Life is full of distractions for today’s teens. Friends, school, social activities, dating, sports, college preparations, texting, TV…the list goes on and on. For teens with a drinking problem, the distractions of daily life can get in the way of recovery. Residential treatment centers offer a safe, supportive atmosphere that’s entirely dedicated to rehabilitation. For 30 to 90 days or more, teens live on site while they attend counseling sessions, support group meetings and academic classes. In this focused environment, your teenager can truly focus on the demands of getting sober.
You can find residential alcohol treatment in a wide variety of settings, from public health centers to exclusive private facilities. Although some parents fear that residential facilities are punitive and institutional, the truth is that treatment centers for teens can be reassuringly homelike. In these residential settings, clients have access to therapists, counselors and social workers who practice cutting-edge, evidence-based therapies to help teens recover from alcohol addiction.
Residential vs. Outpatient Rehab
Residential rehab isn’t the only option for teens who want to recover from the disease of alcoholism. Outpatient rehab centers and clinics provide many of the same services as residential facilities, but clients are able to go home at night to spend time with their families. For many families, outpatient addiction treatment for teens offers valuable benefits:
- It allows teens to continue to attend school and spend time with their families without interruption.
- It provides more privacy for the family by allowing the teen to attend treatment without leaving home.
- It connects teens with important community resources, like job placement services and academic tutoring centers.
But outpatient alcohol treatment also has disadvantages for teens. Because teens are so sensitive to peer pressure, they can easily be lured back into drinking if they remain in their familiar environment. Outpatient treatment is less structured and more loosely supervised than inpatient care, which means that teenagers can skip their counseling sessions and meetings more easily. Teens whose lives have been taken over by addiction can often benefit from the structure and strict guidelines that they find at residential treatment centers.
Is Residential Treatment Effective?
When it comes to treating alcoholism, studies have shown that residential treatment programs have better outcomes in many cases than outpatient treatment. According to a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, heavy drinkers benefit more from inpatient treatment programs, while less severe drinkers may benefit more from outpatient care. Study participants who attended inpatient rehab had fewer total treatment days and were less likely to have jail time than those who completed an outpatient program.
What do these statistics mean for teenagers? Teens who need intensive alcohol treatment, including medically monitored detox services, will probably have more success at a residential treatment program, where they can be temporarily removed from their everyday world. Some teens have serious problems that are better addressed in a secure, comfortable residential setting, such as:
- Undiagnosed depression, bipolar disorder, clinical anxiety or other psychiatric disorders
- A history of physical or sexual abuse
- Serious co-existing health problems, like diabetes
- A history of suicide attempts or suicidal ideation
- A history of relapsing after previous attempts at alcohol rehab
For teens who haven’t been able to recover successfully from alcohol addiction at home, a residential treatment center may be the answer. Surrounded by other teens who want to commit to a life of sobriety, your teen can find a level of support that he may never have found in his daily environment.
Finding a Good Residential Treatment Program
There are a few important things to consider when you’re preparing to enter your teen in a residential treatment program:
- The length of the program. Rehabilitation doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, treatment programs of 90 days or more have proven to be more effective than shorter programs.
- The recovery services it offers. Detoxification, one-on-one talk therapy, group counseling and family therapy are the key components of a good rehab program. But what about schoolwork, personal development and esteem-building help after treatment? The program should address all aspects of the teen’s needs.
- Its licensing and accreditation status. It’s natural to be a bit scared about sending a teenager away to rehab. At a licensed, nationally accredited facility, your teenager will be extremely safe.
- The qualifications of its staff. The mental health professionals and addiction specialists at the facility should be cross-trained in both fields, so they can effectively treat people with both a substance abuse issue and a psychiatric diagnosis.
Residential rehab offers the best opportunity for healing to troubled teens who have gotten involved with alcohol or drugs. At Muir Wood, we specialize in the treatment of alcoholic teens, not just for 30 to 90 days, but for years after you walk out the doors of the facility. Call our compassionate intake counselors for more information about our specialized treatment programs today.