SOCW 6446: Social Work Practice With Children and Adolescents

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Assignment: Substance Abuse Interventions

Substance use is another common problem among many adolescents. An important consideration is severity of use—mild, moderate, or severe—which helps clinicians distinguish reductions or increases in frequency of use, as well as potential physiological impacts. For example, an adolescent might drink alcohol every weekend to the point of intoxication but not become chemically dependent. An adolescent who is using heroin on a daily basis is likely to develop a physiological dependency on the drug, and to require detoxification as part of the treatment process. Treatment for any level of severity can be a long process, and there are several things to consider. First, treatments must be individualized to meet the needs of the child or adolescent. Second, treatment needs to be accessible and address an array of issues beyond just the substance abuse. For example, an adolescent trauma survivor might be using substances as a coping mechanism. In order to maintain sobriety, the trauma issues must be addressed. Third, clinicians must continually monitor and update treatment plans, monitor for changes in substance use frequency and amount, and facilitate both individual and group counseling. Fourth, a child or adolescent must stay in treatment for an extended period of time, whether it is outpatient or inpatient. Treating substance use takes time, particularly if the child or adolescent does not believe he or she has a problem. Finally, substance use treatment should include monitoring of medical conditions such as infectious diseases, as many adolescents tend to become promiscuous when using substances. Keep in mind that recovery from substance use is a lifelong process. Relapse rates are very high for adolescents, and it is important to encourage them to engage in a lifelong commitment of sobriety.

For this Assignment, select one of the substance use case studies (Case Study 3 or Case Study 4) located in this week’s resources. Consider a treatment plan, including a diagnosis, intervention, and prevention technique for the child or adolescent. Think about how you might include the parents/guardians in the treatment plan.

The Assignment:

  • Select one substance use case study (Case Study 3 or Case Study 4).
  • Complete the Treatment Plan Guidelines template provided in this week’s required resources based on the case that you selected.

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