Recovery from teen drug abuse

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Recovery from teen drug abuse

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It’s important to realize that treatment is not a miracle cure. Kids do get better while they're in treatment and most actually have a period of sobriety afterwards but what happens is to whether those kids go back to relapse versus continue on that recovery is very much influenced by what the parent does. About two-thirds of the kids who achieve a period of less than a year of abstinence will relapse in the next 12 months. Of those that make it one to three years, about a third will relapse and of those that make it four to seven years, 14% relapsed. The rate of relapse goes down but it’s still very, very high risk particularly in their first 12 months after they come out of treatment. What are some other kinds of things parents can do? Well, the first thing to realize is that treatment is the beginning, not the whole ball of wax. When I say it’s a beginning treatment, it usually focuses on getting kids to stop using, to see how their use is related to problems that they don’t want and things they want to get away from and how being abstinent could let them do things that they do want to do and be happy and enjoy other things. When you get out of treatment, one of the things that people try to do is get them engaged in a self-help group. That's great if there’s one environment that involves teens. If all the self-help groups have only people on their 50s or 60s, the teens don’t fit well. Another thing is recovery high schools and recovery colleges is another way of getting support or structured activities that don’t involve alcohol or drugs. Getting your teen involved in each of these things really helps them to sustain that recovery because they have to rebuild their life and find things that they're working for and happy. We can't just focus on saying, “Stop, stop stop. Don’t do this. Don’t do this.” We have to talk about what they're positively building it makes them happy and feels like they're succeeding. They have to build their life and so that step is a very positive part of it. You pass the crisis but if you don’t take those positive steps to move them forward, they're very, very high risk for relapse.

Watch Video: Recovery from teen drug abuse by Michael Dennis, PhD, ...

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Michael Dennis, PhD

Psychologist

Michael Dennis, PhD, is a senior research psychologist and Director of the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) coordinating center at Chestnut Health Systems in Normal, Illinois. Over the past 25 years his primary area of research has been to better understand and manage addiction and recovery over the life course. This includes multiple clinical trials to compare the effectiveness of adolescent treatment approaches and recovery support services, longitudinal studies with adolescents, adults and older adults to understand the predictors of entering and sustaining recovery, and creating the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) coordinating center for teaching evidenced based assessment to support clinical decision making at the individual level and program evaluation. He has multiple awards for moving the field from science to practice, promoting diversity through practice based evidence and bringing more people into the field.

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