Dual Diagnosis Teens: When Drinking and Drugging Is Really Something Else

Assume that you are a little boy. All your life you have tried to fit in with other boys. But you just don’t. You are too anxious and afraid inside. Whenever anyone starts to tease or bully someone, you think it’s aimed at you. Sarcastic laughter, the person who takes the blame – it’s all about you all the time. Your anxiety means you are the scapegoat – the boy who is bullied.

Your anxiety also makes it impossible for you to concentrate in school. Your grades fall, your parents get upset with you – this creates even more anxiety.

Now suppose you find out that if you drink a potion, all your anxious feelings go away. In one moment, you are as calm as all the other kids. Suddenly, you’re Joe Cool.

This scenario often describes the alcoholic child under age 16 years.

When a child suffering from anxiety disorders, severe shyness or social anxiety discovers alcohol, it’s as if he finds magic. Like Alice in Wonderland with the “Eat Me!” mushroom, when he takes a drink, he grows taller and stronger. Suddenly his shyness vanishes and he’s the life of the party. Instantly she can flirt and have fun like all the other kids her age.

Read more about teens who turn to substance abuse as a way to deal with an underlying disorder >>

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Wilderness Programs Help Young Adults Find “The Just Right-Sized Me”

It’s my life. It’s all about me. I want what I want and I want it now. Everyone is paying attention to me, all of the time. Therefore, I have to have the best clothes and the coolest car.

Many young people who enter wilderness therapy programs like the Four Circles bring these attitudes along with them. They come to the program thinking that they are the center of the universe.

“We talk a lot about becoming the “right-sized me,” said one therapist who accompanies teens on their wilderness experiences.

Being “right sized” means understanding that while you have an effect on your family, friends and others in your life, no one is watching you all the time. You don’t need constant feedback from everyone. You don’t have to keep track of your mistakes: no one cares that much.

Part of the problem is the teen culture itself.

Learn more about the slow deliberate pace of nature in a wilderness setting and how it helps teens gain a new perspective >>