Are Teen Alcohol and Drug Treatment Programs Different?

If your teen struggles with drug or alcohol abuse, it’s important to speak with a mental health professional to determine what kind of program would be best for your teen. Before doing so, you might want to understand some of the similarities and differences between drug and alcohol treatment programs so that you can come in armed with knowledge. Here’s a shortlist of what you need to know about your options for treatment.


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Generally speaking, detoxification (detox) is the process of removing toxic substances from the body. This is an important process to undertake when beginning treatment as it helps the individual go through withdrawal symptoms and remove traces of the substance. While many of the withdrawal symptoms are similar between alcohol and drug detox, there are some differences and, as a result, some slightly different options when going through this process.

For drug detox, some individuals might choose to use a replacement substance to help them stop using a harmful substance. For example, methadone can help lessen withdrawal symptoms for individuals who are stopping opiate abuse. The regimented use of methadone be a difference in how drug addictions are treated over alcohol addictions.

For alcohol detox, some of the withdrawal symptoms a person might feel can be different. For example, a person detoxing from drugs would not experience delirium tremens, but someone withdrawing from alcohol would. This symptom involves sudden and severe mental or nervous system changes.

Inpatient and Outpatient Programs

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Individuals checking into a treatment program will have to make a decision between an inpatient program and an outpatient program. This is true for both alcohol and drug treatment. For teens struggling with significant and debilitating drug or alcohol abuse, professional supervision and an individualized program can be extremely helpful. That said, for some teens an outpatient program is a better fit.

How Are They Different?

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Every teen’s journey with addiction is unique. They have a history, and triggers and risks that are their own. As a result, treatment programs aim to meet the specific needs of your, individual teen. Therefore, each teen might have a different experience than other teens in a similar or identical program. This doesn’t mean the program itself is different, just that the teen’s needs are different.

At the end of the day, drug and alcohol programs tend to be fairly similar. However, there are many specific decisions you can make about what you want in a recovery program such as whether it’s inpatient, outpatient, near your home town or far away. It’s simply important to speak to a mental health professional to determine the best type of treatment for your own, unique teen.

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