Drug Counseling

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Nomad, Mar 7, 2011.

  1. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Long story...just got a master's degree...have to get additional hours for my license.
    Truth be told, drug counseling/prevention is not my top choice of career for when I get my license. But this is where these entry level jobs are for the moment AND I need these additional hours. So.... last year I worked for one year at a DUI Counseling Center. Now, I find myself working at a drug counseling place where people (mostly teens) are court ordered to attend. It would help me A LOT if I could get some input from parents who have brought their children to a place like this. We do group and individual counseling as well as periodic (required) drug testing. So, if you don't mind, here are some questions for those with this type of experience:

    1. What helped your difficult child more, as far as you could tell, individual or group counseling?
    2. What type of counselor was more effective for your difficult child? (Relaxed, funny, educational, someone with personal experience (drug use), older, younger, etc.)
    3. Did the counseling center offer counseling for parents? If not, would you have gone to counseling at the center if they did offer it?
    4. Do you think your difficult child never took this counseling seriously?
    5. What would you have done differently? What did you like...and/or dislike?

  2. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest


    Not sure I can completely answer because my son is clearly not out of the woods, is newly sober, with a lot of supports and so I hesitate to say what worked or didn't work. I do think there were some things about the rehab he went to that were helpful (I hope). One is that it was residential. I really don't think for my son an outpatient program would have been enough.... at least not if it was here at home. In fact that was one of his options, to do drug court which would have been through the court but he would have had to live at home and we could not allow that. Plus I know for him going to that tx and hanging out with all his old friends would not have worked.... I can imagine he would have gone to the meetings and avoided drugs like pot that stayed in your system.... but would have done some of his OTC drugs that don't show up..... AND this of course was because at the point he left for rehab I don't think HE was committed to sobriety.

    So he needed more...

    At the rehab, and currently, I think he is being helped by both groups and individual. I have no idea which is more helpful but I think he has needed both which he is getting.

    I think for my son relaxed, funny, direct and personal experience. I think he needed someone who had been there. I believe almost all the employees at the rehab are recovering addicts. Not sure about that. But he needs someone who will call him on his stuff and that has that credibility.

    I think he has taken it seriously since he has been there.... but he kind of had to otherwise he was going to face jail time. That was a strong motivator for him. I am not sure how he will look at it once he moves on from the program and is no longer in sober living. Time will tell.

    The rehab is out of state so obviously we (the parents) did not go there for counseling. We have had and will continue to ahve some phone sessions with him and his therapist. My husband is going to see him this week and will meet with him and his therapist. So yes I would be more than willing to participate in any kind of family program.

    Hope this helps.
  3. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    As you know easy child/difficult child did out patient plus three inpatient programs. What did he learn that has helped a bit (he is an active alcoholic and probably still smokes pot on occasion but not on a regular basis)?

    He did learn about the actual dangers of heavy drugs. He had used a number of them and popped pills frequently. The degree of addiction, the long term side effects etc. combined with hearing personal experiences from heavy users impacted his choices for the future.

    The most important factor was the therapists. At different times and places he had some very arrogant therapists who put him on the defensive pronto. The personality match was not right. Just like in normal life some people "click" and others don't. In total he had three therapists who had a positive influence. The first woman at the outpatient program remains the most respected. She focused on him...not just "the addict". She gave him assignments that appeared to be a little bit silly to encourage him to explore his choices. For example, she had a chart (I still have it and easy child/difficult child recently saw it for the first time in many years) that showed faces displaying different emotions. There was a two sided laminated sheet with smileys, fearful, anger etc. that they used to identify how he was feeling about choices he made, people he was hanging out with etc. The talked about what qualities he admired in others and in himself. She kept her records secret if he shared experiences that might put him in jeopardy...and discussed the tools to avoid repeat poor choices.I've often wondered if programs couldn't try a match up and then meet with the addict with-o that therapist present to find
    the best combo.

    The other two therqpists were men who were fairly young and recovering addicts. They both were non-confrontational and also explored rather than confronted.
    So, in my humble opinion, the most important factor is matching personalities.

    Congrats on your degree. I'm sure you will make many lives better. DDD
  4. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Nomad,

    Congratulations on the masters!

    My difficult child was involved with intensive outpatient treatment for five weeks after her inpatient release. It was a group therapy session, four days a week for 4 hours each day. They did drug/alcohol counseling, talk sessions, education, relapse prevention, drug screening, you name it. Most of the people there were court ordered to be there. I'll give you my thoughts to your questions and some input on things you haven't asked.

    1. I believe the individual therapy she received while in inpatient helped her more than the group sessions. During the group sessions she could hide, not participate or pay attention, act silly to get laughs, say what she thought they wanted to hear, comment on other people's comments and not internalize it to herself. In individual therapy the therapist could see through her and talk about those things she felt were needed to be talked about rather than what the group needed. difficult child had to be an active participant.

    2. Her therapist in inpatient was most helpful because she was a recovered addict and she didn't take any bologna from difficult child, if you know what I mean, yet she was able to gain difficult child's support by showing her that she really cared about her. difficult child has long ago learned how to manipulate male therapists and be cute with them, flirt.

    3. Yes we were offered counseling for parents and yes we attended. Out of maybe 20 clients at a time there were only 4 or 5 parents who attended on parent day.

    4. I think there was a short time when difficult child took her counseling seriously during inpatient. But then she began making friends and contacts with other addicts who didn't take it seriously and quickly decided she didn't have a problem and/or didn't want to change. I think she saw the other young people there and considered herself a teen that drinks and uses drugs, not a young person who was deeply in trouble .

    5. I'm not sure if I could have done anything differently. If I had the resources I would have put her in a single gender rehabilitation treatment center far from home. There was far too much mingling of the males/females and even though they had a rule against it, a lot of sexual activity occurred. I know our difficult child could never have gotten clean with males around, she never would have taken the inventory of herself or gotten enough self esteem to change.

    From my experience, most all of the young people who attended the outpatient group therapy were only there to fulfill whatever requirements the court put on them. They never intended to become drug/alcohol free. They learned what they had to do to work the system. difficult child went into treatment willing to get sober, she came out having learned many new ways of doing drugs and getting away with it. She learned how to pass urine drug screens (I hope the program you are in does not allow them to give you the sample without watching, most all teens buy synthetic urine and keep it warm with hand warmers and pull it out of their socks or pants). She made contacts with people who were hard core into drugs and other illegal activity to support their habit. She went to AA meetings and other young people who were not serious and the first chance they got they used, even while attending meetings. When a new young person came into the meeting, they asked them if they were court ordered. They knew no one went on their own.

    difficult child's counselors were really hoping difficult child could become an inspiration to other young people. We know how that turned out :(. I don't know what the answer is but I do know that most people consider our drug court here a farce. The clients do what they need to do to get the courts off their backs. The judges hold weekly sessions and they all clap for those who graduated. Then they go right out and start all over again.

    I have found that there are people who can get clean/sober from these programs but they are usually older and have hit bottom and have a lot at stake. The young people I have seen don't care about their lives yet, they see all their friends using and they think they can too.

    I know I sound pessimistic and I am. I am not sure any amount of counseling can help people who have not come to the conclusion on their won that they want to quit. My husband is even more convinced that no program or counseling helps, People change on their own when they want to change and only then, and if they want to change they don't need a program behind them.

    I don't know if any of this is helpful to you but I wish you luck, and maybe you will be the one to insprre one young person to quit.

  5. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Thank you everyone! I will print your responses and save them.
    I also think that, particularly when it comes to drug dependence, the client needs to make a personal decision/choice for help/improvement/CHANGE before things can really get rolling. However, one can hope that something they hear in therapy before that choice is made will "click" later down the road when they are ready, making them ready a little sooner or making their progress a little smoother.
  6. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Nomad... What you said about making a decision for change is true.

    What may or may not also be important - is the patient/user's attitude. Some (a lot of our difficult children in fact) are very good at playing the system.

    Onyxx was told to attend a class on drugs. Yup, she learned quite a bit. I do not think the aim of the class was to teach her better ways to get high. But there it was. The counseling she received? She does understand exactly what can happen. But, one, she is a teen - "it won't happen to me" - and two, she just does not care. But even so, she is able to act - put on that serious face - "yes, I understand. No, I don't think that is a good thing. I won't do that, ever" - and then the next week test positive.

    I agree with Nancy though. The younger they are? The less likely counseling, rehabs or any other program are to really affect them. Because as a teenager? They haven't hit bottom. Bottom is when you have no support. No one doing things for you. Nothing. And you realize it's over unless you do something. Some people don't ever hit bottom - they die.
  7. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    The youngsters who get caught and sent to classes, in my humble opinion, can be redirected more easily than those who have developed patterns. The twelve, thirteen year old frequently is so eager to belong that they end up with sorry peers...and if joints are the norm they join in. These kids are not addicts usually. They are kids who have veered off the straight and narrow. A couple of years down the line if they don't have intervention then their world revolves about the using friends and the pattern of using has become a habit.

    I strongly believe in early appropraite counseling. As we all know there is not alot of good counselors available which is really unfortunate. Alot of confused easy child's get on that narrow line and once it becomes apparent to them that they are perceived as difficult child's many lives are changed forever. I've seen it happen to a number of wonderful kids. For the early entrants I definitely think individual therapy is the better choice so they don't see themselves as lost causes. DDD
  8. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    D3, you have a good point about redirection. I hadn't exactly been thinking about it that way. Intervention would work with a lot of kids, and I do agree about individual counseling.

    There are some kids, though, that don't test the waters - they jump in head first. These are the ones that I think would be harder to help. The reason I think this is - Onyxx. She didn't just "hang out" with people who smoked marijuana - she was trying to self-medicate.
  9. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    DDD I wish that was my experience. We had gotten difficult child counseling very early on but nothing worked. I would agree though that at that age individual counseling is much better. Group counseling fills their heads with more bad ideas and introduces them to a lot of negative influences. And even though it has not been my experience, I still do recommend drug counseling asap, there may be a few that will take it seriously and that is worth it.

  10. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I'm intriqued by all said here.
    Someone once told me this. There are three kinds of kids. (You can replace 'mother' with anyone in authority who has knowledge/experience, etc.)
    Kid #1
    a) My mother always has my back and since she told me that touching the hot stove will hurt, I'm going to believe her and not touch the stove. Period. End of story.
    b) My mother always has my back and since she told me that touching the hot stove will hurt, I'm not likely to touch it. Let me ask someone else I respect or research it. She was right. I'm not going to touch it. I'll get hurt.
    Kid #2
    My mother always has my back and told me that touching the hot stove will hurt. But sometimes, maybe it wont. I want to test it out for myself. So, I'm going to touch it and experiment. Ouch! That hurt! I'm not going to be touching it again. She was right.
    Kid #3
    My mother seems to have my back (but sometimes she just likes to tell me what to do!) and told me that touching the hot stove will hurt. But, she might be wrong! So, I'm going to test it out for myself, touch it and experiment. Ouch! That hurt! Maybe it wont happen again. Let's try it a second time. Ouch! That hurt. Maybe the third time is the charm. OUCH!

    #3 is the kid you REALLY worry about.
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip


    Oh, that was GOOD.

    I think that most of the time, I'm kid#1 - and the rest, kid#2.

    Then again... Maybe not...
  12. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Interesting points. My difficult child definitely jumped in head first, and also was #3 Nomad talks about... problem with drugs is they often don't hurt the first several times, in fact they can be fun and feel good!!! I believe my son was experimenting on his own with alcohol when he was around 12 or 13. That was the scary thing, we discovered some beer missing and he had taken it out into the woods and drank by himself to start with!!! This was not a kid who was peer pressured into drug use.... I think he went looking for peers who were into drugs and of course he found plenty. This was a kid who looked around the house for things he could find and tried them. Yes I do think he was self medicating, and also trying to escape his reality. So I don't think all kids get into it just because of peers, although certainly like minded peers help keep it going.

    I do think there are plenty of kids who will try some pot or alcohol at a party and do a bit but not get into in any kind of serious way. I was one of those kids.... thing is it never did enough for me or I didn't really care about the high that much. It was fun..... but I did not crave it or go looking for it. You probably are not going to see those kids in any kind of drug counseling program and they may not need it.

    As far as being the one who wants to make a change. I agree with that, although i do think people often go to rehab due to external forces and don't really want it themselves at first... but can get to that point during rehab. I would put my son into that category. He had some strong external motivation but I don't think he was internally motivated at first, my hope is that he is more so now.