ADDICTION AND DRUG ABUSE
One of the greatest challenges facing any parent is the time during which they have to acknowledge and help their teen through a dependency issue. They face many moments of doubt, guilt, and confusion over where to turn and what to do.
The development of teen substance abuse is complicated by the fact that parents are dealing with brains that are not fully formed and with young people who lack the wisdom and hindsight of adults. This is also the time when teens are seeking independence and may act out in a rebellious manner. Parents see sometimes see this in their teen when he or she automatically opposes any parental recommendation, even one that the teen knows in his or heart that the recommendation makes sense and can actually be beneficial. For these reasons, teen substance abuse and dependency must be handled differently.
These days, a certain amount of adolescents don’t seem to recognize that regular use of drugs and alcohol can have harmful, long-term consequences. Most teenagers only understand the short-term effects of using illicit substances. Almost half of all American teenagers will abuse drugs of some kind while enrolled in high school. Marijuana, as well as its newer forms known as “Spice” or “K2,” remains one of the most common drugs teens tend to abuse. Alcohol and drugs like ecstasy and cocaine are popular too, but almost nothing compares to the rate at which adolescents are abusing, and dying from, prescription drugs. As over half of high school age teenagers have experimented with prescription pain killers or other drugs like Adderall that they’ve illegally acquired from a friend or a family member. Sometimes, immediate consequences aren’t enough to make someone stop using drugs, alcohol, or other unsafe behaviors.
KNOW THE SIGNS
Before you seek addiction resources, you must know what the symptoms of addiction are. A main word to consider is “change,” referring to changes in your teen’s behavior, appearance, and routine. They may be irritable, moody or extremely withdrawn. They may lash out at you. You may notice that they have bouts of mania or depression. Further, you may observe that your teen has stopped caring for their personal hygiene; maybe they’ve stopped showering regularly, look unkempt, or no longer care about their outward display. Routine is important for teens and you may notice that a teen’s usual way of operating has changed. This may include shirking regular responsibilities, such as skipping school or ditching work. They may no longer want to visit their friends, or they may take up with a completely new group of friends.
Substance Abuse Statistics
Substance abuse disorder is something that affects Americans of every age, gender, race, and socio-economic level. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 21.5 million Americans suffer from some sort of substance abuse disorder.
- Nearly 80% of substance abusers suffer from alcohol abuse use disorder, making it the most common form of abuse
- Almost 8 million Americans suffer from both a substance abuse disorder and an additional mental health disorder
- Substance abuse addiction costs the American public more than $200 billion per year
Treatment Varieties / What We Treat
In order to effectively combat teenage substance abuse, it is important to address as many different substances as possible. Many teenagers abuse multiple substances at once. Using a dynamic approach to treat each of these forms of abuse can help produce the best results.
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD): an estimated 17 million Americans are considered to suffer from AUD. The CDC reports that alcohol abuse causes 88,000 early deaths per year
Tobacco Use Disorder and Cannabis Use Disorder: both tobacco and cannabis (even where legal) have a risk for addiction and are especially harmful when abused by teenagers
Stimulant Use Disorder: stimulants—including cocaine, methamphetamine, and abused prescription medication (Adderall, etc.)—can be incredibly addictive and produce a variety of different long-term problems
Hallucinogen Use Disorder: psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, peyote, and other hallucinogens can cause long-term damages and detachments from reality
Opioid Use Disorder: opioids—heroin, prescription pain killers, etc.—present the highest potential risk for addiction
Benzodiazepine Use Disorder: these drugs (such as Xanax) are commonly abused by teenagers and adults alike
Substance abuse disorders can be treated in a variety of different ways. The type of treatment that will be best for a given teenager will depend on the type and extent of addiction, as well as the individuals themselves.
Experiential Treatment: uses positive experiences (such as submergence in nature, art, music, and poetry) to help individuals find a productive outlet
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): seeks to treat addiction by encouraging better emotions, thoughts, and actions
12-Step Programs: helps individuals with addictions move towards recovery one step at a time
Group therapy: utilizes the benefits of a community to promote cooperative healing
Residential Treatment Centers (RTC): focus on making total recovery a top priority
These are just a few of the different treatment modalities that can help teenagers suffering from substance abuse disorders. Depending on the individual, combining multiple treatment modalities may produce the best results.
RESOURCES COME IN MANY FORMS
You may want to confide in staff at your teen’s school for help as one of many addiction resources. If you personally appeal to teachers, counselors and even school administrative members they can act as teenager addiction resources for you. Through these individuals you can mount a team to supervise your teen’s behavior and attendance. You want to find people who know your teen and are close to them. Perhaps your teen will disclose details of their life to a counselor who is equipped to act if they believe the teen is in danger.
Addiction resources within your community may include local law enforcement. If local officers or administration are aware of your situation they can assist you in finding your teen if they’ve disappeared while seeking substances or while intoxicated. Law enforcement may even be more lenient when it comes to legal repercussions if they’re aware of your situation and if they know that you’re actively seeking help for your teen. Local support groups serve as an effective teenage addiction resource.
Teen Addiction Anonymous promotes the same 12-step program that’s available to adults. There are also teen grief support groups. Personal therapists are ideal teenager addiction resources who can be visited regularly enough to track progress closely. Through these groups, teens can affiliate with others who are having similar experiences to them.
The most important step to take is to get professional help from a person, people, or facility that has experience successfully treating teens. These facilities have the ability to reach teens in ways that parents lack. It is this professional expertise that makes the difference in the successful journey to sobriety.
Teen rehab also differs from adult treatment because teens are still dependent upon their parents for support, both financially and emotionally. Unlike many adults with a substance abuse challenge, the teen is usually forced at the end of his or her treatment to re-enter the same environment that he or she left behind. Adults have the advantage of mobility that teens lack.
The attention to teen mental health during re-entry is one of the crucial counseling steps that must be navigated by the treatment professionals. Properly executed, teens may re-enter the same environment, but they will have acquired a new sense of purpose and direction – one that does not include drug or alcohol dependency.
POLARIS SUCCESSFULLY TREATS TEEN SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Polaris Teen Center is a respected adolescent mental health treatment center that provides a safe haven for healing and growth for adolescents, including those with teen eating disorders.
Our adolescent treatment center provides an environment that supports healing within the whole family by involving parents and loved ones in the treatment process. We are dedicated to each individual’s future goals and ongoing recovery.
Many programs claim to provide individualized treatment. Polaris, however, offers truly individualized care because our residential clients are limited to six. As a highly focused adolescent mental health facility, our team develops an invaluable awareness of the unique qualities of each person and adjusts to individual needs.