Within the last 5 years, drug overdoses have become one of the top three causes of death for 15 to 19 year olds. The statistic comes from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC is an organization that protects America from healthy, safety, and security threats. Among their many tasks and large-scale projects, they maintain research and health statistics on adolescents. For instance, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System monitors six priority health-risk behaviors that play a role in the causes of death, disability, and social problems among teens and adults.
It is natural for teens to explore, with drugs for example. Yet, when some of these behaviors become habitual it can be dangerous. The CDC keeps tracks of the leading causes of death among teens with respect to the risky behaviors described above. For instance, in 2010, 12,341 adolescents between the ages of 15-24, died due to an unintentional injury; 4,678 died due to homicide; and 4,600 died because of suicide. Knowing these risk behaviors can help keep teens safe and prevent injury, violence, or even death.
A significant teen issue is the current heroin epidemic spreading across the country. One 13-year-old teen, for example, eventually lost her life after beginning treatment, dropping out many times, and returning to the drug time and again. Yet, fortunately, this is not the case for all those in teen addiction treatment. When treatment is thorough by addressing all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, and familial (the relational systems within the family) – there is a greater chance for change. There is a greater chance to save a teen’s life.
Inpatient Residential Treatment is a level of treatment care where teens are participating in treatment all day, everyday. Their daily activities are highly structured to ensure safety and prevent relapse. Adolescents need to be medically stable in order to be admitted to this level of care.
Treatment begins with medical and psychological treatment of the teen addiction, including working with a physical doctor to address the physiological effects of withdrawal, a psychologist to address the underlying emotional needs, and lastly with a drug counselor to learn the fundamentals of addiction and how to stay clean.
Additionally, an important part to rehabilitative treatment is addressing a teen’s ambivalence to change. An essential part of treatment is eliciting one’s intrinsic desire to change. Anyone using heroin is going to have strong ambivalence about ending a teen addiction, especially if they enjoyed their drug use. If using heroin brought relief from emotional pain, a dramatic increase in energy, and a euphoric feeling for life, reasons to continue to use might still be there, despite the growing severity in consequences. Also, if underlying emotional issues, medical concerns, or any mental illnesses still exist, then the desire to use drugs will almost undoubtedly continue. An addict might say that he or she wants to change, but depression, anxiety, and other fundamental reasons might promote continued use. Thus, there often lies an enormous amount of ambivalence.
When treatment is thorough and when there is a network of support surrounding a teen’s path to sobriety, his or her life, once caught in the web of the heroin epidemic, can be saved.
By Robert Hunt
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