Mental Health and Substance Abuse Teen Treatment
When your teen begins exhibiting troubling new behaviors or emotions that persist for a few weeks, it could be a sign that they are struggling with a mental health disorder. Prevalence of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders among adolescents is on the rise in recent years, prompting a need for more teen-tailored mental health treatment services. Treating teens involves different methods and modalities than treating adults with mental health conditions, which is why it is imperative that a teen specific treatment program is sought.
In some cases, a substance use disorder can accompany a mental health disorder, or could exist as a stand-alone disorder. Teens with a substance use disorder will possibly require a medical detox followed by an addiction treatment program. If there are co-occurring disorders, that is, a dual diagnosis of a mental health disorder and a coexisting substance use disorder, the teen treatment program should treat both disorders simultaneously for the best recovery outcome.
MENTAL HEALTH TEEN TREATMENT
Treating a teen that is struggling with a mental health condition requires a multi-pronged approach. It isn’t enough to write a prescription for antidepressants and think that will take care of the issue. To effectively treat the adolescent with a mental health disorder requires various types of therapy, such as one-on-one talk therapy, group dynamics therapy, family therapy, and an array of experiential therapeutic activities such as art and music therapy, surf therapy, equine therapy, and others. Medication may also be included in the comprehensive treatment plan.
Signs of a Teen Mental Health Disorder
A teen that is experiencing emotional distress may begin to display certain behavioral, psychological, or physical symptoms. Teens suffering from a mental health disorder may not know how to effectively communicate to parents or other adults about their issues and may act out in reaction to the distress they are feeling. Some common signs of a teen mental health disorder include:
- Loss of interest. The teen may lose interest in the extracurricular activities or hobbies they previously enjoyed.
- Sleep problems. The teen may begin to have insomnia, hypersomnia, or nightmares.
- Change in eating habits. A change in appetite may lead to sudden weight loss or gain.
- Withdraw socially. The teen may avoid social gatherings, school events, or family celebrations.
- Fatigue. The teen may exhibit profound fatigue and malaise.
- Decline in academic performance. The teen’s grades may suffer due to difficulty concentrating, completing assignments, or staying on task.
- Self-harming behavior. The teen may inflict self-injury, such as cutting, burning, scratching, or pulling out hair.
- Somatic symptoms. The teen may exhibit physical symptoms such as headaches, vague pain, or stomach distress.
- Hostility and anger. The teen may be increasingly irritable, agitated, and engage in angry outbursts.
- Mood swings. The teen may have more frequent or more pronounced fluctuations in moods.
- Talk of death or suicide. The teen may become obsessed with death or talk of suicide.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE TEEN TREATMENT
Teen substance abuse or addiction will involve therapy that is customized for the teen, taking into account the differences between the teen versus the adult response to addiction. The limbic system of the teen brain is not fully developed, meaning that the executive processes, such as decision-making, discerning risk, controlling impulsivity, are still under construction. Therapy will center on cognitive behavioral therapy that helps teens recognize dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns that lead to substance abuse, and teaching them to replace those with healthy responses.
Signs of Teen Substance Abuse
Being aware of the warning signs of teen drug or alcohol abuse helps parents intervene in a timely manner. Teens that have developed a substance use disorder may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Missing school, declining academic performance. The teen may be increasingly truant or late to school, not completing assignments, failing exams.
- Problems at school. The teen may become involved in fights at school, engage in bullying, or have interpersonal difficulties with other students.
- Secretive behavior. The teen may be obtaining illicit drugs or hiding alcohol, may not be accountable for their whereabouts.
- Hanging out with different crowd. The teen may replace their usual group of friends with a different crowd.
- Defiant, hostile behavior. The teen may become more uncooperative, ignoring family rules, school rules, displays a lack of respect toward authority figures.
- Sudden weight loss. Stimulants, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or Adderall may result in weight loss.
- Insomnia. Substance abuse often causes insomnia.
- Isolating behaviors. The teen may begin to avoid friends and family and just hide away in their room.
- Legal problems. The teen may steal drugs, purchase illicit drugs off the street, or get arrested for a DUI.
If the substance abuse has been prolonged it may be necessary for the teen to receive a medical detox and addiction treatment. Addiction treatment will involve an outpatient or residential teen program where they will receive individual and group therapy, addiction education, family therapy, and engage in a teen recovery group such as Teen SMART Recovery or Teen Addiction Anonymous.
DUAL DIAGNOSIS TEEN TREATMENT
When both a mental health and substance use disorder coexist it presents a more complex treatment picture. It has been found that treating both disorders concurrently nets superior recovery results when compared to programs that treat the disorders one at a time. Dual diagnosis treatment will involve psychotherapy to examine potential causal factors that may underlie the dual diagnosis, such as traumas, significant life events, or deep emotional pain. In addition, treatment will include addiction education, group therapy, family therapy, and adjunct therapies.
Signs of Teen Dual Diagnosis
Some teens may have co-occurring disorders, meaning the existence of both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder. This is called a dual diagnosis. The presenting symptoms will vary based on which combination of disorders are involved. When the mental health disorder is the primary disorder, the teen may begin to use drugs or alcohol to help diminish the discomforts associated with the depression, anxiety disorder, or mood disorder.
Some common teen dual diagnoses include alcohol use disorder and depression, marijuana abuse and social anxiety, benzodiazepine abuse and generalized anxiety disorder, and alcohol use disorder and bipolar disorder. Treatment will be tailored to the specific dual diagnosis.
BNI Treatment Centers provide safe and effective mental health and medical detoxification for adolescents ages 12-17. BNI Treatment will be a powerful support for teens and their families on the recovery journey.