It is sometimes all too easy for parents and other family members to write off teenage problems as “a fad” or something that the teen will “grow out of. But in fact, teenage addiction is all too real and requires specialist input in order to successfully intervene and treat the teen addict.
Nobody is really sure what causes a teenager to go from experimenting with alcohol or drugs to becoming an addict. The insecurities many teenagers feel in today’s high pressure and often highly image-conscious society can cause many to sink into substance abuse or self-destructive behaviours. This can either be out of a wish to rebel against the perceived status quo or just to try to cope with their own negative feelings.
How Do I Know If My Teen Needs Treatment?
It is thought that when treating a teen for addiction, the best outcome is achieved when the entire family are involved and for this reason, it is important to seek help as soon as you suspect the young person may be struggling with addiction.
You may notice a shift in their behaviour with the young person struggling at school or losing friendships but you may also notice items relating to their addiction such as empty alcohol bottles, needles, lighters and other things relating to drug use. You may also notice physical signs such as red eyes, the smell of smoke or alcohol or changes in mood.
From the moment you come to realise that your teen has a problem, you should access professional support, this will prevent the situation from worsening and more damage being done.
Why Do Teenagers Develop Addictions?
When addiction occurs, it is scientifically proven that the brain releases lower amounts of the hormones associated with mood regulation – dopamine and serotonin, this results in the person becoming addicted to a substance that can alter these levels and produce temporary feelings of improved mood.
Young people are likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol in a social capacity, to begin with, and very rarely does anyone do this with the intention of becoming addicted. But as the teen uses the substance more and more, an addiction can develop. However, owing to the still-developing brain, addiction in teenagers can come on much more quickly than it might in an adult.
Understanding Teenage Addiction
One of the most pressing issues with addiction in younger people is that it can have a very negative impact on them well into adulthood and often throughout the rest of their lives, especially is the problem is left untreated.
Teenagers are going through many stages of development in both a physical and mental capacity and as such, are more susceptible to addiction than one might first think. Many teens will experiment with drugs and alcohol without realising the serious impact that this can have on both their health and their lifestyle.
This naivety can lead to accidental addiction. In addition to this, many teenagers are unable to cope with what adults may deem as ‘minor problems’ and may self-medicate using drugs or alcohol, therefore requiring them to need the assistance of a teenage rehab program.
Many factors might lead a teen to try using a substance such as issues within the family or home, struggling with school, peer pressure and exposure to substance via a parent or other trusted adult.
What Are the Early Warning Signs?
Addiction comes with its own set of warning signs and if you begin to notice any of these in a teen or young person, it is important to act quickly and try to help them find a teenage rehab program to aid them in their recovery.
- Deterioration in behaviour at school including being disruptive in the classroom and struggling academically
- Loss of friendships and appearing as a ‘loner’
- Signs of withdrawal such as sweating, shaking and dilated pupils
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Secretive or guilty behaviour
These signs should never be ignored and immediate advice from a person of authority should be sought as quickly as possible.
Who Is at Risk?
Whilst addiction can happen in anyone, certain teens may be more susceptible to developing an addiction. It is thought that the earlier a person begins using a substance, the more likely it is that they will develop an addiction.
In addition to this, children who have a family history of addiction or who suffer from mental health problems may be more at risk than those who do not. This may also be a concern for those children who have issues such as ADHD and depression but have not received a diagnosis, self-medicating as a result.
What’s more, children who have experienced some kind of trauma such as abuse or neglect or the loss of a loved one t an early age may find that addiction becomes a problem more easily.
The environment can also play a part, with children who come from a home where substance use is normalised being more at risk of developing an addiction.
What Addictions Do We Treat?
Addiction is an illness which can take many forms and we can work with teenagers who are struggling with a variety of addictions. These are as follows:
- Alcoholism in teens, this includes binge drinking and alcohol dependency. For many teens struggling with alcohol, they may deny that there is a problem and you may notice drastic changes to their behaviour including struggling at school, problems waking up each morning and skipping classes
- Drug abuse often begins as a result of peer pressure and your teen’s desire to experiment; however, this can quickly turn to an addiction and it is important to get help for this. Whilst a young person may start off trying drugs such as cannabis, this can soon escalate to more dangerous drugs such as heroin
- Eating disorders come in many forms such as anorexia, binge eating and bulimia and are considered to be very serious mental health conditions. These may occur for a variety of reasons such as genetic disposition, emotional issues and environmental factors but these must be addressed quickly
Why Does Rehab ‘Make Sense’ For Teens?
Perhaps one of the most prominent reasons that rehab makes sense for young people is that they are much more likely to be able to overcome addiction since they are still in the stage of planning out their life and experimenting. With the prospect of a bright future ahead of them, this may make rehab more effective.
What’s more, according to one ex-addict, if kids are given the opportunity to attend teenage rehab, they would be much less likely to carry their addiction into adulthood, giving them a more successful chance at a healthy life.
In many cases, people who struggle with addiction are extremely intelligent and this means that they may benefit from the structure and activities that a rehab program can provide, further adding to their chances of success.
Additionally, teenagers who attend rehab will have the chance to get ‘off the streets’ where temptation and peer pressure is rife, making this an option that truly does make sense.
Types of Teenage Rehab
When it comes to treatment for addiction, it is little wonder that there are a variety of options, with the disease being so complex this is a must. The first part of the treatment will involve detox in which the body rids itself of any traces of the substance. This is the only way to break the physical dependence that the teen has built to the substance and will prepare them for emotional and psychological support.
There are two main options for teenage rehab the first being an inpatient program. The young person will be expected to remain in a rehab centre throughout their treatment and in severe cases, this can be up to 30 days. However, for those teenagers whose addiction is not as severe, an outpatient program may be more beneficial. This allows them to remain at home but attend a facility frequently for a variety of treatments.
Inpatient treatment is advantageous for those who require a safe environment where their triggers can be removed and they can focus on recovering with other people who are facing similar struggles whereas an outpatient program might be more beneficial to those who wish to remain in school and rely on loved ones for additional support.
The type of treatment that will be suitable for the needs of your teen will be assessed by a healthcare professional and discussed with you at length.
What Happens During Teenage Treatment?
Sending your precious child to a rehab program can feel overwhelming for both you and them, but understanding what happens during treatment can help to bring some relief from anxiety and concern.
In years gone by, teenage rehab programs followed many of the same protocols as their adult equivalents but the good news is that more tailored programs have now been developed. These might include therapies as part of a group and one on one sessions.
The most commonly used techniques are motivational interviewing, contingency management and cognitive behavioural therapy. In addition to this, your teen will likely join a 12-step program and you will all take part in various family therapy sessions.
Understanding Therapeutic Methods for Teens
Each therapy used in addiction treatment is designed with a purpose in mind and it can help to understand each of the treatments that your teen will likely undergo.
1. Motivational interviewing
This is used to guide the young person to find their motivation to remain sober and is done in a way which is completely free from pressure and judgement, allowing the teen to make their own discoveries.
2. Cognitive behavioural therapy
CBT is used as a way of helping the young person recognise and understand their thoughts and how they affect their behaviours. They will then go on to find ways to cope with these thoughts in the future that do not involve substance abuse. These strategies can be used well beyond treatment and through into their adult lives.
3. Contingency Management
As a way of providing rewards for teens who are moving forward positively, contingency management is used. For example, if they pass a drugs test, they may be rewarded with a day trip or a monetary reward.
4. Family therapy
Family therapy is an excellent way to improve communication between family members and help everyone gain a better understanding of one another. This will, in turn, allow the family unit to tackle addiction as a whole.
A Holistic Approach to Teenage Addiction
It is important that when teenage rehab takes place, underlying issues are also tackled. For many children with problems with addiction, there are other issues with family, schooling or mental health problems. If all of these issues are treated together, the results may be much more promising.
In some cases, residential treatment may not be necessary but it may be in the best interests of the child to be placed in a safe environment such as a foster home whilst undergoing treatment.
What to Expect During Teenage Addiction Rehab?
The rehab program will begin with a detailed assessment of both the physical and mental health of the teen and this will allow the team to develop a personalised treatment plan. The treatment will be very structured and a routine will be in place as this is essential in a successful recovery. However, there are other things to take into consideration when thinking about what to expect from teenage rehab.
- Communication with the family is encouraged over the telephone after the first week of the program. During this detox phase, it is common for patients to not have contact with loved ones. In addition to phone calls, the teen will have face to face contact with family during family therapy sessions
- Going to rehab will likely interfere with your teen’s schooling, however, it is important not to let that put you off seeking help. The facility will likely assist your child in re-entering education once the program is complete
- Taking personal items such as clothing, books and toiletries into rehab is often allowed however, the use of electronic devices such laptops and mobile phones is usually not allowed
- There will be other patients in the centre but you will always have your own room. However, you will likely take part in therapy sessions with the other patients which can be very beneficial
Holding an Intervention
It can be difficult for your teenager to understand the implications of their addiction and will often find talking about it uncomfortable. It is important, however, to keep in mind that you are trying to help them and, whilst it may be difficult, it is an important conversation to have.
An intervention can be in the form of a meeting with a group of people who will speak to the teen about their concerns and encourage them to seek help but you may also use other media to do this such as a letter, email or video.
To be successful, you should avoid placing blame or judgement on the child and approach the subject from a place of love and concern, easing them into accepting there is a problem and it needs addressing.
You can contact your chosen rehab centre to obtain some advice on how to stage an intervention and this means that they can also prepare for the arrival of the teen.
What Are the Aims of Teen Rehab?
The main aim of a teenage rehab is to identify and treat behaviours which are self-destructive at an age before they may take complete hold over the life of the teen. If left untreated, this may result in loss of education, separation from family and friends and the inability to take care of themselves in their adult lives.
The program will cause the teen to challenge their ideas surrounding substance use. It will provide them with the tools and techniques that they will need to remain free from substance abuse for the rest of their lives.
Your teen will also be encouraged to find pleasure in life once again by taking part in a range of leisure activities such as trips to the movies, attending local museums and galleries and sports.
How to Choose the Right Rehab for Your Teen?
One of the first things to consider, and this can be discussed with a healthcare specialist, is the type of treatment your teen requires – inpatient or outpatient.
Once you have decided on this, you will need to choose a rehab centre that matches your child’s needs but also feels safe, comfortable and effective. You should consider the following points when looking at rehab centres:
- Does the centre provide a tailored treatment plan?
- Is the program designed with all aspects of your child’s life in mind?
- Is there the option for family therapy?
- Is this a program that is specifically aimed at young people?
- Is the program engaging and likely to keep your teen engaged?
- Does the program have qualified medical staff?
- Is the program sensitive to cultural and gender needs?
- Are there good aftercare options?
- Does the centre continue to monitor the patient’s progress even after the treatment program has ended?
Risk of Relapse in Teenagers
Sadly, relapse rates within the teenage community are quite high, it is believed that as many as half of all teenagers who receive addiction treatment based on abstinence will relapse within the first 12 months after treatment has ended.
However, in contrast, those who receive specialised treatment for their problems with addiction have a greatly reduced risk of relapsing. The reason for this is that this type of treatment is designed to tackle not only the physical dependence but also any underlying emotional and psychological issues.
How Effective Is Addiction Treatment for Teenagers?
Whilst there are instances of relapse, this isn’t to say that rehab is not effective. It is a case of managing addiction disorder through a variety of channels. Most importantly, when good aftercare is provided, patients stand a much higher chance of remaining free from substance use, making rehab more effective. Aftercare may come in the form of support groups, family support and finding new ways of enjoying life.
Getting Help For Teenage Addiction Today
Here at Rehab Recovery, we understand just how sensitive and difficult it can be for everyone involved in a teenage addiction, from the teens themselves to their families, teachers and concerned friends. That’s why we offer a specialist service designed especially for teenage addicts which will help families and friends encourage their teenagers to recognise their problems and get the best possible help so they can become healthy and happy again.
Our specialist teen addiction help includes
- Totally free and confidential advice on how best to start the intervention process with an addicted teenager
- Coping strategies and tactics for families and friends to help everyone contribute positively to the sometimes long and painful recovery process
- Referrals to professional services that specialise in the treatment of teenage addicts, from counsellors and therapists to rehabilitation centres and other forms of addiction treatment
- Help for parents in finding family counselling and other exercises that can help foster communication and remove any underlying problems which may contribute to the teen’s problems
- A comprehensive aftercare service to help teenagers stay healthy and happy once they are able to move safely on with their lives
For more information on what we can offer to help you through the anguish of an addicted teenager, give us a call today in complete confidence and we’ll help you start putting your family back together.