Finding out that your child has a substance abuse problem can be heartbreaking. You want your child to succeed, and you want them to have a happy life. It can be incredibly draining to know that they've begun to turn to destructive substances rather than healthy methods for dealing with mental health problems. Getting your teen into substance abuse treatment is a must. However, there are also some things you can do, as a parent, to help ensure that treatment is effective and successful.
Look for a program that focuses on underlying mental health disorders.
Substance abuse is not usually the primary issue, especially with teens. When teens turn to substance abuse, it is usually a sign of another underlying mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. If you treat the substance abuse disorder but never address the underlying cause, your teen is more likely to relapse. So, make sure you look for a substance abuse treatment program that really focuses on diagnosing and treating the mental health disorders that underlie and co-occur with substance abuse. A program with recognized, experienced psychotherapists and psychiatrists is generally your best choice.
Go to therapy yourself, and bring the family.
As a parent of a teen who abuses substances, you know this already: substance abuse affects the whole family. You may feel like you don't know your child anymore. You may feel like you don't know how to talk to them, or how to trust them. If you and the other family members attend therapy, you can learn how to handle your own trauma related to your teen's addiction, and you'll learn how to communicate with your teen more clearly. This can help you be a stronger support system for them when they are in treatment and when they return home. Many substance abuse treatment centers offer therapy programs for family members, so ask about this when you take your teen in for treatment.
Listen to your child's feedback about treatment.
Obviously, if your child says "I don't need treatment!" you know better than to take them seriously. However, you should take their open and honest feedback about treatment seriously. If they tell you the program they are in does not seem to be helping, look into other programs. If they tell you they would like a program with more individual therapy and fewer group sessions, you can listen to their request. Every patient has somewhat different needs, and your teen is more likely to succeed in a program that meets their needs and preferences.
Substance abuse programs for teens can be successful, but treatment is not always an easy path. Help your teen out by following the advice above. For more information, contact a teen substance abuse treatment center to learn more.
After developing a chronic physical illness, I soon began realizing that the disease plagued my mind almost more than it did my body. While my illness is not life-threatening, it was very difficult accepting that I would have to take medication for the rest of my life and eat a strict diet. After a year of depression, I finally overcame my fear of "exposing" my feelings to others and made an appointment with a mental health counselor. With her help, I was able to see the "silver linings" in life that I had greatly taken for granted before I became ill. I now encourage anyone who is battling an illness of any type to seek the psychological help they need. I plan to post lots of little mental health tips and tricks on my new blog along with advice for choosing a good counselor. Please come back soon!