Research shows that millions of children in the US experience some form of trauma each year. Most of the cases go unreported because many adolescents may fail to seek professional help, citing shame. If the condition is left untreated, teens can resort to dangerous behaviors and self-medication while trying to numb uncomfortable feelings. If you or a teen you know is battling trauma and addiction, contact Foothills at Red Oak Recovery today at 866.300.5275 to learn about our adolescent trauma treatment program.
What Is Trauma?
The word trauma refers to any emotional response to an experience, such as living through an accident, witnessing a violent crime, or surviving abuse. Most people experience denial or shock immediately after the event. These feels are relatively normal. However, many teens have trouble moving on with their lives after these events, which can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms. In some cases, some teens may choose to use drugs or alcohol to help them cope, while others may begin to use self-harming behaviors.
As a parent, recognizing the signs of trauma in your teen can be challenging. Most teens don’t reach out to their parents when they’re struggling, making the situations all the more challenging. However, parents can look for symptoms such as:
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating in school or at home
- Showing guilt, self-blame, or shame after the event
- Experiencing mood swings
- Having nightmares or night terrors
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
This list is not comprehensive, but it may indicate that your teen is having one or more issues with trauma or their mental health.
While some parents may not see the connection between neglecting adolescents and trauma, it can lead to grave consequences if you are persistent in ignoring your child. Adolescents depend on their parents or caregivers for survival. When neglect occurs, teens may feel hopeless and resort to dangerous behaviors, such as suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
This type of trauma involves exceptionally stressful, unexpected, and sudden distress with limited duration. The condition usually happens due to a family member’s death, a fatal car accident, and a natural disaster like a hurricane. These events can impact a teen’s emotional and psychological state.
When it comes to adolescents and trauma, some teens can experience unpleasant adverse events for an extended amount of time. Such circumstances can be continued war and physical abuse. Chronic trauma often occurs due to other human beings who cause child abuse, ongoing terrorism, and domestic violence.
These occurrences can damage an adolescent’s brain, and the side effects can persist into adulthood. Experts concur that there is a correlation between childhood trauma and addiction to intoxicating substances.
This condition occurs when adolescents experience trauma at the hands of their parents or caregivers whom they trust. For example, a child may experience physical or sexual abuse by the caregivers, causing complicated and severe impacts during the growth and developmental years.
Many victims of a complex trauma transition to adulthood with these issues, and it becomes a challenge for the rest of their lives. In most cases, people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) engage in substance abuse as self-medication.
Adolescents and Trauma Symptoms
When you notice a sudden change in a teenager’s behavior, such as a lack of interest in spending time with you or detachment, it could signify a severe problem. Watch your teen for interpretive signs to understand what they may need.
For example, if a behavior causes troubles in school and disrupts family activities, talk to a professional for insights and potential assistance. Adolescents who experience traumatic events can suffer emotional anguish and adopt dangerous coping habits, such as substance abuse.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), teens battling emotional and psychological trauma exhibit various signs, including:
- Paranoia when they remember a particular event
- Avoiding all reminders of the event
- Nightmares and sleep issues
- Anxiety and depression
- Constant edginess
Traumatic experiences are either one-time or ongoing recurring phenomena. The distinction can help when identifying the different forms of traumas teens face.
Get Your Teen Professional Help at the Foothills at Red Oak
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), parents need to understand adolescents and trauma. Parents need to understand adolescents and trauma to seek the much-needed treatment for their loved ones because most victims who fail to find the necessary help live with anxiety, depression, and frustrations. When such signs persist for about a month, don’t hesitate to take immediate action. Therapists can offer reprieve through various treatment programs, such as:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Group therapy
- Experiential therapy
- Equine-assisted therapy
Do not let your child lose future opportunities due to trauma. The staff at Foothills at Red Oak is ready to offer you a customized treatment plan. Contact Foothills at Red Oak today at 866.300.5275 to get started.