Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

WinGate is an owner-operated wilderness therapy program. It is designed to assist troubled teens between the ages of 13 and 17. The program uses a systematic approach and specializes in working with teens with a dual diagnosis.

WinGate is a member of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs and is also licensed as an Outdoor Therapeutic Program by the State of Utah. Just one of the programs delivered by WinGate is a therapeutic program for teens with substance abuse issues.

What is Substance Abuse?

According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), substance abuse is a range of disorders where individuals recurrently use either alcohol or drugs or both. This has a significant impact on the life of an individual in terms of both their health and their functionality. A diagnosis of substance abuse is usually made based on evidence that includes pharmaceutical criteria, risky use, impaired control and social impairment. 

It is possible for a teen to have both a physical addiction and a psychological addiction. A physical addiction is a biological state as a result of the body adapting to the presence of certain drugs and the person then develops a tolerance. A psychological addiction is when an addictive behavior occurs as a reaction to emotional stress.

There are many different forms that substance abuse can take and result in a teen needing to attend substance abuse treatment centers. One of the most common is Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). In addition to the health problems associated with intoxication and withdrawal, the excessive consumption of alcohol can put teens at risk of significant health problems in the long-term. 

Alarmingly, excessive alcohol causes approximately 88,000 deaths in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 52.7 percent of people aged 12 years and over regularly consumed alcohol. 

Another problem seen frequently by treatment centers for substance abuse is Opioid Use Disorder. Opioids can either be prescription drugs, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, or illegal drugs, such as heroin. In 2014, approximately 586,000 people had a disorder relating to heroin and 1.9 million people had a disorder relating to the use of prescription painkillers. 

There are also many behavioral addictions that require treatments, such as counseling or group therapy. Examples of these include addictions to gambling or pornography. Although these do not have the same physical health implications as substance abuse addictions, they still have a detrimental impact on the lives of those experiencing these issues and the lives of their families.

What Are Some Of The Causes Of Substance Abuse/Addiction?

Although there are some families who have a genetic risk of developing substance addiction, the majority of the potential causes are lifestyle and social factors. Some of these include family, environmental, and social issues such as, early child development disassociation (lack of nurturing or parental attachment), a chaotic home environment, socialization issues outside the family, association with a deviant peer group, poor coping skills, a perceived approval of drug use, and poor performances in school. 

In other words, mental illness tends to be the cause of substance abuse and ultimately, substance addiction. You see, troubled teens abuse harmful substances as a form of self-medication. The more a teen hurts emotionally or mentally, the more the struggling adolescent will crave an escape. Unfortunately, far too many teens find that their most effective way to temporarily escape from their hidden, psychological pain by using and abusing harmful substances, a la drugs and alcohol. 

It doesn't take too long before this sick cycle of 'self-medicating' with harmful substances becomes an all too addictive crutch for the troubled teen not to lean on when faced with emotional unsettlement. Substance abuse essentially becomes a proverbial prison of addiction from which the young user cannot escape - or at least by the power of their own volition.

For teens such as these, only residential treatment facilities that offer rehabilitation for addictive issues will be therapeutically healing enough to cure them of the disease known as, addiction. 

This self-medicating/addiction model works like this. 

Step 1: teen feels depressed/experiences some kind of mental or emotional pain

Step 2: teen turns to drugs or alcohol to escape said emotional pain

Step 3: teen is successful in escaping pain - albeit (very) temporarily successful

Step 4: teen becomes addicted to substance abusing form of escapism 

Step 5: teen requires therapeutic treatment in order to cure them of their potentially fatal disease (AKA, addiction)

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Common Signs Of Substance Abuse

In regards to the crucial, albeit, stressful 'deciding on whether or not your child is abusing harmful substances,' There are many signs with which a parent can look for. Namely, behaviors that may be indicative to, "substance abusing behaviors." These signs or possible symptoms of drug/alcohol abuse include physical, behavioral and psychological symptoms. 

Common physical symptoms of substance abuse (may) include or more of the following:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Frequent headaches
  • Lethargic in speech and motor functions
  • Frequent confusion/ hungover-like symptoms

Common behavioral symptoms of substance abuse (may) include one or more of the following: 

  • Dishonest/stealing behavior
  • Poor performances in school
  • An increase of risk-taking or impulsive behavior

Common psychological symptoms that (may) indicate substance abuse: 

  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation 
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of interest in others or activities that were once enjoyed 

Any parent who notices any of these signs in their teen should be aware that they may need addiction rehab and substance abuse therapy. They must then find how to find a therapist that treats substance abuse, such as the programs offered by WinGate Wilderness Therapy.

Substance Abuse (Always) Evolves into Substance Addiction 

The sooner that you are able to recognize that your teen or young adult is struggling with addiction, the quicker you will be able to get them the professional help they need in order to heal. In order to simplify this step for parents, we have provided our readers with a behavioral checklist for parents who are suspect their child may suffer a harmful addiction. 

Common signs of substance addiction (may) include one or more of the following: 

  • The loss of interest in things they are usually passionate about
  • Poor management of money (always attempting to borrow money, on in some cases, steal money)
  • Missing school and work
  • A decline in grades
  • A lack of concern about their appearance
  • The inability to control the consumption of a particular drug or substance
  • Sacrificing their social and recreational life

(In other words, look for inexplicable changes in your child's normal routine.)

At WinGate, we understand it takes a concerted approach to helping young adults truly achieve the ability to live a sober life. A few days in rehab cannot accomplish this because there is no true internal change. Our transitional living program is perfect for those young adults who have come out of rehab or other sobriety treatment only to find themselves unable to cope with the pressures of life. We offer the opportunity for these troubled young adults to receive the adequate therapy they need so they can overcome their addiction for self-sufficient Sober Living.

What Causes Substance Addiction? 

As to why young adults become addicted to harmful substances, there are many factors to consider. These factors and/or behavioral/genetic factors, act as triggers or potential causes of addiction. A young person's environmental surroundings, genetic disposition, and/or history of suffering from mental illness are just some of the potential triggers that may cause a young man or woman to develop a substance addiction. 

Common Symptoms Experienced By Teens

While the signs of substance abuse   are something that parents can keep a watch for, the symptoms are something that is experienced by the teen. Some possible symptoms may include nausea, tremors, jaundice, abdominal pain, fever, confusion or hallucinations, altered sleeping patterns and a persistent cough. However, the exact symptoms experienced may vary from one individual to the next and are largely dependent upon the type of substance abuse and the severity. 

The following factors may play a part in the development of substance abuse and eventual addiction:

  • Coping Method: Many young men and women who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, abuse harmful substances in order to 'self-medicate,' or alleviate their emotional and psychological pain.
  • Environment: This potential trigger relates to a person's personal and sociable environment. These factors may include family beliefs, attitudes, and potential encouragement to use harmful substances. 
  • Genetics: This factor obviously refers to one's genetic predisposition for addiction or substance abuse. According to most experts, those who have a family history of drug abuse are much more likely to develop one themselves. 
  • Pleasure Seeking: Abusing drugs is often felt to be highly pleasurable to the abuser. However, those who abuse drugs for pleasurable gains be warned: the devastating results of abusing drugs is not worth the fleeting moments of ecstasy. 
  • Mental Illness: Statistics show that mentally ill young men and women are much more likely to abuse harmful substances. In many cases, mentally ill young adults use and abuse harmful substances in order to mask their psychological and emotional trauma.
  • Dependence: an acquired physical dependence on a particular substance (or substances); which causes changes in brain nerve cells after repeated use.

Forms Of Treatment And Therapy For Substance Abuse

There are many different forms of residential treatment for substance abuse. Some of the typical treatments include substance abuse counseling, primary inpatient care, and group therapy for substance abuse. In terms of substance abuse group therapy, there are a variety of accepted treatment options, one of which is cognitive behavioral therapy.

Benefits Of Enrolling At WinGate Wilderness Therapy

Residential treatment programs for substance abuse can have many benefits for both the teens and their families. WinGate is different from many other treatment centers in the respect that it does not use behavior modification techniques as these do not create a lasting change. Instead, an alliance is formed between the teens and the experienced therapeutic team.

The main benefit of this approach is that there is a greater chance of making a positive impact on the life of that teen and it supports them in making changes to their life that will have long-term positive consequences.

WinGate also work closely with families to offer them the support they need and to help them to support their teen in the future. In addition to supplying families with helpful information, the team at WinGate Wilderness Therapy also conduct conference calls and are available to offer online support for families as and when they need help.