Value of parental support in adolescent recovery

By Romiger I. Bucong
Assistant Director

Raul was admitted to SELF in February 2012 at the age of 19 due to conduct disorder issues. His problematic behaviors included stealing, chronic lying, running away from home, recklessness and stubbornness that had finally become too excruciating for his parents to bear.

Background

Raul is the middle child and only son in a family with three children. With both parents running their own businesses, they enjoyed an affluent lifestyle.

As a child, he grew up with a good and loving relationship with his parents. His family was very supportive and gave generously, from emotional sustenance to material comfort. In return, he earned good grades in school, went home on time, and followed the rules at home.

As a child, his parents said he was very charming and thoughtful, but early on he was attracted to and did things out of the ordinary that made him a “naughty child”.

They noticed that there was something strange about the way he thinks, believes, and interpret things.

This manifested in episodes of risky acts such as climbing up the trees, fences and walls of the school and going up the roof and jumping from the second floor.

Nonetheless, he had a good start in school, garnering academic honors throughout grade school. He was also into sports, joining the track and field team and becoming a successful competitor.

Beginning problems

The first sign of trouble came at the age of 13. Like other adolescents, he started by not following rules at home and became bored with his studies. Then he learned to go out with a wayward group, cutting classes and drinking alcohol in order to fit in. It was at this time that he began to have conflicts with his family. Whenever he got reprimanded he felt rejected and started to think that his two sisters were more favored than him.

When his mother noticed his growing untoward behavior she took him to a psychiatrist. He was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), for which he was prescribed medication.

However, he only took the medication for a short period of time because they discontinued it when they could not see any effect.

After sometime he became interested in basketball and become quite good at it. It was at this point that he totally neglected his studies because he felt that his skills in basketball could keep him afloat for life.

Eventually, however, he got nowhere because he was cut from the team due to low grades. In addition he was also removed from the track and field team for missing his training schedules.

In his first year in high school he was able to manage his almost failing grades. It was in his fourth year that he did not pass any of his subjects due to neglect and absenteeism.

Problems in school advanced to occasional drinking and he eventually joined a group of deviant students who also smoked marijuana.

In the beginning, he thought that he was only a playful student, often called in to the principal’s office for violating rules. However, instead of making things right he found himself more hooked with negative friends that resulted in his violating rules to the point of running away from home.

This was the time that he got into a serious accident. One night, while he was out with friends drinking and having a joyride, he dared his friend who was driving to speed up and run after a car that had cut them.

Their car skidded, spun around and swept into a sidewalk. They wound up killing three people before they rammed into a wall. His friends came out unscathed, but Raul ended up with a deep wound and a fractured foot.

Despite the accident, Raul did not change. Instead he just waited to heal before running away again. He got a stern confrontation from his family, and they demanded that he have nothing more to do with his friends. This only served to further fuel his anger and rebellion.

At this point, Raul’s parents saw that their son lacked remorse and this would destroy his life. Thus, they began looking for a rehab program where they could get help.

Getting help

The parents of Raul scouted for rehabs and finally chose SELF. To bring him to the facility, he was set up by his family. They asked him to go with them to Tagaytay to celebrate his father’s birthday.

At first he didn’t want to go because he was sleepy but they eventually got him to agree. On the drive, he fell asleep and when he woke up they were already in SELF.

At the Evaluation and Motivational Unit, he described the day as the longest in his life. But he held on to the promise of his parents that he would only stay for two weeks.

On the third day, he received a letter from his family informing him that they wanted him to go through the program of SELF.

He cried and later shared that he felt sad, angry and betrayed. But he played along and “acted as if”, listening and participating in the process.

Once in the program, he performed well and was receptive during counseling sessions. However, before long his stubborn, arrogant and non-caring behavior started surfacing. He struggled with taking orders and began to suppress his thoughts and feelings. He also rationalized when he developed special feelings for a co-resident.

To address these untoward behaviors while in the Junior and Senior level, Raul was subjected to the whole gamut of interventions: panel and peer confrontations, learning experiences, demotions and stints on the reflection chair.

Breakthrough

On his fourth month Raul had his first encounter with his parents and siblings who honestly expressed their thoughts, feelings and fears regarding the car accident. For the first time Shaun showed remorse and fear regarding his past behavior.

This had a beneficial impact on his process and became his impetus to surface and explore more deep-seated conflicts regarding his parents and siblings.

After this intervention he began to show interest in his recovery process. He still had occasional confrontations but these were minimal. He developed consistency and got to write his Self Evaluation, which he successfully presented in his Case Defense Interview.

And so, Raul was promoted to the Senior level. He began to enjoy regular visits and the probationary days off. At this time he also became one of the key officers of the Lower House. He took on the responsibility and pushed himself to do better and also regularly availed of counseling.

Turning point

Toward the end of his stint as a Senior, his process was challenged by an incident with a female resident. He developed special feelings that cause him to disregard prescribed limits and boundaries. He underwent a series of interventions and was ultimately made to sit in reflection for his display of arrogance and behaviors unbecoming of an officer.

In a panel assessment, he finally revealed that he had a high regard of himself because unlike the others he was only in SELF for behavioral problems and not due to drug addiction. Only then did he realize he was actually in a worse situation.

Unlike his peers who behaved badly because they were under the influence, here he was claiming to be “clean and abstinent” yet behaving just as badly if not worse. So, for the first time, he felt ashamed and embarrassed and could now experience remorse.

All his repetitive behavior of stubbornness and rebellion had come from this thinking error. This passage allowed him to become open to corrections and guidance from peers and counselors.

Despite this, he was still confronted and processed two times more for the same case with the same female resident upon reaching the Upper House and in Aftercare. However, with frequent family interventions and counseling sessions he was able to see his accountability and the gravity of his misbehaviors.

From time to time he would encounter challenges with his process where accountability and maturity was much needed. This was especially pronounced when he started to reintegrate with his family. Conflicts arose from anytime, but his choice to resolve it through dialogue and his continued connection to the Aftercare group and counselors saw him through.

In July 2014 Raul marched with his peers and marked his formal graduation from the program. Upon completion he was given a chance to go back to school and start his college education and is now doing well in school.

Conclusion

Raul eventually grew in maturity and integrity and overcame all the challenges he faced in his recovery process by becoming aware of and correcting his thinking errors. In this way he learned not to let his emotions and resulting aberrant behavior get the better of him.

This success, however, was also because his parents trusted that their son would benefit the TC program even if he were not a drug addict.

Raul’s parents supported his program completely and not once did they question it.

Such support was critical, especially making sure he went through and finished the entire program.

This was manifested in their cooperation with various program interventions, particularly during crisis points.

Equally important was that both Raul and his family gained a proper knowledge and understanding of his disorder.

Helping adolescents in recovery is particularly challenging. It takes twice the effort especially for those like Raul who do not need medical intervention and instead require more intensive education and more dialogues.

At the same time his parents also need to be educated on the nature of his disorder, the corresponding treatment plan and how to properly deal with him.

By | 2018-04-02T11:43:24+00:00 March 28th, 2018|Categories: Clinical Case Studies|0 Comments

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