Medicine Pills.
Medicine Pills.
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Shining the Light: Spotlight on Teen Mental Health logo

Lisa Kaplan is program coordinator for community education at Maplegrove Center, which provides inpatient and intensive outpatient addiction treatment for adults and intensive outpatient programs (IOP) for youth up to age 18 and their parents.

Kaplan runs the parent program of the IOP, and she says the first step for parents is “not to be in denial. Addiction gets worse over time. Early intervention is the key.”

Parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing, she says. “In a lot of cases, kids are using right under their parents’ noses, and parents write it off to normal teenage behavior.

“Many parents say they behaved the same way when they were kids, but what they don’t know is that it’s more dangerous for today’s kids. Marijuana today is way more dangerous; the THC level is much higher than ever before, causing addiction and mental health problems that didn’t exist when they were kids.”

If parents suspect their child is a chronic user, the first step is to have the child evaluated by an adolescent therapist who has experience with substance abuse. That person will recommend detox, if needed, and a treatment program.

Lisa Kaplan
Lisa Kaplan

Maplegrove’s intensive outpatient program involves three hours per day, three days per week for six weeks. Teens undergo group therapy, educational lectures and workshops taught by adolescent peer mentors to learn about the 12-step programs. Parent attendance is mandatory two days per week. Parents participate in psychoeducational support groups, educational lectures and also learn about 12-step programs by adult peer mentors.

Therapy is not the cure-all, Kaplan says. “Addiction is a chronic illness and people who are not ready for recovery are going to continue to use,” she says. “We have kids who come in — because they’re required to — with no intention of becoming clean or sober. Our goal for these patients is to move them further down the continuum to a higher stage of readiness through education and therapy.”

A 12-step program is also an important part of treatment, both for the addicts and their family. “Kids have a higher chance of succeeding in recovery if parents are also in a recovery program like Al-Anon, Nar-Anon or Families Anonymous. You can find meetings at familiesanonymous.org, which attracts parents of teens and young adults.”

Maplegrove also offers educational and support groups for family members of people who have problems with alcohol or other drugs. They are free and open to all, not just families being treated in their programs. For more information about Maplegrove’s community education programs, contact Lisa Kaplan or a member of the community education staff at (248) 661-6170.

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