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Teen Drug And Alcohol Rehab Centers

Jennifer Cousineau MSCP, LPCI, NCC

Medically reviewed by

Jennifer Cousineau MSCP, LPCI, NCC

February 1, 2019

Entering rehab can be a difficult yet vital step to take in the recovery process. Deciding which rehab center is the best for a teen can be a lengthy process because there are special considerations. We currently work with those 18 and older.

How Do I Find A Teen Rehab Center?

Teen rehab centers exist throughout the United States. With at least one in every state, there’s likely a rehab center nearby for each teen in need of addiction treatment. One important factor in choosing a drug rehab center will be finding a place where a teen feels most comfortable—whether that means close to home, far from home, or out of state.

The first step to finding a teen rehab center will be to assess the needs of the teen. Getting in touch with an addiction specialist for an evaluation can help determine what treatment approach needs to be taken. That specialist will then assess the severity of the teen’s addiction, and suggest a method and length of treatment required. Inpatient rehab treatments generally last at least 30 days, up to 90 days, or longer.

The type of rehab treatment method, and length of treatment stay, can depend on what kind of drug a person has been using, how long they’ve been using it, and how much of the drug they’ve been using.

Some teens will be required to undergo medical detoxification before behavioral treatment. Drugs like opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms that will be unsafe and inappropriate to treat in a normal treatment environment. So, finding a comprehensive treatment program that offers a detox program followed by formal therapy may be the best solution.

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What Are The Chances My Teen Uses Drugs Or Alcohol?

The teenage years are fragile and short, and they can present a lot of new challenges, temptations, and hurdles. Many teens will have an opportunity to try alcohol, smoke a cigarette, or use drugs. Often what started as a desire to fit in, or try something new, turns into an obsession and compulsion—or addiction—to drugs or alcohol.

How the drug issue is handled and treated will make a difference in the effectiveness of treatment. At a teen rehab center, clients learn new coping skills, healthy behaviors, and get a sense of understanding of their own drug use. This way, when they go back into the “normal” world, they know how to handle the temptations.

Between ages 12 and 20 there will almost definitely be parties, after-school functions, or unchaperoned hang-outs where peers are tempted to get high or drunk. Factors like home environment, community, past experiences or trauma, social surroundings, and even genetics can play a part in the likelihood of a teen trying drugs or alcohol, and then becoming dependent on them.

For many, drugs become a crutch or a coping mechanism. It can be helpful for family members to understand how drugs can impact an individual. Learning to make home a safer environment can be critical, which is why teen rehab centers often offer family therapy as well.

Addiction doesn’t just occur in rough neighborhoods or poor families. Sometimes the stigma must be removed to realize that a teen might be using drugs or alcohol.

Most Commonly Abused Drugs By Teens

Treatment modalities used at a teen rehab center can vary based on the type of drug being used. There are a lot of different drugs on the market, and some are more dangerous than others. Teen marijuana use is often seen as the gateway into illicit drug use, but prescription drugs and alcohol remain a serious part of the problem as well.

The most commonly abused prescription drugs by teens include:

Though they’re dangerous on their own, prescription drugs are capable of opening a door to illicit drugs, like heroin, crystal meth, or ecstasy. According to NIDA for Teens, “nearly 80 percent of people who use heroin report having first misused prescription opioids. However, only a small portion of people who misuse pain relievers switch to heroin. Both heroin and opioid pill use can lead to addiction and overdose.”

The following chart from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows percentages of 12th grade drug use in 2014.

From a study by the University of Michigan, “teens who received a prescription for opioid pain medication by Grade 12 were at 33 percent increased risk of misusing an opioid between ages 19 and 25.”

Alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing an estimated 88,000 people per year. Fortunately, teens are using less alcohol than in past years, according to reports by the NIDA. Instead, teens are turning to prescription drugs and other substances in place of alcohol.

Other commonly abused drugs in the United States include:

What Happens At Teen Rehab Centers?

Teen rehab centers are intended to treat more than just drug and alcohol addiction. These places can help patients overcome any other issues along with drug use or addiction. Even short-term drug use can alter a person’s behavioral patterns and brain function. When a teen uses drugs or alcohol, it affects their brain stem, limbic system, and cerebral cortex.

“Drug use can eventually lead to dramatic changes in neurons and brain circuits. These changes can still be present even after the person has stopped taking drugs. This is more likely to happen when a drug is taken over and over,” (NIDA for Teens).

Repeated drug use can cause the brain to stop performing its normal functions naturally. So, when a teen quits using drugs, they may experience withdrawal symptoms, which are often characterized by anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, exhaustion, and even seizures. In a teen rehab center, many of the underlying issues with substance abuse are discussed with a therapist to help patients better understand why they may have used drugs.

Drugs and alcohol overstimulate the reward circuit, as well as imitate the brain’s natural chemical messengers. Teen rehab centers may use medications to help a client successfully overcome their mental compulsion, as well as aid them in the detoxification and physical withdrawal when they stop using drug. This is known as a medication-assisted treatment.

Not every teen is the same, and the treatment they require will vary as well. Some other commonly utilized treatment measures in teen rehab centers are:

Teen rehab treatment is intended to help patients see their substance use as a problem, while teaching new healthy behaviors, and giving them the tools to overcome addiction. Rehab is also intended to help with co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.

A co-occurring disorder exists when a substance use disorder is paired with a mental disorder. An estimated 60 to 75 percent of teens who have a substance use disorder will experience a co-occurring mental disorder as well. reports that:

Youth who experience a major depressive episode were twice as likely to begin using alcohol or an illicit drug, compared to youth who had not experienced a major depressive episode.

Youth who experienced serious depression were twice as likely to use alcohol as their peers who had not been seriously depressed.

Similarly, many more youth who had not previously used illicit drugs did so after a major depressive episode.

Finding The Best Rehab Center For My Teen

Some of the best rehab centers provide comprehensive treatment, from detoxification to both inpatient and outpatient therapy. For many, the more they put into their recovery, the more they get out of it. Similarly, longer treatment stays tend to yield better results.

No matter the route taken by a teen struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, recovery continues long after the treatment program is complete. Drug and alcohol rehab gives patients the tools to successfully stop using drugs, but the other part of recovery is practicing what they’ve learned.

Many other types of inpatient rehab programs may be useful for teens as well. Some may include:

However, the longer a person waits, the worse addiction can become. Drug addiction can spiral out of control, consuming all aspects of a person’s life before long. According to the NIDA for Teens, 570,000 people die each year from causes related to drugs and alcohol. can help your teen start the recovery process. Contact us today.

Teen - Heroin Drug Facts - Over-the-Counter Medications - Facts - Co-occurring Youth Mental Health

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