Teen Drug Abuse Addiction and Abuse

Drug Treatment for Teens: What You Need to Know

Some consider drug addiction as a mainly adult issue. However, many teenagers also struggle with various substance addictions. The problem is even more severe because they cannot recognise the life-long effects. Getting treatment for teens coping with drug abuse and addiction issues can help save their lives. Prevention is the best way to keep your child ‘clean’, but if they are already using drugs, teen substance abuse treatment and rehab can help.

Teen drug rehabs recognise that teenagers have different psychological and emotional needs than those of adults. Subsequently, they require different treatment strategies. When choosing a teen drug treatment programme, there are several considerations that should be made. These include physical differences, mental development issues, academic issues and involuntary treatment.

The treatment provided for teens suffering from drug addiction is significantly different from adult programmes. There is a wide range of treatment programmes offered by professional drug addiction centres to help your teen overcome drug addiction. Such programmes provide teen addiction rehab, aftercare recovery and create a safer, drug-free environment for the entire family. If you suspect your teen might be abusing drugs or alcohol, speak to a qualified counsellor, who can recommend a good teen drug abuse treatment and rehab facility.

Stop drug abuse from becoming addiction

Anyone can be affected by drug abuse and addiction. For some, there is a predisposition to abuse illicit drugs and other addictive substances. Teenagers from families with a history of substance use have a higher risk of engaging in abuse and addiction. As a parent, you can play a significant role in the decision of your teen to experiment with drugs when the opportunity presents itself.

Your reaction when encountering signs of drug abuse in your teen is crucial. It is essential that you totally disapprove of substance abuse, as studies prove that this reduces the likelihood of using drugs. It is also important to teach them about the dangers of using addictive substances so that you can prevent experimentation from getting out of control and resulting in addiction.

There are various ways you can stop drug abuse from becoming an addiction, including setting substance-specific rules, providing high levels of parental monitoring and practising what you preach. Adolescents are prone to imitation, so it’s important to exhibit behaviours you want them to safely espouse. Also, your teen could be less likely to abuse drugs or become addicted to abusive substances when you discuss drugs and alcohol with them in a negative way.

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The importance of treating teen drug abuse

If you suspect your son or daughter of abusing addictive substances – or their substance abuse is causing problems at school, home or with the authorities – it’s time to seek drug addiction treatment. Without proper treatment, teen drug abuse and physical dependence can progress to full-blown addiction. However, they don’t have to go down that road.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), states that 13% of individuals who abuse marijuana and 25% who abuse prescription medication before age 13 will develop an addiction. In addition, 15.2% of individuals who engage in alcohol abuse by age 14 will develop an alcohol addiction. However, you can avoid this outcome for your teen by treating drug abuse at an early age.

Getting treatment for teen drug abuse can also prevent associated negative health effects such as insomnia, brain damage, kidney disease, heart attacks, hyperthermia and stroke. You can also improve your teen’s emotional and intellectual development. If your teenager is abusing drugs and alcohol, it is crucial to start treatment as soon as possible. Comprehensive drug abuse treatment can increase their chance of long-term recovery.

Treatment Options for Drug Abuse In Teens

Drug abuse treatment should not offer a one-size-fits-all procedure. There are several options available for your teen in terms of treatment; the most suitable for them depends on a host of factors, including the duration or severity of drug use, social influences and their home environment. Available treatment options to treat teen drug abuse include:

Behavioural treatments: If your teen is struggling with drug abuse, they could also be dealing with underlying disorders such as anxiety and depression. Behavioural therapy can help to address the mental issues behind drug or alcohol use.

Family-based therapies: Many exercises applied in treatment include your teen’s support group (i.e. their family and friends). The aim is to address a range of potential problems, including peer pressure, family communication and conflict, issues with work or school attendance and co-occurring disorders. This treatment is often provided in outpatient settings. Your teen remains under your supervision for emotional support, whilst receiving treatment.

Inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment: Outpatient programmes make up a large portion of many teen addiction treatments. This means your teen can stay at home with family whilst undergoing treatment and recovery. Support from loved ones is an essential element in your teen’s sustained recovery. Outpatient programmes generally provide addiction treatment exercises, where you’ll be able to work closely with your teen. This helps the entire family heal and can contribute to reducing the chances of relapse.

What happens during teen drug rehab?

In addition to treating addiction, teen drug rehab centres also address any related needs your teenager might have. Drug abuse affects many aspects of your life, including behaviour and brain function. Professional teen drug treatment is designed to address these effects of drug abuse. Studies show that treatment is significant in stopping drug use, can prevent relapse and also help individuals resume drug-free lifestyles after rehabilitation.

During teen drug rehab, the main focus is placed on counselling. Through counselling and therapy, your teen can learn the essential skills to maintain abstinence. Counselling utilises a range of methods to help them overcome addiction and regain control of their life. The different methods employed in teen rehab can include motivational interviewing, contingency management, cognitive behaviour therapy, and family counselling.

During counselling sessions, different underlying conditions can surface, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. In certain cases, medication is prescribed or administered by supervising physicians to help your teen cope with these emotional and medical conditions. It can also be prescribed for cravings that they may be experiencing. An essential part of maintaining abstinence is to prevent cravings or deal with them when they occur. While not every teen requires medication, it is nevertheless a possibility during drug rehab.

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How to Determine the Right Teen Rehab

When weighing up treatment options for teens dealing with substance abuse issues, there is a range of teen-only facilities to consider. However, it’s necessary to first understand the severity of your teen’s drug abuse and the type of substances they are taking. Therefore, a drug test is the best place to start. This can be beneficial in determining the presence of substance abuse or addiction, as well as what drugs your teen is experimenting with.

Even though addiction doesn’t discriminate in terms of age, it can be more helpful for your teen to receive treatment that is tailored to suit their age and unique needs. Your teen could feel less isolated during treatment when surrounded by peers and might form healthy, supportive and understanding friendships by the time it is completed. The right teen rehab for your child will also provide multiple treatment approaches to substance abuse, and address the problem at its core.

Your child’s recovery needs are uniquely different from those of any other patient. They might need medication, while others may require extra therapy sessions. Periodical assessments throughout treatment are also essential to ensure he or she is getting the best help available. Usually, it’s important that they stay in treatment for as long as necessary, so teen rehabs offering adequately lengthy treatments can be particularly beneficial.

How to Determine Which Programme to Choose

After you’ve determined that your teen is involved in drug abuse, you can begin to research rehab centres to decide if they would benefit from inpatient or outpatient treatment. With the former, they will usually be required to stay in the treatment centre for at least 28 days. During this time, they’ll participate in individual and group therapy, aimed at finding out the underlying causes of their addiction.

The principle is the same with outpatient treatment, but your teen can stay at home instead of at the treatment facility. They can also continue with work, school and other day-to-day responsibilities. Even though there are unique benefits to outpatient rehab, the inpatient programme (also known as residential treatment) offers consistently effective results for teens. The idea of sending your child away for a specific period of time might seem overwhelming, but it can certainly be worth it in the long run.

Many inpatient treatment facilities offer family days, where you’ll be invited to take part in group sessions. The most effective treatment programmes work with (and for) families and children, and they can help you discover what works best for your teen and helps them flourish. Such programmes understand the vital role of family relationships in recovery. They will, therefore, include you and your family in the teen’s treatment and recovery journey.

The Essentials of Teen Treatment

The adolescent brain is significantly different from that of an adult. They feel a greater need to take risks, which increase their chances of drug abuse and reduce their likelihood of responding to addiction treatment for adults. This is what makes it necessary to ensure the rehab programme you choose has all the essentials of teen treatment.

Duration of the treatment programme

Research shows that teens need a longer duration to allow for sufficient healing. Since your child struggles with impulse control as a result of their developing mind, they’ll need constant help in resisting the temptation to use drugs. Extended intensive addiction treatments are therefore recommended for teens, in addition to regular follow-up care over long periods. This type of prolonged treatment can help them acquire their skills in a safe and productive environment before they re-enter the ‘real world’.

Preparation for life outside treatment

Certain facilities offer aftercare options. This means they provide groups and resources to help teens after they’ve successfully completed treatment. This can be beneficial, as it allows the young adult to return to their normal routine, whilst continuing with the recovery process.

The effects on teen’s education

Teen drug treatment and education is a big concern, mostly because it’s important for the child to be able to keep up with school work. Falling behind at school because of time spent in rehab can be overwhelming and detrimental. Generally, treatment facilities are willing to work with your teen to ensure they can keep up with their peers, as far as schooling is concerned.

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Personalised Treatment Programme for Teens

Professional drug treatment facilities can work collaboratively with your teen to formulate a personalised treatment programme. Each teen patient is unique and generally more responsive to treatment when knowing that they can contribute to their own recovery path. Many treatment centres offer teens the choice of treatment therapies they’re interested in, but also with the recommendations of their supervising doctor.

Some of the teen treatment methods provided as individualised programmes include academic education, family therapy, substance abuse detox, hypnotherapy, mindfulness, art therapy, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), court liaison services, eye movement desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.

Therefore, rather than focusing exclusively on substance abuse, personalised treatment programmes could also include therapies for:

  • Family trauma
  • HIV infection, Hepatitis and other physical issues
  • Educational gaps, which can leave teens vulnerable to poverty later on
  • Suicidal tendencies, depression and other co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Homelessness or malnutrition
  • Anger, defiance and other manifestations of poor socialisation skills

To comprehensively address these issues, individualised treatment might include the help of social workers, counsellors, therapists, coaches, nurses and teachers. Treatment programmes affect your teen in many ways and can help them live a fulfilled life, free of drug use.

Residential treatment and rehab

Residential treatment and rehab for teen drug abuse require an adequate length of time to achieve long-term abstinence. While the specific length of residential treatment depends on the severity of your teen’s drug use, studies show that results are more effective following treatment of at least three months. Generally, extensive evaluations are performed during inpatient treatment programmes to assess your teen’s personality and medical history to determine whether any mental health problems are present and help choose the most suitable treatment programme.

These evaluations and assessments also determine if a medically supervised detoxification is necessary in order to ensure your teen is physically stable, before entering rehab. If necessary, detox can take from three to 14 days, depending on the type and amount of drugs in their system. After supervised detox has been completed, they can begin rehabilitation treatment.

Residential treatment and rehab offer your teen intensive therapeutic services and 24-hour supervision to ensure they safely overcome substance abuse disorder. They will be provided with an individualised treatment plan suited to their level of drug use and other personal needs.

Outpatient treatment and rehab

Outpatient treatment and rehab offer an alternative to residential therapy and a less-restrictive option after completing residential rehab. Clinical screenings and evaluations are also employed to determine the type of programme best suited to your teen, with the focus on giving them the best chance of achieving success in treatment. If your teen’s life has been affected by their drug or alcohol abuse, you should consider specially designed intensive outpatient treatment programmes.

Group treatment in outpatient rehab allows members to form a community bond, where teens are able to relate to each other. The importance of your teen’s support system is also recognised in outpatient treatment; here, you might be required to play an active and very responsible role in your teen’s recovery process. Additional counselling can also be provided for you and your teen’s other loved ones.

One main advantage of outpatient treatment is that your teen can attend school and take part in extracurricular activities, as well as receive support from family and friends. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment offer individual and group counselling sessions, where your child can learn important life skills and techniques to prevent relapse. They can, therefore, have access to beneficial self-help groups, including 12-step meetings like Alcohol Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

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Therapeutic approaches for teens

Counselling and other therapeutic approaches for teens help them understand the causes of their addiction and identify risk factors for relapse. Qualified and experienced addiction specialists can help your teen find motivation, hone skills and improve relationships that support recovery. Teen drug abuse is mainly caused by genetic and environmental factors. Your teen’s genetic makeup can determine whether they will actively pursue new thrills and engage in sensation-seeking behaviours.

Treating substance abuse in teens, therefore, involves a systematic analysis of different factors, including age; duration of drug abuse; type and amount of substance being used; and any existing disorders leading to or caused by drug abuse. For some teens, inpatient or outpatient treatment, close supervision and participation in self-help groups is the ideal remedy for substance abuse. However, professional treatment involving therapeutic approaches can also provide the sort of assistance required to help your teen quit drug abuse.

There are a number of therapeutic techniques which have been effective in treating young adults struggling with teen drug abuse including:

  • Family therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Anger management
  • Expressive arts therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Equine therapy
  • Wilderness therapy
  • 12-Step support groups

Teen Counselling

Your teen’s doctor may recommend counselling as a way to help them break free from the hold of drug abuse and addiction. Counselling methods such as behavioural treatment or ‘talk therapy’ can help your teen change their attitudes and behaviours related to substance abuse, increase helpful life skills and take an active part in the treatment process. Teen counselling can also improve the effectiveness of treatment and help them stay committed to their recovery journey.

Teen counselling provides a wide range of benefits. Whether or not your child has a mental illness, they may benefit from teen counselling if they are dealing with certain issues, including:

  • Experiencing thoughts of suicide
  • Feeling stressed, sad or depressed
  • Struggling with food-related issues like excessive eating or dieting
  • Feeling misunderstood, especially by adults
  • Experiencing confusion about life
  • Dealing with the loss of a close friend or family member
  • Dealing with issues of addiction by parents or other family members
  • Going through the divorce of parents
  • Trying to quit smoking, excessive drinking and other unhealthy habits
  • Trying to make more friends and gain self-confidence
  • Needing reassurance from an adult other than parents
  • Needing help dealing with family relationships and communication
  • Needing new and healthy ways of coping with stress and peer pressure
  • Constantly comparing themselves to friends

There are so many reasons why a young adult might need counselling or be required to attend therapy. In some cases, your teen might be unwilling to participate. Exposing them to the benefits of teen counselling can help to change their mindset and achieve positive results.

Primary types of counselling offered

Teen counselling sessions are held in both one-on-one and group settings. You and your teen’s other loved ones can also attend some of these sessions to help them adjust to returning to life after treatment. There are different counselling methods offered to help your teen adjust their mental attitude towards alcohol and drugs. Some therapies include:

Motivational Interviewing – this counselling helps them understand the importance of change. Your teen will work with a counsellor to find the strength and motivation to discard substance abuse behaviours. Motivational Interviewing is non-confrontational and non-judgmental. It simply helps your teen realise that they can live a better life without substance abuse.

Motivational Incentives – also known as contingency management, this form of counselling aims to promote positive or desirable behaviours in your teen.

Multidimensional Family Counselling – this strengthens your family unit and overall family bond. A counsellor helps your family learn to cope with your teen’s recovery and improve your current communication skills. This counselling is essential for your teen’s abstinence after rehab.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – this counselling method can help your teen view their habits from a different perspective. With expert guidance, they can also learn to identify the thoughts and behaviours that led to drug abuse.

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Family Approach

A family approach to treating teen drug abuse involves your participation as a parent and also engages siblings and/or peers. In many instances, family involvement can be significant for long-term recovery, as your teen could be living with you and therefore be subject to your rules, control and support.

Typically, the family approach addresses a wide array of problems, related or unrelated to your teen’s substance abuse issues. These could include family communication and conflict, problems with work or school attendance, peer pressure and other co-occurring mental health, behavioural and learning disorders. According to research, family approach in treatment is highly effective; some studies even suggest they provide more consistent results compared to other group and individual treatment methods.

The family approach is typically offered in outpatient treatment settings. The treatments available have also been tested in intensive outpatient and residential programmes. Some of the treatments provided in family-based approach include Family Behaviour Therapy (FBT), Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and Multidimensional Family Therapy (MFT).

Parental involvement

As a parent, you have a significant influence on your teen’s choices and can set the tone for their values and general behaviour. Parental involvement in drug abuse treatment is a powerful and effective tool that can break the cycle of addiction. If you’re concerned about preventing substance abuse or helping your teen in addiction recovery, there are a number of ways you can achieve this.

Treatment centres offering programmes with a focus on parental involvement can help you become aware of any destructive behaviour and the role it has played in your loved one’s addiction. Treatment specialists generally recommend Nar-Anon or Al-Anon for families, as these groups provide effective methods to address issues commonly related to drug abuse.

Support groups can also help you set healthy boundaries within the family. You and your teen can learn effective methods to maintain accountability and responsibility for actions related to drug abuse. This can be an emotional and trying period. Subsequently, your involvement in your child’s journey to recovery can provide the support they need.

Co-occurring Conditions Require Specialised Treatment

It’s important to know if your child has any co-occurring conditions that require specialised treatment when seeking teen drug abuse rehab. Some of these conditions include:

  • Mood disorders – dysthymia, bipolar and depression
  • Attention disorders – attention deficit or hyperactivity
  • Anxiety disorders – social, panic and generalised
  • Severe mental illness – schizophrenia

During rehab, your teen will need treatment for their drug abuse, which can include medications and other addiction-related assistance. However, they must also undergo specialised treatment, medications and counselling for any co-occurring conditions. Co-occurring disorders are also termed ‘dual diagnosis and if initial assessments and evaluations reveal one or more, then treatment may need to last longer.

A specialised treatment for teens with co-occurring conditions involves careful monitoring to ensure safety during the treatment process. Physicians may also prescribe certain medications for your teen to help them cope with the symptoms of drug withdrawal, whilst also treating a mental disorder.

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Teen mental health and drug addiction treatment

When a dual-diagnosis is present, it’s essential that rehab facilities provide treatment that addresses both the mental health issue and substance abuse disorder. Complete recovery can’t be achieved if only one issue is treated. Instead, relapse could occur when symptoms of the untreated issue manifest.

Therefore, teen mental health and drug addiction treatment comprise an intensive face-to-face therapy with a therapist or psychiatrist, who is experienced in dealing with the associated problems. Certain psychiatric disorders may require medication to manage or mitigate withdrawal symptoms that occur during detox. Experiential and behavioural therapies can also improve the effectiveness of addiction treatment, helping to change the mental and behavioural aspects of both disorders.

Fortunately, if your teen is struggling with co-occurring conditions, many treatment facilities can help. Firstly, they will be stabilised during detox, whereby all drug toxins will be removed from their system, whilst preventing severe withdrawal. As soon as they are ready for treatment, both mental and drug addiction issues will be given priority to ensure a successful recovery.

Teen eating disorders and drug addiction treatment

If your teen is living with an eating disorder, they could feel compelled to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Having a drug addiction underlying an eating disorder can complicate the healing process, because of the strong cravings that can occur, but with the right kind of help, your teen can get better.

However, programmes that deal with both addiction and eating disorders can be difficult to find, but just because they may be rare, it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Addiction treatment specialists can help you find a number of programmes across that can help your teen overcome a co-occurring eating disorder and drug addiction.

Even if you have to travel to get the kind of care your teen needs, it will be well worth your time. Therapies in co-occurring disorders programmes will equip your teen with the necessary tools to gain control over both disorders. They’ll no longer need to hide the disorder or ignore it, but will be able to handle all of the issues at once.

Medications for Treatment

Medications can be prescribed by addiction specialists during treatment to reduce cravings and eliminate the appeal of drug or alcohol abuse. Medications for co-occurring disorders help to reduce symptoms and stabilise mood disruptions. Usually, mental health medications can take four to six weeks to become fully active in the body.

To ensure optimum mental and physical health stabilisation, your child will need to be committed and consistent with taking the medication. In addition, drugs and alcohol will prevent it from being effective and can even form dangerous combinations. There are different types of medications provided to address substance-induced disorders and other symptoms of dual diagnosis. They include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Beta Blockers
  • Sedative/Hypnotics
  • Sleep Aids

When your child enters an addiction treatment centre, the doctor can combine these medications with therapy or other forms of treatment. This approach to substance abuse treatment can be very effective. It is important to find a facility that implements a comprehensive treatment plan, rather than a medication-only or therapy-only approach.

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Teen drug addiction: treatment and academic calendar

Treatment centres for teen drug addiction can handle issues related to substance use and dependence, whilst ensuring your teen can still keep up with the academic calendar. Many programmes provide a wide range of services that support your commitment to your child’s recovery and healthy living.

With the help of on-staff teachers, your teen can continue their education whilst undergoing treatment. This can be achieved by completing coursework, taking online classes or coordinating with their school. They also provide recovery support groups, on-site recovery counselling, as well as health and wellness curriculum activities. If you’re wondering whether your teen’s education will suffer during drug abuse treatment, there are programmes that can help them overcome addiction without missing out on their school work.


How do I know if I need rehab?

If you’re aware of the signs of drug abuse, it can be easier to know if you need rehab. There are a number of signs that consistently occur when drug abuse is present. They include physical dependence, cravings, tolerance, and poor judgment, financial and/or legal troubles, developing unhealthy relationships and neglecting responsibilities in favour of drug use.

How effective is teen rehab for addiction treatment?

Rehabilitation for addiction is effective for helping teens break free of addiction. There are inpatient and outpatient programmes offered by addiction treatment centres, designed to help teens and parents overcome drug addiction. These programmes are effective because they address the specific issues related to teenage drug addiction.

How long does treatment take?

Treatment duration usually depends on whether there is multiple drug abuse present or any mental health issues. It also depends on the type of treatment programme you choose. Generally, drug addiction treatment can last from 30 to 90 days, and rehabilitation can take years to complete.

How can I help my teen stay clean?

It’s easier to prevent an addiction from developing than it is to treat it. Providing your teen with adequate and appropriate information about the effects of drugs and alcohol – and boosting their motivation to avoid substance abuse – is essential in helping them stay clean.

What happens during teen treatment?

Teen treatment generally focuses on counselling and education about the skills needed to maintain abstinence. There are different methods used in counselling to help teens overcome their addiction. Teen treatment, therefore, makes use of one or a combination of family counselling, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioural therapy and contingency management.

Which type of teen rehab facility is best?

The best teen rehab facility is one that offers comprehensive treatment. A multi-faceted approach to substance abuse disorders is the most effective way of treating teen addiction. Teenagers who develop drug addiction are unique in their recovery needs. Therefore, a comprehensive plan that allows for an adequate amount of time in treatment will be helpful. Therefore, consider teen rehab facilities that offer sufficiently lengthy treatment for best results.

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