When teenagers and adolescents are addicted to drugs or alcohol, they present a special situation that can be more difficult to treat compared to an adult addiction situation. What’s more, entire families are usually more seriously impacted by teen and adolescent addictions. The need for specialised family services to deal with these types of situations is vital.
Fortunately, Addiction Helper works with excellent clinics and other organisations able to provide the specialised support families need. They know what it takes to help teenagers and adolescents overcome addiction, and what it takes to heal the entire family from such a devastating circumstance.
Before we go any further, we want to encourage you to call our addiction helpline right away – whether you are an addict or the parent or sibling of an addicted teen or adolescent. Our counsellors are standing by to get you started on the road to recovery.
Special Needs of Teens and Adolescents
So what is it about teenagers and adolescents that make them more vulnerable in an addiction scenario? There are four primary areas of concern:
- Physical Development – The adolescent and teen years are a time when the child’s physical body undergoes its most important changes. As such, substance addictions can have a very different impact on them physically. These impacts can make withdrawal much different for the teenager than it is for the adult.
- Mental Development – Teenagers are among the most impressionable members of society. They find themselves in that phase of life when they are weighing what they have learned from parents against who they believe they are and want to be in the future. Yet their lack of practical life knowledge limits their decision-making. The mental development of the teenager plays a very important role in addiction.
- Emotional State – Adolescents and teenagers tend to be more emotionally fragile even when they are not involved with addictive behaviour. However, throw in drugs or alcohol, and their emotional state becomes highly unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Addiction recovery under these circumstances must be handled with the right balance of compassion and sternness.
- Spiritual Development – The common 12-step programme used in alcohol and drug recovery involves a spiritual component. Yet spiritual issues tend to be very confusing to teens and adolescents. Therefore, they must be handled with extreme care during the recovery process. The idea is one of strengthening spiritual development rather than putting it in jeopardy.
All four of these areas must be considered in light of the individual teen or adolescent as well as in relation to family dynamics. This can be tricky to someone who does not have a lot of experience. That’s why addiction recovery specialists with an emphasis on teenagers and adolescents are more suited to help in these situations.
Believe it or not, experts say that the core of many teen and adolescent drug addictions is issues regarding family relationships. Restoring those relationships is a natural and vital part of overcoming the addiction. To that end, addiction treatment for teens and adolescents often involves family counselling.
From the perspective of the teen nor adolescent, he or she needs to know that parents and siblings still love them, that they still have a valuable position within the family, and that the entire family unit desires to see them get well. When an addict does not have that kind of support from his or her family, they are very likely to relapse within a short time of completing treatment.
From the perspective of family members, they need to know that the addict values them enough to take whatever steps necessary to overcome addiction. Unfortunately, by the time an addiction reaches the intervention and treatment stage, family members are often at the point of exasperation. They may not believe the addict will ever change, assuming he or she would ever want to.
Helping the entire family through an addiction problem involves multiple components:
- Detox and Rehab – Detox and rehab are where recovery begins. The child must be broken of both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction before permanent treatment is possible. In the case of outpatient or at-home treatment, family counselling can take place simultaneously. In the case of a residential treatment programme, family counselling will be separate until the addict completes the programme, at which time they will come together.
- Joint Counselling – In order to deal with family relationship problems, joint counselling will be necessary. This type of counselling helps all of the family members come to terms with the root causes of addiction, how to avoid them, and how to strengthen relationships as they move into the future.
- Group Support – As you know, there are individual support groups for all types of addicts. However, did you know there are also support groups for family members? Indeed, such support groups can be a lifesaver for family members while the addicted teen or adolescent is in treatment. After treatment, group support goes a long way toward keeping the family together.
- Financial Support – When an addiction continues for an extended amount of time, a family might find themselves in financial straits. Consumer credit counselling and other services can help the family get their finances back on solid ground. Families should not discount the benefits of these services if they need them.
- Reintegration Services – Lastly, reintegrating the teenager or adolescent into the family after treatment can be stressful. The addict might be ashamed of him or herself while the remaining family members are anxious about how they will receive the recovering addict. Reintegration makes this transition as smooth as possible.
Life Skills Training
As previously stated, teenagers and adolescents already face challenges regarding their mental and emotional development, even if not drinking or taking drugs. Those challenges become even greater for the child who is addicted. The solution is to spend some time teaching the child life skills during the addiction recovery process.
What are life skills? They are two-fold:
- Coping Skills – Coping skills have to do with avoiding the temptation of future drug or alcohol use after recovery. For example, a teenager might be instructed to call a friend or parent at the first signs of potential temptation. The person on the other end of the phone can respond to intervene as appropriate. Another coping skill is that of simply avoiding circumstances were temptation is known to be present.
- Practical Skills – One of the ways to prevent relapse in the future is to engage in those activities that create a productive life. Practical skills make those activities possible. The child might be taught how to prepare a resume, how to apply to university, or the value of going right into the workforce after school. Practical skills are designed to help teach the child how to achieve his or her goals in life so that drugs or alcohol are not a necessary part of the future.
There are times when therapists determine the entire family could use life skills training. That is nothing to be ashamed of, by the way. Like skills is a great tool to change anyone’s life – with or without addiction. Embrace life skills training fully if a therapist determines your family would benefit from it.
Stop Running Away
If a teen or adolescent in your family is exhibiting symptoms of addiction, we urge you not to keep running away from the problem. Living in denial in the hope that it will fade on its own is an unwise strategy that could lead to consequences you will end up regretting. It is better to face the potential problem head-on so that I can be dealt with.
As you read this, there are professional counsellors waiting to speak to you at Addiction Helper. Our helpline is staffed 24 hours a day, every day of the year for the benefit of our clients. If we can help you and your family, we want to be of service.
Your family is far too valuable to continue ignoring a potential addiction problem. What’s more, you do not need to continue living with it. There are drug and alcohol recovery clinics all over the UK that have already helped thousands of clients regain control of their families. We can connect you with a clinic that is right for your circumstances and budget.
If you have already tried, but failed, utilising free services from the NHS, would you consider getting in touch with us anyway? Private treatment is a lot more affordable than many people believe. What’s more, it has a distinct advantage over the NHS in that private clinics are free to focus all of their resources on addiction recovery. That’s why they have a much better track record.
When you call Addiction Helper, we will walk you through each option suitable to your situation. We will also recommend what appears to be the wisest course of action. If there is anything we can do after that, please do not hesitate to ask. We want to help in any way we can.
Help for family, friends, and close ones is just as important as the help people suffering with addiction need. Seek support to find the right path.