One is the Loneliest Number: Why Group Therapy Works

When we are suffering, it’s easy to feel isolated which can make our negative thoughts appear far worse. It almost seems like no one else in the world can relate to us. We begin to shut down and believe this is the way life has to be. But this narrative isn’t real; this is how mental illness manifests. It tries to trick us into thinking we are alone, and no one will ever be able to understand us and help us.

Group therapy can change all of that and help us realize that even if we are struggling with vastly different issues than others in our lives, the underlying feelings of pain, depression, anxiety, and fear are all the same. We may not have the same story as the person sitting next to us, but when we are battling addiction of any kind, we are all battling the same feelings.

What is Group Therapy?

You may have seen the stereotypical group therapy scene in a movie where someone stands up and says, “My name is Joe, and I’m an alcoholic.” While it may feel weird to hear, this is a typical part of most group therapy archetypes. Why? Because it’s important to get it all out on the table so you can work together as a group to create a safe space that will foster healing. Before you can make any changes in your life, you have to acknowledge the problem. Saying it out loud is the first step in shifting perspective and changing your life.

In group settings, there is usually one leader who helps moderate dialogue and gives the group something to focus on for that session. Sometimes they are check-in sessions where everyone will talk about their day or week. Other times, they can look like learning groups where participants read articles, write in a journal, and share out ideas about boundaries, triggers, and so much more. This is a key part of group work. Hearing others talk about their struggles can help you connect and open your mind. 

 There are many facilities and organizations that offer group work. Groups like YPAA (Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous), NACoA, (National Association for Children of Addiction) and Nar-Anon (Narcotics Anonymous) offer programs across the US and Canada with sister groups forming around the world. There are also programs offered at out out-patient treatment facilities, hospitals, and private practices. It’s clear there is a need to help kids break addiction and foster support, and if it’s working for adults, why wouldn’t that model shift to kids?

  So, what is group therapy? It’s a safe space where a group of people battling mental illness, addiction, and trauma comes together to create coping mechanisms and support systems in order to get back into a healthy routine and happy life.

What Will I Get Out of Attending Group Therapy?

It can definitely feel scary to face your demons, let alone facing them in front of other people, but working with others can offer a few things that working alone cannot.

·Community: Sharing your stories and hearing the stories of others can help you realize you are not alone. You may be going through something very personal and individualized, but there are others who have shared some of the same experiences and definitely shared the same feelings of isolation, pain, anxiety, and sadness. Knowing you aren’t the only one can help you heal. Hearing stories of any kind can open our minds to endless possibilities.

·Perspective: There are two ways in which a group can shift perspective. First, hearing the stories of others can help you realize things about yourself and about your own narrative. It can make you see negative behaviors/patterns in yourself that can put you on the right track to healing. Secondly, telling your story can not only help you find the words to overcome your addiction/feelings, but it can also help others just like you. Sometimes knowing we are making a difference in someone’s life can give us the strength to make good choices on our own.

·Support: It’s one thing to know you aren’t alone, but when you are in the depths of addiction and working your way out of mental illness, knowing you have a safe space to share and heal is imperative. Group can be something to look forward to and keep you accountable while you break negative habits and work through trauma. When you are a part of the group, no one gets left behind.

When in Doubt, Try it Out

You may have some reservations when it comes to group therapy, but if you are someone that is struggling with addiction of any kind and nothing else seems to be working, it may be time to try something new. Talking about your problems in front of others may feel scary at first but remember this: everyone else is sitting in that room with the same fears as you. You are not alone which is what group therapy is all about. Get the fears, the anxieties, and the pain out of our body so you can make room for healing, health, and new beginnings.

         They say it takes a village, and when it comes to addiction, The Bougainvilla House has created a village to fight for you and with you. Operating as an out-patient family therapy space, The Bougainvilla House will get you the individual help you need along with group therapy sessions to help you build a new community of health and happiness. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t fight it alone. Call now: 954-764-7337

Vaping-Related Illness Claim Its First Victims

When kids hit their teen years, they want to be in control. They want to choose everything from their food options, their friends, and of course, their bedtime. They are ready to be adults who are free from their parents’ reign. But when it comes to vaping, there is a touch of irony that seems to be lost on the masses. Kids want to be free yet can’t seem to realize that their rebellious choice to vape is actually another governing body telling them what to do and when. Why? Because vaping is an addictive behavior that aims to control a person’s life.

If you pay attention to the news, you’ve probably seen the latest stories about vaping-related deaths. While the CDC is still investigating the incidents, we know the victims were, in fact, using vaping pens/e-cigarettes. Because vapes are so new, there is limited data surrounding their effects and now, death-related experiences.

What Do We Know?

  • Case 1: An adult male from Illinois died from what the CDC is calling “a vaping-related condition.” They know he suffered from a respiratory issue and passed shortly after.
  • Case 2: A middle-aged person from Oregon died from an e-cigarette illness. The THC oil and pen were both purchased legally from a dispensary. This is the first death related to items purchased from a licensed pot shop.

While these cases were fatal, they are merely a piece to a larger puzzle.  At the beginning of September, the CDC reported “215 possible cases of severe lung disease associated with the use of e-cigarettes” by 25 states. There have also been over 200 cases of vape users who have been suffering from unexplained respiratory issues and other side effects. The CDC has a lot of questions and is launching a full investigation. Are the issues stemming from the THC/nicotine cartridges? Are people mixing other substances? Were these cartridges and devices legally sold, or were they from a second-hand dealer? Without this information, we are sitting in the dark, once again, in a smoking-related conflict.

Bottom Line: Is Vaping Harmful?

If you think back to cigarette marketing in years past, doctors and celebrities willingly advertised the deadly sticks. Cigarettes were popular, but we can’t forget why. They were, and are, marketable and addictive. At the time when cigarettes were starting to take off, researchers didn’t know the full extent to what a cigarette would do long-term, but if we use some rational thinking, there are a few conclusions we can make about vapes and e-cigarettes without the help of a Ph.D. and a lab.

  • Nicotine is addictive-the chemicals in THC/nicotine cartridges are addictive. They create a physical need in the body and an emotional need in the mind. Spin it any way you want, but the product many people want to defend is addiction’s voice telling you to keep smoking.
  • Smoking can cause cancer and other health issues– we know what smoking does to the body. It causes respiratory issues, mouth and teeth issues, and can ultimately lead to cancer. These are hard facts about smoking, and they haven’t been ruled out when it comes to this new form of smoking.
  • Sucking on a battery cannot be good for you– whether you want to argue that THC isn’t harmful like the chemicals in cigarettes, one thing holds true. We do not have enough information to prove sucking on a battery won’t cause harm. The same discussion happens regarding other technologies such as cell phones and microwaves. There is a correlation waiting to unfold in the years to come.

The CDC’s Brian King commented about this very issue. He stated while people perceive vaping to be far less dangerous than regular cigarettes, there are still chemicals in the product that are known to cause illness and cancer, such as heavy metals and diacetyl which gives the vape it’s “buttery flavor.” They are still working on correlations, but one thing he can say for certain is that “the e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless.” We may not know the end result, but because of all the research connected to smoking, we know this behavior will have a consequence.

How Can I Stop?

When it comes to vaping, the first thing we must acknowledge is an addiction. If we need to vape, we are caught in addiction’s web. There are no ifs, ands or buts around the issue. Vaping is a behavior that directly connects to chemicals altering our body and our minds. Like any addiction, to break the habit, it’s going to take some will power and some coping mechanisms.

Many have been using vapes to stop smoking. However, this is like saying I’ll stop drinking vodka and switch to beer, or I’ll stop doing opioids and take Suboxone instead. Yes, you might be trying to use the step-down method in good faith, but the truth of the matter is you’re switching out one addiction for another and rationalizing it with weak argumentation.

To fully break an addiction, it means figuring out why you need the substance, acknowledging your triggers, and setting up an accountability plan. There are myriad programs out there to help you quit smoking. There are online resources, group therapy, and even individual therapy to help you get to the root of your triggers. Most importantly, if you’ve experienced any of these side effects—breathing issues, coughing, pain in your chest or throat, or fatigue—reach out to a healthcare professional immediately.

Quitting anything isn’t easy. Whether it’s a negative relationship to an illegal substance or what we perceive to be a harmless task of using an e-cigarette, addiction is going to do its best to beat our willpower down. If you or an adolescent you know is struggling to overcome an addiction, reach out to The Bougainvilla House family therapy center today. We pride ourselves in helping our youth break negative patterns and thrive with their families. Call 954-764-7337 today to learn about our treatment options and group programs:

Cleaning Up Your Social Media Accounts

Cancel culture has become popular over the last few years. If you make a mistake, society cancels you out which means there are no second chances. While cancel culture may have been based on important movements in this country, it’s an unhealthy way to view the world because there is no room for forgiveness. However, it’s an unfortunate reality we are facing, and whether we want to believe it or not, we are all affected by it.

That’s not to say people who post horrible things shouldn’t be held accountable. The point here is that no one is safe. Whether you’re a 15-year-old in Indiana or a major celebrity, it’s a reminder that perception is a reality. We need to be aware of our words and actions now more than ever. There are celebrities losing work over old Tweets and college students losing scholarships over old pictures. This is a hard truth, but in a world flooded with social media accounts, what we see becomes what we believe.

Because we live in a world where perception is a reality, it’s easy to look at someone’s pictures on Instagram or read a handful of Tweets and begin to make assumptions about that person. We start to draw conclusions based on a few moments in a person’s life. What you see in others is who they become to you. You may think these judgments are harmless but have you stopped to think about the other side of the coin? What are you putting out into the world? What do others see when they see your social media posts? It could be a positive thing if your posts are promoting world change or equality, but if your posts are crude jokes and pictures of you partying, a new narrative is being written.

We can set our profiles to private, and we can send snaps to certain groups, but there are very real dangers behind sending and posting personal information online. A lot of this stuff is permanent, and when you are at the age of college and career, you want to ensure nothing is going to come back and bite you in the butt. It may be time to clean up your social media accounts.

Spring Cleaning Tips

Take some time to scroll through your accounts. If you’ve struggled with drinking or have been known to use in the past, you want to make sure to take down those pictures. This is not to say you should be ashamed of past choices, but others may take posts of drinking, posts where you’re clearly intoxicated, to mean this is who you are. Don’t let those old images define who you are today.  

You also want to be cognizant of what you retweet or repost. If there are vulgar words, posts that are offensive or marginalize, those need to go, especially the latter. We watch people on a daily basis get called out for marginalizing tweets, racists repostings, and far worse. The same can happen to you. All an employer or school needs to do is Google your name. More importantly, if you are someone that enjoys this type of humor, it may be time to dig deeper and ask why. Your humor is a reflection of how you view yourself.

 The last point stems from tone. It’s very difficult to read someone’s tone through their written words, especially if you don’t know them well. If something can be taken the wrong way, or if there is an inside joke that is seemingly offensive, it might be time to remove those posts as well. Many say the world is becoming “too sensitive,” but if someone else is the butt of a joke or comment, you may want to rethink that mindset based on compassion and kindness.

These suggestions may feel like an invasion of freedom, and if that rings true, it may be time to answer the following questions:

-What is my intention behind posting this picture, article, or tweet?

-Am I posting this for attention or validation? If so, what am I lacking in my life?

-Do I need to be on social media? If so, why?

These questions aren’t to suggest that social media is wrong or that you shouldn’t be using these apps. These questions get to the root of your actions. They reveal the intention behind your usage which could illuminate a larger issue within your heart and mind. If you are uncomfortable with the answers, it may be time to dig deeper.

The Bottom Line with Social Media

When you work for a company or attend college, you represent their mission. Most businesses, big or small, don’t want an employee partying on Facebook or posting racy content on Twitter. And colleges definitely don’t want scandal based on illegal substances and or racially charged content. You become a reflection of their values, and if they don’t align, you probably won’t be working there long and or you could quickly lose a scholarship.

If you’re still not convinced, consider this. Say you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher, and think back to the judgments you make while scrolling. Do you want your kid being taught by a party monster? Do you want your surgeon drinking every night? Do you want your lawyer making racist jokes? We all make mistakes growing up, and there is no shame in that. But it’s time to step up into the best version of yourself and help this world grow.

         If you’ve been questioning your behaviors and want to take the first step in turning your life around, professional help is always a great option. The Bougainvilla House offers adolescent behavioral health programs for individuals and families. Call us today to see how we can help 954-764-7337 , or use our convenient Contact form.

Finding Balance in an Ever-Changing World

Finding Balance in an Ever-Changing World

There are a million metaphors and similes about life. It’s a roller coaster, it’s like a box of chocolates, and it’s a journey, yet these comparisons have implicit reminders that sometimes life is hard. There are ups and downs, there are various surprises, and it’s a long road we must continue walking with moments of struggle. Some may find this sentiment beautiful, but for others, those who crave routine, peace, and stability, these metaphors are tough truths.

The uncertainty of life stems from many things. Some are internal as the body ages and others are external factors relating to fate, yet both connect to one word: control. Unfortunately, we cannot control fate—internally or externally—but we can control how we react to it all.

Internal and External Factors

It may be an uncomfortable topic, but puberty is real. It brings about significant changes to our bodies, our emotions, and our perspectives. These changes alter mood and can cause teens to feel jaded, tired, or even the vast opposite. Along with the internal changes of the body comes the external consequences. This could look like growth spurts, voice changes, and personality changes that can cause unwanted attention. Put two and two together and you have an awkward math problem.

Besides hormonal issues and physiological happenings in the body, most of our emotions are connected to the outside world. Think about it in terms of literature and the fact that books are centered around conflict. We are humans, humans have emotions, and emotions create conflict. But conflict doesn’t magically arise. External forces affect us, trigger us, and force us to confront whatever is happening. So, while our emotions play a huge factor, they connect to catalysts in the external world.

On top of all that, we have another aspect of the external world called expectation. As teens, we are expected to do the chores, go to school, get a job, possibly go to college, and so much more. Then, there are topics like gender norms, cultural norms, and societal norms that attempt to force us into another box. It’s as if we are in a maze, and we are getting pushed to turn right then left then right again. We don’t really know where we are going, yet we know we are supposed to keep moving forward.

Now think about this new internal world mixed with a new external world. It can feel like the recipe for disaster, and for some of us, we are already experiencing this war. The bottom line here is that this is normal, everyone goes through it, and not every day is going to be a good day. Many people want to preach “good vibes only” and the power of a positive attitude, but the reality is that because we have emotions and myriad external factors, we are undoubtedly going to experience the drops on the roller coaster. However, the drops don’t last forever, and when we accept this truth and process our emotions while they are occurring, we can take negative moments as they come, release them, and return to joy.

Balance and Shifting Perspective

Unlike a roller coaster or box of chocolates, we don’t have a choice when it comes to, well, choice. We are on the ride, we don’t know the outcome, and to find balance, we must accept this idea first. You can find balance by shifting your perspective. Instead of saying, “I hate this ride,” switch the narrative to, “I’m excited to see where it takes me.” If you hate the big dips, focus on cherishing the straightaways and practicing gratitude while they are occurring. If you bite into a candy with a nut and you wanted caramel, remind yourself you can try again.

We want to be present in our darker moments because we want to avoid repressing these experiences. During the drops, try this perspective shift. Instead of asking, “why is this happening to me?” ask, “what is this trying to teach me?” See the difference? Instead of playing the victim to fate, you put the power back in your hands by becoming an adventurer, the warrior of your story. It’s not always easy, but when we finally look under the bed, we realize the monster isn’t so big, and sometimes, it was never there to begin with.

Just because we experience the dips doesn’t mean we have to sit in those moments and stay there. Just like the ride, we won’t constantly be plummeting down. The moment will pass, as will every other emotion and experience. When we are present, we can acknowledge the difficult moments, and more importantly, we can enjoy the good.

It can be difficult to balance all of the emotional and physical changes of adolescence. If you or someone you know is struggling to balance and is using substances to cope, professional help is always a great option. The Bougainvilla House offers adolescent behavioral health programs for individuals and families. Call us today to see how we can help 954-764-7337 , or use our convenient Contact form.

Saying “No” Stems from Self-Worth

teen drinking peer pressure

We are taught from a young age to say no. We are told it’s okay to stand up for ourselves and go against the crowd, especially when it comes to drugs and alcohol. But when we are put in a position where it’s time to say no, it can feel difficult, scary, and at times, impossible. Why is saying no to drugs and alcohol so difficult?

It’s not easy to go against the masses, especially at an age where everything feels like life or death and fitting in is what helps you survive the day. But when we choose another person’s path, their perspective over ours, we diminish our own and project negativity into our future. It means we are too afraid to put ourselves first. To get a better understanding of what this looks like, let’s look at an example.

Jayden loves to draw and desperately wants to get into art school so he can become a successful graphic designer. However, his group of friends is not as motivated. They don’t hate on him for his dreams, but they aren’t doing anything to better Jayden’s future. Jayden’s friends drink most nights of the week and smoke weed every day. Jayden used to think the weed helped him with his creativity, but now, it just makes him tired and lethargic. He hasn’t been drawing every day like he used to, and he’s noticed changes in his work. He wants to tell his friends that he doesn’t want to smoke anymore, but he’s afraid they won’t want to be his friend if he does.

What’s Jayden’s main concern?

He’s afraid he will lose friends if he stands up for himself and says no. It may not seem like it but saying no stems from self-worth. He has the first part down by knowing he doesn’t want to continue the behavior, and he knows the behavior is harming his future. But Jayden is afraid of the possibility of walking away from his friend group. He’s putting more value on his friends and their opinions over his own well-being.

Let’s say Jayden’s worst fear comes true, that his friend group won’t hang out with him anymore. Are they really Jayden’s friends if they are willing to throw the friendship away over drugs? Absolutely not. If he does choose to walk away, it will be a blessing in disguise because it’s clear these friends aren’t loyal and caring. Some may even go so far as to say that rejection is protection. If Jayden does lose the friend group, it might make him sad and lonely at first, but the change can lead to new friends who are like-minded, supportive and encourage creativity. Wouldn’t you say Jayden is better off?

Here’s where most of us get stuck. We only think of the worst-case scenario, but when we do this, we forget about the other possibilities. What if Jayden tells his friends and they support him? What if they think it’s a great idea? Part of this scenario is about the integrity of his friends, but it also goes back to Jayden’s self-worth. If he believes in himself and knows he is a valuable friend, then it doesn’t matter if his friends choose to stay or leave because Jayden knows he will be successful and find new friends that truly care about him. But if his friends choose to stay, then he can continue building relationships with them as he grows and changes.

This is the key takeaway when it comes to connecting to your life’s purpose.

It’s about taking care of you and putting you first. When you do that, the rest will fall into place. This can seem scary because friends and hobbies can change, but doesn’t it seem worth it to do the things that are important to you? When we have confidence, when we believe in our convictions, and when we know we don’t want to do something, we find the strength to say no and walk away. That’s not to say the moment isn’t scary. It means we value ourselves more than the approval of others.

It’s Okay to Not Go to the Party

It’s okay to not go to the party, it’s okay to not accept the drink, and it’s okay to call home for a ride if you get stuck in a sticky situation. What’s not okay is dropping down to the level of others and saying yes simply because it feels easier. It’s okay to listen to the voice inside your heart and honor its wishes, even if it means losing friends in the process. It’s about realizing that sometimes we have to make sacrifices to gain the life we are dreaming of.

It can feel like life or death when it comes to saying no, and that’s okay! If you or an adolescent you know struggles with boundaries that are leading to addiction, professional help is always a great option. The Bougainvilla House offers adolescent behavioral health programs for individuals and families.

Call us today to see how we can help 954-764-7337,
or use our convenient Contact form.

Vaping and Teens

Vaping is certainly not a new phenomenon, but e-cigarette use has become increasingly popular over the past two years. Sometimes referred to as “Juuling”, a term coined after people began using the Juul brand e-cigarette device, vaping is the inhaling and exhaling of a blend of nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals as a vapor.

There is a common, but inaccurate, belief that e-cigarettes contain fewer chemicals than traditional cigarettes, so they are said to be less harmful. This is likely why there has been quite a boom in e-cigarette sales across the nation – and why this has become more popular with teens in particular.

The sudden increase in vaping amongst teens has taken the medical community by surprise. A study done by the University of Michigan found that nearly one in three high school students in the U.S. has tried vaping in the past year. That number may grow as e-cigarette companies have begun to broaden their appeal and market products specifically for teens and young adults. With a wide array of flavors to choose from, the trend shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.

Many parents have become concerned about their teenaged children vaping, and this is with good reason. There are plenty of concerns and risks to consider. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. As teens still have developing brains and bodies, it is far easier for them to get “hooked” on substances.

Also, e-cigarettes still contain potentially toxic chemicals. While they haven’t been around long enough to conduct thorough long-term studies about their effects on the body, doctors, researchers, and others have unequivocally stated that e-cigarettes are not safe for teens and young adults. There is also the risk of poisoning, device explosions, and allergic reactions. There have been cases where e-cigarettes are laced with illegal drugs.

If your teen or young adult is vaping, and you are concerned about their safety, here are some tips regarding how you should approach the issue:

Have Honest Conversations

As teens and young adults are still forming habits, impulse control, and experiencing several changes throughout their brains and bodies, it is critical that you approach the issue without engaging in a “lecture”. Ask them questions about vaping that are not accusatory. If you pass someone vaping, ask your teen what they think about it. Begin with open-ended questions that spark conversations.

Also, be prepared to have honest conversations about the risks involved. Teens tend to be more impulsive than adults, so your teen may not be considering the long-term effects of e-cigarettes. Discuss the fact that there are many unknowns about vaping, and that doctors have decided that it is not a healthy habit. Be clear about your expectations, but open to an exchange of ideas.

If your teen mentions that “everyone is doing it” or that “vaping is safer than smoking” you can face these comments with facts easily. The truth is that most teens in the U.S. do not vape, and while e-cigarettes do contain fewer chemicals, they still contain nicotine and toxic substances. No long-term studies have been done yet to assess the likelihood of illnesses like cancers, addiction, breathing problems, or the effects of vaping on young brains. Just because something is popular doesn’t make it safe or healthy.

Role Modeling

Teens and young adults are often more aware of their surroundings than you think. If you vape or you smoke, remember that they are watching and will consider your actions as an “approval” of whatever they choose to do. If you do intend to keep vaping, keep your devices secured and try to vape away from their presence.

Seek Professional Help

If you feel that your teen or young adult is experiencing issues with vaping that make you feel frustrated or overwhelmed, or if you feel like their habits are standing in the way of success, it may be time to seek professional help. The Bougainvilla House offers comprehensive therapy for teens and young adults dealing with substance use or behavioral issues, all in a safe, supportive environment.

If you would like to learn more about our services, visit our website today at https://tbhcares.org/, or call our caring team at 954-764-7337 and schedule an appointment. We are committed to giving you and your teen or young adult the tools needed to succeed and thrive.

Do as I Say: A Message to Parents

parenting by example

We’ve all heard the expression, “Do as I say, and not as I do.” It means to follow the rules, follow what someone says, but don’t follow their actions. It means the person using the phrase is telling you to do something, but they, themselves, refuse to do it. Unfortunately, too many people are living by these words, but when it comes to parenting, this phrase can make or break the relationship we have with our kids.

We want our kids to be better than we are, to strive for more, and live a life of success, but when we follow this adage, we are forgetting what it means to be human. Kids, by nature, soak up their surroundings and internalize them. What they see is literally what they do because that’s exactly how humans learn, especially in their formative years. This means, as adults, it’s time to call our integrity into question, especially if we are doing the same for our kids. It’s time to ask ourselves if we are being the best role model possible, and if not, what can we do to get there?

How the ‘Do as I Say’ Method Backfires

There are two things that happen when we don’t act as role models, and they work together. First, whether we want to believe it or not, our children start picking up our behaviors because they live with us and see us every day. From day one, everything we do and say becomes an internalized narrative. Think about how kids learn to eat their food, speak, and play. We are the gatekeepers of knowledge, modeling all behaviors. But when kids grow older, the stakes grow larger.

For example, if you tell your kids not to get in a car with someone who’s been drinking, and you have a beer or two at dinner then drive your family home, you’re teaching your child it’s okay. If that doesn’t resonate, think about how you speak to your friends and even how you speak to your kids about others. If you are constantly name-calling, blaming, or refusing to take ownership of your behaviors, then how do you expect your kids to know any differently? You set the bar for kindness, compassion, and ownership because they have no other outlet to learn in the first 5-6 years of their lives. And the older they get, the more aware they become to who you are and what you are saying.

The next piece stems from respect. As parents, if we are constantly asking things of our kids, and we are doing the opposite, then we are providing mixed messages. Therefore, it’s easy for them to lose respect. You might say, “They are my child; they should respect me.” While that may be true if you’d tell your child to watch out for a specific behavior, yet you are exhibiting said behavior, your child is caught in a place where they aren’t sure what to think. And the more we act in ways we deem wrong, the more our child is going to pick up on it and see us in that light. For example, say you tell your child lying is wrong, but they watch you lie to your boss or your spouse. They may be young and naïve, but they can surely spot a liar. Now, since you’ve done it, they may feel it’s okay to lie occasionally, too.

This all boils down to integrity. Integrity means doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. If we aren’t doing the right thing when they are watching, they have no way to make the best decisions for themselves when we aren’t around.

How Can We Teach Our Kids to Have Integrity?

The easiest way to teach good behaviors is to lead by example. No one is asking you to be perfect, but the more we can model compassionate and morally sound behavior, the more likely our kids will pick up on those traits and behaviors, as well.

Think about it this way. Have you ever had a boss you simply didn’t respect? Think about the worst boss you’ve ever had and analyze those behaviors. Maybe they had an attitude, they didn’t follow through with their objectives, or simply did nothing to contribute. What did you gain from that environment? How did you feel when they didn’t follow through or simply did nothing in their position? Now, think about your kids. In a lot of ways, you are their boss for the first 18 years of their lives. You organize, you provide structure, and you give them the tools to succeed. How would they rate you as a boss? Are you following through? We can’t expect kids to follow a meaningless command and retain their respect. We wouldn’t want our kids to do the same with others in their lives, so it’s time to step up and be the leader we all need.

Leading by example can be hard when it comes to addiction. If you or a young adult you know is struggling with addiction, professional help is always a great option. The Bougainvilla House offers adolescent behavioral health programs for individuals and families. Call us today to see how we can help 954-764-7337, or use our convenient Contact form.

Bullying

Bullying amongst adolescents and teenagers has been going on, in one form or another, since the beginning of human relations. Unfortunately, we have only really established the ability to engage in a serious dialogue about the negative effects of bullying since the early 2000’s. In 2005, the first data on bullying began to be collected by the federal government and at this time, according to the US Department of Education, the prevalence of bullying was shown to be at approximately 28%. As of 2016, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that the prevalence rate had dropped to 20.8%, showing that while bullying overall has shown a decrease, the prevalence of it in middle and high schools is still 1 out of every 5 children.

The Effects of Bullying
Although overall, we may be seeing a decline in bullying nationwide, we cannot afford to become content with these numbers as just one instance of bullying can be a traumatic event for the victim. Generally speaking, victims of bullying do not experience one instance but rather on average, experience bullying at least 1-2 times per week. Bullying can induce a myriad of horrific effects on the victim such as increased isolation, shame, low self-esteem, anxiety, decreased performance in school, and symptoms of depression. Due to the consistent and persistent nature of bullying that is left without intervention, the long-term effects of bullying include potential PTSD, anxiety and depressive disorders, substance abuse, loss of trust, and even an engagement in self-harm as well as suicide. While there are some individuals who argue that bullying behavior can be a natural part of growing up, and they may be right, this notion doesn’t provide solutions for the victims and families who experience very real suffering due this type of behavior left unchecked.


What Are Some Possible Solutions To Bullying?

As the ability to engage in open dialogue about the effects of bullying becomes more realistic, we ought to first look at assertive communication as a primary mode of recourse. Typically, the bully has some real or perceived advantage over the victim which is manifested through physical strength, verbal aggression, or intimidation techniques. Bullies look for what they believe to be individuals who are weak-willed, shy, or defenseless; one way we can fortify ourselves against this kind of susceptibility is to let the bully know, verbally, that we will not stand by and be victimized. The “Three Strikes” rule is effective because it communicates to the bully that we will not stand passively by and allow this behavior. Upon the first incidence of bullying we let them know that this is unacceptable and will not be tolerated; upon the second incident, we communicate that should this happen again, we will notify the relevant authorities. Often times, this will signal to the bully that we will not stand for this treatment, and also that we are willing to make it difficult for them to continue this behavior without punishment. Clearly, this is not a catch-all solution, however, the establishment of confident and assertive language in the potential victim is often enough to deter further attempts at bullying.

Victims Become Victimizers
One of the most primitive psychological defense mechanisms is what’s known as displacement. This occurs when an individual is stripped of their power through the tyrannical actions of another; they cope with this loss of power by reclaiming it through disempowering another, often times through bullying. In other words, bullies tend to have difficult home lives, often times having to endure abuse and neglect of their parents which they can, in turn, take out on classmates in school. In order to address instances of bullying effectively, it is advantageous to understand the forces driving the bullying behavior, so we look to create a connection with bullies in order to show them compassion and understanding.

Cyberbullying
With the rise and ubiquitous nature of social media in contemporary society, cyberbullying has become a prominent subtype of bullying due to its accessibility, convenience, and potential anonymity. While typical bullying can have its limitations due to the fact that many individuals wouldn’t bully another if it required a face to face engagement with the person, social media allows for individuals who might not otherwise bully to engage in intimidation, slander, and humiliation via a medium that alleviates some personal connection and responsibility. Another reason cyberbullying is arguably as harmful as traditional bullying is due to the tendency for a pack mentality to arise in the context of social media where typical constraints on bad behavior might otherwise be regulated. It creates a landscape where, because of the distance of the interactions, individuals feel less personally responsible for their actions and therefore might act crueler than they would should they be faced with the victim in person.

Where Do We Go from Here?
Now that we have examined the effects of bullying, the possible solutions, and the importance of trying to connect with the victims as well as bullies themselves, what can we do in the meantime? Coordinating and communicating with school administrators in order to understand their bullying policies and what should be done in the event that an individual is bullied is a good place to start. Encouraging our children to speak up when they see bullying is another effective way of combatting bullying as well because it communicates to the victimizer that their behavior will not be tolerated. Finally, it is imperative that we seek the help of professionals, such as The Bougainvillea House, in order to foster open communication and compassion for families and children faced with bullying. Remember, we are not alone and The Bougainvillea House can help!

Avoiding Binge Drinking Culture in College

For many college students, drinking heavily and experimenting with drugs is almost considered a rite of passage. It’s assumed that everybody does it.  That isn’t necessarily the reality, although it can be difficult not drink at college. For those who choose to stay sober, today’s climate of binge drinking can make avoiding alcohol a challenge.

For many college students, drinking heavily and experimenting with drugs is almost considered a rite of passage. It’s assumed that everybody does it.  That isn’t necessarily the reality, although it can be difficult not drink at college. For those who choose to stay sober, today’s climate of binge drinking can make avoiding alcohol a challenge.

The tendency among college students to drink excessively might lead others to think that drinking alcohol in large quantities is the socially accepted norm. Many of their friends may drink or do drugs, so the pressure to participate makes it harder to stay sober.

College is a stressful time for most students. After all, they are not only studying difficult subjects and trying to get their life in order, but they are also dealing with unique personal and romantic problems. Unfortunately, many of these students turn to drugs and alcohol.

When teenagers go to college, they are often away from their parents for the first time in their lives. As a result, they want to impress those people and begin feeling the need to fit in. This is true even for students who avoided alcohol and drugs in high school.

In college, what starts as seemingly harmless experimentation can quickly progress to regular abuse and even addiction. Binge drinking can have many negative consequences for those involved. About 25 percent of college students who frequently binge drink are more likely to miss class and experience a drop in grades. Those who binge drink are also more likely to be involved in vandalism, experience an injury, engage in unplanned and unprotected sex, driving while intoxicated, experience arrests and other legal implications.

Those who would like to maintain their sobriety should take measures to avoid triggers and situations in which heavy drinking is likely to occur. Students should:

 

  • Learn how to say “no” if they don’t want to drink.
  • Volunteer to be the designated driver.
  • Tell friends that you are not drinking.
  • Hold a nonalcoholic drink to cut down on drink offers.
  • Try to engage in school-sponsored activities or help organize sports or other activities for sober people.
  • Have friends that don’t drink.

 

If your child is struggling with alcohol addiction, The Bougainville House can help. We offer individual, couple, and family therapy programs.  Call us to learn more. 954-764-7337

Teen Vaping: A New Epidemic

Teen Vaping: A New Epidemic - Teens are especially drawn to vaping products because they are easy to conceal & come in many flavors. Some may be as small as a USB drive & easy to hide. The Bougainvilla House can help

While originally thought of a safe alternative to cigarette smoking, vaping has quickly become a dangerous new epidemic for high school students. These products may have originally been intended to ween adult smokers off of cigarettes, but this new method of inhaling has addicted a new generation to nicotine.

Vaping involves using an electronic cigarette or similar device to inhale certain vapors or aerosols, which could contain substances such as nicotine, marijuana or flavoring. Since 2014, e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among both middle and high school students.

E-cigarettes may be a “safer” option for adult smokers, but they are not safe for young people. Most e-cigarettes, especially the most popular brands, still contain nicotine, and nicotine is a highly addictive drug — especially for teens, who are likely to get hooked on the drug more easily than adults.

Teens are especially drawn to vaping products because they are easy to conceal and come in many flavors. Some may be as small as a USB drive, and as easy to hide. The small size makes it easy for a teen to sneak them into school or hide from their parents. Some teachers have even reported students vaping in class. The student is able to slip the vape their pocket or sleeve quickly without being caught.

The increase in teen vaping is a growing concern because of the adverse health effects of nicotine and the other substances that can be found in vape liquid. Many vape users may not even know that there is nicotine in the liquid they are vaping. Health officials say nicotine is harmful to developing brains. Some researchers also believe vaping will make kids more likely to take up cigarettes, and perhaps later try other drugs.

The epidemic has become so threatening that the FDA has pulled products off the shelves. They want manufacturers to take more responsibility for their marketing practices. New legislation threatens to punish companies that advertise these products in a way that appeals to children. Hopefully, with time, these measures will help reduce vaping among teenagers.

If your child is struggling with vaping, another addiction or a behavioral health issue, The Bougainville House can help. We offer individual, group, couples, and family therapy programs. Call us to learn more. 954-764-7337