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Drug Abuse Rehab: One Teen’s Story

Drug Abuse Rehab | ParadigmMalibu.com

There are many options for rehabilitating from an addiction. They include a live in residential center, sober living homes, halfway houses, community-based services, and a drug abuse rehab center that also includes mental health services.

In fact, more recently, it has become a common trend that drug abuse rehab centers also address mental health issues. It is frequently found among teens that a drug or alcohol addiction will accompany a mental illness and that often the addiction began because of the illness. Research indicates that approximately, 60-75% of teens who abuse drugs or alcohol also have a mental illness. For instance, among adolescents who have not used substances before, the incidences of first time drug use is higher among those who have experienced a major depressive episode than those who have not. Mental illnesses that co-exist with substance use are Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Anxiety, Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Sherry was diagnosed early with teen Bipolar Disorder. She is a sophomore in high school, living in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, and has a difficult time managing her emotions. To make matters worse, her home life is not supportive and hasn’t been for years. Sherry cannot recall a time when her mother was completely attentive to her. One time, they were waiting in the lobby of a physician’s office where she and her brother were bothering all of the other patients who were also waiting and their mother ignored them despite their misbehavior.

Because her mother was never really tended to her, Sherry never learned the important skill of emotional self-regulation. It’s something that most healthy adults do naturally. When sadness takes over in the middle of the workplace, most people can put that sadness on the shelf for a time being and attend to their responsibilities.  Furthermore, many adults experience that sadness as an emotion separate from their sense of self. However, those with Bipolar Disorder can easily lose their sense of identity, particularly when they experience intense emotions.

The inability to regulate emotions can easily lead to drug use, which was the case with Sherry. Two years ago, she began drinking and hasn’t stopped. She knows that a drug abuse rehab center would be good for her. Since she’s already been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, she also recognizes that the drinking is only a symptom to a larger problem. What she needs is to find a rehab center that will not only address the addiction but also her mental illness.

When this is the case, rehab treatment must thoroughly address the addiction, the mental illness, as well as any underlying issues that might also be contributing to substance use. Most adolescent drug rehabs are clinically oriented and do attempt to address both the substance addiction as well as the mental illness. However, there are facilities that do not. This usually leads to teen chronic relapse because the primary cause for the addiction was not addressed and treated. When an addiction is the way that teen self-medicates, just like Sherry’s attempt to regulate her emotions through alcohol, treating the addiction alone will not permanently resolve the problem. The underlying issues must also be treated. This means not only the mental illness, such as Bipolar Disorder, but also the factors that might have led to the mental illness in the first place.

For Sherry, drug abuse rehab might include drug counseling, therapy, if possible, family therapy, learning new coping mechanisms, a physiological and psychological examination, and more. If her underlying issues are thoroughly addressed, she’ll have more of a chance of staying sober and avoiding chronic relapse.

By Robert Hunt
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Paradigm Malibu is an adolescent mental health and drug treatment center dedicated to identifying, understanding and properly treating the core issues that impact teens and their families.

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