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Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Value of Accountability in Recovery

Addiction is an insidious illness for many reasons – not least of which is that it can change brain chemistry. For younger people whose brains are still developing, these effects can be especially dramatic, and can impact their personality and decision-making abilities. Addicted young adults may say or do hurtful things when they are drunk or high that they will not apologize for when they are sober, claiming they don’t remember or that it was no big deal.

Once young adults enter addiction recovery, they may find they can only begin to make significant progress once they are willing to face up to the pain and suffering they caused friends, family and other loved ones while they were drinking or using drugs.

Accepting Accountability in Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Often, people in active addiction make every effort to shift the blame for their destructive behavior away from themselves. This deflection is part of the shame and denial that characterize substance misuse disorders. A fundamental part of the recovery process, therefore, involves learning how to accept accountability for your actions and admit when you have hurt others or acted irresponsibly.

The ability to take responsibility for yourself is also one of the essential rungs on the ladder to adulthood. Substance misuse may have led you astray from this upward trajectory, and you will need to work to regain these skills through your young adult addiction treatment program. Without accountability, you will find it more challenging to maintain jobs and relationships, which are two of the most vital elements to maintain your sense of self-worth.

Ways to Exercise Your Accountability

There are several essential ways you can learn to take ownership of your actions.
  • Admit the mistakes you made in your addiction and the ways in which you hurt the people who care about you
  • Attend therapy or support group meetings on schedule
  • Sincerely apologize when you say or do something harmful
  • Recognize when you are going through a difficult time, and ask for help when you need it
  • Realize when something you learned in treatment isn’t working for you and it’s time to try a different approach
  • Use healthy coping mechanisms and life skills acquired in treatment
  • Follow through on promises you made to others
  • Acknowledge your potential to change your life for the better

Positive Progress Starts Here

Undergoing addiction treatment as a young adult is equal parts challenge and opportunity. Though you have struggled with substance misuse, behavioral disorders and mental health issues early in your life, the rest of your addiction-free adulthood awaits you.

One of the most promising aspects of recovery is that it gives you the power to reinvent yourself. Once you have forgiven yourself for the things you said and did in the past, you can move toward becoming accountable for the future. At Hope Academy, we want to provide you with the complete toolset to accomplish all these goals and more. Contact our California addiction facility to speak to one of our admissions advisors today.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

How Addictive Is Marijuana?

Though 33 states and the District of Columbia have now legalized marijuana for medical use, recreational use or both, that doesn’t mean the drug has no risks. While long-term marijuana use might not be as dangerous as drugs like heroin or methamphetamines, developing a marijuana addiction is not only possible, but can have lifelong harmful effects on a user’s brain and body.

Marijuana is one of the most widely used drugs today, due to its ready availability and the various options for using it. People often begin using cannabis without realizing how quickly they can develop a dependence. However, a marijuana misuse disorder is easier to manage than you might think.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

People abuse marijuana because it contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also called THC, a psychoactive component that interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system to create a euphoric high. When a person smokes pot, THC passes from the lungs to the bloodstream to the brain.

Compared to other drugs, marijuana is slow to absorb, and sometimes takes as long as one hour before users feel the characteristic high. Marijuana activates specific receptors in the brain, leading to effects such as mood changes, impaired memory and decision-making and an altered sense of time and reality.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, up to 30 percent of people who use marijuana develop a dependence on it. Meanwhile, those who begin using the drug before age 18 are four to seven times  more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder.

From Tolerance to Dependence to Addiction

Regardless of the method people prefer to use marijuana, they may develop a tolerance to it over time, which means they will require higher and higher doses to experience the same effects. If they continue to smoke, vape or ingest pot, they can develop a marijuana dependence, which means their brain has become accustomed to regular doses of THC and has reduced its natural production of endocannabinoid neurotransmitters.

People who try to quit using pot after developing a dependence will experience withdrawal symptoms and crave the drug to feel “normal.” In cases like these, they will continue to use cannabis as an escape from reality, despite its negative effects on their life.

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

Attempts to quit using marijuana may fail when users encounter uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that include:
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of focus
  • Sweating and chills
  • Depression and anxiety
These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and often vary from user to user. The longer you have been using marijuana, the more you can expect to struggle when you try to quit.

Getting Help for a Drug Dependence

If you have used marijuana regularly and often, gradually cutting back on your use may help you ease into a life without feeling as if you need to use pot to feel normal. However, if you are struggling to imagine your life without drugs, or if cannabis has become a gateway drug to more addictive substances like opioids, professional treatment can help you get back on the right track.

At Hope Academy, we believe a promising future lies ahead of you, no matter how long you have been using drugs. Contact us to learn more about our young adult-specific programs and rediscover the joy of living without drugs and alcohol.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Ways Young Adults Can Have Fun in Recovery

Many high school and college-aged students begin using drugs and alcohol because they believe these substances make parties and other social gatherings more fun. Once they build up a tolerance, and later an addiction, they may begin to feel as if there’s no way to enjoy activities without being high or drunk. As a result, learning to have fun while staying sober is one of the most common problems faced in recovery.

Life in recovery is a continuous learning process. It’s entirely possible to enjoy life without the crutch of drugs and alcohol, but it will take effort and commitment on your part. Here are some ideas for making sober life feel fully rewarding.

Benefits of Hobbies in Recovery

The goal of recovery from substance abuse is to help you learn to transition from being an active user to having a healthy life in sobriety. You may not know how to live a life that does not include drug or alcohol use as its primary focus. Finding sober activities you enjoy enables you to have a rich, full life and fills up the hours you used to spend feeding your addiction.

When you’re locked in the cycle of addiction, your all-consuming compulsion to use drugs or alcohol robs you of your choices and makes you powerless to decide whether you’re going to drink or use drugs. Once you enter an addiction rehab program and achieve sobriety, your goal changes to developing strategies that can prevent a relapse. Keeping boredom at bay is one of the most effective ways you can avoid letting the addiction win.

Fun Ways to Enrich Your Recovery

  • Join a sports team – Most schools have intramural sports teams that welcome players at all levels of ability. Along with more traditional sports such as baseball, softball and basketball, you can probably find opportunities to participate in more unorthodox ones such as dodgeball, kickball and ultimate frisbee. Choose one that sounds enjoyable, sign up for a team and start participating.
  • Do volunteer work – Many deserving nonprofits rely on help from the community, and there are few activities more rewarding than volunteering. To find volunteer opportunities you’ll enjoy, visit volunteermatch.org and choose something that aligns with your interests.
  • Have a game night – Nothing says fun like gathering for a little friendly competition with a game that tests your knowledge and skill.
  • Be a hometown tourist – Contact your local visitors’ bureau to find out about little-known tourist attractions or activities that are off the beaten path. Grab a few friends and while away a Saturday afternoon exploring. Be sure to end your adventure with a stop at a locally owned restaurant for a delicious meal.

Rediscover Who You Truly Are

This list is only scratching the surface of ideas you can try. Experiment until you find the things that make your life in recovery fulfilling. There’s a good chance you’ll discover you can have more fun sober than you ever did when you were dulling your senses with drugs or alcohol.

At Hope Academy, we provide young adults with the opportunity to reclaim their lives from addiction. Contact us for a confidential assessment and to learn about enrollment at our California drug and alcohol treatment facility.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

How Parents Can Prevent Their Children From Using Drugs

As a parent, you instinctively worry about your child’s health, happiness and well-being. You want the son or daughter you are raising to realize their full potential in life and to succeed in school and an eventual career. Undoubtedly, the prospect of your child experimenting with drugs and alcohol is one of your chief concerns.

Why Do Children Use Drugs?

Children of every age experience a tremendous amount of pressure to fit in and to keep up with their classmates and friends. Many kids mistakenly believe using drugs and alcohol will make them more popular at school. Some turn to substance abuse as a way to self-medicate when they experience painful emotions. Still others use drugs like Adderall without having a legitimate prescription because they believe sharpening their focus will help them get better grades.

High school is often the first time young people get exposed to drugs and alcohol, and the temptation to experiment with these substances can be overwhelming. Drug and alcohol use is common on college campuses as well, which often have a “party culture” that contributes to student binge drinking.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Drug and Alcohol Misuse

When it comes to teaching your child how to avoid peer pressure and the temptation to use drugs, there is no quick fix. But you may have a larger influence on your son or daughter than you realize, even if it doesn’t seem like they are listening to you. Talk honestly with your children, get to know their friends and stay actively engaged in their lives. When you establish a pattern of two-way trust, your child will feel more comfortable being honest with you about what’s happening in school.

The tone you set in your conversations with your child is just as important as what you say. One productive approach is to start by asking an open-ended question, such as, “Is anyone you know using drugs?” or, “What positive things have you heard about drugs?” Then, let your child respond without interrupting them. Give them your undivided attention, and no matter what they say, remain calm and patient.

If your child tells you that they have tried drugs, or that one of their friends offered them drugs, don’t react with anger or hostility, but with love. Thank them for being honest with you, then use that opportunity to educate them about the risks of using drugs at a young age. When young adults have accurate information about drugs, their viewpoint about them changes, and they no longer see drug and alcohol use as a “cool” or “fun” activity, but a dangerous one that has long-term consequences.

Does Your Child Need Help for Substance Misuse?

If you suspect your child is struggling with an addiction disorder, don’t let the stigma stand in the way of seeking healing for your family. At Hope Academy, we understand how overwhelming it can feel when your child is having problems with drug and alcohol misuse. We offer support for you and your family during this challenging time as you work to get your child the lifesaving help they need. Contact our addiction specialists today to begin the application process.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Why Does Isolation Impact Your Sobriety?

Addiction is a lonely place to be. Some people living with addiction reach a point where they feel as if their only real relationship is with drugs and alcohol. You may have begun drinking or using drugs in social settings, but as your tolerance and cravings increased, you began driving away those who care most about you through your self-destructive behavior.

It’s also common for people who struggle with substance misuse to have co-occurring disorders like depression, anxiety or PTSD. If that is the case for you, perhaps you began abusing drugs or alcohol to smooth out complicated emotions or to help you numb the pain associated with reliving unpleasant memories. Once addiction takes hold of your life, you start spending more time maintaining the needs of your disease than keeping up with friends and family. If this continues, you may look around one day and realize the people you love are no longer there to support you.

The Problems With Isolation in Recovery

Often, even after getting help and committing to sobriety, overwhelming feelings of isolation may continue. In addition to feeling isolated from others, you have cut drugs and alcohol out of your life as well – substances that may have become a stand-in for a healthy support system. That puts you in a tricky situation, as loneliness can undoubtedly be a powerful relapse trigger. It’s essential for your long-term sobriety to do all you can to combat loneliness – but certainly, that often seems easier to talk about than to act upon.

Loneliness is a common human emotion, and most people experience it every now and again. However, in most cases, it’s a fleeting feeling. If you are having many of the following feelings most of the time, you need to know when to take positive steps to protect your happiness, your mental health and your sobriety – even if that is challenging for you.

Symptoms of intense isolation may include:
  • Feeling unable to connect with others
  • Being sad when there is no one around to talk to
  • Thinking nobody understands you or cares about what you are going through
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless or abandoned
  • Worrying you will never be able to stop feeling this way

The Hidden Dangers of Staying Isolated in Recovery

For people in recovery, loneliness is something to avoid at all costs. First of all, it is one of the four letters in the acronym HALT, which stands for four emotions that can put people at increased risk of a relapse: hungry, angry, lonely and tired. Each of these feelings will put you in a tough place emotionally, which may represent a challenge to your ability to make healthy decisions.

Also, socially isolated people have nobody to listen to other than the inner voice of their illness, which can be dangerous. In addiction recovery, a lack of accountability is often a recipe for disaster. In general, forming bonds with others makes life easier and helps strengthen our feelings of self-worth. And, according to a recent study, loneliness makes people more vulnerable to mental health challenges like mood disorders.

Ways to Break out of Your Isolation Cycle

If you need help finding ways to stop feeling isolated, try the following.
  • Join a club: Connect with peers who share some of the same interests as you, whether they are athletic, artistic or otherwise.
  • Volunteer: Volunteer service is an excellent way to give back to your community, and it helps you meet plenty of new people.
  • Go to support groups: Surrounding yourself with others who are working on their recovery can be enormously helpful. You will meet people who have faced similar challenges and dealt with some of the same issues.
  • Adopt a pet: Bonding with a pet can create one of the purest relationships you will ever have. Pets offer unconditional, non-judgmental love and ask for nothing in return but that you love them back.

Ask for Help When You Need It

If you are a young adult struggling with substance misuse, it’s time to explore your treatment options for getting your life back on a positive path. It is important to admit when you can’t go it alone. At Hope Academy, we specialize in peer-based young adult rehab for young adults. Contact our admissions team to learn more.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Things to Look Forward to in Sobriety

Being nervous about addiction recovery is common, especially for young adults who have begun to rely on drugs or alcohol to replace healthy coping mechanisms and are now facing decades of sobriety ahead of them. While it’s true your life will change significantly, it can be better than you ever imagined it being when you were misusing substances. Here are some reasons you should be excited about the gift of recovery.

1. Your life will no longer revolve around drugs and alcohol.

Addicted people spend a significant amount of time planning where and how to get the next dose of their preferred substance. Once you get sober and stop chasing a constant high, you will feel incredibly free from these intrusive thoughts, and you will no longer waste time on allowing drugs and alcohol to rule your life.

2. You will become more self-aware.

Rather than spending hours clouding your mind with a haze of drugs and alcohol, sobriety will put you back in touch with your true emotions. Once you can fully feel again, you can embrace your potential and learn who you really are without the influence of toxic chemicals.

3. Your friends and family will know they can count on you.

Once drinking and taking drugs become the highest priority in your life, you start to push aside all your other responsibilities. When you are frequently drunk or high, you are letting your family and friends down. Addiction recovery will give you the chance to repair those damaged relationships and become someone your loved ones can fully rely on.

4. You will welcome joy and gratitude back into your life.

During active addiction, you come to rely on drugs or alcohol as the sole source of your happiness. However, the sense of well-being or euphoria these substances create is not only short-lived; it is artificial. Working on recovery gives you the opportunity to discover who you truly are as a person. You will grow into your full capacity, and you will learn that you are worthy of experiencing genuine joy and gratitude.

5. You will learn how to deal with life’s challenges.

There is no instruction manual or road map for life, which can sometimes feel overwhelming. Addictions often develop when people begin using drugs or alcohol to deal with stress or numb painful emotions. In addiction recovery, you will learn better ways to cope with whatever roadblocks or obstacles you encounter, and you will also develop a more positive outlook in life. While nobody has all the answers, the things you learn about yourself in addiction treatment will equip you to keep a clear head and an open spirit.

6. Recovery will allow you to start over.

One of the many gifts recovery gives you is that you will have the opportunity to make a complete transformation in your life. You will go from being hopeless, ashamed and alone to embracing a future that is bursting with possibilities and potential. When was the last time you felt proud of yourself, or that you could take on any challenge and emerge as a stronger person? Addiction recovery will give you that hope and optimism again. While it is not an easy journey, it is one worth making because you will experience so many positive changes.

Get the Help You Need Today

At Hope Academy, our mission is to help young adults recover from addiction. Our California substance abuse treatment center offers clients a fresh start through detox, drug and alcohol recovery, dual diagnosis counseling, sober living and aftercare. We also provide life skills, college and career planning and coaching that provide a solid foundation to move forward as a successful adult. Contact us to verify your insurance and learn more about admissions.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Maintaining Your Emotional Sobriety

Though everyone in recovery from drug and alcohol misuse hopes to maintain a lifestyle that is free of the debilitating effects of their substance of choice, some people lose sight of the emotional part of the equation. Your goal in recovery should be to achieve not only physical sobriety, but emotional sobriety – the ability to live a satisfying and productive substance-free life.

What Is Emotional Sobriety?

Physical sobriety means learning to live without drugs and alcohol. Though it can present several roadblocks, the path itself is relatively straightforward. Achieving emotional sobriety is somewhat more challenging because it involves the ability to face your feelings, particularly those connected to drug and alcohol use.

Everyone relies on specific coping mechanisms to help them deal with realities that are otherwise painful or uncomfortable to confront. People who become addicted to drugs and alcohol begin to find solace in these substances, instead of relying on healthier outlets. As a result, addicts become experts at numbing their feelings instead of facing up to them and dealing with them as they arise. Becoming emotionally sober means learning how to reconnect with your emotions and allowing yourself to fully feel them again.

Initially, you may feel as if drug or alcohol detox is the most challenging part of your recovery. However, learning to process your emotions in a healthy way can be an even more significant hurdle in the long run if you have become accustomed to masking your feelings with chemical dependency.

Achieving Emotional Sobriety

All addiction rehab should involve some element of emotional sobriety. Though your goal in recovery should be an overall sense of happiness, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed if you are having an off day. Rather, emotional sobriety is about being present in the moment, finding your true self and accessing all your feelings, regardless of whether those are good or bad.

Emotional sobriety has a different meaning for everyone in recovery; however, it generally boils down to:
  • Maintaining a healthy emotional balance
  • Accepting reality as it is
  • Letting go of the past
  • Not worrying about what might happen in the future
Achieving harmony and balance in your life involves learning how to leverage proven therapies to process emotions and learn healthy coping mechanisms. Addiction treatment offers many beneficial therapeutic approaches, such as:
  • Life coaching
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Individual and group counseling

Find Your Emotional Center

If you achieve physical sobriety but never work on confronting your feelings, you are putting yourself at higher risk of a relapse. Accepting that addiction recovery is a lifelong process can help shift your focus. Although you may experience occasional setbacks, stick to the goals of living in the moment and maintaining control of your emotions. Give yourself permission to embrace whatever you are feeling without judging yourself harshly.

Hope Academy offers a program tailored specifically to help young adults achieve lifelong freedom from chemical dependency and lay the foundation for the rest of their lives. We provide much-needed structure and guidance for young adults and college-aged students who are entering into adulthood and have lost focus on a healthy mindset. Contact us today for young adult addiction treatment in California.
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