Teen Vicodin Rehab
A dandelion, poking up from the middle of a pristine, green lawn, is easy to spot. As any gardener knows, just cutting off the sticky flower and ripping out the leaves won’t keep the plant from returning. Far below the green carpet of the lawn, the plant has put down deep roots that nourish the plant and keep it alive. A teen Vicodin addiction is much like this. While a teen could simply stop taking the drug in a detoxification program, the roots of the addiction are still there beneath the surface, waiting to spring to life once more. In this scenario, a Vicodin rehabilitation program for teens is a bit like a garden trowel, used to dig down to find the source and bring it to the surface where it can be examined.
Some therapies focus on the chemical changes the drug causes, and some address the mental and behavioral changes that are associated with addiction. Through therapy, the teen can pull the addiction out by the roots and restore the scene.
Withdrawal Medications for Vicodin
In the past, when detoxification programs ended, the addict was no longer given any medications at all to treat cravings and symptoms. Now, researchers know this isn’t always the best idea. Vicodin is an opiate, closely related to heroin, and adjusting to its loss isn’t easy. Vicodin addiction causes severe chemical changes in the brain, and they can persist for weeks or even months. Often, this means that Vicodin addicts take medications to treat withdrawal even when they’ve transitioned into rehabilitation programs. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association highlights the efficacy of this approach. Here, researchers looked at two groups of teens addicted to opiates. One group was given medications for 12 weeks. The other group only received medication for 14 days. At the end of the monitoring period, only 20 percent of teens given the short course of medications were still in treatment, while 70 percent of those in the long-lasting group stayed in treatment.
This study is important on several fronts. Firstly, it demonstrates why it’s so imperative to keep addicts comfortable during treatment. Teens who enter these programs do so of their own free will, and they can leave at any time. If they are uncomfortable, edgy and unable to relax, they’re less likely to stay. By contrast, if their withdrawal symptoms are controlled, they can focus on their recovery and they’re more likely to complete the program. Secondly, these medications must often be given for a long time in order for the addict to truly recover. The damage doesn’t abate quickly.
Buprenorphine has been proven effective at keeping withdrawal symptoms from opiates at a low level, encouraging the addicts to stay in therapy. A study published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry demonstrates this fact. When teen addicts were given a medication known as clonidine, only 39 percent stayed in the program. By contrast, when teen addicts were given buprenorphine, 72 percent stayed in the program. This drug seems to have a real effect on teen addicts.
If a teen is still taking medications during the detoxification program, the teen’s therapist will closely monitor the addict and ensure that the teen isn’t feeling any symptoms of withdrawal. As the teen improves and the other therapies begin to take hold, the therapist and the addict might choose to taper the medications down, until the addict is no longer taking any medications at all. This is a delicate and careful process, done in close consultation between the addict and the therapist.
Vicodin and Dual Diagnosis
Keeping the addict’s mind clear and motivation high means more than just supplying the addict with replacement drugs. Often, teens develop addictions in concert with other mental illness. One study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that 63.7 percent of teens who entered a treatment program for drug use had some other form of mental illness. These illnesses can keep a teen from doing the hard work of recovery, and they can make Vicodin addiction slightly more persistent and harder to treat.
While few, if any, studies have been performed on Vicodin addiction and mental illness, there are several mental illnesses that have been closely linked to all sorts of addictions in teens. These mental illnesses include:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Anxiety disorders
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that the link between adolescent addiction and mental illness is so strong, in part, because the brain is undergoing a significant amount of change during these critical years. These changes may cause specific windows of opportunity for addiction or mental illness to appear, and the diseases may share common genetic links that make them more likely to appear in tandem. Once they are both in play, they tend to augment and strengthen one another.
For all these reasons, most Vicodin rehabilitation programs include an assessment of the teen’s mental health. The therapist might ask the teen to describe his or her mental state or answer a few simple questions designed to ferret out mental illness. If such an illness is detected, the therapy program for that addict will change dramatically. For example, therapy sessions might focus on the Vicodin addiction and how that addiction helps or harms the person’s mental illness. Some therapy sessions may just focus solely on the mental illness. In addition, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), addiction rehabilitation programs for dual diagnosis patents tend to move at a slower pace than programs designed for Vicodin addiction alone. The addict can’t be pushed hard and forced to learn quickly. Instead, the addict needs to be given more time to adjust to the new realities at a slow and gentle pace.
Most Vicodin addiction programs for teens use some form of behavioral therapy. In some programs, the teen lives in a facility and participates in sessions like this every day. In other programs, the teen lives at home and attends sessions on a less frequent basis. Either model can be effective.
In a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) session, according to NAMI, the person learns to realize that thoughts influence behavior. If the teen can learn to examine those thoughts and truly think about what they mean and where they come from, the teen might be able to recognize those thoughts as untrue or invalid, and not worth acting upon. The average teen brain is likely full of these sorts of thoughts.
- I’m stupid.
- No one likes me.
- I must be perfect, at all times, or people will make fun of me.
- I must do what everyone else does, all the time, or I’ll be isolated.
It’s easy to see how these negative thoughts could spur a teen to Vicodin use. By taking the drug, the teen can relax and let those thoughts go. In therapy, the teen can learn to do this without the use of drugs. This can be a very powerful change.
In addition, teen addiction programs often include family counseling sessions. In these sessions, according to an article published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the addict is considered a part of a dysfunctional group and all members may contribute to the addiction in some way. The addict’s behavior must change, of course, but the behavior of the addict’s family must also change in some way. The entire team must work together to determine how they can communicate effectively, support one another, trust one another and work toward reducing destructive patterns. For Vicodin addicts who have stolen from, lied to or avoided their families due to addiction, this therapy can be quite helpful.
The Importance of Follow Through
During the Vicodin rehabilitation program, the teen learns a wide variety of new coping skills and picks up a great many tools that he or she can use to fight addiction. But, that learning shouldn’t end when the addiction treatment program is over. To return to the gardening metaphor, the original weed of addiction may be pulled out by the roots, but the addiction may have scattered many seeds throughout the lawn. Often, it takes years for the teen to truly recover. Sometimes, it takes a lifetime of work.
At Newport Academy, we can help your child begin this healing process, and we stay involved for years after the original program is complete. Please call us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about our programs.