According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, there is a strong connection between childhood trauma and substance use disorders. Adolescents who engage in problematic substance use are more likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, suicidal thoughts, violent behaviors and other mental health disorders.
Our VP of Clinical Development, Romas Buivydas, Ph.D., recently gave a presentation at the Lithuanian Cultural School in Los Angeles, CA to instructors entitled, “Today’s Students: They’re Not Worse, They’re Just Different: How to Understand Their Experiences, Needs, and Problems.”
The presentation focused on how to deal with students exhibiting behavioral problems, trauma effects, psychiatric issues and substance use disorders – all of which is important background for educators to be able to best support their students. Recognizing the signs of substance use disorders could be as simple as noticing a change in the student’s behavior, such as declining grades, skipping class, or a significant shift in peer groups, according to Free Spirit Publishing.
“There was particular interest in teaching students, both adolescents and even younger children, about mindfulness and how to practice it when eating, walking, and throughout their daily lives,” said Dr. Buivydas. “I actually led the attendees in some mindfulness exercises.”
Dr. Buivydas discussed The Candy Exercise, an introductory exercise for practicing mindful eating. The exercise involves selecting a food (candy, for example), and paying careful attention to the way it looks, feels, smells, tastes, and how their skin responds to its manipulation.
This type of mindfulness allows the participant to be present and pay attention to what is right in front of them. When focusing specifically on the food, your mind will be unlikely to wander to other parts of your life that might be causing you stress or worry.
For instructors with students experiencing behavioral issues, substance use, or trauma, teaching mindfulness can help them remain in the present moment rather than dwelling on other difficult parts of their lives.
According to Psychology Today, one of the challenges people with addiction face is the fear that they cannot change their habits. Research on mindfulness reveals that qualities about ourselves we once saw as unchangeable can actually be altered through mindfulness techniques, which allows you to create new and heathier habits in place of poor habits.
While dealing with less traditional students can be a challenge, it is important to note that instructors can have a significant impact on their lives and help them navigate the difficult times they may be experiencing.
If you or a loved one needs help, call Spectrum Health Systems today. Call (800) 366-7732 and we’ll help you find the right path to recovery.