Does Your Teen Have an Addiction to Self-Harm? Treatment Options & How to Keep Your Teen Safe
If your teen has been diagnosed with self-harm tendencies, it's important that they get treatment and counseling. Keep in mind that self-harming can be very addictive. Self-harm is also typically a warning sign of a mental health disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or manic depression.
Additionally, you'll need to take a few precautions in your home so your teen doesn't have the opportunity to give in to their addiction during or after their treatment and counseling. Just as with other addictions, such as to alcohol or drugs, counseling is much more effective when the person isn't continuing to indulge in their addiction. Here's what you need to know to help keep your teen from self-harming.
Treatment & Counseling Options
A mental health inpatient facility for teens will help keep your teen safe from self-harming and, at the same time, figure out how to treat the underlying cause with medication, which usually involves an adjustment period as the medication works on balancing out chemical imbalances that may be causing mental health issues. In an inpatient facility, they will also work on building up their coping skills through various types of counseling sessions, which typically includes group, individual, and family therapies.
The same treatment & counseling can be achieved through outpatient appointments, but they won't be continual on a daily basis as they would in an inpatient facility. However, if an outpatient treatment plan seems appropriate, the mental health team will want you to take several extra precautions to help keep your teen safe at home. More importantly, treatment will not be as effective if your teen is able to self-harm in between counseling sessions.
Laser Treatments for Hair Removal
You have to keep razors away from your teen, so shaving is not recommended. Depilatory creams are definitely not an option because there is a risk of chemical burns when they are used on skin that is sensitive from being injured by self-harming. Fortunately, laser hair treatment is a viable option because the laser can be controlled to avoid sensitive areas.
Laser treatments may permanently stop the ability for the hair follicles to grow. For some people, hair growth may return but will be very minimal. Others may not have any regrowth of hair after treatments are finished. The results of laser hair treatments are considered permanent or semi-permanent.
One important thing to understand about laser hair treatments and your teen's addiction to self-inflicted pain is that the zaps from the laser during hair removal treatment do sting. It feels similar to when a rubber band is snapped against your skin. Because of this and your teen's addiction to feeling pain, give your teen a dose of pain medication before the treatments. Speak with the psychiatrist about what types of over-the-counter pain medication they can take, especially if they have prescription psychotropic medication.
Store Razors, Sharp Objects & Medication
Since keeping razors and other sharp objects away from your teen is so important, especially while they are in counseling to overcome their addiction, you'll need to lock away all razors and other sharp objects so your teen isn't able to use them. Also, it's important to lock up all psychotropic medications, which can cause serious mental health and medical problems (such as hallucinations, suicidal ideation, coma, and/or death) when too many are taken or they are taken at the wrong times.
If your teen tries to force the locked container open or attempts to self-harm and becomes irate when you try to stop them, especially to the point that they threaten to physically harm you or another family member, call their psychiatrist or psychologist right away. That way, it can be determined whether or not an immediate counseling intervention is necessary.