person thinking

What to Expect from Your First Telehealth Counseling Session

Online counseling, telemental health, telehealth therapy — all of these refer to psychological counseling, therapy, and support provided through the Internet. Counselors and support staff deliver their services through video conferencing, voice calls, email, or instant messaging.

More people have needed these services since the coronavirus pandemic started. The uncertainty of the future, fear of getting sick, and loneliness due to mandatory social distancing and quarantine have taken their toll on everyone. People who frequent discussion boards can attest to this: there have been so many people asking for advice from strangers, airing out their frustrations and fears, and asking how to find a therapist on Reddit, for example (although some are outright getting free therapy on Reddit).

While psychological experts believe that it is indeed beneficial to talk to strangers, it’s still better to seek therapy from experienced psychologists.

person lost in his own thoughts

The New Normal of Therapy

Whether you have a therapist you’ve been talking to regularly or it’s your first time attending a one-on-one therapy session, you’re most likely going to have telehealth sessions from here onwards. The experience could take some getting used to, especially for those who are more comfortable talking with their therapists regularly, in person.

What Happens in a Telehealth Therapy Session?

Here are some of the things you must expect to prepare you for your first online counseling session.

  1. Confirmation of consent – Only the venue or medium through which the counseling session takes place changes. Theoretically, everything else stays the same. Like with face-to-face sessions, for example, we will ask telehealth patients to sign informed consent. It is an agreement that says the client understands the risks and benefits of online counseling and will participate in their treatment.
  2. Confidentiality – This is another agreement between therapists and clients to keep their conversation strictly between them. It’s not just the counselor’s responsibility but also the client’s. Hence, when you attend an online counseling session, you need to put on earphones or headphones. It’s necessary for maintaining your privacy and preventing strangers from listening-in on your session.
  3. Distance – People who used to talk to a therapist regularly before the pandemic may find online consultations very different from face-to-face meetings. You and the therapist might feel a little distant and awkward at the beginning of the session. You might feel less inclined, for example, to share what’s on your mind. As the patient, you need to overcome them because they are roadblocks to a fruitful session. The therapist will carry much of the burden, but they will only succeed if you’ll also meet them halfway.
  4. Technological Integration – We can’t speak for other counselors and how they conduct telehealth therapy, but if you sign up for online counseling at The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, we’ll direct you to a HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing platform, where the session will take place. We will also reach out before and after the session via email or text.

You can expect more from telehealth therapy sessions. We’ll be happy to discuss them with you or address whatever concerns you may have.

Don’t let the unfamiliarity of online counseling keep you from getting the therapy you need. Get in touch with The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, and set an appointment with our therapists.

woman sitting in a corner

COVID-19 and Family Tension: How to Manage Conflict in the Household

When social distancing measures went into effect, families found themselves cooped up in their homes. Schools and childcare closed, so parents must look after their kids 24/7, on top of their household and professional duties.

The pandemic has caused significant distress for many families. Apart from the fear of contracting the coronavirus, parents are anxious about their financial and food security, among other things.

Household Concerns amid the Pandemic

Below are some concerns parents have expressed since the pandemic started:

Parents, especially of young children, need to manage the household’s emotional health. High levels of conflict in families can increase the child’s risk of developing emotional, behavioral, and social problems.

Here are some ways to minimize the tension within your family during these uncertain times:

  1. Create healthy opportunities to be apart

Being with other people can be draining, even if they’re your family. When you’re tired, you don’t have a firm grip on your emotions, leading to unwanted outbursts.

It’s normal to want some time apart. If your spouse or children wants to be alone, don’t see it as a rejection. Recognize that people need solitude to recharge and regroup. Some people may need it more than others.

You can go on a walk by yourself, meditate, work out, or take a trip to the grocery store for some alone time.

child sitting by the stairs

  1. Don’t punish your kids for expressing their emotions

Don’t get mad at your child for expressing how they feel. Let them shout or cry when they’re frustrated. It’s better to have them release their emotions instead of keeping these feelings buried inside.

Once your child has calmed down, talk to them calmly. Ask them what they’re feeling and why they did what they did. You can then suggest activities they can do the next time they feel that emotion, like counting to ten or taking three deep breaths.

This way, your child becomes familiar with the different emotions they feel, teaching them to handle uncomfortable feelings. Raising a mentally strong child isn’t about repressing emotions. Mentally strong kids recognize emotions and choose healthy ways to cope.

  1. Apologize

Our emotions sometimes get the better of us. You might say harsh words that hurt your family. And these instances are likely to increase during such a tense, stressful time.

When you catch yourself doing these things, take a deep breath, and stop. Take a few minutes to calm down, then apologize to your family. Communicate with your spouse about what you’re feeling. Make amends with your children by spending some fun, quality time with them.

If the level of tension within your household is too high for these simple methods, it’s best to seek a professional’s help. Many social services and private practices offer teletherapy services during the pandemic.

Mental Health Support Services in Connecticut

The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health (CCBH) in Westport offers comprehensive mental health services. Our telehealth therapy services help you and your family navigate your way through emotional, behavioral, mental challenges.

Contact us via email or phone to schedule an appointment.

studying during pandemic

Taking Care of Your Mental Health as You Go Back to School

Earlier in the year, colleges and universities across the country closed campuses and dormitories to help flatten the curve. They moved classes online to avoid an educational and achievement gap. But as the new academic year begins, many schools have decided to reopen campuses and dormitories for in-person classes. This can be a source of anxiety for many, especially as the pandemic continues to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

The Mental Toll of the Pandemic

When news broke about the new disease, many felt the stress of its implications on “normal” life. The reasons ranged from the possibility of contraction to what’s going to happen if you do get sick. Although scientists and medical professionals around the world continue to work on a vaccine, many are still anxious about each passing day.

As campuses continue to welcome back students, many are worried about the coming months. Students can’t help but worry about their health and safety, even as colleges and universities implement new protocols to prevent the spread of the virus. The anxiousness over the situation, when coupled with the typical stressors of school life, can take a significant toll on students’ mental health.

How to Cope on Campus

The challenge many students face in these trying times is their lack of control over the situation. The following practices aim to help students going back to campus regain a sense of control over their mental health.

Understand that it’s normal not to feel “okay.”

woman in public with a mask

It’s normal to experience feelings of anxiety, frustration, anger, and sadness over the situation. The sooner you accept these emotions, the easier it will be for you to communicate how you are feeling to others. If you’re uncomfortable talking about these emotions with family and friends, there are support services available to you. Our Westport clinic provides online counseling for anyone that needs the support of a professional during these trying times.

Maintain a morning and night routine.

A routine is helpful as it gives you a checklist of things to do every day. Create morning and night routines that are compatible with your classes and extracurricular activities. Include meals, study sessions, and time for your hobbies for a well-rounded schedule.

Take a “mental health” break when you need one.

Don’t underestimate your mental health, especially during these stressful times. Aside from taking time for yourself every day, consider taking a break from classes if you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious. If you are dealing with these types of emotions, it might be more difficult to concentrate in class and on your coursework. Talk to your professors and explain the situation so that they can help you.

Professional Mental Health Support Services

The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health understands the struggle students are facing right now. We are here to help you cope with your stressors and triggers as you go back to school. We provide online counseling services to give you the appropriate support wherever you are.

Get in touch with us to schedule an appointment.

family conflicts

How to Manage Family Conflicts During COVID-19 Quarantine

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has forced billions of people across the globe to stay at home in a concerted effort to prevent the further spread of the virus. According to an article from Forbes, staying at home is necessary for at least 20 U.S. states.

Being on quarantine for extended periods, however, can be stressful for anyone.

Family conflicts, for instance, could arise and become more frequent with everyone cooped up together. Rather than dismiss these issues as petty arguments, families should resolve these problems respectfully.

If you’re seeing frequent family quarrels, follow these three suggestions to minimize conflicts:

1. Plan a Meeting to Discuss Triggering Problems and Solutions

scolding child

Call for a family meeting to discuss — as kindly and respectful as possible — the problems and needs of each member of the family. Also, bring up potential triggers that are causing heated arguments, such as leaving the dishes unwashed or cranking up the music volume to max during work hours.

Begin the discussion by effectively describing the problem. Here’s an example:

“Since I’m doing my work in the living room, I need peace and quiet to get my stuff done quickly. But I’m having difficulty focusing on my work if you’re playing your favorite rock music on the speaker.”

After you’ve said your piece, propose a solution, such as letting your family members play music outside working hours (or use earphones to listen to music).

If you’ve identified problems that you can’t solve with a family meeting, seek additional help by scheduling an online counseling session.

2. Give Elbow Room for Each Family Member

Family members who fail to respect the personal space of others can cause heated arguments. Whether the problem is a family member using someone else’s stuff without permission or simply hanging around when the person needs their “me time,” you need to bring that up for discussion.

During your family dinner, talk about the issue directly. You could start by saying:

“Since we’ll be spending time together for several hours every day, we need to give everyone here their personal space.”

This may mean giving family members more elbow room if their emotions are running high. Alternatively, you could create a household rule on closed doors. A shut door or a door with a “Do Not Disturb” sign, for instance, is an indication for a family member give the person their alone time.

3. Perform Stress-Reducing Activities

Family members cooped up at home can take steps to minimize stress and avoid frequent and unwanted conflicts. A few activities to do include exercising to blow off steam, planting flowers in the backyard, and going through a guided meditation session.

When you need professional help during these difficult times, turn to The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health. We offer telehealth therapy for individuals and families who need advice and counseling.

A major benefit of this service is that you don’t need to leave your home or drive all way to our clinic in Westport to speak with one of our psychotherapists. Remote consultation and diagnosis is done via HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing software. Your online sessions will remain secure and confidential when you connect using our platform.

Arrange an appointment with our clinic today by filling out our contact form.

COVID-19 Lockdown Guide: Ways to Mind Your Mental Health

The coronavirus is an extremely infectious disease. At its onset, most states in the U.S. implemented lockdown and stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of the virus, confining people to their homes.

Though some restrictions have eased, controlling the transmission of the virus remains to be the number one goal. Social distancing measures are still in place to avoid overwhelming the country’s healthcare system and many people with health issues or vulnerable family members opt to stay at home. Physical health still takes priority as hospitals try to nurse COVID-19 patients back to health.

However, the coronavirus pandemic threatens more than one’s physical well-being. Being confined to one place for a prolonged period can have negative psychological effects, including stress, anxiety, fear, loneliness, and even depression.

Mental Health Impact of the Pandemic

The rise of a new contagious disease is stressful. People are terrified of the possibility of contracting the virus and what can happen if they do. And they grow more anxious each day as the pandemic continues with little to no signs of progress.

Because of the lockdown, the pandemic has led to a staggering unemployment rates in the country. Millions of Americans are worried about putting food on their tables and struggling to make ends meet without a stable source of income. This worry causes increased levels of anxiety.

Apart from the disease itself, physical distancing and quarantine measures can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation, impacting mental health.

Confinement is especially difficult for those who are already struggling with pre-existing mental health conditions. The sudden change in one’s routine can cause stress for people with mental health issues.

Plus, stay-at-home orders can make it difficult for them to access activities and things they normally rely on for comfort. Some people might take a walk in the park, go shopping, hit the gym, or visit their friends to feel better. But they can’t do these things at this time.

Additionally, lockdown measures make it difficult for mental health patients to seek the medical services and medication they need.

sad woman

Taking Care of Your Mental Health during Lockdown

The World Health Organization (WHO) shares tips on protecting your mental health during the coronavirus quarantine.

First, if you have a mental health condition, make sure that you continue to take your prescribed medication and that you have a way of restocking your meds. Find out how you can keep in touch with your therapist or mental health specialist. Some private practices offer telehealth therapy services, so you can receive the support you need during these stressful times.

Stay in touch with people whom you can turn to for support if your mood or mental health declines, whether they’re your family, friends, or romantic partner.

For the general public, the WHO suggests minimizing the amount of news you consume to avoid overwhelming yourself. Get updates only at specific times of the day to keep yourself informed. Establish a daily routine. Go to bed at similar times each day and make sure you get an adequate amount of sleep. Eat healthy meals and try to sneak in some physical activity into your daily schedule.

Additionally, the WHO also suggests limiting your alcohol consumption. Too much alcohol is associated with increased risk of infections and adverse treatment outcomes.

Lastly, take note of the following emergency hotlines for when you’re in a mental health crisis:

Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Also, note the hotlines of mental health support services near your location.

Mental Health Support Services in Connecticut

The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health (CCBH) in Westport provides comprehensive, individualized mental health services. We provide telehealth therapy services so you can receive the support you need during the quarantine. Our psychotherapists are committed to helping you navigate your way through mental, emotional, and behavioral challenges.

Contact us via phone, email, or the online form to schedule an appointment.

woman sitting

Summertime: Why This Season Is Stressful for People with Eating Disorders

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. This season is a perfect time for some fun in the sun. Many of the country’s beaches are open to the public.

Not everyone, however, is looking forward to the new season.

Apart from the ongoing global pandemic that’s limiting everyone’s fun, summer is a dreadful season for people with eating disorders and those undergoing eating disorder treatments.

Here’s why summer may be a difficult time for individuals with disordered eating:

The Influence of Social Media

During summer, social media users are bombarded with ads containing the seemingly perfect summertime photos of beautiful men and women. These pictures may show models flaunting their branded swimsuits, partying with friends, and having a grand time at the beach or pool.

Unfortunately, these images may evoke desires for unrealistic body figures, social comparisons, and feelings of isolation or missing out. These could trigger depression or relapse for people with eating disorders. Individuals with this condition may think that their body will never be good enough to achieve the “ideal summer body” that they see on social media.

Swimsuits and Body Image

People often associate the words “summer” and “beaches” with less clothing. The pressure to wear bikinis, swimming trunks, tank tops, and board shorts may trigger a range of eating disorder symptoms for men and women with binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia. They may feel ashamed of how their body looks and turn to harmful food behaviors, such as crash dieting, to achieve the figure they want.

The Transition to an Unstructured Schedule

This is most applicable to students who follow a highly structured schedule. When people are on summer vacation, they have more time on their hands to do just about anything.  The lack of a structured schedule may affect the healthy routines of people recovering from eating disorders. They can, for instance, forget about following set meal plans.

On the other hand, a summer chock-full of fun activities and trips may be detrimental to people with eating disorders. The stress of doing too much may cause a relapse, anxiety, or depression.

eating disorder

How People with Eating Disorders Can Cope During Summer

Summer fun and relaxation is still possible even for individuals with these conditions. If you’re worried about summer derailing your recovery-oriented goals, take note of these guidelines:

  • Spend time with people who love and trust you. They can serve as your go-to persons and support beams when summer becomes too stressful for you.
  • Determine what you’re going to eat ahead of time if you’re attending summer parties or gatherings.
  • Lay off social media pages and magazines. As much as possible, avoid looking at photos, articles, or posts that feature bikini selfies and “beach-ready bodies.”
  • Maintain a structured schedule even if you’re on summer break.

If you need further assistance, The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health is here to help you break free and live free from eating disorders. We offer a range of treatment programs, such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for patients of all ages in Westport. Our team of psychiatrists will help you manage your condition and walk with you on your journey to long-term recovery.

Schedule an appointment today by filling out our contact form.

An Anxious Child

Coping with Bulimia During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Connecticut residents are asked to stay at home to stay safe from the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonessential workers are currently working from home or not working at all. Social gatherings that include more than five people are currently prohibited, too. These precautionary measures are expected to last through May 20, at the earliest. This prolonged period of isolation could take a toll on bulimia patients.

Our Westport treatment center for patients with bulimia recognizes that the pandemic might heighten emotional and behavioral struggles associated with the eating disorder. Nevertheless, there are things you must keep in mind to make the situation more manageable while you recover.

Reminders to Help You through This Global Crisis

Recovering from an eating disorder is a challenge in itself. Undergoing the healing process in the middle of a global health crisis is even more difficult. But don’t let that discourage you. Here are some things to keep in mind while you try to adjust to this new normal:

  1. It’s okay if you’re struggling with recovery.

Eating disorders are mental health conditions that are heavily affected by daily routine, sleeping patterns, environmental stressors, and isolation. So, patients recovering from bulimia are understandably more prone to relapse because of the pandemic and its effects.

If you’re having a difficult time staying on track, just know that you aren’t failing at recovery. These are trying times for everyone and your struggle is valid.

  1. Stay connected with your support system.

Connecticut is under a “Stay Safe, Stay Home” executive order which will remain in effect until at least May 20. Most establishments are temporarily closed, too, except for the essentials. But despite the physical distancing, it’s important for you to stay socially connected with loved ones.

Your support system is crucial to your mental health wellness and recovery, so don’t withdraw from them during this period of self-isolation. Stay connected with your therapist, too.

Girl with eating disorder can't having problems with eating

  1. The future is uncertain but recovery still matters.

Right now, nobody knows when the pandemic will end. We don’t know when things will go back to normal and when we will truly be safe from the coronavirus. This doesn’t mean the world is falling apart, though. You can feel down right now, but don’t let that affect your recovery.

If anything, you have more time for yourself while the “Stay Safe, Stay Home” executive order is in place. Use this time to focus on your healing and recovery.

Finally, remember to be kind to yourself. Your eating disorder is as relevant as other people’s health concerns even in the face of the pandemic. Try your best to stick to your pre-pandemic routine, and talk to your healthcare team for ways to make the situation more manageable.

Healing and Recovery during These Trying Times

The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health (CCBH) provides a comprehensive range of treatment for patients recovering from bulimia and other eating disorders. We understand that the unprecented situation we find ourselves in could be affecting your recovery. Let us help you heal through it.

Set an appointment with us by calling 1-888-745-3372.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for OCD: How Does it Work?

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) says obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD affects 2.2 million adults, which is about 1 percent of the U.S. population. OCD is an anxiety disorder wherein people have obsessions or unwanted, intrusive ideas and urges that trigger distress. The person compulsively resorts to doing repetitive tasks or behaviors to try and ease the distress.

For people with OCD, their thoughts become extremely persistent and intrusive, preventing them from focusing on other matters. These obsessions and compulsions are time-consuming, interfering with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.

Many people with OCD recognize that their thoughts and urges are unreasonable and excessive. But these obsessions can’t be resolved through reasoning or logic. This is why one of the widely used treatments for OCD focuses on changing one’s behavior and mindset, which is cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT.

CBT uses two science-based techniques: exposure and response prevention (ERP) and cognitive therapy.

Cognitive Therapy

Before the therapist decides what approach to take in treating the OCD, it’s important to understand the underlying meanings and beliefs of the person’s obsessions and compulsions. Cognitive therapy focuses on the meanings and associations a person attaches to different experiences and actions, revealing their deepest fears and anxieties.

During the first few sessions, the therapist will spend time making sense of how a person’s OCD works. This helps both parties understand the factors that contribute to the anxiety disorder, which presents alternative ways of looking at the cause of the obsession.

Exposure Therapy

Next, the therapist will help the person weaken two types of connection: 1) the association between the obsession and feelings of distress, and 2) the association between the repetitive behaviors and relief.

The first connection is weakened through exposure. The therapist will gradually expose you to real-world situations that trigger your obsessive-compulsive tendencies. The important part here is that you do it at your own pace so that you fully grasp the need to dissociate from your obsessions.

Response Prevention

The exposure therapy should be done simultaneously with response prevention. For example, you have an uncontrollable fear of germs in public places. The therapist may ask you to touch the doorknob of a public restroom. If your usual compulsion is to immediately wash your hands after, the therapist will ask you to wait before doing so.

The delay in your response weakens the second connection, which is the association between the compulsion and feelings of relief. In other words, it makes the person with OCD realize that they don’t need to engage in their repetitive actions just to lessen their distress.

Over time, the gradual exposure and delayed response will help you logically process your fears and anxieties, letting you gain better control of your thoughts and behaviors.

Cognitive behavioral therapy should be done by an experienced mental health professional, especially if your OCD is severe. This ensures that the exposure and response prevention therapy is done properly and at your pace.

Manage OCD at the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health

The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health (CCBH) in Westport helps those with obsessive-compulsive disorder deal with their anxiety in a healthy manner. Our team works with you to develop a healthy mindset. By evaluating your specific needs and conditions, we’ll create a cognitive therapy that helps you dissociate from intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

Begin healing with us today. Fill out our contact form or call 1-888-745-3372 to schedule an appointment.

Woman in bath tub

Eating Disorder Treatment: Why Integrate Nutrition Education and Therapy?

The number of people suffering from eating disorders continue to grow in the US. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), over 30 million Americans of all genders and ages struggle with an eating disorder.

Women are more susceptible to eating disorders than the opposite sex. Studies prove that females are more likely to experience extreme body dissatisfaction. This is caused largely by societal pressures on women, holding them to higher standards of beauty. These standards are often too high, causing girls to have warped perceptions of themselves.

Body Dissatisfaction

Body dissatisfaction starts at an age earlier than most people would expect. Almost 46 percent of American adolescents have negative perception of their bodies. This mindset can persist until they’re 30. Eating disorders aren’t the only consequence of a negative body image. The risk for poor mental health, obesity, and other serious problems also increase.

This is why it’s important to establish a positive relationship with food early on. Healthy habits make the patient feel more at peace with how, what, and how much they eat, helping them spot toxic practices or thoughts immediately.

A healthy relationship with food is also integral to different kinds of eating disorder treatments. It helps break the mindset of associating self-worth with eating habits and weight.

The Importance of Nutrition Education

Many eating disorder therapies involve dietitians, nutritionists, and other similar professionals. They help the patient better understand their condition as well as unpack and analyze their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors regarding food and weight.

Together, the medical professionals and the patient will develop a concrete plan to establishing habits that allow the latter to eat normally again. This means being free from guilt, fear, anxiety, obsessive thinking, and compensatory behaviors (excessive exercise or purging) before, during, and after eating.

Nutritional therapy also covers proper diet and exercise. The patient will learn to choose the food they consume based on its nutritional value, balance diet with exercise, and maintain a healthy weight without risking overall well-being.

Nutrition education also involves some degree of psychotherapy. It helps the patient relearn the internal cues for hunger and fullness. These biological responses may have been suppressed for patients of eating disorders, especially those who force themselves to starve, purge, or overeat past the point of comfort. Relearning these natural cues is important to establishing regular eating habits.

The goals of nutrition education are summarized in the following:

  • Work toward a healthy weight in a healthy way
  • Recognize how the eating disorder and the unhealthy habits that come with it cause nutrition issues and physical conditions
  • Practice meal planning
  • Establish a regular eating pattern – three meals a day with snacks
  • Eliminate extreme dieting, purging, starving, and bingeing behaviors
  • Correct or mitigate health problems due to obesity or malnutrition

The first step to getting better is asking for help. Whether it’s you or your loved one, work with a professional who can help unpack, analyze, and address the eating disorder.

Overcome Eating Disorders at the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health

The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health (CCBH) in Westport provides a range of treatments for those with eating disorders. Our team works with you to gain the capacity and confidence to manage the symptoms of your conditions. By evaluating your specific conditions and needs, we’ll create a nutrition education plan that replaces your unhealthy eating habits with positive ones.

Begin healing with us today. Set an appointment with us by filling out our contact form or calling 1-888-745-3372.

sad child

How Can You Help Prevent Childhood Substance Abuse?

Given the right conditions, substance abuse can afflict anyone. Although you might usually associate such a burden with teens and adults, substance abuse is a shadow that affects everyone, including children.

You need to learn about the unpleasant truth of childhood substance abuse to prevent or manage it. You also need to know methods outside of professional treatments, such as cognitive behavior therapy, that you can use to help your children.

Unpleasant Numbers

According to studies on the substance-abusing population of the United States, children as young as 12 have participated in illegal drug use. Numbers indicate that 741,000, or 3 percent, of the total adolescent population in the country, an age group that includes children who aren’t even teenagers yet, have problems involving illicit drug use. Approximately 443,000 of the same age-group deal with alcohol use disorder.

Children and people who suffer from substance abuse issues are often prone to developing mental disorders as well. Substance abuse has also been linked to an increase in criminality, as users fall on the wrong side of the law because of their addictions.

To help decrease these unpleasant numbers, you need to understand why they happen and how you can help those undergoing them.

The Causes of Childhood Substance Abuse

Children and adolescents generally develop substance abuse for four reasons: to garner social acceptance, as a part of socializing, to cope with emotional or psychological burdens, and to deal with difficult life transitions.

Understanding these circumstances is vital in helping children.

To garner social acceptance

Also known as peer pressure, children who want to be accepted may feel like they need to indulge in the same activities of social groups. They may feel like they have to use drugs and drink alcohol if they want to be included.

How You Can Help:Take time to talk to your child about why they want to be accepted by a specific social group. Let them know that they shouldn’t participate in things that they’re not comfortable in doing, even if their friends are. You can also encourage them to hang out in places where they can have a private space but you can still monitor them, such as your house.

As part of socializing

Adolescents sometimes use illicit substances and alcohol to overcome their social anxieties and to feel confident. They may also want to go to parties where these activities are encouraged to mingle with their friends or to gain acceptance. Or they may indulge in them out of boredom or curiosity.

How You Can Help: Have a conversation with them about your stance on these activities. Find ways to steer your child’s friends to party in public spaces where drugs and alcohol will be difficult to bring or consume. Also, let them know that if they ever need to leave and get picked up from a party or gathering that they can call you to do so with no questions asked. Supervise any parties in your home and coordinate with other parents, so they can do the same.

Coping with Emotional and Psychological Pain

Mental health issues and difficult emotional processes can drive adolescents and children to try alcohol or drugs to nullify the negative feelings. Loneliness, depression, social anxiety, or self-esteem problems can all contribute to the development of substance abuse.

How You Can Help: Remind children that you are there to help them cope with these problems and you can guide them to safe coping alternatives. You should also practice healthy coping techniques yourself and become a role model. Finally, talk to them about seeking professional help and follow through on the offer.

Difficult Life Transitions

Events such as moving homes or schools, divorce, going through puberty, and death or illness of a loved can take their toll on an adolescent. During such periods of emotional upheaval, they may turn to alcohol or drugs for comfort.

How You Can Help: Maintain and improve your connection with them the transition. Open up about your own emotions and encourage them to do the same. Schedule regular fun activities between the two of you where you can bond and enjoy.

Genuine assistance stems from understanding what makes a problem happen in the first place. By communicating with your child and securing the services of professionals, you may prevent them from developing a substance abuse problem.

A Better Way to Get Better

The Center for Cognitive Behavioral Health in Westport uses novel concepts and nurturing environments to help our patients move past their issues and eventually conquer. Our treatments are developed for substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety issues, depression, and other problems.

Get in touch with us today and tell us how we can be of assistance.