When your child is living with an addiction, it can be terrifying as well as destructive to everyone in the family. Finding a drug addiction treatment program that can help them heal is essential, and it’s one of the only ways to find sustained recovery.
The fact is that early use of drugs or alcohol among teenagers represents a significant risk factor. The younger the person is at their first use of any substance, and the more frequently they use the drug before they turn 18 years old, the more likely they are to struggle with a substance use disorder throughout their adulthood.
If your teen is using drugs of any kind — including alcohol, marijuana, or prescription pills — do not wait to intervene. Consequences of use can start right away and affect them for years if not the rest of their lives. These consequences include:
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- A drop in grades
- Loss of employment
- Loss of opportunities at school and in the community
- Loss of good friends
- An unwanted pregnancy or STD caused by unprotected sex under the influence
- A serious accident while under the influence
- A fatal accident, including car accident, due to drug use
Even if your teen believes there is no problem and their use of substances is not a big deal, do not wait to take action and connect them with the appropriate level of treatment services that will help them to get back on track.
What Should I Look for in a Drug Rehab?
Your search for the right drug rehab for your teenager should start by taking an honest assessment of who your teen is right now and the challenges they are facing. This should go beyond the apparent use of substances and take into consideration other issues that may be playing a role in why your teen is using drugs. These could include any of the following:
- Depression or anxiety for any reason
- Eating disorders
- Learning disorders
- Behavioral disorders
- Chronic illness
- Parents’ divorce
- Special needs of siblings
- Pressure at school for grades, sports, or extracurriculars
Why do these things matter? On the surface, many teens drink or get high because their friends are doing it, and they just want to hang out and have fun. But underneath that choice lies a complex combination of experience, genetics, feelings, and assumptions that inform their decision-making process.
For some children, drinking or getting high gives them a brief respite from the uncomfortable emotions they deal with every day. When they are under the influence of substances, they are not imprisoned by mental health issues, feelings of low self-esteem or self-worth, or the stress associated with trying to figure out how to manage their lives at school, issues at home, and preparation for the future.
Whatever the combination of issues contributing to the compulsive use of drugs and alcohol, it is important that the drug rehab you choose provides your teenager with everything they need to wipe the slate clean in terms of drug use and begin the work that will help them to prioritize their wellness.
Do the Criteria for Effective Treatment Change When a Teenager Needs Rehab?
Yes and no. Teenagers, like adults, require a personalized treatment experience that connects them with the experts, cutting-edge treatments, and traditional therapies proven to be effective in addressing the disorders that are contributing to the experience of addiction. However, the teen experience is very different from the adult experience of active drug use and addiction, and it is often recommended to keep the two separate as much as possible.
A well-rated treatment program that is great for adults will not necessarily be appropriate for teenagers who do not need to be exposed to the greater depth and breadth of trauma that comes with long-term use of addictive substances.
Parents should seek out a drug treatment program for their teens that offers any and all services required for a well-rounded healing experience. For example, a comprehensive program might include:
- Medical detox to address physical withdrawal symptoms
- Medical care to manage eating disorders, chronic pain, or other ongoing medical issues
- Cognitive behavioral therapy to address underlying assumptions and learn how to recognize how personal choices impact outcomes
- Alternative therapies to explore underlying issues through experiential activities and self-esteem building
- Holistic treatments to lower stress and provide self-regulation tools
- Tutoring and educational support
- Job skills training
- Family therapy and support
Though some versions of these services are available in adult drug rehab programs, when they are focused on supporting teenagers in recovery, they are far more likely to resonate with younger clients. This increases the likelihood that treatment will help them avoid relapse when they transition back home.
Are There Teenage-Only Rehabs? Are They Safe?
There are drug rehabs designed to treat teenagers only, and they are by far the better and safer option compared to enrolling a child in an adult rehab. In a teen-specific rehabilitation center, your child is surrounded by other teens — peers who are going through the same thing they are and can share their own experiences and relate. In an adult drug rehab program, your child would be surrounded by people with decades of gritty experience in active addiction that will not help their healing process.
A teen-focused rehab program can offer:
- Group therapy topics that speak to the needs of high schoolers who are planning to enter the workforce or go to college
- Activities that are energetic and engaging
- Peers who are close to their age and may share some of their experiences
- A schedule that provides for the sleep and healthy nutrition that a growing teenager needs
- Therapeutic intervention geared toward everyday stressors facing children
- Family support that focuses on the parent/child dynamic and dynamics among siblings and blended families
Therapies designed to address mental health disorders that are common among teens, including depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviors
ARE YOU READY TO GET THE REAL YOU BACK? GET IN TOUCH WITH A TREATMENT SPECIALIST WHO CAN HELP.
ARE YOU READY TO GET THE REAL YOU BACK? GET IN TOUCH WITH A TREATMENT SPECIALIST WHO CAN HELP.
What Else Can I Do to Help My Teenager Stop Using Drugs?
Positive support from parents can go a long way toward helping teenagers find their footing in recovery and potentially bring family life to a higher level than was experienced before substance use and abuse began. When parents are actively engaged in their child’s recovery, teens are more likely to thrive in recovery.
To encourage this process, it is recommended that parents, caregivers, and other important people in a teenager’s life:
- Learn more about teen addiction, how and why it starts, and what to expect from the treatment process.
- Identify things at home that can be adjusted to support recovery.
- Stop all use of alcohol and/or other substances in the home even if they are legal and being used by people who age 21 and older.
- Enroll in addiction treatment services if stopping the use of these substances proves to be problematic.
- Go to 12-step meetings in the community with their teen to demonstrate support and talk with them about some of what they hear.
- Attend family support group meetings like Al-Anon that are designed specifically for family members of people living with an addiction.
- Create a plan for house rules going forward that clearly outlines what is expected of the teen as well as other people in the home with appropriate consequences that support long-term recovery.
- Address their own emotional and mental health issues in a therapeutic setting to increase their ability to manage stress overall and assist the person in recovery in doing the same.
- Provide pregnancy support and parenting classes for teens with small children or babies on the way.
Do These Interventions Change Based on My Teenager’s Drug of Choice?
If your teen experiences physical withdrawal symptoms when they are without their drug of choice for any period, is violent in any way, or engages in self-harming behaviors, an urgent intervention may be the appropriate first step.
In these cases, outpatient drug rehab is not usually recommended because a residential program that offers round-the-clock care and support will be more effective in helping to ensure that your teenager stays safe and that others are protected.
What Can I Do Right Now to Help My Teenager?
Start by talking to your teen. Rather than arguing, attempt a civil conversation that gets at the why of what is going on. Skip the details of what drugs are being used, how much, when, and with whom. Instead, ask them about what else is going on with them, what challenges they are facing, and what you can do to help.
If they are resistant to the conversation, a more formal discussion in the form of an intervention can be helpful. As long as your child is under the age of 18, you have the right to send them to any treatment program that is medically necessary. An intervention does not end with asking them if they would like to go to treatment; instead, it ends by telling them that they are leaving now.
The process is still an important step because it gives you the opportunity to emphasize why you are choosing treatment for them, that you love them, and that you will support them through every step of the treatment process.
Are you ready to learn more about what drug rehab programs might be a good fit for your teen? The sooner you talk to your child and then begin the process of reaching out to different programs, the sooner they can start their journey toward recovery.
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