Substance Use Disorder IOP For Teens in Phoenix

The Substance Use Disorder IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) at Doorways is a group therapy program for teens ages 13-17 who are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse.  The program will take place at our teen counseling clinic in Phoenix, Arizona.

IOP may be recommended for those who do not need medically-supervised detox. IOP can also enable people in recovery to continue their recovery therapies following successful detox, on a part-time yet intensive schedule, designed to accommodate school and family life. 

In the Substance Use Disorder Intensive Outpatient Program, you receive services primarily through group therapy. Groups are small and generally do not exceed 10 people, allowing for a safe and supportive environment.

Doorways has insurance contracts with Aetna, BCBS, Cigna and United Behavioral Healthcare for our IOP services. Please contact your insurance provider for coverage limits.  

Call us at 602-997-2880 or email for more information.  This IOP is set to begin in March of 2019.

7 Signs Your Teen Needs Professional Counseling

As parents of teens, sometimes it is hard to determine what could be a sign of a serious problem and what is a normal part of growing up.

7 Signs Your Teen Needs Professional Counseling

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a nationwide survey of students in grades 9 – 12 found that 16% of students reported considering suicide, 13% created a plan, and 8% reported a suicide attempt in the year preceding the survey. About 157,000 adolescents between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries across the US. How do you know what is a sign of a serious problem and when to seek professional counseling for your teen?

  1. Depression

Many teens suffer from mild depression on and off throughout adolescence, but when it persists for long periods of time or is coupled with self-esteem issues, anxiety, or tumultuous life events, it may be time to seek professional help. The Center for Young Women’s Health recommends monitoring depression signs for two weeks, and if symptoms do not lift, it is more than just sadness or mood swings.

  1. Substance Abuse

Substance abuse, an issue on its own, is often seen in conjunction with other mental health issues such as depression and low self-esteem. Your adolescent may be trying to cope with these issues by self-medication with recreational drugs, which will only make the issues worse. Anytime substance abuse is present, it is time for counseling.

  1. Eating Disorders

Signs of eating disorders are changes in eating habits, hiding food, binging and purging, or making excuses not to eat. Like many other health issues, eating disorders are often the result of other mental health problems, and can cause physical health issues as well.

  1. Angry Outbursts

An inability to control their temper or having angry outbursts over small matters are signs of larger mental health issues. It is usually a cover for emotional pain and depression, but may just be a sign that your teen has not learned healthy outlets for emotions. Either way, professional counseling may have great benefits for your adolescent in teaching them healthy coping mechanisms.

  1. Isolation

Having a social life is important for being healthy emotionally for everyone, and especially adolescents. If your teen is isolated from his or her peers, it could lead to depression and self-esteem issues. If they are isolating themselves intentionally, it could be a sign these mental health issues are already present.

  1. Physical Health Problems

Stress, depression, and anxiety can cause stomach problems, high blood pressure, and heart problems. When mental health issues are left untreated, they can cause severe physical health problems as well. These symptoms of emotional issues shouldn’t be ignored.

  1. Self-Harm

Signs of self-harm are often the biggest warning signals parents should watch out for. Whether or not a suicide attempt has taken place, self-harm is indicative of severe emotional health issues and professional counseling should be sought after.

If you think your teen’s mental health might be at stake, seek help right away. Mental health is just as important as physical health and should be taken seriously.


Keep Your Teen Sober This Summer

Summer is just around the corner and many parents worry about what they are going to do with their teenager to keep them out of trouble in the summer.

close up of smiling young women in sunglasses

Adolescence in and of itself comes with a greater likelihood of alcohol use, but there are some factors that increase the risk of a teen abusing alcohol. One of the best ways to help teens avoid this behavior is to equip parents with knowledge of the issue and specific methods to protect and educate their teens.

Everybody Is Doing It

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, underage drinking accounts for over 4,300 underage deaths annually. It is also a factor in over 189,000 emergency rooms visits by people under age 21 for injuries and other conditions. This is a real issue facing real teenagers in every social circle. Surveys indicate that underage drinking is an issue among all races and socioeconomic levels. Simply put, your zip code and family history does not doom you or shield you from the dangers of underage alcohol use. Pretending the issue doesn’t exist, or thinking your child would never make such a reckless choice, is a recipe for disaster.

Kids Will Be Kids

Kids are curious and social and like any human, want to be liked and accepted. Curiosity is not a bad thing. Being social is not a bad thing. However, these are definitely factors in why so many young people choose to partake in alcoholic beverages before reaching the legal age to do so. Yes, kids will be kids. Parents and guardians just need to know that part of being a kid is exactly what makes one more likely to drink, which leads to a number of other dangerous behaviors and situations. Knowing that kids will be kids, parents must be parents. Set boundaries. Keep an open dialogue and be willing to provide alternate activities for your teen and their friends.

Keep Talking. Keep Listening.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about the dangers of alcohol. Brief but frequent conversations about alcohol can make a significant impact on your teen’s ability to resist peer pressure. Keeping an open dialogue also creates a safe and more comfortable environment for your teen to ask questions or express concerns about the issue. As much as you speak with your teen about alcohol use and abuse, be sure to listen. Give them opportunities to open up about their own opinions regarding alcohol and other substance abuse. Allowing them a safe place to speak increases their likelihood to “just say no.”

Draw A Line in the Sand

In the midst of worrying and talking and listening, be sure to make your viewpoint clear. Make sure your teen knows that underage drinking is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in your home. Set reasonable but firm expectations. Keep your message consistent and set consequences ahead of time. Being honest up front sets the stage for other “real” conversations. Be a parent first, friend second.

The statistics are startling and can easily make parents want to bury their heads in the sand. Resist the temptation to flee. No matter what challenges your child is facing, talking to them can literally make the biggest difference. Face the issue head on and know that you can be the driving force in keeping your teen from using alcohol.

Related Articles:

10 Parenting Tips for Raising a Healthy Teen

Here’s some great advice for raising a healthy, happy teen, from Muir Wood:

Mom and teenage daughter talking

  1. Be an engaged and hands-on parent to your kids. Discuss your family values and expectations about alcohol and substance use. Empower your children with facts to make good choices. Ensure they know the effects of alcohol and drugs on brain development, the law, and social / physical risks.
  2. Remove easy access in your home. Put away and/or lock up alcohol and other drugs, including prescription medicines. Easy access = potential problems.
  3. Ensure your house is not used for parties while you are away. If you are gone from home for the evening or out of town, take measures to ensure your house isn’t used for parties with alcohol or substances. Communicate with your neighbors. Have someone check on your house. Have clear plans in place for your kids if they are not away with you.
  4. Do not allow your child to attend large or loosely supervised parties that are not alcohol/drug free and are not supervised by an adult.
    Ensure that a parent is present at larger gatherings and agrees to a no alcohol or substance use event before you allow your son/daughter to attend.
  5. Proactively communicate with your child’s friend’s parents. Call before your child goes out for the night or spends the night with a friend to confirm an adult will be home all night and that the kids will be supervised. If the kids are going out for the evening, confirm where they are going, how they are getting there, and who will be supervising them.
  6. Set and enforce check-in times, curfews and other safety rules. Having healthy boundaries creates healthy habits.
  7. Give your kids a safe way out or exit plan from risky situations. Establish a code or phrase only you and your child know about, and let them know it’s ok to ask for help when they need it.
  8. Give your child praise or even reward for good decision-making. Mirror back to your child the importance of knowing how to leave a difficult situation.
  9. You are your child’s role model; set a good example. They learn from you. Drink moderately and responsibly. Don’t serve alcohol at pre- homecoming, prom, graduation, or sports team parties, etc.
  10. You are the parent, not your child’s friend.

Parenting is rewarding and can also be challenging. Create trust and an attitude of understanding while maintaining a role as parental figure. Above all, talk with and listen to your child. Love them for who they are, but don’t be afraid to set high standards.

Do You Know the Drugs of This Generation? Part 2

drug abuse teens

Make sure you know this information if you are a parent of a teen (photo credit:

When it comes to helping teens avoid illicit drugs, while knowledge is power for parents, not knowing can be dangerous for your teen.  As part of National Drug Facts Week, parents can test their drug IQ by taking the 2014 National Drug IQ Challenge and then read on to learn more about the drugs that belong to their teenager’s generation.  You can read part one of this series here.


Salvia, an herb native to Central and South America, is a drug you aren’t likely to have heard of, yet.  It can be ingested a variety of ways including chewing the leaves, smoking the dried leaves, or inhaling the vapors.  It is also called Sally-D and Maria Pastora and although it is not currently prohibited by federal law, it is considered to be a drug of concern by the DEA and may soon be classified as a schedule I drug like marijuana.


Odds are, no matter where you live, you know what Meth is, even if you only know about it because of the TV show “Breaking Bad”.   Meth is short for Methamphetamine and is a stimulant drug that can cause increased energy and alertness while also providing positive effects on mood.  Unfortunately, it also causes elevated heart rate, raised blood pressure, and other negative side effects.   Meth is also known as speed, tina, ice, crank, and glass.  It is a white powder that can be made into pills, dissolved in water, or smoked.   It is often made using very toxic ingredients including battery acid and antifreeze.

Using meth can cause mood swings, violent or aggressive behavior and even psychosis, paranoia, and delusions.  At first, using meth can increase sexual impulses and puts users at a higher risk for things like sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies.  Over time, meth can have the opposite effect on sex drive in addition to causing skin sores, severe weight loss, cognitive deficits, accelerated aging, and meth mouth where the person’s teeth become broken, rotten, stained, and/or fall out.


Spice is an herbal concoction that produces results similar to marijuana when smoked.  Often seen as a “natural” or “legal” alternative to marijuana, Spice can also contain mind-altering chemicals that produce unanticipated results.  Many teens believe the myth that Spice is natural and therefore is somehow safer to use than other drugs.  However, Spice users have experienced symptoms like rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, and hallucinations.  The truth is that because Spice can be made in different ways and using different chemicals it is difficult to identify the possible adverse reactions and long term affects of its use.  Spice was easy to buy in gas stations and head shops but now that it has been designated as an illegal substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency, it is harder for teens to obtain.  Spice is also called K2, skunk, and moon rocks and those who use it can become addicted.  Spice is second only to marijuana in use amongst high school students.


Do You Know the Drugs of This Generation? Part 1

Substance Abuse Teens

Any parent of teens should make sure they know this information about drugs (photo credit:

Each generation of teenagers has their own music, their own heroes, and unfortunately, their own drugs.  This can put parents at a disadvantage.  Today’s parents might be familiar with the drugs of their day like cocaine, marijuana, and heroin.  But would they know that the topics was drugs if they overheard their teenager talking to a friend about Molly, Adam, Tina, Sally-D, Scarface, or Juice?  Many would not which is one of the things the National Institute of Drug Abuse hopes to change with this year’s National Drug Facts Week.

For parents, knowledge is power in the war on drugs and not knowing can be dangerous for your teen.  Parents can test their drug IQ by taking the 2014 National Drug IQ Challenge and then read on to learn more about the drugs that belong to their teenager’s generation.

Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are not a new drug but when parents think about the drugs that pose a danger to their children, it doesn’t always make the list.  Also known as “roids” and juice”, anabolic steroids are a prescription medication that can be used to treat legitimate medical conditions.  However, using them for performance enhancement or to bulk up is not a legitimate use and any use without a prescription is illegal.   Steroid abuse can cause serious health problems and they should never be used by teenagers unless prescribed for a medical condition.

Bath Salts

This is a new kind of drug produced using man-made chemicals that create a synthetic form of cathinone, which is a naturally occurring stimulant with similar affect to amphetamines.  The effects of taking bath salts can vary widely and range from intense joy and friendliness to paranoia, agitation, violence, and hallucinations.  There have already been instances of people dying from this drug.   Bath salts are a powdery substance and are sold with names like Bloom, Cloud Nine, Vanilla Sky, and Scarface.  They are usually labeled “not for human consumption” and may be sold as jewelry cleaner or plant food.   The law is racing to keep up with these new designer drugs so that they cannot be legally sold in stores.  Unfortunately, the nature of these drugs makes it very easy to change the chemical composition just enough to remain on the right side of the law.

MDMA (aka Ecstasy)

Parents are also likely to have heard of ecstasy but may not know that it is still used by today’s teens, although use is on the decline.  Also known as Molly, MDMA is another manmade chemical substance that has stimulant-like effects.  It is best known for making people feel like everyone is their friend and that they love everyone.   The primary danger of prolonged used of MDMA is brain damage but there is no conclusive evidence about the long term effects or long term prognosis for habitual users.

Benefits of Family Counseling

Family Counseling

Read more to learn the benefits of family counseling (photo credit:

When one person in a family unit is struggling, the entire family suffers, and it can be difficult to make real changes unless the family is working together.  This is the foundation on which family counseling is built.  Families can seek this kind of counseling for a variety of reasons and it can be very beneficial in families with a teenager in trouble.

The end goal of family counseling should always be to build a strong, healthy, happy family.  Depending on the issues at hand, the family counseling sessions may include two, three, or any other number of family members.  Counseling sessions can include some family members on certain days and others on different days.  Who attends is as personal to each family as what brought them there in the first place.

If you are considering family counseling, here are some of the benefits you and your family can get from participating:

1.     Improved Communication

Family counseling is an excellent way to overcome communication challenges and for everyone in the family to learn how to communicate more effectively.  For many families, communication is a key starting point because until the lines of communication are open and operating, it can be very difficult to tackle other issues successfully.

2.     Support for Substance Abuse Treatment

For families dealing with the aftermath of a substance abuse problem, family counseling can provide a safe place to learn how to support the family member with the problem.  It can also help to heal the wounds to other family members caused by the addiction.

3.     Building Stronger Bonds

One of the most rewarding and little recognized benefits of family counseling is building stronger family bonds.  With the guidance of their chosen provider, families can learn to listen more effectively, empathize more completely, and understand the wants and needs of the others in their family.  The skills learned in family counseling help build these bonds and strengthen the overall family structure.

4.     Dealing with Grief and Loss

One of the most difficult things for families to survive is the loss of a family member.  Regardless of whether the person lost was a parent, child, or sibling, learning to accept the loss and move through the grieving process together can not only build those strong bonds but ensure that everyone makes it through that process healthy and whole.

5.     Managing Mental Health Conditions

Families who are dealing with an ongoing or chronic mental health condition can also benefit from family counseling.  These kinds of conditions can include depression, anxiety disorders like OCD, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and self harm.

6.     Dealing with Dysfunction

The bottom line is that family counseling can help family units learn to understand and overcome whatever dysfunction is currently plaguing them.  By providing family members with a safe space to share feelings and teaching them how to communicate and be supportive of each other, family counseling helps build the kind of bonds that keep families together, even during the toughest times.

How to Tell if Your Teenager Needs Therapy

teenage therapy

If you’re wondering whether your teen may need therapy or not, these tips may help. (photo credit:

One of the hardest things for any parent to admit is that their child has a problem that they are not equipped to help them solve.  After years of checking for monsters, bandaging boo-boos, and helping with homework, it can be difficult, overwhelming, and even scary to acknowledge that your child has a mental health problem and you don’t know what to do.  But what we, as parents, don’t understand is that there is something we can do; get them the help they need to overcome whatever challenge they are facing.  The key is to understand when it is time to call on the cavalry, to know when our teenagers problems have gone beyond our ability to assist.  Here are some tips for determining when it is time to seek mental health services from a provider.

1.     Red Flags

If there is one thing that every parent should know to watch for it would be these red flags:


2.     Lifestyle Changes

Unfortunately, the need for help is not always as obvious as the red flags listed above.  One of the more subtle changes that can signify a serious mental health issue is significant lifestyle changes.  For example, a previously happy, popular daughter stops spending time with friends or drops out of activities.  A son, who has always been an A student, starts getting D’s and F’s.  Teens that are in trouble may also experience changes in eating habits and sleep patterns.

3.     Acting Out

While it is normal for teenagers to be rebellious and to push limits, teens who are dealing with mental health issues may take these behaviors to an unhealthy and even dangerous level.  Teens who run away, skip school repeatedly, remain away from home for days without permission, act promiscuously, or engage in illegal activities may need more than just a stricter parent or serious consequences to change their behavior.

4.     Extreme Changes in Mood

Several mental health conditions can cause changes in a teenager’s mood.  If teens are showing common signs of depression, rapid mood swings, withdrawal, self-loathing, or rage, they may need the assistance of a mental health practitioner.

5.     Traumatic Event or Loss

Trauma and loss impact all of us, even teenagers and sometimes recovering or dealing with these kinds of issues requires the assistance of a professional.  Any traumatic event can cause immediate and long-term mental health issues which need to be treated as early as possible.  Significant losses like the death of a loved one, the loss of a home, or a divorce can be challenging to deal with and may require professional health to move past.

6.     Your Child’s Request

Sometimes teenagers know they are struggling and reach out for help in healthy ways, like asking to see a therapy or making suggestions related to getting help from someone.  Don’t disregard this kind of request.  Honor your teenagers concerns for their own wellbeing and help them find a mental health practitioner that can address their concerns.

5 Signs Your Teen is Using Drugs

teens and drugs

Do you know how to tell if your teen is using drugs? (Photo Credit:

If there is one thing that happens in all teens it’s that once in awhile they can be moody and rebellious and it can feel like their personality is shifting from one person to another.  This can make if difficult for parents to see the signs that something is wrong.  But many teenagers who are struggling with mental health issues, eating disorders, or substance abuse problems need their parents to see that they are struggling so that they can get the help they need.

When it comes to the use and abuse of drugs, it is crucial that parents are able to recognize that there is a problem, identify the problem, and get their teen the help they need to get clean and get their lives back on track.

Know when to be worried, what to look for, what questions to ask, and when to step in by reviewing these common signs of teenage drug use and abuse.

1.     New Friends or No Friends

If your teenager suddenly stops hanging out with the people they have always spent time with, it is time to pay attention.  If your teen starts hanging around with a completely new set of friends, it is time to ask questions.  If your teen goes from having lots of friends to spending more time alone, there may be something going on.

2.     Hating School

If your typical A or B student suddenly starts bringing home D’s and F’s or your teen starts complaining about how much they hate school all the time, you should pay attention and try to determine what is going on.  If your teen starts skipping school, dropping out of sports or other activities, or develops a negative attitude towards all things related to school, they may be struggling and need your help.

3.     Privacy!

If your generally laid back teenager suddenly becomes very angry when you put her laundry away, there may be cause for concern.  While many teenagers go through phases of needing additional privacy during these years, anger can be a sign that they are hiding something serious, like drugs.

4.     Secretive

Similar to the adoption of stricter concerns about privacy, when teens start using drugs they can become more secretive about their lives, their whereabouts, who they are talking to, etc.  If your previously open and friendly teenager starts offering ambiguous answers and giving primarily vague responses, it may be time to find out why.

5.     Money

Another change that teenagers often exhibit when they become involved with drugs is an increase in the amount of money they need.  If your teen seems to be borrowing money all the time or keeps asking if there are ways to earn money working around the house, you need to understand why.

All of these signs may indicate a problem with drug use or may be just a normal shift in your teen’s behavior.  The key to knowing when to worry and when to step back is looking for other things in their lives that might be influencing their change in behavior.  For example, a bunch of new friends would be normal for a teen that just joined a new club or started playing a sport.  Watching for the signs, asking lots of questions, and listening to your parental instincts are the best things you can do to keep your kids safe.

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About PTSD


Learn these facts about PTSD (photo credit:

Learn these facts about PTSD (photo credit:

1.     It Isn’t Just for Veterans

While much of the press coverage about PTSD relates to veterans of various wars, anyone who experiences a traumatic event can suffer from PTSD.  Knowing the signs and seeking help are the most important things parents can do to help if they believe their teenager is dealing with PTSD.

2.     It Doesn’t Always Mean Having Flashbacks

While flashbacks are one of the symptoms most commonly associated with PTSD, it isn’t the only symptom and some people with the condition never experience this symptom at all.  There are three different types of symptoms that can affect those with PTSD.  Intrusive thoughts and/or emotions are one of those types and it includes flashbacks and nightmares.

3.     It Can Make it Hard to Do Things You Love

Another type of symptom is called avoidance or numbing symptoms.  This type can include avoiding people, locations, or situations that serve as a reminder of the traumatic event.  It also includes emotional detachment and memory blocking.

4.     It Can Make you Jumpy

The third type of symptom is called hyper-arousal symptoms which includes things like being jumpy, easily startled, and having panic attacks.  Hyper-arousal can also make people feel very on edge all the time as if they have to be on high alert at all times.

5.     It Can Cause Aches and Pains

In addition to the PTSD-specific symptoms listed above, this disorder can also cause other less-specific symptoms like unexplained aches and pains, difficulty sleeping, and being moody or irritable.

6.     It Can Cause Depression

PTSD can cause or co-exist with other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and substance abuse problems.  It is important to have all mental health problems diagnosed and treated as treating one and not another can result in relapses, set-backs, and lack of progress.

7.     Gratitude Can Help

One strategy that those with this disorder can use to alleviate acute symptoms is to focus on finding three things in their life that they are grateful for.  The purpose is to shift the focus from the anxiety or stress of the trauma to the positive thoughts related to gratitude which can help keep symptoms from intensifying.

8.     Distractions Can Help

Making the conscious choice to do something to take the mind off of the event and the resulting symptoms can also help mitigate acute symptoms.  Reading a book, listening to or playing music, working in a garden, or any pleasant activity can also help keep symptoms from intensifying and getting out of control.

9.     Exercise Can Help

Running, hiking, or doing any kind of vigorous exercise can also help alleviate acute PTSD symptoms.  Try for 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise while maintaining mental focus on what it happening right now.  This can keep the mind from straying into unhelpful territory.

10.  Anchors Can Help

Those with PTSD can also use something called an anchor to calm themselves down and keep symptoms from intensifying if they are triggered.  Anchors are often a physical object like a ring, a stone, or a picture that offers a reminder of a happy time, place, or event.