If adolescent substance abuse has taken over your life or the life of your child, don’t wait – call American Addiction Centers today at 877-640-1943 to begin treatment at our comprehensive, premier adolescent-based treatment program.
We can all agree, being a teenager isn’t easy — there’s peer pressure, the challenge of keeping up your grades and the highs and lows of young relationships. Lots of teens turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with all the stress, but addiction only makes problems worse in the long run.
Adolescent drug rehab vs. traditional rehab
Drug rehab is focused on overcoming addiction, one day at a time, and rehab programs for teens share that same fundamental goal. But in adolescent drug rehabilitation programs, how they get there is different. For example, one of the biggest obstacles in treating teen-aged drug users is simply getting them to admit there’s a problem. Adolescents typically harbor deep feelings of denial, in part because they’ve only been using for a couple of years — they haven’t yet lost a spouse or a career because of addiction.
If they don’t seek help, of course, teen addicts may never have a spouse or career, and an overdose could end their lives before the age of 20. Adolescent addiction treatment programs specialize in bringing this message home to teens — sometimes through the use of peer counselors and other young adults with whom these clients can better relate.
Another unique offering of adolescent drug rehab with American Addiction Centers is education. Oftentimes a teen will have to go to treatment during the school year, or they may have already dropped out of school completely. We offer G.E.D’s or daily tutoring to keep teens up-to-date with their studies while attending treatment. To learn more, call 877-640-1943.
How does adolescent drug rehab work?
The most important step is for the addicted teen to enter treatment. An addiction intervention may be necessary in convincing the adolescent there’s a problem. Because denial is so prevalent in younger addicts, concerned parents may have to force their child to seek help — threatening, for example, to kick them out of the family house if that doesn’t happen. Did you buy your son a new car for his 18th birthday? Threaten to take the keys back. You may be saving your child’s life.
Once a client enters adolescent drug rehabilitation with American Addiction Centers, he or she can expect:
- An intake process that will identify any particular issues, in addition to substance abuse, that the client is struggling with – such as eating disorders or mental illness/dual diagnosis.
- Detox, a difficult but necessary process that removes all drug toxins from the body.
- The intensive residential treatment stage kicks into high gear, complete with individual/group therapy and family counseling. Unlike adult drug rehab centers, adolescent drug treatment includes an academic component. Teens will continue their studies while in rehab, ensuring they return home healthier, happier and still caught up with their classmates.
- After the teen returns home, continued outpatient treatment is an essential part of a successful recovery. Relapse prevention requires a sustained effort, and outpatient care may include counseling or attending local 12-step support groups.
I strongly suspect my son or daughter has a drug problem. How can I know for sure?
It’s a tricky thing, to figure out if your teen is using — as you’ll see, many of the signs and symptoms of adolescent drug abuse can be part of typical teenage behavior. In some cases, there may be mental health issues going on, but not necessarily substance abuse.
Warning signs include:
- Messy appearance, or lack of care for personal hygiene
- Track marks on arms or legs (or long sleeves in warm weather to hide marks)
- Reckless driving, car accidents or unexplained dents in the car
- Avoiding eye contact
- Secretive phone calls
- Mood changes or emotional instability
- Loss of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies, or sports
- Truancy or loss of interest in schoolwork
Drug Abuse After School
The hours between 3:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon have been dubbed some of the most dangerous hours for teens and pre-teens, yet many parents don’t even know the risks exist. These are the hours that teens are often left alone, unsupervised, and can get themselves into big trouble. Working parents don’t always get home when their children are done with school, so teens, old enough to take care of themselves, are left alone. Many parents see no problem with leaving their teens to get themselves home, grab a snack, and get at their homework. Parents come home around 5:00, in time to get supper on the table, ask how their kids’ day was, help them finish up their homework, and get them to bed. It may sound like a picture-perfect day, but what parents may not know is what their teens are actually doing during those hours between 3 and 5.
What Teens Do After School
These are the hours that kids are likely to get involved with drugs, alcohol, and other risky behavior. Otherwise good kids may find the time without parents around too tempting, and they may keep busy by doing things they know they can’t do when parents are around. This is especially true if kids congregate after school. If they are hanging out a one person’s house together, they aren’t going to sit and do homework. They may play video games, the boys might invite some girls over, or they might experiment with things they shouldn’t get involved with. Kids at this time of the day may try drugs that someone brings along, or sneak alcohol from their parents’ stash, or they might try inhaling household substances, like paint or glue, to get high. Still others may try the choking game or other risky activities, all in the name of having fun.
Prevent Teen Drug Abuse
It can be scary to think of what our kids could get involved with, especially when we as parents try hard to educate them on prevention. But there are things parents can do. Try to be home for your kids, even if it’s only once in a while. Let your kids know it is possible for you to drop in when they least expect it. Or have a relative or neighbor keep an eye on the house or pay a visit occasionally. Parents should not let their teen go to a friend’s house if there is not an adult at home. Parents can have their child call them at work to check in during the afternoon, and make sure all prescription pills, alcohol, and inhalants are kept locked up or hidden away. It is helpful to get teens involved in extracurricular activities, such as sports, drama, or other clubs, where they are supervised and doing something constructive. It is also important to keep communication open with your teen. Keep talking about the risks of drugs and alcohol, and encourage them to come to you with any problems or questions.
D.A.R.E. and Drug Prevention Techniques
Teenagers are one of the largest demographics of people experimenting with and getting hooked on drugs. Numerous programs have been developed to help solve the teen drug problem, and many groups have wisely focused on prevention. D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), possibly the most well-known prevention program there is, has been trying to educate kids about the risks of drugs for years now.
Founded in 1983 in Los Angeles, D.A.R.E. is led by police officers that teach kids up to 12th grade how to stay away from drugs and resist peer pressure. These officers must complete 80 hours of training on child development, classroom management, teaching techniques, and communication skills. They then go into the classrooms and work with teachers on educating the kids about making good choices. The focus is always on helping kids protect themselves when facing peer (or other) pressure to try something they know they shouldn’t. Kids that participate in the D.A.R.E. program are taught how to avoid high-risk situations, whether it be drug use, violence, or other risky behavior.
Criticisms of D.A.R.E.
D.A.R.E. has come under attack a number of times in its history for being ineffective. A few studies have published unfavorable results, such as D.A.R.E. has no impact on youths’ choice to do drugs, or that there was an increased rate of drug use among D.A.R.E. graduates, or that over time D.A.R.E. seems to lose its effectiveness with youth. The Surgeon General even categorized D.A.R.E. as a program that “Does Not Work” in a report in 1999. However, D.A.R.E. has pressed on, even with criticisms, and they seem to be constantly re-evaluating and improving the program to be more effective.
One of the changes D.A.R.E. has worked to implement recently is a high-tech program designed to capture students’ attention. Computer-based models, interactive lessons, and even role playing are all part of the new D.A.R.E. program. By making the message more real to the youth, administrators are expecting a greater amount of learning to take place, with more positive results. But don’t be mistaken, D.A.R.E. advocates have held strongly to the opinion, even through criticism, that their program has had positive results. They cite the vast public support of the program as evidence that it is doing great things. Over 75% of school districts in the U.S. are said to participate in D.A.R.E., and nearly everyone is familiar with both the logo and marketing campaigns. Now also in countries around the world, D.A.R.E. has certainly done a great job of promoting itself.
But D.A.R.E. participants and leaders aren’t just interested in the popularity of their program. They see the problems facing teens today and they work to address those issues. Along with the drug prevention message, the program is known for building relationships between kids and police officers, and spokespersons for D.A.R.E. say that the solution to the teen drug problem is not less D.A.R.E. but more of it.
Rural vs Urban Teens and Prescription Drug Abuse
Some slightly surprising new data suggests that where a teen lives may influence whether or not they abuse prescription drugs. The 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that teens living in rural areas are 26% more likely to use prescription drugs for non-medical uses than are urban teens. This report was summarized by the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in the JAMA Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, published Nov. 1, 2010.
Urban vs. Rural Teens
Prescription drug abuse has skyrocketed in our country in the last 15 years, increasing 212% among teens from 1992 to 2003. With prescription drugs being prescribed more and more by doctors, teens find it easy to gain access to their choice of drugs in family members’ medicine cabinets, or buying them from friends.
The interesting finding in the study is that teens in rural areas are significantly more likely to abuse prescription drugs than urban teens, while illicit drug abuse rates are the same for both urban and rural youth. There will need to be more research on the habits of rural youth to determine why the prescription abuse is more prevalent among them. Maybe these teens have more time on their hands, or are less educated on the risks of prescription drug abuse, or feel they are less likely to get caught by law enforcement. But this study shows that this group of teens should be the target of more anti-drug campaigns.
Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drugs that are used non-medically are often considered gateway drugs. Teens that experiment with prescription drugs, even occasionally, are statistically more likely to use illicit drugs as they get older. They are also more likely to smoke, drink, and get caught up with gambling and other impulsive activities.
Just because a teen lives in a rural area, however, doesn’t mean that they are necessarily going to use prescription drugs. There are some factors that the study found that greatly decrease even rural teens’ likelihood of using drugs. First of all, living in a two parent household reduces the risk by 32%. Attending school, effectively treating health and mental health problems, and having parental involvement also decreases the risk of substance abuse among these teens. In fact, all teens and pre-teens benefit greatly from positive parental interactions. Parents don’t often take their role seriously enough, but parents still hold a lot of power in their teens’ lives, attitudes, and behaviors. Families that spend quality time together, wherever they live, have teens that are less likely to do drugs, smoke, or drink. That’s why things like eating dinner together at least a few nights a week makes a world of difference for teens.
Conclusions from this study do not suggest a bleak future for our rural youth. With a little bit of attention on this population, including drug-prevention education, prescription drug abuse can be decreased among this group.
How to Keep Kids Busy
We live in a time when parents of middle and high school-aged children keep a busy schedule. Kids are involved with so many activities these days, that families have a hard time relaxing and communicating with each other. Is this having a negative impact on our society? How do our demanding family schedules impact substance abuse rates among young people?
Time to Connect
When it comes to anti-drug strategies, a busy life has its ups and downs. One of the most important things for parents to do to keep their kids off drugs is to spend time with them. Parents need to have regular conversations with their kids about the latest drugs and the dangers of substance abuse. A family that is too busy with activities can’t effectively have those talks and bonding time, such as at the dinner table.
Too Much Stress
Kids can also become unnecessarily stressed with too full of a schedule. Adolescence is a difficult time in life, and to burden teens with an impossibly busy schedule and pressure to perform well in sports is not healthy, and it can actually lead to substance abuse.
Staying out of Trouble
But that doesn’t mean that families that choose to be involved with sports, the arts, and other activities have it all wrong. In fact, another great way to keep kids away from drugs, alcohol, and other dangerous behavior is to keep them involved with positive activities. Students that come home to an unsupervised house after school will find ways to keep themselves busy, often having to do with drug or alcohol abuse. Teens that go to practice, drama club, or other structured activity are much less likely to get involved with drugs. Kids need the stimulation of extracurricular activities, and they need the life skills that are taught with many sports and clubs, such as teamwork, time management, and hard work. Parents will be the most successful if they are able to encourage in their teen a healthy balance of school and activities with family togetherness and real conversations.
Parents should feel empowered when it comes to keeping their kids off drugs. While nationwide campaigns have proven ineffective because of the generic nature of “just say no”, parents are a real resource for their children. Kids need to hear from parents that they should stay away from drugs and alcohol, and know their parents are willing to talk about the subject with them. Parents can also model good behavior for their teen, by practicing healthy living and stress management themselves. Families that find the balance between keeping kids actively involved with something productive, yet taking the time to build family bonds, will find themselves more able to stay away from drugs.
Yes, staying busy does have its challenges and needless stress. But it also offers kids a way to learn life skills while staying out of trouble, and a full schedule can help kids stay away from drugs.
If you’re not sure, seek professional help
When trying to decide if your teen has a problem with drug abuse, you may want to turn to a pediatrician or child psychologist. Don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution. Your child may ask whether you yourself have tried drugs, and it’s okay to say ‘yes,’ if that’s the case. Most parents these days tried drugs when they were younger – 60%, according to a 2006 Partnership For a Drug-Free America survey – and experts increasingly say it’s best to disclose your past to your child when asked. Call 877-640-1943 for advice now.
Your teen, in turn, may feel more comfortable telling you about the drug use happening in their own life.
Some ways to start the conversation:
- “I tried drugs because some kids I knew were experimenting. I thought I needed to try drugs to fit in. It took me a while to discover that’s never a very good reason to do anything. Do you ever feel pressure like that?”
- “Everyone makes mistakes, and trying drugs was a mistake I made. It made me do some dumb things. I love you too much to watch you repeat the bad decisions I made.”
No matter your insurance, be it Cigna, Aetna, Humana, Blue Cross / Blue Shield (BCBS), Assurant, Unicare, United Health Care, Anthem, Carefirst, Asuris Northwest Health, Golden Rule, Celtic Insurance, Fortis, Health Net, Kaiser, Vista, Shelter, Wellpoint, Tri Care, Accordia or even Medicare, and state insurance — we can help you find an adolescent drug rehab. We also offer many affordable self pay options as well as luxury rehab programs.