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How Addiction Treatment Resources for Youth are Different

According to the NIDA, the unique needs of young people looking for addiction treatment “stem… from their immature neurocognitive and psychosocial stage of development” as well as their sensitivity to social cues. In many cases, it can be important that adolescents struggling with addiction attend treatment with other adolescents in a facility that is specifically catered to that age group. There are actually different treatments which are used specifically for younger individuals in these facilities.

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Parental Involvement

Because of the adolescent’s likelihood to respond to social cues, especially from individuals close to them, “treatments that facilitate positive parental involvement… are among the most effective.” In many cases, parents and teens will sit down with a therapist or counselor and work on their relationship as well as their thoughts and feelings about the adolescent’s drug abuse.

This type of treatment approach “addresses a range of influence on [the patient’s] drug abuse patterns” which allows everyone involved to better understand the issue and how to take steps to fix it (NIDA). In many cases, it improves the functioning of the entire family unit.


The use of medication for adolescent drugs abuse and addiction can be tricky, and it is not as common as in the case of adult rehab treatment. “Currently, the only addiction medications approved by FDA for people under 18 are over-the-counter transdermal nicotine skin patches, chewing gum, and lozenges (physician advice should be sought first)” (NIDA 1). However, there is a current attempt to approve buprenorphine for younger individuals which is still pending.

Most medications for addiction have not been tested on younger individuals, which is why there isn’t a precedent for prescribing them to this age group. Physicians must be careful, as a younger individual could have a different reaction to a medication, especially because their body is still growing.

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Finding Treatment

teen rehab

Youth rehab programs help teens understand their actions and the impact they have on their lives.

Otherwise, many of the same methods used for adults are also utilized in treating addicted youths. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, one of the most popular treatments used for addiction, has been found to be especially helpful for treating everything from addiction to depression in teenagers. This is often very beneficial to the overall recovery of the patient because most adolescents who become addicted to a drug also have an underlying mental disorder that can be treated with CBT.

However, finding treatment can be difficult. Patients often perform better in a rehab facility that is just for young adults and adolescents, so choosing one that is specific to this demographic is key. Clinics can be found with SAMHSA‘s treatment locator or with our directory. But once you are able to find a facility that both treats this specific age range and meets all other requirements you or your teenage child might have, you will be much more likely to achieve positive results.

Treatment must be operated with care, as adolescent addiction patients often experience many sensitive issues. The NIDA states, “Research has demonstrated that the brain undergoes a prolonged process of development and refinement from birth through early adulthood,” and addiction may very well interrupt this. But with the right type of treatment, an addicted adolescent can start to recover.

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Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: Rehab Media Group, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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