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Rehab for Teens

Rehab for Teens

According to a study conducted by Public Health England, 15,583 young people were involved in drug and alcohol programmes during 2017-18 in England. [1] Many of these teenagers were using cannabis and nitrous oxide, however, one study has revealed that 10% of teenagers in the UK have experimented with hard drugs such as ketamine and cocaine – two substances that can be powerfully addictive. [2]

Teenage addiction is more common than many parents believe. Permanent school exclusions for drug and alcohol use have increased by 95% since 2010-11, with cannabis being the most common substance and alcohol not far behind. [1]

While many teenagers are merely experimenting with illicit substances, a worrying number are developing substance addictions that can follow them into their adult lives and beyond.

What can cause addiction in teenagers?

While adults can be susceptible to addiction, a teenager’s growing mind is even more vulnerable. External factors such as peer pressure and family problems can be a driving force behind teenage addiction, with some of the most common causes for addiction in teenagers listed below.

1. Peer pressure

It can be difficult to hold firm against peer pressure as a teenager, particularly when the other members of their friendship group are experimenting with drugs and alcohol. If a teenager is spending a lot of time around other people who are using illicit substances, they are more likely to copy this behaviour in order to fit in.

2. An addicted parent

Many teenagers will emulate the example set by their parents, so if one or both of their parents are abusing alcohol or drugs they are more likely to see this as normal behaviour. Growing up around paraphernalia and illicit drugs can make these substances seem more accessible and acceptable than they would be otherwise.

3. Family troubles

Divorce, abuse and other troubles at home can naturally unsettle a teenager, and they may look for the sense of belonging and escapism that can come with using substances such as drugs and alcohol with their friendship group.

Is my teenager addicted or experimenting?

Experimenting with drugs and alcohol, while unwise, is fairly common among many teenagers. As many parents are aware, forbidding a teenager to engage in particular activities will often increase their curiosity and desire to do so.

It is possible to experiment with addictive substances without forming a dependency or addiction, and many teenagers go on to live a life free from addiction after trying different substances in their youth. They will only truly benefit from rehabilitation if they are dealing with a genuine addiction rather than natural curiosity and experimentation.

However, there are a number of warning signs that may be present if your teenager’s substance use has progressed beyond experimentation and developed into a dependency or an addiction.

What are the warning signs of teenage addiction?

It can be difficult to spot the signs of addiction in a teenager, who by nature may be withdrawn and secretive. However, it’s important to stay alert and monitor any potential indications of substance abuse and seek medical advice and guidance if necessary.

The below signs are not always indicative of an addiction, but they do generally indicate that your teenager is having trouble in some aspect of their life.

Common warning signs of teenage addiction include:

1. Stealing or borrowing money

If your teenager frequently asks to borrow money or even resorts to stealing when their requests are declined, this could be a warning sign that they are funding an addiction. They may find themselves in trouble with the police for shoplifting or take money straight out of your purse.

2. Being secretive and dishonest

It is not uncommon for a teenager to keep secrets or lie about their whereabouts, but there may be cause for concern if they refuse to allow you into their bedroom or frequently keep their plans and location a secret. They may also sneak out of the house without your knowledge.

3. Possessing drugs or alcohol

A teenager’s bedroom is their private space, somewhere to store their belongings and gain a sense of privacy away from the outside world. When a teenager is dealing with a substance abuse addiction they may begin to hide alcohol, drugs or paraphernalia in their bedroom away from prying eyes.

4. Displaying withdrawal symptoms

If your teenager is struggling to fund an addiction they may begin to display withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, vomiting and excessive perspiration during the times that they are unable to ingest the particular substance. It is recommended that you monitor any potential withdrawal symptoms and seek medical assistance if necessary.

5. New friendship groups

Suddenly spending time with a new group of friends may simply be a natural progression in your teenager’s social life, but it could also indicate a substance abuse addiction. They may be hesitant to introduce you to these friends or attempt to keep them a secret, particularly if the friends are openly rebellious and using substances themselves.

6. Social withdrawal and isolation

It can be concerning when a once-sociable and friendly teenager begins to spend more time alone and withdraw from friends and family. In many cases, this is normal teenage behaviour, but it can also be a sign of substance addiction.

7. Poor performance at school

Many people have trouble at school, but if your once well-behaved and academic teenager is suddenly being disruptive in the classroom and performing poorly in tests and exams they may be dealing with more than the typical teenage problems.

8. Physical changes

Addiction can often manifest in an individual’s physical appearance, and a teenage addiction is no exception. You may notice drastic weight loss, sores and marks on their skin, smaller or larger pupils and a generally unkempt appearance which can all be indicators of a substance abuse problem.

What are the consequences of teenage addiction?

It can be easy to dismiss teenage addiction as something that they will eventually grow out of, but a physical and psychological addiction will usually only get worse over time.

This can result in a range of negative consequences that can have severely detrimental effects to a teenager’s life, both in the short-term and long-term. Certain repercussions such as a criminal record or physical health issues may continue to affect them negatively for the rest of their life.

Some of the consequences of teenage addiction include:

1. Legal troubles

Addiction can lead to a number of legal issues including being found in possession of drugs, stealing or committing other crimes in order to fund the addiction, violence against others and being publicly intoxicated. It can be a vicious cycle that often results in long prison sentences, which can be extremely damaging to a teenager’s future prospects.

2. Lack of employment

Substance addiction can take over your life, often resulting in a lack of education which may reduce future job prospects. This may be intensified if the individual has a criminal record due to their history of substance abuse. Being unemployed can lower self-esteem, make it more difficult to save money and prevent the individual from progressing with their life. [3]

3. Physical health issues

Dealing with a substance addiction over a long period of time can result in a number of physical ailments such as malnutrition, heart problems and organ failure. When left untreated, addiction can even result in death.

4. How to get a teenager into rehab

Making the decision to send your teenage son or daughter to a rehabilitation centre for a substance abuse disorder can be one of the most difficult decisions a parent can make, particularly when the teenager in question is unwilling to attend.

Many young people will refuse treatment due to inexperience and a naturally lower capacity for impulse control, as their brains are not fully developed until the age of 25. [4] Therefore, it is left to the parents to make this difficult decision.

5. Intervention

An intervention usually involves an open conversation between your teenager and the people who care most about them, often lead by an intervention specialist. These people may include parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers and friends who will be able to provide examples of how the teenager’s behaviour has been negatively impacting them.

This method of communication can be highly effective, but is also extremely intense and may be upsetting for everyone involved.

How does teenage rehab work?

The recovery process for teenagers dealing with an addiction is very similar to that of adult addiction, as the fundamental principles of addiction remain the same despite the broad age range.

The first stage of rehabilitation involves undergoing complete detoxification, during which the individual slowly tapers off the dosage of their addictive substance until they are no longer ingesting it at all. This allows the body to begin to recover from the physical effects of addiction and removes the risk of an overdose within an inpatient facility as the individual no longer has access to any addictive substances.

The psychological aspect of addiction is the most difficult to treat, and this is an ongoing process that will continue even after the treatment programme has ended. It can involve individual therapy, group therapy or a combination of the two and many rehabilitation programmes for teenagers also focus heavily on group therapy.

Rehabilitation for substance abuse does not end once the patient leaves the facility or programme. An effective aftercare system must be implemented in order to provide guidance, support and motivation to people recovering from addiction.

In the case of teenage addiction, the family will also be advised on the most effective ways to support their son or daughter through potential triggers and relapses.

References

[1] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/762446/YPStatisticsFromNDTMS2017to2018.pdf

[2] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/drugmisuseinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2020#overall-trends-in-drug-misuse

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5026681/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5771977/

 

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