Health For some drug-addicted Maryland youths, treatment is the way to a new life Seth Walters recently graduated from a program at Sheppard Pratt that treats substance abuse and mental health issues at the same time. Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun video Seth Walters recently graduated from a program at Sheppard Pratt that treats substance abuse and mental health issues at the same time. Seth Walters was 16 when he first smoked marijuana in his high school bathroom.
Amid the high, his family problems and bouts with anxiety linked to his sister's murder disappeared. Then a friend convinced him to smoke weed. But that high wore off quickly and he turned to drinking large doses of cough syrup. Walters, now 17, is among thousands of youths across the country who become addicted to drugs, using them to cope with life problems and mental illness.
Young people suffering from depression are more likely than others to begin using marijuana, hallucinogens and other drugs, according to the federal National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Some young addicts start using before they reach puberty.
Recognizing the strong connection between mental health and substance abuse, many mental health and rehabilitation programs have begun jointly treating the two conditions. The Berkeley and Eleanor Mann Residential Treatment Center treats to year-olds with severe emotional and behavioral problems.
About a third of them have substance abuse as well as mental health issues, reflecting the results of the national drug use survey, which found the number of adolescents who suffered with substance abuse problems as well as long bouts of depression made up The program, known as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, is part of Tess Carpenter, clinical director at Mann.
You have to take a holistic approach to the issue. Teenagers are much more vulnerable. They often see themselves as invincible and may not think they could become an addict.
Little's program focuses on helping youths realize the negative consequences of using drugs and alcohol. Patients of the bed facility typically stay for six to 11 months of supervised treatment.
To help the young patients, the center mainly uses so-called dialectical behavior therapy, which focuses on mindfulness and how to change only what they can control. The therapy is meant to show patients how to see their lives as worth living. Program officials said all the patients see a psychiatrist and many are prescribed psychotropic medications to treat their mental health symptoms, but not anything that may contribute to addiction.
Current patients and graduates gathered recently to celebrate their accomplishments. They talked about how the program helped them get off drugs. Caitlyn, 18, said she had tried just about every drug she could before entering the program. She started smoking marijuana at age 13 while in middle school — her first time was at a friend's house.
I didn't have to deal with any of the problems around me. I was just sort of in this safe space where I could relax for a moment and get away from the real world.
The Sun's policy is to not identify vicitms of sexual assault. She described how she got a reality check as she detoxed during her first week at Mann. She lost control of her bowels and vomited for hours. Being that sick made her realize how far she'd fallen into addiction. Now a community college student, Caitlyn said she sees life through a clear lens rather than a drug-induced fog — and she's happier. It teaches you how to think through your actions. To do the right thing is harder than doing the wrong thing.
It calmed me down. She became depressed and started using more drugs to try to manage the sadness that overwhelmed her. She said the Mann program helped her see her self worth and that she needed to change her life for her young son.
He knew he hit it when he began stealing from his parents to support his habit. Before taking part in the program, Walters said he'd never dealt with his sister's murder. He was very close to her and was just 8 years old when she died. He began having anxiety episodes that worsened on the anniversary of her death. Now enrolled in an arts school in Baltimore County, Walters is studying dance and said he no longer uses drugs.
When he gets anxious, he practices breathing exercises he learned at Mann instead of smoking a joint. He often repeats mantras to himself. Change what you can change. He doesn't think he'll use again. I know how it made me feel and what it led me to and that is not the way I want to go.