In a study published in the journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, researchers found that of adolescents who entered hospitals due to substance abuse or dependence, over 50 percent had no documentation regarding subsequent treatment. It’s unclear why these teens weren’t given follow-up care, but it’s possible that they didn’t get help because they didn’t ask for it. Perhaps if teens knew what rehab could do and how it could help them, they’d be more likely to ask for and get the help they’ll need in order to leave an addiction behind. This article will attempt to fill that knowledge gap.
Learning, Not Punishment
Teens might mistakenly believe that rehab is about cold showers, yelling, insults, and marching. In short, they might believe that they’ll be sent to a facility in which they’ll be punished for their addictions and the distress their behaviors have caused their families. It’s a scary thought, and thankfully, it’s unlikely to become a reality. In a structured treatment program for addiction, teens aren’t taken to task for their addictions, and they’re not asked to atone for mistakes they’ve made in the past. Instead, teens are given the opportunity to learn and grow, and much of this work happens in therapy.
In an intensive inpatient rehab program, teens are often asked to participate in some kind of therapy on a daily basis, including:
- Individual therapy for addiction
- Private therapy for mental illness
- Group therapy for addiction
- Family therapy
Outpatient addiction programs might also use these treatment models, but the teens might only go to therapy once or twice per week. It’s hard work, and it tends to last for a long period of time. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, programs might last for 90 days or even longer, as programs that don’t last that long don’t tend to be of great value.
Opportunities to Grow
Addictions can be the center of an addicted person’s life; activities, friendships and more might all come second to the need to use and abuse substances. As a result, teens with addictions may seem unable to make friends with those who don’t use drugs, and they may be unsure about how to plan for the future. Therapy can be crucial, but rehab programs can also provide a social component vital for healing. Teens might be provided with the opportunity to talk with other addicted teens in therapy sessions, and they might be asked to mentor people who are new to recovery. The idea is to help teens build the social skills they lack, allowing them to do well in the world when therapy ends. These interactions can also help teens discover new hobbies and activities they enjoy.
Support groups can also be helpful for teens who are navigating sobriety, and these organizations can also provide teens with the opportunity to meet sober peers and make new friends. Teens might be required to attend meetings while they’re in their rehab programs, and they might also be asked to continue to attend meetings when their programs are complete.
Just as no two teens are alike, no two addiction programs are alike. In fact, the best rehab programs tailor the treatments they provide in order to meet the specific needs of the clients they serve. By tweaking services in this way, experts have the best chance of reaching clients and assisting them with their very real and very specific problems. For example, a study in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse found that the risk of relapse in teens was 2.5 times higher when those teens had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Teens like this need treatment that addresses their mental illness and helps them to deal with the stresses the illness can cause. Other teens might not need this kind of care.
Customization takes effort, and it’s not uncommon for treatment programs to spend a significant amount of time in the assessment phase, looking closely at the needs of teens and trying to determine exactly what they’ll need in order to heal. Teens might be eager to get to work right away, but paying attention and being honest during the assessment phase could ensure that professionals have all of the information they’ll need to provide the right care at the right time.
If you’d like to know more about how rehab works so you can share that information with your addicted child, please call us. At Muir Wood, we believe that knowledge is power when it comes to addiction, and we’re happy to share what we know in order to help families heal. Please call us to find out more.