Recovery from addiction is a gradual process, even for the most active, energetic teens. In the past, 30-day treatment programs were the gold standard for rehab, but more recent clinical research has shown that 90-day extended care programs are more effective. Teens who stay in rehab for longer periods have time to acquire coping skills, build self-esteem, and learn how to deal with the pitfalls and temptations that they’ll face when they’re back in the “real world” again.
What Are the Advantages of 90-Day Treatment?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, staying in treatment for at least three months is one of the keys to effective recovery. An extended care program can improve a teenager’s chances of success in these important ways:
- By giving the body and mind time to recover. Addictive behavior can take a serious toll on an adolescent’s mind and body. During withdrawal, which may take anywhere from a few days to a week or more, it’s hard for teens to concentrate on counseling sessions or family therapy. Even a young, healthy body needs time to recover its strength.
- By strengthening a teen’s support system. In an extended care program, teens meet therapists, counselors and other teenagers like themselves. They have the opportunity to form new relationships and build solid friendships that may last a lifetime. By spending a significant amount of time together, teenagers have more time to learn from each other and to form lasting bonds.
- By reducing the risk of a relapse. For teens who stay in rehab longer, the lessons of treatment really sink in. Teenagers learn how to identify the social cues and environmental triggers that get them into trouble. They acquire a complete set of tools for dealing with those triggers, so they can avoid a relapse after graduating from drug rehab.
- By allowing time to address co-occurring disorders. The Virginia Treatment Center for Children at Virginia Commonwealth University estimates that 60 percent of teenagers who suffer from mental health disorders also have a problem with substance abuse. Treating a co-existing psychiatric condition like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder requires more than a 30-day stay. Extended care programs give your teen the time he needs to receive integrated treatment for a co-occurring disorder.
- By giving the whole family time to heal. Rehab is a growth opportunity for the entire family. As your teen goes through the phases of rehab, you and the other members of your household can also participate in the healing process. Learning how to have a healthy, sober home life won’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of patience and commitment to reap the benefits of sobriety.
Which Approach to Care Is Right for You?
There is no single approach to addiction treatment that will work for every teen. Adolescent boys are a varied group, and their needs are as diverse as their backgrounds. For teens with a short, uncomplicated addiction history, a 30-day treatment program may be adequate. Younger boys and teenagers who need less supervision may benefit from an outpatient facility that allows them to continue to live at home with their families while they go through treatment.
For adolescents who are at risk of developing serious personal or legal problems as a result of their addiction, an extended care program greatly improves their chances of success. Extended care programs offer the following opportunities:
- Residential care at a gender-specific facility, where teenage boys can focus on recovery without the pressures and social distractions of their daily lives
- Participation in experiential therapies, like weekend adventure treks, where they can build self-confidence and learn to trust authority
- Fellowship with other at-risk teenagers who are struggling to make the transition to adulthood
- Aftercare resources to support your teen when he returns to the community and goes back to school
The transitional stage between rehab and the return to everyday life is one of the most fragile phases in recovery. During this period, the risk of a relapse is high. Teenagers need a lot of support as they make the adjustment to a sober life outside of the protected, supervised setting of rehab. A sober living home gives teens a safe, drug-free environment where they can continue to attend counseling and community meetings.
Muir Wood welcomes boys between the ages of 12 and 17 to enter our extended care program. We specialize in providing gender-specific care for teenagers who are fighting the battle against substance abuse and co-occurring disorders. When you’re ready to ask for help, we’re here to give you the support you need. Call our intake team to learn about our comprehensive recovery resources for teen boys.