When you reach the point where you realize that the young adult or teen in your family needs help for their substance use, it’s a frightening and overpowering feeling. How do you know they’re addicted? When is it time to look for a formal rehab program for young adults? What if they won’t go? The mind boggles. Let’s address some of these important considerations.
As a parent or family member of a young adult, you may be wondering when substance use reaches the point that it becomes a medical disorder. Is it the frequency of use or the amount being used? Here are some answers:
Substance use disorder, also sometimes referred to as addiction, abuse, or dependence, is diagnosed if certain standards occur within 12 months. Keep in mind that we are talking about illicit drugs, prescription drugs, or alcohol These standards as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association include:
Most of the time, when an adolescent’s use habits and related factors have been professionally evaluated, they will be referred to one of five treatment levels. These levels are arranged on a continuum of intensity and include:
These days, most adolescent inpatient and outpatient programs use a diverse treatment approach, combining several therapy models in the treatment framework The most common are:
This approach looks to reduce the use of drugs and correct the problems behaviors that often go with drug use. This is done by addressing the family risk factors such as poor communication, and problem-solving. This therapy is based on the idea that the family carries the most profound and long-lasting influence on the child and adolescent development.
This is a one-on-one therapy between a patient and their therapist.
When treating adults, both individual and group therapy settings with peers are used. However, studies have shown that group therapy can be risky with a younger age group.
This may be due to some members of the group may have a negative influence over the other members or even steer the discussion toward stories about having fun with drugs. Some research also suggests that the most effective treatments for young adults are those that include one or more family members in the discussion.
The treatment provider for your family member will probably recommend behavioral counseling. Behavioral treatment (commonly known as “talk therapy”) can help patients:
Family members can help their loved ones and learn methods to support healthier behavior and reduce harm, while still not approving of substance abuse. This includes:
Although there is no one-size-fits-all answer, harm reduction strategies are a way to reduce the social and health risks connected to substance abuse. Harm reduction might be a good first step for your loved one to take on the road to wellness.
In our everyday lives, we take part in some form of harm reduction. We wash our hands to lower the risk of diseases and infections. We use seatbelts when driving or wear helmets during sports activities. Likewise, there are things we can do to reduce the risks associated with substance abuse.
Any attempt to reduce use or lower the risks associated with substance abuse is a movement in the right direction. It’s probably not what you want for your child, but it’s a start.
Almost all young adult drug rehab treatment approaches are based on the abstinence model. Sadly, returning to substance use (relapse) is a rather common occurrence among adolescents. Among young adults treated for substance use problems, whether drugs or alcohol, one-third to one-half are likely to return to some substance use at least once within 12 months following treatment.
Current studies on adolescent relapse risk are mainly focused on two variables:
The role of this group of treatment and individual factors is that they interact to influence a young adult’s decision-making. Therefore, if too many relapse variables are present, the decision to use drugs or alcohol isn’t confronted and may even be strengthened. But, if there are few or no relapse factors present, decision-making is more likely to steer them to a drug-free life.
Even though they aren’t treatment or a substitute for treatment, self-help groups can be a source of support and encouragement during treatment and after. The best-known self-help groups are those associated with the programs Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Cocaine Anonymous. These are all based on the 12-step model. There may be the teen version of these groups, known as Teen-Anon near you.
Most treatment programs encourage patients to take part in these programs during and after formal treatment, as long as they don’t inhibit members from taking medications that are an important part of treatment. They can be especially helpful during recovery. Groups provide a source of support and encouragement to stay in recovery.
You should know that there are support groups for family members of people with substance use disorders. Al-Anon and Alateen can be helpful and a source of self-care for family members. There are also other groups that can provide support. Contacting local hospitals, treatment centers, or faith-based organizations may help you find groups in your area.
Contacting professionals for help is the first important step. You can start by taking your child to a medical professional who can screen for signs of drug use and other health conditions. Make sure the doctor is comfortable with screening for drug use with the usual assessment tools and making a referral to a treatment provider. If they aren’t, ask to be referred to another provider who is experienced in these issues.
You might want to contact an addiction specialist directly. There are 3,500 board-certified physicians in the U.S. who specialize in addiction. Also, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Finder on its website. Through their website, an addiction specialist can help you decide if your teen or young adult should be referred to a treatment center.
At Intrepid Detox Residential, we understand the struggle of having a SUD. Many of our staff members have made the recovery journey and understand it first-hand. Plus, we can provide treatment levels ranging from detox to aftercare.
It takes courage to confront addiction in yourself, or a loved one. But it is something that must be done. No journey starts without asking questions and taking that first step. Contact us. You need to talk and we are here to listen and help.Call us today. 844.684.0795