We’ve all seen the classic movie cliche of a mom cleaning out her son’s bedroom and finding drugs, or the daughter caught sneaking in late, smelling like alcohol and creeping up the stairs. These dramatic moments on screen always seem to leave out the harsh reality of teen substance use, and the heavy emotional toll it can impose on the teen and on the family.
Many parents dread learning that their child has started drinking or using drugs and wonder what to do when the situation arises. This article is designed to be a tool for the parent or family member hoping to support a loved one in starting rehab.
Signs it’s time to get your teen involved in substance abuse treatment
Teen drug abuse is a rampant issue, destroying the lives of young people and disrupting families. There are numerous short and long-term consequences of adolescent drug and alcohol usage, including the development of substance use or mental health disorder, participation in high-risk sexual activity, engagement in illegal habits and decreased school performance.
Although an occasional drink at a party may seem like part of growing up, when do these behaviors become problematic, and when is intervention necessary? You’ll know you need to seek out a teen rehab center when you see these warning signs:
- Inability to complete daily tasks that were once easy
- Neglected appearance
- Changes in sleep patterns
- An abrupt shift in social circles
- Decreased school performance
- School suspensions or absences
- Trouble with the law
- Loss of interest in extracurriculars
- Aggravated mental health problems
- Drug paraphernalia
- Secretive, paranoid or withdrawn behavior
- Damaged relationships
Whether your teen exhibits all or one of these changes, calling a teen rehab center can help you to determine what type and intensity of treatment are appropriate.
Consider starting a conversation with your teen and other supportive family members about starting rehab. These are never easy conversations to have, but acknowledging the issue is the best way to help your teen.
What are the different types of drug rehab available for teens?
Rehabilitation treatment for teams could take several forms. There are levels of treatment available to match the severity of drug and alcohol abuse, and often several types of treatment are used.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the different types of rehab for teens. This is an overview, and independent facilities may use these or similar terms to describe various methods of treatment; if you have questions for your chosen teen rehab center, make sure to ask.
Inpatient treatment: Also called residential treatment, these are non-hospital live-in programs for rehabilitation. Inpatient treatment can last as long as a year or can be as short as a few weeks.
Outpatient treatment: Outpatient treatment can be conducted as a day program or operate outside of school and work hours, but participants commute home afterward. Outpatient treatment can be more intensive, meeting every day, or more casual, like weekly substance abuse education classes.
Partial hospitalization: This is a form of outpatient treatment, as participants still live at home. Partial hospitalization usually includes access to psychiatric services as part of treatment.
Counseling: Counseling occurs in a one-on-one setting with a substance abuse counselor or therapist, or in a group setting facilitated by a professional. Counseling may involve more long-term support and also address underlying mental health issues.
What will teens do at rehab?
The type of counseling may affect the format of teen drug or alcohol rehab, but the goal and much of the content will remain the same. Individuals will work to identify triggers to usage and learn coping skills to achieve and maintain sobriety. These skills will help a person to combat a negative self-concept and intercept damaging behavioral patterns.
Group therapy may occur in a class-like setting, with educational components and lessons or in a circle format with discussion and activities. Individual counseling typically happens in an office space and mostly involves conversation, though individual mental health providers may also choose to employ more interactive tasks. Often, drug rehab for teens involves utilizing some version of a 12-step recovery program.
What should teens know about treatment?
All of the above information is important to discuss; it’s just a matter of how you will do so. Having a conversation about why treatment is necessary can help minimize confusion or frustration. Specify behavior changes you’ve noticed and express why rehab is important now. If your child doesn’t know about the types of rehab, have an open discussion about available options and what each looks like practically.
The more you can collaborate with your child in the rehab process, the more likely you are to have buy-in from your kid. Seeking treatment shouldn’t be up for debate, but your child may be less reluctant when you talk about the options together.
Perhaps the most crucial thing to share with your teen before treatment is to express your support. For residential treatment, families are often allowed visiting hours or time to talk on the phone. Visit as often as possible and don’t make promises you can’t keep. Any person attending rehab needs that dose of encouragement and the reminder that you’ll be there when the program is over. Even for outpatient therapy or counseling, regularly communicating your commitment to helping in recovery is key.
Educating your teen about substance abuse treatment is fairly simple. Managing expectations about the time and context of substance use treatment and expressing support will be the best preparation you can offer. There’s no need to prepare an entire presentation of facts for your child; the mental health professionals in the teen rehab center will cover those major points and more. All you need to do is commit to helping your child seek a better life and find a provider you trust will support your teen.