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teen substance use issues

I’m Worried That My Teen Daughter Is Drinking. What Should I Do?

I’m Worried That My Teen Daughter Is Drinking. What Should I Do? 2560 1707 srtc_admin

We know that teenagers are not exactly averse to taking risks. They begin to prioritize peer relationships and are terrified being left out. An article from Psychology Today explains, “… changes in the brain during early adolescence that make teens more focused on the rewards of peers and being included in peer activities. This increased focus on peers occurs during a time when the PFC is not yet ready to assist in mature self-regulation. These factors provide a “perfect storm” of opportunities for risky behavior.” Teen substance use issues are one of the risky behaviors some teens choose to engage in.

While taking some risks is normal, and a part of learning to navigate life, there are some risks that have higher dangers, such as drinking. Oftentimes teens who are struggling with mental health, are even more susceptible to the addictive nature of alcohol. They turn to alcohol to feel more comfortable in a social environment, or maybe they don’t feel confident enough to say no. It could also be that teens with mental health issues turn to alcohol to numb their symptoms or struggles. 

If your daughter is struggling with her mental health, and you believe that she may be experimenting with alcohol, below are some steps you can take towards finding a solution.

Create a Safe Environment for Thrill Seeking: Adolescents enjoy testing limits, whether that’s their physical limits, or the limitations parents put on them. Alcohol is a way of testing those limits, but there are other ways to tap into that thrill seeking need. Adventure activities like rock climbing or ziplining lets your daughter test her limits, but it can be done in a controlled environment. These are also great activities to do in groups, which encourages positive peer interactions.

Supervise Peer Interactions: For both younger and older adolescents, it is important to supervise your daughter and her peers. While we may want to let teens have some independence, if there are any concerns about alcohol experimentation, parents must stay engaged. Letting the group know that there are clear expectations and rules for gatherings can help limit the opportunities for risky behavior. 

Explore the Why: Chances are your daughter knows that drinking is not a good choice. She’s heard it from you. She’s heard it from teachers. She’s heard it on after school specials. So instead of telling her not to do it because it’s bad, ask her: “Why?” What is she gaining from the experience? What is it doing for her? When she can identify why she is experimenting with alcohol, you can begin to try to replace that need for alcohol with a healthier coping strategy. 

Group Therapy: As we have already established, peer relationships are the top priority for many teens. Because of this, your daughter will likely open up to her peers much more quickly that she will to you. This is where a resource like group therapy can be very beneficial. While working with a mental health professional, she can also be engaged in a group of peers who may be struggling with similar issues. It’s a place to connect with and support others. Group members can relate to each other’s experiences and offer guidance.

Solstice RTC Can Help With Teen Substance Use Issues

Solstice RTC helps teen students on their journey towards healing by utilizing a unique blend of therapeutic techniques based upon both traditional and holistic treatment methods. Programming is specifically designed to treat teen students between the ages of 14-17.  We strive to empower teenage women with the ability to believe in themselves and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life. Solstice RTC can help girls who are struggling with issues such as impulse control, low self esteem, teen substance use issues, and social interactions. We utilize many therapeutic approaches like group and adventure therapy. For more information about Solstice RTC, please call  (801) 406-7256.

underage drinking and depression

Underage Drinking and Depression Go Hand in Hand

Underage Drinking and Depression Go Hand in Hand 2560 1707 srtc_admin

According to the most recent Monitoring the Future Survey, the relationship between depressive symptoms and binge drinking has decreased by 16% over the last 30 years. Initial surveys suggested that teens with high depressive symptoms were twice as likely to engage in binge drinking. However, the declining correlation between binge drinking and mental health is occurring during a time of unprecedented decreases in alcohol consumption among U.S. adolescents and significant increases in mental health problems. For many teens, underage drinking and depression continue to go hand in hand due to media portrayals.

Why Do Depressed Teens Drink More?

Despite an overall decline in substance use among teens over the past decade, alcohol remains the most commonly abused substance. As alcohol is easy to obtain and considered socially acceptable, it is a very popular means of self-medication for teen depression. As rates of teen mental health issues have skyrocketed, teens have expressed increased anxiety about trying riskier things and report spending less time socializing through unstructured activities with friends.

In previous generations, consequences of binge drinking were thought to include car accidents, legal problems, and behavioral problems. However, as the reasons teens turn to alcohol have shifted from risk-taking to self-medicating, the consequences of underage drinking and depression are typically described in terms of emotional issues or physical complaints. 

Long-Term Effects of Self-Medication

  • Teens who use drugs at least once a month are three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than non-users
  • Using drugs can increase depression and anxiety
  • The percentage of depressed teens is equal to the percentage of depressed adults, but depressed teens are more likely than depressed adults to use drugs
  • Depressed teens are also more likely than non-depressed teens to engage in other risky behaviors

How to Help Your Daughter Struggling with Depression and Substance Use

  • Talk to her about her mental health. Teach her that it’s okay to be vulnerable and remind her that she doesn’t have to hide the way she feels. Encourage her to reach out for help.
  • Recognize the warning signs of drug use and depression, including change in behavior and friends, loss of interest in daily activities, and withdrawing from the family.
  • Don’t minimize her depression or substance use as normal teen moodiness and behavior.
  • Get more involved: spend more time with her, get to know her friends, ask questions about how she spends her time; educate her about the long-term effects of drug use and set guidelines around substance use. 

Solstice Can Help 

Solstice Residential Treatment Center is a program for young girls ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and addictive behaviors. This program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy. Solstice Residential Treatment Center is dedicated to teaching young women how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions. We can help your family today!

Contact us at 866-278-3345 to learn more about our dual diagnosis treatment programming for teens.

substance abuse in girls

The Link Between Disordered Eating and Substance Use in Girls

The Link Between Disordered Eating and Substance Use in Girls 1707 2560 srtc_admin

Many girls who struggle with substance use, particularly alcohol use, often struggle with disordered eating. Both issues are related to attempts to control what they consume, as they have a direct impact on how they feel physically. Some researchers propose that both food and substances can become addictive patterns, measured by preoccupation, cravings, and a “lack of self-control.” Even though both issues share common features, many specialty treatment programs are not designed to address both issues. 

How common is the link between disordered eating and substance use?

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, up to 50% of individuals with disordered eating patterns have also experimented with substances, compared to 9% of the general population. Additionally, up to 35% of people who use substances also struggle with disordered eating, compared to 3% of the general population. Sometimes, one behavior starts before the other, but in many cases, they develop around the same time. 

Eating disorders and substance abuse, like many other mental health issues, share similar risk factors. While boys may be more likely to struggle with externalizing behaviors, like aggression, that result from emotional issues, girls are more likely to turn to self-destructive behaviors, like disordered eating and experimenting with substances. 

Why the overlap between these addictive behaviors?

  • Coping with underlying feelings of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and guilt
  • Preoccupation with food, substances, and body image
  • Some teens turn to substances to change their appetite or to reduce their anxiety around food
  • Rituals around the addictive behavior
  • Loss of control over behavior over time
  • Both associated with a distorted perception of self
  • Sacrificing other interests to spend more time engaging in the addictive behavior
  • Both based on trying to change the way their body feels, in terms of wanting to improve their body image and alter their state of mind

Integrative Care for Dual Diagnoses

Recognizing the link between substance use and disordered eating often goes under the radar as many professionals are looking for signs of one issue rather than the other. Most teens experience a variety of mental health issues that may overlap in some ways, rather than a single problem with a clear-cut solution. Because of how symptoms overlap, it is important to take a whole-person approach to improve teens’ overall wellbeing. Just focusing on a specific type of behavior problem ignores that risk factors for one issue are often similar for other types of behavior problems. 

“If you don’t treat issues simultaneously, there’s the potential for symptom substitution. For example, when a teen does not have access to substances, their disordered eating patterns may escalate and vice versa,” explains Kami Black, the Executive Clinical Director at Solstice RTC. “In order to address both issues successfully, we try to separate addictive behaviors from underlying issues and encourage teens to dig into potential root causes. Instead of focusing on behavioral change as the primary goal, our goal becomes empowering teens to change the way they view themselves and their ability to succeed without negative coping mechanisms.”

Individualized treatment plans that aim to help teens heal in multiple areas of their lives may involve: 

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy targets emotional regulation, distress tolerance
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy targets exposure, psychological flexibility and committed action
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy targets relapse prevention
  • Trauma Focused-therapy includes EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Solstice RTC Can Help 

Solstice RTC is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls often grapple with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. Through a unique combination of therapeutic programs based upon both traditional and holistic mental health treatment, we treat our clients with age and gender specific techniques. We strive to empower teenage women with the ability to believe in themselves and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life.

For more information about how we help with disordered eating and substance use, please contact us at (866) 278-3345.


Instant Gratification Times 1000: Teaching Your Teen Impulse Control

Instant Gratification Times 1000: Teaching Your Teen Impulse Control 2560 1920 Solstice RTC

Sometimes it seems that teens have the impulse control of a, well, teenager. One moment, they seem like rational human beings and then they do something so incredibly reckless, you cannot help but wonder what they were thinking. Fortunately, there’s a scientific answer: it’s all about the brain.

Educating Your Teen about Impulse Control

The teenage brain is still in the process of developing. This process not only leads to teenagers pushing boundaries and searching for individuality; it promotes risk-taking behaviors with little regard for consequence. The behaviors can range from mood issues resulting in confrontation and “borrowing” without asking, to substance abuse, kleptomania, compulsive sexuality, and many others.

As a parent of a teen with impulse control issues, there are several steps that you can take to make the problem easier. Typically, issues with control come with age; however, a few tips can help relieve tension until that time comes. The most important thing to remember is to stay positive. As with many other situations, by losing your temper, you only add fuel to the fire; what could have been a calm discussion turns into a power struggle. 

Try to keep communication open. While it may be tempting for a parent to simply lay down the law, a real conversation is a two-way street. Setting a strict system of cause-and-effect (break the rules, deal with the consequences) does not teach your child why impulse control is important; sitting down and talking about the effect of recklessness does. Even though there are situations when remaining patient can prove difficult, in the end, the best way to teach your child impulse control is to exhibit impulse control yourself.

In some cases, impulse control issues may be symptoms of a deeper problem such as ADHD or anxiety. If your teen exhibits behaviors that could point to something else or your teen’s impulse control issues are getting out of hand, it may be time to consider professional help.

Solstice can help

If your teen is struggling with controlling their impulsive behavior, Solstice can help. Solstice is a residential treatment center for teen girls ages 14-18 struggling with emotional and behavioral issues like defiance, ADHD, substance use, and trauma.

For more information about how Solstice can help your teen, please call (866) 278-3345 today!


drinking during the holidays

Too Much Holiday Cheer: Talking to your teen about underage drinking during the holiday season

Too Much Holiday Cheer: Talking to your teen about underage drinking during the holiday season 2560 1707 Solstice RTC

The holiday season brings colder weather and time off of work and school. For teens on winter break, getting together with friends for holiday parties is pretty common. These parties, although fun and a good way for teens to catch up with old friends, are often filled with underage binge drinking and other unhealthy, illicit activities. Knowing whether or not your teen is engaging in underage drinking during the holiday season can be tricky. Teens know how to cover these things up. However, it’s important for you as a parent to have a talk with your teen about potential drinking during the holiday season.

Talking with your teen about drinking during the holiday season

Explaining to your teen about the dangers of underage drinking can be frustrating. Many teens will roll their eyes and refuse to listen to you. But they need to hear about these dangers from you. On an average December day, more than 11,000 young people in the United States, aged 12 to 17, will use alcohol for the first time. Some of these young adults will not make it to the New Year, because almost 400 young people under the age 21 die from alcohol-related causes every month, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 

Here are some tips for making this conversation easier on you and your teen:

  • Listen, don’t lecture: Once you tell your teen stats and the consequences of drinking underage (advanced aging, legal consequences, alcohol poisoning, etc.), make sure you listen to what they have to say. They may defend their actions, or tell you that they honestly have no interest in drinking. If what they say offends you, don’t yell at them. They need your calm guidance, not an angry lecturer.
  • Agree on a safe word and exit plan: Safe words allow your teen to call you at a party that they would rather not be at anymore, without being embarrassed that they called their parents to come pick them up. Creating an exit plan beforehand can get them out of a party they don’t want to be at swiftly and without any danger.
  • Talk to them about peer pressure: Let them know what they don’t need to follow what their friends are doing.
  • Ask your daughter if she could have a party at your house: Instead of worrying about what your daughter is doing elsewhere, have her hang out with her friends right under your nose. That way, you can make sure she’s not engaging in underage drinking.

Solstice can help

If your daughter is engaging in impulsive behavior, like underage drinking, consider sending her to Solstice. Solstice is a residential treatment center for teen girls ages 14-18 struggling with emotional and behavioral difficulties. For more information about Solstice, please call (866) 278-3345.


teen smoking

The rise of e-cigarettes: Preventing teen smoking

The rise of e-cigarettes: Preventing teen smoking 2560 2560 Solstice RTC

Do you remember the days when smoking seemed to be absolutely everywhere? Those days are long gone. However,  teen smoking is still very prevalent in high schools across the US. With the popularity of e-cigarettes making smoking “cool” again, changing attitudes towards smoking are making teen smoking problematic once again.

The danger of E-cigarettes

While teens are smoking less traditional cigarettes every year, the rate of e-cigarette use is steadily increasing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage  of traditional cigarette smoking in teens dropped from 15.8 percent in 2011 to 9.2 percent in 2014. However, teen smoking in terms of e-cigarettes has increased from 1.5 percent of teens in 2011 to 13.5 percent in 2014.

Right now, e-cigarettes are a growing threat to teens everywhere. Loads of misinformation combined with the attractive flavors and design of e-cigarettes has contributed to the rise in smokers. Teens may be told that e-cigarettes have less nicotine or are not as bad for you as traditional cigarettes. One tobacco researcher, Stanton Gantz, describes these devices as “cigarettes on training wheels”.

Nicotine’s negative effect on teenage brains is a serious cause for concern. Researchers say that when a teen’s brain is exposed to nicotine, it alters the the development of the prefrontal cortex. This eventually affects decision making. Because of this, teen smoking may cause attention problems and a greater risk of cognitive impairments and psychiatric disorders.


Preventing  your teen from smoking traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or hookah may seem like a difficult task. If you’re worried your teen might start smoking or is already smoking, consider the following preventative measures:

  • Set a good example: If you smoke, your teen is more likely to smoke. If you do smoke, you should quit. Explain to your teen how miserable you are smoking and how difficult it is for you to quit smoking.
  • Appeal to your teen’s desire to look good: Talk to your teen about the effects smoking has on physical appearance. Show them pictures of people who have smoked for years with yellowing teeth and terrible skin. Tell them about the acrid smell that stays on clothes and hair.  
  • Understand peer pressure: If your teen starts smoking, it’s most likely because their friends smoke too. Talk to your teen about what to say if they are offered a cigarette or a puff on a hookah. Help them practice a response to an offer to smoke.
  • Inform them of the expense: Smoking is super expensive. Your teen needs to know that before they start taking up the habit. Sit them down and go through what a year’s worth of cigarettes would cost. Talk to them about what else they could buy with that money (clothes, electronics, makeup, etc.)

Solstice can help

Many times, teens begin smoking because they’re struggling with anxiety and depression. Solstice helps teen girls ages 14-18 struggling with emotional and behavioral difficulties.

For more information about Solstice, call today at (866) 278-3345.


drugs and alcohol

Afraid Your Teen May Be Using Drugs and Alcohol?

Afraid Your Teen May Be Using Drugs and Alcohol? 2560 1700 Solstice RTC

As a child transitions into high school they suddenly become more exposed to substances that could potentially harm their growth. Naturally the child is already experiencing many conflicting feelings, as they proceed to navigate teenage life. What can be worrisome to parents is how to spot early signs of drugs and alcohol abuse, and how to speak with your teen about their behavior in time to prevent addiction. Substance use can cause problems at home, school, and in relationships, leaving the teen feeling isolated, helpless, or ashamed. It is important to know that help is always available.

Many teens first try drugs and alcohol out of curiosity, peer pressure, or in an effort to improve stress, anxiety, or depression. Use doesn’t automatically lead to abuse/addiction, however it is extremely important to discuss with your teen the severe consequences of recreational drug use.

There is no easy way to identify if your teen is using drugs and alcohol. As you may observe below, many of the symptoms or signs are sometimes typical to adolescent behavior.

Personal Appearance

  • Messy, lack of care for appearance
  • Poor hygiene,
  • Red, flushed cheeks/face
  • Burns or soot on fingers/lips (from “joints”)

Personal Habits or Actions

  • Clenching teeth
  • Smell of smoke or unusual smells on breath/clothes
  • Frequently breaks curfew
  • Cash flow problems
  • Reckless driving
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Secretive phone calls

Behavioral Issues Associated with Teen Substance Abuse

  • Change in relationships with family members or friends
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Mood changes or emotional instability
  • Loud obnoxious behavior
  • Unusually clumsy, stumbling, lack of coordination, poor balance
  • Sullen, withdrawn, depressed
  • Makes endless excuses
  • Periods of sleeplessness or high energy, followed by long periods of “catch up”
  • Silent, uncommunicative
  • Unusually tired

School- or Work-Related Issues

  • Loss of interest in schoolwork
  • Loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, or sports
  • Failure to fulfill responsibilities at school
  • Complaints from teachers

Health Issues Related to Teen Substance Abuse

  • Nosebleeds
  • Runny nose, not caused by allergies or a cold
  • Frequent sickness
  • Wetting lips or excessive thirst (known as “cotton mouth”)
  • Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Depression

If you feel that your teenager may be using drugs and alcohol it is important to remember to stay calm. Being accusatory of your child may only push your child farther away. The best way to find out what is going on with your teen is to begin a back-and-forth conversation. This allows your child the opportunity to discuss any questions or situations they may have found themselves in.

To help initiate a conversation with your teen try some of these tips.

  • Create a safe environment for your child to share the truth. Assure your child that they can always be honest with you.
  • When speaking with your teen on a serious subject don’t allow any interruptions between you two. This shows you are dedicated to what they have to say.
  • Listen to your child vent. Sometimes they just need someone to listen.
  • Ask your child what she thinks/feels about drug use and that behavior

The effects of peer pressure to use and abuse substances can be damaging to your teens health and family’s well being. If you feel your teen has been using drugs or alcohol, Solstice can help. With our specialized, clinically intensive residential treatment program, we can provide your teen girl with the help she needs to overcome peer pressure and begin her path toward healing.

For more information about how Solstice helps teen girls cope with substance abuse, call us at 801-815-8700.


marijuana use in teens

Marijuana Use in Teens Can Cause Memory Loss

Marijuana Use in Teens Can Cause Memory Loss 2560 1440 Solstice RTC

For the past decade, the belief that marijuana is a harmful drug for younger individuals has begun to decline within the United States. In a government survey from 2014, it was found that 11.7 percent of 8th graders, 27.3 percent of 10th graders and 35.1 percent of 12th graders had tried marijuana in the past year. Marijuana use in teens continues to be a large issue that can cause long-term problems in brain development.

Marijuana use in teens and memory loss

In a recent study, by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, researchers found that adults that had smoked marijuana daily as a teenager for three years or more had difficulty in performing long-term memory assessments.

Also, the researchers found that the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with long-term memory, was altered in form. The longer the person had used marijuana daily, the more misshapen the hippocampus was. The greater the hippocampus was deformed, the worse the person did on long-term memory exams.

How to catch signs of marijuana use in teens

Because of the possible long-term damaging effects of marijuana use in teens, it’s extremely important to recognize the signs as soon as possible.

According to the AACAP, a few common signs to look for to identify if your teen is possibly abusing marijuana include:

  • Red eyes/use of eye drops often
  • Memory issues
  • Reduced interest in usual activities
  • Eating more than usual/hungry all the time
  • Acting silly for no reason
  • Dizziness

Treatment for marijuana addiction

Adolescents are more susceptible to becoming addicted to substances such as marijuana. This makes it imperative to catch and treat the addiction as soon as possible. If a larger intervention is needed than parents can provide, programs exist that specialize in dealing with treatment for marijuana use in teens.

Solstice RTC is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. At Solstice, we treat many types of issues, such as addiction, trauma, learning disabilities and many others. Our safe, nurturing environment paired with comprehensive, proven therapeutic techniques allows struggling girls to deal with and overcome their problems.

For more information, please call us today, at (866) 278-3345.