Dr. Oelhaf: Teens and drugs, Part 2
Columbus Parent Magazine: Addiction seems like an adult problem. Are there addiction specialists for children?
Robert Oelhaf: It is possible to find addiction specialists particularly in urban areas. A great website is http://www.asam.org.
This is the official website of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Go to this site, click the "Certification" tab and go down to "Certification Verification." Below is a link to the page I found when I put "Columbus" into City and "OH" into State. It found 13 doctors with a Columbus business address. It is possible that there are others around. I would put in different city names and see if any others appeared.
When I put in "OH" in State and "Pediatrics" in specialty, it found two doctors, one in Milford and one in Beechwood. So yes, there are addiction specialists for children but not many. Another route would be an assessment by a child or adolescent psychiatrist. I am becoming more and more convinced as I treat addicted patients that undiagnosed and untreated psychiatric disease is at the root of a lot of addiction in America today. But child psychiatrists are also hard to find in some areas of the country. There also are addiction treatment centers in most urban areas. Try some of the links on this page:
Again, your local medical community probably already has a referral pattern in place for addicted patients and the pediatrician should be able to talk you through that.
CP: What if I can't get my child an appointment anywhere quickly?
RO: I think Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous are great resources, especially for the family members of someone struggling with addiction. I would strongly encourage any parent in this situation to get involved with either one or both of these organizations, even if you have success getting an appointment with a recovery facility of some kind: http://www.na.org or http://www.aa.org.
CP: Should the school be involved?
RO: Absolutely! I think a parent-teacher conference at this juncture might have tremendous potential to enhance the effectiveness of both the parenting and teaching plans.This is incredibly valuable information for a teacher to know about students in the classroom. And it's probably not just your child. Your child got drugs from somewhere, and that somewhere is probably one of the hallway lockers. It also is important to have a constructive relationship with the school principal and the guidance counselors. Of course, this advice presumes that we are talking about relatively receptive people when it comes to dealing with children with addiction problems. You will need to make your own decisions regarding who you should release information to. The professional counselors that you get involved with may be able to guide you with more specific advice.
CP: Any final thoughts?
RO: Addiction is a terrible situation which is much more emotionally explosive when it's your own child. You will probably need some counseling yourself, and the sooner you get it arranged the better. Your friends can help you but they only have so much emotional strength to help. A professional that is sworn to secrecy is the person to confide in. If you don't keep yourself stable, you can't help your child. Also remember that the longer addiction is left to fester the more ingrained the behaviors become and the harder it becomes to reverse. This is especially true for inhalants, which kill off brain cells very effectively with each dose.
Next time: "Why does my child like drugs?"
Teens and DrugsRead part one of this series by clicking here