When a teenager is abusing drugs or alcohol, it is important to seek treatment for substance abuse as soon as possible. Even if they have not yet developed a physical or emotional dependence on the substance, the risk of developing an addiction is high when teenagers are abusing illicit or prescription substances.
Common Treatment Options for Teenagers
The days of treating a teenager like an adult have shifted as the medical community has recognized that teenagers have different reasons and complications impacting their decision to abuse drugs. Teenagers do not respond well to the approaches that work well with adults because they might not be in denial of their problems or be taking drugs for the same reasons.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, parents can select options for their teen based on the intensity and duration of their substance abuse. Teen substance abuse treatment options include:
- Early intervention services, which is most appropriate when a teen has tried a substance and is not yet addicted
- Outpatient treatment, which allows a teen to attend school while meeting with professionals once or twice per week
- Intensive outpatient treatment, which has more weekly sessions, but still allows a teen to stay at home
- Residential treatment, which requires a teen to stay in the program for a set amount of time
- Medically managed inpatient treatment, which is designed for severe addictions or teenagers with medical risks
In most cases, parents can try an outpatient program to help a teen before turning to more intensive programs that take a child out of school and require him or her to stay in the treatment facility.
Common Treatment Approaches
The common treatment approaches for teenagers are similar to the approaches used by practitioners in adult treatment programs. Teens will still receive counseling services, but the topics discussed during the treatment and the method of handling problems is not the same.
Services that are usually offered by the treatment program include:
- Family counseling
- Group therapy
- Individual counseling
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Alternative treatments if they are appropriate for the situation
Counseling is the common ground between all of the programs because it helps medical professionals determine the appropriate way to manage a teen’s addiction or substance abuse.
Family therapy helps teens by giving them the home environment they need to feel supported when they are trying to overcome substance abuse. Depending on the reasons for the drug use, the goal of family counseling will vary.
Individual counseling is designed to help identify the causes of addiction. The teen talks to a counselor on an individual basis and discusses different topics. It allows a counselor to identifying the root cause of addiction so that they can arrange an appropriate treatment program.
Cognitive therapy and alternative therapy may or may not be used, depending on the situation. The cause of the substance abuse and the individual teenager will determine the appropriate way to handle the treatment process after providing initial counseling services.
Substance abuse treatment for a teen is not the same as it is for an adult because they have different reasons for abusing drugs and they are still in the middle of mental and physical development. Providing the appropriate treatment for their substance abuse is only possible when the right approach to treating the root cause of the problem is identified and applied to the situation.