It can be terrifying when a teen is struggling with drugs or alcohol as a parent or loved one. You want the best for your child no matter what. Unfortunately, substance abuse among teens can lead to criminal behaviors, worsening mental health issues, and poor outcomes later in life.
Substance abuse treatment can help teens dealing with drug or alcohol addiction. However, these programs need to be geared toward the needs of young people because they aren’t the same as adult treatment needs.
Substance Abuse and Juvenile Crime
Some teens go into substance use disorder treatment through the juvenile court system. Studies show that 80% of minors in state juvenile justice systems around the country were influenced by alcohol or drugs when committing crimes or admitted to having a substance use disorder.
- Millions of young people in the justice system have addiction issues to illicit drugs or alcohol, but only around 68,000 receive help for those.
- Increasingly, the justice system for young people realizes the prominent role addiction plays in criminal behavior. As a result, they are working on providing the appropriate treatment options.
- There are a lot of reasons for the correlation between youth crimes and substance abuse. For example, some young people who use drugs will start selling them to support their addiction.
- When a teen develops an addiction to drugs, it’s expensive. They might then commit crimes like theft and robberies to support that.
- Many teens with co-occurring disorders like depression or bipolar disorder may simultaneously engage in criminal behaviors and substance use.
Jurisdictions around the country are creating drug courts specifically for juvenile offenders and finding they’re successful.
- Juvenile drug court models have various stages that are part of the process.
- Juvenile drug court begins with screening and assessing for substance abuse issues.
- Then, there’s work to coordinate needed services between agencies to connect teens with services.
- Facilitators of juvenile drug courts work to keep families actively engaged in the treatment process.
The ultimate goal is to help transition teens out of treatment services when they’re ready and into long-term community services and recovery support services.
Even if your teen isn’t receiving treatment through the court system, as a parent, you can help them connect with services for substance abuse. If you’re searching for “substance abuse programs near me,” know that teens need specialized, targeted treatment.
Recovery services for youth have some features that make them specifically suited to the distinct needs of young people and the unique risk factors they face.
Treatment Options for Teens
Teens in high school tend to be more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors and experimentation during this period of their life. There’s a biological basis for this. The prefrontal cortex, which controls decision-making and impulse control, isn’t fully developed in teens.
- These differences in their brain development not only make teens more likely to try drugs and alcohol, but it also means substance use can affect them more profoundly.
- When they first try addictive substances, the younger someone is, the more likely they are to become addicted.
- Substance use as a young person can also have long-term effects on brain development.
- Teens who use substances tend to be less likely than adults to seek treatment on their own. There’s often secrecy and denial in young people dealing with addiction.
For teens, age-specific and specialized programs tend to be most effective. Treatment providers have experience working with young people and understanding the complexities surrounding substance abuse and mental health issues in young people.
For example, teens who use substances often have not only untreated but undiagnosed mental health disorders. Substance use becomes a coping mechanism or a way to self-medicate.
Treatment for teens should integrate family therapy because of the strained dynamics substance use can create. Addiction treatment programs for younger people might need to consider how drug use affects education and how to reduce these effects. In adults, the focus can be on vocational rehabilitation.
Evidence-Based Therapies for Teens
When teens go to a drug treatment program, it should be evidence-based. Evidence-based rehab programs for young adults are built on a science and a health care research foundation.
One example of evidence-based substance abuse prevention treatment for teens is cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. CBT helps teens identify negative thoughts and behaviors. These are the factors that can lead to addiction.
Teens in treatment attend both individual and group therapy sessions to learn more about personal, environmental, and social triggers that could lead to substance use. Teens in CBT also work on taking their negative, destructive thoughts and behaviors and turning them into positive ones.
Another type of evidence-based treatment for teens is motivational interviewing (MI). MI can help teens who are struggling with a sense of personal identity. Teens in MI therapy can learn how to see their feelings as valid and change them positively. Young people participating in this type of therapy can learn how to stop their risky behaviors.
Many substance abuse programs for youth will use family-based approaches and family counseling as part of treatment.
Family-based programs integrate parents, siblings, and sometimes peers into treatment. This integration is vital because most teens live with at least one of their parents.
A family-based approach to teen addiction rehab will work on communication and managing conflict.
Family behavior therapy (FBT) is just one example of this element treatment facilities use. This type of therapy can address not only teen drug or alcohol use but also other behavioral issues. A teen and at least one parent will participate in treatment planning. Therapists work with the teen and their family to develop new skills to create a more positive family environment.
Families can work together to learn how to solve problems in a recovery program. Parents can learn how to model good behaviors and beliefs. The focus of family-based approaches is on applying parenting skills and communication skills to help teens remain substance-free.
Recreational therapies are something that’s also uniquely well-suited to the needs of teens and young people.
Recreational therapy can help teens improve independence, family relationships, and communication. It’s an excellent way to set and meet goals and develop coping abilities to be used outside of treatment centers.
Recreational therapy can include a wide variety of approaches. Art, music, games, outdoor excursions, horseback riding, sports, and animal-assisted therapy can be part of these drug abuse programs.
When teens take the time to develop interests, they can become an outlet to express their creativity. Recreational activities during a substance abuse treatment program can help teens be engaged, and it’s an excellent way to reduce stress, develop coping mechanisms and improve quality of life well after treatment ends.
At Opus Health, our services go well-beyond primary addiction treatment. For example, recreational therapy options include outings like go-kart racing and surfing.
Adventure therapy and personal training are other examples of how we integrate reactional therapy into treatment for the best long-term outcomes. Our patients work to develop practical life skills that will serve them well and substance abuse programs.