Events that are unfortunately all to common-divorce, abuse, violence, etc.-can take an emotional toll on many. When such issues arise in the life of a young person, many will look for ways to feel better, even if it is only temporarily. Studies show that classic self-medication, taking something to”feel better,” is a major reason for abusing substance among young people .In such cases, the search for substance abuse treatment needs to take a different tact. Traditional substance abuse rehab centers focus mostly on the addiction. But when the addiction is secondary to depression and low self-esteem, this will fall short of the mark.
Effective substance abuse treatment for the teen struggling with depression,anxiety, bipolar, or other issues needs to encompass far more: it must have the therapeutic qualities that address the core issues as found in a residential treatment center. It should have the sophistication to work with substance abuse, but should also recognize that stopping the substance abuse without dealing with the core pain is likely to cause behavior to”migrate” towards other coping mechanisms.
Take the example of Joanne (name is changed to protect confidentiality).Joanne is adopted, has been sexually abused, and used drugs as a teen at least partially to feel better. An initial short-term placement in a traditional substance abuse treatment program failed miserably-Joanne was
back to using in less than a week. However, Joanne’s parents then enrolled Joanne in a residential treatment program in Utah where all of Joanne’s issues were treated. Joanne has been home for over two years and is still clean and sober.
Such approaches can do much more to deal with the core issues than an approach that focuses on the substance abuse solely. When it comes to dealing with rampant drug abuse, it is time for people to look more closely at the “why” and get our teens the help they really need.