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Substance abusing teens need teen-specific addiction treatment. Although some general addiction treatment programs may allow adolescent participants, teens really do better when in treatment with others of a same age, within a program designed with the needs of adolescents in mind and delivered by experts familiar with the unique challenges of working with troubled teens.

Some of the reasons why teens require adolescent specific addiction treatment include:

  • The importance and amount of family and parental involvement in the recovery process in a teen treatment program
  • Adolescent treatment staff receives training in safe and effective discipline techniques for teens that may ‘test’ the system
  • Teens value the opinions of their peers, and so group therapy can be very effective, provided the group is composed of others of the same general age
  • Since teens are generally mandated to treatment, program staff must be able and ready to win the interest and engagement of their clients
  • Program staff must be experienced in working with teens so that they can recognize underlying behavioral or mental health disorders

Adolescent Addiction Treatment Options

Some of the addiction treatment options open to adolescent clients include:

  • Community counseling with a counselor or psychologist familiar with working with teen clients and substance abuse issues – you family doctor may be able to recommend a local practitioner or organization to contact
  • Community support groups – Such as AA, NA and others
  • Teen specific outpatient addiction treatment programs – These programs are offered on weekends and after school and combine elements like group counseling, drug education, life skills classes and others into a structured time-limited course of treatment
  • Teen day treatment programs – More intensive versions of outpatient treatment programs – generally these programs allow students to go to school full time and also complete 3 or 4 hours of therapeutic programming daily, while returning home in the evenings.
  • Therapeutic boarding schools – boarding schools with extra therapeutic programming for teens with behavioral, mental health or addiction issues - Generally 6 months to 1 year at minimum in duration.
  • Teen drug rehabs – short duration (1 – 3 month) residential addiction treatment program that will provide intensive counseling and education as well as some degree of academics
  • Hospital inpatient addiction treatment – this is the most intensive level of care. It is generally reserved for those with a need for a medical detox or for those with co-occurring medical or mental health conditions that complicate the delivery of care. Adolescents in an inpatient treatment program will generally step-down to a residential program as soon as they are stabilized and ready to do so.
  • Recovery high schools – community high schools that offer a supportive environment to adolescents in recovery from addiction.
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Page last updated Aug 05, 2010

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