When a teen experiences a sudden psychiatric or drug-related crisis that can bring about significant impairment in function, or even be life-threatening, acute stabilization services are required. Acute stabilization involves integrated medical and psychiatric interventions provided in a medical environment on a short-term basis that are adjusted to the level of the specific emergency—mild, moderate, or severe.
Acute Stabilization for Drug or Alcohol Emergencies
When the teen has ingested toxic levels of alcohol or drugs such as opiates, immediate medical response is crucial. An opiate overdose causes respiratory failure and is a medical emergency. Naloxone is an opiate overdose antidote that can be administered by first responders at the site of the event, and once breathing has been restored the individual can undergo acute stabilization treatment for a few days at a medical facility.
Alcohol poisoning occurs when the adolescent has ingested a toxic amount of alcohol in a short period of time. This results in an alcohol level that is considered toxic to the body and can be life-threatening. Emergency intervention involves intubation to assist breathing, an IV drip to provide hydration, glucose, and to restore electrolyte balance. In some cases, the stomach will be pumped. The teen will then receive acute stabilization at a facility for a few days.
Acute Stabilization for Psychiatric Emergencies
An acute, or brief, psychotic event occurs when the teen becomes delusional, has visual or auditory hallucinations, paranoia, and other perceptual disturbances. During a psychotic episode the teen may become harmful to themselves or others, and should be seen by a mental health professional immediately. Acute stabilization first involves evaluating whether the teen has a co-occurring medical illness or substance use disorder. If the teen is so agitated as to inflict harm, medical personnel will quickly act to calm them down with mild to moderate sedation, usually with benzodiazepines. Physical restraints may also be necessary. Once the adolescent in crisis has been mildly sedated, clinical intervention will involve assessing the specific mental health disorder and then prescribing anti-psychotics or other medications, such as neuroleptics, clozapine, or risperidone, which will help prolong the stabilization of the patient.
In mild to moderate psychiatric events, the teen will be assessed for suicidal ideation, homicidal thoughts, and the presence of delusions or hallucinations. Acute stabilization will also require pharmaceutical intervention based on the mental health diagnosis and whether there is a co-occurring substance abuse, as well as clinical psychotherapy.
About BNI Treatment Centers
Behavioral Neuroscience Institute (BNI) Treatment Centers provides customized medical detoxification services for adolescents 12-17 years of age. BNI Treatment Centers is owned and operated by medical doctors of psychiatry, specializing in addiction psychiatry, mental health disorders, and dual diagnosis intervention.