The Signs of Anxiety in Teens To Look Out for as a Parent

Signs of Anxiety in Teens To Look Out for as a Parent

Being a parent is hard and it can feel even more demanding when our children face difficulties. As parents, we want to fix things for our children and prevent them from struggling too much. The teen years can seem particularly difficult, and you might feel like you’re in the deep end of the parenting pool. You may wonder how to tell the difference between anxiety and typical teenage angst. Knowing the signs of anxiety in teens can help you decipher your teen’s behavior and decide if it’s time to seek help. While feelings of anxiety and being anxious are a ‘normal’ human emotion, anxiety disorder can be absolutely debilitating.  

At Thrive Treatment, we understand the challenges parents face when raising a teenager and we are here to help you navigate the challenging teen years. When you feel like the weight of the parenting world is on your shoulders and need some answers, we are here for you! 

Anxiety in Teens Explained

While nearly everyone feels anxious at some time in their life, anxiety that persists can become an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or fear about an event or situation. Your teen might be worried about an upcoming exam, an athletic tryout, or starting a new school. It is considered “normal” to feel anxious about a lot of these situations. These feelings often come with physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and tension in the body. Anxiety isn’t always bad; sometimes, it can serve to alert us positively. However, if these feelings continue for an extended time and start to affect daily activities, there may be cause for concern. 

Signs of Anxiety in Teens

Differentiating between your teen simply exhibiting standard teen behavior and showing signs of anxiety can be difficult. Almost all teens are somewhat self-conscious. However, if that fear becomes overwhelming and prevents them from participating in activities, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Most teens are also happy to spend time away from their parents. So if your teen suddenly is fearful about being away from you, it might be time to ask some questions. You know your child better than anyone else, so if you are trying to learn about the signs of teen anxiety, that’s a sign. It’s crucial as a parent to trust your instincts. 

While panic attacks are a more outward sign of anxiety, other symptoms might be an indicator. Anxiety can manifest as restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep difficulties. You might also notice a change in academic performance, withdrawal from activities, and changes in friendships.  Anxiety may also be accompanied by depression or other mental health disorders. Sadly, anxiety disorders affect girls more than boys. Moreover, teens with anxiety or other mental health disorders are more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with these emotions. This increased likeliness to use drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism is just one reason why it is vital to recognize and address the signs of anxiety in your teen. 

How To Get My Teen Help With Anxiety

Communication is key here. If you think your teen is struggling with anxiety, you’ll want to open up a line of communication with them. If they aren’t ready to talk about their struggles, that’s ok. Let them know that help is available and keep an eye on them. 

At Thrive Treatment, we blend different treatment modalities to help your teen break cope with anxiety.  Located in beautiful Santa Monica, we integrate relational and behavioral therapies. We believe in a holistic approach and utilize holistic, medical, and psychiatric interventions, to put your teen on the path to emotional well-being.  

If your teen’s anxiety has taken over, we’re here to help. We can provide you with a tailored plan that blends modern and traditional practices. With treatment for your teen and your family, we’re here to support you through this journey. Contact us today and let us help your family!  

What to Do When Your Teen Is Depressed

Being a parent is hard, and being the parent of a teenager can feel even more challenging. Parenthood doesn’t come with an instruction manual, and it’s hard to know where to get answers. Teenagers are known for their mood swings and time spent brooding.  How do you know when it crosses the line between age-appropriate behavior and depression? And even if you realize that your teen is depressed, how do you know what to do next? At Thrive Treatment, we can help you understand the signs of depression and how to get treatment for your teen.

Signs Your Teenager Is Depressed

Depression is a mental illness that can interfere with your teen’s ability to handle their daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or managing their school work.  While it’s often oversimplified as sadness, depression manifests itself in many ways.  Signs of depression can include the following:

  • Continually feeling sad, anxious, or even empty
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Feeling like everything is going wrong
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts

Is your teen, who is usually a straight-A student, suddenly failing all of his or her classes? Maybe your teen has always played an instrument or a sport and no longer wants to participate. Additionally, you may notice changes in eating habits, sleeping habits, or complaints of not feeling well. Overall, you know your teen best. If something is wrong you are probably sensing it.

Depression can manifest itself in many different ways, and you’ll want to look for patterns.  A teenager who no longer wants to play the clarinet may just be ‘rebelling’ or is no longer interested in the instrument. However, you will want to be more concerned if that teenager also has stopped hanging out with friends, has declining grades, reports being sick many days each week, and is locked in their room all of the time. 

The Best Things to Do When Your Teen Is Depressed

If your teen is depressed, the most vital step is determining if they are having suicidal thoughts.  If your teen is having suicidal thoughts, you must seek help immediately. Do not leave him or her alone. Beyond that, it is essential to understand that depression is unintentional; your teen can not merely stop being depressed because they are told to do so. They also can’t stop being depressed because they want to stop. Support your teen by being patient and encouraging, even if you don’t understand their depression. Help them to see that, although it may take time and patience, treatment will help. Taking them for treatment and participating as needed can support your teen in a compelling way. Encourage them to participate in their treatment fully and to be honest if they are especially low. Teenagers can feel that everything is a punishment, but try to help them understand that treatment is not. Getting help is essential, both for you and for them. Just as you would need more information to help your child face a medical diagnosis, so will you need assistance in assisting them in meeting a mental health diagnosis. 

How Thrive Treatment Can Help Your Teen

At Thrive Treatment, our treatment approach blends modern and traditional practices. We can help your teeen by integrating relational and behavioral therapies and holistic, medical, and psychiatric interventions. Researchers have confirmed that earlier treatment of mental health disorders leads to more positive outcomes. 

Located in beautiful Santa Monica, we will develop an individualized plan to help your teen through their depression, both during inpatient treatment and beyond. We’re also here to support you in understanding the treatment and your role in the process as you support your teen. Contact us today and let us help you and your teen face depression and any other mental health issues.  

Anxiety: What Is It and How Is It Treated?

anxiety how is it treated

We all experience times when we feel worried, nervous, or tense. Circumstances with our families, changes in our jobs, world events, or any number of factors can increase our stress and make us feel anxious.  But does feeling anxious mean that you have an anxiety disorder?  Well, that depends. At Thrive Treatment, we can help you evaluate your anxiety and assist you with any disordered substance use that may have started as you tried to cope on your own. 

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or fear about an event or situation.  It is “normal” to have these feelings in many situations.  These feelings are often accompanied by physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and tension in the body. Anxiety can sometimes serve to help you to cope.  However, when these feelings continue for an extended time and affect your daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder. 

What Is An Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders fall into multiple categories: generalized anxiety disorders, panic disorders, phobia-related disorders, and social anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive worry or anxiety about things such as their own health or daily life circumstances.  Those with generalized anxiety find that their anxiety is present several days each month on an ongoing basis.  Conversely, panic disorders involve panic attacks that can come on rather quickly.  During a panic attack, the individual might experience shortness of breath, increased heart rate, sweating, shaking, and an overwhelming sense of impending doom. Panic attacks may occur after a particular trigger or seemingly out of the blue. Because of this, the focus becomes managing and avoiding additional attacks which may prevent the individual from engaging in normal daily activities. 

Agoraphobia (fear of public places), acrophobia (a fear or heights), and claustrophobia (fear of closed-in spaces) are just a few examples of phobia-related disorders.  Those who have phobia-related disorders may find themselves experiencing symptoms similar to a panic attack when confronting the subject of their phobia. Social anxiety disorders relate to anxiety that occurs in social situations.  The anxiety is actually increased by worrying about how the anxiety manifests itself and how others will view the person’s anxiety. Sadly, it is possible to suffer from more than one type of anxiety disorder. 

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Treatment for anxiety disorders often includes a blending of traditional medical, psychiatric and holistic approaches. Doctors may prescribe anti-anxiety medications and also refer you to a therapist for cognitive behavioral therapy.  Additionally, you and your provider might explore strategies for you to use when dealing with particularly stressful or triggering situations.  As with finding the right medication that is a fit for you, you will do the same with tools such as meditation, massage therapy, acupuncture, and yoga. Because the symptoms experienced with a general anxiety disorder differ from those of a phobia-related anxiety disorder, the treatments are not a “one-size-fits-all”.  Here at Thrive Treatment, we can work with you to find the best treatment for you. 

If you have been self-medicating your anxiety with drugs or alcohol, you may have found that, in the end, they had the opposite effect. By pursuing a path to sobriety, you will enable yourself to approach your anxiety in a more holistic and healthy way.  

How Thrive Treatment Can Help With Your Anxiety

At Thrive Treatment, we believe in treatment that blends modern and traditional practices rather than one specific modality. We integrate relational and behavioral therapies, along with holistic, medical, and psychiatric interventions, to put you on the path to sobriety, emotional health, and overall well-being.  Located in Santa Monica, we have what is needed to provide you with an individualized plan to help you succeed in sobriety, both during your inpatient treatment and beyond. Contact us today and let us help you with your addiction!  

Separating Behaviors From Thoughts

Separating Behaviors From Thoughts

Ever wondered why we do the things we do? If so, you aren’t alone. Answering the question of why we do what we do has been the unending goal of psychologists, scientists, philosophers, and humans as a whole for centuries. Some say everything we do is to satisfy basic human needs. Others say this can’t be the case, because there’s no clear definition of what exactly constitutes a human need. Then there’s the question of– as is the case with addiction recovery clients in dual diagnosis treatment plans– how our thoughts actually translate to actions. When we have a mental illness, what thoughts are ours, and what thoughts stem from the dysregulation or dysfunction of the illness– and who or what decides which thoughts are translated into which actions?

Dr. Miki Kashtan of PsychologyToday has an interesting theory that works really well here. She says “When we instantly translate feelings into actions, we sidestep any understanding of what we truly want. Because of the strength with which our feelings “command” action, we don’t have the opportunity to use feelings as what I believe they are designed for, which is to be sources of information.”

Oftentimes, we act impulsively and immediately translate our feelings into actions. Sometimes, we do this so quickly that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. When we put feet to our thoughts instantaneously, as Kashtan suggests, we forego our ability to understand our feelings and comprehend what they really mean.

In treatment, we learn how to separate our addictive behaviors from the thoughts that cause them. This helps us dive down to the root of the issues that may have led to our addiction in the first place. One of the modalities used to do this is referred to as cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT.

What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

According to its technical definition, “Cognitive behavioral therapy is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving.” In a nutshell, it’s a form of therapy that focuses on helping us assess the thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes that cause us to behave the way we do. By changing our thoughts and attitudes, we can also change the behavior tied to them.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a buzz term in many circles, but it’s not so much the modality that makes the difference, as the process behind it. When we’re able to take a hard look at the driving forces behind why we do what we do, we gain more control over ourselves, and our reactions to stressors as well as other outside influences. Even when we’re not in the most ideal situations or we can’t control what’s around us, we’re always able to control our responses to our situations. Even though we may have negative thoughts about what’s going on in our lives, CBT helps us make sure those negative thoughts don’t encourage us to do something rash or regrettable. The skill sets we develop through cognitive behavioral therapy help us create balance between our thoughts, our feelings, and the way we react to life.

Why is it important to separate behaviors from thoughts?

When we separate our behaviors from our thoughts, we gain more understanding as to why we react the way we react to life. When we’re addicted, there never seems to be rhyme or reason behind why we’re acting the way we’re acting- both under the influence of drugs and in between moments of intoxication.

How does CBT tie into dual diagnosis treatment?

For those of us going through dual diagnosis treatment, CBT can be even more helpful. In fact, the concept of cognitive behavioral therapy was first created by psychiatrist Aaron Beck upon realizing that his patients seemed to talk to themselves. His theory– that we all have these “automatic thoughts” that pop up in our heads and influence our behaviors– corresponds with the idea of treating multiple illnesses holistically, as is the case with dual diagnosis treatment. Whether dual diagnosis treatment or any other form of treatment, the process of separating our thoughts from our behaviors in order to better understand them is a process that can only be good for us. As we grow throughout our recovery journey, we’ll find that the strategies we learn to separate thoughts and behaviors can be used anytime, anywhere, and in any situation.

Thrive Treatment℠ of Santa Monica, California is an outpatient treatment facility that helps our clients learn how to assess their thoughts in order to change their behaviors. Through modalities that build confidence and independence, we also help our clients conquer the self-defeating thoughts that keep us down. With over thirty years of combined experience, we have what it takes to help you defeat addiction for good. Call us at (888) 975-8474 to get started today.

Choosing Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Young Men

Choosing Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Young Men


To choose a dual diagnosis treatment plan is to look at two things first: the community which the facility offers, and the lifestyle that’s promoted at the facility. The way we learn to live and the peers and colleagues we meet in the addiction treatment facility are two of the biggest factors in just how effective our treatment process will be. We’re likely always going to be around our peers, and the addiction recovery community will be our first line of support even after we graduate from treatment. The community fostered at a dual diagnosis treatment facility has to be one that welcomes a young man and makes him feel safe, valued, and comfortable. As for the lifestyle supported by the treatment center, young men with a dual diagnosis will no doubt need structure, attention, and patience. Overcoming the powerful stronghold of addiction is no easy task, and learning to effectively cope with another mental illness at the same time requires a lot of dedication and commitment from both the client and the staff members they work with.

When we choose lifestyle and community over simply examining clinical qualities, we’re setting our young men up to prosper even after they leave the treatment facility. While clinically-focused programs are important and helpful, it’s the way a young man learns to live his life, coupled with the people he comes to trust and regard as friends, mentors, and confidants that will help him long after he graduates and starts living life on his own.

The accolades of the clinical program are secondary when it comes to finding a dual diagnosis treatment plan that will work. At the end of the day, it’s not just clinical testing and treatments that will make the difference in a young man’s life. It’s the way he learned to live.

Thrive Treatment℠ of Santa Monica, California is an outpatient addiction treatment center that provides dual diagnosis treatment options for clients that need guidance on how to deal with more than one mental illness. We focus on holistic treatment that’s less about doping our clients up or inhibiting their independence, and more about helping them foster a lifestyle that will make them better, stronger, more confident men. Call us at (888) 975-8474 to see how we can help you today.

Men’s, Women’s or Co-Ed? Pros and Cons

Men’s, Women’s or Co-Ed? Pros and Cons

The debate between whether gender-specific treatment programs or co-ed treatment programs are the right way to go is one debate that doesn’t have a clear winner. Simply put, because addiction is such a personal and complex mental illness, different people fare better depending on their particular circumstances. Although there may not be a specific right or wrong here, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of both gender-specific and co-ed treatment programs to find out which one is right for our own personal needs. There are many benefits of rehab facilities in Santa Monica– and reaping those benefits starts with choosing the right facility.

What are the benefits of rehab facilities in Santa Monica?

Rehab facilities like Thrive Treatment℠ of Santa Monica, California, take pride in providing personalized treatment options for every person that walks through our doors. As an outpatient treatment facility, many of our treatment options are ideal for students or employees who want to stay on track for graduation or have to financially support their families. We provide holistic recovery options that help treat the underlying causes of addiction, and we provide those options in a way that allow our clients to continue with their lives in the process.

Some of the benefits that rehab facilities here in Santa Monica provide include things like individual and group therapy, alcohol and drug education, 12-step work, relapse prevention, life and re-socialization skills, and referrals to sober living homes. We wholeheartedly believe that addiction can be defeated, and we devote all of the time and resources we need to in order to help our clients take the right steps towards recovery. At Thrive Treatment℠, our goal is to teach our clients how to uphold the nuts and bolts of life like accountability, values, life skills, boundaries, trust and responsibility and learn how to manage both sobriety and the anxiety that can come along with living life sober. Santa Monica’s rehab facilities don’t just help men and women recover from addiction and mental illness– they help men and women become stronger, more confident, and more independent than they’ve ever been before.

Does it matter what type of treatment facility I choose?

It certainly matters what type of treatment facility we choose, because while the goal of all facilities is to help us conquer addiction, the way they go about that can be very different. For those of us that are looking for focus and limited distractions, for instance, a gender-specific treatment facility might be the way to go, if we think the opposite sex will distract us. Alternatively, if we’re looking for a way to get sober in an environment indicative of Santa Monica and pretty much everywhere else, it may make more sense for us to choose a co-ed facility. The choice is up to us, but whichever choice we make will certainly play a large role in our recovery process.

What’s the argument between different facility types?

Proponents of the gender-specific mode of treatment indicate that men and women have different needs in treatment. If we take a concept like a dual-diagnosis treatment program, for instance, we can see where men and women might need different medications to take for specific illnesses, different ways to cope, and different resources to feel comfortable. The argument here is that the co-ed treatment program doesn’t have the capacity to adequately address many underlying issues of addiction that both genders don’t share. For instance, according to one report, “74% of addicted women have been victims of sexual abuse, 52% have been victims of physical abuse, and 72% have been victims of emotional abuse.” Unless the numbers are the exact same for men, proponents of gender-specific treatment indicate that there’s no way treatment can do both genders justice simultaneously.

On the other side of the spectrum, proponents of co-ed treatment indicate that being in the same environment with the opposite sex is just what individuals need in order to learn how to interact with their peers in a “healthy, modernized way.” Additionally, proponents say that sharing the same space also helps breed a mutual respect between the two genders, and that by realizing that they share many of the same issues and maladies, both genders are able to form bonds with each other that may not have been formed otherwise. Addiction is not gender-specific, and neither is life, they argue– so it’s fitting that treatment shouldn’t be either. Finally, in the case for a concept like dual-diagnosis treatment, those that support the co-ed treatment process indicate that while medicines and dosages may differ according to gender, treatment methodologies can be adapted to work for just about anyone, regardless of whether they’re male or female.

Whether choosing a gender-specific or a co-ed treatment facility, what’s most important is finding a facility that is able to cater to our specific needs. After all, no matter the debate between dual diagnosis treatment plans or best socialization techniques, at the end of the day, what’s most important is conquering addiction for good.

Thrive Treatment℠  is an outpatient treatment facility located in Santa Monica, California. We help our clients defeat addiction by helping them uncover its underlying causes and learn sustainable methods to get rid of them. Through a series of modalities like art therapy, yoga, meditation, and group outings, our clients learn to conquer the self defeating behaviors that keep them down, and build the confidence and independence they need to become pillars of their communities. Call us at (888) 975-8474 to get started today.

Going to Treatment for Addiction as a Young Man in Santa Monica

Going to Treatment for Addiction as a Young Man in Santa Monica


Santa Monica– California’s hidden gem of a city. With a population of a little under 100,000, some might say Santa Monica is one of the few pieces of paradise still basking in all of its natural glory. As a young man in Santa Monica, getting sober now is one of the best choices you can make. Being young means we still have a lot of life to live. Truth be told, everyone goes through something challenging in their lives, whether they tell us or not. Most of us use problematic coping skills to “deal” with that something all their lives through and are never truly able to effectively work through it or change. One of the benefits of rehab in Santa Monica is that we can learn how to deal with addiction the right way– and with so much to do in this great city, we won’t miss a beat finding sober ways to make the most out of life.

One of the most iconic places here in Santa Monica– the Santa Monica Stairs– also happens to be a great place for some sober fun and exercise. Grab a few friends and make a workout out of climbing the iconic stairs, then hang around the area to take a look at some of the most beautiful homes in the city. The Santa Monica Stairs are a great way to get out, grab some culture, and break a sweat.

Other fun sober activities to do here in Santa Monica include surfing, exercising on the boardwalk, watching street performers on the Third Street Promenade, and grabbing a bite to eat at the end of the iconic Santa Monica pier.

The benefits of rehab as a young man in Santa Monica are numerous– you’re able to confront your fears and insecurities at a young age before they affect too much of your life, you’re able to form relationships with great folks in recovery that will be there for you for the rest of your life, and you’re able to conquer an issue like addiction early enough to allow you to reach back and help another young guy dealing with the same substance abuse issues you might have been. Again, everyone goes through something, but the benefit of rehab as a young man is that you both get to learn the right way to beat addiction, and learn how to become a better man from it.

Thrive Treatment℠ is a premier outpatient addiction treatment center that helps our clients see just how powerful a life without substances can be. Through modalities like yoga and art therapy, we show our clients how to deal with life’s complications with grace, poise, and confidence. Call us at (888) 975-8474 to see how we can help you today.

The Science of Prayer

The Science of Prayer


Prayer is perhaps the most powerful vessel of our time. Whether we’re religious or not, there’s something calming and reassuring about having someone or something to confide in when we need help– something to help give us guidance, or to simply help us feel better. Prayer can be a very powerful tool when it comes to both emotional sobriety and defeating addiction— mainly because it allows us to connect with and encourage ourselves when we need it most. Spirituality isn’t dead. It’s a large part of the addiction treatment experience.

The Study

In 2016, New York University undertook an arduous task: trying to find relevant science to back up the theory that prayer actually does work. They chose the Alcoholics Anonymous model to test, and in their conclusion confirmed what addiction treatment specialists have known for a long time– that prayer really does work in reducing the urge to use. The study, spearheaded by senior author Dr. Marc Galanter, took brain images of about twenty long term AA members that had reported no cravings within the weeks leading up to the testing. The brains were scanned before and after providing each individual with first a neutral newspaper article and then an AA prayer “promoting abstinence from alcohol” and showing pictures of various people drinking and using alcohol in an attempt to stimulate cravings. According to Galanter,  “[the] findings suggest[ed] that the experience of AA over the years had left these members with an innate ability to use the AA experience—prayer in this case―to minimize the effect of alcohol triggers in producing craving.”

In essence, reciting the prayer led to decreased cravings from everyone that recited it. While the individuals still had cravings, it was the prayer that helped them better manage them. According to Galanter, who’s also spent a significant amount of time studying emotional sobriety and spirituality in addiction treatment, previous studies have suggested that alcohol users that have reported a “spiritual awakening” in AA or other addiction treatment programs have also been about half as likely to report cravings even after leaving initial treatment.

The relation of prayer and emotional sobriety

Studies like the ones presented by New York University make a strong case for the intersection of spirituality and sobriety– and the consistent results agree with an assertion made by The Big Book that tells us addiction is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. Here, the spiritual malady concept indicates that once we overcome our spiritual illness, the mental and physical aspects of our addiction also straighten out.

In order to understand how emotional sobriety as a concept corresponds with prayer, it’s important to have a working definition as to just what emotional sobriety is. According to Psychology Today, emotional sobriety revolves around the general ability to feel our own feelings. It’s being one with ourselves, living in the present moment, and being mindful. It’s about balance, and learning how to cope with our emotions– both good and bad. In the vein of being one with ourselves, prayer often acts as a way for us to connect with ourselves presently, much like meditation. It also helps us find ways to cope with situations that we may have turned to substances before to deal with. The truth of the matter is that even though treatment helps us conquer addiction, we still have to conquer sobriety everyday, and it’s our ability to be emotionally sober that helps us do just that. As Bill W. says in The Big Book, “we members of AA may never again have to deal with drinking, but we do have to deal with sobriety every day. How do we do it? By learning – through practicing the Twelve Steps and through sharing at meetings – how to cope with problems that we looked to booze to solve back in our drinking days.”

When it comes to the science behind prayer, we need look no further than Bill W.’s assertion that prayer helps us examine ourselves internally, much like a surgeon examines his patient. “If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand,” Bill W. says.

When we repeat prayers, as is often the case in addiction treatment programs like AA, our praying can also play a role that’s entirely different but just as effective– the role of constant reassurance. We all know the classic story of the little engine that could– that small train engine that made his way up the hill by nothing more than hard will and saying “I think I can.” Not only has science proven time and again that repeating ideas and concepts can help us remember them better– but science has also proven that words in and of themselves can have a powerful impact on our brains and spirits. By constantly motivating ourselves through prayer, we’re not just uttering a few words– we’re reassuring ourselves that our sobriety journey is possible.

Thrive Treatment℠ of Santa Monica, California is an outpatient treatment facility that helps our clients master the nuts and bolts of life in order to excel in the recovery process. We rely on the power of prayer, reassurance, and spirituality to treat addiction just as much as we rely on hardcore science and proven methods. When you begin the Thrive Treatment℠ experience, you’re welcomed into a family that has just one thing in mind: getting you better. Call us at (888) 975-8474 to get started today.

What is Emotional Sobriety?

emotional sobriety

The technical definition of emotional sobriety is hard to come by. This could be because emotional sobriety, like many aspects of the addiction treatment process, is fiercely individual and means different things for different people. It’s true that emotional sobriety certainly embodies a number of different concepts. In fact, according to Dr. Allen Berger, emotional sobriety includes “keeping our emotional center of gravity within, learning to hold on to ourselves without letting other people’s limited perceptions of us or our addiction define us or impact our behavior, pressuring ourselves to change, and seeing struggle as beneficial and grief as necessary.” While this definition of emotional sobriety covers a lot of different concepts, it’s Dr. Ingrid Clayton’s significantly more vague definition of emotional sobriety that actually digs deeper still: “I believe that emotional sobriety is less about the quality of the feeling… and more about the general ability to feel one’s feelings,” she says. “Being restored to sanity isn’t about getting the brass ring—or cash and prizes—or being “happy, joyous, and free” all the time, but it is about being in the present moment, whatever it happens to look like.

Emotional sobriety can take many forms, and be defined many ways. Whichever way it is defined though, achieving and maintaining emotional sobriety is a very important part of the addiction recovery experience.

Why is emotional sobriety so important?

The Big Book mentions emotional sobriety in Step Twelve as an outcome of practicing all steps of the program and applying them to our daily lives: “Here we begin to practice all Twelve Steps of the program in our daily lives so that we and those about us may find emotional sobriety.”

Emotional sobriety is important in addiction treatment because it is, in essence, self-regulation. As introduced by the Alcoholics Anonymous community, emotional sobriety allows us to “experience, confront, and accept” all of our emotions– even the not so good ones. As Bill W. and the AA community realized early on, recovery is about substantially more than simply not using a substance and avoiding relapse. Just as addiction is spiritual, mental, and physical, so, too, is the recovery process. While we can train our bodies to accept the physical aspects of no longer using, it is emotional sobriety that helps us gain control of the spiritual and emotional. When we can appraise and manage our emotions, we no longer have to live at their mercy. Of course, we will still have times when we’re sad, angry, or upset, but these emotions will no longer define us, because we’ll understand how to balance them out and cope.

As Clayton says, “sometimes emotional sobriety is about tolerating what you are feeling. It is about staying sober no matter what you are feeling. It means that you don’t have to blame yourself or your program because life can be challenging.”

How do I achieve emotional sobriety in addiction treatment?

There are several ways we work to achieve emotional sobriety in treatment. The first and perhaps most common means of achieving emotional sobriety is through a modality like cognitive behavioral therapy. Praised for years for their effectiveness, cognitive behavioral therapy and other therapy methods that borrow from its practices help us become aware of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, so that we can change the self-defeating behaviors that stem from them. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, we learn to make sense of the thoughts and perceptions that may have contributed to our addiction, and we’re able to see how those thoughts and perceptions could have contributed to our behavior.

We also work to achieve emotional sobriety in treatment by practicing mindfulness. Becoming aware of our feelings and emotions is the first step to accepting them, and mindfulness is the perfect way to achieve that first step. The technical definition of mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.” In layman’s terms, mindfulness means living in the present. When we narrow our view to only what’s in front of us at this present moment, we allow ourselves to become aware of thoughts and feelings we may never have listened to otherwise.

Finally, we achieve emotional sobriety by building a strong social network of peers and mentors in our recovery community. Having a social network that we can talk to about how we’re feeling, and that we can trust will have our best interests at heart no matter what we share is key to being comfortable with our feelings. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t have to have a plethora of social connections, but the ones we do have ought to be deep and beneficial. These connections can serve as an outlet when we want to share troubling feelings and emotions. The social support fostered by a loving and caring addiction recovery community can help us build our confidence and not be ashamed to assess and share how we’re feeling in the future.

Thrive Treatment℠ is an outpatient addiction treatment center in Santa Monica, California that’s committed to helping our clients achieve and maintain emotional sobriety through modalities that encourage them to stop, acknowledge, and accept their feelings. We believe that our emotions play a very big role in the addiction treatment process, and that being able to balance our emotions is one part of a successful recovery experience. Call us at (888) 975-8474 to see how we can help you today.