If you have a teenager who is going through issues such as addiction or a mental health issue, you might have been offered the option of either residential or outpatient treatment plans. Many parents balk at having their teen go to an inpatient, or residential, facility, but when they consider the benefits, change their minds. It is difficult to have your teen living somewhere other than in your home, but there are many reasons that a residential treatment plan might be the best and most effective for your teen. Here are 7 benefits of residential treatment for addiction and mental illness that might cause you to decide that inpatient care is the best choice for your family.
1. Removes Teens From Their Current Situation
Many teens who are dealing with mental health concerns or addiction find that they feel “stuck” in their current situation. You might react to his or her difficulties in a predictable way that doesn’t work well with your teen. His or her teachers might not understand the issue, and your teen might want to keep these troubles from friends and acquaintances. All of this can compound and make your teen feel overwhelmed and that there is no hope. Residential treatment can remove your teen from that situation and allow him or her to have a fresh start.
2. A New Set of Peers for Teens
One issue that is often troubling to parents whose teens have an addiction is that their friends seem to be a “bad influence.” This can mean that their peers enable them or encourage them to seek out unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs or alcohol. For teens with depression, an eating disorder, or another mental health issue, their peers might also enable their behavior or not know how to cope with it. Going into residential treatment takes your teen out of those situations and gives them a new set of peers. Part of the benefit is the understanding that these peers (who are also going through treatment) can offer, and part of it is that they can turn over a new leaf with people who don’t know their past.
3. Inpatient Treatment Offers Intensive Support to Teens
While outpatient treatment can offer support when the teen is at the facility and in between with phone calls, inpatient support offers unmatched intensity. There are therapists, nurses, and social workers available 24/7 and any time your teen needs to talk or has a problem, a professional will be available. In addition, your teen will be immersed in a supportive framework through individual therapy, group therapy, and various therapeutic activities. Residential treatment offers more hours per day and more hours per week of support than any other type of treatment.
4. Teens in Residential Treatment Can Keep up with Schoolwork
You might be concerned about your teen’s grades. Many teens who are going through various mental health issues and substance addictions find that their grades fall. In fact, many teens fail their classes and might need to make up credits. This can cause you to worry that spending months in a residential treatment center will leave your son or daughter even further behind. The good news is that teens who live at an inpatient facility will be receiving tutoring and teaching that will help them keep up with (or, if needed, catch up with) their classmates.
5. Inpatient Treatment Provides a Support Group
When your teen leaves residential treatment, his or her need for support is not over. A support group is an invaluable tool for recovering teens; not only does it help them find support when they need it but it also allows them to be supportive to others in similar circumstances. This can be great for your teen’s overall recovery and self-esteem. Teens who go through residential treatment come out with a group of peers who have gone through the same program. They might have slightly different needs and issues, but they have learned to support each other through the treatment and will continue to do so after the program has ended.
6. Residential Treatment Supports Families
When your teen lives at a residential treatment center, you will be there both to visit your child and also to attend family therapy sessions. These sessions will help you learn to communicate better with your teen. They will also help your teen learn to open up and to resolve issues from his or her earlier life that might have exacerbated his or her issues. This can be mentally and emotionally draining for you and the other members of your household, so the facility will be able to offer you support, resources, and referrals that can help you cope.
7. Inpatient Treatment Is Often More Effective Than Outpatient Treatment
Because of the previous six benefits, many families find that inpatient treatment is more effective than outpatient treatment. The support is unmatched, the family is involved, and it gives teens the chance to start over from scratch if they desire. They will come out of treatment newly confident, and you will be given the tools to cope with what you have been through. You will also have a place to turn if you suspect that your teen is relapsing or if you have questions and concerns. While this is a difficult phase of your life and of your teen’s life, the lessons learned in residential treatment will go on to positively impact your relationship with your teen and your teen’s relationship with him or herself and others for decades to come.
Remember, the decision to choose inpatient or outpatient treatment for your teen is between you, your adolescent, and his or her doctor. Be sure to ask whatever questions you need to in order to feel comfortable that you are making the best decisions possible, no matter which direction you choose to go in.
Dr. Nalin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, and Founder and Executive Director of Paradigm Treatment Centers, who has been a respected leader in the field of adolescent mental health for more than 20 years. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California, his Master’s degree from Loyola Marymount University, his Doctoral degree from Pacific University’s APA approved Clinical Psychology program, and completed his training at the University of California, San Diego’s APA approved psychology internship program.
Dr. Nalin has provided training and mentoring to students entering the field of psychology at institutions of learning including Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology, UCSD, Pacific University, and Santa Monica College. He was also instrumental in the development of the treatment component of Los Angeles County’s first Juvenile Drug Court, which now serves as a national model.
Dr. Nalin has appeared as an expert on shows ranging from CBS News and Larry King, to CNN, The Today Show and MTV. He was also featured in an Anti-Drug Campaign for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
Dr. Nalin is a Diplomate of the National Institute of Sports Professionals and a Certified Sports Psychologist as well as a Certified Chemical Dependency Intervention Specialist. He lectures and conducts workshops nationally on the issues of teen mental health, substance abuse prevention, and innovative adolescence treatment.
In 2017 Dr. Nalin was awarded The Sigmund Freud Foundation and Sigmund Freud University’s Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of his work with youth in the field of mental health over the course of his career.