Heroin is a powerful and dangerous analgesic belonging to the opioid family, which also includes drugs such as OxyContin, morphine, and Vicodin. When ingested, it produces powerful feelings of euphoria and relaxation, but its high is relatively short and often causes users to repeatedly take hit after hit. Typically injected, smoked, or snorted, heroin is powerfully addictive and causes users to experience extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to stop using it. Because it is so powerfully addictive and dangerous, young people who use heroin are especially at risk of negative and potentially fatal consequences.
A heroin addiction can be all but impossible to overcome on one’s own. However, at Youth Care, we provide a comprehensive treatment program that includes compassionate staff who will give your child a chance to reclaim his or her life from the grips of a heroin addiction.
Helping Your Child Get Treatment
You are your child’s strongest ally in the fight against heroin addiction. While you have likely been wrought with a number of emotions as you watch your son or daughter spiral into the throes of an addiction to heroin, there are still steps you can take to help him or her. Some of these steps include:
- Researching heroin addiction. There are many print and electronic resources that discuss the unique challenges of heroin addiction, so spend time researching the disorder. Familiarize yourself with the signs of heroin intoxication, withdrawal, and overdose and prepare a safety plan in case of an overdose. Also consider seeking consultation from mental health professionals and discussing how to best help a child with a heroin addiction.
- Having an open conversation with your child. In an open and compassionate manner, let your child know that you are aware of his or her heroin abuse problem and reiterate your love for him or her. Try your best to listen to him or her as openly and nonjudgmentally as possible.
- Researching treatment centers. Look into options for treatment to help your child overcome his or her heroin addiction and discuss the need for treatment with him or her. It is important to consider centers that are equipped to care for your child’s unique needs.
- Once you have decided on a treatment center, schedule an admissions assessment.
- While your child is in treatment, stay in close contact with him or her. Reiterate your love for your child and let him or her know how proud you are that he or she is seeking treatment. Also, seek out regular progress updates from treatment center staff, and do your best to attend any family sessions that the center may provide.
- Do not forget to take care of yourself. Make sure to take time to enjoy your own hobbies and build your own support network. It may be helpful to join a support group for parents of children with heroin addictions.
Why Consider Treatment at Youth Care
Heroin, being the powerful drug it is, has the potential to cause immense destruction in a young person’s life if he or she does not receive treatment. The physical effects of the drug alone can be devastating. Cardiovascular problems, stroke, seizure, heart attack, and organ damage, as well as potential infection, such as HIV, from sharing needles can all result when a person abuses heroin. Other possible consequences may include trouble at school, academic expulsion, social isolation, legal problems, or even death from suicide or overdose. While these negative consequences are serious, they can be mitigated or avoided entirely with comprehensive treatment specially designed for young people with addictions.
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 heroin 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 heroin abuse and addiction, his or her personalized treatment plan may feature the following components:
Medication management: If an adolescent’s dependence on heroin 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 heroin 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:
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) groups are conducted once each week.
- Addictions groups are conducted once each week.
- Process groups are held 3 times each week.
- Music therapy groups are conducted once each week.
- Recreational therapy groups are conducted twice 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 heroin 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 heroin 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 heroin 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:
- Situational therapy
- Expressive therapy
- Exposure therapy
Community service activities: All Youth Care students, including those who are receiving treatment for heroin 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 heroin 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.