Addiction is a topic that’s been relevant for decades, but only today has it turned into something positive – the stigma around the conversation continues to decrease, and the availability of treatment has grown exponentially. Although it’s still a delicate topic, we’ve been forced to deal with the issues head-on.

In the age of a growing opioid epidemic, and what experts say is another epidemic to follow caused by stimulants, embracing this topic has never been more vital. The problem with addiction starts young, and if we can nip it in the bud early, it may be the difference between a life with healthy coping skills or a bumpy road dependent on drugs or alcohol.

While teens addicted to these substances face adult issues, their emotional and psychological problems differ from that of an adult. Fortunately, rehab centers take a particular approach to help teens while they’re in treatment and utilize the most effective treatment. Teens are separated by age and gender during inpatient treatment, and many can stay in school during outpatient treatment.

Teen Treatment Options

Various treatment programs exist dedicated to teens and their parents to overcome teenage drug or alcohol addiction. The programs exist to address teen addiction rehab, ongoing recovery and maintaining a healthier home environment for the entire family. It’s common for a teen to experience underlying conditions that lead to addiction, and as you’d expect with adults, these must be addressed for the success of treatment.

Behavioral Treatments

As mentioned above, a majority of teens dealing with drug or alcohol addiction have underlying disorders such as anxiety or depression. Behavioral therapy is a successful means of addressing the psychological issues that may contribute to their drug or alcohol use.

Therapists take a hands-on approach during therapy for both the teens and their families. The teen will learn coping skills that help them resist picking up drugs or alcohol and avoid triggers. It will also teach them how to deal with emotions that lead to cravings and stressful situations.

Behavioral therapy also exists to teach parents how to communicate with the teen and bring their families closer together. It allows the family to hold open and honest discussions to keep their home environment healthy.

Behavioral treatment programs in outpatient rehab consist of:

  • Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA): ACR-A is a method of intervention that replaces negative environmental factors with healthier ones. The purpose of this method is to focus on improving a teen’s support system, along with their coping and problem-solving skills. Communication is also heavily focused on during this time.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MTE): Motivational Enhancement Therapy is designed to pair other therapy methods that motivate the teen to make a recovery plan. It will take place in one to three therapy sessions during drug or alcohol addiction treatment.
  • Contingency Management: This method of treatment uses instant gratification and real rewards to encourage positive and healthy behavior. It helps to rewire reward pathways damaged by drug and alcohol use, and teens will earn prizes for their participation in addiction recovery. The method is commonly used in conjunction with other rehab methods for teens.

Family-Based Therapies

Since most teens are still involved with their families and live at home, many of these exercises are geared toward a teens’ support group of friends and family. These family-based therapies target several potential issues, including:

  • Peer pressure
  • Co-occurring disorders (mental health)
  • Family communication or conflicts
  • Issues with school or work attendance

Most family-based therapies take place in outpatient settings, and the teen will remain under parental supervision, which helps them receive emotional support during treatment.

Other family-based therapies in outpatient rehab consist of:

  • Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT): This is a combination of community and family-based treatment for troubled teens that are violent. These sessions connect the teens’ families with schools or the juvenile justice system so that all parties can work together and help the addicted teen through recovery.
  • Family Behavioral Therapy: These therapy sessions are geared toward the improvement of communication skills between a teen and their parents. The objective is to build a health and drug-free home environment where both the teen and parent feel safe. Everyone involved will receive prizes like cash vouchers when they meet their treatment goals.
  • Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT): A teen can expect to attend 12 to 16 therapy sessions that target drug abuse in the family. It may be practiced in outpatient treatment, inpatient, or post-rehab care.

Recovery Support Services For Teens in Treatment

When a teen completes rehab, they’ll find that support groups and resources are just as important as the treatment itself. These programs serve the same purpose as Alcohol Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, and they allow the teen a safe place to share their experiences free of judgment. Other programs exist to focus on treating psychological withdrawal symptoms like anxiety. However, it’s important to note that these services should not be used in place of addiction treatment or rehab for a teen.

There are some alternative options for recovery support that include:

  • Peer Recovery Support Services: These are specific community services for teens in recovery, and they connect teens with peer leaders that have immense experience overcoming drug and alcohol addiction.
  • Assertive Continuing Care: Assertive continuing care is a unique approach consisting of doctor-assisted recovery at a teen’s home. ACC builds communication and problem-solving skills to help a recovering teen stay healthy.
  • Recovery High Schools: These are special high schools dedicated to educating teens in recovery. In recovery high schools, the students are surrounded by peers in a controlled environment while focusing on recovery. In some cases, these high schools are used as a supplement to formal addiction treatment.

Inpatient and Outpatient Addiction Treatment

The majority of teens who attend addiction treatment will find themselves in outpatient programs, meaning they’ll stay at home with their families during their treatment and recovery. In most cases, it’s the best option for a teen who can’t miss school or other obligations that may stunt their growth. Inpatient treatment is for severe cases or teens that have a history of relapse.

Family support is essential for a teen’s long-term recovery, and outpatient programs usually include parents and siblings during treatment exercises. It helps to keep the whole family engaged throughout the process and prevent a potential relapse.

Medical detox is necessary for the cessation of various drugs, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol, which can be lethal without medical supervision. Inpatient programs offer 24-hour care to a teen battling with addiction, and doctors are available to treat potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Therapists will teach teens how to quit using and provide them with a road map forward for continued abstinence.

Only a trained medical professional can determine if inpatient or outpatient treatment is right for your family and teen. Many factors must be considered when making this decision, including the type of drug used, the severity of the addiction, and the teen’s relapse history. No matter your teen’s need, rehab centers can help teens live a healthy and drug-free life.

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