When you discover your teenager has a drug problem that has gone beyond an experimental phase, determining what to do next is often a frightening and complicated process full of questions. How did this happen? Why didn’t I see the signs? Will treatment help make them healthy? What methods work best? How will a stay in an inpatient rehabilitation facility affect their future? Here’s what you should know.
Why Your Teen? Why Now?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are many variables as to why a teenager might develop substance abuse disorder. Undoubtedly, hearing this doesn’t make you feel better when you’re trying to get to the root of the problem, but to help you understand what might have prompted the behavior, the NIDA outlines general risk factors and protective factors.
Risk factors occur in a certain domain and are lessened by protective factors.
- Early aggressive behavior is a risk factor and part of an individual’s personality, usually requiring self-control to alleviate. If a child has an undiagnosed mood disorder, undisclosed trauma, or a mental health issue, it’s unlikely they’ll have the tools to control this aggression. So they might turn to drugs to calm down, feel better, or fit in with a social group.
- Lack of parental supervision is a family-based concern usually altered with an adjustment in guardian or parental monitoring. A teen might try to push boundaries to see what they can get away with, and the parent-child bond determines the outcome.
- Substance abuse influenced by peers is sometimes avoided with more academic-based activities and achievements. However, if a teenager feels pressure to succeed in school or sports and doesn’t feel they’re meeting expectations, these emotions might increase the risk of use.
- Drug availability at school is a high-risk environment. Some protective measures are the noted success with anti-drug use policies and programs such as Lifeskills and Project Alert.
- Poverty is a common risk factor, as it weakens both family and community structure. But one combatant is a strong neighborhood attachment and integrated involvement.
Other Potential Problems
There might be other, more difficult problems your child is struggling with, including physical or sexual abuse, early childhood trauma, violence in the home, a physical or mental health problem, or grief.
It’s also important to note that if your teenager has a genetic predisposition for drug or alcohol addiction—which comprises up to 60 percent of an individual’s risk—the factors above might have a domino effect.
Even if you’re seeking drug treatment for your teen, the past will still need to be examined if you want to fully understand the cause for the behavior, help your teen resolve it, and move forward. Fortunately, all contributing factors, problems, and preventative measures can be addressed throughout treatment and in individual and family therapy sessions as you work together to come to a healing place.
Important Questions to Ask a Treatment Facility
Not every rehabilitation center accommodates adolescents. So as you research drug treatment, your first question should be how the residential facility addresses full-time care for teens, the medical professionals on staff and their around-the-clock availability, and what safety measures protect your child.
Also ask about the center’s core treatment philosophy. Modern addiction science points to addiction as a complex disease based on a combination of biological, psychological, social, and spiritual factors. For effective treatment and to prevent relapse, your child will gain the most benefit from a program that approaches healing with this type of philosophy.
Learn how the healthcare professionals at the facility determine the need for detoxification at the beginning of treatment. You should be able to get a detailed understanding of the process and how long it might last, if it’s medically-monitored, and whether there’s a need for medications during the transition.
Make a note of the different types of therapy your child will experience, including individual, group, and family sessions; what post-treatment support programs are offered, such as the 12-Step process and life skills training; and the positive reinforcement tools they’ll learn in order to handle life experiences such as school or work pressure, peer influences, and other stressful aspects.
It might also be necessary for your teen to continue their studies while in treatment, so confirm there’s a structure in place to help them do this, and ask how the facility coordinates with their school to help them stay on track.
Finally, find out whether the treatment center has a strong aftercare program, how long it lasts, and what resources it provides to help your child and your family stay grounded in long-lasting wellness.
Learn More About The Pines at Willingway
This might be a challenging time, but you don’t have to face it alone. Talk with a member of our admissions staff day or night to learn more about The Pines, Willingway’s addiction treatment program for adolescents and young adults 14–18. We’re ready to help your child and your family.