Substance abuse is a very slippery slope. No one who experiments with recreational intoxication intends to become addicted to alcohol or drugs. More often than not, individuals are caught by surprise when they realize they have become physically and even psychologically dependent on the substances with which they were experimenting. Oftentimes one won’t even realize they’ve become addicted until they experience withdrawal symptoms for the first time, at which point it’s too late.
There have been numerous studies that have sought to identify the specific variables that make certain individuals especially susceptible to the development of an addiction. According to what we’ve learned so far, individuals of any demographic—one’s age, gender, geographic location, religion, socioeconomic status, and so on—can become an addict. The factors that can result in the development of addiction can be biological, environmental, or developmental, and they vary from one individual to the next. However, teenagers represent a demographic group in which experimentation with substance abuse has become alarmingly common. Perhaps due to the turbulence of adolescence, teens have become a high-risk group for the development of addiction, which is why the treatment of addiction in teenagers has recently become a major focus. In terms of the efficacy of teen addiction treatment, an approach that is multidisciplinary in nature is considered the most comprehensive form of treatment and results in the greatest potential for success in recovery.
What Is the Multidisciplinary Approach to Addiction?
Due to the multifaceted nature of addiction and its effects, treatment and the recovery process as a whole become rather complicated. When a treatment regimen doesn’t address the varied effects of addiction, one’s treatment is inadequate, either preventing the full extent of one’s recovery potential or leaving an individual at a significantly higher risk of relapse. As such, treating only the behavioral aspects of addiction, offering only holistic treatments, and implementing only cognitive behavioral therapy are examples of inadequate treatment approaches since each possible scenario involves accounting for a very limited range of needs. In short, this would be the opposite of a multidisciplinary approach with an individual receiving only a portion of the treatments necessary for a comprehensive recovery.
By definition, something described as “multidisciplinary” could be defined, in short, as being derivative of multiple disciplines. Therefore, it follows that a multidisciplinary approach to addiction treatment refers to the consideration of differing perspectives of recovery and the inclusion of treatments from different disciplinary backgrounds in recovery curricula. Despite the distinction between branches of science and the various specialties in medicine, these different perspectives are frequently found to be complementary. This technique of uniting seemingly differing perspectives in a unified approach has become increasingly common in recent years as research has indicated that the benefits of a multidisciplinary approach far outweigh any perceived shortcomings.
Multidisciplinary Treatment for Teens Suffering from Addiction
Although many individuals underestimate the sheer addictive power of alcohol and drugs, this is especially true of adolescents and teens. Moreover, the allure of substance abuse as a means of fitting in with peers has resulted in alcohol and drug abuse becoming increasingly widespread among youths today with the rate of teen addiction continuing to climb. In order to help teens to overcome a substance abuse habit or develop a chemical dependency, addiction treatment that is comprehensive, drawing from a variety of fields, and utilizing a number of complementary techniques, is essential.
The core of any addiction treatment program—whether it’s intended for teens, adults, or seniors—is counseling and psychotherapy. Drawing from fields that approach addiction treatment in terms of its behavioral foundation, addiction counseling and psychotherapy help teens to identify some of the underlying causes of their substance abuse so that they can better understand the disease and develop strategies to curb this harmful habit. Oftentimes the counseling utilized in recovery programs is based on the tenets of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is a goal-oriented form of psychotherapy that looks at how one’s maladaptive thoughts and emotions result in destructive behavior.
Combined with other forms of psychotherapy such as motivational enhancement therapy —considered especially effective in treating adolescent and teen addicts—counseling serves to illuminate the relationship between a teen’s substance abuse or addictive behavior and his or her thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and even components like social circumstances and environment. Moreover, in instances that involve a teen addict also exhibiting symptoms of a comorbid or co-occurring affliction, dual-diagnosis support is essential. Dual-diagnosis support refers to the simultaneous treatment of addiction as a secondary diagnosis in a single program, which is important as the two conditions will often have a rather complicated connection or causal relationship.
The Right Care at the Right Time
As a teen progresses through an addiction recovery program, the emphasis of treatment tends to evolve from one modality to another as he or she progresses under the supervision and continuous care of highly qualified staff. This ensures that each teen in recovery always receives pertinent treatment when it is needed and most beneficial. If a teen requires detoxification upon intake, the first stage of rehabilitation will involve 24-hour medical supervision by physicians to ensure that the teen overcomes physical dependency safely. In later stages of treatment, teens receive counseling and learn valuable relapse prevention strategies from psychotherapists and behavioral health professionals.
Additionally, social workers will often help to recover teen addicts as well, teaching them the life and social skills that will allow them to be independent, functional adults in society. Social workers are also important when case management is involved, which is a process that ensures each recovering teen has a safe, stable, drug-free home environment to which he or she can return upon completion of the program. In short, multidisciplinary addiction treatment for teens involves continuous supervision, healthcare and medical treatment, counseling, psychotherapy and psychiatry, dual-diagnosis support, psychosocial services, and other components that afford recovering teens with the educational and behavioral components required for a successful, long-lasting recovery.