Here are some important considerations when making the decision to get drug abuse treatment for your teen.
No single treatment is appropriate for all teens. It’s important to match treatment settings, interventions, and services to your child’s particular problems and needs. This is critical to your child’s ultimate success in returning to healthy functioning in the family, school, and community.
Effective treatment must attend to the multiple needs of the individual ― not just the drug use. There are always issues stemming from emotional pain that underlie drug abuse and other risky and self-destructive behaviors. The trauma of being bullied, abused, or rejected brings forth false beliefs, as described in the excellent article, An Addict’s Story: What’s at the Root of Addictions. Your teen also needs to be empowered with the skills to correct his/her faulty thinking and poor problem-solving, as addressed in The Total Transformation Program.
Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical for positive change. Each person is different and the amount of time in treatment will depend on your teen’s problems and needs. Research shows that for most people, the beginning of improvement begins at about three months into treatment. After this time, there is usually further progress toward recovery. Length of stay in a residential program can range from 8 to 18 months, depending upon your child’s willingness and commitment.
Counseling and other behavioral therapies are critical components of effective treatment. In therapy, teens face their issues, build skills to resist self-destructive behavior, replace drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding behaviors, and improve thinking and problem-solving skills. Behavioral therapy also helps interpersonal relationships and your teen’s ability to thrive in the home and community.
Addicted or drug-abusing adolescents with co-existing mental disorders should have both disorders treated in an integrated way. Because drug abuse and mental disorders often occur in the same individual, your teen should be evaluated and treated for the co-occurrence of the other type of disorder.
Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective. Strong motivation can aid the treatment process. Sanctions or enticements in the family, school, or juvenile justice system can increase the success of treatment interventions.
Recovery from addiction can be a long-term process and frequently requires multiple episodes of treatment. As with other chronic illnesses, relapses to the old habits of behavior can occur during or after successful treatment. Your teen may require prolonged treatment and multiple episodes of treatment to turn around self-destructive behavior. Counseling and participation in support groups during and following treatment is essential. Parents should ask what aftercare treatment services are available for continued or future treatment.