Acceptance is the first step to receiving the help your child needs. When most teenagers come into our rooms, they are not yet at a place where they can find the acceptance they are needing. They are usually fighting their families and supporters around them on whether or not they have a problem, but deep down there is part of them that recognizes that they need help. The problem we see more often than not is that the peer group around the struggling teenager is not conducive to any sort of emotional growth or revelation around the use. The teen's peer group is usually adding to the behavior and encouraging it. This is why 90% of teens who go to rehab and come back continue to do drugs as they integrate back into their normal group. This is why PDAP was started. When teenagers come into our program the social norm is honesty with oneself and accountability within the group around them. Because of that, the new teenager will slowly start to acclimate to the group around them and reach a place of recognition and acceptance.
Teenagers have so much on their plate. The normal teenager has 40 hours of school, 5-10 hours of homework, 10-15 hours of extracurricular activities and then to top it all off, the pressures of trying to figure out what they want to do for the rest of their lives and whether or not they can get into a good college. When you break it down, teenagers have a short amount of time to really go out and have fun and just be a kid. And more often than not, when they do go out, there is still the lingering stress of it all in the back of their head. It makes sense why they are wanting to escape. They might feel totally trapped. This is why the event component is so crucial to the success of our clients. The drug use always starts with the idea that It's fun or it relaxes you. It starts to become a problem when that goes away and you depend on it to relax you or give you a break from worry. At our events, it's usually just a bunch of teens participating in an activity but taking it to a new level. They have a blast! And they do this because the group is so entertaining its impossible to not be 100% present during them. Even if the event is something they aren't particularly interested in, the group makes it fun by being their normal, ridiculous selves. This is their break from it all, this is where they learn to bond with one another, and this is where they buy into the program.
It all starts with support. Our groups, our functions, our interactions with teens and parents. It's all centered around helping each other. The teens learn to support their peers, the parents learn to share their struggles and allow others to give feedback. In addiction, teens feel alone. Yes, they might have friends that they are using with, but they might also be using with those friends and then escaping to an empty room to use even more once their friends have called it quits. They might feel that they even have to hide their excessive use from the people they use with. Even parents of dependant teens feel alone. Like they can't share about their problems with their friends or family for fear of judgment or blame being put on them. When you come into our meetings you realize that you are not alone and that there are people who have been through it. People who can offer guidance and support. People you can call at one in the morning if you are worried about relapse or your kid relapsing. Everyone is there to give and receive support in their struggles.