What Should I Expect from Addiction Treatment for Adolescents?

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In the United States, 788,000 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 met the criteria for having an Illicit Drug Use Disorder, also known as IDUD. Addiction is a growing problem for many teenagers. Because of this, many more adolescents are having to go through addiction treatment to help them overcome their addiction. 

Do you want to learn more about addiction treatment for adolescents and what you should expect? Keep reading this article to learn more about the steps to take for teenage rehabilitation. 


One of the first steps to take for addiction treatment for adolescents is paperwork. This is often necessary, especially if you are admitting your teenager into a residential treatment program. 

This paperwork includes many different consent forms, safety precautions, and more. 

By filing this paperwork, the residential treatment center can remain HIPPA compliant. Plus, they can keep your teen’s current medical team up to date with their rehabilitation progress. 

Medical Assessment

After all the proper paperwork has been filled out, your teen will get a medical assessment. This is a necessary step to keep your teen safe during their treatment program. 

A medical professional will take your teen’s vitals, will look for signs of drug use, and will give a full report to the doctor on staff. 

There are also some common signs of addiction that parents can look out for. For example, drastic changes in appearance or behavior, changes in moods, or a sudden drop in grades can be warning signs that you must be aware of. 

Medical Detox

The first step of addiction treatment is detox. Often, teens in rehab still have substances in their system. Once their body flushes out the drugs, they can begin healing. 

While the body detoxes naturally, it can take weeks. It will also often lead to withdrawal symptoms, which can be dangerous. Because of this, it is important to have a medical detox with professional care. 

This way, the detox can be done safely without being able to have harmful substances when the withdrawal pains are too much. Instead, doctors can help teens through their withdrawal pains. 

Sometimes, they will provide medication to help them ease the pain and to lessen the cravings for drugs and alcohol. 

Integrated Treatment and Dual Diagnosis

Often, teenagers with addiction are dealing with multiple diagnoses, also known as dual diagnoses. This is when multiple mental health problems occur at the same time. 

For example, teenagers who are addicted to drugs or alcohol may also have other mental health problems, like depression or anxiety. Often, these other diagnoses can lead to addictive behavior. 

Because of this, your teen must get integrated treatment to treat both co-occurring disorders at the same time. This integrated treatment approaches both problems simultaneously. Treating the mental health disorder makes it easier to treat addiction.

Counseling and Therapy

Counseling and therapy are another vital part of addiction treatment. In teen drug or alcohol rehab, it is often the primary form of treatment. 

This is because biological factors can play a huge role in teens with substance use disorders. If the brain has any abnormalities or underdevelopment, this can lead to drug or alcohol use. 

Teenagers are still developing their brains as well. This may result in them finding new ways to seek thrills. Plus, many teens have other genetic or environmental factors that are part of the cause of their substance abuse. 

Meeting with a therapist or counselor can help them get to the root of their substance use issues. It will also make it easier to provide more comprehensive treatment that will address all the underlying issues that they are facing. 

Medications for Treatment

Often, people that struggle with substance use disorders will also need medication-assisted treatment. Not all teens will need medication-assisted treatment and it is not approved for teenage use by the FDA. However, physicians are still able to legally prescribe medications to teens with addictions. 

This prescribed medication will help them through their withdrawal symptoms. For example, it can lessen their cravings for drugs or alcohol.

Medication is also sometimes necessary for their health. After an addiction, your teen may be lacking important nutrients. Prescribed medications can help them improve their health, stabilize their moods, and aid in overall recovery. 

Holistic Healing

Another important part of teen addiction treatment is taking a holistic approach to healing. As was mentioned before, teens often deal with multiple diagnoses at once. Other mental health disorders can lead to drug or alcohol abuse. 

Similarly, teens that struggle with any aspect of their health may find it more difficult to recover from their addictions. Because of this, teen addiction therapy must focus on more holistic healing. 

This way, they can heal the physical, mental, and spiritual damage in their life to aid in addiction recovery. Plus, they can learn the right coping skills to handle changes in these different areas of their health. 

Part of holistic healing can include both individual and group therapy. 

Peer Support

Peer support is another necessary part of addiction treatment for adolescents. It shows your teenager that other people are going through the same things that share similar life experiences. It can also provide encouragement that others struggling with the same issues have overcome them before!

Not only does this help with addiction recovery, but it also helps with lifelong recovery. Sharing such deep personal experiences allows teenagers recovering from addiction to foster deeper relationships and meaningful connections. 

The peer support developed in treatment will be an important part of continuing recovery!

In many treatment centers, teens get this peer support through group therapy, support groups, and other activities with people in the center. 

Included Education

Not only does addiction recovery for teens help your child through the recovery process, but it also includes other educational resources.

This is also known as psychoeducation. This part of therapy teaches people about their addictions. It gives them more knowledge and awareness about their addictions and supports them to overcome them. 

Because of this, psychoeducation allows patients to take control of their lives. Psychoeducation programs allow clients to ask questions about their addictions, learn more about triggers, and provide them with practical skills to aid in their recovery. 

This additional education also shows people that addictions are a disease. They are not signs that you have a poor character. Distinguishing this gives them the knowledge and drive to seek help and work toward lifelong recovery. 

Often, teens that are in a residential treatment program also need traditional forms of education, as they are not in school. In many teen treatment programs, they will spend several hours a week on their schooling in addition to the addiction treatment. 

Combining treatment and education provides a rounded route to recovery! Make sure you find a treatment center that prioritizes education for patients.

Continuing Care

Finally, your teens will receive resources for continuing care after they have completed their addiction treatment. This is one of the most important parts of recovery and is what will help your teens stay sober for years after their treatment. 

While your teen may be doing well with their recovery in the treatment center, getting put back into the real world can be a significant change. There are many more temptations for those with drug or alcohol addictions. 

By preparing a plan for continuing care, you can help your teen prevent addiction relapse. 

One of the best forms of continuing care is a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. These groups provide a support group for others who have dealt with similar issues in the past. Because it is a judgment-free zone, your teens can get the help they need without feeling like bad people. 

Other types of continuing care include counseling and therapy. Plus, they can start establishing other healthy habits, like going to an after-school club. This will allow them to distance themselves from their old habits that lead to addiction in the first place. 

Looking for Addiction Treatment Options? We Can Help

What is addiction treatment? It is an often necessary step for those seeking recovery from addiction, no matter what kind. It can help adolescents detox and get the professional help they need while staying up to date on their education and other needs. 

Do you want to learn more about addiction recovery for teenagers, Eagle Overlook can help! We offer a top-rated treatment center for teenagers in the Georgia area. 

Contact our team today to learn more about our treatment options for teens and to get started with recovery!