Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Does Your Teen Need Inpatient or Outpatient Marijuana Rehab?

Treatment programs for marijuana addiction can be provided on an inpatient basis, allowing the addicted person to stay inside the facility while treatment is provided, or they can be provided on an outpatient basis, allowing the addicted person to continue to live at home. The two programs provide similar care, but some settings might be best for some teens addicted to marijuana, while others might thrive in the opposite form of care.

Help for Withdrawal

Marijuana can cause persistent changes inside the brain, and according to a study in the journal Psychopharmacology, these changes can lead to mental discomfort and physical pain when people attempt to stop using the drug. These withdrawal symptoms can keep some people trapped in a cycle of use, abuse and addiction of marijuana, as they may know that using the drug could make the pain disappear. Those with mild withdrawal symptoms might succeed in outpatient care, as long as they had friends and family members to lean on during the long nights when the cravings are acute. Those with significant withdrawal might need to enroll in inpatient programs, so they’ll have access to therapies for their physical discomfort, and they’ll have supervision that ensures that a relapse to drug use doesn’t take place.

Type of Help Needed

Some teens use marijuana due to lifestyle prompts, including:

  • Boredom
  • Peer pressure
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Poor role models

These are the sorts of problems that can seem huge to a teen, but could be handled by relatively low-impact form of care. Other teens, however, abuse the drug due to underlying mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. These teens might need intensive therapies that can help them to understand how their mental illnesses contribute to their urges to use marijuana, and they might need to learn new techniques that could help them to keep both conditions under control. These teens might need more intensive help that’s best provided in an inpatient program, as they might not get enough assistance in a standard outpatient program.

The Role of the Family

Even though addictions can put families under a significant amount of strain, some families continue to have excellent relationships based on love, trust and understanding. Teens in homes like this might need to stay close to their parents, and they might benefit from their watchful and loving care. If these parents can devote a significant portion of each day to the care of their teens, and if they can continue to be a positive influence in the teen’s life, an outpatient program might be ideal. The teen will still have close ties and benefit from the family.

There are some families that don’t have these ideal setups, however, and some parents just don’t feel comfortable with the idea of taking an active role in the healing process of their children. Families like this might do a little better with inpatient care, allowing the child the opportunity to step away from the family for a time, and allowing the family to heal and rest on their own. The group may still work together on the addiction issue, but the distance might be helpful.

Getting Help

Teens who don’t enroll in treatment programs for marijuana addiction tend to grow into adults with very serious cases of dependence and addiction. For example, in a study in BMJ, researchers found that of teens who used marijuana, 7 percent were daily users by age 20. It’s harder to deal with an addiction that’s so entrenched, so getting help as teens could allow people to heal in ways they may not be able to access as adults. If you’d like to get help for your son, please call us at Muir Wood.