The opioid and heroin epidemics are growing in America, not decreasing, and more and more young adults are getting hooked into the terrible cycle of addiction. The number of overdose deaths daily throughout the country is rising (reportedly over 150 daily nationwide), heroin is being cut with powerful substances like Fentanyl that are causing more overdoses and ER trips for young adults and recent reports demonstrate how young adults are getting hooked on painkillers from sports injuries that turn into full blown addictions in rapid time. Therefore, more parents and loved ones are finding themselves in crisis, frantically searching for help when they find out that their young adult child is abusing powerful prescription opioids or heroin.
The overwhelming fear and helplessness that grip a parent in these times of crisis is something that no one can truly understand unless they themselves have gone through it. Parents need help with a young adult that typically will deny having an issue, become angry, resentful and defiant at the opportunity to go to treatment. Eventually, hopefully the scenario ends with the young adult entering a treatment center for 28 or 30 days, receiving the necessary medical detox and begin engaging in the treatment process. The parents and loved ones give a sigh of relief, finally able to breathe and take some time to decompress, knowing that their child is in a safe place, knowing they are being cared for and maybe evening getting some sleep for the first time in a long while.
What is imperative during this time is the parents and family being educated on what the next steps for their child will be post-discharge of inpatient services. Parents are happy and relieved that their child is getting the treatment they need, but it is paramount that parents and families be educated on what the best possible long-term plan is for their child to set up the young adult for a long-term sustainable recovery. Addiction is a chronic, progressive disease that is fatal if left untreated. Parents and families must be educated that a 28 day residential stay is simply the beginning of that treatment, just the tip of the iceberg of what needs to be a comprehensive long-term plan of care for their young adult child. Detox and stabilization are vital, but what comes next?
Hopefully that inpatient or residential treatment facility is able to adequately explain to the parents and family the disease of addiction, how it manifests itself in certain behaviors and beliefs and how the drugs and alcohol are not necessarily the problem. The major issues for anyone receiving treatment for addiction lay underneath the surface, internal in nature. Core issues, emotional issues, self-esteem and perception issues, attitudes, beliefs, trauma and mental health issues all have a part to play and need to be addressed. A quality treatment provider will explain this to the parents or loved ones while the young adult patient begins their treatment stay and will then make sure that the young adult is given a comprehensive plan at discharge to ensure a high quality continuing care plan to support the patient post-residential treatment.
Continuing care plans can take a number of forms and MUST be individualized to meet the patient’s needs in terms of situation, life skills, family dynamics and history. This could include an extended care residential program, which for most young adults is almost always a must. This could include an intensive outpatient (IOP) program and/or a recovery house or sober living residence. This could include individual therapy or psychiatry. However, whatever the situation, a comprehensive after care for any young adult is a must. Parents and family members must be involved in the aftercare planning for the young adult patient with the treatment therapist or counselor.
Unfortunately, many treatment providers often use the path of least resistance when it comes to aftercare planning with young adults, fearing challenging them on what they want to do after leaving the residential treatment setting. Far too often the “aftercare plan” is a couple numbers to local outpatient treatment programs, the name or two of a local therapist and the advice “go to AA.” [can be replaced by any 12 Step fellowship.] This is NOT a comprehensive plan post-discharge. This is a “plan” doomed to fail. We are losing too many young adults as soon as they leave residential treatment facilities to overdoses because they young adult patient “didn’t want to do this or that” in terms of further treatment. These barriers must be overcome by skilled, qualified professionals that are able to educate parents and families about what their young adult needs, not what they want; what is clinically appropriate and successful for them, not to give in to their ideas and plans. If we eventually want to overcome this epidemic of our young people dying daily to addiction and to overdoses, we must begin to create a long-term continuum of care that will set up our young adults for a lifetime of recovery and give them the therapeutic, social and life skill services needed to support them moving forward with a high quality of life.
If you or someone you know is in need of help because of drug and/or alcohol abuse or addiction, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please call us at (888) 491-8447 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on all of our drug addiction and alcohol addiction services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.