There’s not much you can do to prepare yourself for the fear, anger and pain that accompanies learning your child has a drug or alcohol addiction. Substance abuse affects the whole family, and the best way to help your child get the help needed to recover is to thoroughly educate yourself about treatment and recovery.
The more you know about addiction, the better you can help your child come to terms with their addiction, find helpful resources, choose the right treatment program and become involved in your child’s treatment and aftercare in the most effective ways possible.
This 14-part series is designed to help provide you with the information you need to face this struggle and help your child and your family find the path to recovery.
Medical Detox: The First Step of Treatment and Recovery
Understanding how addiction treatment works can help you better support your child during and after rehab. It’s essential to choose a recovery program that takes a holistic approach to treatment, adheres to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Principles of Effective Treatment and utilizes best-practices protocol and research-based therapies.
If your child has developed a physical dependence on drugs or alcohol, detox will be the first step in treatment. Medical detox breaks the drug or alcohol dependence by allowing the substance of abuse to be flushed from the body so that brain function can begin to return to normal.
Medical detox is supervised by medical and mental health professionals. Depending on the substance, withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, and medications will be used during the detox process to help alleviate the intensity of certain symptoms, such as depression, nausea, cravings and seizures.
During the detox process, your child will be evaluated for mental illness. Depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses commonly co-occur with addiction, and integrated treatment that addresses each condition in the context of the other is absolutely essential for successful recovery. A treatment plan will be developed based on your child’s needs and preferences.
Once the detox process is complete, treatment will begin. Treatment involves the administration of a variety of traditional and alternative therapies that will help your child develop the skills, tools, strategies and techniques necessary to recover for the long-term. Therapy is administered in both individual and group settings.
A variety of traditional therapies are used in treatment:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps your child identify and replace self-destructive thoughts, beliefs and attitudes.
- Motivational interviewing helps your child identify her own reasons for wanting to recover and draws on her intrinsic motivation in order to improve the outcome of treatment.
- Family therapy is essential for restoring function to the household, improving communication among family members and working to restore broken relationships.
- Motivational incentives help your child abstain from drugs and alcohol by offering rewards, such as vouchers or cash, for maintaining sobriety.
Alternative Treatment Therapies
Some of the alternative therapies often used in treatment include:
- Acupuncture, which can help alleviate cravings and other symptoms associated with detox and post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
- Yoga, which helps relieve stress, promotes mindfulness and helps to foster other healthy lifestyle changes.
- Biofeedback, a stress-relief technique that involves teaching your child to control and change the body’s response to stress, such as lowering heart rate and body temperature and reducing muscle tension.
- Meditation, which is becoming increasingly accepted by the medical community as a highly effective tool for recovering from a large number of diseases, including addiction. Meditation helps alleviate cravings, and it promotes mindfulness in recovery.
“When Your Child Has an Addiction” Continues
In the next entry in this series, learn about aftercare, relapse and relapse prevention. Continued in “My Child Has an Addiction, Part 13: Aftercare and Relapse Prevention”.