|photo courtesy Sam Himelstein|
Sam Himelstein, Ph.D., works as a Licensed Psychologist in the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center and is the founder and president of the Center for Adolescent Studies. Dr. Himelstein is the author of A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Working with High-Risk Adolescents and Mindfulness-Based Substance Abuse Treatment for Adolescents.
How can mindfulness help kids reduce their use of drugs and alcohol?
Mindfulness as a skill can help youth learn to be less impulsive and more self-regulated, and to develop a stronger ability to choose in their lives. The idea is that we’re teaching young people to gain greater autonomy and choicefulness.
This is an empowered approach, rather than the norm that adolescents meet; adults basically telling them what to do or what not to do:
i.e., “Don’t do drugs. They’re bad!”Trying to force youth to change or stop engaging in a behavior by punitive means simply doesn’t work.