If your child or a teen in your life is struggling with substance abuse, you may be at a loss for what to do. You may fear that you’re not doing enough to help or that your attempts to intervene aren’t effective. You may also worry that you’ll aggravate an addiction or cause distress that triggers a person to use if you challenge him or her to seek treatment.
Having a family member, especially a young person, who is struggling with addiction is a difficult experience. If you’re eager to offer your love, care and support, but aren’t sure how this is what you need to know.
Teen addiction treatment
Teen drug abuse is sadly all too common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that by the time adolescents are seniors in college, about 2-out-of-3 have tried alcohol, despite the national minimum drinking age of 21. Moreover, by the same year, roughly 20 percent reported using a prescription drug that was not prescribed to them.
Teen drug use is a serious issue and causes short and long-term damage to individuals, families and communities. Drug use in adolescence can result in developmental delays like academic and social impairments, mental health disorders, irreparable damage to brain functioning and increased likelihood of substance abuse problems later in life.
Teens who abuse drugs or alcohol should seek treatment immediately. As an adult in a teen’s life, you might wonder whether it’s appropriate to recommend intervention, though. You may fear that the substance use you’re aware of was a one-time thing, or the symptoms you’ve noticed could be the result of other factors.
Look for these signs of addiction so you know whether to push for outpatient substance abuse treatment or a more intensive program.
- loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
- change in friend groups or self-isolating from others
- falling behind in school, skipping class or having poor grades
- acting apathetic, angry, aggressive or sensitive
- changes in sleeping and eating patterns
- physical signs like bloodshot eyes, trembling, watery eyes, scars or marks
If you’re unsure whether a teen in your life is facing a drug or alcohol use habit, it’s always worth a conversation. A teen may be defensive at first, but clarify that your hope is to offer help and understanding, not punishment.
Parents and caregivers often wonder whether teen addiction treatment is effective. The journal Current Psychiatric Reports suggests looking for the following four factors when finding a facility to enroll your child in rehab.
- adolescent-specific treatment services
- a variety of therapeutic modalities
- statistic on relapse and recovery rates
- evidence-based quality assessment and research
When you find care that is catered to teens and designed with the best science and experience the field has to offer, you’ll know that the teen in your life has the best shot at success in healing from an addiction.
Types of treatment for teens
There are two main forms of treatment that are used to undo the effects of substance use: inpatient and outpatient treatment.
Inpatient substance abuse treatment for teens
Inpatient treatment includes any form of treatment that is residential. Patients who participate in inpatient care stay at a facility overnight and participate in therapy during the day. These programs include meals, social time, recreational time and structured, evidence-based programming.
This level of care is the most intensive and is definitely recommended for teens who have overdosed or faced hospitalization due to drugs or alcohol. It is also appropriate for teens whose addiction has escalated or who live in an environment that could jeopardize their recovery in outpatient care.
Outpatient substance abuse treatment for teens
Outpatient substance abuse treatment is any treatment where patients return home at night. Outpatient treatment can occur for one to ten hours a day and varies widely in intensity and programming.
Outpatient therapy is sought for those who have addictions that are less progressed or for individuals transitioning out of inpatient care as they make strides toward recovery. Outpatient therapy allows teens to continue with their normal lives and attend school and extracurriculars while still attending rehab.
How to support an addict in recovery
When your teen embraces recovery and attends a rehab program, you might be wondering what to do next. Here are the best tips for how to support an addict in recovery.
1. Family therapy
Your teen may be wrestling with past family trauma, dysfunctional relationships or a family history of substance use. It’s best to address these in family therapy and the mental relief of healing family issues can propel your teen through recovery.
2. Individual therapy
Parents and adults in the lives of teens who struggle with substance use may benefit from therapy themselves or joining a support group. Family support in addiction recovery is one of the best predictive factors of success, so it’s important to make sure you don’t get burned out of your role and take care of yourself, too.
3. Understand that relapse happens
Relapse, unfortunately, is common. While studies vary widely on estimates, most agree that over half of people in recovery will relapse at some point. While a full-fledged return to addiction is far from inevitable, it’s important to understand that setbacks will happen and many professionals feel that is part of the recovery process.
4. Keep the family engaged
There is plenty of evidence that demonstrates the benefits of family support in addiction recovery. While it surely takes an emotional toll on those involved, the investment of effort and love you each put in now will pay off in the long term and make your family stronger.
5. Try out the Light Program
If your teen is struggling to make progress in treatment, it’s time to try out the Light Program. At The Light Program, you’ll find care that is catered to teens and uses the latest research to support youth at this vulnerable point in their lives.
Your teen deserves the best care available. Call now to learn more.