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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Do You Have the Right Test-Taking Skills?

do you have the right test taking skillsTests have always been a way to measure aptitude, skills, and understanding in school. However, they are also gateways for other aspects of our lives: getting a driver’s license, becoming a citizen, being hired for a job, or receiving a professional credential.

Test-taking skills are rarely taught, but they can make a big difference in how well an individual does on an exam. Here are three areas where you can improve your skills and improve your test performance.

1. How do you prepare yourself for the test?

• Do you know what to expect? Knowing the type and scope of the test allows you to focus and organize your thoughts.
• Have you kept up with the reading and notes for the class? Keep up with assignments and always be present for the exam review.
• Do you have the supplies needed for the exam: calculator, pencils, pen, and paper? Always come to the test prepared.
• Are you alert and focused? A good night’s sleep and nutritious breakfast will help you think clearly. • Are you feeling anxious? Do some deep breathing. Is your mind racing? Write down your thoughts and put them away for later. This will clear your mind and help you concentrate.

2. How do you prepare and present your knowledge?

• Do you answer study questions and make notes during in-class reviews? These activities often present a road map for the test that follows.
• How do you manage the testing time? Answer questions you know first and then go back to those you are unsure of. If an essay is part of the test, make sure you get to the point quickly and provide adequate support.
• When studying, do you look for relationships and results? Try to see the “big picture” and put the material in a context that you can remember, and that makes sense.

3. Do you have an accurate idea about your performance on the test? 

• Did you study the right material?
• Were you able to provide detail and support?
• Did you manage your time well?

Evaluating your performance each time you take an exam will help you identify your study weaknesses. Then, you will be able to do a better job on those areas when you prepare for the next test.

Study Skills, Life Skills, and Much More 
When you choose the rehab programs for young people at Hope Academy, you open the possibility for a whole new life. From detox to treatment for the mental and emotional troubles that brought on the addiction, our team guides individuals to recovery. Job prep and college admission round out the possibilities of the Hope Academy program. Call 866-930-4673 to learn about insurance coverage and to enroll your loved one today.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Starting the New Semester Off Right

starting new semester in addiction recoveryDid you end last semester with disappointing results? Had you expected a better performance from yourself? Don’t worry. Each semester in college is a new beginning, so take advantage of this opportunity to start over. Take time to reflect on what held you back last semester, and make a plan to change for the better.

Identify Your Weaknesses Do you procrastinate? 
Are you careless with your spending? Does your enthusiasm get you into too many activities ? Do you skip meals and neglect sleep? These questions may make you think of something your mom said once (or a million times), but don’t tune out just yet. You may find that there’s a grain of truth in all that advice you’ve been ignoring.

Turn Weakness into Strength
Independence means that you are calling the shots, so here are some suggestions to follow:

1. Learn to manage your time. Right before finals is not the time to catch up on all the reading you skipped. Begin the semester determined to stay on top of daily assignments and make regular class attendance a priority. Use a scheduling app or an organizer to allocate your time.

2. Balance your load. Be smart about which classes and activities you take on. Try to mix classes so that your study load is balanced. When you take on outside interests, opt for activities that let you set the schedule. Join a gym or yoga studio instead of playing on a team. Buy tickets to a performance series instead of being in the cast of a play.

3. Set up a budget and track your spending. As a semester ends, you won’t have time to worry about how your bills will get paid. If you start out at the beginning of the term with a budget, this is one worry you will avoid. There are books and apps that walk you through the steps to set up a budget and monitor your spending. When you have money for an after-finals celebration, you’ll be glad you learned this lesson.

4. Take care of yourself. This is actually a combination of all the other things on this list. If you manage your time, balance your load, and track your spending you will find that you have time, money, and enthusiasm enough enjoy yourself. It’s amazing how nutritious food, enough sleep, reduced stress, exercise and enjoyable social interactions can make you feel!

Hope Academy's Saddleback College Program
The college program from Hope Academy is designed to provide the life coaching, academic study skills, sobriety support, and job prep you need to make a fresh start as a responsible and sober adult. Would you like to achieve this goal? Call 866-930-4673 to get started today.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Holiday Gifts for College Students

holiday gifts for college studentsLife at college requires a lot of adjustments: learning to live with roommates; budgeting time and money; balancing study, work, and leisure time; and most of all, getting along without the daily TLC of being at home.

Sure, college students expect these challenges and even welcome them. After all, college is the time to spread their wings and take off on their own career paths and life goals. Still, they do love to know that someone back home is pulling for them.

This holiday season, parents and friends of students in college can choose from a wealth of gadgets and gifts that will ease the day to day college grind and bring some joy to their favorite students. Here are a few suggestions that are sure to be appreciated by students attending in-state or out-of-state college programs.

Electronics & Digital Gifts
Smart phones, tablets, and laptops are always at the top of college wish lists. This year, there are some new takes on old favorites:

• Charging backpacks, messenger cases & purses
• Pen scanners: a great way to take notes
• Headphones: noise eliminating, Bluetooth & sleep bands
• Bluetooth speakers
• Kindle Voyage & digital books
• Apps & app gift cards

Old-School Standards
Students who will be graduating soon will be set to enter the job market with these classics:

• Monogrammed business card holder for the young professional
• Leather portfolio to make a good impression when delivering resumes
• Books on time & money management, surviving college, or succeeding at the job hunt
• Personalized journals to keep track of dreams & life goals

Relief from College Stress 
For the student who is reeling from college exams or the weight of college loans, here are some gift suggestions to ease the stress:

• Membership at a gym, health club, or yoga studio
• Sports watch or fitness tracker
• Adult coloring books
• Meditation CDs
• Tickets to a concert or event

Personal Comforts
These gifts are always welcome additions to a crowded dorm room:

• Single serve coffee maker like the Keurig Mini
• A hanging toiletry case for keeping personal items organized & accessible
• Bedside storage caddy
• Care packages: Mom’s are best, but check out the dorm survival kits on Amazon.

When in Doubt
Some items are always a hit. If you don’t know what a college student needs, opt for:

• Restaurant gift cards
• Plane tickets
• Gift Certificates
• Cash

For an extra touch, tuck these into a Christmas stocking or slip them inside a personalized card you made at or

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Season of Giving: Gift Ideas for Newly Sober Friends

gift ideas for sober friends Stumped about finding a just-right gift for a friend or family member walking through addiction recovery? Ask yourself: How can I help them redirect their time toward constructive activities? How can I remind them how proud I am of their sobriety accomplishment? With questions like those in mind, here’s a list of possible gift ideas that will bring joy to your sober friend this holiday season:

An acupuncture or massage gift certificate. Many recovering drug or alcohol users benefit from acupuncture or bodywork, since it eases withdrawal symptoms, promotes relaxation, and flushes toxins from the body. Choose a well-reviewed medical clinic in your area, or opt for a spa that offers a variety of treatment options. Your friend or loved one can select the healing experience that is most appealing to them.

A personalized coin or pendant. Websites like Etsy and Zazzle offer hundreds of sobriety gifts like personalized medallions, key rings, and jewelry pieces. Include a Bible verse, personal note, or inspirational quote that reminds the recipient of how strong they are—and how far they have come.

A customized sobriety journal. Journaling is particularly cathartic during addiction recovery, and chances are it has been recommended as part of your loved one’s therapy program. Visit websites like PaperSource or CafePress to create a custom journal design that inspires them to write about their sobriety journey and document their future dreams and plans.

Lessons. Your friend or family member will need to fill their sober hours with activities and diversions, and you can give them a healthy start. Purchase a gift of music, cooking, art, or golf lessons. You may want to attend the class with them and learn something new, yourself!

Magazine subscription. Everyone enjoys mail, and magazine subscriptions give people of all ages something to look forward to each month. Websites like Amazon have hundreds of magazines in dozens of categories, from sports and gardening to politics and current events.

The Gift of Addiction Recovery
Before you decide on a present, remember that the most important thing you can do for your friend or family member is to spend time with them, offer support during their recovery journey, and love them unconditionally.

If someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction but has not taken steps to get help, Hope Academy offers residential, outpatient, and sober college programs. To speak with a member of our team or begin the admissions process, contact us online or call 866.930.4673.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Gambling Addiction & The Brain

gambling addiction and the brainFor many people, gambling is just a diversion. Unfortunately, like other addictions, it can quickly progress into a compulsion that robs people of their financial security and drastically changes their behavior, relationships, and priorities. In recent months, mental health professionals and scientists have begun classifying gambling as an addiction, placing it in the same category as drug and alcohol abuse.

Research indicates that gambling shares many diagnostic criteria with drug dependence, such as tolerance, withdrawal, and radical disruption of one’s life. Gamblers also report significant urges and cravings when they are unable to place a bet.

According to Jon Grant, addiction researcher at the University of Chicago, “People will get inured to the high of gambling at a certain point and need to gamble with bigger bets and riskier betting options. When people try to stop, they go through withdrawal, with insomnia, agitation, irritability, and a feeling of being ill at ease, similar to what we see in some substance abuse disorders.” Gambling problems also seem to run in families, alongside street drug, prescription drug, and alcohol addictions. So—if your family is prone to addictive behaviors, you may be driven to impulsivity and reward-seeking behaviors, too.

Symptoms of Gambling Addiction 
If you’re not sure when betting for fun has turned the corner toward a gambling addiction, watch for these signs:

• Lying or being secretive about financial decisions
• Borrowing money from credit cards, banks, or family members
• Gambling when you cannot afford to make house or utility payments
• Always betting “more” to get a gambler’s high
• Experiencing depression & anxiety that results in sleep deprivation or health problems
• Exhibiting restless or irritable behavior when you can’t get your fix
• Returning to bet more in order to “chase a loss” from a previous day
• Prioritizing gambling over eating, sleeping, or socializing

When study participants watch videos depicting gambling, or participate in virtual gambling games during brain scans, there are changes in blood flow to certain areas of the brain. Gambling has thus been reclassified as a behavioral addiction because these imaging studies show that the brain’s reward system “lights up” during gambling just as it does during substance use. These types of studies tell us that behaviors can impact the brain just as powerfully as chemicals—and that it is important to seek help before any type of addictive behavior takes over your personal life, relational connections, and financial well-being.
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