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Father comforting his sad son

Supporting Your LGBTQ Child

It’s Pride Month! June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) Pride Month. For so many, it is a time of celebration—people spend the time dressing up and heading to parades or events held in their communities. It’s a time where communities come together to acknowledge the violent struggles and pay homage to the rights and respect that have been won due to hard work and lives lost by LGBTQ people, their families, friends, and allies. It’s when we all mobilize together to work for more justice, less stigma and for a world that does not put a person in danger nor does it prevent them from reaching their full potential because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

There is no doubt that we have come a long way when it comes to acceptance from society. Acceptance of the LGBTQ community continues to grow globally, but there’s always room for improvement. LGBTQ youth remain vulnerable to suicide, homelessness, and other negative outcomes. This is mainly because they lack acceptance from their parents or immediate loved ones. It’s been taught to us over and over again, parents play an extremely important role in the lives of their children. This stands true especially when a child becomes aware of who they are attracted to or whom they love, or if they feel themselves to be a male, female, or somewhere in between. The love and acceptance by those closest to you are critical to the health and success of any youth. Research shows that children whose parents belittle or shame them are more likely to battle depression or attempt suicide than those whose parents are supportive.  

Sometimes we just don’t know how to support our children, especially when it’s something that we know nothing about—that is normal. There are ways that you can help your child, to show them support and to fill their lives with acceptance no matter their sexual orientation or their gender identity. 

Lead With Love

For some, this comes naturally, but that’s not the case for every person. It could be due to long-held beliefs that may get in the way of being able to respond positively and supportively. What is so important to keep in mind at this moment is that as hard as it is for you to learn about your child’s sexual orientation or gender identity, it was probably so much harder for your child to come to you and tell you this information. Sometimes we are left speechless when we are given certain information, and that is okay. In those moments, when the right words seem challenging or unavailable, sometimes a hug can speak a thousand words.

Just Listen

Coming to you was probably one of the hardest things for your child to do. This is a great first step, but don’t pressure your child to talk about everything in that one moment. If you have a sense that they might want to talk, try open-ended questions, such as “what can I do to support you?” that opens the door for continued dialogue while also letting them know you’re here to support them.

Educate Yourself

As parents, we don’t know everything. There are situations where we lack the knowledge and maybe this is that situation. Take the time to educate yourself. Taking the time to learn about gender and sexual diversity is a great step that shows your child that you care. You don’t have to know everything, more than likely your child is still learning and looking for resources (chances are they probably scoured the internet endlessly,) ask your child if there is anything specific they aren’t sure about or that they would like you to learn more about. Learning the language is a great way to lead you and your child into having important and challenging conversations. Mistakes will be made and that’s okay, own it, apologize, and work harder to do better. This is new and it’s okay to be vulnerable and to not always get it right. 

Take Care of Yourself

You are not alone. There are more than eight million self-identified LGBTQ people in America and 8 in 10 people personally know someone who is LGBTQ. Reach out to supportive families and allies to help you as you continue to learn more about the LGBTQ community. When we reach out to those who understand, it can help us process our feelings and validate everything that we are feeling. 

Remember, when learning that your child is LGBTQ,  there is no one way to react. Whether it be happiness, relief, fear, guilt, sadness, or anger, each emotion that you feel is normal. 

This is a journey for both of you. Take time to process and explore your feelings. 

Showing your child or loved one acceptance and love is the most important thing we can do, especially when they share with us that they are LGBTQ. It’s okay to not have all the right answers when your child comes out to you. It’s okay to let them know that you don’t know much or anything about the LGBTQ community. Having an open and honest conversation allows us to be vulnerable while also showing that we are here to learn. June is a glorious month to start celebrating your LGBTQ child. Attend events with them, buy them that rainbow shirt from Target. Be their biggest and loudest advocate. If you’re not comfortable with that, shower them with hugs. This is a journey for both of you and your feelings and questions are valid. If you’re looking for more ways to support your LGBTQ loved ones, reach out to Achieve Concierge today. Call (858) 221-0344. 

family-sitting-grass-laughing

Helping My Child With an Addiction Navigate Their Life

Most parents are willing to go to any lengths to protect their children from danger, injury, or illness. If you’re the parent of a child who’s struggling with an addiction, you may find yourself wondering what you can do to help them. As your child is battling this insidious disease, you may feel helpless, sad, and wracked by guilt. Watching your child struggle with addiction can also leave a parent desperately searching for a resource or assistance that could help, consumed by uncertainty over where to even begin looking. Here is a list of tips that can help you help your child with their addiction.

How You Can Help

Facing an addiction of any kind impacts not just the person affected, but their entire family as well. It can make you feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster, experiencing exhausting emotional highs and lows day after day. You may spend your days and nights riddled with worry, guilt, anger, and other negative emotions. It’s not uncommon for the parents of people with addictions to blame themselves or feel intense shame. As a parent, it is vital to develop healthy boundaries and coping mechanisms to preserve your own well-being. Although these boundaries may be hard to set and maintain, preserving your own mental fortitude can allow you to better help your child in the long run.

Maintain Open Communication

Addiction sometimes comes with maladaptive behaviors that can include manipulation and deceit. These behaviors can put a serious strain on your relationship with your child. A powerful way to combat these pitfalls is to establish open and assertive communication. Open communication can help create a safe place for your child to come to even when they may disappoint or upset you. If your child starts to show signs of addiction, do your best to ask open-ended questions, and stay away from judgmental language. Providing your child with a safe and judgment-free space can allow them to express their concerns, struggles, fears, and goals.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse also suggests parents try:

  • Displaying a sense of acceptance and understanding
  • Remaining engaged and focused
  • Being kind and respectful
  • Eliminating distractions
  • Focusing on and validating the good
  • Reducing negative and overly emotional reactions

Create and Reinforce Guidelines

Guidelines are a set of consistent rules. Try to set clear expectations of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Do this by creating a list of cause and effect statements, in the format “if (behavior) happens, then (action) takes place.” These do not need to be negative outcomes; avoid using threatening language such as “if you relapse, we are never helping you again.”

Remember, creating a space that only ends with a negative consequence is not creating a space that feels welcoming for the times that your child does mess up. Addiction and recovery come with a lot of ups and downs, and relapse may be a part of your child’s recovery path. Do your best to provide encouragement and help instead of adding to the negative feelings.

Encourage Positive Behaviors

Although it isn’t going to be easy to forget the mistakes or poor choices your child may make because of their addiction, do your best to acknowledge and praise all the positives. When we positively reinforce our child, we build a sense of teamwork while reducing conflict. Praising them can also encourage them to:

  • Engage in healthy activities
  • Persevere through challenges
  • Create a space that is open and safe
  • Utilize positive coping skills
  • Build their self-confidence

Set Clear Boundaries

After you set your guidelines, it’s important to set non-negotiable boundaries, such as what you will and will not do for your child. Addiction can cause a person to test boundaries, making it crucial to be consistent and firm. Here are a few questions to consider when establishing your boundaries:

  • How do you expect to be treated by your child?
  • What are you willing to sacrifice for your child?
  • Are you willing to sacrifice your morals for your child?
  • Will you enable your child during their addiction?
  • What level of substance abuse are you willing to accept?
  • Can you accept when they relapse?

Practice Self-Care

This is going to be a battle, one that you may not think that you are capable of handling your role in it. You must practice self-care when helping your child with their addiction. Focus on yourself, take time for yourself, and make yourself a priority. The amount of stress and heartbreak you are going to endure can cause burnout, leaving you in a space that isn’t beneficial for anyone.

As a parent, you’ll go to great lengths to keep your child safe and healthy, through sickness and pain alike. Addiction is a dangerous disease that must be treated just as seriously as any chronic illness. The journey of addiction and recovery can be demanding and exhausting for your child and their entire family. Maintaining expectations, setting firm boundaries, and having open communication can all help you and your family as you work to overcome the disease of addiction. Professional treatment is highly recommended for your child and the entire family unit. At Achieve Concierge, we’re ready to work with you on a personalized level to provide the answers and resources your family needs. Participating in a family program can help with feelings of anger and stress while also providing realistic expectations for recovery. If you are looking to help your child or yourself with addiction, reach out to Achieve Concierge today at (858) 221-0344.

lgbtq+

Stand With LQBTQ+ Teens Against Bullying

October 17th is the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s (GLAAD) Spirit Day. GLAAD formed in response to the media’s and society’s reaction to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In 1985 a group of men and women decided to control the LGTBQ+’s (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, Queer, non-binary) narrative. They came together intending to create conversation focused on the issues their community faces. Using the media and the entertainment industry to its advantage, the organization is a driving force behind cultural change. 

GLAAD introduced Spirit Day to increase awareness of bullying. Teenagers who identify as either lesbian/gay/transgender/bisexual/queer/non-binary can face threats, violence, and harassment daily. According to Mental Health America, “LGBT youth are nearly twice as likely to be called names, verbally harassed or physically assaulted at school than their non-LGBT peers. Their mental health and education, not to mention their physical well-being, are at-risk.

The necessity for a day concentrating on ending bullying LGTBQ+ youth is recognized globally. There are several reasons why we should become active in the fight against bullying. LGTBQ+ individuals encounter prejudice and violence because their sexual orientation doesn’t align with others’ moral views. Bullying teen LGTBQ+ teens and damaging their mental and physical health must end. 

Teens Say

Teens who identify as LGTBQ+ report they have experienced verbal, physical, or emotional assault. The experiences left the teens feeling isolated, depressed, unloved, and unsupported. Fear of future bullying or assault is prevalent amongst LGTBQ+ teens.

A positive note is that not all teens who identify as LGTBQ+ report struggling with their peers or family; some felt loved and supported when they told those close to them about their sexual or gender identity.

Mental Health

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation conducted a study to examine how LGTBQ+ teens internalized their feelings regarding every day struggles at home, school, and the community. The results are:   

  • Seventy-seven percent of LGTBQ+ teenagers surveyed report feeling depressed or down over the past week;
  • Ninety-five percent of LGTBQ+ youth report trouble sleeping at night;
  • LGTBQ+ youth of color and transgender teenagers experience unique challenges and elevated stress — only eleven percent of youth of color surveyed believe their racial or ethnic group is regarded positively
  • in the U.S., and over fifty percent of trans and gender-expansive youth said they could never use school restrooms that align with their gender identity;
  • More than seventy percent report feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness in the past week;
  • Only twenty-six percent say they always feel safe in their school classrooms — and just five percent say all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGTBQ+ people;  
  • Sixty-seven percent report that they’ve heard family members make negative comments about LGTBQ+ people.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s study reveals anxiety, stress, and exclusion the teens feel. When asked, the teens stated that “family support and inclusive schools” would help their mental health. Teens who do not have family support or inclusive schools are a higher risk for suicide, substance abuse, and self-harm.

A paper published by the American Journal of Public Health conducted a study with 246 LQTBQ+ youths. The researchers concluded that one-third of the study’s youths were affected emotionally by a lack of support from their friends, family, or peers at school. Additional findings include the mental health disorders the youths are diagnosed with:

Education

Schools that are not inclusive of LGTBQ+ teens create a hostile learning environment. Teens in these environments are at a higher risk for low grades, skipping school, and intense bullying. The results of an adverse learning environment based on a 2017 National School Climate Survey found:

  • Almost 8 in 10 students in our survey reported feeling unsafe at school because of at least one personal characteristic, with sexual orientation and gender expression being the most commonly reported characteristics.
  • Students also frequently reported avoiding spaces in their schools that they perceived as unsafe, mostly bathrooms, locker rooms, and P.E. classes.  
  • Transgender and gender-nonconforming students were particularly likely to have felt unsafe at school and face anti-LQTBQ+ victimization. 
  • The majority of LQTBQ+ students also faced discriminatory school practices and policies.
  • LQTBQ+ students who experienced frequent harassment and assault based on their sexual orientation or gender expression reported missing more days of school, having lower GPAs, lower educational aspirations, and higher school discipline rates than students who were harassed less often.

What Can We Do?

Family and friends of LGTBQ+ teens can help support their loved ones in a variety of ways. The 2017 National School Climate suggests schools can start with educators’ “supportive educators positively influencing students’ academic performance, educational aspirations, and safety feelings. “

We can also start by:

  • Enacting comprehensive anti-bullying policies
  • Be alert to signs of decreased mental health.
  • Encourage bullied teens into letting a person in authority know.
  • Have a speaker come into a school, church, or other community organization and speak about the dangers LGTBQ+ teens face
  • Start a group that supports LGTBQ+ teens.
  • Talk with your kids about LGTBQ+ issues.

LGTBQ+ teens, like most teens, face many obstacles in their path. Navigating friends’ common issues, acceptance, clothes, hair, and other matters creates stress and anxiety. The addition of being harassed and bullied because of sexual preference can add to teens’ stress and anxiety. Learning about the issues LGTBQ+ teens face is a start to help end bullying. Joining others in GLAAD’s Spirit Day can increase awareness and create a positive conversation.

 

LGTBQ+ teens are at risk. Many negative actions jeopardize the mental and physical well-being of LGTBQ+ teens. Being lesbian/gay/transgender/bisexual/queer/non-binary shouldn’t cause harassment, bullying, or violent acts. A conversation focused on acceptance is essential for those teens at risk for mental health challenges. We can start in our homes, schools, and community by opening a constructive dialogue discussing LGTBQ+ teens’ issues daily. We can also seek individual or group therapy, which is a great way to include the family in helping an LGTBQ+ teen express their feelings in a safe space. Achieve Concierge welcomes the opportunity to discuss any questions you might have regarding the health and welfare of LGTBQ+ teens. We also offer in-home therapy if your teen prefers complete privacy. Call us at (858) 221-0344 for more information.

Nutrition: Healing The Body After Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Nutrition: Healing The Body After Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Your body is a war zone. Consistent alcohol or substance abuse erodes your organs’ ability to take in and process vitamins and minerals. Similar to cancer or other diseases, alcohol and substances take over, breaking apart bits and pieces of your body. Both alcohol and substances can eat away at the brain and other organs or linings. Over time, the body shows signs of decay and malnutrition. The result is a body riddled with disease and pain.

The damage done by drinking or substance use is not permanent. A comprehensive approach to recovery includes building the body back up through proper nutrition. A proper diet with nutritional supplements begins the healing process for those with less severe damage. Those who suffer from severe damage to their body may require short-term intravenous therapy to provide the body with needed nutrients. Nutrition needs are determined by whether a person drank or used substances.

Lack of Self- Care

Alcohol is calorie-dense. Alcohol has seven calories per gram of alcohol second only to fat, which has nine calories per gram. The result of drinking empty calories is that the drinker feels full. The decrease in appetite because of drinking leads to inadequate nutrient intake and, eventually, malnutrition—the feeling of being full yet not being nourished results in unhealthy weight.

Often, alcoholism is portrayed as a person with red eyes, cheeks, and/or nose with a belly that protrudes against their clothes. Functional alcoholics don’t always look like this. They may appear fit and healthy, but the damage sustained by long-term abuse or dependence still exists.

Opiate and cocaine users focus on the cycle of getting high, crashing, and seeking a new high. They do this to the point of forgetting to eat or forgetting to take care of themselves. Alcohol or substance users may skip meals or fast to increase the feelings that occur during their use. Any or all of these habits affect gastrointestinal and brain function.

Damage to the Body

Continued drug or alcohol abuse damages the digestive system. Symptoms of a damaged digestive system are:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite

Other effects on the body include:

  • Damage to the liver and reducing its ability to store nutrients
  • Lean tissue and muscles breakdown
  • Suppression of the immune system

Alcohol, painkillers, and heroin damage and can shut down the digestive process. When the digestive process stops, the brain doesn’t receive vitamins or minerals.

Alcohol and heroin use also can damage the inner lining of the intestines. Vitamins and minerals aren’t absorbed by the intestines, causing a lack of nutrients sent to the brain. A healthy gut equals a healthy brain.

Fresh foods rebuild organs and tissues damaged by alcohol or substance abuse. In time, the nervous and gastrointestinal system receives the vitamins and nutrients they need repairing caused damage by alcohol or substance abuse.

Proper Nutrition and Recovery

The damage from alcohol or substance use is reversible. A well-nourished brain means a decrease in withdrawal symptoms and a higher chance of remaining in recovery. Natural foods retain good fats, macronutrients, and micronutrients that are vital to the body.

At the beginning of treatment, it is essential to learn about dietary habits. Eating nutrient-dense fresh food provides what the body needs to heal—putting aside processed food filled with fat and sugar benefits the body—processed food strip necessary micronutrients from foods. Healthy fats convert to trans fats, which create barriers to enzymes.
Healthy calorie consumption is vital and is easily accomplished by eating foods such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Fish
  • Nuts

With time and knowledge of how to eat well, you will see a difference in how your body and mind function. Healthful eating affects moods, creating positive feelings. Learning to make healthy food choices can initiate the path to healing.

How to Be Healthy

You are learning how to choose healthy foods while in treatment. A healthy diet builds a foundation for recovery. Changing habits pose challenges. Learning how to make a satisfying meal takes time. Meals, when prepared correctly, are filled with necessary vitamins and minerals.

The education process—combined with psychological and social education—teaches self-care. Eating healthy, exercising, and having hobbies are essential during recovery. When combined, the recovery process is more durable. Your body is no longer a war zone; it is a place of healing and good health.

Every treatment program should view you as an individual. We understand you have different needs, so we use different approaches to help you in your recovery. We are here to help and want to aid you in your search for answers.

The Mind-Body Connection

Proper nutrition will aid in initial recovery and sustained recovery. While understanding how nutrition plays a role in the recovery process, it is also important to understand why nutrition must be used in conjunction with a treatment program. Mark Hyman writes in his book, The Ultramind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First:

The chemical imbalances underlying “psychiatric illness” can now be seen as linked to more systemic chemical, metabolic problems, which can be treated at the bodily level. While just treating the brain chemistry can lead to drug dependence, treating systemic chemistry can fix the brain chemistry imbalance and lead to real sustainable healing.

Addicts abuse alcohol or substances in an effort to treat brain chemistry. The attempt to mask feelings and ease anxiety, depression, or other psychological conditions creates dependence. Through comprehensive treatment, including learning about nutrition, the body can heal.

Addiction robs a person of many things. The damage done to the body may appear overwhelming, but with the right tools—such as therapy and nutrition—it can be healed. Nutrition is important in healing after recovery. Long-term alcohol or substance dependence breaks down the body and mind. Understanding how alcohol or substance dependence affects organs, the gastrointestinal system, and brain chemistry is necessary in order to understand the importance of a proper diet. Learning how to cook, shop, and replace fatty, sugary foods with fresh, healthy foods allows the body to heal itself. The body is an amazing organism that can repair itself while providing the necessary functions for life. To learn more about how nutrition can aid in recovery, call Achieve Concierge. We offer appointments with a Registered Dietician to help guide you in healthy eating habits. Do you want to know more? Contact Achieve Concierge today by calling (858) 221-0344.

Life After Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment

Life After Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment

Admitting you have an addiction is life-changing. A person’s path to recovery begins when they realize they have no control over their use of alcohol and substances, they take action, and they seek help. Asking for help is a powerful thing to do.

It means recognizing you have a loss of control over a part of your life and taking steps to get it back. Calling a treatment center can be scary, but going to treatment will bring about positive changes. Once active treatment finishes, life will not be the same, and there may be a time when you mourn the loss of your addictive environment.

The New Normal

Throughout our lives, challenges occur and they test our commitment to the new state of normalcy. A need to stay vigilant exists. Navigating how to remain sober is different than finding ways to drink alcohol or use substances. The reality is that the new normal takes some adjustment.

Peoples and places are difficult to leave, especially when a person can’t move to a different home or start a job in a new place. There are ways to recognize triggers and be aware of behaviors. Treatment never ends because staying sober is a lifetime commitment.

Being in treatment facilitates a sense of safety and positivity. After treatment, it feels like everyone leaves. One person said treatment is like being in a nest, and successfully finishing treatment is like being kicked out of the nest where you are expected to fly on your own. But are you truly alone? Leaving treatment doesn’t mean leaving your support system. Keeping in touch with therapists, group counselors, and sponsors can build on the foundation you created in treatment.

Stay Vigilant

Addicts are always working on their recovery. After going to treatment and completing a program, a part of the new normal is staying vigilant. Everyone has their moments. Outside factors affect us, leading us to be tempted. Even those who are in recovery for months or years can relapse.

The key is to be aware of your environment, your emotional health, and any shifts in your behavior. It’s not easy to always be vigilant, but there’s help available. Use the tools from treatment to push past barriers. Fall back on:

  • Group sessions at your treatment center
  • Individual therapy
  • Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
  • Calling your sponsor
  • Calling your sober buddy

You’re not alone in the journey toward recovery. As with any journey, there are unexpected turns, but people will want to help you because they care.

Beware of Cross-Addiction

Cross-addiction occurs when a person replaces one addictive behavior with another. The switch from one addiction to another may not occur immediately. A person in recovery can go years before they turn to another vice to help them with feelings of anxiety, grief, depression, and not being in control.

The person knows the dangers of their addiction and will avoid going back to alcohol or substance abuse. Instead, they seek other ways to help them cope with their feelings. Replacing alcohol or substances with work, sex, or strict diets, for example, only facilitates dependence on another form of addiction.

In some cases, the person will replace alcohol or their preferred substance with something they believe to be less harmful, like marijuana. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that about 20 million people over the age of 12 have an addiction problem in the United States.

A support system can spot a new addiction. Friends, sober buddies, therapists, or those in group sessions can point out cross-addiction and help you. It is important to listen to those who want to help you.

Support Systems

Treatment and recovery go hand in hand. Every group session, meeting, and individual therapy appointment is another step in the recovery journey. When addicts use alcohol or substances to numb their feelings, they also push people away. Pushing people away protects the addict from facing their addiction.

Treatment is about learning to let those who love and care for you into your life. People who care about you want to help; they want to know how they can support you in your journey. Let them. Some ways to let them in are:

  • Talking with them about your addiction, triggers, and what recovery means to you.
  • Attending meetings. The people at meetings understand how addiction can rip your world apart. They also know how hard it is to put it back together. Listen to their stories and share yours.
  • Inviting family members to an individual session with your counselor or therapist. Therapy sessions provide a feeling of safety. Talking with our family in a safe place like a therapist’s office allows you to share your feelings and how behaviors of individual family members affect our addiction recovery.
  • Scheduling in-home visits with your therapist
  • Working privately with your therapist as needed

There’s Hope

You’re not alone. The new state of normalcy isn’t a lifestyle void of a support system. Lean on those who want to see you succeed. Accepting support and being vulnerable can be hard. Emotional and relapse prevention support tailored to your personal needs is possible. Zen Habits, a mindfulness blog, recently recommended a few things we can do to help adjust to the new normal:

  • Have a willingness to feel what we’re feeling
  • Have a willingness to face and sit in the middle of difficulty (patience)
  • Have compassion for ourselves and others
  • Have the ability to create connection and meaning

Take the lessons learned in treatment and apply them to new feelings and situations. Learn to be grateful for what you have now. Recognize the feelings that occur after treatment aren’t necessarily new, but the remainders of old feelings; use your coping strategies. Never forget you can always go to a meeting, join a support group, or talk with sober buddies or your therapist. You are not alone.

The new normal is scary, but it isn’t impossible to deal with. The chance to change, grow, and embrace opportunities is exciting. Spend time each day thinking about what you are grateful for, what you want to work on, and what your goals are for your recovery. Reach out to others in the recovery community to help you continue to feel like a part of something. There is meaning in your recovery and your life; belief in yourself is important. Connecting with others and creating a change in your life are positive steps in embracing who you are and want to become. There can be times when you feel isolated in your journey and need someone. If you feel you are alone, please call Achieve Concierge. We are here 24 hours a day to keep you on your path. We want you to succeed because we know you can. You can contact Achieve Concierge today at (858) 221-0344.

Family Roles in Addiction

Family Roles in Addiction

Families play an essential part in the process of addiction recovery. Each family member’s role creates a unique pattern that affects the whole family unit. Recognizing the roles that family members play is integral in helping an individual face their addiction.

Ideally, in treatment, the family would be involved, but there may be a reluctance for some members to participate. Not every treatment center includes the family in the patient’s therapy treatment. Treating the person struggling with addictive behaviors as a whole person helps them redefine who they are and find their new place in their family.

There are six family roles in regards to addiction. Family members may take on more than one role, depending on their coping skills and what they can offer. It is essential to recognize the positions adopted by individual family members in order to better understand the dynamics that exist in the family.

The Addict

The addict is the core of a family’s attention. Discussions, actions, decisions, and energy are centered around helping the addict receive care from other family members. The role of the addict forces others to fill a void left by the addict’s alcohol or substance dependence.

Family members adopt roles they believe will smooth out the imbalance in their unit. As each family member takes on their role, the addict will display forms of emotions such as guilt, shame, and stress. In some cases, the addict will drink or use substances more because of the feelings mentioned.

The Hero

The hero wants to help the family look good to those on the outside. They want to appear as if everything is perfectly fine in their family, so they act positively when they are with others. They smooth over any action or behavior the addict displayed while in public. The act of being calm and positive in public may ease family members’ minds, thinking the hero is doing well. However, the hero can feel a degree of pain and isolation.

The Jester

There is usually a member of a family who uses humor to deflect feelings. They tell jokes, play pranks, and do other things to alleviate tense or negative situations. Jesters can appear to be superficial, but they use their jokes as a means to protect them from feelings of hurt, shame, and embarrassment. They usually have a hard time understanding why their family member is addicted and understanding how they can effectively help.

The Scapegoat

The line between the jester and the scapegoat may blur in some families. The scapegoat uses humor and constructs situations meant to draw attention away from the addict. The acts of the scapegoat are often dramatic. They want solutions to problems. Their need to fix situations and interactions comes from not being able to fix addiction.

The unruly behaviors caused by the scapegoat are fixable unlike the addict’s alcohol or substance dependence. The family can focus their attention on finding solutions to the scapegoat’s problems rather than dealing with addiction issues, where it can seem like there are no solutions.

The Caretaker

The caretaker puts all of their energy into making things okay. They, like the hero, want to present a unified, happy family to the public, despite the turmoil going on at home. They make excuses for the addict and find ways to protect the addict from the harm they are causing to themselves.

In many ways, the caretaker is an accomplice. The caretaker swoops in when the addict is in trouble or might suffer from their use. They believe they must help, but their help actually ends up harming the addict. The effort to protect and rescue the addict is harmful because it distorts the addict’s reality of addiction.

If the addict is consistently being protected from their choice to use or drink, they never feel the effect their behavior has on their family. The caretaker feels loyalty and love for the addict. However, their feelings of fear regarding what may happen to the addict are misplaced. The caretaker needs to free themselves from any responsibility they may feel towards the addict.

The Family

Addiction can scar a family. The effects of addition leave pain, shame, guilt, fear, and anger. The roles family members play in order to maintain a sense of normalcy ultimately hurt everyone and can cause the addict to dive deeper into their addiction. As a result of the roles of addiction, there is a need to involve family members in addiction treatment therapy sessions.

The family as a unit can suffer without these codependent roles. Without the assumed roles, family members may not know how to act around the addict before, during, and after treatment. Comprehensive treatment includes the family. When undergoing treatment, the addict is learning about who they are and their role in their family. They gain self-confidence, tools to cope with stress, boredom, anxiety, depression, and other feelings.

By addressing the family as a whole, therapy can help the family cope, push negative feelings away, and focus the proper amount of attention on the addict. Family therapy may reveal the foundation of each family member’s role. We all have a part to play in our families.

Addressing the roles we play is vital to working toward our own recovery or the recovery of a family member. Asking questions, facing realities, and admitting we need help are strengths. With this strength, we find who we are and who we will become.

Addiction affects everyone in the family. Facing a loved one’s addiction isn’t easy. The first impulse of the family, when faced with addiction, is to ignore it or hide it. Neither reaction is a long-term solution to their loved one’s alcohol or substance dependence. Taking on roles diminishes the family’s ability to help the addict. Instead, the roles adopted by the family hinder treatment, increase the use of alcohol or substances, and can delay the family from seeking help. Every family member needs to understand their role and how they can help not only themselves, but the addict, as well. Recovery is not a process that is achieved alone. Family members are essential in helping an addict succeed, once they complete treatment. Including family members in individual therapy sessions built around addressing their roles and feelings towards the addict strengthens the recovery process. To learn how you can be involved in supporting your loved one, contact Achieve Concierge by calling today at (858) 221-0344.

Cycles of Depression: Hope in Treatment

Cycles of Depression: Hope in Treatment

Depression is complicated. There is often a fear of vulnerability. Complicating it, even more, is the anxiety of being labeled. Then there is the advice given by friends and family. Despite the well-intentioned words, there remains a lack of understanding of how crippling depression is. People who suffer from depression are often masters of disguise.

The need to keep up appearances pushes them to drive away their feelings. For many, the promise of comfort found in substances is tempting. The first few times creates a sense of well-being. Unfortunately, people often believe that continued use will help them keep depression away.

Depression

Depression occurs commonly across the world. Those who are affected by depression are young and old, male and female. Complex interactions in social, biological, and psychological situations can contribute to depression. Adverse life events, such as loss of a loved one or a job, as well as trauma, can all contribute to depression—and feelings of depression can also layer on top of existing feelings of depression.

There are two types of depression: the World Health Organization defines the types of depression and their symptoms depending on the number and severity of symptoms; a depressive episode can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. A key distinction is also made between depression in people who do or do not have a history of manic episodes.

Both types of depression can be chronic (i.e., over an extended period) with relapses, especially if they go untreated.

Recurrent depressive disorder: this disorder involves repeated depressive episodes. During these episodes, the person experiences a depressed mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, and reduced energy—leading to diminished activity for at least two weeks.

Many people with depression also suffer from anxiety symptoms, disturbed sleep, and appetite, and may have feelings of guilt or low self-worth, poor concentration, and even symptoms that cannot be explained by a medical diagnosis. Depending on the number and severity of symptoms, a depressive episode can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe.

An individual with a mild depressive episode will have some difficulty in continuing with ordinary work and social activities, but will probably not cease to function completely. During a severe depressive episode, it is unlikely that the sufferer will be able to continue with social, work, or domestic activities, except to a limited extent.

Bipolar affective disorder: this type of depression typically consists of both manic and depressive episodes, separated by periods of normal mood. Manic episodes involve elevated or irritable mood, over-activity, pressure of speech, inflated self-esteem, and a decreased need for sleep.

Depression may lead to suicidal thoughts. Many people seek relief from depression by using alcohol or drugs. However, using alcohol or substances increases suicidal ideations, rather than decreasing those thoughts.

Depression and Alcohol or Substance Abuse

Feelings of depression are, at times, overwhelming. People, seeking to ease feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or stress can turn to alcohol or substances. The use of alcohol or substances can temporarily mask those feelings; however, using alcohol or substances doesn’t address the root of depression. Alcohol, drug, or marijuana users soon become dependent on these substances in a never-ending cycle.

Continued use of alcohol, drugs, or marijuana can increase feelings of depression. Talking to a therapist, a doctor, or joining a support group can help individuals begin to actually address their depression. For treatment to be successful, finding the right therapist is essential.

Treatment for Depression

The World Health Organization explains the types of treatments for depression:

Health-care providers may offer psychological treatments such as behavioral activation, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), or antidepressant medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). Health-care providers should keep in mind the possible adverse effects associated with antidepressant medication, the ability to deliver either intervention (in terms of expertise, and/or treatment availability), and individual preferences. Different psychological treatment formats for consideration include individual and/or group face-to-face psychological treatments delivered by professionals and supervised lay therapists.

Myra’s Story

Myra, an addict, shares her struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts.

Myra sought help after her first attempt at suicide. While in treatment, Myra developed a greater understanding of the causes and manifestations of depression, and learned how to address those causes. She felt empowered. Unfortunately, Myra wasn’t comfortable asking her therapist about a new medication, because her current prescription didn’t alleviate her feeling of depression.

She didn’t feel better and began to wonder if therapy or medication would work. Two years later, she attempted suicide again. During the two years before her second attempt, Myra stopped going to therapy and neglected to take her medication for depression.

Finding the Right Fit

The next time Myra decided to seek help, she chose a treatment center that matched therapists with their clients’ needs. Myra sat in the office of her therapist and talked about everything but her suicidal ideations. Each session was a time to chat, talk about her career, family, and explain to her therapist how she didn’t have time to give in to depression.

Myra was good at keeping up appearances until one day she realized she was tired of pretending to be okay. Myra trusted her relationship with her therapist, and she opened up. She told her therapist about her episodes of depression. Together, they addressed Myra’s depression disorder. Myra and her therapist discussed what triggers her feelings of depression, her previous prescriptions, and what she used to alleviate her feelings of depression.

Her therapist explained that Myra had Treatment-Resistant Depression. After speaking with the doctor, Myra and her therapist agreed that including Spravato to her treatment would benefit her—a medication prescribed by a doctor for those with Treatment-Resistant Depression. Myra saw improvements in her depression after combining Spravato, therapy, and an antidepressant.

Depression is a common psychological illness and is treatable. Influences such as the death of loved one, job loss, and other life changes increase the chance of depression. Stress from trying to hide or address depression on your own adds to depression. It’s okay to acknowledge the signs of depression, including a lack of interest in hobbies, places, or people. The search for help is possible by reaching out to others. Talking with someone about feelings of depression should help alleviate those feelings. Feelings of depression can be addressed through comprehensive care. If you were previously in treatment for depression, but it didn’t work, there is an answer. Treatment-Resistant Depression isn’t something you have to live with. Addressing Treatment-Resistant Depression is possible with prescriptions such as Spravato. Specialized care tailored to meet each individual’s needs can create a positive experience in therapy. Treatment for depression offers hope. Contact Achieve Concierge today: (858) 221-0344.

Ways to Help Children with ADHD Manage Online Learning

Ways to Help Children with ADHD Manage Online Learning

The COVID-19 pandemic threw off everyone’s 2020 plans. The virus not only shut down our malls, schools, pools, and gyms — it shut down our way of life. Children went home one Friday afternoon from school, unaware that they would not be returning until August. There was no way to prepare ourselves for the reality that we would all be quarantined inside.

Learning from home via Zoom and only connecting with friends in online classrooms can be detrimental to social growth for any child, but the challenges for students with learning disabilities, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), need particular attention. The goal is to help children with ADHD and other disorders receive the same quality of education as their peers.

School’s Out

We all understand that there was no way around online classes once everyone was sent home for the school year. Teachers were forced to move lesson plans online, and parents have stayed home with their families for months. Without any time to plan, the idea to televise education inevitably left no room for children with learning difficulties. Children being asked to maintain classwork and schoolwork on their own with ADHD is incredibly difficult.

What Teachers Can Do

As educators, you care deeply about the children you teach and want to provide the best level of education that you are capable of giving. Check in on your kids who have ADHD/ADD. Reach out to the parents and see what you can do to help give these children the education they need. In brick and mortar classrooms, children with learning disabilities often have tutors and extra time for concept retention.

This resource is instrumental to a child’s development, and it would also be an excellent at-home resource for parents and children. Another way to help your students with ADHD is to continuously check your volume levels while teaching a live class. Some of your students may have sensory issues. If excessive yelling is used during your live stream, they may not be focused on what you’re saying, but how loudly you’re saying it.

Another thing to be mindful of is your movement. Arm flailing or pacing can be distracting for students with learning disabilities. Consider recording yourself teaching as if your students were in front of you. By reviewing these recordings, you’ll see if you sway, pace, make large hand movements, or fidget with your clothing.

What Parents Can Do

Having the entire world shift is stressful and unexpected, and it generates a lot of unnecessary stress on your children as well as yourself. If your child is struggling with ADHD and learning from home, they need your help as well. Carve out 1-2 hours every night or every other night with your child to help them with their homework or perhaps teach them a new concept at school.

There are plenty of free websites that can help with learning new concepts in math, science, language arts, or social studies. If you are feeling helpless, no worries! Reach out to your child’s teacher and let them know that your child is struggling. It is always okay to ask for help. Another great way to keep your children on task is to create a set schedule with your child.

Tell your child what they will be learning, why they are learning about it, and how long they will be learning it. It could reduce anxiety or restlessness if your child knows exactly how long the lesson will last, followed by an allotted amount of free time. If you are using Zoom or another online live classroom setting, make sure the lesson is recorded so your child can view the lesson in chunks and retain the information more effectively.

Realizing the Difficulties

It’s no secret that children with ADHD already have a difficult time learning in traditional brick and mortar schools. Now that they have to learn online from home with hundreds of distractions, the difficulty is likely even greater. It is challenging to keep the attention of a child with ADHD, so be prepared to spend more time instructing and teaching.

An ADHD diagnosis can be a challenge for people of all ages, especially today in the world of online learning and working. If you or someone you know struggles with ADHD, Achieve Concierge can help. We use mindfulness awareness techniques, medications, psychotherapy, and occupational therapy to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD and improve performance at school and at work. To learn more, call us today at (858) 221-0344.