Alternative therapies to get teens off drugs

BETHLEHEM, Conn. (WTNH) — There are alternative therapies for teens coping with mental health and substance abuse.

Medication is often prescribed to teens dealing with all kinds of behavioral health issues. But more and more treatment includes getting them off the drugs and teaching them how to cope through non-traditional therapies.

Nestled in the Litchfield Hills is Newport Academy where teens and young adults are finding refuge, the program was a safe haven for Leighton desperately seeking help for a number of behavioral health issues.

“The only way I learned to cope with my anxiety or difficulty concentrating was to pop a pill,” said Leighton.

At the time medication played a major role in her treatment.

“I remember saying to my doctor, you know for the first time I feel okay in my own skin.  Okay, just take it whenever your anxiety gets overwhelming. For someone like me, my anxiety was overwhelming 24/7,” said Leighton.

Alternative therapies like meditation finally got this college student off that quick fix.

“I learned there is a solution and it doesn’t have to be popping a pill,” said Leighton. “Before I was always someone that snapped right away so if something bothered me or caused me anxiety I would lash out.  Now I can take a chance to calm down, gather my thoughts, take deep breaths, practice some sort of meditation.”

“We see impulse control improve dramatically, we see the urge to act out decrease, we see self esteem increase,” said Jamison Monroe, Newport Academy Founder.

Founder Jamison Monroe has maintained his recovery from alcohol and drug abuse as a teen.

“One of our practices at Newport Academy is actually take kids off of medication if we see that’s going to be safe,” said Monroe.

Slowing down, focusing on breathing he says works on the rational part of the brain, not yet fully developed among those who come here.

“Meditation actually helps to grow the optimistic compassionate side of the brain and actually reduces the negative side of the brain,” said Monroe.

That along with other novel techniques and the more traditional approach are having an impact.

“And actually at the end of the day, two thirds of our kids come in on some type and typically multi-medications and only a third leave on medications,” said Monroe.

Other non- traditional therapies offered there include yoga, equine assisted psycho therapy, art and music.

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