Dual Diagnosis for Teens and Young Adults

When parents come to me for help with a placement for either their adolescent or young adult, the issues may sometimes involve more than one problem. When this type of situation occurs, it can often be considered a dual diagnosis for a teen or a young adult. Although there are many diagnoses that can be considered it may frequently also involve trauma. Couple those diagnoses with the use of an illegal substance and you have the making for a dual diagnosis in either a teen or young adult.

A dual diagnosis in teens or in young adults can present with an even more complicated profile. The teen or young adult with mental health problems, may be trying to self-medicate with some sort of illegal substance or even substances that may be legal but mind altering and dangerous, such as spice or bath salts. Even though your teen or young adult may be seeing a very gifted therapist or psychiatrist locally and being prescribed appropriate medication, clients sometimes refuse to take follow those recommendations in favor of going the route of self-medication through other substances. In those situations, it is even more important that you as the parent choose the right placement.

Although many therapeutic programs advertise that they can treat a dual diagnosis for a teen or for a young adult, many truly cannot handle the more complex situations, which may include trauma work. The issues surrounding trauma may have been hidden in your teen or young adult for many years, being covered over and clouded by self-medicating with legal or illegal substances. It takes a highly trained therapeutic staff to peel back the layers of pain and hurt that may have caused your teen or young adult to inappropriately treat themselves.

Parents may feel that substance abuse is the root of the issue for their adolescent or teen,
when in reality, the issues may be much more complex and deeply rooted. Do not make the
mistake of placing your teen or young adult in a program that simply advertises that they
can treat a teen or young adult with a dual diagnosis. It will take a sophisticated and
well trained staff to tease out the true issues that may be causing your teen or young
adult to stumble. Don’t you owe it to your child to give them the best chance to get their
life back, rather than crossing your fingers and hoping you have made the right choice?