If your teenager is living with a mental health or substance use disorder, you may not have thought of starting treatment over the Christmas holidays.
At first blush, you might not think it’s a great idea. Away from family, away from the familiar, away from the rituals that make holidays important.
Good points, all of them.
We want you to think of Christmas break from a different point of view, though: a natural break in the year during which your teen can reset and get on the right track for the new year.
But we know you’re still thinking: treatment, really?
And you’re right.
That’s why Evolve makes the holiday like being with family: it’s Christmas for us, too. We make the holiday about empathy, understanding, and gratitude. Our teens use the lessons of the season to learn more about themselves, so they can live a life of their choosing, rather than a life dictated by the mental health or substance use disorder.
It’s important to use that our teens feel accepted, understood, and seen during the holidays: if they’re with us, we promise to treat them like family.
In addition, there are also solid, practical reasons for starting treatment during the winter break is a good idea.
Five Reasons to Start Treatment Over Winter Break
- Cost. We’re being 100% practical now. In terms of insurance, your out-of-pocket and deductible costs will likely reset on January 1st. If you’ve already met those maximums, your insurance may just cover the entire process, which could save you a lot of money, as compared to starting treatment after January 1st.
- School. Time spent in treatment over the holidays won’t disrupt their academic schedule. If their first semester got off track because of substance use, alcohol abuse, or mental health issues, this is the perfect chance to get back on track and aim for a productive second semester.
- Supervision. Unsupervised downtime for troubled teens often means more trouble. Teens who have substance use disorders look forward to time out of school so they can hang out with substance-using peers. Teens with emotional disorders may isolate, go deeper into depression, or feed anxieties that have been building all fall. For both groups, treatment takes these possibilities out of the equation.
- Triggers and patterns. During treatment, therapists spend time helping teens identify triggers, i.e. external stimuli that lead to drug use or an increase in mental health symptoms. They also help teens recognize non-productive patterns of behavior. They then help them develop positive coping strategies to handle the triggers and replace non-productive patterns with productive ones. Treatment during the holidays can help teens build and practice these skills before returning to school in January.
- Home for the New Year. If you start soon, you may get your teen home for in time for New Year’s Eve. That might be the greatest gift this holiday season can offer: your troubled teen back home with you on New Year’s morning, ready to face the world, equipped with a new set of psychological and emotional coping skills designed to manage the symptoms of their substance use or mental health disorder.
A New Path Forward
Research shows that the sooner an individual with a mental health or addiction problem gets an accurate diagnosis and begins treatment, the better their chances are at managing their symptoms and living life on their terms. Mental health and addiction issues can persist for months – or even years – if unaddressed. Parents and teens might know they need to take action, but put it off for various reasons. Although facing these issues is difficult, it’s also essential: a troubled teen that gets help now can create a solid foundation that increases their chance at a smooth and successful transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Angus is a writer from Atlanta, GA who writes about behavioral health, adolescent development, education, and mindfulness practices like yoga, tai chi, and meditation.