Sending your teen to an addiction treatment center is not an easy choice. Unfortunately, it’s an all too common scenario throughout the United States. Over a third of all American teens have admitted to using illicit drugs and almost 3 of 4 have had alcohol. While most of these teens will go on to live normal lives, a large minority will develop a substance use disorder, which can be especially devastating at a young age.
If you’ve exhausted outpatient treatment options or are considering sending your teen to an inpatient rehab center, here are four important things you should know.
1.) You shouldn’t wait for rock bottom
A common myth about drug rehabilitation is that you have to wait for someone to hit rock bottom before they can begin healing. This is simply not true and it could be especially harmful to your child.
As with any disease, substance use disorders are easiest to resolve the earlier treatment begins. This is especially critical for teens, as their brains are still developing. If they develop a severe substance use disorder at this stage, the changes could be especially drastic and have the potential to completely stop their brain from maturing, which can have serious life-long effects.
If you suspect that your teen has been habitually misusing drugs, it’s important to get in touch with a qualified psychiatrist as soon as possible. Not only will the early detection and treatment of a drug or alcohol problem prevent permanent damage to your teen’s brain, but the associated costs of recovery are also likely to be far lower as well. If the problem is detected early, you may not even need to send your teen to an inpatient facility.
2.) Family therapy is critical
If you’re taking your teen to rehab, it is important to have an active role in their recovery. Substance use disorders in teens often have a root cause stemming from conditions in the home. Without family therapy, treatment efforts may completely miss factors that brought about substance misuse, to begin with. Even if the problem did not stem from an unresolved family issue, familial support and understanding will remain vital throughout the recovery process.
3.) Inpatient rehab has many similarities to a boarding school
As the word “program” implies, teens enrolled in a rehab program can expect a fairly tight and regimented schedule. Teens with substance use problems will usually thrive in this type of environment, as it helps prevent boredom and helps keep them productive. Depending on the program, this schedule may become more relaxed as they progress through their recovery.
While different programs may vary in their approach and the specific treatments they offer, the ones meant for teens tend to offer the following:
- Early wake-up calls
- Academic work
- Medical check-ups
- Cognitive behavioral therapy sessions
- Outdoor activities and/or exercise
- Healthy meals
- Free time with recovering peers
- Restricted social media and phone access
- Early lights-out
4.) Rehab is important for the parents as well
Drug use doesn’t just affect the person using them. Seeing someone you love in the grip of a substance use disorder can be traumatizing as well. When your teen enters rehab, it can be an opportunity to have some breathing room, which can be critical for the healing process.
Your time apart from your teen is also the perfect time to seek help for yourself from a qualified therapist, if you haven’t already. Without the constant anxiety over what will happen to your teen or what they will do next, you can better contextualize the problem and approach it in a healthier, more productive way.
Addiction is a complex disease with complex solutions. Teens are especially vulnerable to the long-term effects of substance misuse, which makes it incredibly important to detect and treat any diagnosed substance use disorder, as well as any other co-occurring mental health condition that may have led to or exacerbated it.
If it does turn out that a teen needs to be enrolled in a rehab program, parents need to know that they are also part of the healing process. In most cases, the rehab program is probably not going to be enough to help with a full recovery if parents do not understand their role.
At the same time, parents should also take time to care for their own mental health. Having a child that is regularly misusing drugs or alcohol can be very distressing and can cause parents to make decisions solely based on anger, anxiety, or fear. By understanding this and taking time to resolve their own issues with a qualified therapist, parents can be better suited to understand their feelings on the matter. This will all ultimately help them make the right decisions for their child.