Does Your Teen Son Need Residential Treatment?

Does Your Teen Son Need Residential Treatment?


When teen boys develop mental health disorders or substance abuse problems, living at home can be difficult for them and their families. Disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or bipolar disorder cause behaviors that are worrisome to parents. Some of these disorders can even compromise the safety of the person or other people. If depression is a result of substance abuse, some teens even turn to crime to finance their drug habit.

If families notice behaviors of a possible mental health disorder or substance abuse, talking to the teen to discuss those concerns is a vital starting point. A family physician should be conducted next and research can be conducted to look into further options such as residential treatment.

The primary care physician can take a case history and make a thorough examination to rule out any physical causes. Generally, a referral is made to a psychiatrist, psychologist or other qualified clinician. The clinician may have some recommendations for treatment providers, but the ultimate decision lands in the hands of the family.

Managing Behaviors at Home

Regardless of whether he is suffering from borderline personality disorder, major depression or bipolar disorder, it’s difficult for him to look beyond what he is feeling. Therefore, the teen will be more than likely unwilling to communicate thoroughly to explain his symptoms. Many teens don’t communicate well with their parents even in a normal situation. The addition of a mental health disorder or substance abuse compounds that problem. Setting boundaries for acceptable behavioral standards at home is an initial step to take before looking into more drastic measures with treatment.

Investigating Residential Treatment Programs

As a parent, the first instinct might be to research treatment centers that are relatively close to home. While it may be convenient, choosing a treatment provider that is within close proximity may not be the best facility for the teen’s specific needs. Looking into options throughout the whole U.S. is highly recommended. Some things to look for:

  • There are adolescent centers available. Such centers specialize in treating teens, and their patients tend to be more responsive when among peers their age
  • Read patient reviews of their experience at a specific treatment center
  • Check to see if continuing care is available
  • An ideal center will have an alumni department to keep in touch and provide support and encouragement
  • Look for a center offering dual diagnosis – the diagnosis of an underlying condition which accompanies the primary condition. When all conditions are treated concurrently, a successful outcome is much more likely
  • Brain wellness depends on cognitive health. Some centers offer cognitive testing with subsequent treatment to achieve maximum brain wellness
  • A reputable center will involve families in the process and offer information and events for families

After conducting research and progressing further in the enrollment process, the following questions are recommended when speaking to an admissions specialist:

  • What is your academic curriculum and may I see it?
  • Is your program state-licensed?
  • Is your program overseen by a clinical director? May I see his/her credentials?
  • What accreditation agency has accredited your program?
  • May I see the credentials of your staff members?
  • How much clinical experience does your staff have?
  • Will my child receive an individualized treatment plan?
  • What is your admission criteria?
  • Do you have medical staff available? How do you handle medical emergencies?
  • What is your disciplinary process, and may I see your policies and procedures guiding discipline?
  • What is your success rate and how do you define “success?”
  • Can I speak with my son at any time? What is your parental contact policy?
  • What are the costs for inpatient treatment and what will my insurance cover?

Understand Inpatient Treatment

Most residential/inpatient treatment facilities offer numerous forms of therapy, including group, individual, family and experiential. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also extremely effective and innovating in changing the adolescent male’s thought processes and behavior. Medication may also be described at the discretion of a clinician in conjunction with therapy to help manage the symptoms of the mental health disorder or substance abuse.

To recap, making notes and discussing symptoms with the teen is always the first step, followed by speaking to a primary physician and psychologist. If further treatment is necessary, residential facilities are the best option to provide a successful outcome and a renewed, healthy life for the teen.