Your parents, your friends, your doctor, your therapist – everyone is saying rehab is your next stop. But, you are unsure if that’s what you want or need. Shouldn’t this be your decision? While conventional wisdom says that rehab only works when the patient is ready to work their recovery, and it is definitely true, you need to consider the expertise of your mental health medical team and the love and support you are getting from your friends and family. Everyone really does want the best for you.
Rehab sounds like a scary option. It sounds like a prison where you will be forced to participate in activities, forced into therapy, miss a bunch of school, and have no contact with the outside world. While this is true to an extent – you have to work the program without distractions to get well – family is usually free to visit on certain days and you will never be in danger.
Going to a rehab facility can be a very positive experience. With the help of your family and health care team, you can be part of selecting the place that seems most likely to work for you. You can visit the facilities, meet the staff, and determine what programs are most likely going to work for you.
Most rehab facilities offer both inpatient and outpatient recovery services, but we are going to focus on inpatient rehab as it can be intimidating and frightening to consider. When you are thinking about this option, consider the following factors: programs offered, medical team, therapy team, and academic support.
Teenage recovery programs were created to fill a gap in the treatment of substance addiction among teens. Teen rehab facilities are a safety net for kids who would otherwise likely slip through the cracks. A teenage recovery facility works to lift teens out of the spiral of drug and alcohol addiction and show the teen addict a new, healthier path of lasting sobriety. And for teens trapped in an addiction, this is a potentially life-threatening medical condition.
Choosing the teen recovery center that’s right for each teen’s circumstances is hard, but taking the time to research and learn what options are out there can make all the difference. No matter which treatment program you ultimately choose, a successful teen substance abuse program must have the end goal of creating a stable and sober lifestyle for the teen:
Inpatient or residential rehab: Inpatient teen rehabs necessitate that teens live at the treatment facility. Most take anywhere from 30 days to 90 days, and services vary, including “detox; individual, group, and family therapy; medical supervision; and follow-up care planning.” These programs are the best choice for teens who need to go through detox, have multiple addictions, and struggle with mental health issues.
Wilderness therapy programs: Wilderness programs are an exciting alternative approach to teen addiction treatment. The programs require teens to spend time outdoors and learn both life and survival skills. The leaders are trained therapists who integrate traditional forms of therapy, within the wilderness training.
Whether you choose a traditional facility or decide on wilderness/survival training, both types of programs will have the medical personnel, therapeutic activities, and detox facilities, as well as a clear path to sober living.
Inpatient rehab requires a multidisciplinary treatment team directed by a Physiatrist (rehab doctor). The rehabilitation team has a variety of specialists depending upon the teen’s goals and needs. The team works with teens and families to write specific goals, discuss treatment progress, and create individual treatment plans focused on restoring the teen to health, both physical and mental.
Physiatrists (Rehabilitation Physicians)
These physicians in the rehab field complete advanced training and receive certification in physical medicine and rehabilitation. “Physiatrists are experts on how nerves, muscles, bones and the brain work together. They look at the whole person, not just one symptom or condition.” Inpatient Physiatrists are responsible for overseeing the teen’s medical care and progress in therapy. Rehab patients are also occasionally seen by resident physicians – medical doctors who are training to specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Once you have completed the program, the rehabilitation physician is still responsible for direct outpatient rehab care. Teens in recovery must also follow up regularly with their family physician, therapists, or other team members invested in the teen’s long-term sobriety.
Rehab nurses are responsible for teaching both teens and their family members about long-term care needs, establishing routines, and also monitor the teen’s daily care,
administer medication, educate patients and families about medication use and potential side effects, and collaborate with other team members about rehab goals and reintegration into the community.
Occupational Therapist (OT)
It is not unusual for a teen with a long history of substance abuse to have sustained physical injuries that require occupational therapy. These specialized therapists check current abilities and develop a treatment plan as needed for self–care, hobbies, work–related tasks, problem solving to accomplish any of the above, fine-motor skill development and strengthening, or, if necessary, identify different ways to carry out daily tasks.
Physical Therapist (PT)
A teen substance abuser who has suffered an overdose in the past may require physical therapy to regain motor control. The PT measures current physical abilities and develops a treatment program for achieving full mobility needed for activities of everyday life, like moving in bed, using a wheelchair, transferring, walking with or without equipment, performing mobility skills and finding any necessary equipment for use after the teen’s discharge.
Speech Therapist/Speech–Language Pathologist
Should a teen substance abuser lose speech function due to long-term abuse, the speech–language pathologist works with the teen on improving communication skills like “listening, understanding and remembering what is heard in a conversation; thinking quickly and putting thoughts into words; sounding out words and explaining ideas; reading, understanding and remembering what is read; or writing and putting thoughts into writing.
The neuropsychologist tests patients for thinking abilities and offers aid with understanding how brain injury affects brain functioning and outward behavior; attention, memory, problem–solving skills, language skills and other areas of thinking; and adjusting and coping with changes due to a brain injury from drug use.
Most teen addicts do not eat properly as all of their attention is focused on getting their next fix. In some treatment programs, the clinical dietitian evaluates the nutritional needs of the teen based on physicians’ orders and the teen’s current medical condition. This can include, but is not limited to, help with special diets as prescribed or general information on creating and living within a healthy diet.
All of these members of the medical team are there to help every level of addict when he or she enters the program. These medical services are then augmented by the emotional and mental therapy teams.
Family and significant others are critical to a teen’s long-term recovery. When the family is involved in therapy, skills learned during sessions are implemented in daily routines, and healthy lifestyles can be maintained after the teen returns home. The family has a lot to learn in order to help the teen reintegrate into the family after release. Effective and reliable involvement of family members is critical for a teen’s rehabilitation success.
The rehabilitation psychologist meets with teen patients, family members, and friends to help with adjustment to the treatment facility. The psychologist collaborates with the remainder of the therapeutic rehab team to support psychological and social performance of the patient.
Therapeutic Recreational Specialist
The therapeutic recreation specialist’s goals are to help teens and families in applying skills learned in rehab to activities that boost their personal growth community reintegration. The TRS helps the teen develop self-confidence and comfort in social situations; gives the teen experience in both individual and group activities to practice skills and “develop strategies to nurture friendships and social support networks; find new ways to pursue old interests through adaptations; and identify new areas of interest.”
Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist
The vocational rehabilitation specialist helps with fears and requirements for returning to school by “meeting with and educating school staff regarding needs for reasonable accommodations; identifying educational opportunities of interest; or developing strategies for school reentry.
During inpatient treatment, the Physiatrist and team members meet and discuss patient treatment programs. After gauging the teen’s progress, the team creates plans to support patients and families when the teen returns home. Team discussions include the teen’s overall health status, goals for the short-term and the long-term, progress to date, continued weekly therapy, a discharge plan, and a plan to continue with academics.
One of the crucial parts of a healthy inpatient experience is being able to maintain current schoolwork. To help students maintain their current academic standing, most inpatient programs set aside time every day for school. Students are given assignments and offered assistance just the same as if they were at school.
Many rehab centers offer programs to help teens continue their education. Some facilities use tutors or licensed teachers. Educational programs offered at rehab facilities vary and may include self-study, classroom study, or distance-learning. While in rehab, teens work on school assignments while participating in weekly counseling, peer group therapy, and family therapy.
When a teen is admitted to a facility, teachers or other professional educators evaluate where the teen is academically. They then offer teens a plan and the support they need to continue their education. Many rehab centers expect teens to complete all schoolwork, including homework assignments and long-term projects.
In some, but not all instances, school credits earned during treatment transfer to a teen’s high school and count toward graduation. And it is not unusual for facilities to work with schools to ensure a smooth transition when the teen leaves treatment.
Alternative schools are nontraditional schools for students of all academic levels. These schools are specially designed for students with social problems, special needs or who have fallen behind because of substance abuse. And there is not just one kind of alternative school available. These facilities vary based on the need:
Alternative Classrooms – self-contained classrooms within traditional high schools. These are most often utilized by students who have completed rehab but struggle with behavior issues.
Schools-Within-a-School – located within a traditional high school, with semiautonomous or specialized educational programs. Students in these environments seek education beyond the traditional subjects while struggling with addiction or mental health issues.
Separate Alternative Schools – freestanding schools that have academic and social adjustment programs specifically for teens who have completed rehab.
Continuation Schools – real-life academies, including things like parenting courses, for teens no longer pursuing traditional education due to their substance abuse.
Many of these kinds of alternative schools allow students who struggle with drug or alcohol abuse. In these environments, students who battle addiction but have a desire to remain sober are given the opportunity for both education and support of their sobriety.
It’s not just about keeping up with academics when you are in rehab. Throughout your rehab program, education goes beyond traditional school subjects. Teens in rehab need to learn emotional management, behavior modification techniques, and how to form and maintain successful interpersonal relationships. These life skills are crucial to your future and are essential for achieving sobriety and maintaining your recovery.
While keeping up with traditional schoolwork can be the goal in academic support within a rehab center, not every teen with a substance abuse problem needs just reading, writing, and arithmetic. Sometimes, the best education is in the areas where you are at the top of your game, sometimes it’s in learning how to be with people successfully in life.
It’s important that you consider inpatient rehab for your recovery. As you can see, there are programs that offer all the support you could need for starting and maintaining your recovery, getting therapy with your family, keeping up in school, and staying on a path of sobriety. For further information about signs, symptoms, and treatment plan, contact your teen’s doctor or the trained professionals at Beachside Treatment Center.