Substance abuse is a pattern of using legal or illegal substances for nonmedical, and in most cases recreational, purposes. Substances are often abused with the intent to elicit a specific effect on the body or mind. Over the past few years, drug and alcohol abuse has increased, while the age of first use has been decreasing. Drug and alcohol abuse among children and adolescents is very common and can have a number of serious negative consequences.
At Millcreek Behavioral Health, we know that having a child or adolescent who is using drugs or alcohol can be upsetting and terrifying at the same time. Additionally, the presence of a mental health disorder, such a depression or anxiety, can make the situation even more complicated. Right now you may feel helpless as to what you can do to help your child, worried about what the future may hold. At Millcreek, we have years of experience helping children and adolescents who are abusing drugs or alcohol and are also struggling with mental health disorders. Our treatment center offers a psychiatric residential program, which is fully equipped to treat both disorders simultaneously. While it may not seem like it right now, things can get better. The caring staff at Millcreek is here to help.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment
As a parent the sooner you recognize that your child is abusing alcohol or other drugs, the sooner you can get him or her the help that he or she needs. It is important that you keep track of your child so that you know what is going on in his or her life and are able to take action if a problem should arise. Some things to look for in your child’s behavior that may indicate substance abuse may include:
- Finding drugs or drug paraphernalia
- Behavior problems
- Drop in academic performance
- Emotional distancing
- Depression, or fatigue
- Sudden changes in mood, eating patterns, or sleeping patterns
- Change in friendships
- Increased hostility or irritability
- Decrease in interest in personal appearance
- Lying or increased secretiveness
If you notice these behaviors in your child, these changes can be the result of substance abuse and should be seen as a call to action for you to seek help. Here are some tips that can help you deal with what to do next when you discover your child is abusing drugs:
- Don’t panic, remember that there is help available
- Look into treatment options
- Don’t place blame on anyone
- Talk to your child and really listen to them
- Join support groups
- Make an appointment with a family doctor who can complete an initial assessment and recommend further treatment options
Why Consider Treatment at Millcreek
Substance abuse in children and adolescents can cause problems at school, cause physical and mental health issues, and place stress on the family. Additionally, substance abuse in childhood can develop into lifelong issues such as substance dependence, chronic health problems, and social difficulties. Once your child starts using drugs, he or she is not usually motivated to stop, especially since drugs are seen as a pleasurable way to relax and fit in. Because of this, it is important that parents encourage their children to enter treatment so that they will be able to achieve a drug free lifestyle. Without this support, it is unlikely that they will seek help for their drug problem.
If your child or adolescent is struggling with substance abuse one of the best choices you can make is to enroll him or her in a residential treatment program that is specifically equipped to deal with the challenges that surround substance abuse during this stage of life. A residential program will use a number of different treatment methods to help your child or adolescent learn the skills needed to maintain recovery and sustain a drug free life style. Additionally, they can provide parents with information on how to properly handle the issue of substance abuse with their child and how to properly cope with difficulties that may arise in the home. Through regular therapy sessions, effective medication management, and family involvement these children can recover from any underlying issues that may have led to the development of the substance abuse and learn how to go on to have successful futures.
Program Philosophy and Benefits
At Millcreek Behavioral Health we are dedicated to helping each child and adolescent that comes to our center learn how to make better choices in all aspects of their life; choices that can create a lasting change. Our approach to treatment is an integrated, multicomponent model that is based on cognitive behavioral therapy when addressing the needs of our clients. CBT is an evidenced based model that has been proven to be effective with a wide variety of populations and diagnoses. Through this approach we can correct maladaptive thinking and teach children and adolescents new coping and problem solving skills. All members of the treatment team will work with residents to facilitate change and to encourage them to take responsibility for their behavior change.
Types of Treatment Offered at Millcreek
Before being admitted to our psychiatric residential treatment program, all clients will complete a diagnostic assessment and a psychiatric evaluation that will allow us to determine the extent of the substance abuse and the existence of any other mental health concerns. The assessment findings will be used to develop a master treatment plan, which is developed by an interdisciplinary treatment team and is further reviewed by our psychiatrist. The master treatment plan will lay out treatment goals and objectives for treatment within each child’s problem area, including specific intervention components that will be used. The program model here at Millcreek is divided into four phases and residents must complete the requirements of each phase in order to advance to the next. Some of the activities and treatment methods residents will participate in as they advance through the program may include the following:
Medication: At Millcreek, we are not a detoxification program and do not use medication to treat substance abuse, however, medication may be included in your child’s treatment plan to help treat some of the symptoms of his or her co-occurring disorders. If your child is placed on medication, he or she will be consistently monitored by his or her treatment team and meds will be adjusted as needed.
Individual therapy: Individual sessions are held on a weekly basis and will be a time where your child can work one-on-one with a therapist. These sessions can help get at the underlying cause for the substance abuse and can help him or her learn healthier ways of coping.
Group therapy: Group therapy is held multiple times throughout the week and covers a wide range of topics. Depending upon individualized treatment plans, some of the group topics your child may participate in may include: social skills, coping skills, and behavior management.
Family therapy: Family sessions are held at least two times per month and are designed to be a place where your child and the rest of the family can learn to better communicate with one another and work through any presenting issues. In addition to family therapy, regular visitation times are available and visits are arranged throughout your child’s stay.
Recreational therapy: Each child and adolescent will regularly participate in recreational therapy, which can include activities such as art, sports, adventure programing, or other social outings, all of which are designed to help the development of social skills.
Education: Every resident at Millcreek will attend our fully accredited school program, which is held Monday through Friday. Each resident will be given an individualized education program based on his or her specific academic needs.
Some additional programs your child may be involved in depending upon individual treatment plans include:
- Student council
- Token store
Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment
Once your child has completed the residential treatment program here at Millcreek, you will be able to meet with a case manager that can help you to identify the next best plan of action for you and your child. Our case managers can help by scheduling follow-up appointments with outpatient providers, as well as provide you and your child with resources to reach out to within the community. Case managers are there to help the family with the ultimate goal of helping your child integrate back into the home environment.