Our children are the future. They are the next generation, and in a way, we are counting on them to succeed. We are hopeful of what they might do. Especially as parents, we look forward to seeing how our children will grow and evolve over the years. Simply put, youth have so much potential.
If you have a child, teen, or young adult who has gotten involved with drugs, however, it can be easy to feel hopeless or unsure of what’s to come. Right now, you may be feeling tired and overwhelmed at the pain, worry, and heartbreak your young one has been putting you through. Maybe your son won’t listen. Maybe your daughter won’t tell you where she is. Maybe your teen is constantly coming home high or getting into trouble with the law. Maybe you’re losing sleep, worried about his or her health.
As parents, it’s important to know that there is hope. Recovery is possible – especially for youth who still have years ahead of them. Even troubled youth who are battling behavioral issues and drug problems have the potential to change, to recover, and to make a positive impact in the future. And the level of treatment they receive – the recovery center they go to – can have a big role in facilitating that change.
Whether you are a parent, an educator, a guardian, counselor or a mentor, know that you can make a difference. Choosing the right youth recovery center now can put your young one back on a healthy path and encourage a positive, drug-free future.
In Connecticut, there are several options for teenagers and young adults facing a substance use disorder. There are a few options for youth battling co-occurring substance and mental health or behavioral disorders. In this article, Turnbridge walks through some of the top considerations to keep in mind when choosing a teen or young adult recovery center.
- The recovery center you choose should be very-specific to a younger age group.
There are many benefits to choosing a treatment center that focuses solely on recovering youth – that is, growing adolescents and young adults. Perhaps most notably is the fact that youth recovery centers are specially equipped with clinical and support staff who are trained in early addiction.
You see, addiction affects youth and children differently than it impacts older adults. This is largely due to a young person’s stage of brain development. Youth under the age of 25 have brains that are still in progress – pruning, maturing, and learning more than they ever will. When drugs are introduced to this process, severe effects can take place. 90 percent of clinical substance addictions start in the teen years.
Youth also face different challenges and experiences throughout the recovery process. Teens, for example, are very impulsive and less able to make rational, thought-out decisions (again, due to their stage of brain development). Many are also less likely to engage in their treatment, often out of feelings of boredom, anger, rebellion, or skepticism.
That is where a specialized youth recovery center can help, in ensuring that youth get back on the path to recovery and learn positive, healthy habits while the brain is still in progress. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that, “When substance use disorders are identified and treated in adolescence, especially if they are mild or moderate, they frequently give way to abstinence from drugs with no further problems.”
In addition to having the clinical staff needed to aid youth recovery, these age-specific treatment centers also offer engaging activities and treatment plans tailored to teens and young adults. Youth are more likely to engage and participate in their treatment plan, when peers of similar age and gender are going through it at the same time. Youth recovery centers offer group counseling sessions as well as recreational and holistic activities throughout treatment, allowing similar-aged teens and young adults to get together and build meaningful, sober relationships throughout the recovery journey.
- The youth recovery center must focus on “living sober,” offering an array of behavioral therapies for teens and young adults.
A great youth recovery center goes beyond helping teens and young adults “get sober” – it helps them learn to live sober. This can be done through an array of behavioral therapy approaches, which the NIDA suggests a very effective method in treating youth with drug problems. Behavioral therapy is a type of addiction treatment that allows adolescents and young adults to proactively participate in the recovery process. On one side of the spectrum, behavioral counseling teaches young people how to cope with cravings, manage difficult emotions, and develop healthy behaviors that stretch above and beyond drug use. Adolescents and young adults in recovery improve communication skills, build healthy, sober relationships, change their attitudes and outlooks, and learn stress management skills.
Behavioral therapy also helps youth come to terms with their drug problems. Because the adolescent brain is not fully developed, it is difficult for many teens and young adults to understand the extent of their drug problem. Some do not see the reason they are in drug treatment, and therefore, are very hesitant at first. The mission of behavioral therapy is to help them recognize how their drug use is affecting their lives as well as the ones they love, and to get to the root of their drug problem.
- Dual diagnosis services should be offered at the youth treatment center.
Dual diagnosis means that a person is battling both mental health and substance abuse related issues. Mental health issues may include anxiety, depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, attention-deficit disorder, among many others. Because of causal effects that drugs and mental illness have within the brain, young people are at risk for developing co-occurring disorders during their early years.
On average, the onset of mental illness usually starts in a person’s teen years, around 14 years old. A person’s first experimentation with drugs or alcohol also typically happens during the teen years. If and when it occurs, substance addiction generally follows between the ages of 17 and 21. Mental health troubles like anxiety and depression are more likely to provoke the onset of drug abuse.
The thing is, the signs of mental illness and addiction are not always apparent in teens. The symptoms of mental health disorders like depression, and the symptoms of substance use, are often masked by what seems to be normal teenage behavior: withdrawal from family, moodiness, heightened sensitivity. It is important to seek out an inpatient youth recovery center that specializes in dual diagnosis, so that if a problem arises, it can be treated in a proper, integrated way.
- The youth recovery center should integrate academics into their programs when possible.
Academics are a core piece of adolescents’ and young adults’ lives – never should they have to put their education on hold to attend drug treatment. When looking for youth recovery centers in Connecticut, seek out a program that incorporates academics into the youth treatment programs. There are many benefits to doing so.
For one, students can continue their high school or college education while in recovery. Some treatment centers – such as Turnbridge – offer one-on-one tutoring, help with college applications and transfers, educational workshops, study halls, and also individual education plan development. In addition, youth can benefit from creating academic goals and achieving those goals while in recovery. At Turnbridge, we believe that academic achievement has developmental and therapeutic benefits, fostering ambition, empowerment, and self-confidence among youth in recovery.
Throughout the nation, there are currently 10 million young people (ages 12 to 29) in need of substance abuse treatment. Yet among the millions, only one in 10 adolescents who have a substance use disorder actually receive the professional treatment they need. Our children are our future – You can put your child on the path to the healthy, successful future that he or she deserves by choosing an evidence-based, integrated, specialized dual diagnosis youth recovery center. Call Turnbridge at 877-581-1793 for information about our recovery programs for young men and women.