When people think of those who are most likely to struggle with substance use concerns, adolescents and/or adults are often the first populations that come to mind. However, it is common for younger people, namely children, to also abuse substances and require treatment in order to break free from the cycle of substance abuse.
Whether done as a means of numbing some type of emotional pain, masking the symptoms of an untreated mental illness, or done out of curiosity, many children abuse drugs, drink alcohol, and/or misuse prescription medications. When this behavior occurs, a child’s development can become stunted, emotional turmoil can worsen, mental illness symptoms can become more severe, and additional concerns at home, school, or among peers can emerge. For these reasons, it is a important for parents, caregivers, and/or guardians to consider effective care for their child.
Presently, there are many options for care that exist for children who are in need of treatment for substance use concerns. In seeking care for a child grappling with a problem of this nature, it is likely that the following benefits will be experienced as a result of receiving treatment:
- Experienced staff members who are trained to treat the specific needs of children are those who facilitate treatment for this population. Because of this fact, young people are able to receive the specialized care they need.
- Specific interventions that have proven effectiveness in treating children are utilized, which can make seeking treatment a successful endeavor.
- Children in treatment receive ongoing supervision so that their progress can be tracked and their safety and wellbeing are preserved.
- Children are often surrounded by their peers while they engage in programming, which can help them practice new skills, learn how to interact socially with individuals their own age, and develop increased self-esteem, given the fact that they are in contact with individuals working to overcome similar challenges.
- Many treatment programs incorporate education opportunities so that children do not fall behind in school while they are working on healing and recovering. In fact, several programs employ certified teachers and other such professionals to ensure that each child is on track to learn the information and skills that are appropriate for their age and grade level in school.
- Parents, caregivers, and/or guardians are regularly included in treatment so that the primary support networks of children are nurtured and given the tools needed to prepare them to assist their child in the most beneficial ways possible.
- Co-occurring concerns, both behavioral and mental health, can be treated at the same time as substance abuse problems. This type of all-encompassing care allows children to have a complete treatment experience that can arm young people with the skills they need to live healthier and more productive lives.
These benefits are but a few of the advantages that children and their families can experience when treatment is sought for a substance use concern.
It is also important to know that different types of concerns may warrant different types of care. In order to determine the treatment that will be most effective for a child, it is imperative for a parent, caregiver, or guardian to have his or her child assessed by a professional so that the most appropriate level of care can be recommended.
The following levels of care are those that are available to children who are struggling with substance use concerns:
When a child is in need of more urgent treatment to begin his or her healing and recovery journey, inpatient treatment may be an appropriate fit for him or her. This level of care is short-term in nature, and can help a child receive an appropriate diagnosis and an interventions needed to begin living a life that is free of drugs and/or alcohol.
Designed for youth who are in need of more supervision to overcome their concerns, residential treatment is a beneficial option for care for children who need more long-term treatment because they are suffering from severe substance abuse problems. Additionally, within this level of care, a child can receive treatment for behavioral and mental health concerns in a safe environment that is conducive to healing.
Therapeutic Day Treatment
An option for care that can be utilized as step-down treatment following inpatient or residential care or engaged in because it best meets the needs of the child, therapeutic day treatment is an exemplary level of care that includes various interventions and academic programming during each day of treatment.
Professionals who are trained to treat addiction-related, behavioral, and mental health concerns work side-by-side with children as they work on their education and healing at the same time. Children may participate in this type of treatment for a long period of time or engage in it for a short while before returning to their home school with the skills and resources they need to perform well in their daily lives and academic settings.
Intensive Outpatient Programming
Created for the purposes of helping children develop the skills they need to remain substance-free while learning to manage problematic behaviors and mental health symptoms, intensive outpatient, or IOP, can greatly help a youth as they work to become well again. IOP can be an introduction to treatment or can be used as the next necessary phase of care following inpatient, residential, or day treatment.
Traditional Outpatient Services
For children who may not be suffering from severe substance use concerns, or for those who have completed higher levels of care, traditional outpatient services with an addiction specialist or mental health professional may be warranted. This type of treatment typically involves biweekly, weekly, or more frequent sessions with these professionals and can help a child establish goals for managing life’s stressors without the use and abuse of substances. Finally, the length of time a child remains in traditional outpatient services will be dependent upon his or her needs and treatment goals.
If you have a child who has been abusing substances, it is pivotal to know that hope and help is available. Conduct research, consider consulting with professionals, and have your child assessed for treatment today. As your child’s greatest ally and advocate, you could be helping him or her receive the care needed to live a substance-free, happy, and healthy life.