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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Ideas for Your Sober Spring Break

Heavy drinking and drug use are the stereotypical ways to spend spring break for far too many young adults. When you are in recovery, however, you’ll need to find alternative options to enjoy a break from a stressful semester and discover fun things to do that don’t jeopardize your mental and physical health. Here are some of our top suggestions.

1. Volunteer

Volunteering is an ideal activity for people in recovery because it allows people to feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves. You can also explore your interests in a brand-new way. For example, if your passion is literacy, volunteering with a program that helps teach adults to read can allow you to change lives for the better. Or, perhaps being around animals is a great stress-reliever for you. In that case, see if your local homeless pet shelter needs a spare pair of hands.

2. Take a Class

Though spring break gives you time off school, that doesn’t mean you should stop learning new things. Pursue a passion such as painting, cooking or modern dance. Learn an instrument or a craft. Giving yourself a creative outlet and practicing your self-expression is excellent for your mental well-being and your sense of personal freedom.

3. Practice Mindfulness

Any activity that creates mindfulness can be an integral part of your addiction recovery. If you’ve already established a meditation habit, what can you do to bring more mindfulness into your daily activities? Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to accomplish this goal, from meditating while you are waiting somewhere to paying attention to how you feel in the moment as you’re doing routine chores around the house. If you have downtime during spring break, use it to your advantage to hone your mindfulness skills.

4. Get Away From It All

Just because you’re sober doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself the fun of a good old-fashioned spring break getaway. You’ll just have to get a little bit more creative about how you do it. Instead of the typical overindulgent beach trip, go hiking in the mountains with a group of sober friends. Or, find a yoga retreat. Any vacation that supports your recovery can help you return home feeling refreshed and inspired.

Preserving Your Sobriety on Spring Break

Spring break is an opportunity to try new things and enjoy the warmer weather and longer days. However, it doesn’t mean taking time off from your recovery routine. You’ll need to continue to follow your aftercare plan, even if you go out of town. That includes attending group meetings, writing in your recovery journal and making time to exercise.

If you are looking for a new, sober solution, explore the options we provide at Hope Academy. Our California young adult treatment center not only helps people ages 18 to 26 achieve lifelong sobriety, but we also teach our clients valuable life skills that will help support their recovery process. Reach out to learn more today.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Is It Time to Take a Mental Health Day?

We’re all familiar with the idea of staying home from school or work when we’re under the weather with a cold or a stomach virus. You probably don’t feel well enough to do your best, and if you’re contagious, it’s irresponsible to expose yourself to other people who may catch whatever you have. However, the idea of taking a day specifically to tend to your mental well-being is somewhat less commonplace in the United States – the most overworked country in the world.

Here’s how to tell when it’s time to take a break for your mental health, and why you shouldn’t feel guilty or hesitant to admit when you need to set aside a day or two to manage stress or practice your self-care routine.

How to Tell If You Need a Mental Health Day

Sometimes, life feels overwhelming. Even glancing at the day’s headline news can be exhausting. If this burden becomes too heavy and you are starting to experience the symptoms of burnout, it could be because you haven’t given yourself enough time to do the healthy hobbies that serve as an outlet to keep stress at a minimum.

Chronic stress comes with a whole host of issues, from high blood pressure to headaches. You may be unmotivated and find yourself detaching from responsibilities that used to be engaging for you. If that’s the case, you should schedule a day for self-care activities such as getting a massage or spending time with friends.

Reasons to Take a Mental Health Day

If you want to be healthy, you shouldn’t neglect your mental well-being. Just as you need to build rest days into your physical exercise routine, your mind and spirit need occasional downtime to recover. Listen to what your inner voice is telling you. If you wake up feeling exhausted, use your best judgment and decide when it’s time to take a day off school or work.

It’s OK if you don’t want to go into a high level of detail with co-workers, teachers or classmates about why you took a mental health day. It’s not a stretch of the truth to say you weren’t feeling your best and thought you’d be better off staying home.

Ideas for How to Spend Your Mental Health Day

What should you do with your day off? Anything that helps you feel better and manage stress qualifies as a good mental health day activity, even if it’s something as straightforward as taking a nap. The goal is not to spend the day running errands, doing chores or organizing your email inbox. Instead, focus on activities you find relaxing, whether that’s doing yoga, fitting in an extra session with your therapist or taking a long, hot bath. Allow your brain to unplug and the burdens to lift from your shoulders.

Renewed Focus on Your Health

At first, the idea of taking a day strictly to focus on your mental well-being might seem selfish or overly indulgent. However, by allowing yourself time to unwind and de-stress, you’ll return from your day off with renewed enthusiasm to be a better employee, student, friend or family member. Developing a habit of taking time off when you need it will help create more balance in your daily life.

If you need to seek treatment for health issues such as substance abuse or co-occurring disorders, Hope Academy is here for you. Contact us to learn about our specialized program offerings for young adults.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

How to Hold an Intervention for a Young Adult

As a parent of a teenager with substance misuse problems, you might feel desperate or hopeless. The bright, vibrant daughter or son you raised has become unresponsive, withdrawn and secretive. Their grades may be slipping as they continue down the path to a worsening addiction. You know you should do something to help, but you aren’t sure how to start the conversation that could save your child’s life.

A structured intervention can often be transformative – both for the person with the addiction and the team who has agreed to participate in the meeting. But for many people, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are some tips for intervening in the life of a teenager who needs help.

1. Identify a Treatment Center

Ideally, you should have a rehab facility already picked out and ready to admit your teen if your intervention succeeds in its goal of persuading them to enter treatment. Researching various options to determine the best fit for your son or daughter can take time, and it’s not a decision you want to rush into. With that in mind, make sure you have done your due diligence and found a qualified rehab specializing in the unique needs of young adults.

2. Plan the Details

TV depictions of interventions are almost always of dramatic, spur-of-the-moment events where one person has reached the end of their rope and begs the addict to seek help. In real life, the most successful interventions are carefully orchestrated meetings. You’ll need to decide on the details in advance, including who will attend, what time of day to get together and even where everyone will sit.

3. Write Your Remarks

An integral part of your intervention planning process includes writing what you will say and rehearsing it extensively. While you may feel as if your teen will respond better to off-the-cuff comments, an intervention is no time to speak extemporaneously. Tensions can run high during this meeting, and if you don’t practice what you’re going to say, chances are good you’ll let your emotions run away from you.

Phrasing is critical here. You and all the other members of the intervention team must avoid negativity or comments that blame or shame your teen loved one. Instead, frame your comments as “I” statements, such as, “I know addiction is a disease, and I want to help you get better.” You can also provide concrete examples of how their substance misuse has affected you, such as, “It scared me to see you passed out from drinking too much. I worry about how you are jeopardizing your future.”

4. Consider Hiring Help

For your meeting to have the best chances of success, you may wish to hire a professional interventionist who can help you plan and execute it. An intervention can keep the conversation on a productive track if things seem to be getting out of control or devolving into an argument.

5. Keep Lines of Communication Open

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the first attempt at an intervention will not succeed. Some teens may need time to process the information they received and the emotions you have revealed. They might have to get comfortable with the idea of going to rehab and learning to manage their addiction for the rest of their life. If your teen doesn’t immediately agree to enter the treatment facility you’ve picked out, don’t give up. Remind them daily that you love them, and that you only have their best interests at heart.

Contact Hope Academy to Start the Healing Process

Hope Academy is a place where young adults can find the treatment they need to get sober and begin the work of addiction recovery. If your son or daughter needs help for substance misuse, please reach out to us to learn more about our admissions and insurance acceptance.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Addressing the Unique Treatment Needs of Younger People

Every adult can look back on their teens and early 20s with a mix of nostalgia and relief that they don’t have to go through that turbulent time again. However, today’s landscape is significantly more complex than what you might have faced during that time of your life. For one thing, readily available technology and 24/7 access to social media have put unique stresses on people, even those who grew up as digital natives.

If you feel like a gulf has developed between you and your child as they’ve reached these difficult years, how can you tell the difference between typical teen angst and signs of possibly risky behavior?

Challenges Facing Today’s Young Adults

None of us could have accurately predicted what the introduction of social media outlets would mean for society at large. Many people happily jumped on board with Facebook, for instance, willingly trading their privacy in exchange for being able to stay in touch with far-flung family and friends and participate in various online interest groups.

However, we now know Facebook did not have people’s best interests at heart. The company's executives were more than willing to provide detailed user information to political campaigns seeking to influence votes in the 2016 presidential election. What other “helpful” apps might be secretly harboring harmful intentions?

Ironically, though social media platforms were supposed to bring us all together, they have also served as a tool for cybercriminals and purveyors of discord and discrimination. For example, creators of “alternative news” have flocked to YouTube because it’s free to use and presents low barriers for entry. As a result, many teenagers – largely young men – have become dangerously radicalized into violent far-right ideologies that pull them away from the mainstream.

When to Seek Therapy or Help for Your Child

Sometimes, it can be challenging to tell when a teenager or college-aged child is struggling with substance abuse or other co-occurring mental health disorders. Is a son or daughter who seems withdrawn or sullen dealing with troubles like depression or cyberbullying, or is their isolation a simple form of teen rebellion? Here are some signs your child might benefit from counseling or professional help for their problems.
  • Ignoring responsibilities at home or at school
  • A lapse in personal hygiene
  • Skipping classes or other, even riskier, behavior
  • Sleeping too much or not nearly enough
  • Erratic mood swings, hostility or anger
  • Unwillingness to discuss any difficulties with you

How to Find the Right Program

If you and a medical professional determine your teenager or college-aged student needs help to overcome a mental health problem or dual diagnosis, it’s essential to find a treatment program that will meet the unique needs of their situation. Even the best-designed course of therapy will be less effective if your child is not willing to play an active role in their recovery.

Early intervention is also essential because it can help avoid the lifelong consequences of untreated substance use and mental health problems, which can disrupt your child’s promising future and set them on a rocky road to the financial, legal, emotional, psychological and physical issues associated with these issues.

At Hope Academy, we understand the challenges the younger generation faces, both in society at large and their lives in general. We are here to provide structure and support with customized programming that helps teach life, academic and job skills to clients ages 18 to 26. If you’re ready to learn more, contact us today.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Benefits of Keeping a Recovery Journal

When you were younger, you may have had a diary in which you recorded your innermost thoughts. Perhaps the pages of your diary were the first place where you confided the name of your secret crush, or wrote down your frustrations with a classmate. As you got older, though, your daily habit of writing diary entries might have gradually faded away as you found alternative ways to express your emotions.

However, journaling is incredibly beneficial for your mental health, especially once you begin pursuing addiction recovery. If you aren’t already keeping a recovery journal, here are some reasons to consider starting one.

1. Journaling Provides You With Perspective

Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we lose sight of what’s truly important in life. By writing down your thoughts and feelings, either on paper or in digital form, you can gain a greater sense of perspective. For example, perhaps you go through a day or two where you are struggling with strong cravings and urges to return to drug or alcohol use. If you use your journal to write down how you feel and rate it on a one-to-10 scale, it can help you take stock and assess your emotional state.

2. Your Journal Can Show You How Much Progress You’ve Made

Inevitably, there will come a time when you feel stuck in a rut with your recovery. Perhaps you feel your motivation flagging as you come to terms with the fact that there are no shortcuts in sobriety. During these challenging periods, reviewing past journal entries can provide the spark you need to discover a renewed sense of enthusiasm. Having that window into your past thoughts can be beneficial because it can help you prove to yourself that you have come further than you might have thought.

3. Journaling Boosts the Results of Therapy

In therapy, you will learn how to work through the complicated emotions that may have formed the foundation of your addictive behavior. Journaling can serve as a complementary practice to what you learn and discuss in your sessions with your therapist. By writing down what’s bothering you – stress of family responsibilities, or tensions with a co-worker – you can help yourself come to terms with any inner turmoil and decide on constructive, healthy ways to cope with it.

4. Your Journal Becomes Your Safe Space

When you write freely, without worrying that anyone is watching or judging you, it can be enormously liberating. Even when you talk with a close confidant, you might still hold back part of what you’re feeling because you’re worried about how they could react. In a journal, your private thoughts will always remain that way unless you choose to share them with someone else. In your journal, you can let all your thoughts flow without insecurities or anxiety.

5. Journaling Promotes Mindfulness

No matter what type of journaling you choose, you’ll see that writing daily entries also helps you filter out mental chaos and bring your attention to the present moment. Writing in a journal is a solid first step to becoming more mindful, and you’ll see that the more you practice it, the less time you will spend dwelling in the past or fretting about the future.

Reach for New Heights

Don’t allow addiction to interrupt your life or come between you and your goals anymore. At Hope Academy, our mission is to help young adults learn the life skills they need to recover from a drug or alcohol misuse disorder and lead productive lives in sobriety. Learn more about how we can change your life today.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Most Commonly Misused Drugs for College Students

College creates a mix of freedom and stress that is unique to the campus environment. Being on their own for the first time can feel liberating for your child, but the pressures of studying and meeting new people might feel overwhelming. Students carrying a full course load could be tempted to drink or use drugs, especially on campuses that have a party culture. What are the most typical drugs for college students to use, and what should you, as a parent, know about them?

1. Alcohol

Alcohol is readily available on many college campuses, even for people who are under 21. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed some eye-opening statistics about drinking on college campuses.
  • 54.9% of full-time college students between ages 18 and 22 drank alcohol within the past month
  • 36.9% had experiences with binge drinking
  • 9.6% described themselves as heavy alcohol users, defined as people who binge drank five times or more within a month
The risks of underage drinking are numerous, especially in young people whose brains are still not fully developed. Remind your child that you’re there as a resource for them if they get invited to a party where alcohol and other drugs will be available and they want to avoid peer pressure.

2. Marijuana

Another illicit drug that is, unfortunately, easy to come by on many college campuses is marijuana. Students may be curious about smoking or vaping pot because its depiction in countless movies and TV shows makes it look fun. They may have also heard marijuana can help them relax, which can seem appealing to people who are stressing out about exams, group projects and looming due dates.

In addition to remaining illegal in about half of U.S. states, marijuana use can cause memory loss, as well as impaired motor skills and decision-making ability. It can also lead to a sharp decline in academic performance.

3. Stimulants

Prescription stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin can help people with ADHD concentrate, but that temporary clarity appeals to many college students who believe these drugs can give them a competitive edge. Thanks to the frequency with which doctors prescribe stimulants, these medications are prevalent among college students, and your son or daughter may be able to obtain these so-called “study drugs” from a friend who has a legitimate prescription.

Although not everyone who uses Adderall is in danger of developing an addiction, you should know that prescription stimulants can be highly addictive, because they affect the reward center of the brain the same way methamphetamines do. People who take these drugs at higher doses outside a doctor’s supervision will gradually build a tolerance until they no longer feel as if they can function normally without the medication.

What You Can Do to Combat College Drug Use

As a parent, you can help convince your college-aged child not to experiment with drugs and alcohol while they’re away at school. Talk to your daughter or son about the consequences of drug use, including failing their classes, the possible legal ramifications and the hazards to their health.

You can also educate yourself about the college’s drug and alcohol policy and how they enforce it. Meanwhile, before sending your child away to school, make sure they know how to recognize and respond to an overdose.

If you believe your child has developed a problem with alcohol, marijuana, stimulants or any other drug, reach out to us at Hope Academy. We can get your college-aged son or daughter the help they need to recover and discover the bright future that awaits them without drugs and alcohol.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

5 Ideas for Setting Unbreakable New Year’s Resolutions

There are only a few days left in 2019, and the dawn of a brand-new year will soon be upon us. Like most people, you may be adopting a “new year, new you” mindset. However, humans are fallible, and some estimates suggest 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail, as people find their enthusiasm waning by February. This coming year, strive to be one of the rare few who successfully keeps your resolutions with these tips.

1. Write a Plan

One of the most significant pitfalls facing people around this time of year is failure to plan. Waiting until the last minute is a recipe for disaster if you’re hoping to make a major behavioral overhaul. Begin by writing down what you hope to achieve, along with a list of things you might do to achieve it and any roadblocks you might encounter along the way. By outlining exactly what you want to get done and the obstacles that could stand in your path, you’ll be well on your way to stick to your resolution and stay motivated for the long haul.

2. Only Make One Resolution

You may have a laundry list of things you want to improve about yourself. However, another mistake people tend to make when setting their resolutions is that they try to take on too much at a time. Expecting to be able to change multiple aspects of your lifestyle in one fell swoop is unrealistic because forming new habits takes longer than you might think. Focusing your energy on only one major objective makes it more likely that you will succeed in accomplishing what you set out to do.

3. Don’t Be Too Vague

When setting goals, too many of us resolve to do ambiguous things like “getting in shape” or “saving more money” without outlining what that looks like and what steps you can take to get there. For example, instead of telling yourself you want to get in shape, resolve instead to train for a 5K, 10K or half-marathon a few months from now. If your goal is to pad your savings account, specify the exact dollar amount you will put aside each month.

4. Get Support

Another way to stay accountable to your goals is to share them with trusted friends and family members, and ask for their help when you feel your motivation flagging. They can help you stay on track and remind you of why it’s worth it to continue to work toward your aims.

5. Don’t Repeat Yourself

You may have heard the adage, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Our final tip for keeping yourself out of a resolution rut is to stop making the same goal year after year, hoping one of these years will finally be the time it sticks. However, if you’ve already tried and failed, it’s likely your confidence level will be lower. Shake things up and go a different direction instead.

Make 2020 Your Year to Succeed

Are you ready for the year ahead to be your best yet? If one of your goals has been to free yourself from the chains of substance abuse and equip yourself with the tools to manage your addiction and live a healthy, sober life, contact us at Hope Academy to learn more about our California addiction treatment center for young adults.
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