What Is the Most Popular Drug With Teens?

popular drugs for teens

The most popular drug with teens varies by demographics and often changes annually. Nonetheless, there are a few substances that remain popular amongst teens. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), alcohol remains one of the most abused substances by teens in America. In fact, close to 60% of seniors in high school abuse alcohol on a regular basis. 

The Effect of Alcohol on Teens                                       

Alcohol has been proven to have several negative effects on teenagers’ mental and physical well-being and development. Some of the consequences that teens face consist of memory impairment, isolation, difficulty concentrating and cognitive, stunted brain development, and increased violent and impulsive behavior. Additionally, research shows that students who abuse alcohol use are less likely to finish high school or go to college. Additionally, people are also more likely to develop an addiction if they start drinking at an early age.

Other Popular Drugs Amongst Teens

Although Alcohol seems to be steadily the most popular drug with teens is not the only popular substance that teens abuse. Research shows that marijuana is also another substance on heavy rotation amongst teens. Although the use is not as high as alcohol, almost 40% of seniors in high school use marijuana frequently. Similar to alcohol, this statistic is declining, however, marijuana use still remains a problem for teens. 

Sadly, many teens appear aloof regarding the consequences of drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. It’s important that the consequences of substance abuse are not only known but also taken seriously and considered carefully. Fortunately, some sober living and treatment programs collaborate with schools to ensure that these consequences are discussed and that students are made aware. 

The Relevance of Nutrition in Substance Use Disorder Treatment

The Relevance of Nutrition in Substance Use Disorder Treatment

by David A. Wiss, MS RDN

Why is Nutrition Relevant to Substance Use Disorders?

The recent opioid crisis and increased insurance coverage for rehabilitation services has created a surge in individuals seeking treatment. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) are increasingly finding employment in Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment facilities nationwide. What kind of evidence do we have to guide us in our nutrition assessment and intervention plan? Due to ethical limitations in conducting prospective studies with illicit substances, there is a shortage of high quality data. Retrospective human studies have demonstrated protein and calorie malnutrition,1 compromised immune status,2 micronutrient deficiencies,3 and antioxidant disturbances.4 Specifically, antioxidant vitamins E, C, and A are lower than controls,5 iron is decreased6 while copper and zinc are increased, indicative of inflammation.7 Detailed summaries of nutrient deficiencies associated with specific substances have been described elsewhere.8,9 

Lowered antioxidant response and increased inflammatory processes may increase the potential for the development of chronic disease. One example is the metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by impaired glucose metabolism, abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, and hypertension.10,11 In one large US adult population study, cocaine use has been associated with elevated blood pressure.12 Other authors have suggested that diabetes counseling include interventions to interrupt drug abuse.13 With growing rates of addiction, the connection between SUD and nutrition-related chronic disease requires further study. Specifically, can nutrition interventions improve mental health outcomes? 

Dietary recall studies have indicated that people who abuse substances have low intake of fruits and vegetables and high intakes of low fiber sugar-sweetened foods and beverages.14,15 Individuals with SUDs typically have lower BMIs while using6 and gain weight during treatment.16 Excessive weight gain during recovery has been described in adolescents,17 men,18 and women,19,20 all of which have been associated with eating disorder (ED) symptomatology. Several studies have shown significant overlap between SUDs and EDs, with estimated comorbidity ranging from 3-50%.21,22 Studies to date have not differentiated between the temporal sequence of co-occurring SUDs and EDs. In other words, does dysfunctional eating emerge once abstinence has been achieved, or was it present before the alcohol or drug use began? The role of societal and social pressures (e.g. appearance-related or otherwise) in early SUD recovery may also contribute to the development or reoccurrence of ED symptoms.  In the SUD population, loss-of-control eating associated with binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa is more common than anorexia nervosa restrictive-type.23 Recently several authors have recommended integrated treatment for SUD and ED rather than separate sequential treatments.21,24,25 There is an urgent need for more research on the role of the RDN in SUD treatment in order to substantiate insurance coverage for these services.

How is the Microbiome Related to Substance Use Disorders?

An emerging area of investigation in the field of “nutritional psychiatry” is the link between the gut microbiome and the brain. Recent research has established connections between gastrointestinal microorganisms and mental health which has been referred to as the “gut-brain axis.”26 Known communication pathways include microbial production of short chain fatty acids in the colon,27 production of neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin) in the intestines, the vagus nerve and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.28 Some authors have proposed that targeting the “crosstalk” between microbes and the central nervous system may have implications for anxiety and depression26 as well as drug addiction.29 Alcohol-dependent patients with gut “leakiness” and associated inflammation had higher measures of depression and alcohol craving.30 Another study showed that the depression, anxiety, and craving associated with compromised gut permeability was persistent after 3 weeks of sobriety.31 Data from rodent models suggests opioid-induced alteration of gut microbiota32-34 that are likely to persist into abstinence. Similar perturbations have been described with cocaine35 and methamphetamine.36,37 More research is needed on the connection between the microbiome and SUD, but it appears to be an important link in physiological recovery, providing strong theoretical support for nutritional interventions in early abstinence.

Emerging data on the microbiome presents compelling evidence why nutrition is important to the recovery process. Food service operations should cater to the clinical needs of the patients, rather than simply provide “comfort food.” Chronic low-fiber diets degrade the intestinal barrier, enhance pathogen susceptibility and promote inflammation.38 Western diets contribute to gut dysbiosis39,40 which may have important implications for dietary interventions during SUD recovery, both over the short (e.g. weeks, months) and longer-term (years). Clinical anecdote suggests that discussion of the gut-brain connection in SUD treatment settings has helped patients to connect nutrition to their recovery and subsequently become proactive in seeking dietary improvement. Recommendations for group topics in SUD treatment have been made elsewhere.41 


It appears that group facilitation can be covered by insurance as part of the overall treatment plan. Sadly, the author once encountered a situation where a medical biller (negotiating with insurance companies) recommended changing the group name from “Nutrition in Recovery” to “Self-Care in Recovery” for easier reimbursement (California). Because reimbursement is not yet established, RDNs should continue to advocate for individual counseling in addition to group facilitation and involvement in the food service operation.  A qualified RDN can help screen for EDs, as well as promote long-term healing and nutrition self-efficacy.  Do not be afraid to collect data and publish your findings! We need the data to move the field ahead. 

David A. Wiss, MS RDN

Nutrition in Recovery, Los Angeles, CA 




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doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2017.08.113

During these uncertain times with the Corona Virus, Thrive is here to help

During these uncertain times with the Corona Virus, Thrive is here to help!

A Bit About Thrive
Thrive Treatment℠ is an intensive outpatient treatment center in the Santa Monica business district that focuses on addiction and co-occurring mental health struggles. We pride ourselves on creating a sense of community and peer support between our clients.
Dear Friends and Family,

On behalf of everyone at Thrive Treatment℠, our hearts go out to all those impacted by COVID-19. Our focus is, as always, on the health and safety of our clients, staff and communities.

With this in mind, Thrive Treatment℠ is diligently following the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization’s recommendations. We have implemented internal protocols including multiple daily sanitization of our facility, limiting the size of our groups, daily screening of clients and staff for symptoms, and staff training.

During a time of crisis, we know managing mental health is just as important as managing physical health. We are remaining open as a trusted provider of essential health services for our current clients in need of support. At this time, we are still admitting new clients who need our services, however will be under new assessment criteria during this ongoing pandemic. Any and all visitors to the Thrive Treatment℠ facility will be cancelled until further notice, unless otherwise authorized by our Medical Director.

This situation is changing rapidly, which is why we at Thrive will continually be meeting with staff to discuss next steps, the safety of our clients and staff and available community resources. While we don’t know exactly what the future holds, we feel confident that providing vital services to our community and supporting each other during this time, we will emerge from this stronger than before.

We wish you all health, safety and hope during this time.

Thank you for your support.

Breathwork in Recovery

Breathwork in Recovery

What is Breathwork in Recovery?

Breathwork is a broad term, which incorporates many different breathing techniques. Some styles of breathworks include Conscious connected breathing, also known as circular breathing, Holotropic breathing, and Wim Hof breathing just to name a few. Although breathwork and some new variations of its core elements have become more popular over recent years, these breathing techniques actually date back to ancient India.

What can Breathwork do for me?

The gifts of breathwork can be unique to the individual and range from a physical, mental, and emotional experiences. Some of the most common outcomes are relieving stress, promoting relaxation, natural sleep aid, increasing distress tolerance, furthering self awareness, processing or releasing suppressed emotions, processing grief, trauma and loss both emotionally and somatically.

Why is

Breathwork in recovery helpful while in treatment?

As drug addicts and alcoholics we often find ourselves holding on to baggage of the past or worrying about the future to the extent of completely disconnecting us from the present, feeling so overwhelmed and disengaged that we often choose to detach from ourselves through active addiction. In some cases we are not even aware of some of the things our subconscious is holding on to, yet our outlook, attitude, and behavior still align with these deep seeded emotions. This is where breathwork comes in, with this tool as part of our treatment we can begin to uncover, discover, and discard underlying issues that fuel our addiction. Breathworks is a great adjunct service to process through our wounds with the care and support of our treatment professionals at Thrive Treatment℠.

How is Breathwork Breathwork in recovery incorporated into the Thrive treatment program?

Evan Nicole facilitates breathworks every Monday afternoon, which is a great way to start off the week and assist clients in accessing and processing deeper emotions that they might be avoiding. Evan educates the clients about breathworks, and set intentiwithons them before beginning the process. Breathworks is conducted with a well thought out music playlist that Evan composes each week. Evan guides the group through the breathing technique, motivating the clients, correcting technique if needed and assisting them in a somatic release of emotions through various techniques. Following the session, Evan processes the experience with the clients to ensure that they have a safe space to understand what arose for them emotionally and to ground themselves after the breathwork session.

About the facilitator

Evan has been with Thrive since August 2018 and is currently our lead counselor and case manager. He exhibits professionalism and passion in all areas of his job, always looking for new thought-provoking groups that he can bring to the clients. Through his personal experience he has found a new freedom in practicing breathwork and thus sparked the desire to complete teacher training, obtain his instructor certification, which has allowed him to share this profound healing journey with others.

Contact Us today on how we incorporate breathwork into recovery.

Counting Our Holiday Blessings

Counting Our Holiday Blessings

You might have heard: Christmas is literally right around the corner! By now Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, and while we may or may not still have any turkey left in the fridge, we can probably all attest to experiencing a generally more pleasant mood when we’re out and about. People tend to be nicer, friendlier, and happier throughout the holiday season, and we can’t say we’re complaining!

In fact, one of the joys of our outpatient treatment model here at Thrive Treatment℠ is the fact that many of our clients are able to enjoy quality family time at home with those they love during these times of peace and relaxation, and down time, peace, and relaxation can all be perfect supplements for a number of ailments– addiction included.

Sometimes, during treatment, we can become so inundated with learning and growing as much as we can that we forget just how amazing simply being able to get the treatment we need for our addictions really is. The idea of addiction treatment only took off less than a hundred years ago with Bill W. and Dr. Bob’s founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (there were other sobriety programs before, but none with as much of a lasting impact), and since then, countless men and women have been able to return to even more fulfilling and gratifying lives as leaders, teachers, and mentors in their own communities thanks to what they’ve learned and experienced in treatment.

Addiction treatment has helped numerous people make strides in their lives that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to make, and as members of the recovery community, we have the joy of being able to spread their victory stories to many more men and women everyday. Our mission is simple, and designated by The Big Book– to be a guiding light for others seeking freedom from addiction and restoration. As The Big Book says, “many could recover if they had the opportunity we have enjoyed.” Our goal is to make that opportunity available to them.

Here’s to all of the good the addiction treatment community does for the men and women it touches day in and day out!

Treatment gives us our lives back

This one almost goes without saying! The Big Book indicates that entering treatment signals “the beginning of the end of [our] old life, and the beginning of [our] emergence into a new one.” When we’re addicted, we can feel like our lives have been ripped apart. Addiction can change us into completely different people, and, through no fault of our own, we can become isolated from those we love and care about. Through treatment, however, reuniting is possible! Treatment teaches us how to address the problems that caused our substance use, how to make amends with those that we’ve wronged, and how to start over on the right track.

Additionally, treatment gives us the ability to extend our family through new relationships with our peers, and creates new outlets for us to find purpose even beyond sobriety. Here at Thrive Treatment℠, for instance, many of our former clients form lifelong bonds with the people they entered treatment with, and can count these friendships as some of the best relationships they’ve had in their lives. They go on to champion the treatment process with men and women in their communities, start businesses, and become pillars of their respective societies, using the guiding principles they learned right here as background.

After graduating from treatment, not only is addiction a thing of the past– but we have a new attitude and outlook on life that can take us to incredible heights in all kinds of fields. As The Big Book suggests, many find the lessons learned through addiction treatment to be of great help with many other avenues of their lives. A new shot at life is certainly something to be thankful for this holiday season!

The treatment community accepts us

When we’re addicted, we can quite often be shunned, even by the people who say they care about us and wish us the best. People who have never had the addiction illness don’t always understand it, and it’s no secret that we tend to fear what we don’t know. However, there’s always one place that will accept us for who we are, understand our struggle with mental obsession, spiritual maladies and physical allergies, and not judge us for it. That place is the treatment community. Even a hundred years back, before all of the rules of what would become Alcoholics Anonymous were fleshed out, there was one rule that was concrete: “The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one.” What a joy to know that now, even decades later, that same rule applies in our modern treatment communities!

There’s no better feeling than knowing that we always have somewhere to turn that understands us, and somewhere to go when times are tough and we need a shoulder (or a few) for support. With alumni programs, mixers and outings designed specifically to reunite graduates with those currently in the initial treatment process, the sense of community fostered by treatment programs is second to none, and that’s a holiday blessing if we’ve ever seen one!

Thrive Treatment℠ is an outpatient addiction treatment center in beautiful Santa Monica, California. We have over thirty years of collective experience in some of the most innovative and effective addiction treatment practices in the world, and one focus: making our clients better mentally, physically, and spiritually. Let this holiday season be one where addiction isn’t invited. Call us today at (888) 975-8474, and see how we can help you!

Believing in Ourselves

Believing in Ourselves

There are a lot of folks that say that seeing is believing. That’s true, to an extent. There’s plenty of things we want to see to believe. Even more that we have to see to believe. Cops usually have to see a crime scene to know it happened. We have to see a storm coming to decide to evacuate. We have to see a million dollars before we believe it’s ours.

However, when it comes to addiction treatment, it’s important to remember that just because we may not always see physical progress, doesn’t mean that there’s not a wonderful transformation going on inside. Not only is treatment largely a mental process (remember, The Big Book tells us that we’re combatting a “mental obsession and a physical allergy”), but what are our eyes are trained to see as “progress”  may not really be what we should be looking for at all. Think about it: for many of us, this may be our first time going through treatment. How can we really know what to count as progress? To us, simply not craving a substance any more may be suitable progress. However, if we still have untouched issues that contributed to our substance abuse laying right underneath the surface, how can we truly judge “where we are” in the process? Even for those of us that have gone through addiction treatment before– every experience is so nuanced and individual that it’s almost impossible to “predict” exactly where we should be simply by looking for physical signs! Recovery is lifelong for a reason!

Ok, so what exactly am I believing in?

Here’s a kicker: belief in treatment doesn’t actually mean believing in treatment itself.

Funny to hear, right? Actually, Step Two of The Twelve Step program says as much. In treatment we aren’t demanded to believe anything about the process. Every step and skill taught is merely a suggestion, and we have the total right to take it or leave it. So when we refer to “belief” in treatment, we mean believing in ourselves. We mean taking what we learn, the strategies we develop, and the tools we forge through treatment, and believing that they can actually work in our own situations– then actually using them. Remember, even the most incredible, progressive of treatment programs can’t help us recover without our say-so.

Here at Thrive Treatment℠, we know just how important believing that we can make a change in our lives is to helping us actually do that. That’s why our programs focus on building life skills, fostering a sense of community, and learning how to process and discard the self-defeating stories and behaviors that keep us stuck. We get it– it’s not always easy to believe in ourselves right away in treatment. For many of us, our addiction can sap away belief in even what we thought we knew about ourselves. Addiction may have forced us into the deepest, darkest corners of our lives, and created a person that we didn’t recognize. Regaining who we are takes time, as does beginning to believe in ourselves again. Through community, we grow and learn with others that are also struggling with the same things we are. We organically build camaraderie with our peers, and eventually forge a family that helps us believe again– both in our ability to recover, and in our ability to conquer anything else that life throws at us.

What does The Big Book say about believing in ourselves?

It’s ironic, really. When The Big Book was originally published in 1939 by Alcoholics Anonymous founders Bill W. and Dr. Bob Smith, both men seemed like they would have had every right to negate the importance of believing in ourselves. Smith had been an alcoholic since his undergraduate years at Dartmouth, and by the time he teamed up with Bill W. and began what we now know as AA, he’d been to dozens and dozens of rehab centers over the span of some thirty years, to no avail. He was a certified physician, and all of his belief in practice and medicine could not seem to curb his drinking. Bill W. was a stoic drinker as well, and was threatened more than once with being locked up due to wet brain. He drank so often that doctors routinely advised him that he was at risk of killing himself with every additional drink he took.

Yet both men made sure to highlight the importance of belief early and often in the book that would become the metaphorical addiction bible for addicts. In fact, they stressed two forms of belief– belief in God, and belief in ourselves. Even though they had every reason not to believe based on their own experiences, they knew that in order to combat a spiritual, mental, and physical ailment, they had to believe in something: “Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the essential requirements.”

Believing in ourselves gives us great power in addiction treatment. It allows us to see progress where we wouldn’t otherwise look, sunny skies when everything seems gray, and a future, that, a few months ago, we may never have imagined!

Thrive Treatment℠ is an outpatient addiction treatment center in sunny Santa Monica, California. We invest ourselves into our clients and their families, and we provide care that is transformative and long-lasting. We all have a purpose, and addiction simply isn’t help. We help our clients discover that purpose. Get started today by calling (888) 975-8474.

Making the Most out of a Second Chance

Making the Most out of a Second Chance

You’re hollow. You have no control. You feel pain, but you’ve gotten so used to it by now that it’s become your new normal. Friends have left you. Family is leaving. Work is all but a distant dream, because you can’t even bring yourself to concentrate on something else long enough to be halfway productive.

For many of us, this was the very scary reality of addiction. Perhaps we initially thought that picking up that substance for the first time would give us some relief from the pain we’d been dealing with. Maybe we thought that if we only took a sip, a sniff, or a shot, everything that was wrong would go away. Maybe we just wanted to forget, and the substance of our choice helped us do just that. Only it didn’t stop there. One drink led to two, one dose to another. We started to like the substance, or at least like what it did to us. Heck, who are we kidding? We didn’t like it– we loved it. We loved the euphoria we experienced. We loved throwing our inhibitions to the wind. We loved pretending, even if it was only temporarily, that our problems didn’t exist.

Then it started to take over.

They started slowly at first, almost innocently– the cravings. A little more of this, a little more of that. More time “at work” and less time with family. Using a little money from the savings account wouldn’t hurt right? After all, it was for emergencies, and we hadn’t had any emergencies in years. It would be okay. Before we knew it, we had no control over it. What we had enjoyed had turned into a habit, and that habit into an addiction. We were hooked, and couldn’t find a way out.

Somehow, however, we did. Maybe it was that family member who kept telling us we needed help. Maybe it was the day we forgot our only child’s name because that’s how out of our mind we were. Maybe it was when we knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that we had truly hit rock bottom. However it happened, it happened. We landed in a treatment facility, and in that moment, we knew just one thing: we had been blessed with a second chance.

Making the most of a second chance

Addiction treatment asks us to do two things– both of which are described in The Big Book. These two things transcend all types of treatment, and are completely universal.

First, we must admit that we are utterly powerless over addiction. Addiction is not our fault, it does not define us, and it did not happen to us because we aren’t good people. It is an illness, a disease that knows no color, gender, or age. It affects twelve year olds and eighty-two year olds. If it was something we could control, we would have stopped it long ago.

Secondly, we must agree that addiction can be cured. Though it is an illness of the mind, it is not terminal, and it can be resolved with the help of professionals and a willing mindset. The process to rid ourselves of addiction is methodical, as with any other illness. In short, it begins with diagnosing what caused our addiction, then addressing the spiritual malady within, and finally taking action steps to fix that malady.

Making the most out of our second chance means viewing every day as an opportunity. Even in the early days of addiction treatment, pioneers of Alcoholics Anonymous understood what an incredible opportunity treatment presented for them: “Many could recover if they had the opportunity we have enjoyed” (There is a Solution, page 119). We have an incredible gift in treatment. To be able to recover from our illness in the company of others facing similar situations, at the instruction of many who have been through what we’re going through before, and in an environment that fosters collaboration, unity, and solutions is not something to take lightly. Out of the darkness, addiction treatment stands as a light for us.

Making the most out of our second chance also means doing our part in the treatment process. This may sound like a record on repeat, but the importance of effort and attitude in treatment cannot be overstated. (There’s a reason why the two words are mentioned 75 times in the 164-page Big Book). Addiction treatment is a guide for us, and provides us with the tools we need to take back our lives and say goodbye to addiction for good, but it cannot cure us on its own. There isn’t a magic pill that we can take in order to no longer be addicted. Treatment is hard work, and the more we put into it, the more we’ll get out.

Finally, making the most of our second chance means that after we’ve conquered addiction, we should act as a beacon of light for others that are struggling. Our story of treatment isn’t something we should keep to ourselves. Sharing it with others who need to hear it allows us to do our part to rid our world of addiction, one person at a time. As the Big Book says, we are to “carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles [what we’ve learned] in all our affairs.” Our second chance doesn’t stop after we graduate from treatment. It’s still just beginning.

Thrive Treatment℠ is an outpatient addiction treatment center in Santa Monica, California. With a number of programs designed to cure addiction for good, we have something for everyone looking for help. Your second chance can start today. There’s no need to wait. Call us right now at (888) 975-8474!

Wilderness Treatment in California

wilderness treatment in california


If you are thinking about Wilderness Treatment in California for your loved one suffering from addiction, mental or behavioral health disorders, then you are certainly on the right track. Adventure Therapy is one of the most effective forms of therapy for young adults and adolescents. Compared to traditional Residential Treatments and office-based therapies, wilderness and adventure programs allows patients the ability to exercise real learning in safe environments to push through anxiety, stress, and excitement. These are valuable skills that can be developed rapidly in an outdoor setting and translate to actionable skills when back in urban or front-country environments.
Wilderness treatment is highly effective for disorders such as; alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, borderline personality disorder, attachment disorder, spectrum disorders, bi-polar, technology addiction, and oppositional defiance disorder. A common misconception is that wilderness is a place to send “bad kids” for punishment. Most treatment is designed to treat maladaptive behavior responses that often result from core wounding or trauma responses. When removing a young person from a familiar environment that includes constant over stimulation from cell phones, media pressures, school and social pressures there becomes the ability to leverage the inherent neuroplasticity of a younger brain and can lead to a more effective intervention on disruptive behaviors. 
A study in 2004 from Outdoor Behavioral Health Research Council (OBHRC) shows a 50% reduction in symptoms using the Youth Outcome Questionnaire (YOQ). It also showed a continued decrease in symptoms over time. 
With Wilderness Treatment being so effective, it leads us to wonder why there isn’t a Wilderness Treatment program in our home state. The answer is because some states like California have laws that make it very difficult and expensive to run an active Wilderness Treatment Program. Due to large populations, California’s departments Land Management tightly control access to California’s open spaces. California’s laws do not protect large private landholders enough to make them comfortable with lending their land to outside use. California’s rich mineral content and agriculture make most of the earth more valuable to industries such as mining and logging. The value of land in California prices out the outdoor behavioral health industry which traditionally operates as a labor of love. 
California’s Behavioral Health industry has grown in response to increasing rates of drug addiction and mental health disorders nationwide. It has long been a haven for the treatment of mental health disorders because it is socially acceptable to be open about recovery. So, it is easy to see why programs would take modalities that work so well in the wilderness and apply it to urban treatment. Programs like Thrive Treatment℠ in Santa Monica, Ca utilize experiential therapies to get their clients “off the couch” and practicing coping and recovery skills outside of their treatment office. “Although our program is not a replacement for Wilderness Treatment in california ,” says Clayton Ketchum, CEO of Thrive Treatment℠, “Using experiential therapies in young adults significantly improves the transition from the backcountry to an urban environment where most young people desire to live and grow their lives.” Utilizing local recreation areas like the Santa Monica Mountains for day outings and the Sierra Nevada Mountains for weekend adventures, “Creates lasting bonds between our clients, because completing a small journey together introduces them to the camaraderie necessary to embark on a life long journey of recovery.” Thrive Treatment℠ urges those considering treatment to call their Admissions Counselors for a thorough assessment and to learn about the different types of Wilderness Therapy programs. 
When it comes to choosing a Wilderness Treatment Program, it is essential to have a thorough assessment to identify the best fit. It may be difficult to find Wilderness Treatment in California. Several wilderness programs operate in Utah, Colorado, Oregon, and Montana. The two main types of programs are known commonly as the Base model and Nomad model. Different Wilderness programs best serve different populations so it is important that a student be paired with the program which best suits their needs. The other thing to consider is insurance coverage and cost which takes a thorough financial evaluation. Wilderness typically runs $15,000 to $38,000 per month and varies on what insurance covers or reimburses. Chris Kirby, the Admissions Director at Thrive Treatment℠, says, “Not all insurance is created equal, I have seen insurance cover 90% of a program or only reimburse 10%, the first step is getting a full Verification of Benefits to determine what coverage would be.”
Nomad model is a type of wilderness which is full wilderness immersion. The students begin at a base camp and don’t return until they are finished. They are in the wilderness the entire time trekking from camp to camp and doing group and individual therapy sessions in the woods. They utilize highly skilled field guides to facilitate interventions in the field. 
Base model wilderness, also knowing as an adventure model utilizes the wilderness for multiple day excursions and incorporates different activities into each journey. Students return to base where they engage in medical and clinical visits, de-brief and planning for their next outing. They also utilize skilled field guides and therapists in the field to process the experience.
Wilderness Therapy is described by professionals, families and clients alike as one of the most effective and significant interventions for people struggling with mental and behavioral health issues. The other significant factor in the success of someone doing a wilderness program is continuing care. Any initial treatment experience is only the first intervention. For lasting success and decreased recidivism, it is recommended that a young person is in one year of follow up care. Best outcomes come from a highly structured sober living or young addult transitional program. It is crucial that students learn to use their wilderness skills in everyday life and habituate their new coping skills, especially when combating the internal dialogue and behavior patterns which typically lead to relapse.

Russell, K.C.(2005). Two years later: A qualitative assessment of youth-well-being and the role of aftercare in outdoor behavioral healthcare treatment. Child and Youth Care Forum, 34, 3, 209-239.

Thinking Disorders and Substance Abuse

thinking disorders and substance abuse

What is a Thinking Disorder?

Thought disorder is a term used to describe illnesses that are associated with an impaired capacity to sustain coherent discourse and is reflected in an individual’s verbal and written communication. This mental health condition affects a person’s beliefs, thoughts and perceptions. Thinking disorders have two distinguishable components: Disordered thinking and delusional thinking. Those with disordered thinking struggle to think straight and thoughts come and go quickly. These individuals struggle to pay attention and connect their thoughts logically and reflect this through incoherent or hard to follow conversation. Individuals with schizophrenia often times experience disordered thinking. Delusional thinking occurs when someone believes something that is clearly or most likely false. For example, believing that aliens are following you. This delusion is strongly believed despite the lack of evidence and reflects the person’s abnormality of thought content. These are different than overvalued ideas which are unreasonable ideas with some level of doubt associated with it. Individuals suffering with depression, schizophrenia, delirium, psychosis, and manic depression are more likely to experience thought disorders.


This mental disorder is not actually it’s own diagnosis but rather a symptom and characteristic of other mental illnesses. Thought disorders are characterized and diagnosed by the following symptoms-

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Flight ideas- When an individual switches from one unrelated idea to another during a conversation
  • Circumstantiality- long-winded and convoluted speech
  • Word salad-Words that are inappropriately strung together
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Blocking- When an individual chooses not to address something that is in conflict
  • Frequent interruptions in a person’s train of thought
  • Belief that a person is an entity
  • Delusions-Experience strange thoughts and have fixed illogical beliefs
  • Hallucinations- Individuals hear and see things that aren’t really there.
  • Paranoia-Someone fixates on fears and skeptical thoughts.
  • Derailment-ideas that get further and further apart from each other and from discussion.
  • Inability to follow a logical train of thought

Addiction and Substance Abuse:

Drug use and alcohol can evoke thought disorder behavior. If someone is heavily under the influence they can not think clearly and may experience things like paranoia or other mental disorder symptoms. Many substances mimic mental illnesses associated with thinking disorders. For example, individuals under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs, like LSD, will most likely experience hallucinations. Furthermore, individuals can experience characteristics of thinking disorders when withdrawing. Some mental disorders are caused from drug use and symptoms never fully go away after treatment. It is also common for someone to struggle with a substance-induced disorder and other co-occurring mental disorders. Detoxification is a necessary first step in recovery. This process rids the body of toxins and substances. This is done so medically and clinically. Once an individual struggling with substance abuse has detoxed they can then be continuously evaluated for other mental health issues.


Treatment varies depending on the type of thinking disorder and within the context that it is occurring. For example, CBT and behavioral therapy is often used for disordered thinking. Medication can be used to alleviate thinking disorders in someone with depression of anxiety. Someone with schizophrenia will also take psychotropic medications which may also improve thinking disorders. Psychotherapy is also another tool used to help better understand the root of the thinking patterns.

Senior Citizens with Addiction

senior citizens with addiction

What does addiction look like in older adulthood?

Senior Citizens With Addiction Drug addiction and alcoholism among older adults is a rapidly growing issue that is often underestimated and not give the proper attention. Most people don’t imagine that their elderly loved one could be at risk for substance abuse and addiction. However, there are many risk factors that can lead an older adult into addiction. Older adults, also known as senior citizens or the elderly, are known as individuals above the age of 65. Senior Citizens with Addiction are usually classified into two different groups: the late on-set group and the hardy survivors. The late on-set group are elderly individuals that develop an addiction to substances or alcohol later on in life, while the hardy survivors are the individuals who have been abusing substances and alcohol for many years and all the way into their senior years.


Why are older adults at risk?


Many changes that occur in later adulthood can trigger a senior citizen to abuse substances and alcohol. The challenges that occur in later adulthood can pile up and lead someone to cope in unhealthy ways. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Retirement
    • Leaving a job or being let go can be extremely stressful and hard to handle. A lot of people find that their job is a huge part of their identity. Letting a job go can leave someone feeling empty. Not to mention the amount of free time that is now available can leave some vulnerable to boredom, depression, loneliness, etc.
  • Loss of financial stability
    • Some elderly individuals are let go from their jobs or their retirement funds do not support them enough and then find themselves in a financial crisis. Medical bills and extra support like nurses, add up and easily empty pockets. The financial stress can push someone over the edge into substance abuse.
  • Death of loved ones
    • Grief is a big part of older adulthood. Many senior citizens lose their friends, partners, animal companions, and other loved ones because of health issues and old age. This loss can be devastating and some try to replace their loved ones with drinking or using drugs.  
  • Being placed in a nursing home
    • Changing from living independently to a nursing home can stir up a lot of negative emotions. It is difficult to give up independence and let others come in and help. Furthermore, nursing homes can be dysfunctional and abusive at times. If someone is living in a destructive nursing home, substances and alcohol may be the only source of comfort for an elderly person.
  • Health issues
    • Physical health and mental health declines as individuals age. Some develop things like Alzheimer’s, depression and chronic physical pain from things like arthritis. Deterioration in health can push folks into addiction. Most prescription drug abuse occurs by accident. An individual will be prescribed something for a health issue and will become dependent on it or perhaps the medication interacts with other medications and causes harmful effects.  Furthermore, growing older slows down the body’s ability to process medication which can make older adults more prone to becoming addicted to a substance and harmful side effects.
  • Medications
    • Older adults are often times prescribed opioids and benzodiazepines which both have a high potential for addiction. Without knowledge of how these medications work and interact with others, individuals can experience negative effects.
  • Family conflict and transitions
    • With age, roles in families can change. Someone who was once the patriarchy of the family may now become someone less involved because of their older age. This role change can be hard to adjust to. Transitions like children growing into adults and moving on with their own lives can be really difficult for older adults to adjust to. Individuals may feel lonely and grief with their children move on and create their own lives outside of their parents.


What are the symptoms:


Drugs and alcohol may actually mimic other health issues that older adults experience which can make diagnosis difficult. Things like dementia can look similar to someone being heavily under the influence. This can lead to misdiagnosis and mistreatment. Often times people assume that older individuals are senile and ignore signs of substance abuse or addiction. There are addiction and substance abuse signs to look for in senior citizens with addiction which include:

  • Memory loss or problems
  • Filling the same prescription from more than one doctor
  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits
  • Slurred speech
  • Chronic health complaints
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Hostility, irritability or depression
  • Solitary behavior
  • Poor hygiene
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or interests
  • Heavy drinking
  • Confusion
  • Deteriorating relationships
  • Often talk about medicine and have anxiety around it
  • Sneak or hide medicine
  • Taking medicine without reading the label
  • Have struggled with substance abuse and alcoholism before


Senior Citizens With Addiction – Pathway to Recovery:

Addiction and substance abuse is harmful no matter what age you are; however, it is even more harmfuAl to older adults. Older adults may be unaware of the severe impact that substance abuse may have on them. It is imperative that addiction and substance abuse is diagnosed and treated and in a way that is sensitive to this unique stage in life. Senior Citizens with Addiction
tend to lack social support, especially when recovering. Treatment centers and supports groups must provide specialized support when working with older adults. Although age is an important factor in recovery, treatment from addiction and substance abuse is always possible no matter how old someone is.

senior citizens addiction