Tag Archives: Recovery

Tag Archives: Recovery


Relationships that harm recoveryAs previous research has shown us, one of the biggest influencers of recovery is support. Having someone by our side to lean on, to tell when things aren’t going the way we’d like for them to, to share our victories with – it all matters, and it can either pull us up (or push us down) in recovery.

Involvement in treatment is one of the biggest predictors of recovery success, but if we spend our time building our recovery with the wrong type of connections, we may wind up taking a few steps back in recovery – which is certainly not what we want.

Whether you’re in a 12-Step program or are meeting people through other avenues, it’s important to be careful in choosing who you invite to become part of your support system. Check out the following connections that may not be doing you any good:

  1. Keeping friends from the past. A 2015 study published in the journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy found that those who associated themselves more with non-using friends and less with friends who used to use actually experienced a better quality of life.
  2. Making friends with someone who attends 12-Step meetings but isn’t sober. We all know of that person who attends but isn’t 100% committed. Be wary of these types of connections because they could ultimately bring your recovery progress down – even if that wasn’t the original intention.
  3. Trying desperately to maintain connections with friends or family who do not support your recovery. As the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes, there are many reasons why family members may be unsupportive right now. The best you can do is let them know that you care and that you’re trying, and then give them space to work through their concerns while you continue to focus on your recovery.

The people we let into our lives can significantly alter the paths we take, so it’s wise to consider who you let in.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Two people showing gratitude during recoveryGratitude is defined as, “Readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness; thankfulness.” Similar to appreciation, gratitude occurs when we affirm the goodness we’ve received in life. Robert Emmons, a leading expert on gratitude, stated in his Greater Good essay, “Why Gratitude is Good”,

“…We recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves…We acknowledge that other people – or even higher power, if you’re of a spiritual mindset – gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

Gratitude is a powerful force for many in recovery because it’s all about understanding how lucky, blessed and/or gifted to have the support, tools and help that we’ve received along the way. When we express gratitude, we send out positive wishes to the world – because rather than expecting that we’d receive help, or assuming that we deserve all the help we’ve received, we acknowledge all of the forces that have made our currently reality possible.

12-Step Programs and Gratitude

Gratitude is a major component of 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). The 12th step states,

“Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to [those with addiction], and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Many in addiction recovery would say that by the end of their program, they likely feel thankful for their journey; it is through this gratitude that they can now become useful in others’ lives, and that’s where their guidance to others often comes into play. A 2017 study published in the journal Addiction Research & Theory assessed 184 members of 12-Step recovery programs in an effort to find out what effects gratitude had on their recovery. This is what the researchers found:

  • Higher levels of gratitude predicted greater participation in 12-Step practices, AA promises, post-traumatic growth and social support
  • The more gratitude individual members felt, the less likely they were to experience health issues and negative emotions

Overall, those who practiced gratitude reported better quality of life – but how is this? The effects of gratitude can benefit our lives in more ways than one. Not only can it strengthen our relationships with others, but it can provide us a with a load of other physical, psychological and social effects, too.

The Transformative Effects of Gratitude

Robert Emmens, the researcher aforementioned, explains that gratitude is a relationship-strengthening emotion that requires us to see how we’ve been supported. The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley explored the very powerful effects of gratitude:

Physical

  • Less aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Better sleep
  • Increased exercise

Psychological

  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • Greater alertness and vitality
  • Enhanced joy and pleasure
  • Optimism and happiness

Social

  • More helpful, generous and compassion towards others
  • Forgiveness is practiced more
  • More outgoing
  • Less loneliness and isolation

The powerful effects of gratitude often stem from recognizing that it wasn’t us – that it was something outside of ourselves – that got us to where we are today. For those in recovery, gratitude could be towards a number of people: peers in recovery, a sponsor, a therapist, healthcare team, family, friends, coworkers and more can all create a huge impact in the grand scheme of someone’s life.

Gratitude tunes us into the present moment – it grounds us and allows us to recognize how we got to the “here and now”. It also blocks negative emotions that stem from ungratefulness, such as envy, resentment and regret. If you really think about it, those emotions cannot exist alongside gratitude. When we’re grateful, we’re accepting all of the love we’ve received from another source – which could also include a higher power.

Spirituality and Gratitude

Spirituality is crucial aspect of recovery for many people, because addiction negatively affects the mind, body and the spirit. 12-Step programs and formal treatment programs alike help people strengthen their spirituality; In 2017, Forbes Magazine noted that while gratitude is a common theme around Thanksgiving, it’s an ultimate spiritual practice that can be for anytime, any day. They mentioned Deepak Chopra, an American author, public speaker and prominent leader in spirituality, who had emphasized that gratitude is recognizing the presence of the Divine in our lives. Rather than a strictly religious perspective, gratitude is a spiritual practice that is considered the “antidote” to many forms of suffering.

Start Practicing Today

There is no special occasion that needs to take place in order for gratitude to occur. We can easily reflect on the paths we’ve taken, on the conversations we’ve had with others that have inspired us, on the people who have contributed to our recovery and so much more. Gratitude places us in a position to not only recognize how far we’ve come, but to recognize and thank the people who’ve helped us get to where we need to be.

If you’ve been struggling with substance addiction, don’t wait any longer to seek the help you need.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

How AA addresses 4 core aspects of recoveryAlcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a 12-Step program that was created in 1935 in Akron, Ohio. As a worldwide recovery mutual-help organization, AA has helped many people find their way from addiction to a life of recovery and as a non-denominational organization, there is truly something for everyone. A 2017 study published in the journal Addiction confirmed this by the assessments of many pieces of literature regarding AA; researchers found that AA generally supports a “spiritual awakening” for those in recovery, as well as living a life of sobriety by providing those in the community with resources to get there. One individual shared his personal success story via the AA official website. Here is an excerpt from his story:

“…My mind was open because A.A. is not a religious program. So, I found a sponsor and I continued down the path [of recovery]. It has been the single best thing I have ever done in my life. Coming to terms with the past me, how I really ‘ticked’ and how I perceived life was such an awakening.”

With so many people having had such transformative experiences with 12-Step programs such as AA, it’s important to understand the many areas of recovery that AA addresses.

Core Aspects of Recovery

A study published in the journal Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly explored the many ways in which AA works for those in recovery and these were some of the topics covered:

1. Regulating Emotions

A core component of AA is the belief that addiction doesn’t derive from pleasure, but rather from psychological suffering. Pleasure may certainly be involved in addiction, but it is often within our own feelings of loneliness and despair that we turn to other things – such as substances – to distract us from what we’re really feeling. 12-Step programs, such as AA, help individuals understand why sobriety is so important in solving life’s problems along with guidance to becoming more flexible and willing to grow in these areas of life instead.

2. Self-Esteem

Much of what AA speaks to is the pain of the “self” and how many elements of narcissism are often found in alcoholism. This inflation of self is what causes us to develop a “big ego”, which leads to us feeling bad for ourselves or unimportant and that’s often where alcohol and other substances make their way in an attempt to bridge this gap. 12-Step programs remind us that we are only human – and while we can’t control everything that happens in our lives, we can control our own actions. Ultimately, this gives us an entirely new perspective on ourselves, placing that “selfish” part of us to the side and opening our hearts to others.

3. Relationships

As the study emphasized, the group dynamics of AA promote engagement with others, along with a universal understanding that as humans, our suffering should not be faced alone. The way we view ourselves and our problems is often what leads us to distance ourselves from others and AA works to counter feelings of shame and guilt with the building of connection to others. In addition to this, people find that admitting their mistakes and apologizing for the pain they’ve caused others actually fosters further development of those relationships which are so meaningful to them.

4. Behavior

AA emphasizes the powerlessness and loss of control that is associated with alcoholism. This statement of responsibility and vulnerability opens pathways for those in addiction recovery to connect with others without judgment and many find that it helps them understand the importance of self-care as well as adopting a more genuine approach to caring for others.

Getting the Most Out of 12-Step Programs

As with every aspect of recovery, a person must create space in their mind, body and spirit for healing. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment sought to explore “readiness factors” and what best prepped individuals for success in 12-Step programs such as AA. The two most important factors were quite simple: 1) prior involvement in AA and 2) active engagement. If you’ve recently begun exploring the world of AA, don’t give up. Become connected to others in the program and engage in self-care activities along with other recovery efforts to strengthen your treatment.

12-Step programs can work beautifully alongside outpatient treatment programs, as a person explores more personal issues through individual and group therapy in treatment and builds their support network through AA and relevant programs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes that 12-Step programs are,

“…a fundamental component of the substance use disorder treatment system.”

If you’re looking for a safe environment where you can meet others on their journey to recovery while also engaging in meaningful discussions on topics such as sobriety, relapse and more, AA could be an excellent option for you. Don’t wait any longer to start strengthening your mind, body and spirit.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

College students: a culture of drinking and drug useCollege students have long been the center of drinking advertisements and commercials, which doesn’t happen by chance. For many years now, colleges have upheld a “drinking culture” that has made it nearly expected for young adults to binge drink as an act on their “freedom” and independence. While it all seems like fun and games, this culture of drinking has sparked a lot of issues in terms of substance abuse and the development of alcoholism later (and even earlier) on. In an interview on WBUR Radio where students talk about college drinking culture, Madeleine D’Angelo, a 21-year-old senior at Boston College in Maryland, stated,

“… [Blacking out is] part of our language. It’s very common to have someone say, ‘Oh, I can’t even remember what happened last night, I blacked out.’”

Sure, drinking is the norm for college students – but what are the statistics on this?

The Dangers of College Drinking Culture: Facts and Statistics

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that about 1,825 college students between the ages of 18-24 die each year from alcohol-related injuries, including vehicle accidents. About 696,000 students are assaulted each year by another student who has been drinking and 97,000 students report alcohol-related sexual assault. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence sought to assess just how prevalent the connection between college drinking culture and issues such as sexual assault was related – of 704 survey responses from males and females in college, researchers discovered that victimization was associated with heavier drinking, along with other factors.

About 20% of college students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder (AUD), yet a very small percentage of these actually seek help for it. If it’s seen as “normal” to drink heavily while in college, it makes sense that many college students aren’t seeing anything wrong with it; what they don’t realize, however, is that peer pressure and experimentation can lead to some dangerous consequences.

Social Work Today previously highlighted the tragic story of a young woman in college who was involved in a tragic accident related to drinking and driving. Emergency room visits are only a lucky outcome for many, compared to the large number of college students who die each year from alcohol-related incidents. Some other direct consequences of alcohol abuse for college students include:

  • Poor academic performance through skipping class and difficulty concentrating
  • Dropouts
  • Injuries
  • Criminal activities
  • Health issues such as liver damage, high blood pressure, inflammation of the pancreas and more

With all of these harmful effects that clearly aren’t taken as seriously as they should be in college settings, what can be done to help our young adults seek help?

Interventions for College Students

NIH Medline Plus suggests that parents talk to their college children early on in the semester that they attend school, so they can successfully adapt to campus life. Parents can also inquire about campus policies regarding alcohol, in addition to following up with their children frequently to ensure their safety.

Ultimately, it’s about changing the drinking culture in colleges by informing students of the real-life consequences that can result from binge drinking. The more support we can provide, the more likely they are to monitor their use or at least consider seeking help if it’s needed.

Many young adults in college fail to achieve major milestones once addiction has entered their lives, which makes recovery that much more important. 12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have been evidenced to help many people build their sense of spirituality – a major component that many college students are beginning to face – along with tools and strategies for combating negative thought patterns, triggers, cravings and more. Along with peer-led support groups, such as 12-Step programs, young adults can find the following to be very beneficial for their recovery:

  • Gender specific treatment to meet their needs
  • Experienced healthcare teams who are familiar with addiction and recovery
  • Engagement in a caring yet challenging community as to better equip them with developing a strong recovery identity
  • Close communication with their educational institution, so they can continue reaching towards their academic goals while in recovery
  • Comprehensive education on the disease of addiction and how it affects the mind, body and spirit
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Family therapy, to help rebalance the family system and promote peace at home

Don’t Wait – Seek Help Now

If you’re a college student who may be noticing signs of alcoholism or a related disorder, speak with someone from Cumberland Heights today. The sooner you seek help, the greater the possibility of reversing or minimizing some of the damages that alcohol may have caused to your body. You have an entire life ahead of you, with so many roads and possibilities to take. Make the choice to place your happiness and health as a top priority today – you won’t regret it.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

Using technology for treatment in outpatient programs Technology is a major source of our information, tracking and communication efforts as we know it today. Millions of apps have been created through iPhones and other brands, which have allowed us to learn more about ourselves, connect with others and monitor the way we do things. It’s quite interesting to discover just how much of an impact technology has had on our lives – according to The Washington Post in 2016, a study conducted by the United Nations agency revealed that 47% of people in the world now use the Internet. With all of this information readily available to us, should it be applied to addiction recovery?

Many sources say, “yes”. Those in intensive outpatient treatment programs, for instance, are working diligently towards their recovery while also beginning to strengthen their independence. They return home each night while spending most of their days at individual and group therapy sessions, but they nonetheless have much more “personal time” than they would in a residential treatment program, which many in outpatient programs first start their journey to recovery in.

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research conducted a survey involving 259 participants; and 70% stated they would prefer to use a relapse prevention app on their phone or even to receive relapse prevention text messages. From this research, it seems there are a lot of people who may be interested in doing this. Alongside the famously successful 12-Step program, relapse prevention apps may help those in outpatient treatment programs monitor their experiences outside of therapy. In doing this, they may be able to better identify recurring themes needed for extra attention, or even areas of their recovery that have strengthened over time. Could technology become more involved with addiction recovery? It seems it already has – and many people are finding benefit from it.

If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today. It is never too late.

Cumberland Heights in Nashville, Tennessee on Music Row is a 12-Step based alcohol & drug rehab program. Cumberland Heights’ Intensive Outpatient Program is designed for individuals 18 and above who may be in the early stages of dependency or are experiencing problems with alcohol or drug use. We offer personalized assessments and treatment plans, as well as convenient evening hours to accommodate your workday schedule. To get started on your recovery journey today, call us at 615-356-2700.

Using outpatient treatment programs to help addiction recoveryRecovery is a lifelong journey and many people find that structured recovery programs do not end once their residential treatment program is over. In order to continue building upon what they’ve learned before, one must continue to submerge themselves in the world of recovery. Intensive outpatient treatment programs are an excellent way for those in recovery to ensure they don’t fade away from their recovery goals – by working closely with a healthcare team and continuing to attend individual and group therapy, recovery is much less daunting and more routinized.

Relapse is a central focus of addiction recovery, as preventative measures are necessary in order for a person to continue walking on the path of recovery. How can an intensive outpatient treatment program assist with this?

A 2015 study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence sought to explore how outpatient treatment programs supported relapse prevention amongst emerging adults (aged 18-25 years old) in the first year after their residential treatment. A total of 284 individuals participated in the study and this is what researchers found:

  • Continuing care was significantly shown to impact abstinence over time
  • The odds of abstinence were 1.3 times greater if individuals participated in at least one recovery activity, but were 3.2 times greater if they participated in 5 activities
  • 12-Step programs provided much-needed support in terms of relapse prevention and activity involvement

Social support is an incredibly influential factor of relapse in addiction recovery and outpatient treatment programs paired with 12-Step programs provide everything a person needs to feel grounded. Separate from residential treatment, individuals can start building their independence by returning home at the end of each day and working towards securing their family and workplace roles they may have previously held.

If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today. It is never too late.

Cumberland Heights in Nashville, Tennessee on Music Row is a 12-Step based alcohol & drug rehab program. Cumberland Heights’ Intensive Outpatient Program is designed for individuals 18 and above who may be in the early stages of dependency or are experiencing problems with alcohol or drug use. We offer personalized assessments and treatment plans, as well as convenient evening hours to accommodate your workday schedule. To get started on your recovery journey today, call us at 615-356-2700.

family member showing signs of addictionOne of the most heartbreaking events is seeing a loved one follow the path of addiction.

From the outside looking in, it’s common to feel confusion as to why your loved one is on this path; you may even feel angry, sad, guilty or helpless.

Many friends and family members try to help their loved one for a certain period of time until they begin to lose hope. If this is where you’re at, it’s important to note that your loved one is going to need a treatment program to really fight this.

There are steps to doing this, but it may take time. Very Well Mind suggests the following:

  1. Expect that your loved one may feel embarrassed, they may not agree they have a problem, they may not want to seek help, they may fear consequences about moving forward with treatment and more.
  2. Establish trust with your loved one by being respectful and allowing certain consequences to arise from their actions.
  3. Seek help for yourself first. There are many 12-Step support groups (Al-Anon) for friends and family members and individual psychotherapy may be especially helpful as well.
  4. Communicate openly and honestly with your loved one. You may decide to stage an intervention, or even have a professional interventionist join you.

A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems found that friends and family members often wish for their loved ones with addiction to stop substance use, to have the tools needed to better cope with mental health issues, to be happier, less anxious and more relaxed. There are many benefits to treatment, but your loved one may need your support to get there.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

Finding healthy hobbies during recoverySobriety is an entirely different lifestyle than that of active addiction and you’ll find that throughout your recovery journey, new hobbies will become necessary. All of the time you spent previously using substances or finding ways to obtain them is now open time during your schedule to discover new ways to learn more about yourself and the world around you. Hobbies are a great way to not only do this, but to build your skill sets, make better connections with others and to build up your self-confidence. If you’re ready to incorporate some hobbies into your life but you’re not quite sure what to do, consider trying a multitude of activities to see what sticks and what doesn’t.

Create a list and rank different hobbies as either something you’re absolutely excited to learn about, or as something that would be “nice to learn” but not necessarily at the top of your list. In doing this, you may become surprised at what types of hobbies intrigue you. Some may be more feasible to engage in than others, but what really matters is that you get started.

One of the most beautiful aspects of incorporating new hobbies is the unforeseen benefits that may derive from them. A 2017 study titled “Addiction Recovery, Gardening and Faith: The Garden of Allan” explored how gardening as a hobby can benefit those in addiction recovery. Researchers from the study found that gardening wasn’t only a valuable life skill to learn for participants, but also was extremely therapeutic in relieving common co-occurrences of addiction, such as depression and anxiety.

Hobbies can be learned and developed over time, so be sure not to hold yourself back from learning a new hobby because you think you will not succeed. Take the plunge and dive right into learning – you never know what you may find.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

all us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

Woman eating healthy during recoveryWhen we’re actively involved in addiction, we find that some of the most basic necessities that we once provided ourselves on a daily basis have become scarce. We neglect those close relationships in favor of spending time with others we can use substances with and we hold back on vital nutrients and minerals found in healthy food in favor of fast, processed food. In some cases, we may withhold from eating altogether, with dehydration and a host of other symptoms emerging as we continue down the path. Nutrition is an extremely important part of recovery because it’s something that has often been placed on the backburner throughout active addiction. In order to restore some of the damages to your body caused by addiction, you must learn to ‘listen to your body’. Let’s explore what that means.

As emphasized on Mind Body Green, the art of “listening to your body” is mostly about listening to the messages that it’s sending you through thoughts, pain and other signals. Most of us find ourselves overworked, anxious and stressed because we’ve pushed ourselves past our breaking point. By listening to your body, you can enact more preventative strategies, ultimately strengthening your recovery.

U.S. News suggests the following steps to really listen to what your body is trying to say:

  1. Throughout the day, pause and sit in the moment. Take some very deep breaths, focusing on the rise and fall of your stomach as you breathe in and out.
  2. Check in with your body by asking it questions. “How are you feeling?” “Are you hurting?” “Do you need some rest?” It may sound silly, but oftentimes our body will respond.
  3. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you by what the first thought is that comes to your mind as you’re asking it these questions.
  4. Trust yourself. Your instincts are right.

If you’re ready to get started on your journey to recovery, speak to someone from Cumberland Heights today. It’s never too late.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

Teen addiction risk factorsSubstance abuse and addiction can greatly affect the brain’s functions over a period of time; adolescence is a period in which the brain is still developing, which makes our youth even more susceptible to physical, mental, social and spiritual repercussions. If you have a teen, you likely know that it is during these adolescent years that youth often begin to experiment – and become exposed to – substances. A question that has often been debated, however, is what makes one teen more susceptible to substance abuse over another. When presented, why might one adolescent turn away while another seizes the opportunity? As parents, teachers, professionals and family members, we want to ensure the safety of our teens – but in order to do this, we first need to know the risk factors that may be influencing their susceptibility.

Risk Factors for Adolescent Substance Abuse

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are a wide range of genetic and environmental influencers that can make a teen more susceptible to abusing substances, but each person is different – which can certainly make it hard to predict which teens we need to be worrying about versus which ones we don’t. A 2017 study published in the journal Psychological Medicine assessed 1,037 people for child and adolescent risk factors pertaining to substance dependence. This is what they found:

  1. Low Family SES – researchers found that an adolescent whose parents are lower on the SES scale (such as parents who primarily work in positions such as cashiers or machine operators) are likely to be at higher risk for substance abuse than those whose parents are in higher SES scales, such as through being a manager, secretary or physician.
  2. Family history of substance dependence – previous studies have shown that genetics can increase our chances of susceptibility to substances; the closer the family member, the greater the risk factor.
  3. Childhood conduct disorder – symptoms of conduct disorder typically include deceitful behavior such as lying or shoplifting, destructive behavior such as vandalism, aggressive behavior such as cruelty to animals or bullying and more.
  4. Childhood depression – youth who experience symptoms of depression may experience sadness or a loss of energy and they may turn to substances in an attempt to cope with these undesirable symptoms.
  5. Early exposure to substances – using or purchasing substances, especially around the ages of 13, 15, or both, has been shown to increase a teen’s risk for abusing them later on. With this, one could guess that it’s this constant exposure that somewhat “normalizes” use for teens, making it seemingly easier for them to use.
  6. Adolescent frequent alcohol use – teens who reported drinking 5 or more days a week were at greater risk for developing alcohol use disorder (AUD).
  7. Adolescent frequent tobacco use – teens who use tobacco on a daily basis are likely to move on to other substances, such as alcohol and cannabis.
  8. Adolescent frequent cannabis use – youth who reported using cannabis at least 5 days a week are considered frequent cannabis users and are likely to use other substances as well.
  9. Male adolescents – researchers from the study found that male adolescents are more at risk for substance abuse than female adolescents, which could be related to developmental and social-related differences.

Signs of Teen Substance Abuse

As mentioned earlier, these risk factors cannot predict whether a teen will be more vulnerable to substances or not because each teen is different. There are adolescents who struggle with substance abuse and who do not meet any of the risk factors mentioned above and vice versa. As a more general note, it’s best to keep in mind the symptoms of teen substance abuse so that we can provide our adolescents with support right when they need it. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) lists some important symptoms to watch out for:

  • If your teen’s eyes are bloodshot or if their pupils are larger/smaller than normal
  • Sudden changes in appetite and sleeping patterns
  • Impaired coordination
  • Unusual smells
  • Changes in grooming/appearance
  • Skipping class
  • Sudden changes in friends
  • Acting isolated and withdrawn from others
  • Frequently getting into trouble at work, school or home
  • And more

Help Your Adolescent

Youth do not always have the ability to identify when help is needed to be sought and that’s where our parents, educators and community members can step in. By informing our teens of the dangerous risks involved with abusing substances, along with guiding them to the right resources when we recognize symptoms of substance abuse, we are combatting the tight pull that addiction tries to have on our loved ones.

If your teen is ready to start taking hold of their journey to recovery, please call Cumberland Heights today.

Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966 and is located in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998.


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