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How not to make A MESS out of conversations with teens about drugs and other dangerous behaviors starts with identifying the four keys for parent confidence.
An adolescent's need to be accepted while striving to be independent (and still heavily dependent on adults) can create a lot of strain both internally and externally.
Interrupting or disturbing the growth and development of connections to integrate emotional and cognitive processes can have lasting effects.

Prevention: It’s Not Just a Youth Issue, but a Community Issue

When people are asked to describe substance use prevention, most (including youth), define it as telling someone not to do drugs and not to drink alcohol. For years, our youth have been drilled with the message that it is up to them and them alone not to succumb to the temptation of alcohol and substance [...]

Measurement-Based Care: Innovative Technology to Provide Evidence-Based Practices and Improve Health Outcomes

The abrupt shift in the delivery of behavioral health care due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is unparalleled. Plans to enhance behavioral health access through telehealth, scheduled to take years at most organizations, were accomplished in a matter of weeks. This rapid transition to telehealth—defined as “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to [...]

Young Adults: Intervening in Crises

Young adulthood is a unique time of life, filled with new experiences, new beginnings, and fraught with new obstacles and challenges. Young adulthood is a period that is developmentally associated with biological, psychological, social, and cognitive changes, along with increases in risk taking (Boles, Roberts, Brown, & Mayes, 2005). It is a time for adventure, [...]

Falling between Two Systems of Care: Understanding How Youth on Probation Move along the Pathway to Treatment

About 25 to 50 percent of justice-involved youth (JIY) have a substance use disorder (SUD; Teplin, Abram, McClelland, Dulcan, & Mericle, 2002; Wasserman, McReynolds, Ko, Katz, & Carpenter, 2005; McClelland, Elkington, Teplin, & Abram, 2004), compared with 4 percent of general population youth (Merikangas et al., 2010). Left untreated, substance use among JIY is associated [...]

Four Bad SEO Practices to Avoid

Your reputation as a behavioral health care professional can easily be undone by something as simple as a few inappropriate SEO practices on your website. The scary part is that you could be employing some of them without even realizing it. The idea that you could be engaged in bad SEO practices without knowing it [...]

How to Continue Supporting Your Clients During a Pandemic

It seemed to happen overnight: one day in March I was attending a Twelve Step recovery meeting and receiving my twenty-two-year sobriety chip. The next, the whole country screeched to a halt: meetings were cancelled, recovery centers closed their doors, and counselors and clients alike were fearful and at a loss. “Now what?” we wondered. [...]

Fathers and Addiction: A Personal Perspective

Being a father is one of most important roles a man can have in his life. It comes with great responsibility and the opportunity to mentor and influence the next generation. Being a father has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Since Father’s Day, I have been thinking about fathers impaired by [...]

Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic

As I am writing this column at the peak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in early April, I need to prognosticate several months ahead as you will most likely be reading this in July or August. I am (optimistically) predicting that by that time we will have gotten through the worst of the crisis, although [...]

Family Secrets

Imagine you had a child (a young adult) who was secreted away to treatment for COVID-19, and no one would talk about it due to stigma associated with this dreaded, life-threatening disease. This is what is still happening with substance use disorders (SUDs), adding layers of shame to what should be viewed as a health [...]

Is it Harm Reduction or the Process of Recovery?

As resources expand to address our nation’s growing substance use disorder (SUD) crisis, public health policymakers are rapidly adopting new approaches to meeting patients “where they are.” Although less controversial than in years past, treatment approaches to SUD that are not rooted in abstinence still face an uphill climb as legislators who lack an understanding [...]

Talking to Teens about Alcohol, Drugs, and Other Dangerous Behaviors: Four Keys, Six Goals, and A MESS

A couple of parents came into therapy complaining about their sixteen-year-old son doing poorly in school, drinking, smoking pot (“He’s addicted!”), and hanging with knuckleheads. He sulked, eyes downcast, as they described how poorly he was doing in almost all parts of his life. They expressed how much they loved and cared for him, but [...]

Intoxication, Trauma, and Attachment: Three Strands of a Single Braid in the Adolescent Mind

Adolescence is a turbulent time in the best of circumstances, riddled with paradoxes and pressures, subconscious drives, and conscious desires. Adolescents are more mature than they are often given credit for, yet at the same time operating with an undeveloped brain. Additionally, at this time they feel a deep drive to belong while simultaneously needing [...]