Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

The Importance of Individualized Care

A young man standing with his hands a red binderIndividualized care can improve teen treatment outcomes.

Deep down, buried inside the genetic code, people are different from one another. Those minor differences can be magnified and augmented as people age, as medical conditions take hold, memories form and experiences shape the way a person thinks and feels. At times, these differences don’t matter, and people who are very dissimilar can find common ground and come together to help one another. There are other times, however, when the differences between two people come into sharp contrast, and the methods used to reach one person might be wrong for another person.

Addiction treatment specialists know all about how personal preferences, medical histories and memories can overlay a substance abuse issue, and they work hard to provide individualized care that is just right for the person in need. These are the factors these professionals tend to focus on as they develop their treatment plans.

Drugs of Abuse

Different addictions cause different kinds of damage. For example, cocaine might cause persistent depression in people who have been addicted while heroin might cause severe physical longing that’s hard to ignore. Some forms of addiction are best treated with therapy, helping people to understand the damage that’s been caused and the treatments that could ameliorate those changes. Other forms of addiction might need medication management, ensuring that a relapse to drug use doesn’t take place. At the beginning of a treatment program, professionals work hard to determine what drugs the person has been using, so they’ll know what kind of therapy might be appropriate.

Underlying Conditions

Addictions can walk hand in hand with mental health concerns, and people who have these kinds of dual diagnosis issues might need different treatments when compared to people who just have addictions. For example, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance suggests that people who have dual diagnosis issues might need to see multiple treatment professionals, some for addiction and some for mental health, and they might need to attend more than one kind of support group. Treatment programs may provide clients with rigorous mental health testing, so professionals can both spot and assess any issue that might be lying beneath an addiction.

Addictive substances can also cause damage to the brain’s circuitry, and this can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to participate in rehab. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that marijuana use may lower IQ levels in users. It’s possible that this damage could be due, in part, to the poor socioeconomic conditions people face due to addiction, but still, those who have been addicted to this drug may not be able to:

  • Think clearly
  • Remember complicated concepts with ease
  • Control their impulses
  • Focus for long periods of time

Amending therapy techniques, developing individualized schedules and more could help therapy programs to account for this kind of damage, and it could help people to heal in a whole new way.

Special Considerations for Teens

Adolescents are often lumped together under one banner, but teens may differ from one another in a variety of very profound ways. Some teens might be very young at heart, vulnerable and shy, while others might be closer to adulthood and they might be full of conflict and anger. Reaching through to these teens requires a customized, individualized approach that takes into account where these children are on the developmental scale, and what kind of steps they might need to take in order to succeed as adults.

The National Institute of Mental Health also suggests that teens are going through significant brain changes, as they are developing new connections and rewiring at a rapid pace, and that work continues until the early 20s. Teens in the early stages of the process might be more impulsive and prone to rash behavior, while others might be more apt to think carefully before they act. Assessing brain health might be difficult, but it’s important for professionals to understand how their clients think, so they can help them to make better choices.

Teens from different cultural backgrounds might also need tailored therapies that are sensitive to their traditions. Some cultures, for example, foster very large families with tight connections among distant relatives. Family therapy for these teens might include many more people than family therapy for a teen from a different cultural background would. It’s yet another way care might be individualized for teens.

At Muir Wood, we provide individualized care for all of our clients, and we’re happy to outline how we assess and treat addictions in the adolescent boys we serve. Please call us for more information.