Month: December 2014

“Embrace The Suck!” Fight Depression By Doing Things You Really Don’t Want To

It’s one of the mantras that often get chanted in wilderness therapy: “Embrace the Suck!” This military expression means that sometimes doing the seemingly unpleasant things we don’t want to do is the best way to move forward. Whether it’s going for a run when a person doesn’t want to get out of bed, attending to a social event when a person feels anxious or tired, or even participating in a group therapy sharing session—let’s face it: sometimes we have to do things that just seem to “suck”. But in the end, we’re better for it. For teens and young adults trying to fight depression, “Embracing the Suck” can be half the battle!

The Behavioral Side Of Depression

There are two aspects to depression: the clinical diagnosis, and the behaviors that contribute to and reinforce depression (such as isolation). In treating depression, it is important to address both aspects simultaneously. A treatment plan that seeks to medicate without also concentrating on negative behavior patterns and attitudes is unlikely to be successful in the long-term.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), a treatment model utilized in wilderness therapy, operates from the premise that in taking positive actions, thought patterns will begin to follow. Rather than waiting for depression medication to make a person feel better, CBT stresses that a person act their way to feeling better. Forcing oneself to do the unwanted activities reinforces positive behavior patterns for the future.

Out Of The Comfort Zone For Newfound Confidence

Most often, we are adverse to things because either they present a challenge or they make us afraid. But, when a person works through these challenges by doing the activity, they dispel those fears and can actually become better for it. In wilderness therapy, some of the greatest strides come from being forced to overcome difficult obstacles: the pouring rain, rising tides, bad weather. Embracing life’s challenges and working through them shows teens what they’re really capable of doing. And this opens the door to confident, self-sufficient adulthood.

Another aspect to wilderness therapy teens are initially averse to is sharing in group therapy. But, in forcing themselves to engage in activities that are beyond their comfort zone, teens are able to get the full benefit of the experience. You can think of this as an “attitude adjustment.” The knowledge that doing these disliked tasks will help them accomplish their goals, combined with the act of doing them, teens actually begin to crave these activities, even look forward to them. After a few group therapy sessions it’s quite remarkable to see the eagerness to share.

Take It One Step At A Time

Often the activities our teens resist most are the best things for them. Teens and young adults suffering from depression need motivation to tackle the overwhelming challenges they face one step – or disliked activity – at a time. Most importantly, parents need to understand the behavioral habits of depression that reinforce the cycle of negativity and help their children “embrace the suck” for an overall healthier, more positive life.

Ditch the Clock: How Wilderness Therapy Helps Teens With ADHD

For many teens with ADHD wearing a watch or having a clock in the room can be a huge distraction. While they still need a healthy routine, there are alternatives to being a “slave to the clock.”

In today’s world, most of us are guilty of it: we are all but lost without our watches or phones to constantly check the time. Teens suffering from ADHD can obsess over time: watching the minutes tick slowly away as they sit in class, they forget to focus on the task at hand. Sometimes it is healthier for the teen to step away, to an environment that is not bound to a clock such as Wilderness therapy.

Routine Without Time: Wilderness Therapy Makes It Possible

Wilderness therapy addresses this issue very simply: there are no clocks in nature. It’s the job of the wilderness therapy instructors to maintain the schedule. So, there’s routine without the distracting preoccupation to know the time. Many teens with ADHD spend so much time thinking about what time it is and where they are supposed to be, that they spend too little time directing their attention on the things that really matter—like paying attention in school or listening to instruction. In an attempt to stay on schedule, they actually get very little done. Getting out in nature offers teens a healthy way to refocus and it creates a new way of thinking about time management.

Eliminate The Clock, Create Task-Oriented Teens

That’s not to say it isn’t incredibly difficult to divert from regular patterns. When teens first enter wilderness therapy, one of the things they miss the most is their watch. Many obsess over finding out the specific time of day. But after a while, the time becomes less significant. What begins to matter is getting the important tasks done during the day that are required for survival in the wilderness—finding shelter, starting a fire, making food, etc.

Through this, teens begin to take on a new understanding of time. It’s not 8 a.m., 9 a.m., and so on. In the wilderness, it’s “time to wake up,” and “time for breakfast,” and “time to break down camp and get to the next location before that thunderstorm hits.” Teens with ADHD become task-oriented. This is a huge step in successfully managing their ADHD.

It’s true that you can’t live practically in the world without having a general idea of what time it is. But a constant fixation on the specific time makes it difficult to get anything of worth done. There has to be a healthy balance. When returning home from wilderness therapy, teens need to find a way to navigate between completing their task list and sticking to a schedule. It’s not easy. But, with the skills and coping tools learned in wilderness therapy, teens are better equipped to manage the things that previously caused the greatest distractions—like wearing a watch.

Is Your Child’s ADHD Medication Failing? Wilderness Therapy Can Help

Medication is a crucial aspect of ADHD treatment. The decision to medicate is highly complicated and should not be taken lightly. However, if ADHD medication is the right course, it is important to consider how and when medication should be administered to best benefit your teen. One often overlooked factor in taking medication: the time of day. Its important to note, that in addition to any ADHD medication, other more long term strategies including wilderness therapy should also be considered.

Medication When Your Child Needs It

A former Wilderness Therapy student – an intelligent sixteen-year old teen suffering from ADHD, who was struggling in school – is a prime example of how medication is not effective in and of itself. He had been taking medication for some time, but with limited success. Results showed he was better focused for the first half of the day, but less so in the afternoon—his grades in the afternoon classes were significantly lower than his morning classes.

The parents of this teen were divorced and didn’t communicate with one another and for the most part, the teen was responsible for administering his own medication.

Upon discovering the link between time of day and his slipping grades, he was able to adjust the dosage and time of day to appropriately reflect what he needed. Some was given in the morning, and some later in the afternoon. The result? He was able to focus for the entire day, allowing him to accomplish more of his schoolwork and boost his grades in those afternoon classes.

This case shows that taking prescribed medication for ADHD isn’t enough. The dosage and the time of day are significant factors in success. Speak with a doctor or health professional to ensure your teen gets the most benefit out of his or her medication.

Other Contributing Factors: Lifestyle

Besides taking medication at the correct the time of day, there are other things teens can do to manage their ADHD. These include incorporating a holistic food diet, engaging in regular physical activity, getting outdoors, and practicing mindful meditation. If a teen needs an immersive experience to learn these tactics first-hand from professionals, wilderness therapy program may be exactly what they need. The advantage of the wilderness setting is that it offers a constant change of scenery and the opportunity to re-group and re-focus when needed. Tired after a long day’s journey, wilderness therapy also helps teens to sleep easier—another key ingredient in managing ADHD.

A Cohesive Strategy

Whether taken on its own, or in conjunction with other ADHD management strategies, medication needs to be used properly in order for it to be a successful treatment. Simply taking a pill here and there won’t help. Medication needs to be taken in the correct dose and at the correct time of day for full effectiveness.

Other more long term strategies including exercise and exploring the outdoors through wilderness therapy should be considered for any child with ADHD in addition to medication. To learn more about wilderness therapy, or the programs we offer, contact Rites of Passage at (800)794-0980.

Is a Long Term Care Program the Answer? What To Do When Your Child Or Friend Asks For Help

Long Term Alcohol Rehab Treatment Center

When a child or friend reaches out for help with an issue they are struggling with, such as depression or substance abuse, they are looking for a lifeline. Caught in an unfamiliar situation, you may not know how to help them. If someone you love reaches out for support, here are a few things you can do to help them get better including, professional assistance from a long term care program.

Listen. Don’t let a person’s plea for help fall on deaf ears. If your friend or child comes to you for help or insinuates that they need help, listen closely to what they have to say. Sometimes, they’ll be expressing these feelings for the first time, and your listening skills may determine whether or not they remain willing to communicate with you and with others. Lend an ear and give your support.

Seek professional help. Despite your best efforts, it’s likely your child or friend will need more help than you can provide. Reach out to a medical health professional, councilor, a long term care program, or someone else equipped and qualified to deal with the issue at hand. Your loved one may express that they do not want or need external help, but sometimes honoring this wish inhibits their healing. You might have to do some digging to find the appropriate support for them, and you may also need to work hard to convince them that they need this extra help, but in the end it’s the best thing you can do for them.

Become involved in treatment. Don’t “pass off” your child or friend to a professional for treatment; they need your active, ongoing support. There are lots of ways to become actively involved: drive them to treatment when they need it, ask them about their program and the actions they’re taking, or attend a therapy session if they ask for your support. Encourage their progress and check in often. People are more likely to succeed in treatment if they know their progress matters to someone else.

Do things together. Invite your loved one to participate in your daily activities or suggest new activities that you can do together that promote feelings of reward or accomplishment. Focus on small, achievable goals, such as hiking a challenging trail, completing an art project or finishing a book. Your active participation in making the little things achievable can make all the difference to your friend or child.

Stay in contact. You might have to work harder than your friend or child to keep communication constant. Don’t take it personally that they don’t reach out often or if they back away when you reach out. Struggling individuals tend to isolate themselves and often pull back from those that are closest to them in an attempt to hide their troubles. It’s up to you to reach out and let them know you care.

Get educated. It’s hard to help a friend or child when you really don’t understand the issue. Gather information from reliable, trusted sources and read up on what the person you care about is going through. You can also pass helpful information on to your friend or child so that they are in a better position to help themselves.

Step outside. The outdoors can help a person feel better and get healthier. Go for a walk. Sit in a park and get grounded. Play a sport. If your loved one needs a treatment program, wilderness therapy is a great alternative to a traditional 28-day program. Incorporating different therapy models, as well as a holistic diet, physical exercise and the healing power of nature, wilderness therapy sees exceptional results in those that participate in the program.

If your child or friend reaches out to you because they are feeling suicidal or having thoughts of suicide, or you suspect that they may be having such thoughts, act immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

When a child or friend reaches out to you for help with a struggle that they are facing, there are many things you can do to support them. Simply letting them know you care and that you’re ready to help is the first step. Practicing these simple tips can aid you in steering your friend or child on the path to full recovery. To learn more about all available options, including a long term care program, such as wilderness therapy, contact Rites of Passage today at (800)794-0980.

Self-Medicating and ADHD: Is There a More Natural ADHD Treatment for Teens?

The Dangers of Self Medication for ADHD Treatment

Self-medicating for ADHD has become an increasingly popular choice for teens and young adults, especially when they head off to college and are living independently for the first time. As a parent, your job is to be aware of the serious risk of substance abuse and to take an active role to make sure your child doesn’t head down this dangerous path.

Turning to substances as a way to manage ADHD is especially common for teens and young adults who have never been diagnosed or have been misdiagnosed. Some may be unaware that they suffer from ADHD. Others may suspect or have self-diagnosed themselves as having ADHD, but feel like they can manage it without external help. Some have even been diagnosed, but do not seek treatment. But using drugs and alcohol to manage the symptoms of ADHD is incredibly dangerous. It can lead to addiction, create severe health problems, and it does nothing to correct the underlying issue. For this reason, many parents and families seek to find a more natural ADHD Treatment for Teens, through programs including wilderness therapy.

Why Teens And Young Adults Self-Medicate

In order to get your child the help they need, you need to understand the reasons behind their substance abuse. Some of the common reasons that teens and young adults turn to drugs and alcohol to manage their ADHD:

  • Relaxing Socially: Many teens and young adults abuse drugs or alcohol as a way of fitting in or to reduce anxiety in social settings.
  • Focusing Academically: Some high school and college students report using drugs and alcohol as a study aid to concentrate and get homework done, or to make a “boring” lecture more engaging.
  • Improving Mood: Using drugs and alcohol can elevate mood. But, it also causes that mood to crash when the effects have worn off—contributing to a vicious cycle of abuse.
  • Sleeping Better: Some teens use drugs and alcohol because it helps them get to sleep. Unfortunately, a drug-induced sleep does not result in feeling well rested the next day.
  • Biology: There may be a genetic disposition involved in self-medicating ADHD. There’s an increased rate of drug and alcohol use in family members of ADHD sufferers.
  • Behavior Modeling: Teens and young adults also model the behavior of those they are closest to, so seeing family members or peers self-medicate makes it more likely for them to follow suit.
3 Things Parents Can Do
  • As a parent, there are steps you can take to help your child if you suspect they are managing their ADHD with drugs or alcohol:

    Act! Don’t sit idly by as your child heads down a path of self-destruction. Commit to helping your child find a healthy solution to their issues.

    Communicate. Speak with your child and educate them on the dangers of excessive drug and alcohol use. Get your facts together first and know what you want to say. Take an active role in listening to what your child has to say back.

    Seek Help. A doctor can correctly diagnose your child and prescribe medication that is safe and effective. If you’re met with hostility when speaking to your child, seek the help of a school counselor, therapist, or peer to get the message through to your teen. At this age, teens tend to be more receptive to non-parental figures, so you’ll need people on your side who can help.

    ADHD sufferers are five times more likely to become substance abusers. They are also less successful academically, have a higher chance of engaging in criminal activity, and have more difficulty gaining and maintaining employment. If your teen is using drugs or alcohol to treat the symptoms of their ADHD, start with the source: treat the ADHD to resolve the substance abuse issues. If you suspect that your teen is self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, act now, before it escalates into a serious addiction.

Natural Options

Wilderness therapy programs have proven to be an effective treatment option for teens who have struggled with ADHD on a daily basis. In some cases, a more holistic diet in addition to daily exercise significantly reduce and can eliminate the underlying issues of ADHD. Wilderness therapy promotes a more natural diet plan in addition to implementing a more active lifestyle outdoors.  Call Rites of Passage at (800)794-0980 to learn more about natural ADHD Treatment for Teens including our wilderness therapy and wellness programs.

Holding Your Teen Accountable: When Should Programs for Troubled Youth be Considered?

How to Find a Long Term Drug Treatment Program in North America

Accountability: 5 Easy Ways to Drug Test Your Child at Home

To protect their teens, parents must be mindful of the preventative measures they can employ and asses whether or not it is right for their family. For example, the option to drug test your teen at home is a decision that should not be taken lightly, but an option that can help keep teenagers safe. If this is the right choice for you, how do you reliably carry out a drug test in your own home? You might be surprised to learn that there are many dependable home drug testing options available.  In addition to drug testing, detection and prevention are also of extreme high priority. If you suspect your teen is addicted to drugs, and your drug test has confirmed that fact, programs for troubled youth such as wilderness therapy should also be considered as a next step.

Should You Drug Test Your Teen?

Regular testing can be an effective way to prevent drug use. Sometimes, even just the threat of a random drug test is enough to prevent teens from engaging in drug use. Though it’s a parent’s authority to drug test their teen, it’s important to establish whether doing so will bring about more harm than good. If your child has a history of good behavior, isn’t acting suspiciously, and you have no reason to suspect they are abusing drugs or alcohol, then drug testing may injure your relationship. It could create resentment, communication barriers, and distrust that would not exist otherwise.

For teens that have abused drugs or alcohol for quite some time, it’s often the case that the parent/child relationship has already suffered significant damage. Trust is usually broken. Drug testing can actually re-establish trust by providing your teen an opportunity to earn privileges when he or she refrains from destructive behavior. Home testing also equips teens to them to make the right choices independently in the future. For teens stuck in a vicious cycle of drug or alcohol abuse, home testing may be an obvious requirement.

A history of drug or alcohol abuse isn’t the only factor that may warrant administering home drug tests. Before determining whether suspicious behaviors indicate drug or alcohol abuse, consider the alternatives. Your teen could be going through a personal issue that requires your love and support. That said, there are some red flags to be aware of. Some of these indicators include:

  • Sudden withdrawal or isolation
  • New social group and activities
  • Cutting ties with former friends
  • Grades begin to slip
  • Defensive and confrontational behavior

Before deciding to drug test your teen, discuss it with a doctor or therapist. Parents should know that The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes home drug testing without the child’s knowledge.

How To Drug Test Your Teen

If drug testing your teen is the right choice, rather than turning to an external lab, here are five simple home options:

    1. Urine tests: The most simple and common way to test for drugs is through a urine test. These tests are easy to administer and provide almost immediate results on a range of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, opiates, and benzodiazepines. Urine tests indicate a person’s most recent drug use and when administered
    2. properly, are highly effective.
    3. Saliva tests: If urine collection is a problem, home saliva kits are available to test for the same range of drugs as urine tests.
    4. Hair tests: Hair tests offer a more in-depth breakdown, providing not only which drugs a person has used, but also the frequency and duration of their drug use. The downfall is that hair samples need to be sent to a lab for analysis, but there are many kits available that allow you to correctly collect and prepare that sample for testing.
    5. Alcohol breathalyzers: Breathalyzers test for an individual’s blood alcohol level. They are small, portable, and produce results almost immediately.
    6. Sweat patch testing: Relatively new, sweat patch testing has become an effective alternative because it is non-invasive and has an increased window of detection. Worn for up to ten days on the skin, sweat patches also act as a deterrent.

If drug testing is right for you, then it is best combined with another treatment or therapy program as part of an overall holistic approach or additional programs for troubled youth through wilderness therapy. Eventually, your teen will need to live independently, so they must be able to make healthy choices for themselves. Drug testing shouldn’t just be a “scare tactic” used to threaten a teen; it should be part of a comprehensive strategy to establish accountability and strong decision making skills. By monitoring your teen’s choices on a regular basis—in a healthy and positive way—you can parent your teen in a manner that both protects them today and ensures they are prepared for adulthood.


Rites of Passage Wilderness