Sometimes, for the young person, simply being removed from the environment where the dysfunction is occurring for a short while helps more than anything else.
There are benefits and challenges to sending a teenager to rehab, both for the parents and the teen. Being away from home and friends, disgruntled peers, feeling alienated and misunderstood by therapists and treatment center staff and a bevy of new rules can all create upheaval. For adolescents, whose emotions are already more volatile and unpredictable, it can be difficult to find the willingness to do the frequently taxing psychological work that’s part of treatment.
However, it can be a profound source of healing as well. A good treatment center gives teens a chance to reflect without the same old pressures of everyday life. Parents are able to work through issues in family therapy. Overall, there can be a reprieve from the conflict often inherent in struggling parent-teen relationships. Such a break can create a space for solace and healing. Sometimes, for the young person, simply being removed from the environment where the dysfunction is occurring for a short while helps more than anything else.
As a former therapist in teen rehab, I have an insider’s view. I no longer work at a teen treatment center and my goal is not to recruit clients. Rather, I am sharing what I have learned along the way in order to provide parents, loved ones, and young people with some insight into what adolescent addiction treatment is like.
One caveat: these examples are based on what you can expect at a reputable and ethical treatment center. Do a lot of research before deciding on a facility. Search the reviews on this site and others. Call and ask questions. Much has been written here and elsewhere about the troubled teen industry, which has created profit and heartbreak in equal measure.
Potential Benefits of Teen Rehab
1) Removing Triggers
In adolescents, emotional dysregulation can cause things to go out of control fast. One of the benefits of residential treatment is that the triggers in the home or school environment are put on pause. When someone enters a new living environment, they are given permission to take a cleansing breath and start over. The change in living arrangements can instill the critical importance of sobriety and making positive life choices. The young person can also focus solely on healing and working through issues rather than being distracted by normal school and home pressures. In some cases, it works wonders.
2) Giving the Family a Short Break
Other family members also get a short break from the chaos of daily life when their loved one goes to rehab. Suddenly the unpredictability and volatility is replaced with a much-needed quietude. Such relative peace is often where the healing begins. A period of separation can create objectivity and as a parent, you may gain valuable perspective once there is physical distance between you and your child.
3) Open Minds and Faster Learning
The same character traits that make the teenage years wild and impulsive also mean adolescents have more of an open mind. They are not stuck in their ways like many adults, who have developed and reinforced “bad” habits over a lifetime. Moreover, many young people haven’t delved as deeply into problematic using or drinking because they haven’t been around the drugs or alcohol for that long. Since they have been doing it for less time, less damage has been done. In addition, young people learn better and more quickly. Some really shine when they are put in a new environment and given the proper time for guided introspection. Many have an innate capacity for self-reflection and deeply understand the importance of change, even if it takes a few weeks for them to get settled…
This isn’t all! Find out what else a reputable teen rehabilitation facility should provide in the rest of the original article What to Expect in Teen Rehab at The Fix.