When a teenage or young adult child has a problem with alcohol or drugs, it can cause parents to experience anger, fear and disappointment. Dealing with an addiction problem for any member of the family can be confusing and overwhelming, but when the addict is your child, it may feel even more so. It’s important to realize that wishing your child didn’t have an addiction problem won’t make the problem go away. How do you get help for him or her so that your family may begin the healing process? You’ve already done the hardest part, which is recognizing that there is a problem that needs to be solved. The next step is to find the right detox or treatment facility for your child.
Treatment Options for Addiction Recovery
The type of treatment your child needs will depend on what substance or substances he or she has been abusing and for how long. In many cases, by the time a parent finds out there is a problem with addiction, the child has been abusing substances for some time. Detoxing from substance abuse may be done on an inpatient or an outpatient basis depending whether the addict has become physically dependent on the substance. Don’t automatically assume that your child should be home while he or she detoxes, because that may not be in his or her best interest. Withdrawing from some chemicals, particularly alcohol, can be extremely dangerous. The decision as to whether treatment should be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis should be made with the help of your doctor or an addiction specialist. Along with guidance from addiction professionals, it’s important to educate yourself about addiction in general and adolescent addiction in particular.
Factors to Consider in Choosing a Detox
The addiction specialist can help determine the level of addiction and the best approach to treatment. He or she will make recommendations on the length of treatment required and whether your child would benefit from being in an inpatient treatment environment. In an inpatient treatment program, your child will live in a structured environment for several days to several weeks. If your child is physically dependent on alcohol or any other substances, inpatient detox will probably be recommended so that your child can withdraw from the substances in a medically supervised setting. Overcoming physical dependence is only the first step on the journey of recovery. Continued treatment may include counseling, support groups, lifestyle changes or a combination of these.
Differences Between Treating Addiction in Adolescents and Adults
When seeking treatment for adolescent addiction, it’s important to find a facility that offers programs geared to adolescents. Teenagers are still developing in many ways, on physical, emotional and mental levels. For an adolescent to have adequate treatment, staff should be thoroughly trained in adolescent development, and family members should be a part of the treatment plan. Group therapy is often helpful for adolescents and young adults, since communicating with peers is very important to members of this age group. Treating adolescents also involves consideration of acting out behavior, education and family dynamics. While you may be able to find a facility specializing in teen addiction if your child is between 12 and 17, there aren’t many treatment facilities that specialize in treatment of young adults between 18 and 25. Some adolescent treatment programs accept young adults in this age group. If your child is in this age group, keep in mind that treatment geared to adults may not be very effective for young adults. The right detox for your child should take into consideration his or her age group as well as which substances have been abused and for how long. You should be an educated participant in your child’s recovery, and you will be able to make the final decision of where your child should obtain treatment after consulting with treatment professionals.
Long-Term Considerations for Addiction Recovery
Once your child has gone through detox, it doesn’t mean that he or she is cured. Addiction of any type including alcoholism is a chronic illness. While the goal is complete abstinence from all mind-altering substances, for many addicts, the nature of addiction means that there will continue to be the possibility of relapse. An aftercare plan will probably be put into place once your child is discharged from inpatient treatment, which will include continued support groups or other forms of therapy. You and other members of your family may be asked to participate in family therapy, which will be helpful for both you and your child. Participating in support groups such as Al-Anon can help you realize that you are not alone. Get to know as much as you can about addiction, and to continue to take care of yourself throughout your child’s recovery.