Opioids are a family of drugs that are either natural or artificial derivatives of the opium poppy plant. Prescription opioids include drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and morphine, and are prescribed for their powerful painkilling properties. Illicit opioids include drugs like heroin. When used recreationally, opioids produce a powerful, euphoric high and feelings of relaxation. Unfortunately, these pleasurable effects cause opioids to be highly addictive, and adolescents who abuse them can suffer a myriad of negative consequences. They may fail to keep up in school, have problems with peers, suffer organ damage, and are even at risk of a potentially-fatal overdose. However, an opioid abuse problem is not the end of the line for a young person. There is help available.
At Youth Care, our more than 25 years working with adolescents have provided us with the expertise and experience necessary to help our students find freedom from opioid abuse. We understand the unique challenges that adolescents face and we know the potential harm that opioid abuse can inflict on their lives. At Youth Care, our caring and dedicated staff, in conjunction with our proven effective programming, can help adolescents live free from the grips of these hazardous drugs.
Helping Your Child Get Treatment
When your child is struggling with opioid abuse, the pain of watching his or her downward spiral may lead you to the mistaken belief that there is little you can do to help. This belief is simply not true. There are a number of steps you can take to help your child, such as:
- Read about opioid abuse among adolescents. Learn the signs of intoxication and overdose for the particular opioid(s) that your child uses and speak with treatment professionals to learn how to best help your child.
- Research treatment centers and find a few that may be a good fit for your child.
- Once you have found potential treatment centers, sit down with your child and have a frank, open, and nonjudgmental conversation about his or her opioid abuse. While you may feel a wide range of emotions during this conversation, the important point to convey to your child is that you love him or her unconditionally. Your child may likely be defiant and angry, but remember that he or she is in crisis and needs your help to ensure that he or she receives proper treatment.
- Do not neglect to take care of yourself. It can be overwhelming and difficult having a child who is struggling with opioid abuse, but it is important to have time to rejuvenate yourself as well. Keep up with your hobbies and social network as you are able, and consider joining a support group for parents of children who abuse drugs.
- Once your child is in treatment, remain actively involved. Seek progress updates from treatment staff and try to attend family sessions that your child’s treatment center offers.
Why Consider Treatment at Youth Care
If left untreated, opioid abuse can cause devastation across an adolescent’s life. Problems in school, academic expulsion, legal troubles, social withdrawal, isolation, and developing symptoms of co-occurring mental health disorders are all possible. Opioid abuse can stunt an adolescent’s development and have long-lasting effects on his or her level of psychological and emotional maturity. Adolescents who abuse opioids may also suffer organ damage, stroke, seizure, coma, or possibly even death from suicide or overdose. These effects of opioid abuse are no doubt severe, but with effective treatment at a comprehensive treatment center, it is possible for an adolescent to minimize or avoid these life-altering consequences.
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 opioid 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 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 opioid abuse and addiction, his or her personalized treatment plan may feature the following components:
Medication management: If an adolescent’s opioid 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 opioid 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 opioid 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 opioid 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 opioid 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 opioid 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:
- Caring for animals at the Humane Society
- Filling shelves at the Food Bank
- Visiting the elderly
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 opioid 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.