There is nothing new about teenagers experimenting with substances, as teens have always been curious about them. What is new is that clinical research and brain imaging studies have shed light on the differences between the adult brain and the teen brain, and how those differences impact decision-making, impulse control and how substances affect the brain. This research has resulted in teen programs adopting treatment methods that are more effective for this specific age group.
Teens who have developed a substance use problem will benefit from early intervention. Adolescent inpatient treatment programs are designed for teens and provide a safe, supportive and accepting environment where they can work on their substance use behaviors. Preparing a teen mentally, prior to entering treatment, helps reduce anxiety and improves engagement in the treatment process.
How does teen substance use disorder differ from adults?
According to recent statistics provided by the National Institutes of Health, nearly 30 percent of 12th graders have used marijuana and 52 percent have used alcohol in the past year. Here are some factors that can contribute to teen substance use:
- Family Environment: Family conflict is a common source of stress for teens.
- Genetics: A family history of substance use disorder is a significant risk factor.
- Trauma: A history of trauma, abuse or neglect can be factors in teen substance use.
- Social Issues: Social struggles such as being rejected by peers, being bullied or experiencing peer pressure to experiment with substances are contributing factors.
- Mental Health Disorders: Undiagnosed mental health disorders are a significant factor in teen substance abuse.
- Exposure: Teens may succumb to substance use when the substances were easily accessible in their social sphere, or even in the family home.
- Stress: Teens may use substances to relax and decompress from academic pressures or other sources of chronic stress.
What are the signs of teen substance use?
Parents may recognize some of these common signs of substance use in their teen:
- Declining academic performance
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed extracurricular activities
- Withdrawing socially
- Sneaky behaviors
- Staying out late
- Physical signs of engaging in substance use
- Stealing prescription drugs from family members’ medicine cabinets
- Engaging in high-risk behaviors
- Getting in trouble with the law
- Skipping school often
- Hanging out with a different group of friends
- Stealing money from family members
- Mood swings
- Signs of depression
- Signs of anxiety
- Noticeable withdrawal symptoms
How can you prepare your teen for their stay at an addiction recovery center?
Upcoming inpatient treatment may induce feelings of stress and anxiety in a teen. Help prepare your teen for an upcoming stay in treatment in these ways:
- Encourage them: Parents can provide encouragement and support by keeping the lines of communication open. Invite them to express any questions or concerns they may have prior to entering treatment. Convey support by ensuring them of your desire to participate in family sessions.
- Meet with the treatment center ahead of time: Some teens may benefit from visiting the center prior to admission. They can meet with a representative who is able to answer their questions and provide them with a sense of comfort.
- Help them pack: Treatment programs have guidelines that state what items patients are allowed to bring. Check with the program for these guidelines so you can help your teenager pack the appropriate items.
What does addiction treatment program for adolescents include?
An effective adolescent addiction treatment program is designed to address teens in a holistic manner. These programs treat all aspects of the teen’s functioning, including the mental, physical and spiritual realms.
Treatment elements include withdrawal management, psychotherapy, process group, family therapy and experiential activities. Addiction treatment for teens should be followed up with recovery support services, such as teen alumni services, peer recovery support groups and ongoing outpatient therapy.
If your teenager has developed a substance use issue, help is available. By preparing your child for inpatient treatment, they will be more receptive and engaged in the rehabilitation process, which increases the chances of long-term success.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.