Teen Substance Abuse – Yes, there is Help!

Substance abuse is starting to be recognized as an increasingly complex problem in our society. Historically, people thought the person using substances was ‘making a choice’ to do so, and whatever consequences came about were the result of the bad choices being made. As we learn more about brain development, the effects of trauma, and co-occurring mental illness we realize there are more factors to consider in substance abuse treatment outside of simply teaching someone to make better choices. In 2014, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (www.drugabuse.gov) brought us good news: the overall use of all substances by teenagers is continuing to move downward. While this is good news, it appears the long-term effects of teen substance abuse are occurring at a greater cost.  As a therapist, I see the negative effects that drug use has on teens and their families, and it’s good to know that fewer teens are using substances. Without going into a debate on the criminalization of substance use and the societal impacts of such, I think it’s pretty clear that any substance use by teens has the potential for catastrophic outcomes. A young person’s brain continues to develop into their early 20s – and a very important part that is developing during these years (the frontal lobe) is the part that impacts judgement, higher level decision-making, emotional expression, impulse control, and moral decision-making. This is not a part of the brain that anyone wants compromised by substance use. Along with more well-known street drugs, there is a rapidly growing concern over the use of newer synthetic drugs such as “bath salts”, spice, and flakka among others. These drugs can and have caused psychotic breaks from reality in adolescents and young adults. That kind of break from reality is difficult, and even impossible in some people, to come back from and can lead to lifelong mental health problems. Keeping this in mind, it is important to not only educate kids about the effects of drugs, but also prepare kids for when they are approached about drugs. The ‘Just Say No’ stance of the 1980’s is not enough, as kids today, as are the drug dealers, are more sophisticated today than in the past. While education is an important component, showing kids how to be assertive in getting their needs met and teaching kids good communication skills will help them have the tools they need to resist a pressured approach. Additionally, knowing how to manage emotion in a constructive way and creating regular family activities help kids make healthier decisions. Over the next 4 weeks we will have a series of blog posts that focus on how to teach kids these skills and how to address substance abuse concerns as a parent. Feel free to also respond with any questions you have and one of our therapist will be glad to help you out! Working as a team, we can help prepare kids for the pressures of society and give them the tools they need to make healthy decisions.

Mosaic Counseling Center will be offering YOLO (You Only Live Once), a Teen Substance Abuse Treatment Group. This group will run 12 weeks and will help youth ages 14-17 years old learn how to live life drug free. We will also be offering a FREE Parent Support Group during this time. YOLO starts Wednesday, October 21st at 6 p.m. Contact us at 661-665-6077 to schedule an assessment today. Most major insurances are accepted, including Victim Witness (CAL VCP), and cash pay participants get 50% off the cost of the program. Partial scholarships are available. The 12 week treatment group will be followed by a 26 week afterward component.

Only 12 spots are open and everyone must be signed up by 10/7/2015!


The stats above are found on the National Institute on Drug Abuse website

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