Building Resilience in Adolescents through Treatment and Parental Support

Jun 15, 2023 | Uncategorized

Resilience in recovery refers to the ability to withstand triggers and cravings while continuing to pursue your goals and intentions for sobriety. It means being mindful and aware of personal triggers and potential setbacks so you can take steps to decrease the likelihood of resuming the misuse of drugs and alcohol.

If you lack resilience, you are more likely to relapse when confronted with emotional challenges. Instead of focusing on the negative and allowing yourself to give in, resilience will help you stick with your recovery skills.

Resilience is especially important for young people dealing with substance use issues. The part of the human brain responsible for executive decision-making—the prefrontal cortex—isn’t yet fully developed in teenagers and young adults. This explains why they can make so many bad judgment calls despite being aware of possible negative consequences. They simply assess the risks differently from an adult with a fully developed brain. 

Many teens are feeling extreme highs and lows because of hormonal changes in their bodies; added stress or trauma can make these shifts seem more extreme. If substance misuse ensued in an attempt to deal with the emotional pain regaining any kind of psychological balance becomes increasingly difficult. 

Teens with substance use issues have to learn how to avoid people, places, and things that bring them down. That typically includes reducing the relentless exposure to social media and other online stressors so commons today. Many experts have begun to blame the permanent use of smart phones for the current mental health crisis of young people in America. 

In his book Digital Madness, psychologist Nicholas Karadaras describes the toxic impact of social media, especially on teenagers and young adults. “Research shows that the empty, sedentary, addicting, isolating, and self-loathing lifestyle created by Big Tech drives depression and hopelessness,” he writes. “Yet the more depressed and empty we feel, the more we’re driven to escape those feelings with more of the digital drug that’s driving the problem to begin with—a classic addiction catch-22.”

In his previous book Glow Kids, Dr. Karadaras described excessive screen time as “digital heroin.” Karadaras feels “we need to address Big Tech and the corrosive social media that is driving our mental health crisis—not just the abovementioned tech addiction and the empty depression that accompanies it,” as he writes in Digital Madness. “The constant immersion in polarizing social media platforms has changed the architecture of our brains and the way we process information in a way that’s inherently pathological and unhealthy and undermines any potential for rational thinking.”

Should the “digital madness,” physical bullying, anxiety about the possiblity of a school shooting, and other stressors in our society lead to a substance use disorder requiring treatment, teens with addiction will need the support of their parents and other family members. 

With a child in treatment “you should consider yourself a partner in the process,” parenting expert Tim Thayne wrote in Not By Chance. “As a partner, your thoughts, ideas, and input are needed… On the other hand, you have hired someone who has expertise and resources in an area that you do not. Your job is also to be the listener and the learner.” Too much interference implies that you don’t trust the treatment program, warns Dr. Thayne. 

The ideal type of parent has a collaborative relationship with the treatment program, writes Thayne. “This parental attitude is a healthy mix of just enough engagement and just enough restraint to open up the space as well as the structured support to allow the treatment program and your child to work at maximum effectiveness.”

At Avanti Behavioral Health, we believe that recovery from addiction is a process that should involve the immediate family. We have developed an effective and highly involved method of family counseling, focusing on multiple factors involving the existing family dynamic by examining the family unit and understanding the role of each individual family member. 

Our intensive outpatient program (IOP), located in the Denver Tech Center area, is a comprehensive and flexible treatment option designed to provide adolescents with the support they need to address their mental health concerns. Our program recognizes the transformative power of connection, belonging, and active participation within a larger community. We strive to engage our clients in meaningful ways, fostering a sense of purpose, personal growth, and social integration. 

For more information about our IOP and family programming call us at (720) 753-4030. 

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