Helpful Tools and Information
Sometimes it happens so quickly, you’re caught off guard. Sometimes you have that gut feeling that things aren’t quite right. Sometimes you are completely blindsided by your child’s drug addiction. Of course, looking back, many parents will say they could see the signs, but in the moment rarely does a parent realize what is happening until they are in the thick of it.
Maybe it hasn’t happened to you or your family – but if you’ve lived in Santa Clarita any length of time, you know of someone affected by drug abuse. You may be a parent of young children – but keep reading – you’ll find helpful tools here as you endeavor to raise children smart enough to avoid the snare of drugs.
It can be said that drug addiction is similar to any other human physical weakness – which could explain why one young person can experiment with drugs and NOT become addicted and another becomes addicted quickly. It is the same with alcohol – not everyone who drinks becomes an alcoholic. Whatever the cause – addiction is real and deadly serious.
What can parents do? We recently asked Cary Quashen of Action that question and he responded:
Parents and family members are often in denial about their son’s and daughter’s drug use. There is the misconception that parents and family members need for those they love to hit rock bottom before the one they love can get help. This unfortunate attitude and misconception of the situation can lead to a loved one’s death. Successful interventions are possible at all stages of addiction, be it a teen, young adult or adult. Following through with our children and loved ones is of the utmost importance. Most people stop their negative behaviors when the consequences outweigh the fun, or the payoff, for their behavior.
Parents can join support groups like the Action Parent & Teen Support Group that meets every Tuesday evening at Canyon High, or they can attend Al-Anon meetings.
Addiction is not an experiment or a phase your child is going through. Addiction is a disease, just as cancer, diabetes, and countless other diseases affect our society. It is a disease that does not discriminate. The teen brain is underdeveloped and teens become addicted to drugs and alcohol at a much higher rate than adults.
Again, parental attitudes that “drug and alcohol use is recreational or experimental and goes along with the teen years” is killing our kids. You would be amazed at how many parents don’t set boundaries with and for their kids. Know at all times who your kids are with. Talk to your kids, teach them verbiage that allows them gracefully to say “NO” when drugs and alcohol are offered to them. Listen and talk with your kids. Pay attention to what’s in their rooms, in their cars, and what kinds of clothing they wear. Many kids and teens who are drug users wear clothing that glorify drug use.
A parent needs to “trust his/her gut.” If you think something is going on and your kid is in trouble, they most likely are. Parental attitudes of “I did it as a kid and turned out fine” are unacceptable.
Our experience in talking with parents echoes that last point – trust your gut. If you think something is going on – IT IS! You may call it mom-sense, but parents really do have an uncanny ability to sense when things are not quite right. With toddlers and young children it works great, because they readily give up the truth. But teenagers, especially addicted teenagers, do not!
Quashen also talked about the importance of parents knowing their child’s “personal contract,” which refers to that agreement we all have with ourselves of the lines we will not cross. It’s personal in that it’s not necessarily stated, but a belief within us. As parents, if we talk about these things with our kids and begin to know what their personal limits are and why – and if we’ve had some input into their belief system to understand it, that can go a long way to seeing the warning signs. Get in tune with your child early and stay in tune!
Another point for parents to ponder, according to Quashen, is the influences in the teen’s life. Most teens value their peer relationships and go further to protect them than they do family relationships. He noted that, years ago, a teen would say their family was the most important thing to them – today most will say it’s their friends. This is in large part due to the access we have through social media (facebook, twitter, texts) to connect with friends quickly and constantly. Contact with family is much more limited and requires effort. Parents would do well to maintain the family meal, family activities and make efforts to plan to do things as a family.
The Action Family Zone is a free safe and sober hangout, for like-minded teens that are committed to creating positive changes in their lives. Only serving at-risk teens bothers me greatly, because I feel, as a community service agency, there is more we can do for teens – not just at-risk teens, but all teens here in Santa Clarita.
Studies show that teen centers decrease juvenile crime; decrease the likelihood that teens will become victims of violent crime; decrease teen participation in risky behaviors such as drug, alcohol, and tobacco use; assist teens in developing new skills and interests; improve teen grades and academic achievements; encourage teens to take a more active role in planning their futures; and increase their self-confidence and social skills.
Once addiction has been faced, there are other relational aspects for parents to be aware of. Quashen responded:
Addiction is a family disease. Families must participate in the treatment process with their loved one. That’s what multifamily therapy groups are for. Because parents often feel their teen’s addiction issues are their fault, they feel guilty. Guilt keeps us helpless, hopeless, and stuck and keeps us from moving into positive behaviors. Parents enable their loved ones in so many different ways.
In talking with parents, we discovered enabling comes in even helpful behaviors. Several parents said they finally learned that even providing a safe place to live enabled the child if it did not include behavior requirements such as being drug free, following curfew and respect of property. Many parents felt after several bouts of rehabilitation, the loved one was better off in a different environment, away from the home.
If you are facing a difficult situation with a loved one and believe drugs or alcohol are a serious problem, but the person does not necessarily agree, Action will assist you with an intervention. Just call their 800-number.
Here are some key terms:
Detox – The first step in overcoming a substance addiction, the period of time when the body is trying to overcome its addiction is called detoxification (detox). Opiate drugs, such as heroin, methadone and prescription medications, including Hydrocodone, Oxycontin, Xanax, Vicodin and Lortab, require medical detox supervision. There are, however, other illegal drugs such as marijuana, crystal methamphetamine, and cocaine that do not require medical detox. Since there is psychological dependence associated with these drugs, it would be wise to complete a period of stabilization.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment – An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is for people who are in various stages of recovering from drug addiction or alcoholism. Those in IOP still can work, go to school and manage their lives on a day-to-day basis. They differ from residential inpatient rehab programs and partial hospitalization programs in that treatment is generally part-time. This is far more comprehensive than traditional outpatient programs, as it usually consists of numerous weekly therapy sessions at a drug rehab or outpatient facility with experienced addiction counselors. Most intensive outpatient programs provide three targeted sessions with a therapist per week for 30, 60, or 90 days. Because every person uses for a different reason, developing and implementing a program that is client-driven is critical to achieving success. An intensive outpatient program should never be confused with the two other primary methods of treating drug addiction and alcoholism: residential inpatient programs and partial hospitalization programs.
Residential Treatment – Residential treatment programs are 30-day minimum programs in which patients voluntarily enter a safe, secure facility where intensive drug and alcohol treatment programs are the cornerstone of the patient’s daily activities. Often, patients who have attempted outpatient treatment programs but have ultimately relapsed, achieve success in a residential program. Patients who require detoxification services due to concerns about withdrawal also benefit from residential programs. After detox, patients undergo an intensive, daily drug or alcohol treatment regimen to learn about the disease of addiction in a supportive, immersive environment. Residential programs are safe, structured environments in which patients are removed from stressful circumstances that promote or fuel the urge to use. Most residential centers encourage family participation, plus patients benefit from having a “therapeutic community” – a community of patients who support one another through treatment by encouraging others to stay on task. In addition to the other differentiators of long-term residential care, it is this camaraderie gained through empathy and shared experience that often helps patients overcome addiction while completing drug or alcohol treatment.
Action Family Counseling Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programs provide residential treatment services to both adolescents and adults. Treatment services provided include diagnostic assessments, individual and family treatment plan, individual counseling, group therapy, family counseling, multi-family group therapy, recovery planning groups, treatment advocacy, drug testing, discharge planning and outside referral resources and transition to a sober living environment if so desired.
Sober Living – After attending a treatment facility, a person in addiction recovery is generally recommended to attend a sober living/transitional living facility. Sober living offers continued accountability, support from professionals, support from peers also in recovery, a safe place to live, group support and so much more. Without an environment to remind a person of his or her addiction, a relapse is highly possible. Action Family Counseling’s Sober Living Program provides a safe, clean, and structured environment to residents so that they safely experience the transition from higher levels of care back into the community and day-to-day life. A Facility Manager and resident staff members ensure that the sober living environment offers structure and strong peer support. Clients work, attend treatment, or attend school during the day and engage in recovery activities in the evenings.
Residents in a sober living environment or transitional living center will have different requirements for the residents, but many will have these typical requirements:
No drugs, alcohol, violence, or overnight guests
Active participation in a 12-Step Program
Random drug & alcohol tests
Involvement in either work, school, or an outpatient program
General acceptance by peer group at the sober living facility
A progression of treatment might look like this: detox, intensive outpatient, continuing care 12-Step meetings and relapse prevention groups. Or detox, intensive outpatient, residential treatment, sober living, 12-Step meetings, relapse prevention groups.
Action Family Counseling’s Sober Living community in Bakersfield features 11 condominiums on a private cul-de-sac. It houses 66 residents in its own private community. In Santa Clarita there is a 6-bed sober living facility.
Many insurance companies provide drug rehabilitation coverage. In most cases, there is a limit to what they may provide, and each insurance company is different. Some insurance companies may only offer outpatient services and some may offer intensive outpatient services and residential treatment services. Most insurance companies do not cover sober living/transitional living center expenses. When an individual is in treatment the insurance company monitors the patient’s progress and program compliance. If a patient is uncooperative and is not doing everything he or she can do to move towards sobriety, the insurance company may discontinue coverage.
RESOURCES: Action’s 800 number should be able to help at any time, 800-367-8336, or the 800 number on your insurance card. Often there is a separate number listed for mental or behavioral health. If there is an immediate threat to your loved one’s health, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital can help. In the Emergency Room you can request the behavioral health department. Through the ER you can ask for a psychological evaluation 24 hours a day.
Drug testing at home is okay – but best in the morning and supervised. Drug addicts know tricks to fake them! Use a multi-panel one that tests for drugs you don’t even know they may be taking. Often if you’re concerned about marijuana use and testing only for that, they will switch to something else to avoid a positive test result.
Action Family Counseling is a drug and alcohol treatment program that serves adolescents and adults. The organization, which was incorporated in May of 1997, offers detox services, intensive outpatient and residential treatment programs in the Los Angeles, Ventura and Kern Counties.
Action’s intensive outpatient programs are in Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, Pasadena, Studio City, the Antelope Valley, Ventura, and Bakersfield. Their residential treatment programs are in Santa Clarita, Bakersfield, Piru and Santa Paula. Action’s adult sober living programs are located in Bakersfield and Santa Clarita.
Cary Quashen has dedicated the past 30 years of his life to reaching troubled teens and dysfunctional families. His objective is to pass his personal recovery experiences with drugs and alcohol to the youth of today and to provide evaluation, assessments and interventions to parents, school districts and the juvenile justice system. As a Certified Addiction Specialist and interventionist and a high-risk teen counselor, he has become a nationally recognized expert working with adolescents.
Quashen is currently the executive director of the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Behavioral Health Unit. Additionally, Quashen has consulted with numerous health care programs, including Loma Linda Hospital, Anacapa Hospital, Van Nuys Hospital, Ingleside Hospital and Good Samaritan Hospital.
Former President George Bush, Governor Pete Wilson, former Senator Alan Cranston, former Mayor Tom Bradley, and city council members and countless school districts have acknowledged the ACTION program.
Quashen has made guest appearances as a family and crisis intervention specialist on talk shows such as Good Morning America, The Doctors, The Montel Williams Show, Judge Judy, The Ricki Lake Show, and many others.
Currently, Quashen is the host of the KHTS AM 1220, “Families In ACTION” radio show, as well as a contributing author to the Steps For Recovery Newspaper and a columnist for the Signal Newspaper.
Action Family Counseling – www.actionfamilycounseling.org
Action Family Zone – www.actionfamily.org
Also available are resources through The Salvation Army, (http://www.salvationarmyusa.org) local counseling, and referrals through A Light of Hope (www.alightofhopescv.org) as well as Al-Anon, AA and NA meetings.
A Light of Hope Support Center, Inc.
A Light of Hope (ALOH) is a support group system for local families in crisis. They provide support for Santa Clarita Valley youth and young adults 14-26 years of age struggling with substance abuse and/or self-destructive actions or behaviors. They emphasize a 12-Step approach to family recovery, as well as the development and maintenance of an Alternative Peer Group (APG), providing a safe, sober, yet fun and welcoming experience for young people and their families as an alternative to the dysfunctional and destructive environments they may be involved in.
The families that come to ALOH have many different needs. Many find themselves hopeless and lost in dealing with the issues that they face as a family, and are looking for new approaches and solutions. At A Light of Hope they find a safe and caring environment with understanding and support to begin the recovery process for their family. They are welcomed with love and a non-condemning atmosphere of acceptance as staff provide them with education, tools and support for a healthy recovery in the family.
Residents in a Salvation Army drug rehab, which runs for anywhere from 3 months to 9 months in duration, are provided with food, clothing and accommodation, and given access to treatment, bible study, education and work training programs.
Because the Salvation Army is an evangelical Christian organization, faith-based methods of recovery are emphasized. The 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous are customarily employed, and recovering addicts will participate in daily 12-step style or other group recovery meetings. Additionally, bible and scripture study with an emphasis on readings related to spiritual healing and recovery are emphasized. Christian counseling with church leaders and Sunday worship are also encouraged.
Recovering addicts participating in the programs are additionally offered the opportunity for general education courses (high school equivalency diplomas or even higher education courses, for example) or other work related training.
Work as therapy is emphasized in a Salvation Army drug rehab, and recovering addicts are required to help offset the costs of their stay by working in the Salvation Army stores, driving Salvation Army trucks, or otherwise working within the organization. The Salvation Army philosophy of recovery calls for work therapy as a way to rebuild needed employment skills and personal responsibility, as well as a way to transition safely back into the world of employment and temptation having already learned how to work within a structured and temptation free environment.
The only real requirement for admission into a Salvation Army drug rehab program is that you be sober at the time of entry, that you be willing to participate in a faith-based recovery program, and also be willing to pay your way through the rehab by working in the Salvation Army stores and peripheral programs.