Teen Substance Use Disorder: Choosing a Treatment Program

Overview

The program you choose for your teen needs to view substance use as a primary disease and not as a symptom. Your teen needs to have a complete evaluation to determine the level of substance use and the presence of other mental health or medical conditions.

If you need to place your teen in a treatment program, look for one that has the following parts.

Education.

Treatment for a teen's substance use needs to include a way for your teen to continue his or her education. If remedial work is needed, providing techniques that allow maximum achievement for the teen will help boost his or her self-confidence.

Parental involvement.

Most likely, family therapy will be part of the treatment. You need to provide support and encouragement for your teen both during and after the program.

Promotion of interests.

The program needs to provide leisure or recreational time when your teen can pursue a hobby or interest. A leisure activity that can be continued after treatment will help your teen have something healthy to do rather than use substances.

Special services.

Special services such as mental health services, vocational help, and counseling need to be part of the program. If your teen has other conditions, such as depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or anxiety disorder, treatment for those conditions needs to be started during substance use treatment.

Urine drug screens.

The program needs to require that your teen not use substances during treatment. Random urine drug screens can be used to monitor teens during treatment and even in an aftercare program.

Relapse prevention.

Relapse (returning to substance use) is common after treatment for substance use. Teen programs need to help the teen develop a plan for dealing with cravings, high-risk situations, and relapse.

Aftercare.

Most relapses occur within the first 3 months after treatment. An aftercare program that keeps the teen involved and around people who are staying sober (in recovery) helps lower the chance that he or she will relapse. If your teen commits to aftercare for 12 to 24 months, he or she will be less likely to relapse.

Groups.

The program needs to include group and individual counseling along with support and self-help groups. These groups need to be separate from adult groups. Counseling may include cognitive-behavioral therapy. It can help your teen learn coping skills to prevent future substance use.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: February 11, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Patrice Burgess MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Peter Monti PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health