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Meth Recovery: Adolescent or Adult Treatment

answered 11:45 AM EST, Thu February 16, 2012
My 18 year old daughter is addicted to crystal meth. I want to send her to rehab. I am not sure if she should go to an adult rehab or to a teen rehab. I know she is legally an adult but to me she still seems very much like a kid.

Delisted Expert Says...

Meth Recovery: Adolescent or Adult Treatment?

Highly Concerned Parent,

I used to be the director of an adolescent substance abuse treatment program for several years. How we determined if we treated an 18 year old or not, often depended on whether they were in school. Some of the teens were not in mainstream schools, but were in alternative or vocational schools. With some of the 18 year olds, I often asked them "what group would you be most comfortable with?” We also used our clinical judgment to determine what their mental, emotional, or developmental age was; based on their decision making abilities, use of vocabulary, behaviors, peer relations, family relations, past history, and overall maturity. Believe it or not, the 18 year olds usually made the right decisions about which age group to be in treatment with. Recovery begins with making a new decision: not to use drugs or alcohol and to go into treatment. I recommend supporting your daughter in making the best decisions she can make; including about treatment. A word of caution, I would not put my daughter in a program where there was someone she used drugs with or obtained drugs from.

If you are not comfortable with her decision-making, you can have a professional assessment done by a substance abuse counselor. Most treatment centers usually prescreen their clients before they enter treatment to make sure that this person is receiving the proper level of treatment (outpatient, intensive outpatient, residential, or inpatient) and if the program is a good fit for the addict. Some individuals need to be involved in gender-specific treatment because of their past history with the opposite sex, i.e., acting out, or because the opposite sex would provide a serious detraction for the person early in recovery. This type of clinical judgment is usually made during the initial screening or assessment.

I hope with these guidelines your daughter and you will be able to choose the appropriate treatment program. Please be aware that it is not uncommon for individuals, early in recovery, to show a low motivation for treatment. This is very common and does not prevent recovery for the individual or his/her family. If you prefer, you can obtain a free assessment online at http://choosehelp.com. On one final note, addiction is a family disease and I would strongly encourage your family to participate in Al-Anon, Nar-Anon or CoDA support groups. 

I wish your daughter and your family a speedy recovery. If I can do anything further to assist you in this matter, please contact me.

John W. O'Neal, Ed.S, MSW, MA, LPC, NCC

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Page last updated Feb 23, 2012

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