Clients in Pomegranate Health System’s residential treatment program have access to individual and group counseling for substance use disorders through Maryhaven’s on-site program initiated early last year. This includes tobacco, alcohol or drugs, and even gambling addiction. This allows Pomegranate to treat addiction and mental health issues holistically, as root causes of addiction are often the underlying diagnosis which fuels substance use. For example, depression, anxiety, ADHD, bi-polar disorder or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) are all examples of the type of diagnosis which might lead to intense highs and lows, feelings of being unable to cope, self-esteem issues, negativity or a sense of victim-hood. Just as a mental health disorder is not a ‘moral failing’ or example of insufficient willpower, neither is a substance use disorder. There are many reasons behind addiction. Many county children service agencies report children and teens being raised in an environment of addition. There is also a genetic component. According to research, a high percentage of those with addictive disorders have a family member or relative with the same or similar issue. Addiction can go back generations.
SAMHSA’s Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program, (the Children’s Mental Health Initiative -CMHI), reported on the challenges facing older adolescents and young adults: “More than one quarter (27%) had experienced four or more types of potentially traumatic events, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, or witnessing domestic violence. Almost one half (48%) said that they did not have an adult with whom they could talk about important things. Nearly 1 in 10 (9%) participants 18 and older had experienced a period of homelessness. Some 16% were neither enrolled in school nor employed. About 10% reported having made a suicide attempt, and 28% had suicidal thoughts. One quarter (25%) had been arrested, and 12% were identified as having a serious substance use concern.”
It is likely that a teen isn’t drinking or using merely ‘for the fun of it’, on special occasions, or because of social pressure, but to cope with their emotional pain. By changing one’s state of mind for a time, they attempt to escape the feelings or situations that they have difficulty enduring- also known as ‘self-medicating’. Because you can’t suppress or hide from them, intrusive feelings emerge later. This is especially true with teens that have experienced the trauma of physical, emotional or sexual abuse. (Buried feelings emerge kind of like a game at the arcade with prairie dogs popping up from different holes. You can attempt to get them, but they pop up somewhere else.) Then, there might be aftermath from risky behaviors engaged in under the influence that one did not recall fully later, but very much regretted.
By embedding the Maryhaven program within Pomegranate’s multi-disciplinary treatment approach, it functions alongside Pomegranate’s clinical and medical therapies to offer a more comprehensive treatment for those requiring AOD counseling, or identified with substance use disorder issues. Its important to identify and treat or teach the tools to recover.
Teens are not powerless in the face of addiction, but can learn to make choices which help them to break the cycle of addiction for a productive adulthood and eventual independence. It’s not easy, but recovery is possible in a holistic sense- body/mind (emotion) and spirit.
[photo credit: Monkey Business images/Dreamstime 7232176, and Pomegranate archive-poster contest+Superstock image]