Adolescents and Addiction

Adolescents and Addiction: Helping Teens Change the Course of Their Lives

When you think of pain killer and heroin users, you may not picture your neighbor’s teenage daughter, or your son’s teammate on the baseball team, or even your own adolescent child. But, with one in 10 children ages 12-17 having a substance use disorder, the scary and serious disease of addiction may be closer than you realize.

Yes, this can be terrifying for those of us with teenage family members or friends. But, it’s critical to know where to turn for help the moment that signs of illicit drug use appear.

With an effective, one-of-a-kind approach, Brightside Clinic Adolescent Treatment Program is leading the way for helping adolescents overcome addiction.

How is the Brightside Clinic program so unique? Brightside Clinic treats the whole person by coupling medically assisted treatment using Suboxone with mentally stabilizing the patient through frequent psychiatric counseling. Most rehabilitation options provide either medically assisted treatment or psychiatric counseling, but pairing the two together is a revolutionary concept to help prevent relapse.

“In a typical inpatient rehabilitation scenario, adolescents are expected to quit cold-turkey without medically assisted treatment or counseling, and they’re often successful while in this safe inpatient environment. But, when you put them back into their normal day-to-day life without the skills or tools to handle it, they struggle to find where they now fit in and these seemingly simple things can trigger use again,” said Dr. Diane Copeland, Brightside Clinic’s Clinical Director who specializes in addiction.

This is where the ongoing counseling piece is so critical. Brightside equips youth with the skills they need to live without heroin or pain killers, and also provides a real-time opportunity to help them get through their daily struggles, without going back to pain killer and heroin use. In addition, we evaluate and provide counseling to the patient’s family. Addressing issues and obstacles within the family dynamic is an important component of an adolescent’s recovery.

Having raised four children, Dr. Copeland understands the importance of relating to adolescents on a personal, real-life level and approaches each patient with compassion. Her goal with counseling is simple: for the adolescent to chose to participate and experience what life can be like without opiate addiction. She often encourages her patients by sharing, “Just try it – what do you have to lose? You can always go back. But you may not have this opportunity again.”

Getting adolescents into treatment early is critical for long-term health and development, so don’t delay in contacting Brightside if signs of pain killer or heroine use are present for a loved one. When adolescents abuse pain killers and heroin, brain development essentially stops, so the sooner a child overcomes addiction, the less brain damage takes place and the quicker the damage can be repaired.

Another benefit of early treatment? It helps us catch youth before they start down the common path of criminal behavior – such as robbery and theft – that enables them to continue using.

The Brightside Clinic Adolescent Treatment Program is open to children up to the age of 18. The program begins with a full evaluation that gauges the longevity of substance abuse and desire to quit, which helps the Brightside team develop a customized treatment plan. When appropriate, the patient will then begin medically assisted treatment with Suboxone (or buprenorphine), a medication that virtually stops withdrawal symptoms and cravings from opiate drugs and helps stabilize the patient.

“The Brightside program provides a different type of experience than what people may have experienced before,” Dr. Copeland said. “In typical rehab scenarios, adolescents are often not given any choices and they’re just expected to followed rules. My focus is empowering these kids to make good decisions and choices for themselves – now and later in life.”