Information on Adolescent Drug Treatment

Last updated: 21 September 2022

Teen drug rehab centers provide treatment and counseling for adolescents with substance use issues. Along with addiction treatment, these facilities also work with teens to help them avoid using drugs in the future. Addicted.org has a directory of teen rehabs and other valuable information to help any family with teens struggling with addiction.

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This is a picture of a mother with her teenage daughterAcross the United States, teens addicted to drugs or alcohol struggle with an adult issue. However, the psychological and emotional needs of teens differ from adults. Drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers for teens provide specific treatment resources. There are numerous options across the United States tailored to help teens and their parents overcome addiction and all the associated problems. The programs are designed to address teen addiction, provide ongoing recovery, and build healthy home environments for the whole family. There are countless reasons teens struggle with addiction; teen drug use is common among adolescents of all ages.

Teen rehabilitation programs provide treatment for young adolescents and teens 18 or 19. Some of the common reasons teens abuse drugs is because of peer pressure and social influence. There is influence and peer pressure to use drugs or alcohol through Junior High School, High School, and College. Most teens avoid these problems, but many fall victim to substance abuse and addiction. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among adolescents aged 12 to 17, approximately 1.4 million teens initiated marijuana use in the past year. Also, approximately 670,000 teens initiated cocaine use. When teens experiment with drugs and alcohol, it could quickly become a dangerous addiction.


Marijuana and Teenagers

TIPS FOR TEENAGERS TO COMBAT ADDICTION

  • Learn some tools and techniques to keep your spirits high.
  • Be aware of people in your environment that are a bad influence.
  • Educate yourself and the people around you. For example, if your best friend starts smoking pot, you could show him this video.
  • Identify anything that you do not understand in school. This can cause some physiological and emotional symptoms. Get a tutor or see your teacher to clear it up.
  • Be aware of signs of overdose. If you see one of your friends blacking out, or showing other severe side effects, get help immediately.

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Teens abuse drugs like alcohol, prescription drugs, and inhalants or hallucinogens. Among adolescents aged 12 to 17, approximately 381,000 teens initiated inhalant use in the past year, higher than in 2016 and 2017. Many teens abuse illegal substances for escape or to self-medicate. When teens grow up in abusive households or struggle with mental health issues, they may turn to drugs or alcohol as a solution. There is also the problem with academic or performance pressure when going to school. Many teens face pressure from their parents and struggle to manage this, which drives them to drugs. Also, there are issues with coping with trauma, anxiety, depression, or other issues; drugs become an easy way to escape.

Because teens are connected to social media, they are easily influenced, and some studies have shown that teens who see drug and alcohol use are more likely to engage in those behaviors. Numerous dangers are associated with teen substance use, and experimentation can become teen addiction. Drug use at a young age can also impact the likelihood of adult addiction. Most teens who begin using drugs or alcohol continue this drug use into adulthood.

Common Problems Associated with Teen Substance Abuse

Teens who use alcohol and drugs are more likely to have a substance use disorder than adults. Early to late adolescence is considered a critical risk period for beginning alcohol and drug use. Also, there is a clear link between anxiety, depression, and substance abuse issues. According to the Monitoring the Future Survey, 24.5% of 8th graders, 43% of 10th graders, and 58% of 12th graders used alcohol. Alcohol abuse is a common problem among teens and generally progresses into more severe substance abuse. Also, 47% of 12-grade students had used illicit drugs; the most common were marijuana, prescription drugs, and alcohol.

Teen drug abuse also has the risk of fatal and non-fatal overdose, and the rates are high when alcohol and prescription drugs are mixed. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 67,300 Americans died of an overdose in 2018, and close to 72,000 died in 2019. Drug overdose deaths continued to rise year after year until 2018 when they declined and rose again in 2019. Parents must know about their teen's drug use and look for the indicators. Early intervention is crucial and saves lives—families can perform interventions at any time, and there is no wrong time to organize an intervention. Overall, adolescents have different treatment needs than older substance abusers. Along with the problems associated with addiction and withdrawal, many young people need help with education, co-occurring disorders, family life, and other issues.

Teen Peer Pressure and Substance Use

According to a study regarding developmental psychology, the author is quoted as saying: "The heightened importance of peer influence is a hallmark of adolescent psychosocial functioning (Brown, 2004). Peer pressure is commonly invoked in discussions of adolescent misbehavior. It is implicated in many accounts of adolescent risk-taking because the riskiest behavior in which adolescents engage, such as delinquency, substance use, and reckless driving, takes place in the company of peers (Chassin et al., 2004; Simons-Morton, Lerner, & Singer, 2005)-abstract".

Specifically, negative peer pressure can influence a teen to abuse drugs or alcohol. Negative peer pressure includes being asked to try alcohol, drugs, or smoking cigarettes, convincing a peer to skip school and other potentially destructive behaviors. For example, one study found that teens driving with their friends in a car were more likely to take risks—like speeding—if they knew their friends were watching.

Helping a teen manage and stand up to peer pressure is essential, and it begins with the kind of friends and people they surround themselves with. Teens want to be accepted and also independent. Teens pressure others to act in specific ways to validate themselves. However, when they can understand the motive behind their peer's message, it makes it easier to make responsible choices. In addition, parents should encourage teens to do the right thing and visualize situations before they happen. Finally, parents should set limits and talk through the consequences.

How To Talk to Your Teen About Addiction

Good communication between parents and children is essential, and it helps parents catch problems early. Key communication involves questions, and the kind of information you receive depends a lot on how you are asking questions. More importantly, show interest, concern, and do not blame or accuse the person. Encourage problem-solving and thinking and look for solutions. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends the CALM approach.

  • C – Control your thoughts & actions.
  • A – Assess & decide if you are too upset to continue
  • L – Leave the situation if you are feeling too angry/upset
  • M – Make a plan to deal with the situation

Moreover, part of good communication involves setting limits. Parents can teach their children self-control and responsibility, show care, and provide safe boundaries. Per NIDA, the steps include setting rules. For example, making clear and simple rules, ensuring the child understands these rules, having a list of consequences, and parents being ready to follow through. Along with setting limits, parents should follow up. For example, give a consequence when rules are broken and offer encouragement when rules are followed.

Additional steps involve asking your teen's views on drug and alcohol use. Avoid lectures and listen to their opinions. Discuss with them reasons not to use drugs while avoiding scare tactics. Emphasize how drug use can affect the things that are important to them. Consider media messages, such as drug education and prevention. Finally, discuss ways to resist peer pressure, and be ready to discuss your own drug use. Share experiences you learned when you chose not to use drugs or did use drugs.

Adolescent Marijuana Use

Marijuana in the United States remains illegal under federal law. However, the national landscape continues to change. Individual states are enacting legislation regarding the possessions, use, and cultivation of marijuana and its associated products. Teen marijuana use continues to remain high across the country. There are numerous reasons why marijuana remains one of the most widely used substances.

Drug traffickers and criminal organizations have taken advantage of the popularity of marijuana, and the demand for increasingly potent marijuana and marijuana products, making a substantial profit, per the DEA. Teenage marijuana use has been at its highest level in 30 years. Marijuana plants today are grown differently and can contain two to three times more THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

According to the CDC, 38% of high school students report having used marijuana in their life. Research has shown that marijuana use among teens permanently affects the developing brain. In addition, frequent or long-term marijuana use among teens is linked to school dropout and lower educational achievement. In 2019, 5.6% of youth had used marijuana for the first time before age 13, 21.7% of high school students currently use marijuana, and 7.3% have used synthetic marijuana.

Unfortunately, many teens believe marijuana is safer than alcohol or other drugs. Yet, marijuana use is proven to lead to school difficulties, problems with memory and concentration, increased aggression, car accidents, use of other drugs or alcohol, risky sexual behavior, increased risk of psychosis, and mental health conditions.

Finally, vaping continues to be the most popular method for teens using marijuana. Vaping involves flavoring that can be added to mask the THC smell. Furthermore, vaping involves higher concentrations of THC, and roughly 4% of 12th-grade students say they vape THC daily. In 2014, the average THC potency was 11.5%, and by 2016 it had increased to 20.6%. As of February 18, 2020, 2,807 people have been hospitalized or died due to an e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury.

When is Substance Abuse Treatment for Adolescents the Right Approach?

Most teens do not recognize the risks of using drugs or alcohol. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 34.6% of teens perceived great risk from smoking marijuana weekly, which declined from 40% in 2015. Overall, adolescents' perception of the great risk of harm from substance use alcohol declined from 2015 to 2019. Substance abuse for adolescents is ideal at any time, and there is no bad time to intervene and get an addict's help. Parents play a critical role in their children's lives and will worry about new risks they may experience. A common risk is using alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and other drugs. Parents must talk to their teens about drug use and know the signs.

The best approach to help teens struggling with addiction is by having a loving conversation and talking to them about the risks of substance abuse and addiction. Also, parents should provide information about drugs and alcohol and educate their teens about what drugs look like and how they affect a person. Knowledge is essential; this is part of early intervention, preventing teens from abusing drugs or alcohol. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are substances most commonly used by adolescents. Also, by 12th grade, about two-thirds of students have tried alcohol. Moreover, about half of 9th through 12th-grade students reported ever having used marijuana. Among 12th-grade students, close to 2 in 10 reported using prescription drugs without a prescription.

Substance abuse treatment programs for teens are specifically designed to meet the needs of adolescents. These programs provide proper care and support for teens and their families. When parents notice the signs of addiction, it is important to intervene. Substance abuse affects the growth and development of teens, especially brain development. Teens will begin to engage in risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex and dangerous driving. Drug and alcohol abuse among teens also contributes to adult health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders.

How Does Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Operate?

There are numerous treatment programs to help teens and their parents; behavioral rehabilitation programs are the best options, along with adventure or wilderness therapy programs. Most teen substance abuse treatment centers are residential programs that offer services for three to six months or longer. Lengthy treatment is the best option because teens have the opportunity to manage all aspects of their addiction. Research-based treatment is the most common approach, and evidence-based approaches and support. Treatment facilities combine scientific evidence and knowledge from personal experiences to create programs that work for addicts and their families.

The rehabilitation process is similar to any other, and detox is typically the first step. Teens have access to medically supervised detox and conventional detox programs. Addiction severity and accompanying withdrawal symptoms determine what detox method is required. Medical programs are not common for teens but would manage prescription drug addiction like opioid addiction. Conventional detox programs are typically attached to most inpatient treatment centers and manage most forms of street drug addiction. However, detox should not be considered the only treatment approach to take. Following detox, the next phase of rehabilitation involves inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation.

Types of Therapy for Teens Struggling with Addiction

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a common approach used to help teens, and this helps patients identify negative thoughts and behaviors, which often lead to addiction. Patients attend group and individual therapy sessions to understand better the personal and environmental triggers that lead to addiction. Motivational techniques and methods are also used, such as motivational interviewing. This therapy process helps patients realize the need for change because young people may struggle with personal identity. Individuals are helped to accept their feelings, learn how to modify them, and gain the motivation to stop using drugs.

Teens can also access community, family, and peer support because many moments in a young adult's life are stressful. Some stressful moments include starting a new school, entering college, moving out of the family home for the first time, and starting a job. After rehab, teens must remain surrounded by support and other sober people. Supportive environments positively impact recovery for teens and young adults. Also, substance abuse addiction impacts the whole family, and family-based approaches may improve the overall quality of life and enhance recovery.

Adolescents also benefit from wilderness therapy, a treatment strategy for adolescents with maladaptive behaviors. Wilderness programs combine therapy with challenging experiences in an outdoor wilderness environment. Wilderness therapy aims to provide therapeutic assessment, intervention, treatment of problem behaviors, safety and stabilization, and lasting change. Wilderness therapy offers a radical change of environment, challenging experiences, healthy relationship development, therapy, and teaching healthy coping strategies. Wilderness therapy has countless benefits, and it has proven to be a successful approach in helping addicts overcome addiction.

What are the alternatives to Teen Drug Rehab Programs?

Teen substance abuse treatment provides many options to help adolescents and their families. Again, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among adolescents aged 12 to 17 in 2019, 0.7% received substance use treatment in the past year. When compared to 2015 and 2018, the estimates are similar. Among adolescents who had a past year of a substance use disorder, only 8.3% received any form of treatment. When searching for drug and alcohol treatment centers, an addiction assessment is an excellent place to begin. The assessment process is essential and could be done over the phone or in person. An assessment aims to determine the extent of addiction and what treatment methods are available.

Motivational enhancement therapy is often an alternative approach that involves one to three therapy sessions inspiring teens to take part in substance use treatment. Teens can also access adolescent community reinforcement approaches, an intervention method that helps replace negative environmental factors with healthy ones. Contingency management is a treatment system using instant, real rewards to encourage positive, healthy behavior. Family-based therapies are also provided, often conducted in outpatient settings. Teens remain under parental supervision and receive emotional support while undergoing substance use treatment.

Family-based therapies are also provided through outpatient treatment. These are therapy sessions improving communication skills between teens and parents. Family therapy aims to create a healthier, drug-free home environment. Brief strategic family therapy involves twelve to sixteen therapy sessions working with families, while multidimensional family therapy provides community-based treatment for troubled or violent teens. Some alternatives for recovery support include assertive continuing care, a doctor-assisted recovery program that helps teens build problem-solving and communication skills among recovering teens. Peer recovery support services are community centers for recovering teens. Recovery support is also provided to teens in high school.

Common Terminology Surrounding Adolescent Drug Rehab

Term Definition
Motivational Enhancement Therapy is a therapy process that inspires teens to take part in drug addiction treatment. The therapy process is paired with other therapy methods to motivate teens to plan for recovery.
Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach Typically used as an intervention method to help replace negative environmental factors with healthy ones. An approach used to help teens living in dangerous environments.
Contingency Management a common treatment approach used to rewards healthy behaviors and focusses on improving teens' support systems.
Family Behavioral Therapy therapy sessions improving communication between families and addicts. The goal is to create a healthier family dynamic and improves family relationships.
Brief Strategic Family Therapy therapy sessions targeting drug abuse in the family and provides counseling to family members and addicts.
Multidimensional Family Therapy community-based treatment and support for troubled or violent teens. The programs connect families with a school or the juvenile justice system.
Inhalants are volatile substances that produce chemical vapors that can be inhaled. These are common household products that are easily accessible by teens.
Hallucinogens these drugs are a diverse group of substances that alter a person's awareness of their surroundings as well as their own thoughts and feelings. Teens commonly abuse hallucinogens as a recreational drug.
Synthetic Marijuana synthetic cannabinoids, K2, or Spice are man-made mind-altering chemicals that are sprayed or dried on the shredded plant material so it can be smoked. Teens commonly use K2 or Spice.
Vaping is inhaling of a vapor created by an electronic cigarette or other vaping device and is common amount teens, especially with marijuana and tobacco-based products.

What's Next?

When searching for drug rehab for teenagers, it is vital to arrange proper aftercare. Teens in recovery from addiction would benefit from outpatient care, meetings, sober living homes, or sober coaches. A well-rounded approach is vital to prevent the substance use disorder from becoming a reoccurring problem. Outpatient drug rehab centers, sober living homes, and many other services are available to make life-long sobriety possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Teenage or Adolescent Girls More at Risk of Developing Alcohol Addiction?
Is Alcohol Abuse Among Youth & Adolescents?
Is Beer Consumption a Problem with Adolescents?
What are the Consequences of Underage Drinking in the US?
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CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ARTICLE

Marcel Gemme, DATS

Marcel Gemme, DATS

Author

on September 21, 2022

More Information

Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.

Michael Leach, CCMA

Michael Leach, CCMA

Medically Reviewed

on September 21, 2022

More Information

Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.