Teen Substance Use Disorder: Choosing a Treatment Program

Topic Overview

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

  • Education: Treatment for teen 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. But you also 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 him or her have something healthy to do rather than use alcohol or drugs.
  • Special services: Special services such as mental health services, vocational help, and counselling need to be part of the program. If your teen has other conditions, such as depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder, or anxiety disorder, treatment for those conditions needs to be started during substance use treatment.
  • Relapse prevention: Relapse (returning to alcohol or drug use) is common after treatment for substance use. Teen programs need to help the teen develop a plan for dealing with drug 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 drug-free (recovering) 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 counselling along with support and self-help groups. These groups need to be separate from adult groups. Counselling may include cognitive-behavioural therapy to help your teen learn coping skills to prevent future drug use.

Credits

Current as of: August 22, 2019

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

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