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Monday, February 12, 2018

Mental Health Overlooked in College Transition

News headlines and social media feeds seem to be brimming with studies about how today’s teens are more stressed out and anxious than year’s past – and, yet, mental health is often left off of the college prep checklist, according to a new survey from WebMD, Medscape and JED.

According to the survey, “Preparing for College: The Mental Health Gap,” in the past five years, the majority of healthcare professionals noted a rise in mental health issues among teens: 
  • 86% said they have had more anxiety and stress.
  • 81% saw more anxiety disorders.
  • 70% reported seeing more mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.
And parents echoed these findings, with 45 percent of those surveyed claiming that their teen had been diagnosed or treated for a mental health issue, learning disorder or substance abuse.

Yet here’s the surprising part: Only 28% of parents of teens with anxiety, stress or a mood disorder considered mental health services while choosing a school.

"If your child is already in therapy, don't assume it's going to go away once they start school,” Cora Collette Breuner, MD, a professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Seattle Children's Hospital and the University of Washington, told WebMD. “Assume the opposite."

College presents what experts call a sort of “perfect storm” for mental health issues. For one, nearly 75 percent of all mental health conditions begin by age 24, and there’s also a significant amount of stress during this time. In other words, the college years are a critical time to understand and talk about mental health with your kid. Even if it doesn’t touch your child, he or she might deal with a roommate who is in emotional distress.

The survey stressed the need for all parents – not just those of kids with issues – to discuss mental health concerns. "It's going to touch your family's life, and certainly your child's life in one way or another," Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, PhD, director of the College Mental Health Program at McLean Hospital, told WebMD. "It does so much to decrease stigma and fear and anxiety just to talk about these issues."

Do You Need Dual-Diagnosis Treatment?
Co-occurring mental health conditions like depression may exist prior to substance abuse, or develop as a side effect of drug and alcohol dependency. At Hope Academy, we conduct a series of tests upon admission to determine if mental illness is complicating substance abuse. Once we gain a comprehensive understanding of each patient’s individual health challenges, our addiction treatment team develops a customized program. To learn more, call 866-930-4673.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Volunteering Helps Self-Esteem in Adolescents

If you want to feel better about yourself, you should start by helping someone else, according to a recent study. Researchers found that adolescents who perform acts of kindness (big and small) get a boost to their self-worth. And if you’re helping a stranger, the benefits can last up to a year later. The study, published in December in the Journal of Adolescence, surveyed nearly 700 adolescents.

"Surprisingly, teens who helped friends and family members did not report the same emotional change," said Dr. Laura Padilla-Walker, a psychology professor at Brigham Young University and one of the study's researcher, in a statement. "Helping a stranger is more challenging than assisting a friend, and when teens take this risk, they feel more competent.”

Volunteering and Your Recovery
We’ve talked about how volunteering can help your recovery in the past. To recap, volunteering is a great way to mitigate any negative feelings you may have about yourself and to gain the confidence you’ll need to deal with the ups and downs of sobriety. Here are a few more ways acts of altruism can help you stay sober: 
  • You’ll occupy your time. Especially in early recovery, healthy distractions can prevent you from daydreaming about using again.
  • You’ll build relationships: Volunteering is a great way to expand your social network with like-minded people with similar interests and goals.
  • You’ll improve your resume: Volunteering teaches you some essential job skills, including project management and sales. Plus, it’s great for networking.
Job Prep at Hope Academy
At Hope Academy, we provide practical, real-world guidance for clients who have completed college or are already pursuing a professional or vocational career. To learn more, call today: 866-930-4673.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Study: Parents Who Give Their Teens Alcohol Should Think Twice

Letting your teen experiment with alcohol in the confines of your home, under adult supervision, before you send them off to college may seem like a smart idea – but it will likely backfire. A new study found that this type of early exposure to alcohol may actually cause teens to drink more and suffer more alcohol-related harms, according to the study of 1,900 Australian adolescents published in Lancet Public Health.

“Those (parents') aims are admirable, but they’re wrong,” Richard Mattick, who led the research, told USA Today. "When you look across a large number of people what you find is there’s no benefit.”

The study compared kids whose parents gave them occasional sips of alcohol versus those who were allowed a full glasses of beer or wine – and found little difference. 

“The bottom line is providing alcohol for young people basically backfires,” George F. Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a federal agency, told USA Today. 

Experts say this is because you’re sending the wrong message – the message that underage drinking is okay. Three out four teens point to their parents as leading influences on their decisions about drinking, so why not send a better message? 

Parents should tell their teens that underage drinking is illegal, bad for their developing brain, and can lead to terrible consequences, including accidents, getting kicked off sports teams and missing out on the college of their choice, National President Colleen Sheehey-Church, who lost her son to a drunk driver, told USA Today

And don’t forget to pay attention to your own behaviors regarding alcohol consumption, including how much you drink and whether you assign a designated driver. “If you’re misbehaving with alcohol, they’re going to misbehave,” Koob added.

More research is still needed, however. For instance, the new study doesn’t shed light on whether kids who drink would have been drinking or breaking other rules, regardless of whether their parents gave them alcohol, noted Stuart Kinner, senior principal research fellow of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. Nor have their been any comparisons on teens whose parents were encouraged to delay providing alcohol versus those who weren’t. 

Still, Kinner, who has children ages 4 and 7, isn't planning on testing any contradictory theories on his own kids. If this new research isn’t contradicted before they reach adolescence, “I would not be giving them any alcohol,” he told USA Today.

Young Adult Alcohol Abuse Treatment 
According to the NIAAA, the young adult subgroup makes up 31.5 percent of alcoholics. At Hope Academy, we provide a safe environment in which teens and young adults feel comfortable sharing their concerns and setting sobriety goals. To learn more, call 866-930-4673.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Juuling Dangerous as Smoking Pack of Cigarettes a Day

You may have heard of “Juuling” – and no, it’s not a new dance, but a dangerous form of vaping popular among teens and young adults. JUUL vapes are what some call the “Apple or iPhone” of vaping,” with a sleek, portable design that looks like a thumb drive. Like other forms of vaping, JUUL pods are offered in array of colors and enticing flavors – créme bruleé and mango, for example. And although you need to be 21 years old or older to purchase the device online, some states don’t have age restrictions for vape purchases. 

Beyond the already established dangers of e-cigarettes – a national panel of public health experts just released a report that teenagers who use the devices may be at higher risk of smoking – so-called JUULs could be as dangerous as smoking a pack of cigarettes. Each pod is equal to 200 cigarette puffs, according to the JUUL website. 

What’s perhaps more alarming, however, is that 25 percent of JUUL users, ages 15 to 24, don’t identify Juuling as vaping – and are equally “clueless to what they’re inhaling,” according to Reader’s Digest. In fact, according to a recent Truth Initiative web panel of more than 1,000 young adults, 37 percent were uncertain that they were inhaling nicotine.

“It is extremely worrisome that teens and young adults do not know that when they JUUL, they are inhaling an addictive substance,” says Robin Koval, CEO and President of the Truth Initiative, told Reader’s Digest. But it’s not surprising — many young people do not purchase their own vape products, and there will not be labeling requirements indicating that products contain nicotine until August 2018.”

JUUL is still too new a product to know its specific risks, however, according to the Truth Initiative, nicotine is highly addictive and can alter nerve cell functioning in teen development. 

Addiction Treatment for Young Adults
At Hope Academy, our young adult program is designed to help you change destructive behaviors and make lasting changes that will have a positive impact on your life and long-term health. To learn more, call today: 866-930-4673.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Are You Self-Medicating?

Stressful day at school? Light up a joint. Big blowout fight with your girlfriend or boyfriend? Crack open a beer. If every time you feel angry, stressed, depressed or just bored you turn to drugs or alcohol, you are coping with your emotions in an unhealthy way. This type of self-medicating can be a slippery slope into substance abuse, and in time, addiction. 

Are you self-medicating? Watch for these signs in yourself or someone you love: 

You experience cravings when faced with uncomfortable emotions. If “drowning your troubles” becomes a regular habit, you are likely self-medicating. Take note of how you feel the next time you face a stressful situations. Do you crave a drink or drug? Are you irritable or restless if you are unable to drink, smoke, snort, or shoot away your negative emotions?

Your emotional health is worsening. Many people mistakenly turn to alcohol or drugs to temporarily dull mental health issues like anxiety or depression. But this type of self-medicating can worsen symptoms and you may find that the moods and emotions you were trying to suppress become stronger, more frequent, or longer in duration since you began drinking or getting high.

You begin to suffer in other areas of life. Dealing with a substance use disorder will cause much more difficult problems to manage than a tough test or argument. Here are just a few of the health, social, financial and other problems that you may experience:  
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Trouble with school or work 
  • Sleep problems
  • Dietary changes
  • Lower immune system
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Physical and mental health issues
  • Financial struggles
  • Legal issues
  • Decreased interest in hobbies
Getting Help for Substance Abuse
For information about Hope Academy's young adult substance abuse treatment program, or to begin the admissions process for a loved one, call today: 866-930-4673.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Perfectionism Growing Among College Students

College students have a significantly higher drive for perfection than earlier generations – and it may be taking a big toll on their mental health, according to a new study published in the journal Psychological Bulletin.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 40,000 college students and measured perfectionism, or “an irrational desire to achieve along with being overly critical of oneself and others." 

Specifically, they measured three types of perfectionism: 
  • Self-oriented, or an irrational desire to be perfect
  • Socially prescribed, or perceiving excessive expectations from others
  • Other-oriented, or placing unrealistic standards on others
Between 1989 and 2016, the self-oriented perfectionism score increased by 10 percent; socially prescribed increased by 33 percent and other-oriented increased by 16 percent. 

Study authors cite numerous factors for this rise in perfectionism among millennials, including: 
  • Social media pressures 
  • A drive to earn money
  • Pressure to get a good education and meet lofty career goals
  • A drive to perfect grade point averages
"Today's young people are competing with each other in order to meet societal pressures to succeed and they feel that perfectionism is necessary in order to feel safe, socially connected and of worth," said lead author Thomas Curran, PhD, of the University of Bath, in a statement. 

The result: higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts than a decade ago.

Perfectionism and Addiction Recovery
Indeed, perfectionism can put your mental health and recovery at risk. Here’s how: 
  • You expect more of yourself, thinking that you don’t need help like others battling substance abuse. 
  • You expect to get sober the first time, making it harder to be patient with the process or bounce back from slip-ups.
  • You expect perfectionism, so you tend to dwell on small mistakes and even mistrust small successes.
  • You place unrealistic expectation on yourself and others, leading to isolation and loneliness.
  • You believe that your addiction and past mistakes make your unlovable or unworthy. 
Sobriety College at Hope Academy
If you are or someone you love is a college student struggling with a mental illness and a substance use disorder, Hope Academy may be the ideal rehab program for you. Our peer-based program provides the safety and support you need to succeed in school and at sobriety. To learn more about our sobriety college, call today: 866-930-4673.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Planning for a Safe End of the Year

Attending a New Year’s party is a surefire way to challenge your sobriety. Especially if you’re new to recovery, your best bet is to skip the festivities and find a sober alternative. If you do decide to attend, however, you’ll need to prepare ahead, practice self-care and line up support. 

Here are a few tips to have a safe and sober end of the year:
  • Bring a sober buddy. It’s much easier to stay sober and avoid temptation with a loved one or friend by your side. You’ll feel less alone and you’ll also have someone to hold you accountable throughout the evening.
  • Remind yourself that you’re not missing out. Getting drunk may look fun but you know all too well that it’s not worth the consequences. Write down a few reasons why you chose to become sober or find a photograph of your addicted self and bring it with you to combat feelings of missing out. 
  • Plan ahead. If you attend a party where there will be alcohol, be prepared. This means rehearsing a script of why you’re not drinking and/or having an escape plan if you become overwhelmed. It’s also smart to recruit a trusted friend to bail you out if you begin to struggle.  
  • Practice self-care. The goal is to approach the evening with a healthy, stress-free mindset. This will enable you to make smart decisions. Make sure to prioritize sleeping, eating and exercising in the upcoming days and do your best to avoid HALT, the widely used recovery acronym for hunger, anger, loneliness and tiredness. 
  • Attend a support group. Many support groups hold New Year’s Eve meetings – so consider leaving any party early and ringing in the New Year with others in the recovery community. It's a great way to combat the stress, loneliness and temptations of the night.
Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse
According to the NIAAA, the young adult subgroup makes up 31.5 percent of alcoholics. At Hope Academy, we provide a safe environment in which teens and young adults feel comfortable sharing their concerns and setting sobriety goals. To learn more, call 866-930-4673.

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