Teen and therapist at Muir Wood

Teen Addiction Recovery Works

When you first confront the reality that your teenager is addicted to drugs or alcohol, the future may seem bleak and frightening. You probably wonder whether your teen has any real hope of recovering, or whether he or she will end up caught in a cycle of substance misuse and rehab. But statistics suggest that adolescents with substance use disorders have a good chance of recovering, especially if the family participates in the rehab process. To ensure a successful recovery, choose a treatment program that is dedicated to the specific needs of adolescents. It is also important to consider programs able to provide and help clients access adequate duration of treatment. According to research from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), three months of treatment is the minimum amount of time required for people with substance use disorders to stop using and achieve better long-term outcomes. The NIDA research also shows that even involuntary treatment can be effective. Clients who are compelled to receive substance use disorder treatment are more likely to stop using substances and enter recovery. 

Mental health and substance use disorders are chronic, progressive illnesses that can be life-threatening without treatment. It is important to get help for these conditions as soon as possible. While there is no singular treatment, or “magic pill,” that addresses all substance use or mental health conditions, holistic therapy, individualized treatment, and evidence-based care can reduce symptoms and restore quality of life.

Treating substance use and co-occurring mental illnesses (dual diagnosis) is a complex process—a journey aimed at putting patients on the path to sustained mental, physical, and emotional recovery. Individualized treatment plans that address physical, mental, and spiritual health and the nuances of each person’s history and conditions lead to better outcomes. At Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services, a coordinated program of psychiatry, nursing, psychotherapy, medication management, wellness, experiential activities, fitness, and academic counseling is tailored to each client’s individual needs.

Teen Substance Use Statistics

Trends in teenage substance misuse have changed over the years but according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS), youth substance misuse continues to be a high-profile public health concern, with at least 1-in-8 teenagers using an illicit substance in the last year.

  • 12.8 percent of all 12–17-year-olds report using marijuana in the last year.
  • 6.9 percent of 12th graders use marijuana daily
  • 591,000 teenagers aged 12–17 used an illicit drug other than marijuana in the last month
  • By the time they are in 12th grade, 46.6 percent of teens have tried illicit drugs
  • 1.19 million 12–17-year-olds report binge drinking in the last month
  • 9.2 percent of all 12–17-year-olds used alcohol in the last month
  • 2.7 percent of 12th graders drink daily
  • 407,000 teenagers aged 12–17 met the criteria for alcohol use disorder in the last year
  • 2.5 percent report misusing pain relievers
  • 7 percent of 12th graders have abused tranquilizers.
  • 8th graders in 2020 are 56.1 percent more likely than 2017’s 8th graders to have tried amphetamines

There is no single definition of success.

Success is not easy to define when it comes to treating mental health and substance use disorders. There is no standard definition of “rehabilitation” or “recovery,” nevertheless there are ways to measure success. Effective, evidence-based treatment addresses multiple needs of the whole person, not just substance misuse. Treatment should be appropriate to the individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture. If all associated medical, psychological, social, academic, and vocational problems are addressed, teens with mental health and substance use disorders have a good chance of achieving a full, long-term recovery.

Evidence of successful care at Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services

Comprehensive high-quality treatment can be highly effective. Here’s a look at some of the key criteria Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services uses to measure the success of its programming. We value what parents tell us about our program and use that feedback to continually improve outcomes and the overall quality of treatment. Surveys show that:

Of residents feel that they benefited from the program

All of the clients that completed the residential treatment program believed that they benefited from receiving treatment at Muir Wood and Adolescent and Family Services.

Of parents were satisfied with our program

Parents, who are often the primary decision-makers when it comes to choosing a behavioral healthcare provider for their child, are highly satisfied with our program.

Of our families believed that the program did a good or excellent job meeting its needs

The vast majority of families served reported that Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services did a good (17%) or excellent (72%) job at meeting their treatment needs.

Depression symptoms decreased on average from 49% to 16%, anxiety from 46% to 18%, and trauma from 45% to 18%.

Does Rehab for Teens Work?

According to the 2019 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2018, “about 946,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 needed substance use treatment in the past year. This number corresponds to 3.8 percent of adolescents or about 1 in 26. The percentage of adolescents in 2018 who needed substance use treatment was lower than the corresponding percentages in 2015 and 2016, but it was similar to the percentage in 2017.”

While almost a million teens needed substance use treatment in 2018, only about 159,000 (16.8 percent) received any substance use treatment in the past year. The 2018 percentage was similar to the percentages in 2015 to 2017. Clearly, a large number of adolescents in the United States do not get the addiction treatment they need. Many parents are unsure where to get quality treatment for their children. Only 83,000 of the 159,000 adolescents received addiction treatment at a specialty facility. 

Receiving comprehensive, evidence-based treatment in a specialty facility with the participation of parents and other family members offers the best chance of achieving a lasting recovery. Research shows that “completion of addiction treatment is one of the most consistent factors associated with a favorable treatment outcome.” Treatment completion is associated with abstinence, less criminal activity, fewer relapses, and higher levels of employment. Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services has one of the best completion rates in the country. 

Nevertheless, recovery from addiction is never easy. Teenage participants are frequently more motivated to maintain their recovery while they are still in rehab. That’s why it’s so important to find a program that gives teenage clients the resources they need to stay sober after rehab. Effective aftercare services include:

  • Regular “checkups” to evaluate the teen’s response to sobriety and their level of commitment to abstinence
  • Participation in community meetings and self-help fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, and Celebrate Recovery
  • Continued family counseling for the teenager and their parents
  • The opportunity to join an alumni program, where activities, social events and weekend trips are offered to help graduates stay on track with their program.

Will Rehab Be Effective for My Teen?

Rehab doesn’t always immediately work for young people with addiction. Like adult clients, teens must have a certain level of motivation in order to quit using drugs or alcohol, as getting sober and staying sober isn’t easy for people of any age. Teens are in a vulnerable stage of neurological development, and their low impulse control is often matched with a lack of judgment. After a stressful experience at school, a breakup with a romantic partner, or a fight with their parents, a teen’s drive to misuse alcohol or drugs could overcome their resolve to maintain abstinence. Relapse isn’t a sign of failure, though. Often, it is simply a stepping stone on the road to long-term sobriety.

Is it possible to keep teens with substance use issues from going in and out of rehab? Definitely—with an effective treatment program for young people that includes a comprehensive set of support services. Teens who continue to attend counseling sessions and group meetings, and whose parents are also committed to the rehab process, have a much better chance of staying sober than those who try to tough it out alone.

At Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services, we offer neuropsychological and genotype testing to help our teenage clients develop treatment plans that are tailored to their needs. Our recovery programs cover a wide range of services and opportunities, from adventure treks in Sonoma and Marin counties to family counseling and individual therapy. To start the process of rebuilding your family, submit a request for a call from us or call our intake team today at (877) 786-0870.