It’s so hard to tell when a young person needs treatment. On the one hand, we can so easily write off a young addict or their psychopathological behaviors to youthful folly. On the other hand, at what point are the behaviors so out of control and dangerous or the distress so great that treatment is necessary? Often it is not the young person who seeks out the treatment but a relative. The parent or guardian may seek out a treatment solution but then decide against it, because it is so easy to say that they go through phases and that they recovered in the past. Aren’t they too young to really need treatment? They can be compared to other relatives in the family who had challenging adolescences and who turned out decently enough without treatment, so does my child really need treatment? There are so many different factors that play into whether or not a young person needs treatment.
People coming into treatment can be divided into two categories: those coming in after a war of attrition with their mental disorder and those who are coming in possibly due to past wars of attrition after a crisis of some sort (overdose, suicide attempt, psychotic break, severe manic episode). Ultimately, individuals who are combating a continuous, painful war of slow destruction but have not experienced a crisis may do best to reach out to a psychologist or psychiatrist and determine what the best course of events may be. These individuals may be able to reach recovery through a medical detoxification combined with a twelve step group and regular therapy, potentially supplemented by psychiatric medications. Meanwhile, those who have suffered a crisis, likely have already experienced being inside of a psychiatric hospital and are more likely to need a higher level of care in order to make the transition into a healthier lifestyle.
In inpatient treatment centers, the supervised setting provides a safe space, while groups address key issues aimed at the individual. Different treatment centers specialize in different things, and clients tend to benefit the most from treatment centers that are designed for their needs. Some treatment centers provide both inpatient and outpatient treatment, so that individuals can live on their own while still attending treatment initially or live inpatient and move to outpatient as a step down to increase their independence. Treatment centers generally use group therapy in which a fairly small group of individuals attend many different groups together. These individuals grow together, hold each other accountable, and form a make shift family unit in some ways. This process occurs surprisingly quickly, uniting clients emotionally with the goal of becoming healthier. While this same camaraderie often forms within the rooms of 12-step groups, it forms more quickly within the rehab setting and promotes a transitional bond that allows individuals to make their initial stages of growth.
It is important to consider that treatment does not “fix” the individual. After often years of drug use and not behaving accountably, a month or even a year in treatment is not going to fix everything. It simply puts individuals on the path to recovery, inspires hope, teaches tools, and gives resources.
When there are no more options and especially if the individual is unwilling to try a 12-step program, then treatment is an ideal option.
If you or someone you know needs addiction or psychiatric help and you don’t know if a treatment center is right for you, call 800-781-7840.
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