What are the unique needs of adolescents in addiction treatment?

In order for adolescent addiction treatment to be successful, it has to address the various factors in a teen’s life that may be contributing to the continued use of alcohol or drugs. First of all, adolescents are already at particularly high risk because of the developmental stage they are in. The various emotional and psychological issues that are typical for teens can only exacerbate the pattern for relapse. For instance, a teen's level of maturity, still feeling identified with the glamour of using drugs, not being able to surrender to treatment and returning to the same peer group after treatment can be obstacles to their recovery success.

Also, because teens are so impressionable, they can be vulnerable to the stories and experiences of their peers. These factors play a significant role in a teen’s ability to get and stay sober. If not tended to in treatment, these factors can create a strengthening downward spiral where the feelings produced by relapse, such as failure, only add to the desire to use drugs, which teens often use to cope with difficult feelings. For this reason, it's important that parents and caregivers find a treatment facility for their teen that provides evidenced-based treatment and where the focus is on treating the full scope of the addiction.

Marketing Director, Paradigm Malibu

Adolescents seek out substances for various reasons, including the desire for new experiences to performing well in school to keeping up with peers. Unfortunately, the decision to try drugs can lead to lifelong consequences such as the development of an addiction. Genetics and certain life situations or stressors can also play a strong role in increasing an adolescent’s chances of becoming addicted. Depending on the amount of consequences an individual has experienced as a result of his or her addiction, someone in this age group is less likely to seek out treatment as well.

When healthcare professionals treat adolescents, they must take an evidenced-based approach and consider the individual’s developmental stage, cognitive abilities, interpersonal skills and any physical or mental conditions. Professionals must also be prepared to handle the complications that may arise from the patient’s confidentiality and dependence on family members who may or may not provide support during their time of recovery. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that the individual is continuously engaged in treatment as recovery can sometimes be a long and difficult process.

Amimbola Farinde, Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor
Private Practice

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-772-8219 to to start the path to recovery today.

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