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  1. Boot Camps for Troubled Teens?


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Outpatient or Residential Teen Addiction Treatment?

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How serious is the problem? Do you really need to send your son or daughter off to a residential treatment program or could outpatient drug and alcohol treatment work just as well? Find out what types of teens most likely need residential care and which teens can probably get what they need on an outpatient basis.

Only about 10% of teens that need addiction treatment get it – and most of the 90% that never get help would respond very well to minimally intrusive outpatient treatment.

Because teens are less likely to come into treatment with a lengthy history of abuse or with severe physical dependencies, many teens are good candidates for outpatient treatment – especially as a first treatment attempt and especially with complete family involvement in the process.

In some cases, however, residential adolescent treatment is a better fit. Teens that are most likely to benefit more from a residential experience include:

  • Teens with a co-occurring mental health or behavioral disorder
  • Teens likely to commit crimes in a community setting
  • Teens that have attempted outpatient treatment previously without success
  • Teens without a stable, supportive or sober home environment
  • Teens that need medical support or that need a medically supervised detox

Boot Camps for Troubled Teens?

Parents struggling with an out-of-control teen are often desperate to find a solution – and boot camps nationwide claim to have the answers that parents are looking for – but do boot camps work?

Boot camps, which use physical confrontation, extreme discipline and rigorous exercise to ‘tear down’ teens so that they can be ‘built back up’ - promising to instill respect for authority and obedience to rules of behavior.

In reality, you’d be just as well sending your teen to jail…literally. Independent studies have shown that teens sent to boot camps for negative behaviors or crime have equal or higher recidivism rates to teens sent to juvenile incarceration facilities!

Additionally, by sending your teen to an environment of physical confrontation and ‘extreme’ discipline, you may put your loved one in harms way – a worrying number of teens have died while in boot camp programs.

Instead of extreme discipline as the answer – look for a licensed treatment program that offers:

  • Family involvement in the process
  • Trained counselors
  • Intensive therapies 
  • Firm but not overly punitive discipline
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Page last updated Aug 05, 2010

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