402. Surviving the Dark Caves of Young Adulthood and Adolescence: Preventing and Overcoming Addictions, Depression, Anxiety, Suicidality, and Apathy

Addiction and Substance Abuse, Saturday, April 13th 1:15 – 2:45 PM ,, Workshops


Adrian Hickmon, Ph.D.

CE Credits


Professional CE Credit

Psychologists, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Chemical Dependency Counselors

IBCC Credit

Pastoral Counselors, Pastors, Teachers, Coaches,

CME/CEU Credit

Medical Doctors, Osteopathic Physicians, Physicians Assistants, Nurse Practitioners




Addictions, depression, anxiety, apathy, and suicide are on a fast rise with Millennials and Generation Z. Addiction and many mental illnesses are not entities within themselves but instead adaptive survival responses to overwhelming and unbearable experiences. The pervasiveness of loneliness, disconnection, pain, fear, and emptiness creates a “Dark Cave” experience where good-hearted young people search for ways to survive. Psychologists, licensed mental health professionals, medical personnel, and ministry leaders need to be aware of the three battlefronts that are keeping a client from truly finding healing: coping behaviors, core being, and family context. Each battlefront must be addressed for the client to move into lasting recovery. Too often, sobriety, abstinence, or symptom alleviation are the goals, while “what lies beneath” is ignored or given lip service, then ignored by traditional medical model-focused professionals. This presentation provides a conceptual framework that makes sense of the struggle, de-pathologizes survival efforts, and respectfully guides repair processes on all fronts to make suffering count for the client to move toward lifelong recovery.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

Describe the underpinnings of addiction, depression, and anxiety.

Construct a story picture with clients and themselves that answers the question, “What makes this make sense?”

Discuss the repercussions of unhealed trauma from a Polyvagal Theory perspective and techniques to heal traumatic experiences.