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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Why Study Drugs Don’t Work


Perhaps you have a classmate who swears “study drugs” like Ritalin and Adderall have helped sharpen their focus before an exam or a major sports competition. You might have even tried them yourself to pull an all-nighter or try to have a more productive study session.

Doctors commonly prescribe these medications to help people with ADHD concentrate on the task at hand, which has increased the prevalence of study drugs on campuses from coast to coast. Many dangerous myths surround these drugs, and people who use them recreationally or without a doctor’s supervision can do themselves more harm than good. Let’s look at the top reasons study drugs don’t work.

1. Study Drugs Can Impair Your Concentration

Maybe you’ve never received a diagnosis of ADHD, but you’ve heard rumors that prescription stimulants can make you smarter. Instead of boosting academic success by sharpening your concentration, alertness and cognitive abilities, these drugs may worsen your short-term memory and leave you jittery and distracted. In people without ADHD, these medications can lead to poor impulse control and rash behavior.

2. Using Medication Without a Prescription Is Dangerous

There’s a persistent misconception that all prescription drugs are “safe” to use. However, using stimulant medications without a doctor’s guidance is illegal, and comes with a host of side effects. When used improperly or excessively, study drugs can cause health problems such as irregular heartbeat, insomnia, headaches, digestive problems, anxiety, mood swings and high blood pressure. Trying to taper off these meds or quit using them cold turkey can lead to withdrawal, an even more unpleasant situation.

3. Prescription Stimulants Are Highly Addictive

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency lists prescription stimulants as Schedule 2 drugs, due to their strong potential for abuse and addiction. They’re among infamous company on that list – opioids and cocaine are also Schedule 2 substances. People who take medications like Adderall and Ritalin recreationally might crush the pills and snort them to achieve faster-acting effects. They could also use a much higher dose than what a doctor would prescribe, either because they’re unaware of the correct dosage or they’ve reached a point where it takes more and more of the drug to achieve the same feelings.

Boost Your GPA the Old-Fashioned Way

Instead of relying on drugs and risking your mental and physical health in pursuit of better grades, go back to basics with these tried-and-true study tips.
  • Get a tutor: Many college campuses offer free or low-cost resources to students, including tutoring services. If you’re struggling to keep up in a class or worried about passing an exam, a tutor can help break down complex topics in an easy-to-understand way.
  • Stay on a sleep schedule: College students are often chronically sleep-deprived. However, creating a consistent sleep schedule will ensure you get enough shuteye to feel well-rested and wake up with plenty of energy and enthusiasm to face the day.
  • Don’t procrastinate: It can feel tempting to wait until the last minute to start studying for a test or working on a big assignment. However, this approach can make you anxious and less likely to do your best work.

Young Adult Addiction Treatment in California

If prescription stimulant addiction is adversely affecting your life, contact us at Hope Academy. We proudly offer qualified addiction treatment that makes it possible for high school and college students to be well-adjusted adults.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Benefits of Creating a COVID-19 Routine


2020 has been a year unlike any other. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many systemic failings in our nation’s social contract, leaving people vulnerable to the spread of a potentially deadly and disabling virus.

Even if some or all the businesses in your area have recently reopened with fewer restrictions, you could still be spending more time at home due to campus closures and a desire to protect yourself and your neighbors from illness. How can having a routine benefit you in these changed circumstances, and what are some ideas for creating a COVID-19 routine that works for you?

Reasons to Develop a COVID-19 Routine

High schools and colleges that are still operating on a virtual classroom model, instead of in-person instruction, are doing the right thing by encouraging students to limit interactions that could accelerate transmission of the novel coronavirus. Still, humans are creatures of habit. Without structure in our days, we start to feel aimless and adrift.

Having a daily schedule gives you a sense of purpose. Knowing what you need to do and when it needs to happen can bring much-needed certainty when other aspects of your life are on shaky ground. A routine can also benefit your mental health by giving you something to look forward to each day.

How to Develop Your Routine

You have finite hours in a day, but planning how to fill them with meaningful activities can help you make the most of your life. You don’t need a meticulous plan for every moment of your day, but in general, try to create a COVID-19 routine that accounts for:
  • Consistent times when you’ll wake up and go to bed, ensuring you get seven to nine hours of good-quality sleep per night
  • Studying independently, or participating in online classes and discussions
  • Preparing and eating meals
  • Exercising
  • Leisure time – building breaks into the day can help re-energize you to tackle the next tasks.

The Value of To-Do Lists

Having a daily or weekly to-do list can help you stay on track, especially if you don’t currently have the structure of in-person instruction to keep you accountable. To-do lists can be a vital tool for anyone who is new to working without direct supervision, as they provide a visual reminder of what you need to accomplish.

When you create your to-do list, be sure to break each large project into the individual steps necessary to complete it. For instance, if you have to write a paper, you might start by researching your subject, then create an outline of ideas. Follow those steps with the writing and the bibliography, and finish by proofreading your work.

If you finish a project or assignment earlier than you expected, don’t use that as an excuse to curl up on the couch and watch TV. Instead, look to your to-do list for the next few days to see if there are any opportunities to get ahead. Your future self will thank you!

Addiction Treatment Tailored to Young Adults

At Hope Academy, we understand younger people have different needs in drug and alcohol rehab, and that this stage of life brings unique challenges that can complicate the recovery process. Our qualified addiction specialists have created programming specifically to help high school and college-aged students discover who they are without the burdens of substance abuse standing between them and genuine happiness. Call today for your confidential assessment.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

How Does Alcohol Affect Young Adults?

Many high school and college students view drinking as a rite of passage, and pop culture has perpetuated that idea by depicting young adults going to rowdy parties where the alcohol flows freely. The teen years are also a time when many young people are experiencing their first taste of adulthood, with milestones like earning a driver’s license and moving out of their parents’ house.

Underage drinking may be one way for young adults to test their boundaries and assert their independence. Often, people in this age range are more susceptible to peer pressure and the desire to fit in with their friends, which could lead them to experiment with alcohol. What should parents and young adults know about the risks of drinking?

The Dangers of Drinking for Young Adults

Young adults may feel invincible, believing there will be no negative consequences of binge drinking. However, alcohol abuse can quickly spiral into a pattern of self-destruction that is challenging to escape without help.

A teen or college-aged person who develops an alcohol misuse disorder can lose an otherwise promising future with difficulties such as the following.
  • Problems in school: Students who drink might wake up feeling too hung over to pay attention in school, or could start skipping class altogether. Alcohol abuse can also interfere with a student’s academic performance. If their grades fall too far, they might risk expulsion from school.
  • Impaired cognition: Because people’s brains continue to develop until their mid-20s, young adults who drink or use drugs might eventually have trouble concentrating, retaining new memories or making smart decisions.
  • Reckless behavior: A drunk person might behave entirely differently than they do when they are sober, since alcohol lowers inhibitions. A young adult under the influence of alcohol could decide to do something irresponsible like starting a fight or having unprotected sex. Illegal activities such as drunk driving or vandalism could lead to an arrest.
  • Health issues: The physical, mental and emotional effects of alcohol misuse don’t happen immediately, but over the long term, heavy drinking can raise the risk of developing organ and tissue damage, high blood pressure, depression, obesity and even some forms of cancer. Someone who drinks as a young adult might not meet all the standards for a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder at the time. They can still go on to struggle with alcoholism later in life, though.

Addressing Alcohol Abuse in Young Adults

Age-specific alcohol rehab is often ideal because younger people have different treatment needs and cultural expectations. Look for a young adult treatment center that offers therapy in addition to essential life skills such as job readiness. At Hope Academy, our goal is to prepare young people to be confident, independent adults upon their discharge from treatment. We have tailored our program to the unique needs of teens and college-aged students. To learn more about how Hope Academy can help rebuild the foundation of your life, contact us today.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Sober Summer Fun During COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every facet of our daily lives. Depending on the restrictions your city and state have implemented to protect people and inhibit the spread of COVID-19, many of your favorite summer activities may currently be off-limits to you. What are some ideas for sober summer fun during this time?

1. Plan a “Staycation”

Many of us have had to put our vacation plans on hold indefinitely, which can be frustrating. However, one silver lining during COVID-19 has been the ability to go on free, virtual tours of many world-class museums, art galleries and other attractions. You’ll feel like you’ve gone somewhere new, even if you haven’t set foot outside.

2. Become an Outdoor Chef

When the temperatures are hot and muggy, you don’t want to trap even more heat inside your home by cooking on the stove or using your oven. If you have a grill, the good news is that you can cook everything from main dishes to sides and even dessert outside! Once you’ve mastered a few grilled recipes, you can serve nutritious meals for your whole household.

3. Plant a Garden

Homemade foods such as freshly baked bread have become somewhat of a pandemic trend. What could be a better way to hop on board with this fad than to start a garden? It’s gratifying to nurture plants and watch them grow, and you’ll get to reap the bounty of delicious seasonal produce such as tomatoes, squash, zucchini, herbs and watermelon. If you don’t have a yard or a lot of extra space to work with, try container gardening.

4. Volunteer

Even if COVID-19 has somewhat restricted your options for in-person volunteering, you can still find plenty of volunteer opportunities online. Thousands of organizations need talented volunteers for a wide range of projects, so if you have skills such as graphic design, computer programming, bookkeeping and email marketing, put them to good use helping worthy causes.

5. Learn a New Skill

It’s never too late to learn something new. Perhaps there’s a specific school subject you want to revisit over the summer to prepare ahead of the fall semester, or you’d like to branch out and learn something totally different. Either way, you don’t have to leave home to get more educated about a wide range of topics. Many online learning providers are offering free courses you can take advantage of during COVID-19.

6. Move Your Exercise Routine Outside

The long, sunny days of summer are the perfect opportunity to start an outdoor fitness regimen. Swimming, hiking, biking, running and even yoga are all excellent exercises to do outside. You can reap the mental and physical health benefits of fitness, combined with the healing power of nature, to make the most of your time this summer.

We Make Recovery a Reality

During the coronavirus pandemic, getting treatment for a substance abuse problem is as necessary as ever. At Hope Academy, we provide young adults with the tools and support they need to recover from an addiction and realize their full potential in life. To learn more about starting recovery at our California drug and alcohol rehab, contact us today.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Will California Colleges Reopen This Fall? The Impact of Uncertainty on Mental Health

America’s COVID-19 outbreak caused an abrupt shutdown of most of the country in mid-March. In what represented a sea change for the nation, schools sent students home, major sports leagues suspended their seasons and businesses deemed “non-essential” closed their doors.

Though many cities and states have now slowly started to reopen restaurants, shops, churches and entertainment venues, it’s too soon to tell what the impact of this gradual reopening might be. Some experts have warned that opening back up is premature because it will encourage people to congregate in large groups and ignore the need for social distancing, resulting in another spike in cases. Top epidemiologists have already predicted a second wave of coronavirus infections in the fall that will closely resemble the first.

Is It Safe to Resume On-Campus Classes?

At least one major California university has already announced plans to reopen its campus for an abbreviated fall semester, after implementing several proactive safety measures for the health of their students, faculty and staff. Other schools are taking a more cautious approach. For example, California State University Chancellor Timothy White recently released a statement that the school would continue to operate primarily virtually this fall.

Many other colleges across the Golden State and around the nation are still debating the merits and the risks involved in allowing students to come back to in-person classes. Responsible reopening would require additional equipment and supplies to ensure students, staff members and faculty can get frequent testing, along with the associated contact tracing and the potential for life-saving quarantines. Not all colleges have the budget and resources to fulfill these obligations, which remains a source of uncertainty.

How to Manage Your Mental Well-Being Amid Uncertain Times

Life has always been unpredictable. Even before the emergence of a global pandemic, people got caught off-guard by unexpected circumstances. However, the future seems murkier than ever with coronavirus complicating nearly everything. If your college hastily suspended in-person classes in response to the outbreak, being away from the friends you love seeing and the environment you enjoy spending time in may have been a significant setback in your life.

Times like these can take a toll on your mental health. Perhaps the daily headlines overwhelm you with feelings of anger, sadness or helplessness. If mental health is already a challenge for you, you may notice yourself struggling more than usual. If that’s the case for you, here are some ways to take care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty.
  1. Focus on the things you can keep under control. Even when the world seems turned upside down, there are still things within your reach. Wash your hands frequently and wear a facemask, and remind others to do the same. Take breaks for self-care. Step away from the news if it’s making you too anxious.
  2. Get outside in nature – even if you are avoiding crowds. Being outdoors is essential for your mental and physical health. It’s an excellent way to reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and help you adjust your mindset. Taking a walk outside, or even just sitting in the sunshine for a few minutes, will make you feel better.
  3. Ask for help. There’s no shame in reaching out to others when you need extra support. Call understanding friends and family members, or find a therapist online. It’s OK to admit you can’t shoulder all your burdens alone, and we’re all in this together.

California Young Adult Addiction Rehab

Young men and women who are living with addiction and need to hit the reset button on their lives can find their healing haven at Hope Academy. We have designed our peer-based treatment program specifically for younger people. Reach out to us today to discover more.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Importance of Good Nutrition During COVID-19

In these times of heightened anxiety and disrupted routines, the need to eat a balanced diet can be one of the first things to fall by the wayside. Planning and preparing healthy meals is challenging even in the best of times. But now, with entire families quarantining together and many grocery stores having a more limited selection due to coronavirus, it can be tempting to reach for readily available comfort foods that offer little in the way of fulfilling your body’s nutritional needs. Here’s how to practice good nutrition during COVID-19.

Some Foods Can Improve Your Mood and Lower Stress

Many of the foods you probably already enjoy, such as dark chocolate, coffee, nuts and bananas, can help put you in a happier mindset. Incorporating these into your diet can put a spring in your step and give you more motivation to complete your daily tasks.

A Healthy Diet Will Boost Your Immune System

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of catching – and spreading – this potentially lethal virus is a very real fear for most people. While there are many things doctors and medical researchers still don’t understand about this novel virus and why it affects people differently, it remains a proven fact that the foods you eat can make you healthier by strengthening your immune system.
  • Citrus fruits and bell peppers are rich in vitamin C, which increases your white blood cell count to help your body fight infections.
  • Broccoli is a superfood that is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and E, as well as fiber and many antioxidants.
  • Garlic does more than add a tasty zing to your favorite recipes – it also has compounds that can assist your immune system.
  • Yogurt is a rich, indulgent treat whose live and active cultures can help prevent illness. Yogurt and other dairy products contain abundant vitamin D, which may play a role in protecting against respiratory conditions.

Plan Your Trips to the Supermarket

The need to practice social distancing and to leave the house only for essential errands has made each visit to the grocery store seem monumentally important. Rather than unnecessarily exposing yourself to possible infection by running out to pick up a few odds and ends for each meal, it’s a smarter idea to plan your menus at least a week in advance and cut down on trips. Make a list before you go, so you’ll minimize the time you spend in contact with fellow shoppers and be less likely to buy impulse items. Here are some tips for making a shopping list.
  • Being self-quarantined doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have more time – or energy – to cook, so keep that in mind. Have a few quick and healthy go-to recipes in your back pocket that you can put together without spending hours in the kitchen.
  • The healthiest meals involve fresh produce, whole grains and lean proteins. Make sure your list is heavy on these items and light on processed foods. If you play your cards right, you’ll often find you can skip most of the middle aisles of the store and stick to the perimeter.
  • As much as possible, try to visualize the layout of your favorite supermarket and make your list in the same order of where you’d find items in the store.

A Healthier Today and Tomorrow

Coronavirus has affected nearly every aspect of our daily lives, but that doesn’t mean it has to change your commitment to eating a healthy diet and nourishing your body from the inside out. Remember, eating well is part of self-care.

If you’re looking to change your life for the better by breaking the cycle of substance abuse, contact us at Hope Academy for your confidential assessment. We offer qualified addiction programming for young adults in California.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Tips for Staying Positive During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Our world is facing a period of unprecedented challenges during a global pandemic that has fundamentally changed the fabric of our daily lives. Amid this uniquely stressful environment, it can be hard for even the most optimistic people to stay upbeat. At a time when we need each other most, shelter-in-place guidelines are keeping most of us homebound, leaving many people susceptible to depression and anxiety. How can you protect your mental health during COVID-19? Here are our favorite tips.

Stay Connected With Loved Ones

Self-quarantine keeps you safe, but it might also have made you start to feel isolated. Think about faraway friends and family members you haven’t talked to in some time, and reach out to say hello. You can call them or organize a virtual hangout using software such as Skype or Houseparty. Or, get creative and send a surprise note or care package through the mail. You’ll be letting them know you’re thinking about them while supporting the U.S. Postal Service, which is struggling to avoid becoming a victim of the coronavirus crisis.

Practice Self-Care Strategies

Your mental health should be a priority because when you’re mentally resilient, you allow your immune system to do its job better. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet. Set aside time in each day for exercise – even something as simple as a 15-minute walk around the block is enough to increase your heart rate and give you a feel-good boost of endorphins. Put on upbeat music and have a dance party in your living room. Get lost in a work of escapist fiction.

Shift Your Mindset

In these frightening times, it’s vital to limit negativity in your life as much as possible. We have all lost something due to coronavirus, from a sense of security and control to the ability to participate in public events. Instead of dwelling on the things you can’t do, embrace this as an opportunity for personal growth. Enroll in online classes that will teach you a new skill. If you’re quarantined with family members, use this time to get closer to them with bonding activities such as board games or cooking together.

Take Breaks From the News

Obviously, it’s essential to stay abreast of information about coronavirus, especially pertaining to the number of cases in your community. However, it’s not healthy to consume a steady diet of headlines from the moment you wake up to the time you fall asleep. If you start feeling overwhelmed, it’s OK to step away for a day or two. Instead, watch something that makes you laugh and takes your mind off your worries.

Don’t Struggle in Silence

If you’re starting to recognize the symptoms of depression or anxiety creeping into your life, seek help. Remember, you’re never alone, even if you’re homebound. Look for an online therapist or support group. Call a supportive friend and talk through your feelings.

Remaining Mentally Strong Amid Coronavirus Concerns

It’s natural that everyone is feeling more worried than usual about the global spread of coronavirus. However, don’t fall into unhealthy coping habits or let anxiety or depression take over your life. If you are feeling vulnerable to developing a dual diagnosis of addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder during this unprecedented time, we are here to help. Hope Academy provides outstanding substance abuse treatment to young adults who are struggling with these problems. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

You Are Not Alone - How to Manage Anxieties Over COVID-19

We’re living through an unprecedented pandemic that has already affected millions of people’s lives and livelihoods in only a few months. Major cities and even entire countries have issued lockdowns that have changed their citizens’ way of life. Whether you’re in a community that has already experienced the effects of coronavirus, or are preparing for it to arrive, you’ve probably been keeping a close eye on the news and wondering what’s next.

Even the most mentally resilient people are struggling to cope with the “new normal” in these trying times. If you have anxieties over COVID-19, you are not alone. Here are strategies for dealing with three of the most common coronavirus worries.

1. Uncertainty

For many, not knowing what’s to come has been the most challenging thing about recent events. We have no idea how long this crisis will last, how severe it can get or when medical researchers will discover an effective vaccine. In the meantime, many schools, businesses and entertainment venues are closed indefinitely, disrupting everyone’s lives. It’s become nearly impossible to plan for the weeks and months ahead with any confidence.

In the face of such unpredictability, people with anxiety disorders often default to envisioning the worst-case scenario, which can lead to a spiral of overwhelming dread. If this is the case for you, here are some ways to handle it.
  • Limit your news consumption: It’s essential to stay informed, but don’t obsessively check the headlines. Designate one or two specific times each day when you’ll catch up on the news, and only get information from trustworthy sources such as the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Know when to take a break: If anxieties over COVID-19 are taking over your life, it’s OK to give yourself a mini vacation from news consumption. Ask a reliable friend or family member to pass on any crucial updates that may arise while you step away from media.
  • Control what you can: Being proactive can help ease some of your anxieties. For example, write out a list of specific worries you have about coronavirus, as well as any potential solutions you can imagine.

2. Loneliness

With many communities now under stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders for the next 30 days, if not longer, isolation has become a source of anxiety for a lot of people. Humans are social animals, and even the most introverted people get lonely when they can’t visit with friends and family members.

Technology can work to your advantage here. If you start feeling depressed or anxious about missing loved ones, organize an online meetup with an app such as Zoom or Skype. When you have these virtual get-togethers, make sure coronavirus concerns don’t dominate the conversation. Instead, keep it lighthearted and focus on other things happening in your lives.

3. Getting Sick

Another common worry people have about coronavirus is that they will become ill and spread the virus to others. Even young, healthy individuals can infect other people without having any obvious symptoms. Though many cases of COVID-19 have proven to be mild, the virus can be fatal to vulnerable people, such as those who are elderly or immunocompromised. To avoid contracting coronavirus, stay home as much as possible, regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water and follow all guidelines for preventing the transmission of the virus.

Finding Healthy Ways to Cope With Anxiety

If you’re struggling to stay upbeat in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s essential to remember we are all in this together. Make sure to dedicate time to your self-care every day, and recognize when you need a mental health day. If you’ve been relying on substance use to get you through this challenging time, take charge of your life and contact us at Hope Academy for a confidential assessment.

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.
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