Why choose a rehab for teens?
Deciding to send your teenage son or daughter to rehab is a difficult decision. Whether the behavior leading up to this decision is a one time incident or a longer history indicating a pattern, here are some items to consider when selecting a rehab for teens:
- Age appropriate: It’s important to find a program that offers age appropriate programing for your teen in need. This includes the right milieu, or social environment, of similarly aged individuals that have some common threads: drug or alcohol use and the desire to get well. Having your son or daughter around students in their peer group allows their experience to have a deeper community oriented aspect, which has been shown to have an positive link to longer term results.
- Single gender: In addition to age considerations, gender is another item to look at. Research shows that single gender drug and alcohol treatment is the most effective option for all ages working toward recovery (1), but especially for adolescents and teens.
- Activities: Another age-specific piece of programming that is important to look at are the activities being offered. Teens, especially those that have experienced with drugs or alcohol, seek novelty and excitement. An ideal rehab program for teens includes activities and programming that work with this natural tendency as opposed against it.
- Strong clinical approach: Having a research based curriculum is critical as well: making sure that there is a clinically sophisticated approach for the specific issues facing your son or daughter will ensure that he or she is addressing the underlying issues that come with addiction. An effective adolescent addiction approach also includes attending to the whole person, as opposed to just treating his or her past or current drug use. An inclusive approach will support each client in their own unique process of growth and healing.
- Lastly: time! Research strongly shows a connection between the initial amount of time in treatment/sobriety correlated with long term success (2). While a short-term detox is appropriate to ensure the safety of an individual while they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, it is not an effective approach if not paired with a longer term treatment option.
How do I know if my child needs a teen rehab?
There are many signs that can point to the need to look for outside help with your daughter or son’s behavior. These include behavioral, mood, social, and academic changes. Here are a few items to consider:
- Loss of interest(s): Has your teen stopped playing a sport they used to love? Or have they given up on an extracurricular activity they used to excel at? This could be because the time they used to spend doing these activities has been replaced with activities that are not supporting their long term goals. It could also be that they are still involved in these activities, but not to the same degree or with the same level of performance or commitment.
- Changing friend groups: Has your child recently stopped hanging out with life-long friends they grew up with? Are you hearing from other parents that they wish they saw your daughter or son more often with their children? These could be signs that you teen is no longer spending time with those that support their best interests and instead with those that can support their alcohol or drug habits.
- Mood changes: Teens are known for their mood swings, but look for things on the more extreme end of things – especially as it relates to their schedule. For example, if you always notice extreme tiredness after your daughter has spent time with one specific group of friends, she could be trying to mask the effects of marijuana use. Or if your son is is usually even keeled, but lately has been extremely irritable, this could be a sign that he is coming off of the drugs he has been using to feel “normal”.
- Relational and behavioral changes: There are a lot of things to look for, so a few common ones include: lying or changing stories, being secretive, stealing medications (or medications going missing), missing money, or cleared internet search history. Shifts in relationships are also likely: drug or alcohol use can create a lot of unspoken shame, and it is common for individuals to close themselves off from people that they used to be close to.
- And more: For a more complete list, visit Partnership for Drug Free Kids at https://drugfree.org/article/look-for-warning-signs/.
Above all, the awareness of your own feelings as it relates to your teen’s behavior and relationship with you. If you have the sense that something is off, even with your son or daughter having “all the right answers,” you are probably on to something. Trust your gut and pursue professional help to get to the bottom of things.
If you’re interested in sending your son or daughter to a rehab for teens, call (877) 302-5022 to speak to an admissions team member at Kokua Recovery, one of the nation’s leading rehabs for teens.
How does Kokua Recovery help teens that need rehab?
Kokua Recovery is a rehab for teens that offers a holistic, clinically sophisticated approach designed specifically to work with teens that struggle with drug or alcohol use. Kokua Recovery has unique access to adventure programming while simultaneously offering a strong trauma-informed clinical component. Kokua seeks to reconnect the teen and the family system, and to create joy within these relationships. Kokua Recovery does this with:
- Evidence-based therapeutic programming: Kokua Recovery utilizes a variety of approaches that fit the needs of the clients they work with, including: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which is very effective for working with trauma), equine therapy, wilderness and adventure therapy, rational emotive behavioral therapy, and narrative therapy, along with a variety of experiential therapies.
- A milieu that works: With small groups of 13-17 year olds in single gender groups, Kokua Recovery can address the age- and gender-specific needs of your son or daughter most effectively.
- Adventure therapy! The teenage brain has a natural inclination toward risk taking and novelty. Kokua Recovery embraces that and offers exciting experiences that will result in an increased sense of self efficacy as students find success in new environments. Adventure therapy uses the experience itself as a tool to look inward, recognize habits, and promote healing. Activities include: skiing, backpacking, hiking, snowboarding, snow shoeing, fly fishing, rock climbing, mountain biking and more!
- Appropriate duration: In order to achieve lasting change, time for new patterns to be established is crucial. Kokua Recovery has an average length of stay of 6-8 months because Kokua puts a high value on the long term success of its students. While time away from the family system can be difficult for parents, ending earlier would risk losing the gains that have been made.
Why does Kokua Recovery focus on trauma?
First, let’s take a look at what we mean by “trauma.” When most people think of trauma, it’s an intense experience such as war or sexual assault – a situation where someone might fear for their life. The important thing to remember is that with psychological trauma, it doesn’t matter how “big” the event was, it’s whether or not the event was interpreted as distressing or unsafe by the brain. Therefore, major life changes such as divorce, moving, or an accident can be, and usually are, considered traumatic. These types of major and singular events are labeled as “Big T Traumas”. Trauma that is typically more low grade in natural or more commonly occurring, such as bullying, academic failure, or the loss of friends, are described as “little t traumas” (3).
While teens can develop an addiction for any number of reasons, it’s very likely that they have experienced some sort of traumatic event (such as those listed above). Lacking the appropriate coping skills, many teens just know that they want to “feel better” or not deal with the negatives emotions that they are experiencing (related to the trauma) and instead turn to drugs or alcohol for respite. The link between drug or alcohol use and prior trauma has been well documented (4) and research shows that individuals that have experienced trauma are much more likely to pursue drugs or alcohol.
This is important because dealing with the underlying trauma is just as important as dealing with the symptoms of that trauma – the substance use that is occurring. By healing the cause behind the symptoms, Kokua Recovery greatly increases the likelihood of long term sobriety and reconnecting your teen to their best life.