Between the years of 2003 and 2004, 6.1 percent of youth between the ages of 12 and 17 needed to receive treatment for alcohol use, and 5.4 percent needed treatment for drug use.

Unfortunately, of those youth, only 7.2 percent of those needing help for alcohol and 9.1 percent of those needed help for illicit drugs entered treatment programs. These statistics are all provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and it’s quite possible that the numbers would be even more dire if they were run today.

Perhaps if more people knew about the benefits of treatment programs, and how they really can help teens to better understand their addictions and how they can be successfully controlled, more teens would get the help they need. That’s our hope at Teen Rehab. This article will outline the fundamentals of a treatment program for addiction, highlighting the very real successes these programs can bring about in the life of an addicted teen. We hope this information will encourage you to contact us so you can find out more about choosing the right program to help your teen recover.

Treatment Planning

Providing treatment for a teen substance abuse issue isn’t the same as providing treatment for a cold or the flu. Where a standard illness or infection may start in the same way in all people, and most people respond to treatments in a similar manner, addiction can spring from many different sources, and treatments for addiction that work in one person may not work in another. That’s why treatment planning is so very important.

With planning, the team can get a good handle on where the addiction began, and they can pull together a plan to address that addiction issue.

As part of the treatment plan, experts determine:

  • Exactly what substances the teen has taken, and for how long
  • Whether or not the teen has a mental health issue, in addition to the addiction
  • The overall health of the teen
  • How safe the teen feels at home, and whether a support system in the home exists that can help the teen in recovery
  • Whether the teen has experienced prior trauma that hasn’t yet been addressed
  • How many times the teen has tried to quit in the past, and what happened during those attempts
  • Whether the teen has other issues (educational, legal or financial) that must also be addressed

Some of these questions can be answered in standard interviews with the teen and the family, but sometimes, doctors run specific medical tests to check for specific drugs or the presence of other health issues.

Once the planning is complete, the teen and the family will know exactly where the teen will live during treatment, and they will have a specific plan that includes measurable goals and a timeframe for completion. This plan may be adjusted multiple times as the teen moves through therapy, to adjust for any progress the teen makes as treatment moves forward.

treatment therapyTherapy Approaches

An important part of the recovery process involves therapy. By working with a counselor, the teen will learn more about how the addiction works and how the power of the mind can be used to help control the urges that run alongside an addiction issue. While some therapists use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with their teens, in which teens learn to recognize, avoid and cope with specific situations that seem to be linked with drug and alcohol use, this is not the only approach available for teen therapy.

For example, some therapists use a technique known as contingency management with their adolescent patients. Here, the teen is asked to submit periodic urine samples for laboratory testing for drugs. Each time the urine test comes back free of drugs, the teen wins a prize. The prizes get larger each time the teen remains clear of drugs. This technique has been proven remarkably effective in motivating teens to stay engaged in, and involved with, their therapy programs. For example, one study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that teens who received contingency management had lower rates of drug use than teens who did not receive contingency management. This is a result that’s been repeated in other studies as well.

Some therapists include the entire family in the therapy process. These sessions might include all family members at once, or the therapy might take a mix-and-match approach, with some family members attending some meetings while others attend separate sessions. This can be an effective way for the family to improve their communication styles and deal with trauma that has occurred prior to, or as a result of, the addiction the teen has faced.

Effectiveness of Teen Addiction Treatment

In order to understand how effective addiction treatment is, it pays to learn more about the nature of addiction. Whether the problem is in teens or in adults, addiction is considered a chronic illness that tends to come and go with time. In fact, some experts suggest that relapse to addiction is part of the process of healing, as addicts in recovery test the boundaries of that recovery and deal with new problems that they hadn’t addressed in their first round of treatment.

If and when it occurs, the teen should be allowed to tap into:

  • Medications, if needed
  • Touch-up counseling sessions
  • Additional inpatient treatment
  • Support group sessions

This means that studies of addiction effectiveness that focus solely on abstinence may seem disheartening, but they may just be reflective of the nature of addiction. For example, a study in the journal Addiction found that 53 percent of teens who completed treatment were abstinent or only had a minor lapse in the year following treatment. In other words, more than half of these teens recovered in treatment but others needed more care.

Studies like this don’t indicate that treatment doesn’t “work,” but they do indicate that addiction treatment should address the very real possibility of relapse.

All of these components can help to bolster the lessons the teen learned in rehab treatment, and help to stop the relapse cycle from taking hold and repeating once more.

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