Parenting is not an easy job. As a mom or dad, you are constantly going to great lengths to keep your child safe and out of harm’s way. You are constantly teaching right from wrong, and encouraging positive behaviors and attitudes in your child. So when something like drug use works its way into the picture, the shock can be overwhelming. Even more devastating, is when that use turns into addiction.
Right now, you may blame your son for making bad choices and getting addicted to drugs. You may blame your daughter for hanging out and getting involved with the wrong crowd. But most of all, you might blame yourself for letting it get to this point. If your son or daughter is addicted to drugs, it’s time to remove all that blame – from yourself, from your child, from your friends – and to get help.
Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain; it is not a choice and it is not anyone’s fault. Anyone who uses drugs can become addicted – no matter their age, gender, or upbringing. It’s actually very common among teens and young adults. Over 740,000 adolescents (ages 12 to 17), and over 2.5 million young adults (ages 18 to 15), are battling an illicit drug use disorder today. Fortunately, in young people especially, addiction is also a very treatable disease with the right steps taken.
As a parent, it’s important to recognize that help is available. There are treatment centers specifically designed for young men and young women battling drug and alcohol problems. And as you will find, these treatment programs are typically gender-specific. Whether it is your son or your daughter that is addicted to drugs, gender-specific drug treatment will be completely tailored to his or her individual needs, interests, and goals. This is important, since boys and girls (and men and women) have different experiences with substance abuse and different needs in recovery. Let’s dive into that a bit more.
Drug Addiction in Young Women
Young women have different reasons for using drug than their male counterparts. For example, in young women, substance abuse often stems from or corresponds to a co-occurring mental health disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or an eating disorder. Women are also more likely to start using drugs as a result of a traumatic event or post-traumatic stress disorder. This includes physical, sexual, and verbal abuse, which occur more often in young women than men. As a result, young women’s drug treatment must be sensitive, empathetic, and well-equipped to address these circumstances.
You see, the unique experiences of young women and their reasons for using drugs can have a great impact on the type of addiction services they will require. If your daughter is battling addiction as well as depressive or anxious symptoms, she may benefit from a dual-diagnosis program. She may also require a trauma-informed, women’s program where she will feel comfortable sharing her story and safe at all times while she heals. Because drug and mental health issues are so stigmatized among women, it’s also important to find a program where your daughter will feel supported, respected, and encouraged throughout the recovery process. This may involve having strong female role models in recovery and peer support from other young women, coupled with a program that is tailored to young females.
Drug Addiction in Young Men
Young men also have unique reasons for using drugs. For many young men, trying drugs and alcohol is a rite of passage – into a certain social circle, into “adulthood,” or even into a group, like a sports team or fraternity. Like women, young men often use drugs to deal with mental health issues, such as negative emotions and disorders like ADHD, though they may take greater efforts to hide or keep these troubles at bay. Often, young men do not like to show when they are struggling, and may take coping methods into their own hands by drinking or using drugs.
If your son is addicted to drugs, think about his needs and his interests. Not only are young men generally less communicative in treatment, they are also less likely to be engaged in their treatment program. However, active participation in treatment will positively influence success. Find a program that your son will be engaged in and open to, that will tailor to his individual interests and needs. Seek a program that offers mental health services, as well as structured activities that will get him involved and onto a healthy regime. Men’s-only treatment is equipped with staff who are specifically trained to help young men battling addiction, and will provide many mentors (and peers) for him throughout the recovery process.
Getting Gender-Specific Treatment for Your Addicted Son or Daughter
As noted above, there are many gender differences when it comes to the experience of substance abuse. Gender-specific treatment tailors recovery methods and therapies to each gender, and gives them a safe space to heal without the pressure of the other gender.
Not only this, but gender-specific treatment also provides incredible peer support throughout the recovery process. This is especially important for adolescents and young adults, who consider friendships and peer perceptions above all else. In a gender-specific, age-specific treatment program, your son or daughter will be surrounded by peers in very similar shoes. This will make your child feel comfortable and supported in treatment, and reduce any sense of loneliness he/she might feel starting out. Many people in recovery feel shame walking in, due to the stigma that addiction often carries. By knowing that there are other kids out there, of the same age and gender, in a similar circumstance, your child will be able to move through the recovery process feeling as though he or she is not alone in this.
Similar to gender-specific treatment programs, there are also LGBTQI-sensitive and trauma-informed care centers out there for young people battling addiction – such as youth who are transgender or that may not identify with a certain gender.
Getting treatment tailored to your addicted son or daughter’s individual needs will be a crucial indicator of his or her success in recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), effective “substance use disorder treatment should be tailored to the unique needs of the adolescent.” This includes his or her psychological development, gender, academic level, relationships with family, cultural or ethnic factors, behavioral issues, physical needs, and more. To learn more about the effective principles of treatment for adolescents and young adults, visit our article here.
Turnbridge is an adolescent and young adult treatment center in Connecticut, specializing in helping young men and women overcome substance abuse through gender-specific programs. To get help for your addicted son or daughter, please do not hesitate to call 877-581-1793 today.