An adolescent brain isn’t the same as an adult brain. For starters, according to research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, the adolescent brain is inherently vulnerable to risk-taking activities. That’s because the parts of the brain that control behavior and place emphasis on future harms over current risks is still growing and changing during the teen years. That inherent need to take risks can make teens slightly more vulnerable to experiment with drugs, and it can also make these teens a little less likely to respond to treatment programs that are made for adults.
That’s why it’s vital for teens to enroll in treatment programs that are made just for them. And there are certain things that teen programs simply must have.
Any addiction treatment program will provide therapies that are designed to help combat a return to drug use. Therapy sessions tend to explain the mechanics of addiction, along with the risks recurrent drug use bring, and therapists hope to help their clients build up skills they can use to resist a return to drugs, even when these people are tempted to do so.
Teen drug rehab centers might use these therapies too, but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), adolescent programs should do much more. In fact, it’s vital for teen drug programs to focus on providing care for the entire teen. Rather than focusing exclusively on a drug use problem, a comprehensive adolescent program might provide therapies for:
That means programs for teens might include counselors, social workers, nurses, teachers, coaches, therapists, and more. The care might touch on each and every aspect of a teen’s life, in an attempt to find the roots of the drug use problem, so the teen can pull together a robust life that simply has no room for drug abuse.
This kind of care is also best accomplished with the help of the family, NIDA says. While teens might claim that they have nothing in common with family members or that they don’t need family members in order to heal, they often lean on their families and rely on them in deep-set ways that they may not understand. Families also have a long history with the teens in trouble, and they might provide a backstory that makes therapy all the more effective. Including them in treatment is seen as vital as a result.
Intensive addiction treatment programs for adults are often measured in terms of weeks. Adults with addiction might build on their successes for years by attending support group meetings and touchup counseling sessions, but they might be through with daily addiction care in a staggeringly short period of time.
In 1990, when the need for adolescent addiction care was first widely recognized, an article in Addiction Medicine suggested that teens needed a longer time in which to heal. Since they struggle with impulse control due to their developing minds, they simply can’t resist the call to return to drugs as effectively as adults can.
This advice remains true today. In fact, experts suggest that teens often need very long intensive therapies for addiction, and they often need intensive follow-up care for equally long periods. Providing care over an extended period like this allows teens to build up their skills in a supportive environment before they return to spots in which they’re more likely to relapse.
Teens can sometimes be coerced into staying enrolled in treatment, particularly if they’ve been arrested due to the choices they’ve made, but treatment programs can also provide services teens enjoy and appreciate in order to help them see the benefits of staying in treatment. Nice amenities and beautiful grounds are two options programs can use in order to attract teens and help them to stay engaged in care.
According to CASA, 90 percent of Americans who meet the diagnostic criteria for addiction started abusing drugs prior to age 18. Clearly, starting drugs early in life is dangerous, but it doesn’t have to be catastrophic. With the right kind of program, even teens with deep-set drug habits can change, grow, and heal.
Finding the right program doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, we’d like to help. We have a team of operators standing by who can answer your questions about teen treatment for addiction, and we can help you to identify a few programs that can help. Calls are confidential, so you won’t need to worry about privacy violations. And all consults are free. Please call and we can tell you more.