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Does My Child Need Residential Treatment? 

Residential treatment is a type of rehabilitation program for people struggling with substance abuse, mental health disorders, or a combination of the two. As its name implies, residential treatment means that clients live at the facility in which they are receiving care. Clients in residential treatment programs benefit from round-the-clock support and supervision, as well as continual access to clinicians, therapy, healthy activities, healing environments, and a community of peers walking the road to recovery. Among the many types of treatment programs out there, the residential pathway is commonly recommended for teens and young adults struggling with substance use and mental health.

As a parent, you may be wondering which level of treatment is best for your loved one. You may be asking, “Does my child really need residential treatment, or could they benefit from another type of care?” Many parents want to choose shorter-term or outpatient programs for their child, so as not to disrupt their schooling and everyday life. However, some cases simply require inpatient care. And young people often have the best shot at a long-term recovery, with long-term, residential treatment.

Why is Residential Treatment So Beneficial?

Residential treatment offers many benefits for youth. Those who are struggling with their mental health, or who have developed a toxic relationship with drugs and alcohol, may require a residential setting where they can focus on their healing. Residential treatment programs offer:

  • 24-hour watchful care, 7 days a week
  • A safe space to heal, removed from outside temptation and triggers
  • Personalized, long-term treatment plans for phase of their recovery
  • Accessible support staff and counseling when they need it most
  • Healthy meal preparation
  • Holistic and recreational activities to engage clients in the recovery process
  • Structured daily routines to bring accountability back into their lives
  • A community of others – of the same age and gender – in recovery
  • A comfortable living environment where youth can relax, feel safe, and find peace
  • Evidence-based therapy methods designed to help youth in recovery
  • Academic support services to help youth continue their studies/diploma
  • Family therapy to keep family involved in the recovery process

The major benefit of residential treatment for substance use and mental health disorders rests in the fact that the programs are removed from youth’s current environments. While in a residential program, there are no temptations from drug-using friends, parties, or even the opposite sex. There is also less stress and anxiety that comes with a residential environment. Clients are separated from their stressors—whether that’s a hurtful relationship, academic anxiety, a bully, or peer-pressuring friends—and can find peace and space within a residential rehab setting. This leaves less room for relapse and can help set the stage for a lasting recovery.

Who Needs Residential Treatment?

Anyone struggling with substance abuse and mental health disorders can benefit from a residential treatment program. However, there are certain cases that almost always warrant residential care:

  • Severe Mental Health Disorders
  • Severe Substance Use Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Co-Occurring Disorders

In addition to the above diagnoses and disorders, other factors can indicate that residential treatment is the best possible path for your child. These include: 

  • There is a lack of adequate support at home, or in the community
  • There is concern for one’s safety (for example, self-harm)
  • You’ve tried lower levels of care, such as outpatient or IOP programs, with little improvement

Mental Health America (MHA) echoes this sentiment, stating that residential treatment is a requirement for youth who need a 24-hour environment, due to the complexity or severity of their symptoms, as well as for those who have explored community-based treatment alternatives, but found those programs did not fully address their needs. They explain, “High-quality residential treatment programs for children and youth with mental health and substance use conditions are essential components of a continuum of care.” Residential programs can also prepare youth for continuing care, such as in outpatient and community settings.

Residential treatment is also recommended for those with complex, co-occurring disorders who can benefit from round-the-clock care. Only certain residential centers offer integrated dual diagnosis care, so it is important to look for this type of treatment program. Residential dual diagnosis facilities have trained doctors and mental health professionals working together to understand the entirety of a person’s condition – from physical symptoms to behaviors, emotions to mental state, and more.

Co-occurring disorders are not uncommon in children, adolescents, and young adults. With most mental illnesses surfacing by young adulthood, we often see that many youth struggle with symptoms of anxiety, depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder, and more. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) suggests that inpatient or residential treatment, with supportive housing, is especially beneficial for youth battling dual diagnosis. They explain:

“A person experiencing a mental illness and dangerous/dependent patterns of substance use may benefit from an inpatient rehabilitation center where they can receive medical and mental health care 24/7. These treatment centers provide therapy, support, medication and health services to treat the substance use disorder and its underlying causes.”

As noted above, though, teenagers and young adults struggling with any mental illness or substance abuse problem should consider residential rehab. Adolescents and young adults are at a stage in their development in which their brains have not fully matured—substance use at this stage can disrupt their future mental health and wellbeing. Therefore, professional intervention is vital for youth, and residential treatment provides an environment that is fully dedicated to their healing and recovery.

Signs Your Child Needs Residential Treatment

Residential treatment is among the highest levels of care a person can receive, due to the resources provided, structure enacted, and quality of care ensured within these settings. If you are wondering, “How do you know if your child needs residential treatment?”, there are certain signs you can look for.

It’s important to note, however, that no mental health disorder or substance use disorder are the same. Everyone is unique, and everyone’s experience with these disorders is unique. With that said, there are symptoms that can cause concern and indicate your child needs residential mental health treatment. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Sudden changes in moods and behaviors, including periods of intense sadness and elation
  • Lack of interest in once-loved activities or friendships
  • Intense anger or being angry and violent, often without apparent cause
  • Heavy substance use, most commonly marijuana
  • Illicit use of medications, alcohol, or other drugs
  • An inability to pay attention, even from activities they enjoy
  • Unexplained drop in academic performance or repeated school absences
  • Stealing money or engaging in other illegal activities
  • Isolation from family members, or constant negative interactions with family
  • Suicidal thoughts, cutting, or other instances of self-harm
  • Sudden changes in weight or appetite

Seeking the Proper Help for Your Child

As a parent, you want what is best for your child. You may be asking, “Does my child need residential treatment?” because you feel it is the best next step, or simply because residential treatment was recommended to you. While short-term, community-based, or other types of treatment may feel like the easier route, easy does not always mean “right” for your child.

This is a decision that you should not take lightly. The best next step is for you and your child to speak with a clinician or treatment professional. Talk to someone who can assess your child’s needs, symptoms, and diagnoses. You may always reach out to Turnbridge, a mental health treatment provider for youth, to better understand your options. In addition to understanding your child’s needs, we can talk to you about our residential treatment programs and alternatives like:

If your teen is struggling with substance use and/or a mental health disorder, and healing is your priority, it is worth exploring your residential treatment options. The ultimate goal of these programs is to help adolescents and young adults discover a healthy life in which they can take care of their mental health, build their self-confidence, and thrive without relying on drugs or alcohol. Residential treatment is thought to be the highest-level of drug treatment, providing youth with the tools, support, and resources needed to take on life, substance-free.

Learn more today. Contact Turnbridge – a preeminent mental health and substance use treatment center for teens and young adults – by calling 877-581-1793 today.