Prescription drug abuse among adolescents is a serious problem with potentially devastating results. A variety of factors, including widespread use of prescription medications, a misplaced belief in the safety of these drugs, and ease of access via borrowing, stealing, or acquiring them via illicit online pharmacies have contributed to making prescription drug abuse one of the most rapidly growing forms of drug abuse among young people. Commonly abused prescription medications include stimulant-based drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall and opiate-based drugs such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet. Ritalin and Adderall are often used as performance-enhancing substances by students who take them to improve alertness and focus, while the drugs containing opiates are most commonly abused for recreational purposes. Regardless of intent, though, the abuse of prescription drugs puts young people at risk for a wide range of negative outcomes.
At Youth Care we understand the challenges that contribute to and result from adolescents’ abuse of prescription medications, and we have developed specialized programming to address both the substance abuse and any co-occurring conditions. In the more than 25 years that we have been helping adolescents and families whose lives have been impacted by substance abuse, Youth Care has earned a national reputation as a premier program where the devastation of addiction is transformed into the promise of a drug-free future.
Helping Your Child Get Treatment
Discovering that your child has been abusing prescription medications can prompt a range of emotions, including anger, confusion, fear, guilt, and shame. Even one-time experimentation with this dangerous form of drug abuse is cause for concern, but if the problem has progressed to the point of dependence or addiction, professional help may be called for.
The following steps can help you get your child the help that he or she needs:
- Do your best to determine the degree of your child’s involvement with prescription drug abuse. This may not be easy to do, but understanding the scope of the problem is an essential step in finding a solution.
- Take the time to educate yourself about prescription drug abuse. Because the popularity of this form of substance abuse is a relatively recent phenomenon, you may need to make a concerted effort to bring yourself up to speed on the risks that your child is facing.
- Talk to experts. Consult with your family doctor, your child’s pediatrician, the school guidance counselor, or anyone else who can serve as a source of reliable information.
- Identify programs that provide the type and level of care that appear to be best suited to meeting your child’s needs.
- When speaking to your child about this problem, do not lose sight of the fact that he or she is in crisis. Expect denial, defiance, and anger, but do not allow your conversations to devolve into arguments or confrontations. Your child is in pain, and you may be all that stands between him or her and a lifetime of continued suffering.
Depending upon the specific nature of your child’s problem with prescription drugs, recovery may be a complex process that involves both successes and setbacks. Prepare yourself and your child for an extended effort, and leave no doubt that you will be beside him or her every step of the way.
Why Consider Treatment at Youth Care
Prescription drug abuse puts adolescents in danger of experiencing significant physical, emotional, and social damage. Depending upon the drugs being abused, the physical effects may range from temporary impairments to irreversible permanent damage, including death. Decreased academic performance, legal problems, including possible incarceration, and a host of co-occurring mental health and behavioral issues are among the many other detrimental effects of untreated prescription drug abuse. Failing to get proper help for an adolescent who is abusing prescription drugs significantly increases the likelihood that he or she will not make the developmental progress that is necessary for a successful transition into adulthood. If the drug abuse is an attempt to self-medicate psychological pain associated with a co-occurring condition, allowing the behavior to continue will also expose the young person to the continued mental and/or emotional suffering and an ever decreasing downward spiral of pain, shame, and desperation. While a battle against these substances can feel impossible to win, with proper treatment from a comprehensive treatment center, it is possible for your child to free him or herself from the grip of prescription drug abuse.
Types of Treatment Offered at Youth Care
Youth Care provides life-changing residential care in a peaceful, home-like setting for adolescents ages 11 to 17 who are struggling with a wide range of mental health disorders and behavioral problems, including prescription drug abuse and addiction. The Youth Care philosophy is based upon honoring the unique strengths and capabilities of the young people who are entrusted into our care and encouraging them to embrace the concepts of accountability, responsibility, and respect while making the changes that will allow them to lead healthier and more productive lives.
Treatment at Youth Care is an intensive and highly personalized experience. During an average week, students receive will receive 20 hours of clinical services that have been integrated into a customized multidisciplinary treatment plan that reflects the needs and strengths that were identified during a thorough assessment and evaluation process.
At Youth Care, we place great emphasis on helping our students recognize the choices they have made, understand the natural consequences that can occur as a result of these choices, develop self-confidence, and conduct themselves in a manner that promotes dignity, respect, and trust. The family-like structure of our program is designed to model and reinforce important life lessons that will support our students’ efforts to establish healthy interpersonal relationships and achieve to their greatest potential in all aspects of their lives.
When a student enters Youth Care for the treatment of prescription drug abuse and addiction, his or her personalized treatment plan may feature the following components:
Medication management: If an adolescent’s prescription medication dependence is accompanied by certain co-occurring disorders, the inclusion of psychotropic medication in his or her treatment plan may be beneficial. Of course, medications will be prescribed only when clinically appropriate based upon a careful review of the student’s evaluation and the needs that were identified during that evaluation. Youth Care students have the opportunity to participate in weekly meetings with a psychiatrist, and all medication management needs are handled by the psychiatrist and members of our nursing and medical teams.
Individual therapy: Individual therapy is an essential element of the therapeutic process at Youth Care. All of our students have the opportunity to meet with their primary therapists for one-on-one sessions three times each week. Also, students who are dealing with prescription drug abuse and addiction concerns can meet with an addictions counselor once each week. These meetings provide a supportive environment in which students can discuss their progress, process successes and setbacks, and address issues that have arisen in the course of their treatment.
Group therapy: Group therapy sessions are conducted on a daily basis at Youth Care. Led by trained professionals, these sessions serve an important role in the therapeutic process by allowing students to share insights, learn from the experiences of others, and practice interacting with adults and peers in a healthy, productive, and respectful manner. Students will have the opportunity to participate in the following types of groups on a regular basis throughout their time at Youth Care:
- Music therapy groups are conducted once each week.
- Recreational therapy groups are conducted twice each week.
- Process groups are held 3 times each week.
- Addictions groups are conducted once each week.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) groups are conducted once each week.
Family therapy: At Youth Care, we have a deep and abiding appreciation for the value of the family, both in the treatment process and in the continued recovery of students who have struggled with prescription drug abuse and dependence. Our commitment to promoting healthy family dynamics is reflected in the emphasis we place on incorporating students’ families heavily into the treatment process. Each week, the student’s primary therapist will conduct a family therapy session, and every six to eight weeks we conduct Parent Days, which feature educational seminars, multifamily group therapy, parent support groups, family therapy sessions, and family recreational activities.
Recreational therapy: Students who are being treated for prescription drug abuse at Youth Care benefit from an innovative and dynamic approach to residential care that features an array of recreational therapy opportunities. Under the guidance and supervision of our licensed recreational therapist, students participate in in-house and community recreational activities three to seven times per week. Recreational therapy serves as an effective complement to more traditional forms of therapy by engaging students in physical, cultural, and social accomplishments. Participating in recreational therapy provides students with enjoyable and motivational opportunities to work together while developing and honing essential skills, such as teamwork, problem solving, communication, and trust. Recreational therapy also helps students explore newfound interests, discover unknown talents, and improve their sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
Experiential therapy: In addition to the recreational therapies that are discussed in the previous section, the treatment plan for a student who is dealing with prescription drug abuse and addiction at Youth Care may also include the following experiential therapies, if the student’s primary therapist determines that participating in such therapies is appropriate and beneficial to the student:
- Expressive therapy
- Situational therapy
- Exposure therapy
Community service activities: All Youth Care students, including those who are receiving treatment for prescription drug abuse and addiction, participate in community service activities at least twice each month. These activities help students to develop greater empathy and a broader understanding of others, both of which can be beneficial to their recovery and their continued healthy development. The following are among the types of community service activities that may be featured during a student’s time at Youth Care:
- Visiting the elderly
- Filling shelves at the Food Bank
- Caring for animals at the Humane Society
Academics: A central tenet of the Youth Care treatment philosophy is our commitment to providing each student with the opportunity to achieve academic success. Our fully accredited academic program helps students to maintain and improve upon their academic progress while in treatment, and our students benefit from working with certified secondary education and special education teachers who have been specifically trained to teach and support adolescents who possess a range of learning abilities. Academic objectives are included in all students’ individualized treatment plans, and our services include a full day’s curriculum in a traditional academic setting from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every weekday, with therapeutic interventions being interwoven throughout students’ daily schedules.
In addition to our residential services, Youth Care also offers partial hospitalization programming (PHP) for students who do not require the intensity of the residential experience. This day treatment option allows students to benefit from the same daily programming that is offered to students who are receiving residential treatment, yet gives them the opportunity to return home at the end of each treatment day.
If your child is struggling with prescription drug abuse or addiction, and you believe that he or she can benefit from receiving clinically sophisticated care within the confines of a safe, structured, and supportive environment, Youth Care may have the solutions that you have been searching for. With experienced professionals who are dedicated to providing comprehensive services that have been customized to meet your child’s specific needs, Youth Care provides a life-changing opportunity for your son or daughter to overcome the obstacles that have been preventing him or her from living a happy and healthy life and achieving to his or her greatest potential.