The transition period you go through between the last time you walk out of your high school, and the first time you walk into your new apartment or new place of employment, may be one of the most confusing and difficult times in a person’s life. (Also high on the list of confusing and difficult times: puberty.) When you add substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and trauma into the mix, this time can go from being merely “trying” to outright dangerous.
That’s one of the reasons why one year ago this month we officially opened The Claudia Black Young Adult Center, an enhanced version of The Meadows’ original program specifically for young adults.
Why Do Young Adults Need Their Own Program?
Young adults aged 18-26 who struggle with addiction and mental health issues tend to have different needs for long term recovery than adults struggling with similar issues. On top of the challenges that come along with the symptoms of unchecked emotional trauma, young adults also face the challenge of establishing themselves in society. They may have not yet developed a solid identity, figured out their career path, built strong social networks, or have the means to support themselves financially. When you take these “normal” kinds of instability, and add the turmoil of trauma, addiction, depression and anxiety to the mix, you often end up with a young adult who is careening on a course toward disaster.
Who Can We Help The Most?
At the Claudia Black Young Adult Center, 65 percent of our patients come to us to be treated for addiction. Alcohol, marijuana, heroin, prescription pain pills, and methamphetamines are just some of the many drugs we see young adults struggling with. The majority battle with severe depression, often suicidal ideation and attempts, and social and generalized anxiety. In fact, most of our patients are experiencing more than one condition at the same time.
We excel at treating patients who struggle with multiple conditions and who may have tried and failed treatment many times before. We excel because our clinical team places an emphasis on thoroughly assessing each patient to uncover any secondary or co-occurring conditions that often accompany a primary diagnosis, in addition to teaching them the skills needed to navigate these disorders. Often, at other treatment centers, patients will only be treated for their primary condition. We believe that leaving co-occurring conditions unaddressed increases the risk for relapse, because the underlying condition will move in to replace the one that was addressed.
How Has the Program Evolved?
Before we established a separate young adult program more than two years ago, people in this age range were treated alongside people of all ages at The Meadows main campus. We realized we could work with them more effectively with modalities that spoke to their style of learning.
Here are a few of the ways that we work to address the unique needs of our patients at the Claudia Black Young Adult Center:
1. More Trauma and Grounding Work
Young adult patients are often in very different and much rawer stages of working through their trauma; the trauma they experienced in childhood is not as long past. They need different types of interventions and different styles of group therapies to help them regulate their emotions and focus on the work of addressing their deep-seated trauma and the distorted core beliefs they have developed about themselves.
In the last year, we’ve added a bigger emphasis on grounding experiences to help patients calm and center themselves so that they can maximize the work done in individual and group therapy sessions. And, for the trauma work itself, we can offer patients 10 –12 sessions of neurofeedback, along with Yoga, Somatic Experiencing, and EMDR, as recommended by our staff psychiatrist. We also offer Equine Therapy, Expressive Arts, and Acupuncture, and all Claudia Black Center patients attend The Meadows’ signature Survivors Workshop.
2. More Education and Involvement for The Family
Young adults, whether or not they live with their parents, are still dependent upon their families. This means that our Family Week needs to directly address issues within the family system in the here and now in addition to addressing issues from the past.
Family members of our patients have the option of participating in three webinars during the patient’s stay: two at the beginning and one near the end of treatment. The webinars are led by family counselors and focus on helping families better understand issues like enabling, leverage, and powerlessness. These sessions also give family members some ideas on what to expect during treatment and after. Families are also invited to attend Family Week on campus where they will attend multi-family group sessions, see a primary therapist, a psychiatrist, and a continuing care specialist.
3. More Community Building and Leadership Opportunities
Having a strong and reliable social network is key to long-term recovery. Young adults in our programs often struggle with building meaningful relationships and strong social networks. Drugs and alcohol, sex, and the internet all commonly have acted as social buffers that allow them to avoid being vulnerable and truly connecting with others. Some conditions, like social anxiety and depression, can even act as complete social barriers, leaving the person with few true, relational experiences to learn from overall. To help patients improve their relational skills in a safe and supportive environment, we structure our program around daily community meetings and nightly group gratitude meetings.
Another key to long-term recovery is finding a way to tap into an overall sense of purpose. That’s why we recently redefined the phases or our program to allow those who have reached a stage of readiness to participate in off-campus community service activities. We also give those who have reached the final stage of their treatment the opportunity to lead our daily community meetings. Our patients love the sense of empowerment and purpose they gain from these activities.
Hope for The Future
Many patients come to us feeling hopeless. Many have been through treatment several times and have experienced the frustration of multiple relapses and/or the reoccurrence of symptoms of their mental disorder. We pride ourselves on our ability to find the root cause of our patients’ struggles, allowing us to treat multiple, severe, co-occurring conditions at the same time. If you’ve lost hope for yourself or a loved one, give us a call today at 855-333-6075. We’ll take the time to evaluate your particular needs and give you the kind of care and attention you deserve.