Best Approach to Treating Substance Abuse Among Adolescents

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Substance abuse among teenagers has quickly become an alarming issue that needs to be addressed by parents, educators, and medical professionals in the United States. There is an ever-increasing number of adolescents with substance use disorders (SUDs) due to misuse of illicit drugs, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and alcohol. In this article, you will find the best approaches to substance treatments for your child.

What is Substance Use Disorder?

SUDs are defined as the use of illicit substances at alarming rates and patterns that lead to distress and impairment of a person’s health. You may notice the symptoms of SUD within 12 months of the user’s first intake. SUDs are considered mild if there are only two to three symptoms, moderate if four to five symptoms, and severe if more than six symptoms occur simultaneously for prolonged periods.

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In California, the 2016 statistics showed that young adults aged 18-15 consumed the most substances in a year. Adolescents aged 12-17 accounted for 5.1% of the users, and although this number isn’t very high, it has been increasing at an alarming rate over the years. Fortunately, several treatment methods are available for adolescents who suffer from this disorder.

6 Treatment Principles to Understand

Looking for appropriate treatments for teen substance abuse is a tedious process. Contact us today for a confidential consultation, so we can help you find the right solution. We will help guide you towards understanding the different Los Angeles teen treatment programs available. It’s important you understand the following six principles of drug treatments:

  1. Any other health provider trying to assist may ask for your previous medical consultations and referral sources. Your child’s doctor may also ask for your knowledge about specific services offered by different treatment centers.
  2. Know that your family must be involved during the process. Family members, especially parents, can address most behavioral issues regarding substance abuse. This will improve family functioning and the outcome of SUDs treatments. Your child’s doctor may also assess your parenting style and your parent-child relationship.
  3. Your child may be given evidence-based treatment interventions. The primary purpose of undergoing behavioral or psychosocial interventions is to minimize the risks of SUDs on your teen’s well-being. Fine-tuned and well-constructed treatment processes are proven to provide efficient results in the long term.
  4. They may evaluate or assess your child for co-occurring psychiatric disorders. Existing mental health conditions, such as depression, ADHD, and personality disorders, may worsen if they are not considered before providing the necessary treatments for SUDs. Some teen drug use cases may be treated by taking medications, which may cause drastic side effects on their brain or overall health. This means that it is crucial to determine any co-occurring mental issues first. If possible, you must be the one to initiate the conversation about your child’s condition and medicine intake.
  5. Your child may experience symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal is usually considered the most challenging part of a drug treatment process. Your child may experience cravings, and you must understand what steps you should take to prevent them from returning to these substances.
  6. Your child may undergo laboratory tests and initial screening. Your child’s urine and blood might be tested for drugs before providing the necessary treatment. It is essential to understand the number of substances present in the system. This can also help professionals know which maintenance medications are needed and which treatments to provide.

Treatment Process for Adolescents

Generally, there are two steps that adolescents may undergo when treating SUDs: detox and therapies. They have different approaches since detox addresses physical withdrawal symptoms, while therapy sessions mainly concern your child’s behavioral and cognitive functioning.

Detox

Even if your child wants to stop using drugs voluntarily, it may not be enough. When your teen stops taking an addictive substance, they will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. They may also relapse or exhibit risky behaviors to satisfy their cravings. This is where detoxification comes in. Detox is considered the first step to treating drug abuse and SUDs.

Detox is the process of removing all harmful toxins in the body. It addresses the physical effects of substance abuse, such as drugs and alcohol, by “clearing out” anything that may affect the health and well-being of your child. The four ultimate goals of detox are the following:

  • Physical stabilization.
  • Physical and mental healing.
  • Prerequisite for treatment.
  • Development of future life plans.

Therapies

Addictive substances affect the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which influences judgment, reasoning, goal-setting, and decision-making abilities. Moreover, adolescence is when the brain starts to fully mature, so your child might seek thrilling experiences without considering the consequences.

The second step to drug rehabilitation for teens is therapy. Those with diagnosed SUDs may experience sudden changes in cognitive and behavioral aspects. One example of a comprehensive therapy that addresses SUDs is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a structured type of psychotherapy that provides talk sessions with psychiatrists or other professionals in the field. The long-term goal of CBT is to allow your child to view themselves and their situation positively. Key Transitions offers a wide range of therapies, each catered indivudally to your adolescents issues. We mix individual teen therapy and group teen therapy to better help your adolescent.

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Medications for Treatment

Aside from detox and therapies, SUDs may also be treated by taking medications prescribed by your child’s doctor or psychiatrist. It is necessary to consult them before taking any medications because these may worsen, trigger, or prolong the adverse effects of the addictive substances in your child’s system.

Medicines and other medical devices help minimize withdrawal symptoms during the detox process. Generally, detox is not the treatment itself; it is considered an initial step into the process. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States permitted using an electronic stimulation device called NSS-2 Bridge in 2017. It is placed behind the ear and helps reduce withdrawal symptoms from opioid abuse by stimulating specific brain nerves related to drug consumption. Furthermore, the FDA approved the use of Lofexidine medicine for the same purpose.

In hopes of preventing relapse, patients are also prescribed medications that help re-establish normal cognitive functioning. For example, Naltrexone helps block the adverse effects of opioids at the brain’s receptor sites. It can also minimize cravings. Bupropion and Varenicline are prescribed for nicotine abusers to help them quit. Lastly, the effects of alcohol abuse may be suppressed by medications such as Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram.

Teens with existing medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure may be given medications that can minimize the effects of drug abuse while preventing their conditions from worsening.

When Does My Teen Need to Undergo Residential Rehab?

Rehabilitation processes may be done with outpatient programs, wherein your child is allowed to go home after their treatment sessions with the doctor. However, several factors may lead your child to move to a residential rehab instead.

  • If Outpatient Treatment is Not Successful
  • Key Transitions teen outpatient treatment Program has a high success rate, with adolescents achieving wellness within themselves and creating real change for the long-term. But we’re all human, and some teens need a higher level of care. This is when your child can undergo wilderness therapy, inpatient or residential treatment to provide a more exclusive environment for their healing process.
  • Your Child Relapses Repeatedly
  • If your child continues to consume substances, it may be due to a lack of supervision. Since you likely cannot watch over your child at all times, professional supervision is sometimes required. This can only be made possible with residential rehab.
  • They Need Professional Help
  • Not all parents are trained for these kinds of situations. As much as you want to help your child or speed up their healing process, some interventions require medical knowledge. 

Treatment is Done, What To Do Next?

You may wonder what’s in store for your teen after completing these programs. Treatment centers are established mainly to heal teens and young adults with mental health problems or a history of drug abuse or addiction. However, recovery takes time, support, and guidance. Transitional living programs can offer your teen a residential area where they can stay as they prepare to get back into the outside world. 

Reach Out to Us

Key Transitions offers Adolescent mental health treatment programs, teen depression treatmentteen anxiety treatment programs, and teen substance abuse treatment programs for marijuanaalcoholopioidscocaine, and more. The Teen Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program (Teen IOP) is a comprehensive approach that treats adolescents battling severe substance abuse, behavioral issues, or even mental health problems.

We also provide Teen Sober Living to patients who have completed treatment programs. This aftercare program approach aims to give warmth and freedom to your child while being supervised during well-planned daily activities with other patients. If you are looking for treatment centers in Los Angeles, feel free to reach out to us. We will provide the best treatment for your child.

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