Time To End The Revolving Door
November 16, 2016
I met with a teen this week who had just gotten out of two months of residential treatment. She sat in my office and demonstrated she had no clue about recovery: She saw no need to continue in outpatient treatment, go to meetings, give up using friends (including a boyfriend who "says he quit"), and so on. I called BS, told her I know they taught her that stuff in residential, and that she just thinks she doesn't have to follow through because her parents didn't learn any of this. I told her I have no reason to work with someone who sounds like she needs to be at the beginning of inpatient treatment. I told her mom to send her someplace else. Mom had already checked out other outpatient treatment options and recognized they would not get the structure and accountability needed to follow through with what was begun during the first phase of treatment.
The girl came back to my office the next day and begged me to accept her into my program.
She acknowledged that she does know all the stuff I called her on. I remained firm, telling her "how it's going to be" if she comes to this program. She came to group that night and left with a smile on her face, saying she loved being there.
Unfortunately, it seems that this little scenario is what's happening in the world of adolescent drug treatment more and more. Kids and parents are frighteningly unprepared when they discharge from residential treatment. Had this girl not run into the buzzsaw she encountered in my office her parents would be dealing with a nightmare—days after spending thousands for her inpatient care! I had breakfast with a colleague yesterday who told me an identical story about a kid he'd been working with the past two weeks: discharged from residential and nowhere with regard to recovery.
This is what's going on out there and is why we are now seeing a revolving door to drug rehab. Multiple treatment episodes—with readmissions often occurring within weeks of discharge— is becoming commonplace and is a travesty.
I ran a successful IOP program for many years, and as result of that experience I learned "what works" and what "doesn't work" in adolescent treatment. I took a little break to focus specifically on working with parents to help them achieve treatment success with their child. I wrote Rehab Works! A Parent's Guide to Drug Treatment for the specific purpose of avoiding the scenario described above. I recently made the decision to get back into the business of providing direct care for teens and their families. The Journey To Recovery Program is picking up right where my previous IOP left off: Structure and accountability, but also attractive activities that get kids engaged in recovery. And the parents began attending the parent program before she was discharged, which gave them an idea of where they were as far being prepared for discharge.
We've only been open a few weeks, but I am already seeing how well this treatment approach works. Kids like rehab. They are having fun, but they also respect the program. They appreciate that there's a ton of content they have to learn, as opposed to wasting their time with fluff. The first thing the new girl heard from another client she met in the lobby was, "This is really fun, but you have to take it seriously." That set the tone for her treatment.
It's time to end the revolving door of adolescent drug treatment. This story demonstrates how this can be accomplished—one family at a time. Nobody said it was going to be easy, but the fact remains:
Addiction can be successfuly treated and recovery is possible!
"Rehab Works! A Parent's Guide to Drug Treatment" by Jim Savage, LCDC, spells out everything parents need to know about navigating the road to successful recovery for their child.
Learn more about the Journey To Recovery adolescent program