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Finding effective drug treatment for your teen can be the most complicated and stressful challenge to come with raising a child.
Of course, we never imagined that we’d need to seek out such help for our children.
But more and more we’re seeing teens enmeshed in a culture that’s become increasingly infused with drug use. And, sadly, many of us have seen this phenomenon develop in our own homes.
Not only is the emotional toll high when dealing with drug addiction in the family – there’s also difficult logistical challenges to deal with.
We need to exercise caution when making choices about when and where we should seek treatment for our teen.
While available therapies for standard medical conditions provided by well established medical providers, this can’t always be said for the drug rehabilitation industry.
If your son or daughter had cancer it would be relatively straightforward when it comes to treatment.
But when assessing treatment options for teen drug use we’re faced with having far less insight into the merit of the treatment centers.
This is because there are very few governmental regulations that govern teen drug recovery programs and very little research evidence available for their effectiveness.
But there ARE?good teen drug programs out there. You’ll just need to learn how to spot them.
Below are 3 tips that will help you:
- Become more educated about teen drug abuse signs and symptoms
- Learn about ineffective and potentially harmful treatments for teens with addiction problems
- Learn about effective methods for treating teens with addiction problems
- Learn how to ask the right questions when choosing a rehabilitation program for your teen.
1.) What are Common Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse in Teens?
Understanding the signs and symptoms can help you assess the level of drug dependency your teen is exhibiting.
Having good discernment is very important here because we as parents sometimes have a hard time telling whether our child is showing normal or unhealthy signs of behavior. Occasionally what can appear to be a sign of drug abuse isn’t actually related. Understanding the signs and symptoms can help you assess the level of drug dependency your teen is exhibiting.
Teens are known to be very secretive and hard to figure out. But we must try. If we misunderstand a child’s cry for help we might apply the wrong treatment.
For example, some teens with minor drug problems get sent off to rehab?centers that cater mostly to teens with more severe drug addictions. In this scenario it’s not uncommon to see the teens with very few tendencies towards drug use suddenly develop heavier habits because they are influenced by the more at risk teens around them.
Please remember this when reading the symptoms below.
- Lack of care for appearance. Messiness
- Bad hygiene. Not brushing teeth or bathing
- Burns or markings. Burns or ash marks on fingers. Track marks on extremities from needles
- Overly pale or flushed skin tones
- Odors on their clothing of smoke or chemical scents
- Heavy use of perfumes / colognes / mouthwash / gum
- Hidden paraphernalia in pockets / room/ vehicle
- Teeth clenching or grinding “bruxism”
- Appetite disturbances. Lack of appetite / sudden cravings “munchies”
- Red, bloodshot eyes
- Unexplained vomiting / nausea
- Poor coordination
- Memory disturbances
- Unexplained fevers
- Sores on the body
- Extreme weight fluctuations
- Skin lesions
- Highly irritable
- Frequent manic or depressive episodes
- Odd sleeping schedules
- Visible or expressed anger problems
- Severe anxiety
- Nightmares / night terrors / troubling dreams
- Extreme difficulty with eye contact
- Missing or ignoring curfews
- Vehicle issues including accidents and incidents
- Secretive / locking doors
- Lack of sleep
- Friction and intentional distancing with family members
- Abnormally withdrawn or removed from the world around.
- Lots of lying, deceitfulness and excuses
- Slurring of speech
- Prolonged hiatuses
- Severe drop in school performance
- Renouncing extracurriculars like sports and previously held hobbies
- Disciplinary problems at school and work
- Stealing drugs from home, work or elsewhere
- Stashing of paraphernalia and drugs
2.) Ineffective Treatment Protocols that Do Not Work Well for Teens in Recovery
Now let’s explore some treatment protocols that we highly recommend avoiding.
(Later on, we’ll discuss treatment protocols that we recommend you look for when seeking out rehabilitation centers for your teen.)
Treatment methods that emphasize “confronting” the Teen
This relatively abrasive technique is meant to combat?the patients denial about their addiction.
Clinically it has been shown counterproductive for both adults and teens. It can be especially traumatizing for teens.
The main problem is that it uses a patients denials as proof of their addiction.
Obviously, there are some definite logical fallacies in this method…
Mixing Adults with Teens in Treatment Discussion Groups
This can be a very bad recipe.
For one, teens are at a very different developmental level than adults. Discussions around adult experiences like sexuality and trauma can be counterproductive for your teens recovery.
Additionally, many groups which add teens to adult recovery programs are lead by staff that is untrained for dealing with teens and their own development needs. Because of this many therapeutic techniques that are applied are inappropriate for teenagers.
For this reason, it is best that you focus on finding a specialized adolescent program when looking for teen drug rehabs.
Be Wary of “Boot Camps” and “Wilderness Recovery Programs” for Teens
The Government Accountability Office has warned the public about these programs numerous times.
Thousands of reports of abuse and neglect have been filed and the programs are still running, albeit some have changed their marketing strategies.
These boot camp programs rely on very harsh and aggressive styles of treatment. This punitive methodology has shown little clinical effectiveness and can actually cause teens to cave in further into addiction.?(Teens who join programs that focus on reward-based incentives have shown far better rates of recovery.)
While not all wilderness programs use this methodology, it has been a common occurrence in the rehabilitation scene.
3.) The Most Effective Teen Rehab Centers are using the Following Methods to Achieve the Highest Recovery Success Rates
While there are many ineffective and problematic rehab programs available, we’re lucky that there has also been a surge in reliable, evidence based programs for teens lately.
Family-based Rehab Programs
Being close to home, family and community can be a great support in recovery for people of all ages.
Because of this, a good rehab program will work diligently to involve the family of the patient with the recovery process.
This has been shown to help teens to reinvest energy into his family, and visa-versa, as the family is able to gain a better understanding of addiction and how challenging it can be to go through recovery.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (or CBT) is a multifaceted, evidence based therapeutic approach. It’s utilized across many psychological professions and has been showing great results in addressing a wide variety of mental problems, including addiction.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy
This therapeutic approach utilizes motivational interviews and works with the feedback to better engage the patient in applying new behavioral changes.
It focuses on goal setting with specific help and guidance from counselors. This motivational engagement provides a great opportunity for the patient to follow through with their goals and develop interpersonal connections as well as support self-sufficiency.
In most instances of drug abuse, there are also other mental illnesses at play. Nearly 50% of teens who use drugs excessively also have psychiatric issues that should be dealt with.
It’s important to find the root cause of all illnesses if we want to heal them. When drug treatments only treat the drug use and ignore the root cause like mental illness or depression they might never be able to heal the underlying conditions that created the drug dependency in the first place.
With rehab centers that focus on dual-diagnosis’s, there’s a better chance to determine specific needs for certain patients which will help them apply the best treatments possible.
We’re nearing the end of this post.
We’ll leave you with some good questions for your teen to ask and keep in the back of their head.
- These should be of great help when deciding on different rehab methods for your teen.
- How will this program help me?
- How long do I need to stay here?
- What are my goals here? What do i want to accomplish?
- Is this where I want to be? Do I feel that this is a place that will help me follow through on my goals?
- How can i best involve myself in the decisions about my treatment?
- What’s the best ways for me to make the most of my experience here?
- How can I ensure my needs are met while i’m here?
- In what ways can i ask the staff to help me do my best?
- What can I do if I feel like being unfairly treated by the staff or patients?
- How can i make sure to keep important connections that i’ve made?
- If I have concerns about the therapies or the way i’m being treated who can I talk to?
?If you have any questions or comments, please leave a response below!?