Many children and adolescents experiment with drug and/or alcohol use at some in their lives. While many may do so as a means of experimenting, there are others who as an unconscious means of self-medicating the distressing symptoms of an undiagnosed mental health condition. Regardless of the reasons why a child or adolescent begins using substances, it is imperative that interventions are made early so as to prevent the onset of future detriments. At Desert Hills, we recognize and understand the unique challenges that children and adolescents who are struggling with chemical dependency face and have therefore designed programming specifically to meet those needs. While the use of drugs and/or alcohol can rapidly take over a person’s life, the earlier that an intervention is made, the higher the likelihood that positive outcomes will result.
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Desert Hills provides a full continuum of behavioral healthcare services that range from sub-acute residential treatment to community-based programs for children, adolescents, and their families. Since its opening in 1990, Desert Hills has grown from a small residential program to the largest and most respected provider of behavioral health services in the state of New Mexico, offering three different locations where individuals can access services. In order to ensure that we are offering the highest quality of care possible while meeting all of our patients unique needs, we provide ongoing training for and supervision of all our staff members, making sure they are up-to-date on the latest evidence-based treatment modalities. Because we are able to offer each child and adolescent customized and personal care, we can address the specific problems that the abuse of substances has imposed on your child’s life and help him or her develop the skills needed to return to living the healthy, happy, and sober life that or she deserves to be living. At Desert Hills, we are dedicated to not only improving the lives we touch, but to helping to change the lives of those we serve, one child at a time.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment
When children and adolescents are experimenting with the use of drugs or alcohol, they tend to go to great lengths to keep their actions a secret from their parents or other authority figures. However, despite attempts at keeping such behaviors a secret, there are some warning signs that may present that could indicate that a child or adolescent is abusing substances. If you have such concerns regarding your own child, take note of any of the following signs:
- Sudden onset of problematic behaviors at school
- Sudden onset of problematic behaviors within the home
- Sudden change in friends / peer group
- Suddenly seeming to lack interest in things once interested in
- No longer engaging in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
- Weight fluctuations
- Increased hostility, irritability, and agitation
- Personality changes / changes in temperament
- Skipping school / chronic truancy
- Emotional distancing
- Presence of hidden drug paraphernalia
If any of these behavioral, emotional, or mental changes have occurred in your child, then it is imperative that you take him or her to be evaluated by a mental health professional so that appropriate interventions can be implemented.
Why Consider Treatment at Desert Hills
When children and adolescents begin a pattern of abusing substances, and their chemical dependency concerns remain unaddressed, there are a number of negative repercussions that may result. These children are likely to struggle in school, potentially leading to academic failure, suspension, or even expulsion. As a result, they may find it difficult to enroll in college and will likely experience extreme difficulty finding and maintaining steady employment. Their interpersonal relationships may be greatly hindered as their substance of choice quickly begins their top priority. Substance use also frequently leads to the engagement in criminal activities, placing these children at risk for have interaction with law enforcement. Fortunately, when proper interventions are put into place, children and adolescents are lowering their risk of facing such detrimental futures.
Residential treatment programs have been known to be extremely effective in helping children and adolescents overcome substance abuse problems. By taking part in this type of programming, children are entering into a safe environment where they are monitored 24/7, preventing them from having access to obtaining their drug of choice. This lack of availability can help them as they learn to fight against the urges they have to use, while developing the skills needed to prevent relapse. Through the implementation of a number of therapeutic techniques, children and adolescents who are engaged in residential treatment programs are offered an opportunity to regain control of their lives and become healthy and sober once again.
Program Philosophy and Benefits
At Desert Hills, our philosophy is based on the approach that treatment should be centered on patients and their families. We train, facility wide, on the Nurtured Heart Approach in order to provide our patients and their families with inner wealth and opportunities to grow. We are dedicated to using evidence-based treatment modalities on every unit to ensure that patients and their families have the highest likelihood of obtaining long-term, successful outcomes. It is our mission to provide high-quality, comprehensive behavioral and mental healthcare services to children, adolescents, and their families by offering a fully array of therapeutic interventions across a vast spectrum of care. All of our services are individualized, culturally sensitive, and fully centered on our patients and their families. The clinical emphasis at Desert Hills is placed on assessment, treatment planning, discharge, and aftercare planning, with the all-encompassing goal of preparing patients to have a successful future in home, at school, and within the community.
Types of Treatment Offered at Desert Hills
Here at Desert Hills, we have 10 distinct units, each of which features programming that is designed specifically to address the needs of a wide variety of populations. Each unit follows a chief treatment modality throughout its programming, which coincides with the needs of the patients on that particular unit. Desert Hills strives to use evidence-based treatment modalities on every unit in order to ensure that patients have the highest likelihood of obtaining long-term, successful outcomes. Described in more detail below are some of the services that Desert Hills affords our patients:
Medication management: Medication management is provided for all patients throughout each one of our treatment programs. This is done so as to make sure that each patient is fully supported in getting all of his or her medication needs taken care of, while simultaneously being properly monitored to ensure the therapeutic effectiveness of any medications that have been prescribed. For children and adolescents who are struggling with chemical dependency concerns and also have the added complications that result from a co-occurring mental health condition, certain psychotropic medications may be implemented in order to help alleviate some of their distressing symptoms. Such considerations, however, will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Individual therapy: On each unit, patients are provided with at least one individual session per week. These sessions are meant to be a time where patients can meet with a therapist in a safe and confidential setting in order to process through specific concerns they are facing, keep track of personal treatment goals, develop tools to reduce the risk of relapse, and work on individual skills-building in order to more effectively cope with stresses and triggers.
Group therapy: Here at Desert Hills, all of our patients attend group therapy at a minimum of three times per week. These group sessions offer children and adolescents the opportunity to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Some of the topics that are covered in these groups, depending on the specific program that a patient is taking part in, include interpersonal effectiveness, conflict resolution, anger management, stress management, and correcting and replacing thinking errors. For those patients who are also struggling with substance abuse concerns, psycho-educational groups are held regarding the effect of substance abuse on the body, brain, and overall functioning.
Family therapy: Since family involvement is important to the overall success of recovery, we hold at least one family therapy session per week for each patient. Family therapy focuses on guiding and facilitating an open dialogue, as well as educating parents, caregivers, and other family members on the intervention skills that are being used in treatment. The process of doing so will help ensure the patient’s success long after discharge.
Educational services: Continuing one’s education while at Desert Hills is a very important part of our treatment program. Schooling at Desert Hills provides our patients with a positive, safe, and individualized place to learn and grow. All teachers communicate weekly with the treatment team, assuring consistency in the individual goals set for each student.
Additional services that are available depending upon each patient’s specific needs include:
- Services for deaf and hard of hearing patients (administered by deaf therapists and other mental health technicians that are trained in American Sign Language)
- Art therapy
- Music therapy
- Play therapy
- Equine therapy
- Canine therapy
- High and low ropes courses
- Peer council
- Red Rocks Group (a Native American peer group)
- Bilingual mobile assessments
- NA / AA meetings for patients who are struggling with substance abuse concerns
Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment
All patients from our residential treatment center have the opportunity to step down to one of our many outpatient care options, of which include the following:
Clinical day treatment program: This program allows patients to live at home, while also addressing any behavioral or academic issues they may have. These services are provided on a year-round basis for children and adolescents who are middle school through high school aged. There are both regular and special education services available, allowing students to earn summer credits and catch up if they have fallen behind academically. Additional services include group therapy and various experiential therapies.
Group homes: Designed to provide patients who are between the ages of 16 and 21 in need a structured home-based living situation, our group homes provide services that are focused on psychosocial skills development and functioning in the community.
Treatment foster care: This program is licensed and certified by the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department to license, train, and support treatment foster parents and treat children between the ages of 4 and 18 who are placed in their homes. TCF provides around-the-clock clinical supervisions, on-call therapy, and case management services.
Whatever your child’s continuing needs may be, Desert Hills provides a wide range of services that will be able to address any and all of those specific needs. We will do everything in our power to help your child overcome his or her concerns so that, upon leaving treatment, he or she can face the world with the strength and confidence needed to be productive and remain successful.