The number of adolescents and young adults who struggle with substance abuse is staggering in the United States. In a majority of cases, students who struggle with substances have some underlying issues that have caused them to use. Some students are considered “dual diagnosis,” meaning that the student has both an addiction issue and a mental health issue. Substance use can start as a way to fit in and/or feel less anxious in social situations, as a way to deal with anxiety from a learning difference, or as a way to relieve stress or trauma. In addition, often addictive patterns are seen in families over multiple generations and can be related to an original family trauma, such as a death or illness in the family. It is crucial, therefore, to engage the family system in the process of recovery and not just the person of concern. The long-term recovery process is greatly enhanced when the family is engaged and is part of the recovery process.
In a book called Changing for Good, authors Prochaska, Norcross, and DiClemente conducted research on how people begin to address and recover from addiction. Their six stages are pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination. The Price Group can often intervene with the family when a student or young adult is in a “precontemplation” or denial phase. The young person may deny he or she has a problem with substances. The family often meets with the educational consultant to give a history or background information about the problem and the dynamics of the family. In some cases, the young person may also have had some “natural consequences” that create a need for action, such as legal issues or school expulsion. Whatever the motivational factors or situation, Louise Slater and May Peach will work with the family to get the loved one to treatment and to help the family begin to learn healthy ways to support the loved one and each other.
Recovery programs offer a continuum of care. Historically, the way the 30/60/90 day model for recovery programs developed because the military gave veterans benefits up to 90 days after WW II. These “magical days” for recovery had nothing to do with helping a person with their recovery. It had to do with the amount of money the military was willing to spend on their returning soldiers. As we know today, this model is not effective in helping most people with recovery.
We believe that when a person begins to use substances or engage in self-soothing behaviors such as gambling, gaming or other compulsive behaviors that begin to take over our “reptilian brain” or the limbic system that person becomes substance depended. In order for that person to get better, they need an intensive, long-term treatment program that starts with a great deal of structure and gradually allows more freedom and independence while creating support around life skills. This usually takes 9 to 12 months instead of the military model. To successfully stay in recovery a person needs family and community support.
There is a growing national movement to incorporate recovery programs and services on college campus across the US. These programs are called Collegiate Recovery Communities or CRC. Louise is a member of an organization called The Association for Higher Education (ARHE). The members of this organization believe that students should not have to choose between recovery and a college education. Louise is also a member of the Young Adult Transitional Association (YATA). These two organizations give Louise access to many services and resources for college-age students. These support services range from college programs that offer wrap-around services to more independent living with therapeutic support. The national statistic is that one in five college-age students have a substance abuse disorder but with the right support, these students can graduate from college and have a successful career. Most parents are unaware of this problem until their child ends up on academic probation or get asked to withdraw from their college. We can help with students dealing with substance and process addictions.