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Always Hope In Malibu in Malibu is a safe, sober and spiritually healing environment for those in early recovery to learn and practice how to live a fulfilling and rich life as a sober individual. We emphasize all aspects of the healing process – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

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Oppositional, Defiant Disorder

Is your child persistently defiant? Are they angry and argumentative all the time? Do they engage in inappropriate or unlawful behavior, disrespect authority figures, deliberately annoy other people, and refuse to comply with your requests or rules? you may not be just “dealing with a brat” – your child may have oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), a mental disorder characterized by the DSM-IV as “a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that persists for at least six months and is not due to a mood or psychiatric disorder”. These symptoms are almost always present at home and may or may not be present in the community and at school. They can be extremely disturbing to the parents, other family members, and anyone who has to interact with the person displaying signs and symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder. Moreover, children with oppositional defiant disorder are far more likely to have ADHD and far more likely to develop substance abuse and addiction issues.

Before puberty the majority of cases of oppositional defiant disorder are in boys; however, after puberty, the disorder manifests equally in boys and girls. While problems initially appear at home, in time they affect other relationships, such as those with peers or teachers. These problems can lead to social isolation, depression, anxiety, or an escalation of behavior. In time, oppositional defiant disorder may lead to conduct disorder, which involves chronic behavior problems and usually includes substance abuse and criminal activity.

However, there is hope for both children and the parents of children with oppositional defiant disorder. First of all, the child needs to be assessed for ADHD and if they are diagnosed with ADHD, they should be treated for that condition first. Frequently, if the child with oppositional defiant disorder is treated for the underlying ADHD symptoms, the oppositional symptoms go away as well. In several cases, both the child and the parent will need therapy, and one of the more empirically validated forms of treatment for oppositional defiant disorder actually includes training the parent to alter their behaviors, which then alters the child’s problem behavior in the home. This is called Parent Management Training.

However, there are some situations where the parent cannot or will not deal with their child’s behavior any longer. In several situations, children are sent away to “boot camp”, rehab, wilderness programs, or other treatment programs designed to help teach the child new behavior. In these cases, it is beneficial to have a mediating factor between the program and the child returning home (or, in the cases of more adult children, their own place.) It is very helpful to have a transitional house where the child can learn to practice their behavior management skills and learn to interact appropriately with their peers, adults, and authority figures. When any of these conditions are met, the likelihood of symptom reduction is dramatically increased. Oppositional defiant disorder can feel impossible to deal with to parents, but it can be treated, and with help, is not a lifetime problem.