How to Help an Addicted Child
Beginning the treatment process can be a difficult process for a child. You do not want to continue enabling a drug-addicted child by not helping them. Letting them continue to use only makes the problem worse. News in Health (NIH) discusses teen health concerns since substances impact their brain much differently than a developed adult. They point out that the frontal lobes of the brain are not fully developed in children, so drugs create even more euphoric feelings, causing longer-lasting addiction. If you want to truly decrease your child’s chances of getting involved with addictive substances, you must get involved with their life first.
“Childhood and adolescence are times when parents can get involved and teach their kids about a healthy lifestyle and activities that can protect against the use of drugs,” says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse. She also stressed the importance of physical activity, getting engaged in work, science projects, art, or social networks that don’t promote drug use.
If your child has already begun using substances, then it is time to consider professional medical help. Since children still need the socialization and education of school, inpatient programs are not recommended. Rather, outpatient treatment can show promising results – it is also significantly cheaper than inpatient programs. Outpatient treatment often revolves around individual or group therapy that occurs daily or weekly, depending on the severity of the addiction. They will work with professional counselors or therapists to change negative behavior and become more educated on their triggers.
Medication can also be a useful tool, so long as the medication is available. The NIH says that not all addictive substances have medication that can work toward recovery. Rather, therapy works very well for these kinds of recoveries.
“Treatment depends to a large extent on the severity of addiction and the individual person,” says Dr. George Koob, director of NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. He said that while some people can stop cigarette smoking and alcohol use disorders independently, others require months or even years of treatment and follow-up.