As we approach the midpoint of 2020, parents the world over are experiencing unprecedented challenges. These new hardships not only come on top of traditional teenage struggles with addiction or drug use, they’ve made it especially difficult to find help. But a new solution has popped up — online treatment resources for parents and loved ones.
Tobacco Remains Prevalent
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers try their first cigarettes before the age of 18. However, it’s not just about cigarettes anymore. The organization reports that e-cigarettes have emerged as the leading tobacco product used by high schoolers from 2011 to 2019.
These figures paint a stark picture, and addiction resources can be harder to come by if parents are nervous about enrolling their kids in treatment centers during the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, many are turning to online options like Caron Treatment Centers.
“We’re really excited about these programs, especially during COVID lockdown,” says Director of Community Education Christine Storm. She tells Parentology, “These are free resources people can access from their home any time that’s going to work for them.”
Better Treatment Online?
Since before the COVID-19 outbreak, multiple studies have indicated that online treatment programs could make it easier to seek help and stick with it. For example, a 2018 study conducted by Yale examined the effectiveness of online counseling versus in-person group or individual counseling. The study found that about half of the participants of in-person counseling failed to finish the program. However, only a quarter of patients dropped out of the online treatment program.
Yale Psychiatry Professor Kathleen Carroll, who authored the study, thinks that the online program provided users with more engagement.
“[The online program] is engaging, with movies that reflect real world problems – a woman trying to stop drinking has a horrible day at work, and has a fight with her husband who opens up a bottle of wine,” Carroll said, according to Yale News. “The viewers can see how to use cognitive and behavioral self-control skills to deal with the problem. There is something powerful about seeing the problem rather than hearing about it in the abstract.”
Meanwhile, a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry examined whether existing treatment programs could benefit from the addition of an online Therapeutic Education System. This consisted of 62 interactive modules and prize-based incentives rewarding abstinence.
The study found that groups using the Therapeutic Education System had significantly reduced dropout rates and increased abstinence compared to those who only underwent traditional treatment.
The Shape of Online Addiction Treatment
Caron Treatment Centers is one company offering digital courses for both teens and parents so they can learn how to avoid addiction through interactive education. For instance, the “Connect 5” course is a resource for teenagers who are struggling with nicotine addiction, Storm says.
“This is an awesome course that’s extremely interactive, very visual,” she says. “It involves quizzes, activities, and a lot of self reflection.”
The course consists of five weekly sessions where teens set goals regarding nicotine use, and track how they meet those goals during the span of the class.
“We’re finding that it’s really meeting people where they’re at and helping to find success with whatever their goals are,” says Storm.
On the other side of the equation, Caron also offers courses and information for parents to learn as well.
“One is called ‘Vaping and Marijuana Trends Among Youth,’” says Storm, adding that the program aims to help parents understand the dangers their teens face regarding nicotine and marijuana vaping. According to the CDC, marijuana remains a top concern for parents of teens, with 38% of high school students reporting that they have tried the drug at least once.
Storm says that the “Vaping and Marijuana Trends Among Youth” helps parents get answers to questions like, “What are the products that are out there? What are the dangers? What are some messages I can send [my teens] to help support them in either preventing their use, or helping them to quit?”
Caron also offers the course “Prevention Resources and Education for Parents,” or PREP for short. It educates people about the disease of addiction, what the current drug trends are, how parents can have conversations with their child, how they can boost resilience, and what they can do if they have concerns that their child might need support.”
Free Courses for Anyone
These courses can be accessed all around the country for any parents who are in need of support.
“This is free, nobody has to fly somebody out or train through a webinar, they can connect when they want, and there’s a call-in number where we have staff that are there to talk to any parents who still have issues or need someone to chat with,” says Storm.
“If there’s a parent or somebody else who might be struggling right now or concerned about their child, Caron is there to help,” she says. “They can always call in, and we’re happy to talk with them about it.”
Meanwhile, Professor Carroll hopes that online resources like these will streamline the treatment process as well as engage patients.
“We spend billions of dollars on stuff that doesn’t work in terms of treating addiction, so it is exciting that a cost-effective website in and of itself outperforms standard treatment and produces durable benefits,” she said. “Why can’t treatment be fun and engaging and teach skills that really help?”
Teenage Addiction Help — Sources
Caron Treatment Centers
CDC – “What You Need to Know About Marijuana Use in Teens”
CDC – “Youth and Tobacco Use”
Interview – Christine Storm, Director of Community Education, Caron Treatment Centers
Study – “Internet-delivered Treatment for Substance Abuse: A Multi-site Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial”