, friend’s parent, neighbor, or aunt.

Helping your teen lay out activities they find helpful to distract themselves when they have the urge to hurt themselves is also helpful. Activities such as going on a walk, yoga, drawing, and calling a friend can help them express and process their emotions in a healthy way.

Finding Professional Support

Some people are able to overcome self-harm on their own, but due to the potentially lethal nature of the condition, it is highly recommended that they receive professional assistance. A mental health professional – such as a doctor, counselor, or psychologist – will be able to advise and assist each individual to find the treatment they need depending on their specific symptoms and experiences.

Counseling has been useful in helping teens realize the root of their self-harm and be able to identify triggers that cause them to do it. Here teens will also develop techniques to stop this behavior, learning to better understand strong emotions and find more effective ways to express them.

Seeing a professional about such a personal issue with a lot of shame attached to it can be difficult for anyone at any age. Young people who aren’t comfortable with this could also be directed to phone and online support services. Some of these organizations include:

  • Lifeline
  • Kids Helpline – Teens
  • eheadspace

Look After Yourself

Seeing a loved one dealing with self-harm can be extremely physically and emotionally draining for the people surrounding them also. It’s easy to forget about yourself during this period, letting the emotions and well-being of the person you care for completely take over your own health. However, it is still important to look after your own well-being for your own sake and your loved ones. This way, you can stay calm and consistent when times get tough.

In day-to-day life, it’s important you remember to do things for yourself alone for at least five minutes daily, such as reading a book, watching television, or knitting. Physical activity should not be forgotten also, as it stabilizes your own mental health, alongside boosting your energy.

Asking friends and family for help is a simple yet effective way to look after yourself. A call or text could be used to ask for some child support for a few hours, giving yourself an important time-out period. This space away from the situation allows you to process your own emotions and do things you enjoy.

Seeking mental health support in these situations can also be extremely helpful, whether this takes place in the form of chatting with friends, joining a support group, or speaking to a psychologist. Talking about your situation and getting advice from others can reduce any feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and generally overwhelming emotions.

Contact Us

At Clearfork, we understand how difficult it can be for you or your loved one to overcome self-harm. Our expert staff will be able to advise and assist on the best way to do this and create a personalized treatment program to best aid your journey to recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our services.

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How To Get A Teenager Into Rehab

How To Get A Teenager Into Rehab

Having to send a child to a drug rehab treatment facility is perhaps one of the most challenging decisions a parent might have to make. Parenting is difficult in general in terms of being able to help children to grow up understanding how to function in the adult world, how to take care of oneself, and how to be safe and aware of the dangers and problematic behaviors that life can present.

Many parents often face resistance and rebellious attitudes from their children, as they reject authority and may not always understand that their parents want what is best for them. Moreover, if a teenager has started using recreational drugs and is beginning to develop substance abuse or addiction, they may not realize that they have a problem.

As a result, they may get angry or upset at the idea of being suggested to go to rehab centers, as they may believe that they do not have a problem and that they are simply having fun. This is where a parent’s decision to send their teenager to rehab might become even tougher, as they may face serious pushback from their child.

The Difference Between Drug Abuse And Drug Addiction

Furthermore, there is a clear distinction between drug abuse and drug addiction. Drug abuse refers to the usage of an illegal substance or the abuse of prescription medication (i.e., using the drug in a manner that is not consistent with the doctor’s orders).

Continued drug abuse can lead to addiction if it is not addressed, as the person taking the drugs might feel that they need to take them, which then leads to a dependency on the substance they are using.

Drug addiction refers to the instance where a person has become physiologically and psychologically addicted to a substance. This means that they experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they refrain from taking it, as well as psychological symptoms, such as feelings of anxiety, paranoia, and depression.

This is the basis of drug addiction, although other factors might come into play, such as mental illness, peer pressure, environmental factors, and more.

Understanding the difference between the two can help a parent with understanding how to approach the situation, knowing what they should say, and it will also help them if it gets to a point where intervention becomes necessary.

Intervention: What Is An Intervention?

Intervention: What Is An Intervention?

An intervention is an event whereby friends and family come together to provide support, and advice, and may also share some tough feelings and emotions with the person that they are concerned about, in relation to behaviors or addiction they are worried about.

An intervention could resemble a group setting whereby everybody in the room sits down and takes turns sharing their concerns for their loved one, while also suggesting what they think the person should do (e.g., going to rehab), as well as outlining the consequences of not taking action to resolve the situation.

Parents could potentially make an intervention more effective by making sure that the room is free of judgment, and that the event is structured in a way that is supportive and which demonstrates that everyone present in the room wishes to help the teenager, rather than punish them.

Before staging an intervention, the parent should first make sure that they have a clear plan in terms of which rehab center their child will be going to, and how the facility will be involved in the process of transitioning from the intervention to the treatment process.

The rehab center will need time to prepare to receive the teenager, and both the parents and healthcare practitioners will want to make sure that the transition from the intervention to receiving addiction treatment is as seamless and smooth as possible.

This is key because if the teenager has responded positively and is willing to receive treatment for substance abuse, they could potentially change their mind shortly thereafter. Therefore, it’s important that they be continually surrounded by people who want to help them by providing them with treatment, and who will also reassure them and help them to understand that this is the best course of action for their health and well-being.

An intervention is likely to be a highly emotional event for everyone involved, especially for the person whom the intervention is for. As a result, this event could serve as a form of positive reinforcement for the teen. They would be among people they love who carefully explain why they are concerned about them, and why they think that seeking addiction treatment might help them.

How To Talk To A Teenager About Receiving Treatment

It might seem impossible to help a teenager to understand why drug abuse can be dangerous, and why their drug use is a problem, but there are things that parents can do in terms of how they talk to their teenagers that can help significantly.

Linking Drug Abuse With Problems In Life

Parents should begin by discussing the problems a teen might be having in life in general. For instance, if they state that they are having problems at school, the parent could carefully link this back to drug use, in order to show the teen that there is a link between the two and that by refraining from taking drugs, they could potentially improve the issues they are facing at school.

Elsewhere, parents could show their teens how their drug abuse is affecting other people and how they are worried for them; they could demonstrate how drugs can prevent them from fulfilling life goals, such as following a career path or going to college.

The key here is that they make a link between drug abuse being a destructive behavior that could cause them many problems in life, and therefore, illustrating how abstaining from drug use will be beneficial and how it will help them live a better life.

Being Free From Judgment

Being direct and straightforward in the approach is key. The teen might for example express interest in following a particular career path, and the parent could respond by stating how an untreated drug problem would get in the way or prevent the teen from pursuing that life goal.

When speaking with the teen, it’s essential not to come across as judgmental, but rather, as suggestive and friendly. Parents should attempt to make their teens understand that they are not being punished, and there is just concern for their mental and physical well-being.

However, parents should also make it clear that taking drugs can be destructive and dangerous, and there are serious consequences both in the short term and long term for continued drug abuse.

Parents should aim to provide as much information as possible about the dangers of drugs and how they can ruin people’s lives. The more their teenagers understand, the more likely it is that they will respond positively to the idea of seeking help.

Understanding The Consequences Of Drug Abuse

Furthermore, parents should continue to make it clear that abusing drugs has dangerous consequences, and that it will always present a problem for them in achieving whatever goals they might have.

By making this link clear, the teenager might begin to understand that they need to seek treatment for their substance addiction disorder, as well as understand how drugs can be a destructive and harmful thing in their lives.

Exploring The Choices Available With The Teen

Elsewhere parents could help their teens to understand all of the different choices they have in terms of how to move forward. For instance, the teen might want to get a job or complete their studies, and might not want to go to a rehab center.

The parent could then (depending on how severe the teen’s substance abuse and mental well-being are) advise their teen on how to proceed moving forward. For instance, the parent and the teen could agree to a short-term stay in a residential treatment facility such as Clearfork, where they could reside for several weeks and get access to the care and treatment programs they need to get back on track.

Or alternatively, they could agree to the teenager attending several sessions a week at a local medical facility, which might be more beneficial in terms of allowing the teen to keep up with their studies and slowly work on their recovery process simultaneously.

The point here is that by talking with the teen and giving them control over their choices, they are less likely to rebel or resist help. With this continued dialogue, it might even reach a point where the teen enters rehab and does so with the understanding that it was their decision, and therefore, they take ownership of that decision.

This could also develop into a situation where the parent and the teen both agree simultaneously that the teen enters a rehab center, and they make a plan together on how they are going to proceed with seeking treatment plans.

Can A Parent Force Their Teenager To Go To Rehab?

Can A Parent Force Their Teenager To Go To Rehab?

The law in the US states that teenagers who are aged 17 or under are able to be sent to a residential treatment center without their consent. This is of course a tough situation for a parent to be placed in, but ultimately they may need to proceed with this course of action if they believe that their child’s life is at stake.

If the teenager is above the age of 18, it is not possible to send your teen to rehab involuntarily. Once they become 18, they legally become an adult. Therefore, there are several factors that have to be considered and agreed upon before this decision can be made.

These include the severity of the addiction and how it is affecting their health and well-being, proof of whether they are at risk of harm from others or from themselves, and also proof of whether there is an addiction or not.

Why It’s Important To Send A Teenager To Rehab If They Need Help

Why It's Important To Send A Teenager To Rehab If They Need Help

The teenager is likely to be very resentful, angry, and upset with their parent as a result of being forced to go to rehab, but in the long term, they will likely come to terms with the decision once they understand the dangers of substance abuse, and how it has and could affect them.

The Damage To A Teen’s Health

Moreover, it is essential to note that a teenager’s brain is constantly developing and forming, and this process actually continues until a person reaches the age of 25. Therefore, the damage that a person younger than 25 can receive to their brain and body as a result of drug or alcohol abuse could be significantly worse in the long term in comparison with a person above the age of 25.

This is because the drugs or alcohol consumed could damage or prevent the development process within a person’s brain, meaning that their brain might not fully develop, or other irreparable damage could be caused.

In addition, falling into an addiction cycle at any point in life is a dangerous and destructive road, but it could be especially problematic for teenagers as addiction could prevent them from realizing their true potential in terms of future opportunities, such as going to college.

How Can Rehab Help A Teenager?

How Can Rehab Help A Teenager?

Sending a child to a teen drug rehab center could save a teen’s life, as it not only would help them to overcome the damage that the drugs have caused to the teen’s brain and body, but it could potentially help to reverse these effects. In addition, rehab could help the teenager by providing them with tools, advice, prescription medication, and the emotional support that they need to regain control of their life.

If possible, it’s important to try and get the teen to decide to seek addiction treatment on their own accord. By making the decision themselves, they will feel more ownership over the situation, and as a result, are likely to better respond to treatment and advice that they receive. This in turn could help them with achieving a full recovery from drug addiction.

How Do You Determine When A Teenager Needs To Go To Rehab?

How Do You Determine When A Teenager Needs To Go To Rehab?

The key point of consideration is understanding exactly what the teenager needs, and what the problem is. Addiction might indeed be a factor, but in some cases, it might not be. For instance, if a teen is suffering from a mental illness, the use of drugs could be an attempt to deal with the symptoms.

Therefore, forcing a teen to go to a rehab treatment center might be the wrong course of action in this particular scenario, and the teen would benefit more from counseling, one-to-one therapy, or even family therapy sessions, where they could also receive additional support and the presence of their family members while they receive help.

Moreover, it is important to find out as much as possible about the teenager’s usage of drugs and how they are feeling. This information could then be discussed with a healthcare professional in order to better assess the situation, from which they could advise the best course of action for the teen moving forward.

Signs Of Addiction

Signs Of Addiction

There is a range of different early warning signs and changes in behaviors that might indicate that a teenager is using drugs, and therefore, is potentially addicted to an illegal substance.

These may include a sudden change in their grades at school, being absent from classes or full days of school, staying out later than usual, lying about their whereabouts, a change in grooming habits or a drop in hygiene standards, or being secretive about their lives or withdrawing completely, and evidence of drug paraphernalia in their rooms.

Some of the physical symptoms might include bloodshot eyes, an ability to focus, smaller or larger pupils, energy crashes, tiredness, frequent sickness, and significant weight gain or weight loss.

From the mental health side of things, teens might experience mood swings, feelings of paranoia or anxiety, depression, or other behaviors indicating that the teenager might have developed one or several mental health disorders.

Types Of Treatment Centers For Teenagers

Types Of Treatment Centers For Teenagers

There are tens of thousands of treatment centers available in the US, and they all vary in terms of the treatment programs they offer, as well as their approach and philosophies for treatment processes.

Some centers are designed specifically for teenagers, some have a focus on a particular substance, some might use religious teachings to aid their treatment programs, and some might provide a mixture of different forms of treatment.

What Factors Should Parents Consider When Seeking Treatment For Their Teens?

What Factors Should Parents Consider When Seeking Treatment For Their Teens?

There are many different factors that parents should consider when choosing addiction treatment services for their children. They will need to conduct a considerable amount of research in order to understand all of the viable options for their child.

Factors that they should consider include the philosophies that the centers use and whether or not they are agreeable with the parent’s and teen’s views, the cost of treatment and if this is able to be covered with the family’s health insurance, the distance between the treatment center and the family’s home, and how long treatment will last for to name a few.

Parents should discuss treatment options with their personal medical professionals, the healthcare representatives at the centers they are considering, as well as with their insurance providers. Additionally, some centers even offer people the opportunity to get financing or access to less expensive healthcare solutions.

What Forms Of Treatment Are Given To Teenagers In Rehab?

What Forms Of Treatment Are Given To Teenagers In Rehab?

Addiction treatment that takes place within a center via an inpatient program may last anywhere between seven to ten weeks depending on the severity of the substance use disorder being treated.

Teenagers will receive treatment programs such as a medical detoxification process that will remove the drugs from their system, and access to prescription medications that will help them overcome their addiction, and they will then move on to longer-term forms of therapy such as 12-step recovery programs, one-to-one therapy sessions, and counseling.

Fortunately, families are able to visit their loved ones during this time, and for teenagers, this would be especially important, so that they know they are not alone and would feel supported during their treatment process.

Parents might even be asked to take part in different aspects of the process, such as family therapy, in order to help the teen to overcome any drug cravings they might have, as well as to help them with building confidence and coping mechanisms they need to overcome addiction, and also to avoid the potential of relapse in the future.

Medical Detox

 

The first step of treatment is medical detox, the removal of all of the drug toxins within the teenager’s body. The medical detox will involve the person receiving prescription medication and being supervised by an addiction treatment specialist whilst they slowly overcome the withdrawal symptoms associated with the substance they have become addicted to. Depending on the severity of the addiction, this may take a few weeks or longer.

During the medical detoxification part of the treatment process, it is highly important that the parents or close relatives be present in order to provide emotional support and reassurance. The withdrawal symptoms are likely to be tough, so it will help to have the support of family and friends during this time, as it likely will help with the process.

Inpatient and Outpatient Therapy Programs

Inpatient and Outpatient Therapy Programs

Treatment programs may come in the form of inpatient and outpatient programs. Inpatient programs typically involve the person receiving care while residing in a rehab center for the majority of their recovery.

Outpatient programs might take place at hospitals or medical centers, as they may involve a part-time schedule. Parents might find that their teens could benefit from a mixture of these programs, as this could potentially cause less of a disturbance to their education and lives in general. They could receive care via several sessions a week, instead of a long and intensive period.

However, this all comes down to the nature of the substance disorder, and what is necessary in treating it. Whatever is required in order to help teenagers to become healthy and happy once more will be the best course of action to take.

If you are seeking treatment to help your teenager to overcome a substance abuse problem, be sure to consider Clearfork, a center dedicated to helping people to receive treatment and successfully claim back control of their lives.

Clearfork Academy offers teenagers access to a treatment model that is specially designed to help teens overcome substance abuse, as well as helping them with mental health issues. What’s more, Clearfork has a focus on helping families as a whole, including them in the process and giving teens the best possible chance of long-term recovery.

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Signs of Drug Use in Teens

Drug Use in Teens

Teen drug use has been a well-documented topic in recent years, and it appears to be a more extensive problem than parents and guardians might suspect. As a result, there is a pressing need for family members and healthcare treatment providers to be familiar with substance abuse and identify the early signs of drug use in teens in order to implement preventive measures.

Drug and alcohol use can be hard to identify without understanding the signs of use. Substance abuse can alter the way individuals present themselves, how they feel, and how they behave, and the signs of use can be physical, behavioral, and psychological.

When identifying the signs of drug use in teens, it is worth noting that they can be similar, if not the same, as typical behavior traits shown in young adults. There is also a similarity in the signs of substance use and symptoms of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and in many cases, the two issues are interlinked.

While symptoms of drug use might be mistaken for typical behavior among adolescents due to their similarities, drug use signs are predominantly highlighted by more severe alterations in mood or behaviors in this age group. These physical and behavioral changes experienced by individuals, brought about by substance abuse, can have profound health implications.

What Are The Risk Factors of Teen Drug Abuse?

What Are The Risk Factors of Teen Drug Abuse?

Teenage drug use can have detrimental impacts both mentally and physically, and the effects will vary based on the type of drug being taken.

During adolescence, an individual’s brain is still undergoing considerable maturation. Teen drug abuse can hinder this and damage processes such as decision-making and memory, leading to long-term cognitive disability.

The impact of teen drug abuse on cognitive functioning can also put this demographic at higher risk of drug addiction and developing a substance use disorder further on in life.

Drug use will end up having a profound effect on the neurons in the brain when used repeatedly. These changes are often long-term, and can still affect the brain circuits after an individual stops using drugs.

Drug use in teens can also increase the risk of dangerous behavior taking place. For example, engaging in illegal activities, violence, mental health, and suicidal thoughts could be the result.

How to Take Action

How to Take Action

Drug abuse and substance abuse can arise from the use of recreational drugs, prescription drugs, but also over-the-counter medication.

If you are worried about drug use among family members or a loved one or have reason to believe they are falling under the influence of drug abuse, it is important to know the early warning signs. Help is available through mental health treatment centers.

Initially, this can be done by asking simple, but direct, questions such as “Have you been using drugs or drinking alcohol?” No parent or guardian wants to hear “yes,” but being prepared for this answer is important so that positive intervention can take place.

Spotting Signs of Drug Use

Physical Changes

Physical Changes

If an individual misuses drugs or alcohol, they may show a number of physical signs of drug abuse. Many of these signs may be clear to see, yet others can be easily disguised or arise as gradual changes. Some physical signs of drug use include:

  • Regular illness
  • Seizures and/or vomiting
  • Lethargic, unusually tired/drowsy
  • Slurred speech, mumbling of words
  • Nosebleeds and/or runny nose that isn’t caused by allergies or a cold
  • Unusual sores and spots, especially around the mouth area
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Skin bruises
  • Constant sweating

Mood and Personality Changes

Mood and Personality Changes

If you have a child or loved one who is struggling with drug or alcohol use, drastic changes to their mood and personality might be one of the biggest indicators. Signs may include:

  • Demotivated
  • Hostile and Aggressive
  • Depressed or withdrawn
  • Quiet, uncommunicative, or unusually reserved
  • Hyperactive or unusually elated
  • Secretive or devious
  • Issues concentrating

Behavioral Changes

Behavioral Changes

An individual who misuses drugs or alcohol may act out of character. Behavioral signs of drug and alcohol use are just as common as physical signs, and some of the most significant are:

  • Mood swings
  • Locking doors
  • Suspicious use of phone
  • Disappearance
  • Constant excuses
  • Drastic changes in relationships with friends and family
  • Cash flow issues
  • Unusually clumsy
  • High energy and/or sleeplessness

Appearance and Hygiene

Appearance and Hygiene

A number of drug users and alcoholics start to neglect their personal hygiene which can also have an effect on their appearance. Signs of drug use affecting appearance include:

  • Unusual smells on breath or clothes, such as smoke
  • Grubby or dirty appearance
  • Body odor
  • Basic personal hygiene
  • Rosy cheeks
  • Burns on fingers or lips
  • Track marks on limbs

How and Where To Look For Signs of Drug Use in Teens

Smell

Smell

The majority of drugs have a distinct smell, particularly when they are consumed through smoking. Due to this, your sense of smell can be crucial in detecting drug use.

Whether it is at family dinners or in a more casual setting, having in-person conversations when your child or loved one comes home after being with friends will provide you with a better idea of whether there is drug use taking place. If your child has been smoking or drinking, the smell will be noticeable from either their breath, clothing, or hair.

Eyes

Eyes

One of the most indicative signs of drug use and drinking is noticeable changes in the eyes. If when focusing on an individual’s eyes, they are bloodshot and the pupils are dilated, there is a good chance drug use has taken place.

However, certain drugs will have different effects on the appearance of an individual’s eyes. For example, red eyes with constricted pupils might signify smoking marijuana whereas dilation of the pupils can indicate the use of drugs such as cocaine, hallucinogenics, and amphetamines.

Similarly, binge drinking will also lead to pupillary dilation along with the difficulty of focusing the eyesight. Additionally, other physical signs of drinking that can be identified through a face-to-face conversation include rosy cheeks or flushed color of the face.

Behavior

Behavior

Drug and alcohol use can have a significant effect on the behavior of individuals. Monitoring their behavior after a night out with their friends is a good way of gauging whether your child is suffering from drug abuse.

If your child is being noisy and obnoxious or having hysterical laughing fits, these are signs of substance use.

If they look withdrawn, queasy, or they’re struggling with their balance, and being unusually clumsy, these are also warning signs of teen drug use or substance abuse.

Search

Search

Searching your child or loved one’s space may seem intrusive, but if there is a genuine cause for concern regarding drug use, it is important to get to find out if your concern is valid.

Regardless of whether or not you warn them about it prior to the search, you should be prepared to justify your reasons for doing so. The main point to convey is that you are doing it from a place of concern and care.

Drug use can lead to drug abuse and in turn, substance use disorder, so defend your reasons for searching if you are challenged.

The most frequent places to hide alcohol, vapes, or drug paraphernalia include:

  • Inside drawers and cupboards
  • Inside books and magazines
  • Roofs and loose floorboards
  • Small boxes, bags, or cases, such as pencil cases, makeup bags, jewelry boxes, briefcases
  • Under and/or in-between furniture such as beds and sofas
  • Plant pots
  • Inside empty candy wrappers

If your suspicions turn out to be true and your search shows evidence of drug use, it is important as a parent or guardian, to prepare for the conversation with the drug user.

If you find out that drug use is unlikely to have been taking place, this may be a sensible time to seek clarification on the changes that brought about your suspicion. Your teen could be experiencing underlying mental health problems and seeking professional help might be necessary.

Seeking Professional Help

Seeking Professional Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug use, alcohol abuse, or any form of substance abuse, seeking professional help is of paramount importance. We know that seeking emotional support usually takes an enormous amount of strength and bravery, but identifying that there is an issue is often the first step toward recovery.

Understanding if your child or loved one is showing signs of drug use or substance abuse can be a challenging and worrying time. As previously mentioned, many signs of drug use can be misinterpreted as typical young adult behavior. However, if you are still concerned or have evidence of use, there are various mental health services that can offer support.

At Clearfork, helping teens recover from substance abuse and addiction is our expertise. Not only do we offer a sounding board for those struggling, but we also offer addiction treatment. We have an incredible team of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and master’s level therapists to help give you the best chance for a healthier and happier life.

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Is My Teen Athlete at Risk of Opioid Use?

Is My Teen Athlete at Risk of Opioid Use?

Prescription drugs are some of the most easily accessible drugs to misuse, as many households have a designated medicine cabinet that a curious teen could get into if they wanted to. Many teens have taken prescription drugs that were not their own to get high. Teen athletes, in particular, are vulnerable to opioid addiction as this group of individuals are commonly prescribed opioids for pain relief, especially for sports injuries.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids refer to a class of drugs that are prescribed by doctors to treat or manage chronic or severe pain. These drugs are much more effective at relieving persistent or intolerable pain, unlike over-the-counter pain relievers, which are meant to relieve minor aches and pains. Some common prescription opioids include morphine, hydrocodone (Vicodin), and oxycodone (OxyContin).

Although these painkillers are effective at relieving physical pain, they can be very addictive. They can produce significant feelings of euphoria when taken in large doses; however, the effect doesn’t last very long. Many people get addicted to these drugs from legitimate prescriptions from misusing them, such as taking them in larger quantities or different than what was instructed by their doctor. With time, the amount of the drug will need to be increased to achieve the desired effects of the drug. When consumed in high doses, these drugs can be incredibly dangerous.

Parents of children recovering from surgery or other injuries who are prescribed opioids for pain relief must be incredibly vigilant about how much of the drug is given and where these drugs are kept.

Why Do Teens Misuse Opioids?

Many factors contribute to opioid abuse in young people. Sometimes it’s curiosity or boredom; sometimes, the reason is peer pressure and wanting to fit in with certain social groups. The convenience of obtaining opioids is also an attractive feature to many teens since they don’t require obtaining illicit drugs or spending their own money to do so.

Understanding Opioid Addiction

It doesn’t take long for opioid abuse to quickly take over one’s life. As with other drugs, the euphoria that may be experienced through opioid use is addictive. It can make it difficult to enjoy other things that once brought a healthy source of pleasure, such as playing sports or spending time with friends. When the body is deprived of the drug, the withdrawal can make the user feel sick. Oftentimes, withdrawal symptoms cause an individual to engage in substance use repeatedly. With time and through repeated use, the individual will need to consume higher amounts of the drug to feel better or experience greater euphoria. This is the point that addiction sets in.

What Are Common Signs of Opioid Abuse in Teens?

Signs of opioid abuse in teens can vary. Some common warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Changes in mood
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive drowsiness or fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid mood changes
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Bodily weakness

If you notice any of these symptoms in your teen, early intervention is critical for lasting recovery.

How Can Parents Prevent Opioid Abuse In Teens?

As a parent, you want to spare your child from pain and suffering. Talk to your child’s doctor about what kind of aftercare your teen should receive after surgery or treatment for an injury. Understand how long their healing process should take. Most importantly, you’ll want to hear directly from your child’s doctor how much of an opioid is necessary if they are prescribed them and when to stop taking the medication.

Know Your Options for Pain Relief

While opioid painkillers can help relieve pain, the possible consequences make many people rightfully question just how necessary they are. Know that opioids don’t have to be the only option of pain relief for your child. There are alternative pain management techniques that can increase the effectiveness of over-the-counter pain relievers. You may also want to consider combining non-prescriptive pain relievers with icepacks, heating pads, mindfulness techniques, or even distractions such as TV or music.

Properly Dispose of Extra Medication

It’s not uncommon for doctors to prescribe more of the drug than is necessary during the healing process. This practice is called overprescribing, and it plays a major role in developing an addiction to opioids. Patients may feel they need to consume all of their prescription in order to feel better, even after they start to feel better. However, opioids are not like antibiotics in that you must take all of them to fully fight an infection. Opioids are prescribed and consumed as needed.

Parents would do well to properly dispose of leftover pills rather than keep them in a medicine cabinet. It is not recommended to flush pills, as they can contaminate the water system. Instead, you can likely return unused pills to the pharmacy or local police department, where they can be disposed of properly.

Opioid abuse can happen to any teenager, but athletes have a higher risk because it’s common for doctors to prescribe painkillers when treating sports injuries. While these injuries can be very painful, opioid addiction has far greater consequences. Parents will want to consider talking to their child’s doctor about alternative pain-relieving practices to help their teens feel comfortable as they recuperate. Parents will also want to caution other relatives about keeping their painkillers in places where teens can find them. If your teen is showing signs of opioid addiction, Clearfork Academy is here to help. We have a long track record of success in treating drug abuse and addiction in teenage boys and girls. We offer a range of treatment interventions and therapies to help individualize our care. To learn more about the treatment programs that we offer, call us today at (888) 966-8604.

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Rediscovering Yourself in Recovery

Rediscovering Yourself in Recovery

Recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) can be an exciting time for teens to discover who they are and want to be. In early recovery, many teens find that they have more free time and energy to invest in activities they enjoy. This can be an excellent opportunity to explore new hobbies, make new friends, and develop a healthy sense of self.

Recovery is also a time to learn how to cope with difficult emotions and situations without resorting to substance use. For some teens, this may mean learning how to deal with anxiety, depression, or trauma. Others may need to learn how to manage stressors such as family conflict or academic pressure. Ultimately, recovery is a process of trial and error, but it’s also an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. With patience and support, teens can emerge from recovery with a stronger sense of self and a brighter future.

Finding Their Passions

Addiction can be all-consuming, leaving little room for anything else in a person’s life. However, once in recovery, finding new interests and passions is essential to fill the void left by compulsive use. For teens, discovering new passions can play a critical role in their continued sobriety. It can help give them a sense of purpose, distract them from urges and triggers, and provide a healthy outlet for emotions.

Finding things they are passionate about can help to boost their self-esteem and confidence. It can also provide a sense of accomplishment and pride, which are essential for anyone in recovery. Unfortunately, it may be difficult for teens who have been using to identify what those are as their lives have recently revolved around substances and substance-using people.

Hobbies Keep Teens Sober

There are many ways that teens can find out what they are passionate about. One way is to explore different hobbies and activities. Trying new things can help teens to identify their interests and passions. In addition, hobbies can keep teens sober, according to research. Studies have found that hobbies are associated with lower alcohol and drug use rates among adolescents.

Hobbies can provide a sense of purpose, belonging, and a way to cope with stress and anxiety. In addition, these activities can help promote positive social interactions and reduce the likelihood of developing problematic behaviors. They can also be a source of positive distraction from thoughts about drinking or using drugs.

Here are a few suggestions on how to find new hobbies:

  • Online hobbies: Online hobby groups or forums where people with similar interests gather to discuss their craft or share tips. For example, if your teen is interested in photography, they could join an online group dedicated to amateur photographers and learn from others.
  • Classes: Take a class at a local community center or adolescent education program. This is a great way to try a new hobby without making a significant commitment.
  • Experimentation: Experiment on their own, trying new things until they find something they enjoy.

Another way to discover what one is passionate about is to talk to family and friends. Family members who know teens well can often give them insights into their strengths and passions. In addition, many online personality quizzes and assessments can provide teens with a better understanding of themselves. By exploring their interests, teens can discover their passions and begin to pursue them.

Learning Is Exercise for the Mind

It’s no secret that learning new things can benefit your brain. But did you know that the cognitive benefits of learning something new can last a lifetime? In addition, a growing body of research suggests that the more you challenge your brain, the better it will function as you age.

Studies have found that people who engaged in mentally stimulating activities like reading, writing, and playing games were less likely to develop dementia than those who didn’t. In addition, lifelong learners have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. This is because learning helps build up what’s known as a cognitive reserve – a buffer against the effects of aging on the brain. It also helps keep the brain active and growing, warding off cognitive decline.

Recovery is an excellent time to learn something new. As teens detox, their minds become more apparent, and they can retain more information. It’s empowering to make healthy decisions and choices, and engaging in a new activity can be one of the choices that keep them sober.

Get Quiet

As teenagers begin navigating the world around them, it can be easy to get caught up in the noise and forget the importance of getting quiet. Whether it’s spending time in nature, journaling, or meditating, getting quiet is a necessary part of getting to know oneself.

Amid all the chaos, getting quiet allows teens to connect with their thoughts and feelings and figure out what they believe in. It’s a chance to slow down and pay attention to the most important things. When teens take the time to sit in silence, they often find that they have a better sense of who they are and what they want in life. Silent reflection can be an essential step on the path to self-discovery.

Recovery from substance use disorder is an exciting time for teens to discover who they are and who they want to be. In treatment, teens learn about the effects of substances on their bodies and minds, and they develop healthy coping skills to deal with triggers and cravings. Recovery is a process, and it requires hard work, but it is also an opportunity for teens to develop a healthy sense of self. This is a time when teens can explore new interests, try new activities, and make friends who support their sobriety. Helping teens find out what they love to do can help them build healthy habits that will fill the gap that using substances left. When engaged in passionate pursuits, they are not thinking about using. For more information on how to help teens discover who they are, call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604.

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How Can I Help My Teen Develop Teen Leadership Skills?

How Can I Help My Teen Develop Teen Leadership Skills?

While the process of recovery from substance abuse is challenging for anyone, it is especially challenging for teenagers. Parents of teens struggling with addiction often feel discouraged and depressed, wondering if there is anything they can do to encourage their teens’ recovery. Fortunately, one way that parents can help their teens succeed and maintain sobriety is by fostering leadership skills. Leadership skills can help your teen gain responsibility and control over their harmful habits and ultimately prevent release.

How Can Leadership Skills Help Recovery?

Leadership skills aren’t just for the workplace or group projects in school. Leadership is also part of character development and self-advocacy, which is useful for all situations in life. During their recovery process, teens can use leadership skills to gain back their mental, physical, and emotional health. Here are some ways that leadership skills can help recovery:

They Foster Independence

Teens who have been dependent on alcohol or drugs to either help cope with problems or fit in with social groups may be lacking in self-esteem and confidence. Learning how to take proper care of themselves while sober can help build a foundation of confidence, which helps develop healthy independence. A confident teen can have more power to resist drugs in the future by understanding that substance use is unhealthy and can contribute to long-lasting physical and mental health consequences.

They Help Boost Ambition

Leadership skills help teens understand themselves and who they want to become. The consequences of addiction can lead teens to believe they aren’t worthy of good things. Leadership skills can help them move forward, without feeling shameful or guilty about their past, to achieve their dreams.

They Facilitate Healthy Social Interactions

Many teens are introduced to drugs in social settings, perhaps through peer pressure. Leadership skills can help teens develop the confidence and strength to resist compromising their health to gain approval and acceptance. These skills can also have a ripple effect on others who may also be struggling with peer pressure, showing them that they do not need to give in to temptations at the cost of being liked. Teens can encourage one another in social settings that are centered around healthy activities that don’t involve drugs.

They Influence Relapse Prevention

Unfortunately, relapse is often a common part of the recovery process. If it happens, it doesn’t make your teen a failure. Leadership skills can help teens to overcome difficult hardships in life and teach them that these hardships do not define them. Even better, leadership skills can help prevent relapse from happening in the first place by fostering responsibility. When a teen can visualize the healthy person that they want to become, leadership skills can help them to stay on track during their sobriety and help them achieve the best version of themself.

How Can Families Help Foster Leadership Skills?

Parents have a responsibility to raise future leaders, which requires taking the initiative early on. From a young age, encouraging children to introduce themselves to other adults can help them gain a strong sense of self. As they get older, they can learn additional advocacy skills as relevant situations present themselves. Is another child picking on them at the playground? Kids can learn to stand up for themselves by not tolerating the behavior and walking away if necessary. They can also learn to stand up for other kids. Similarly, young kids can learn how to gently confront peers who might have been gossiping about them or otherwise not treating them well. The opportunities to learn leadership skills are truly endless.

How Does Clearfork Academy Help Foster Leadership Skills?

Substance abuse is particularly devastating for teenagers, who are already facing a lot of pressures, including the pressures of school, extracurricular activities, family responsibilities, and getting along with their peers, all while trying to figure out who they are and learning to love themselves. These are natural challenges of adolescence, although substance use exacerbates them. Left untreated, it can spiral into a lifelong problem accompanied by significant mental and physical health consequences.

Fortunately, a healthier path is possible. Clearfork Academy believes that a firm foundation of faith is essential for developing leadership skills in every sphere of life. These skills can not only help teens learn to say “no” to drugs but also “yes” to opportunities that will stretch, challenge, and mature them during their prime developmental years. Our residential programs, detox treatment, outdoor activities,  and other therapies help teens develop these skills to cope healthier with life’s problems, learn to deal with rejection and failure, and ultimately embrace who they are meant to be. 

Substance abuse recovery can be a long, difficult road, both physically and emotionally. For teens who feel overwhelmed by drugs or alcohol, finding the motivation to move forward can seem impossible. Becoming the person they want to be can seem unreachable. Clearfork Academy is invested in all aspects of recovery and growth: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Our treatment programs and therapies are designed to help foster wellness in all of these areas. From residential treatment centers for boys and girls, to detox treatment, therapies, and even outdoor activities, we focus on using treatment to heal the whole being of your teen. If your teen is struggling with substance abuse, please don’t wait. To learn more about our treatment programs and other resources, call us today at (888) 966-8604 or reach out to us through the contact page on our website. 

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Recovery: Sacrificing for the Better

Recovery: Sacrificing for the Better

Deciding to seek treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD) is a big decision. It takes sacrifice and hard work to beat addiction. This article explores how we must go the extra mile to gain a happy and stable life in recovery.

Unique Struggle of Teens

When it comes to treatment for SUD, a few factors need to be considered for teens. First, they may not be ready to face their addiction and enter treatment. This can be due to various factors, such as denial, fear, or shame. Additionally, teens may not have the support of their family or friends, which can make treatment seem like an impossible goal. Finally, financial barriers can also prevent teens from getting their needed help. Treating SUD is an essential step in recovery, but it’s crucial to ensure all factors are considered before deciding to go to treatment.

Sacrifice

Treatment for SUD, in terms of the individual and the family, often requires significant sacrifice. To effectively treat the disorder, the individual must be willing to give up the substance they are abusing. This can be difficult, as the substance often provides short-term relief from difficult emotions or situations. However, treatment is often essential to recover from the disorder and live a healthy life.

For families, treatment may require sacrificing time and energy to support the individual in their recovery. This can be difficult but necessary to help the individual recover from their disorder. Treatment is often only successful when people are willing to go the extra mile. This may mean making lifestyle changes, attending treatment sessions regularly, and staying in touch with treatment providers even after treatment ends. It’s also essential to be honest about what is working and what is not. Recovery from SUD is a lifelong process, and people willing to put in the hard work find that it pays off in the end.

What to Look for in a Treatment Center

Teens require individualized, evidence-based care and support from family and peers to succeed in recovery. In addition, it’s vital for teens to feel safe and supported throughout their journey to wellness. Here are some things to consider when seeking treatment for a teen with SUD:

  • Find a treatment center that specializes in teens. Treatment for SUD is most successful when it’s tailored to the specific needs of the individual. This is especially true for teens, who are still in the process of physical and psychological development. The best treatment programs for teens take this into account, providing age-appropriate care that addresses the unique challenges of this population. In addition to addressing the underlying causes of substance use, these programs also provide life-skills training and academic support to help teens transition back into society.
  •  Make sure the treatment center uses evidence-based practices. Evidence-based programs are effective in scientific studies. These programs typically use a combination of counseling, behavioral therapy, and medication to help teens recover. In addition, treatment should be tailored to the individual needs of each teen.
  • Ensure the treatment center has a robust family program. One of the most critical aspects of treatment for teen SUD is the involvement of family members. Numerous studies have shown that programs that include vital family components are more effective than those that do not. In addition, research has consistently shown that the best treatment outcomes are achieved when families actively participate in treatment. Conversely, without the involvement of families, treatment outcomes are significantly poorer.
  • Choose a treatment center that offers alumni or aftercare services. The most effective treatment for teen SUD often includes support for alumni or an aftercare program. These programs help ensure that teens maintain progress during treatment and abstain from substance abuse.
  • Programs that treat co-occurring disorders are more effective. Co-occurring disorders are defined as two or more disorders occurring in the same individual simultaneously. Common examples of co-occurring disorders include depression, anxiety, and conduct disorder. Many teens with SUD also suffer from one or more co-occurring mental health disorders. The best treatment programs for teen SUD treatment address the SUD and any co-occurring mental health disorders.

It Takes Willingness

For treatment for teen SUD to be successful, teens must be willing to make sacrifices for their future. This may mean giving up some of their free time or sacrificing their social life to focus on treatment. It’s also essential for teens to be honest with themselves and their treatment team about their goals and expectations for treatment.

Treatment for teen SUD is a process that requires time, effort, and commitment. Teens unwilling to make these sacrifices are unlikely to benefit from treatment. However, those willing to sacrifice for the sake of their future will find that treatment can be an invaluable tool in achieving their goals.

Deciding to seek treatment for a substance use disorder is one of the most important decisions a teen can make. Treatment for SUD is not a one size fits all process, it requires unique treatment plans that are catered to the individual. This process is not easy. Successful recovery often requires going the extra mile. This may mean having to travel for treatment, taking time off work or school, or making other sacrifices. Willingness to make these sacrifices increases teens’ chances of success exponentially higher. For more information on how to foster motivation for treatment in your teen, contact Clearfork Academy. We offer a robust program of healing for teens struggling with substance use and mental health disorders, including residential and intensive outpatient programs designed to target the unique challenges of this developmental stage. Call us today at (888) 966-8604.

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Is It Okay for Teens to Have Alcohol at Home?

Is It Okay for Teens to Have Alcohol at Home?

There are plenty of valid reasons to be concerned about teen drinking. Teen drinking can lead to catastrophic consequences, both physically and emotionally. With fake IDs, older friends who can purchase it for them, and accessible liquor cabinets at home, it’s not hard for teens to obtain alcohol if they want to, which can all worsen the temptation to drink underage.

Out of a desire to curb temptation or curiosity, many parents allow their teens to drink alcohol at home under their supervision. In some cultures and religions, alcohol plays an integral role in sacred traditions. While we respect the right of parents to make their own decisions for their children, we at Clearfork Academy feel that this decision can produce significant consequences for their future. Through our years of experience helping teenagers overcome alcohol and substance abuse, we have seen the long-lasting effects that can result from allowing teenagers to drink alcohol within the comfort of their homes.

Does Early Teen Drinking Lead to Alcoholism?

While a sip of mom and dad’s alcohol doesn’t guarantee a future drinking problem, it is well known that teens who start drinking before the age of 15 are much more likely to experience alcoholism in their lifetime. We say this not to scare parents but to help them weigh the risks appropriately. The cognitive effects of drinking at a young age are too intense to take these matters lightly. In our experience, it is far too easy for a sip “every now and then” to become a regular occurrence. Normalizing substance use within the home at an early age can have devastating effects on teenage development, especially because their young brains are not yet fully developed.

The Consequences of Teen Drinking on the Brain

There is no question that alcohol use can impair brain functioning and structure, especially for vulnerable teenage brains. In particular, the brain’s reward center, which identifies feelings of pleasure, quickly learns to associate the use of alcohol with perceived feelings of pleasure. With regular drinking, the brain learns to only experience pleasure through the use of alcohol and will eventually require more alcohol to achieve that feeling once the body develops a tolerance. 

As the brain becomes preoccupied with seeking and using alcohol to achieve feelings of pleasure, other brain areas will inevitably suffer at the cost. As a result, teenagers that regularly use alcohol will likely experience cognitive impairments, such as learning difficulties and memory loss, which can affect academic performance. These effects can last well into adulthood.

The Correlation Between Teen Drinking and Drunk Driving

Teen driving under the influence is one of the most dangerous risks of underage alcohol consumption. Not surprisingly, teens who start drinking at a young age are more likely to drive drunk or get involved in a car wreck at some point in their life. Roughly ten percent of teens who are of driving age have driven a car after drinking alcohol.

Still, it is important to point out that many parents may be contributing to this risk by allowing teens to drink at home, especially if they aren’t aware of how alcohol can affect their teens. Just because a teen doesn’t appear to be drunk doesn’t mean that alcohol is not physically or mentally affecting them. Although an adult may not be considered drunk when they consume less than the legal limit, a teen requires much less alcohol to become mentally and physically impaired. 

How to Break the Familial Cycle of Addiction

Parents who are aware of a history of alcoholism in the family should be especially wary of allowing their teens to drink at home. Alcoholism is an addiction, which is classified as a disease. Like other diseases, it is something that can be passed down through generations. While this is no guarantee that subsequent generations will use substances, it greatly increases the risk. Teens in these family structures are predisposed to potential drinking problems when alcohol is present.

As a parent, you may want to have a frank discussion with your teen about your family history of mental health disorders and substance use if you know about it. Be honest about the possible outcomes of this life-altering condition, not to shame or scare them, but to educate and make them aware. The risk of developing alcoholism increases the closer an affected relative is to an impressionable teen, especially if that relative is a parent. 

You can set a positive example for your teens by being a positive role model. You can practice safe and moderate drinking habits, or even better, avoid using alcohol within the home when your teen is present. It is also important to emphasize that the legal drinking age is put in place for their protection. Above all, ensure that your teen understands the risks and consequences involved with underage drinking, and set healthy expectations with your teen moving forward. 

In our work with teenagers who are addicted to alcohol, we firmly believe that it is not in a teen’s best interest to consume alcohol in the home. While this practice is certainly not a guarantee that they will develop alcoholism later in life, the risks far outweigh the rewards. Parents may believe that they are helping curb the temptation to drink, but in our experience, we see that this tends to be the beginning of a long, uphill battle against addiction. Clearfork Academy is a treatment center for teens that has a long track record of helping teens achieve and sustain sobriety. We offer a range of different treatment programs and services to help prevent and treat teen substance use, as well as relapse. If you suspect that your teen is struggling with substance use, do not hesitate to call us today at (888) 966-8604.

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Where Attention Goes, Energy Flows

Where Attention Goes, Energy Flows

The teen years can be a difficult time for many reasons. Teens are experiencing many physical changes, emotional ups and downs, and increased academic pressure. However, one of the best ways for teens to gain some control over their minds and bodies is by learning to regulate their nervous systems.

Individuals struggling with substance use or new to recovery often feel like they’re out of control. The substances they were abusing seem to have a life of their own. The person often feels powerless to resist their pull, especially when experiencing stress. This is because substances have hijacked their nervous systems and are “running the show” in the mind and body. However, with practice and intention, teens can learn to regain control and avoid using substances to cope.

The Nervous System

The nervous system has two main parts, the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The PNS is composed of ganglion and nerves. The central nervous system comprises the brain and spinal cord and is the system’s control center. The CNS is divided into two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. These structures work together to coordinate the body’s response to stimuli.

#1. Sympathetic Nervous System

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response. When activated, it releases neurochemicals that prepare the body for physical activity. These neurochemicals include adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine, which increase heart rate and blood pressure. The sympathetic nervous system also diverts blood flow from the digestive system and towards the muscles to ensure that the body has enough oxygen and energy to respond to a perceived threat.

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is vital in regulating the body’s response to stress. Under normal circumstances, the SNS helps the body cope with stressful situations by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. However, chronic exposure to stress can lead to a condition known as sympathetically mediated adrenal insufficiency (SMAI), characterized by high levels of SNS activity. This can eventually lead to several health problems, including substance use disorder (SUD).

SUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. Many individuals with SUD also suffer from comorbid mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. It’s believed that the overactivation of the SNS may contribute to the development of SUD and other mental health disorders. Therefore, it’s essential to identify and treat individuals with SMAI to reduce their risk of developing SUD.

#2. Parasympathetic Nervous System

The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) has the opposite effect and is responsible for the “rest and digest” response. This division of the nervous system slows the heart rate, increases digestive activity, and relaxes muscles. The PNS is activated when a person is resting or in a non-emergency situation.

While both divisions of the nervous system are important for survival, the balance between them can be disrupted in people who abuse substances. When someone uses drugs or alcohol, the PNS is suppressed while the sympathetic nervous system is activated. This constant arousal can lead to physical and psychological problems, such as anxiety, insomnia, and heart disease. In addition, chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system can cause changes in brain structure and function that increase the risk of developing an addiction.

Chronic exposure to stress can lead to a condition known as sympathetically mediated adrenal insufficiency (SMAI), characterized by high levels of SNS activity. This can eventually lead to several health problems, including SUD. Consequently, understanding the role of the PNS in regulating stress and arousal is essential for developing effective treatments. The good news is that we’re learning more effective ways of activating this system, which can empower teens as they know how to calm themselves down. Moreover, this ability to self-regulate dramatically increases their chances of sustained sobriety.

Activating the PNS

One of the best ways to activate the PNS is through deep breathing. When we take slow, deep breaths, it signals to the brain that everything is okay. This, in turn, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us to relax. Another way to start the PNS is through mindful meditation. Meditation allows us to focus on the present moment, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. As a result, we can better calm down and make rational choices.

Many of the skills used in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are focused on reducing cortisol and adrenaline levels. They can mediate the nervous system when an individual is under stress. Counting, distraction with pleasant activities, and engaging in creative endeavors are all ways to control what’s happening in the body. With practice and intention, these skills can become well-learned and nearly automatic.

For teens in recovery, it’s crucial to learn how to regulate the nervous systems. This can help them effectively manage uncomfortable feelings without returning to substance use. The nervous system is responsible for the body’s response to stress, and when it’s not functioning properly, the individual may feel overwhelmed and turn to substances in an attempt to relieve the discomfort. However, by learning how to regulate the nervous system, teens can effectively manage their stress levels and remain sober. There are many different techniques that can be used to regulate the nervous system, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga. Counting and distraction can also be helpful interventions. By teaching teens these techniques, we can help them stay sober and reduce their risk of relapse. For more information on teaching teens self-regulation, call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604.

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How Can Teens Navigate Peer Pressure to Use Drugs?

How Can Teens Navigate Peer Pressure to Use Drugs?

Unfortunately, peer pressure is a common motivator for teen drug use. In many instances, teens give in to peer pressure because they want to fit in and be liked. If teens think activities such as drinking alcohol or doing drugs will earn them those rewards, they may be likely to succumb to that pressure.

Why Are Teens Likely to Engage in Risky Behavior?

Adults are susceptible to peer pressure, of course, but it’s not a uniquely teenage phenomenon. But teens are quite liable to peer pressure due to the incomplete formation of their brains, particularly the frontal lobe. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for appropriate judgment and decision-making. The understanding of “risk versus reward” is not yet established during the teenage years. Due to their young age and undeveloped frontal lobe, teens don’t often grasp the long-term consequences of their actions in the present. Some actions, such as drug use, can have long-reaching effects in their adulthood.

Risk Factors of Teen Substance Use

The risk factors of teen drug use don’t necessarily mean that if these circumstances are present, teens are guaranteed to abuse drugs. However, research shows that certain genetic and environmental factors tend to be present among teens with substance use disorder. These risk factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Lack of parental supervision
  • Lack of discipline
  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems
  • Family rejection
  • Low academic achievement
  • Associating with delinquent or substance-using peers
  • Parent divorce
  • Emotional instability

In addition, social media can greatly influence teens when it comes to drug use. When teens see this behavior glamorized through media, they are more likely to engage in the behavior themselves.

If your teen is using drugs, early intervention is critical for successful treatment. While drug use in the teen years can follow them into adulthood, it is possible to achieve sobriety. Treatment is also beneficial in helping teens develop healthier coping skills.

Warning Signs Of Teen Substance Use

While some signs of your teen’s drug use may be more obvious, other signs are more discrete. This can also depend on the type of drug being used. It can be challenging for parents to determine legitimate signs of drug use from the normal parts of the adolescent experience, such as chronic fatigue or demanding privacy. However, it’s worth knowing the common warning signs of drug use, which include:

  • Sudden changes in mood
  • Academic problems
  • Chronic isolation
  • Sudden changes in friend groups
  • Engaging in risk-taking behaviors
  • A “nothing matters” attitude
  • Physical or mental changes

How Can Parents Help Their Teens Navigate Peer Pressure?

There are many ways that parents can be proactive in protecting their teens from drug use and abuse. These are just a few of them, but you can get creative depending on the unique personality of your teen and the dynamic of your relationship:

Be A Positive Role Model

Teens are greatly influenced by people around them, not just their friends. When they see healthy behaviors modeled by people they admire, such as sports coaches, family members, or perhaps religious clergy, they are more likely to develop their own healthy behaviors.

Help Foster Confidence

Teen years are a time of frustration and insecurity. This is a natural occurrence as their bodies and hormones are constantly changing, and social situations are also in flux. Teens who have low self-esteem are more likely to make risky decisions in order to fit in with certain friend groups. As a parent, you can help foster confidence by pointing out your teen’s strengths and other attributes. You can also help them develop goals based on these strengths and foster healthy ways of handling criticism.

Visualize Certain Scenarios

It may sound silly, but it’s effective. You can act out certain scenarios with your teen, perhaps based on TV shows or other media they consume in which characters are pressured to use drugs. Ask your teen how they might respond in a similar scenario. This can help prepare them for a real-life scenario they might face with their peers.

Practice Active Listening

Your teen may be more likely to ask you for advice if they are struggling with peer pressure when you practice good listening skills. As desperate as you might be to ask questions or offer advice, you might want to allow your teen to share as much as possible before you intervene. Oftentimes, offering them the opportunity to talk out their problems can help them come to their own solutions, which becomes a valuable independence skill. Try to withhold judgment or punishment if your teen is vulnerable with you, as sharing their feelings is an act of vulnerability and strength. Let your teen know that!

It can be terrifying to suspect that your teen is thinking of using drugs. The pressure to fit in with friends, even at the expense of their health, is quite real. As a parent, you can help prevent teen drug use by keeping lines of communication open. Create a safe space for your teen to share what they are thinking or feeling without judgment or shame. Let them know that if they find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation, they can always call you for help. If you think your teen is using substances, early intervention is key. Clearfork Academy has helped many teens fight drug abuse and addiction by teaching them healthy coping mechanisms to replace harmful substance-seeking habits. We offer residential programs for teen boys and girls, detox programs, group therapy, and even outdoor activities to promote healing. Contact Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604.

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How to Master Distress Tolerance

How to Master Distress Tolerance

Mastering distress tolerance is essential to successful teen substance use disorder (SUD) recovery. Distress tolerance is the ability to cope with difficult situations healthily. It involves learning how to tolerate urges and cravings, deal with difficult emotions, and handle setbacks. Teens who are able to develop strong distress tolerance skills are more likely to stay in recovery, while those who cannot tolerate distress are more likely to relapse.

What Is Emotional Distress?

Emotional distress is a feeling of discomfort or pain that’s caused by an event or situation. It can be caused by a variety of things, including physical or emotional abuse, major life changes, or traumatic events. People who experience emotional distress may feel overwhelmed, hopeless, and worthless. They may also have difficulty concentrating, sleeping, or eating.

If emotional distress is not addressed, it can lead to serious mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression. These mental health issues often lead to self-medicating with substances, which can lead to addiction. To stay sober, SUD recovery requires teens to develop skills to tolerate emotional distress in order to abstain from coping with substances.

Distress Tolerance Skills for Teens

Distress tolerance skills help teens withstand the discomfort that comes with abstinence and healthily manage emotions. Three of the most effective and accessible skills are distraction, self-soothing, grounding, and positive self-talk.

#1. Distraction

Distraction techniques help teens focus on something else instead of the urge to use substances. When faced with a difficult situation, teens can practice distraction by identifying five things they can see, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste. This focused attention on the senses can help to ground the individual in the present moment and take the focus off of uncomfortable thoughts or feelings.

Additionally, teens can practice distraction by engaging in pleasant activities such as listening to music, reading, or spending time with friends or family members. By identifying and engaging in activities that are pleasurable and distracting, teen SUD clients can begin to build a foundation of coping skills to draw upon during times of stress.

#2. Self-Soothing

Self-soothing techniques help teens calm themselves down when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Self-soothing refers to the ability to comfort and calm oneself in the face of challenging situations. It can involve activities such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or positive self-talk. Learning how to self-soothe can help teens feel more in control of their recovery and less vulnerable to relapse. Furthermore, self-soothing can help reduce stress and anxiety, two common triggers for teen substance abuse.

#3. Grounding

Grounding is a skill that can be used to help teens in recovery cope with difficult emotions and sensations. Grounding involves focusing on the present moment and using the senses to connect with the here and now. When feeling overwhelmed, teens can ground themselves by focusing on their breath, noticing the sights and sounds around them, or feeling their feet on the ground. Grounding can help individuals feel calmer and more in control. It’s a useful tool for managing difficult emotions and thoughts, and it can be used in any situation.

Positive Self-Talk

Positive self-talk can help teens remind themselves of their goals and why they’re working towards recovery. It can also help to reframe negative thoughts and emotions into something more positive. For example, if a teen is feeling discouraged about their progress in recovery, positive self-talk can help them to remember how far they’ve come and how much progress they’ve made. Additionally, if a teen is feeling anxious about an upcoming event, positive self-talk can help them to focus on the present moment. It also reminds them that they have the strength to overcome it.

Skill Cards

One way teens can use these skills is with skill cards. Laminated index cards are portable and easy to make. Each card contains a different skill, such as deep breathing, counting, positive self-talk, or attending a support group meeting. Teens can carry the cards with them and use them when they’re feeling tempted to use drugs or alcohol. By having readily available skills, they will be better equipped to handle challenging situations without turning to substance use. It’s often difficult to remember healthy coping skills when under stress. Carrying these cards can make all the difference in helping someone stay sober and achieve long-term recovery.

Seek Professional Help

There are times when distress tolerance skills are not enough, and professional help may be needed. Signs that professional help may be needed include persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety, self-harm, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, and difficulty functioning at school or work. If your teen is experiencing these signs, it’s important to seek professional help. A professional counselor, therapist, or another mental health professional can help teens learn and solidify distress management skills. These skills can help manage difficult situations and emotions in a healthy way. If you or someone you know is struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

The ability to master distress tolerance is a key part of any teen substance use disorder recovery plan. Recovery is a difficult process and teens often experience a great deal of emotional distress during this time. This can be overwhelming and can lead to impulsive decisions that can further damage their health and wellbeing. However, if they have the skills to tolerate this distress, they can make it through the tough times without returning to problematic substance use. Learning how to recognize, manage and cope with emotional distress can help teens in recovery build a more positive outlook on life, empower them to continue their program, and increase their chances of long-term success. Help is available and you’re not alone. For more information on teaching teens how to tolerate emotional distress and avoid self-medicating with substances, call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604.

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What Is the Underlying Cause of Teen Adderall Abuse?

What Is the Underlying Cause of Teen Adderall Abuse?

Adderall is a prescription medication that is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a mental health condition in which people have difficulties focusing due to low levels of dopamine in the brain. Physicians know to only prescribe Adderall when it is necessary and carefully monitor clients as they go about their new prescription. However, many teens misuse their Adderall prescriptions by using them with the intent of getting high. When prescription misuse turns into abuse, it is only a matter of time before a teen develops a drug addiction.

Many teens and parents alike are uninformed about the dangers of prescription drugs like Adderall. Knowing the underlying causes and signs of Adderall abuse can help parents prevent this form of drug use in their teens.

The Effects of Adderall

Adderall is a stimulant drug that increases attention, alertness, and energy. Taken properly, Adderall can help teens with ADHD improve their focus and concentration. Adderall is also prescribed by doctors for people with narcolepsy, which is a medical condition that causes extreme fatigue, often during inopportune times. People with narcolepsy may have difficulties staying awake throughout the day, thus requiring a stimulant such as Adderall.

Prescription stimulants affect the brain and body by increasing the activity of important neurotransmitters that regulate communication between brain regions. More specifically, the neurotransmitters affected by Adderall are dopamine, which is involved in reinforcing rewarding behaviors, and norepinephrine, which affects blood vessels, heart rate, and breathing.

When abused over a long period, Adderall can cause hallucinations, delusions, and symptoms of psychosis. Adderall abuse also affects the part of the brain that controls mood, which could lead to feelings of anxiety and irritability.

Understanding Misuse and Abuse

When a doctor prescribes a drug such as Adderall, they instruct the individual to take a specific dosage at a specific quantity. For example, an individual may be instructed to take 20mgs once every morning. Similarly, others may be instructed to take a smaller or higher dose a few times throughout the day or as needed throughout the week.

The misuse of a prescription stimulant can happen when an individual tries to treat themselves or their symptoms but not how their doctor instructed them to do so. This includes:

  • Taking medicine in dosage or quantity other than what was instructed
  • Taking someone else’s prescription

Misuse can quickly develop into abuse when an individual takes their prescription with the intent to get high.

Is Adderall Addictive?

In a word, yes. Adderall that is taken in high doses, which is not recommended by a physician, can result in physical and psychological dependence. Similar to other drugs, it will eventually require more amounts to experience the desired effects of the drug. This refers to drug tolerance.

Teens may think that Adderall is safe to use because it’s prescribed by a doctor, but this could not be further from the truth. Any type of drug, legal or not, prescribed or not, can be harmful when misused.

What Are the Consequences of Adderall Abuse?

Long-term abuse of Adderall can lead to problems with school, relationships, and overall health. But there are potential consequences for stopping the use of this drug “cold turkey” as well, including:

  • worsened anxiety and irritability
  • nausea
  • inability to experience pleasure
  • disrupted sleep
  • cravings
  • lack of energy

Physical withdrawal from Adderall is not life-threatening but often contributes to repeated use, addiction, and relapse. The psychological effects of Adderall withdrawal can also be extremely difficult to manage. This means that teens who abuse Adderall will likely require medical treatment to successfully recover.

What Are The Warning Signs Of Adderall Abuse?

Parents will want to pay attention to the following red flags that their teen is abusing Adderall. Bear in mind, however, that one or two of these symptoms may not necessarily indicate drug use or abuse. If more of these symptoms are present for a significant amount of time, that’s when you’ll want to intervene.

Signs of Adderall abuse may include:

  • Problems in school, such as missing homework assignments, being late for class, or missing classes altogether
  • Lack of motivation or energy
  • Sneaking around or being excessively secretive
  • Stealing money or items around the house to sell
  • Staying up all night
  • Frequent angry outbursts
  • Worsened depression and anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Making decisions that show poor judgment
  • Body jitters
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Experiencing a decline in overall physical health

Treatment for Stimulant Addiction

The most effective treatment available to treat stimulant addictions is behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or and contingency management. Behavioral therapies will help your teen understand the underlying causes of their stimulant misuse or abuse as well as teach them to effectively manage triggers and stress.

Many of us tend to look back on youth with a sense of nostalgia. However, it can be stressful to be a teenager in ways we may have forgotten. There’s pressure to fit in with peers, perform well in school and in sports, and hold the affection and respect of teachers, coaches, and other social groups. This can encourage teens to turn to stimulant drugs in search of a boost in motivation and stamina. Just because Adderall is a legal prescription does not make it safe. This medicine should only be used under the guidance of a doctor. Clearfork Academy has helped teenagers defeat all kinds of drug addictions, both prescription and illegal substances. We provide residential treatment programs, various forms of therapy, outdoor programs, and more. Learn about our treatments by calling (888) 966-8604 to speak with a licensed staff member today. 

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What Is Your Legacy?

What Is Your Legacy?

For teens recovering from substance use disorder (SUD), legacy can mean many things. For some, it serves as a reminder of what they’ve been through and how far they’ve come. For others, it may be a source of motivation to stay sober and help others achieve recovery. Legacy can also be a way of honoring those who have helped teens on their journey to sobriety.

However individuals define it, legacy can be essential to teen recovery. It can help them remember their past, celebrate their present, and inspire their future.

What Is a Legacy?

A legacy is defined as something that’s handed down from one generation to the next. For example, a family’s legacy might be their love of music or their tradition of always helpings others. A legacy can also be something someone leaves behind after they die, like a charity fund in their name.

In the context of teen SUD recovery, a legacy is a positive impact an individual leaves on their community after overcoming their addiction. This could be through working with others who are still struggling, sharing their story to raise awareness, or simply living a sober life and helping to break the stigma around addiction. By doing this, individuals in recovery can help make lasting change in the world around them and ensure that their legacy lives on long after they’re gone.

The Need for Meaning

Recovering from SUD is hard work. Teens often struggle to make lasting changes.  Often, this is because they lack meaning in their lives. Without a sense of purpose, it can be challenging for teens to stay motivated to stay sober. This is why it’s so important for parents and loved ones to help them create meaning in their lives.

There are many ways to do this. Some of the most effective include helping them find a hobby or passion, encouraging them to serve in the community, and helping them develop strong relationships with family and friends. By creating meaning in their lives, we can give teens the motivation to stay sober and build a foundation for a successful future.

Service to Others

Teens recovering from SUD often struggle to find a sense of purpose. In many cases, their previous identities revolved around drug use, and they may feel lost without that defining element in their lives. Service to others can be an important way for teens in recovery to create meaning and find a sense of purpose. Through service, they can learn new skills, make friends, and feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves.

Additionally, service can help teens in recovery to stay sober by providing structure and positive peer support. Teens who participate in service activities are often more likely to remain involved in their recovery program and less likely to relapse.

Positive Relationships

Teens in recovery from SUD face many challenges. In addition to overcoming their addiction, they often must deal with issues such as poor mental health, trauma, and homelessness. One of the critical factors that can help teens succeed in recovery is positive relationships.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), SUD recovery is a process that includes making significant changes in one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This process is critical to developing and maintaining positive relationships with others. Positive relationships provide teens with a sense of support and belonging. They can help individuals feel valued and appreciated and remind them that they’re not alone in their struggles.

In addition, positive relationships can provide teens with practical assistance, such as help with schoolwork or transportation. These relationships can also offer guidance, encouragement, and accountability. In addition, positive relationships model healthy coping skills and provide opportunities for practicing new skills. Finally, these relationships can be with family members, friends, mentors, counselors, and other supportive adults.

Creative Pursuits

The teen years are often a time of experimentation. Sadly, this can sometimes include experimenting with drugs or alcohol. When substance use becomes a problem, it can profoundly affect every aspect of a teen’s life. One crucial part of recovery is finding activities that give life meaning and purpose. For many teens in recovery, creative pursuits such as writing, painting, or making music can provide a much-needed outlet for emotions and help to boost self-esteem.

In addition, creative activities can help teens connect with others who share their interests, providing valuable social support. Pursuing creative interests can also be a fun and enjoyable way to spend time, helping reduce stress and promote positive mental health. For all these reasons, fostering creativity can be vital in supporting teen SUD recovery.

By pursuing these and other activities that bring them joy and a sense of purpose, teens in recovery can create rich, fulfilling lives, leaving a legacy of commitment and honor.

Recovery from substance use disorder offers teens a chance to create their own legacy. Creating a legacy involves forging a life of meaning and purpose. In many cases, sober teens’ previous identities revolved around drug use, and they may feel lost without that defining element in their lives. Service to others can be an important way for teens in recovery to create meaning and find a sense of purpose. Through service, they can learn new skills, make friends, and feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves. Service can help teens in recovery to stay sober by providing structure and positive peer support. Positive relationships formed through service activities can give teens a sense of belonging and accountability. Additionally, teens who participate in hobbies are often more likely to stay involved in their recovery program. For more information, call Clearfork Academy at (888) 966-8604.

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How Dangerous Are Inhalants for Teens?

How Dangerous Are Inhalants for Teens?

Inhalants are ordinary, readily available products that can be used as drugs when the contents or chemicals in the substance are inhaled. It’s a common way for teens to get high without having to acquire alcohol or illegal substances. Inhalants are legal, everyday products, such as spray paint and hairspray, that can produce harmful chemical vapors.

The recreational use of inhalants is a growing problem for teens. It is important to bring awareness to the harms that can result from inhalant use and to recognize ways that parents can prevent inhalant use for their teens.

Understanding Inhalants as Drugs

Chemicals in household products can produce toxic vapors that, when inhaled, can produce short-lived intoxication. Like illegal substances, prolonged use of these drugs can have significant effects on the nervous system and brain activity. In teenagers, using inhalants can cause lightheadedness, slowed reflexes and reaction times, loss of coordination, and distorted or slurred speech. In some cases, teens can hallucinate or black out while under the influence, similar to the effects of alcohol use.

Inhalants are dangerous for anyone, especially for teenagers, as their brains are not yet fully developed. Damage sustained from inhalant use can sometimes be reversed, but some effects can last into adulthood. Inhalants can cause long-term damage to the lungs, heart, kidney, and liver. Just because inhalants are common household products does not mean they are safe to use in place of “hard drugs.” They can be just as harmful.

What Are the Main Types of Inhalants?

Not all inhalants are alike. The main types of inhalants include:

  • Solvents: This refers to products common in arts and crafts projects or office supplies, such as glue or markers. Other common household solvents include nail polish, nail polish remover, paint thinners, and lighter fluid.
  • Aerosols: Aerosols include hair sprays, oil sprays for cooking, spray paints, certain deodorants, and fabric protectors.
  • Gases: The most common gas used as an inhalant is nitrous oxide, also known as whippits, which can be found in pressurized cans. Other common gases found at home include refrigerants, propane tanks for grills, and butane lighters.
  • Alkyl nitrites: Also referred to as “poppers” or “snappers,” this product is used in leather cleaners, room sprays, and other products that eliminate foul odors.

How Are Inhalants Used?

The three primary methods for using inhalants are

  • Huffing: Breathing through a towel or other rag that has been soaked in some substance and is placed directly over the nose and mouth
  • Sniffing: Similar to huffing, except it involves directly breathing the substance through the nose from the bottle or can rather than a rag or towel
  • Bagging: The substance is inhaled through a bag that has been placed over the nose and mouth

Can Inhalants Be Fatal?

Just because a certain substance is legal and commonly used at home does not make it safe to get high on. In some cases, inhalants can lead to death. Sometimes inhalant-related deaths are called “sudden sniffing death.” This happens when the chemicals stop the heart. It can happen in otherwise healthy people, even those who do not use inhalants intentionally. Death can also happen by suffocation if a person inhales a substance using a bag in an enclosed area.

Why Do Teens Use Inhalants?

There are plenty of reasons why some teens may be inclined to use inhalants over illegal drugs:

  • They are easily attainable. It’s not against the law to have cleaning products, oil sprays, glue bottles, etc. These products all have practical uses for cleaning, making crafts, cooking, and more. They also don’t require buyers to be a certain age to obtain them.
  • The effects are felt instantly. Other drugs and alcohol take time to feel the effects. However, inhalants can work in less than ten seconds.
  • They’re inexpensive or free. Street drugs can be costly, and teens often lack financial independence. Still, they don’t typically use their allowance to buy household products. Instead, their parents do.
  • The “high” can be difficult to detect. The high that can result from inhalants happens quickly and fades just as fast. That can make it hard for parents to tell if their kids are using.

What Are Common Warning Signs Of Using Inhalants?

While it may not be obvious at first if your teen has gotten high from inhalants, over time, you may notice the following signs:

  • Acting drunk or lightheaded
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination, stumbling, and lack of balance
  • Red eyes and nosebleeds
  • Sores around the mouth, which is commonly called “huffer’s rash”
  • Breath smelling like chemicals
  • Loss of appetite, nausea

How Can Parents Prevent Teens From Using Inhalants?

To protect your teen, first, understand that drug use can happen to anyone. No parent wants to imagine their child becoming addicted to drugs, but no one is safe from drug use. You may want to ask your teen if they know of anyone in their social group using inhalants. Be sure to let your teen know that using common household products to get high can be just as damaging as illegal drugs and alcohol. Let them know you are available to talk if they need to. Pay attention to who your teen hangs out with and where, especially on weekends and after school. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries to protect your teen.

It can be scary to think that your teen may not be safe in their own home. Clearfork Academy doesn’t just help teens with known substance abuse problems: we are also here to equip parents with facts and knowledge for prevention. You may not need to put all your cooking and cleaning products under lock and key just yet. Keep the dialogue open with your teen and be honest about the risks. Let them know that they can come to you if they suspect a friend is using inhalants or if they are tempted to use inhalants themselves. However, if you suspect your teen has been getting high off of inhalants, don’t wait; seek help today. Contact Clearfork Academy at (888) 966-8604. We have helped many teenage boys and girls conquer the effects of addiction and go on to live healthy, sober lives.

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How Time Management Helps Addiction Recovery

How Time Management Helps Addiction Recovery

Time management is an essential skill for anyone in addiction recovery. When used correctly, it can help individuals stay on track with their goals and improve overall productivity. A few critical components of good time management include setting realistic goals, creating a daily schedule, staying organized, and taking breaks throughout the day.

Setting Realistic Goals

Individuals in early addiction recovery may have spent a great deal of time chasing the high or intoxication they experienced while using substances. Unfortunately, this can lead individuals to develop grandiose plans and goals that can make it difficult to complete their sobriety journey.

Sober living requires a certain level of structure and planning that can be foreign to someone new to recovery. Realistic goal setting helps provide this structure while also teaching how to identify what is truly possible given one’s current circumstances.

Teens in recovery must learn how to set realistic goals for themselves as it will be a crucial skill needed for success in all areas of their life. In addition, once sober, teens will need to learn how to plan for work, school, and social activities appropriately.

If unrealistic goals are set, it can lead to feelings of disappointment and even relapse. But by learning how to set small, achievable goals, teens in recovery can begin to build a foundation for a successful future.

Creating a Daily Schedule

Teens in recovery from substance use disorder face many challenges. However, one of the most important things they can do to stay on track is to create a daily schedule. A daily schedule gives structure to the day and helps teens stay focused on their goals. Creating a plan can be daunting, but a few simple steps can make the process easier.

First, sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil. Then, write down all activities that need to be done each day, including school, work, therapy, and other obligations. Then start assigning times to each activity. Again, it’s essential to be realistic. If an activity typically takes two hours, don’t try to squeeze it into one hour.

Once all of the activities have been scheduled, place the schedule in a place where it will be seen every day. This may be on a refrigerator, in a planner, or on a bulletin board. Teens in recovery should also share their schedules with their support system, including parents, teachers, or therapists.

Lastly, it’s vital to have some flexibility in the schedule to adjust as needed. Recovery is a journey, and the teen’s needs may change over time. By having a flexible schedule, your teen will be able to adjust their daily routine as necessary. Additionally, daily schedules can help teens ensure they’re using their time effectively. It’s important to include time for therapy, exercise, and relaxation.

Staying Organized

As any teenager recovering from SUD knows, staying organized is key to maintaining sobriety. Unfortunately, it can be easy to let things fall through the cracks with school, extracurricular activities, and social life.

There are a few simple tips that can help teens stay on track. First, as stated above, it’s essential to make a daily schedule and stick to it as much as possible. This can help ensure that all obligations are met and that there is time for self-care.

It’s helpful to create a system for tracking appointments, meetings, and other important events. This can be done with a physical calendar or an online tool such as Google Calendar.

It can be helpful to declutter regularly. This includes physical clutter, such as clothes and papers, and digital clutter, such as old emails and unused apps.

Taking Breaks

Taking breaks throughout the day is crucial for avoiding burnout. Not only does it help to reduce the risk of relapse, but it also provides a chance to recharge and refocus.

However, knowing how to take a break can be a challenge, especially when the person is used to using substances to cope with stress. Here are some tips for how to take a break:

  • Find a relaxing activity. This could be something as simple as reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature.
  • Take short breaks throughout the day. When feeling overwhelmed, encourage your teen to take a few minutes to themself to regroup.
  • Set aside time daily for a more extended break. This could be an hour-long walk or watching a favorite movie.
  • Don’t feel guilty about taking breaks. Recovery is hard work, and your teen deserves some time to relax and rejuvenate.

By following these tips, teens can create a sound time management system to help them recover. Remember, everyone is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to time management. Instead, find what works best for your teen, and stick with it!

Teens in recovery from substance use disorder face many challenges, and time management is one of the most important skills they can learn. By creating a daily schedule, staying organized, setting realistic goals, and taking breaks throughout the day, teens can develop time management skills that will help them in their recovery. Time management skills are especially important for teens in recovery from SUD because they often have to juggle school, work, treatment, and other obligations. Creating a daily schedule can help them keep track of their time and make sure they are using their time wisely. Staying organized is also key. A cluttered environment can be overwhelming and lead to anxiety and stress. By taking the time to learn these skills, they can set themselves up for success. For more information on teens and time management, call Clearfork Academy at (888) 966-8604.

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How Can I Help My Suicidal or Self-Harming Teen?

How Can I Help My Suicidal or Self-Harming Teen?

Having a teen that struggles with their sense of self or worth to the world around them is overwhelming. Oftentimes, suicidal ideation and self-harm can be an unconscious cry for help. Although you may feel helpless as you try and show your teen how worthy they are of this life, there are many steps you can take as a parent to help your teen work through these distressing emotions.

Understanding Self-Destructive Behavior

In order to help your teen, you must have appropriate knowledge of self-destructive behavior and suicide. The main underlying cause of self-destructive behavior, such as physical self-harm, is depression. Acts of self-harm can be a cry for help. They may also be attempts to cope with emotional pain and societal pressures, which are intense during the teenage years. Similarly, substance use can be identified as self-destructive behavior. Many teens may use alcohol and other drugs as an attempt to “escape” or numb distressing emotions. Often, substance use and self-injury alike can be habit-forming, which is why it is critical to address these behaviors as early as possible.

Warning Signs of Self-Harm

The following signs could be an indication that your teen is self-harming:

  • Having unexplained cuts, bruises, or other signs of injury
  • Covering up with clothing that is inappropriate for the weather, such as a long-sleeved shirt in the middle of summer
  • Discovering sharp objects among your teen’s belongings
  • Worsening symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Having friends who are engaging in self-destructive behavior

It is important to understand that many individuals that engage in self-destructive behavior do not experience suicidal ideation. Still, many do, so these warning signs must be taken seriously so your teen can get the help they need.

Risk Factors of Suicide

If your teen has a diagnosis of depression, you may be familiar with the warning signs of suicide. Some general risk factors and associated warning signs include:

  • Prolonged sadness or hopelessness, including verbal statements such as:
    • “Nothing will ever get better.”
    • “What’s the point of living anymore.”
    • “Nothing matters.”
    • “Everyone would be better off without me.”
  • Discrimination or rejection because of sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Family history of mental health disorders
  • Easy access to weapons, particularly firearms
  • Suicide in the teen’s peer group

None of these warning signs should ever be dismissed as “teenage angst” or “drama.” Do not be afraid to ask your teen if they have a plan to take their lives; not everyone who is planning suicide keeps it secret. Even if that’s not the case, this issue is important enough to risk being wrong about.

How Can Parents Help Prevent Teen Suicide and Self-Harm?

No parent wants to believe that their child is hurting enough to harm themselves on purpose. But understanding the issues that enable self-harm is critical for healing them heal.

Keep Communication Open

Offering support over judgment is crucial. Feelings of shame can enable your teen’s self-harming behavior. A therapist can help guide you in how to talk to your teen, but you may also want to ask your teen directly how you can help. You may be surprised by how they choose to voice their needs.

Other suggestions to help and encourage your teen include:

  • Letting them know you are always there for them, especially when their emotions seem like too much to handle on their own
  • Helping them develop an action plan for something else to do when the temptation to self-harm occurs, such as talking to you or going for a walk
  • Encouraging regular check-ins where your teen discusses their everyday experiences and feelings, both good and bad
  • Being a good listener and allowing your teen to talk through solutions whenever they are troubled. Try to avoid giving direct advice unless they ask for it
  • Making time in the week to do something fun and relaxing, such as taking a walk, going on a drive, going out to lunch, or even running errands together
  • Acknowledging the hard parts of life while also focusing on the positives; Talking about troubles can be helpful, but dwelling on them is not; Make sure to emphasize the good things about your child’s life, but in such a way that does not diminish their feelings

Seek Professional Help

Self-harm and suicide ideation are issues that cannot be solved alone. In this situation, it’s urgent to seek professional help. If your child has a therapist, make sure they are aware of your concerns. If they don’t already see a therapist, you may want to seek out one who specializes in teen depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

It’s possible that your teen may be hesitant to see a therapist due to an unfortunate stigma that accompanies therapy. However, having an unbiased third party to listen to them and validate their feelings – someone who isn’t mom or dad – can be immensely helpful. Unless your teen discloses a plan to harm themselves or others, everything they say will be kept in confidence.

It can be devastating for parents to learn that their teen is having suicidal ideation or engaging in self-destructive behavior. Clearfork Academy is a male-only teen treatment facility that understands the struggles of self-harm and suicidal ideation. Unfortunately, many of the teens we see for drug abuse started by looking for ways to cope with their depression. This doesn’t have to happen to your child. The good news is that there are many treatment options for depressed teens, from therapies to antidepressants, to learning healthier coping mechanisms. We offer residential treatment programs, various forms of therapy, and outdoor activities to keep treatment lighthearted and exciting. We have helped many teens learn how to make healthier decisions and choose sobriety. To learn more about our treatment program options, call us today at (888) 966-8604 to speak with our knowledgeable and compassionate staff.

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How Teens Can Set Successful Recovery Goals

How Teens Can Set Successful Recovery Goals

The teenage years can be challenging. Teenagers are often dealing with the challenges of school, friends, and family, as well as the hormonal changes that come with puberty. Add to that the pressure to conform to peer groups and the ever-present temptation of drugs and alcohol, and it’s no wonder that so many teens struggle with substance use disorder.

Goals Are Vital in Recovery

The good news is that recovery is possible. One of the most important things for teens in recovery to do is set goals. Goals benefit recovery in several ways:

  • Goals give direction and purpose. Teens in recovery need to know what they’re working towards, and setting goals can help them stay focused on the future.
  • Goals inspire motivation. When teens see the progress that they’re making towards their goals, it can provide the incentive they need to stay on track.
  • Goals promote accountability. Checking in with a trusted adult or sponsor about goal progress can help teens stay accountable for their recovery.

Without a goal, it can be easy for the teen to become discouraged and give up on their sobriety. Goals also help keep the teen accountable and can provide a way to measure progress. For example, if the goal is to stay sober for one year, the teen can celebrate each milestone. But ultimately, the goal is to help the teen build a foundation for a successful and lasting recovery.

SMART Goals

Goals give teens something to work towards and provide motivation to stay on track. However, not all goals are created equal.

SMART goal setting — which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based — is an effective planning tool. A SMART goal’s specifications help ensure that the goal is clear, attainable, and relevant to the individual or team. In addition, the time frame associated with a SMART goal helps keep the goal on track.

Ultimately, the purpose of SMART goals is to improve the likelihood of achieving the desired outcome by providing a clear and concise roadmap. When used correctly, SMART goals can be an invaluable tool for teens.

Here are some tips for teens to set SMART goals in recovery:

  • Be specific about what you want to achieve. Vague goals are more challenging to accomplish than specific ones. For example, rather than setting a goal to “exercise more,” try setting a goal to “work out for 30 minutes three times per week.”
  • Make sure your goals are measurable. This will help you track your progress and see how close you are to achieving your goals. For example, rather than setting a goal to “eat healthier,” try setting a goal to “eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.”
  • Set achievable goals. It’s essential to set goals that you can actually achieve. If your goals are too complicated, you will likely get discouraged and give up. On the other hand, if your goals are too easy, you won’t see the need to put in the effort to achieve them.
  • Make sure your goals are relevant to your recovery. This means setting goals that support your sobriety and help you stay on track. For example, rather than setting a goal to “drink more water,” try setting a goal to “avoid drinking alcohol or using drugs.”
  • Set time-bound goals. This means developing a deadline for yourself to achieve your goal. This will help you stay focused and motivated. For example, instead of saying, “I will clean my room,” try setting the goal of “I will clean my room by 5 p.m. on Thursday.”

When You Don’t Meet Your Goals

What happens if you don’t reach your goals? It’s not failure, it’s a learning experience, and you can adjust the plans as needed. For teens in recovery, try again. You may not have reached your goal the first time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try again. Be flexible with your goals, and remember that they’re intended to be living, breathing things that can change as you change.

Allow yourself to be fluid to learn what works best for you in treatment and what doesn’t. There is no shame in trying and failing, only in not trying. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. People care about you and want to help you succeed. You can reach your goals with hard work and dedication. Please don’t give up on yourself because you’re worth it.

Therapy Can Help

Teens in recovery from SUD face many challenges. One of the most important things they can do to increase their chances of success is to set goals and develop a plan to achieve them. Professional help can be critical in this process.

Therapists can help teens in recovery identify their goals and develop a plan to achieve them. They can also provide support and guidance as teens work to meet their goals. In addition, professionals can help teens identify barriers that may prevent them from achieving their goals and develop strategies to overcome these obstacles.

If you’re a teen recovering from SUD, professional help can make a big difference in your ability to meet your goals. Therapy and counseling can provide the support and guidance you need to make lasting changes in your life.

One of the most important things for teens in recovery from substance use disorder to learn is to set goals. Goals give direction and purpose to the challenging and sometimes confusing process of recovery. They provide a sense of accomplishment and pride as the teen meets each milestone. Additionally, goals help the teen to see the progress that they’re making and to stay motivated on the road to recovery. Without goals, it’s easy for teens to become discouraged and give up on the hard work of recovery. SMART goals provide a framework for measurable and achievable results. Therapy can be helpful for those new to recovery as a professional can help your teen get clear on what they want to accomplish. For more information on how to help your teen set goals in recovery from SUD, call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604.

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Why Are Teens So Susceptible to Substance Abuse?

Why Are Teens So Susceptible to Substance Abuse?

While teens and adults can both develop an addiction to alcohol and other drugs, teens are uniquely susceptible as their brains are underdeveloped. The human brain is not considered fully developed until an individual reaches their mid-twenties. More specifically, the frontal lobe is a brain area that, when fully developed, is responsible for the ability to make positive decisions and appropriate judgment. As this brain area and many others are not appropriately matured, teens are more likely to give in to peer pressure or neglect to see the long-term consequences of engaging in risky behavior. 

Let’s explore other various causes of teens’ susceptibility to substance use and addiction.

Why Are Teens More Likely to Use Drugs Than Adults?

The brain plays an active role in developing addiction, independent of the type of drug being used. With time, drugs and alcohol can change the brain’s chemistry. Since teen brains are still forming, frequent and repeated substance use can reduce brain functioning and impact cognitive abilities. This increases the likelihood that teens will act on impulse or emotion rather than rational decision-making.

How Do Drugs Change Teenagers’ Brains?

Adults and teens alike can experience changes in brain chemistry from drug abuse. However, teenage brains are affected differently as the effects of substance use alter the brain much more quickly as their brains are still developing. During the teen years, the brain develops by fostering self-control, decision-making skills, and overall maturity. Drug use essentially stunts this growth. When that happens, teens are more likely to engage in risky, impulsive behaviors that provide immediate gratification. They lose the ability to predict the consequences of these actions, or how the decisions made in the present will affect a future that is years down the road. 

Drug use trains the brain to expect immediate gratification. Eventually, the brain develops a tolerance that will require heavier use to experience the same perceived reward. The compulsive nature of addiction is what enables teens to seek out substance use repeatedly once they are exposed to the effects of alcohol and other drugs.

Why Is It Harder for Teens to Resist Drug Use?

There are many reasons that teens may be initially drawn to drug use and find it difficult to resist over time. For some teens, there may be peer pressure to fit in with certain groups of friends. Others may be depressed and use substances to self-medicate their distress. Some may be born into families with addicted parents or other relatives, which increases their risk of substance use and addiction. Whatever the initial reasons, the undeveloped frontal lobe makes it easy to take unnecessary risks. The earlier an addiction begins, the harder it is to control it later in life.

Understanding the reasons behind teen drug use can help parents better protect their kids. When someone in the family is addicted to drugs, it affects everyone. Early intervention and treatment are critical to breaking the cycle of addiction and providing healing for everyone who is intimately connected to the teen’s family unit.

How Can Parents Prevent Teen Drug Abuse?

Many teens are told to “just say no” when asked to use drugs in their social circles. But studies have shown that this isn’t enough. In some cases, telling a teenager “no” can just increase the curiosity about a seemingly forbidden activity. It’s best to have an ongoing conversation with your teen about drugs. Be honest about the initial high and perceived feelings of reward that drugs create, but also be realistic about the damage that chasing those feelings inevitably causes. The goal is not to scare your teen into good behavior but to be real and honest about what drug abuse looks like. 

You may want to consider setting expectations with your teen for when they find themselves in potentially harmful situations. This may include permitting them to call you at any time to pick them up if they find themselves in an environment where people are using drugs or alcohol. The main goal of this situation would be to get out of harm’s way as quickly and efficiently as possible, without fear of punishment. At the right time, you may want to discuss what happened and let your teen know how proud you are of your teen for reaching out for help instead of making a dangerous choice. This will help your teen feel comfortable coming to you for help in the future.

How Can Parents Help Their Teen Overcome Drug Addiction?

Parents can help prevent teen drug abuse by implementing the communication strategies described above. Understanding the teenage brain is also helpful in understanding how addiction initially develops. Enforcing certain consequences — such as taking away their cell phone or not allowing them to hang out with certain friends — is a good start; however, it is not enough to stop an addiction. Fortunately, there are programs designed specifically for teens struggling with drug use that can help.

It can be scary to become aware that your child is using alcohol or other drugs or developing an addiction. Parents often think that good parenting will protect against substance use and addiction. However, plenty of research shows that teens that struggle with drug abuse are not “bad kids.” Often, they come from stable families with good values and healthy circumstances. While it is true that some teens in less-than-ideal environments may be more susceptible to drug use, the reality is that it can happen to anyone. If you suspect your teen has a drug problem, don’t wait to seek help. Clearfork Academy has a long track record of successfully helping teens fight addiction and live sober. With our residential treatment programs, detox programs, therapies, and other treatment options, we’ve created a healthy, safe environment for teens of all backgrounds to get clean. Call (888) 966-8604 to learn more.

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How to Engage Your Teen in Healthy Activities

How to Engage Your Teen in Healthy Activities

It can be challenging to get your teen to engage in healthy activities while recovering from substance use disorder (SUD). This is especially true if they have been using drugs or alcohol for a long time. The good news is that there are many things you can do to help encourage them to participate in healthy activities. 

Develop a Support System

Teens in recovery should surround themselves with positive influences and avoid any situations that might lead to relapse. This can help them lead happy and healthy lives with the proper support.

People recovering from substance abuse need a healthy support system for many reasons. Often, all of their friends are using drugs, and they will feel alone. Adolescents need people to talk to who understand what they’re going through. A support system can help them stay away from drugs and alcohol. Support systems help teens manage their emotions. These groups can assist with school work and finding a job.

Positive connections can be key to teens’ sobriety and recovery. When teens have positive associations with people, they’re less likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with stress or problems. Healthy relationships also provide support and guidance to keep teens on the right track. These connections can be with family members, friends, mentors, teachers, coaches, or other adults that teens trust and feel comfortable talking to. 

Positive connections can make a big difference in a teen’s life and help them avoid substance abuse.

What Do They Like?

The first step is finding out what interests your teen has outside of using substances. For example, there are many opportunities to participate in sports, arts, music, and other hobbies. If they’re interested in sports, many programs can help them stay active and involved. These programs can also help them healthily express themselves if they enjoy music or art.

If they have been sober for a while, they might be interested in joining a club or team. Many support groups can help teens in recovery stay connected to others who are going through similar experiences.

Goal Setting

It’s no secret that the teenage years can be tricky. Teenagers are often dealing with the challenges of school, friends, and family, as well as the hormonal changes that come with puberty. They also face the pressure to conform to peer groups and the ever-present temptation of drugs and alcohol. It’s no wonder that so many teens struggle with substance abuse disorder.

One of the most important things for teens in recovery to do is set goals. Why are goals so important? Goals give teens direction and purpose. Teens in recovery need to know what they’re working towards, and setting goals can help them stay focused on the future.

Secondly, goals inspire motivation. When teens see the progress they’re making towards their goals, it can provide the incentive they need to stay on track. Additionally, goals promote accountability. Checking in with a trusted adult or sponsor about goal progress can help teens stay accountable for their recovery.

Encourage Engagement

Encourage your teen to stay involved in treatment and therapy. Aftercare treatment can help teens in recovery learn how to cope with triggers, work through difficult emotions, and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Therapy can also provide a space for teens to process their experiences and work towards personal growth.

In addition to professional support, teens can join sober groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and SMART Recovery, which can help them stay present, connected, and active in their new sober life.

Communicate With Your Teen

Recovery from addiction is a long and challenging process, and it often requires the support of family and friends. One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to keep the lines of communication open with your teen. This can be a challenge, as teenagers often resist talking about their feelings. However, trying to encourage your teen to share their experiences with you is essential. 

Encouraging discourse will help them feel valued and supported and also allow you to understand better what they’re going through. In addition, communicating with your teen will allow you to provide them with guidance and advice. Ultimately, some of the success of your teen’s recovery depends on the strength of your relationship. It’s essential to make an effort to communicate with them openly and frequently.

Provide your teen with resources and information about substance abuse and recovery. Many books, websites, and other materials can help teens learn more about what they’re going through.

If you feel you are struggling to support your teen, you must reach out for professional help. There are many resources available to help families navigate the challenges of recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.

As any parent knows, teenagers can be notoriously hard to engage with. They are often moody, withdrawn, and resistant to authority figures. When it comes to recovery from substance use disorder, this can pose a serious challenge. If teens are not engaged in their own recovery, they’re less likely to succeed. One of the most important things you can do is simply be there for them. Show them that you support their decision to get clean and that you’ll be there to help them through the process. You can also try to find healthy activities that your teen enjoys and that will help them stay occupied during their free time. This could include things like sports, art, or volunteering. Supporting and encouraging them to find activities they enjoy gives them the best chance at success. For more information on engaging your teen, call Clearfork Academy at (888) 966-8604.

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Honoring Teens’ Stories With Narrative Therapy

Honoring Teens' Stories With Narrative Therapy

Teens battling substance use disorder often find themselves in a cycle of negative thoughts and behaviors. Narrative therapy can be an effective way to help teens break out of this cycle. 

In narrative therapy, teens are encouraged to tell their stories and identify the positive aspects of their lives. This helps teens see themselves in a more favorable light and develop new meaning for their lives. As teens learn to tell their stories more positively, they gain empowerment and are more likely to make positive choices for their future. 

The Basics of Narrative Therapy

The development of narrative therapy in the 1980s was an attempt by New Zealand-based therapists Michael White and David Epston to empower people. It seeks out counseling that’s non-blaming or blaming with no pathology involved.

The concept was to help people feel better while giving them control of their lives. This counseling style helps people become — and embrace being — experts in their own lives. The emphasis is on the stories you develop through your life’s experiences; each event leads to another and so forth until they come full circle back with new meaning for what has happened before.

Elements of the Therapy

There are several main elements that therapists use in narrative therapy, including: 

#1. Externalizing the Problem

This means that the therapist works with the person to help them see their problems as separate from themselves. This can be done through different activities and exercises, such as story-telling or journaling. This separation helps prevent individuals from identifying too closely with the issue and pathologizing themselves. Instead, they learn that they are not the problem. They are people with problems.

#2. Breaking It Down

Deconstruction is breaking down a personal story into smaller pieces to understand it better. This can be done by looking at individual events or experiences and examining them in detail. Through this process, people can often see their stories in a new light and better understand themselves. T