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Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment

teen male sits at table and smiles while talking to a specialist in his substance abuse treatment program Excessive drug use is referred to as substance abuse, which can result in significant issues or distress for the individual or society. Adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 are especially vulnerable to developing a substance use disorder due to their still-developing brains and increased susceptibility to peer pressure. As such, it’s crucial for adolescents struggling with substance abuse to receive appropriate treatment.

At Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness, we offer mental health treatment, including our substance abuse treatment program. Our team creates a supportive environment for adolescents to overcome substance abuse. We employ evidence-based treatment approaches that have been proven effective in treating adolescent substance abuse disorders.

Our substance abuse treatment program includes comprehensive assessments, individual therapy sessions, group therapy, family therapy, and medication management if necessary. To learn more about our substance abuse treatment program or our other options for mental health treatment for adolescents, call us at 855.940.6229, and we can provide you with additional information and answer any questions you may have.

What Is Substance Abuse?

A mental health condition recognized by the medical community, substance abuse often involves physical and psychological dependence. Physical dependence is an altered physiological state that can lead to withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued. Psychological dependence is a state of intense need to continue taking a drug. These urges and feelings of needing the drug may be present without physical withdrawal symptoms.

Under these definitions, misused drugs may include illegal drugs. This includes heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and legal ones, such as alcohol, nicotine, or prescription medicines. Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug in the U.S., with nearly three-fourths of all substance abuse disorders involving alcohol.

It’s important to note that nicotine, a stimulant drug, is becoming more prevalent among adolescents, so it’s essential for parents to identify the signs of teen vaping.

Signs of Substance Abuse

Determining if an adolescent is using legal or illegal drugs can be challenging. Adolescence is a time of change, and this includes behavior. Many of the signs and symptoms of substance abuse in adolescence are behaviors considered normal for teens and young adults. However, a few of the common signs of substance abuse may include:

  • Mood changes such as anger, irritability, sullen, or withdrawn
  • Academic or behavioral challenges
  • Rebelliousness
  • Changing relationships with family and friends
  • Coordination difficulties
  • Decreasing energy levels
  • Losing interaction in activities or appearance
  • Disappearing without explanation and secretiveness
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Slurred speech
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain

Identifying these behaviors and talking to your child about concerns is the first step in seeking help for substance abuse. Remember, it’s important to approach this conversation with compassion and understanding.

Commonly Misused Substances by Adolescents

While the most popular substances differ between age groups, legal drugs are relatively more accessible to adolescents. For this reason, alcohol and tobacco are the two most commonly misused drugs by teens and adolescents, followed by marijuana. 

Young adolescents often prefer inhalants, while older teens are more likely to use synthetic marijuana and prescription medications. Research shows that prescription and over-the-counter drugs account for most substance abuse among high-school seniors.

Other than alcohol and tobacco, some other commonly abused substances by teens and adolescents may include:

  • Marijuana
  • Amphetamines
  • Synthetic Marijuana
  • Prescription painkillers
  • Cough medicine
  • Sedatives
  • Tranquilizers
  • Hallucinogens
  • MDMA (ecstasy)
  • Salvia
  • Dextromethorphan (DXM)
  • GHB
  • Ketamine
  • Inhalants

These substances can cause significant physical, psychological, and social harm, making it crucial to seek help if your child struggles with substance abuse.

Risk Factors for Substance Abuse

It’s important to note that many adolescents experimenting with drugs don’t develop a substance abuse issue or addiction in adulthood. However, drug use in adolescence can be very risky. Even the occasional misuse of substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and inhalants can have harmful consequences. The areas of life most affected by substance abuse typically include school and relationships, particularly family relationships.

Some of the elements that place many adolescents at an increased risk of substance abuse and addiction can include:

  • Peer and family influence
  • Genetic vulnerability
  • Environmental stressors
  • Personality characteristics
  • Psychiatric problems or co-occurring disorders
  • Lack of parental supervision
  • Poor communication and interaction between parents and children
  • Undefined or poorly communicated rules and expectations
  • Inconsistent and excessively harsh discipline
  • Family turmoil
  • Parental leniency toward alcohol and drug use

Cultural and societal factors also play an integral role in substance use. For example, public laws define what kind of drug use is legal or illegal. This determines which forms of drug or alcohol are acceptable or allowable. A substance abuse treatment program can help individuals overcome these risk factors and learn healthy coping mechanisms for managing stress or peer pressure.

Understanding Our Teen Substance Abuse Treatment

Substance abuse treatment programs for young people vary in levels of care and treatment settings. Since no individual treatment suits every adolescent, treatments are tailored to meet the individual’s unique needs. Some of our treatment options for substance abuse include:

After-School Outpatient

Outpatient treatment is the most common setting. This approach is often recommended for substance abuse treatment of adolescents with less severe addictions. Outpatient treatment can also be helpful for teens with few mental health conditions and a supportive living environment. When well-trained professionals provide services, many cases can be treated in outpatient settings.

Outpatient treatment varies by type and intensity of therapy and may be provided individually or in a group format. Low and moderate-intensity outpatient care typically involves one or two sessions a week. Intensive outpatient services include three or more weekly sessions, each lasting at least three hours.

Day Treatment

Substance abuse treatment for teens with severe conditions often requires a more intensive level of care, called partial hospitalization. This treatment option is also referred to as day treatment. This setting enables patients to receive treatment five days a week for four to six hours while living in their homes. Day treatment programs can benefit adolescents with a significant mental health condition or require a supervised living environment.

Residential Treatment

Residential or inpatient treatment is resource-intensive and represents the highest level of care. Inpatient treatment is sometimes recommended for adolescents with severe addictions who require 24-hour observation and care to make their recovery possible.

These adolescents may have complex mental health, medical concerns, or family issues that affect their ability to avoid substance use. Treatment typically involves building personal and social responsibility while developing new coping skills.

Drug treatment experts have developed guidelines to determine the proper intensity and length of treatment for adolescents. Treatment needs vary by case and circumstance. Talking about concerns with a professional who can help create a treatment plan is essential.

  • This determination is based on an assessment of six areas:
  • Level of intoxication and potential for withdrawal
  • Other medical conditions
  • Other emotional, behavioral, or cognitive conditions
  • Readiness to change
  • Risk of relapse or continued substance use
  • Recovery environment

As with any medical condition, substance abuse treatment should continue for an appropriate amount of time. Treatment that is shorter or less intense than it should be only increases the patient’s risk of relapse.

How Can Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Impact Your Child’s Life?

An adolescent substance abuse treatment program can transform your child’s life. It offers them an opportunity to break free from the destructive cycle of substance use and regain control of their life. Through our treatment program, adolescents learn essential life skills, such as:

  • Managing stress
  • Resisting peer pressure
  • Making healthier choices
  • Building strong, positive relationships

This empowers them to have a fresh start, paving the way for improved academic performance, healthier interpersonal relationships, and a brighter future. Treatment also significantly reduces the risk of long-term health issues associated with substance use, contributing to the overall health and well-being of your child.

Contact Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness for Substance Abuse Treatment in Massachusetts for Your Child

At Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness, we understand the challenges that adolescents face when struggling with substance use. We are here to provide a safe and supportive environment for your child to overcome their addiction and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Our team of mental health professionals is dedicated to helping adolescents recover.

If you are concerned about your child’s substance use or have questions regarding our treatment program, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You can call us at 855.940.6229 and schedule a consultation with our team.