New program helps teens who struggle with substance abuse and psychiatric problems

New program helps teens who struggle with substance abuse and psychiatric problems

Norman Broudy, M.D.
Norman Broudy, M.D.

Often, kids who get into trouble with drugs have underlying psychiatric problems. Young people with a co-occurring diagnosis of a psychiatric condition and substance abuse now receive comprehensive treatment through a dynamic new program at the Herman Rosenblum, M.D., Child and Adolescent Center.

In several studies, treating conditions concurrently has shown to be far more effective than addressing issues separately, says Norman Broudy, M.D., medical director of the Rosenblum Center. “Until now, there has been no place in the Wilmington area that gave adolescents access to that treatment.”

The Rosenblum Center received a one-year grant from the Jessie Ball du Pont Fund that enabled the center to hire Brian Callahan, an experienced certified drug and alcohol counselor. Before coming to Christiana Care, Callahan was program director at Aquila of Delaware in Wilmington, a substance-abuse center for adolescents.

At the Rosenblum Center, patients ages 12 to 18 receive intensive, personalized treatment for emotional, developmental and behavioral issues, as well as classroom instruction that enables them to keep up with their school work. Young people attend the program Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., and spend weekends at home.

All adolescents are screened for drug use when they enter the program. Dr. Broudy says more than 70 percent of kids with drug problems also have an underlying psychiatric condition. Identifying those young people enables the staff to tailor treatment to better care for individuals and their families.

“Getting the help they need when they are young is so important because interventions for substance abuse for teens are much more effective than interventions for adults,” Callahan says.

Working with parents also is an essential element of treatment, says Doug Smith, Rosenblum’s program director and a certified drug and alcohol counselor.

“These families are in crisis,” Smith says. “Parents who might not have been aware their child has a drug or alcohol problem feel overwhelmed, and they need tremendous support, from education to extra help.”

The new initiative was launched in February, and the first patient has completed the program.

“She is caught up with all her classes in high school and is on track to graduate,” Dr. Broudy says. “We believe that a comprehensive approach to treatment will continue to help kids to lead healthier, happier lives.”