Should I Choose Outpatient or inpatient Rehab for My Son?
The statistics surrounding teenage drug abuse will likely shock most parents. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, by the time teenagers become high school seniors rates of drug abuse go as follows:
- 20 percent have abused prescription-based drugs
- 70 percent have tried alcohol
- 40 percent have smoked cigarettes
- Rates increase for teenagers living in high-stress home environments
Boys in particular show a high proclivity towards risk-taking behaviors, one of which being drug abuse. Parents considering drug treatment for a son have likely observed signs that warrant cause for concern. Fortunately, a range of treatment options exists for teenagers, whether outpatient or inpatient oriented.
Deciding between outpatient or inpatient treatment can be difficult, especially when a child denies a problem exists. Ultimately, the choice between outpatient or inpatient treatment boils down to the severity of your son’s drug problem.
Teen Drug Abuse
The developmental stages characteristic of adolescence come with certain normal drives and inclinations, such as:
- A teen’s need to carve out his or her own identity
- A craving for new experiences
Unfortunately, the “highs” that come with drug abuse meet all these criteria, especially when peer pressure becomes a factor. Whether your son actually turns to drugs depends on availability as well as on the types of behaviors he observes in perceived role models.
Another contributing factor has to do with the varying stages of development the teenage brain goes through. During this time, some areas of the brain develop more quickly than others.
These conditions create a window of vulnerability to drug abuse since the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and decision-making lags well behind the centers that regulate reward and punishment. In effect, teens that get caught in the drug culture “crossfire” remain at high risk for the duration of this development stage.
Outpatient or Inpatient Drug Rehab?
The question of whether to place your son in outpatient or inpatient drug rehab centers around the degree of dysfunction his life has taken on since drugs became an issue. As inpatient programs implement the more structured, intense treatment approach, these programs work best for teens struggling with severe addiction problems, according to Case Western Reserve University. Outpatient programs allow for more flexibility and freedom, so teens who’ve managed to maintain some degree of normalcy in their daily lives are best suited for this level of treatment.
Outpatient or inpatient Treatment – Questions to Ask
Has Your Son’s Drug Use Caused Problems at School?
With each successive dose, drugs alter the brain’s chemical make-up gradually creating a state of imbalance and instability. With frequent drug use, teens start to neglect important life areas as their priorities shift.
In effect, drugs “reprogram” the brain, creating a physical dependency that eventually evolves into a psychological dependence. In terms of outpatient or inpatient treatment, teens having serious problems at school or those who’ve stopped going to school altogether will likely require inpatient treatment help.
Has Your Son’s Drug Use Caused Problems in the Home?
As drugs take on increasing importance in teens’ lives, their ability to feel empathy for others will decrease over time. Teens may also start to rebel against parental authority as drugs eat away at their sense of “right and wrong.” Once your son’s behavior reaches the point where he becomes violent towards others, the question of outpatient or inpatient treatment leans more so towards inpatient treatment.
Has Your Son Lost Interest in Other Activities?
Addictive substances have damaging effects on an area of the brain known as the reward system. The reward system combines incoming information from the cognitive and emotion-based brain centers to determine a person’s motivations, drives, belief systems and priorities.
With ongoing drug abuse, drives and motivations gradually shift towards the positive rewards experienced from drug use. Teens who’ve lost interest in previously enjoyed activities have begun to show signs of a drug problem. Unless other more pressing problems have also materialized, the choice between outpatient or inpatient treatment leans more towards outpatient care as the problem hasn’t yet reached drastic proportions. Regardless of whether you choose outpatient or inpatient care, both types of programs help teens work through addiction-based thinking patterns and “re-develop” healthy mindsets.
Does Your Son Show Signs of Mental Decline?
Most all addictive substances have a chemical make-up that closely resembles one or more neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. These similarities account for why the brain so readily tolerates addictive substances.
Over time, these substances wear away at brain cell structures, weakening overall brain function. These effects show up in your son’s ability to think clearly, which can greatly impair his ability to interact with others, carry out tasks and function effectively in the classroom.
At this point the choice between outpatient or inpatient treatment depends on the degree of dysfunction that results. When caught early, outpatient treatment may suffice provided no other psychological or emotional problems exist.
How Would You Rate Your Son’s Ability to Exercise Good Judgement?
Today’s generation of teenagers face more dangers than ever before. Teens old enough to drive have a degree of freedom comparable to adults, which makes for a precarious dilemma when drug abuse enters the picture.
The more severe the drug problem, the less likely a teen will be able to exercise good judgement when put to the test. Ultimately, the severity of the drug problem dictates whether outpatient or inpatient care is warranted.
Does Your Son Struggle with Bouts of Depression and/or Anxiety?
Drug abuse has a cumulative effect on the brain’s chemical workings creating an imbalanced environment where psychological disorders can easily take root. Likewise, teens struggling with psychological problems may well turn to drugs as a means for self-medicating uncomfortable symptoms.
When combined, these two conditions tend to aggravate one another to the point where both conditions worsen over time, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. When mental illness and addiction co-exist, the choice between outpatient or inpatient treatment becomes inpatient treatment hands down, as teens struggling with these problems require a comprehensive level of care.
Outpatient or Inpatient Treatment? – Considerations
Parents who know their teens use drugs would do well to take action as soon as possible as drug abuse tends to take on a life of its own when left unattended. Whether choosing outpatient or inpatient care, the steps you take today can save your son a lifetime of pain and frustration.