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 abuse and rehab. But statistics suggest that adolescents with substance use disorders have a good chance of recovering, especially if the whole family participates in the rehab process. To ensure a successful recovery, choose a treatment program that’s dedicated to the unique needs of adolescents.
Teen Drug Abuse Trends
Trends in teenage substance abuse change from one generation to the next, as do trends in adolescent recovery services. According to the TEDS Report, a publication of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, approximately 1.5 million American teens could be considered chemically dependent or addicted in 2009. Among adolescents between the ages of 15 and 17:
- 71.9 percent said that marijuana was their first drug of choice
- 17.7 percent reported that alcohol was their first drug of abuse
- 56.3 percent stated that they had first started using when they were 12 to 14 years old
- 51.2 percent were referred to drug or alcohol treatment by the court system
According to statistics, many teens who get involved with drugs and alcohol do seek treatment. Among teens between the ages of 15 and 17 who were entering treatment, 32.2 percent had been through rehab before. This statistic suggests that while teens may be going to treatment, over one-third are relapsing after treatment.
Is it possible to keep a teen with a substance abuse problem from bouncing in and out of rehab? Yes — 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 clean and sober than those who try to tough it out alone.
Does Rehab for Teens Work?
When it comes to rehab for teens, the news is both bad and good. The bad news is that more teens need drug or alcohol rehab these days than ever before. According to the Wisconsin Bureau of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, rehab admissions among teens have increased by 65 percent since the mid-1990s. Marijuana, alcohol, meth, designer drugs and prescription medications account for a large percentage of these admissions. The good news is that many of the young people who enter treatment end up getting sober and staying sober. In a study of six adolescent treatment centers in Wisconsin, the Bureau found that:
- About 71 percent of the teenage clients finished their program with significant improvement in their substance abuse patterns.
- About 78 percent stated that they had received the right kind of help for their needs.
- Approximately 39 percent of adolescents in these rehab programs remained clean after graduating.
- About 71 percent said that they were happy with the treatment they received.
But the outlook on teen addiction recovery isn’t entirely positive. The study found that teenage participants were more motivated to maintain their recovery while they were 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 his level of commitment to abstinence
- Participation in community meetings and self-help fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous
- Continued family counseling for the teenager and his parents
- The opportunity to join an alumni program, where activities, social events and weekend trips are offered to help grads stay on track with their program.
Will Rehab Be Effective for My Teen?
Unfortunately, there is no way to be 100 percent certain that rehab will work for an addicted teen. 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 girlfriend or a fight with his parents, a teen’s drive to abuse alcohol or drugs could overcome his resolve to quit. Relapse isn’t a sign of failure though; oftentimes, it is a stepping stone on the road to long-term sobriety.
At Muir Wood, we offer neuropsychological 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, download our admissions packet online or call our intake team today.