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Post-Discharged Patients Need Informed and Engaged Family for Recovery

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at May 26, 2017

Tom Valentino, Senior Editor for Addiction Professional, reported on May 19th about a new study being conducted by a principal investigator at UCLA’s Integrated Substance Abuse Programs to determine if social media can help parents become more engaged in their adolescent children’s recovery from substance use disorder as well.

Marya Schulte, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist, is developing a Facebook-based intervention to provide parents with resources to help them better support their children in recovery.

“[The providers] voiced a lot of frustration that the adolescents they worked with seemed to be doing great and, by the end, they were motivated and seem to want to be in recovery, but it was difficult to get buy-in and engagement from parents,” Dr. Schulte told Valentino. “And when we don’t have that, kids tend to go back to their regular lives, nothing really changes at home, and they relapse.”

Schulte says she recognized that in addition to stigma and shame, other barriers keeping parents from being more engaged in their adolescent children’s recovery were logistical. With many parents unable to consistently be present for treatment, the Facebook intervention, called PURPOSE (Parents United with Responsive Parents for Online Support and Education), is hoped to bring support in the form of a private, peer-led group on the social media platform.

However, from our own experiences, we have seen parents take to the Facebook airwaves to bash treatment centers unfairly (or actually as subversive competition to defame a provider). With all of the benefits that social media platforms have brought to society, within this space, it appears that as much harm has been done as good. Hopefully, Dr. Schulte’s proposal will take into consideration that some parents do not take into consideration that they cannot simply deliver their children to a treatment program and expect a healed young adult returned to them. Addiction is a disease that impacts the entire family structure, and by not being engaged from Day 1, that is simply abdicating their responsibilities as parents (or, more simply, as the primary insured party) relating to the health care of their offspring.

Providers interested in referring parents of patients for potential participation in the PURPOSE study can contact Marya Schulte at mtschulte@ucla.edu.

The program is being funded by a two-year grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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