Addiction and mental health illnesses can affect individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Adolescents, i.e., children between 10 to 19 years of age, are at an exceptionally high risk of encountering these problems at some point in life. As a teenager in the throes of adolescence, fighting a substance use disorder or mental illness can be particularly challenging.

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Keeping in mind the specific issues and needs of adolescents fighting psychiatric illnesses, many age-specific rehabs have opened up across the United States. Known as adolescent-specific rehabs, these treatment facilities exclusively deal with young adults and offer them need-based treatment to make recovery easily possible.

What is an Adolescent Drug Rehab?

Young adults tend to experience significant changes in their lives. These individuals go through many transitions from blossoming bodies to deepened voices simultaneously. At the same time, many also experience social and psychological changes that negatively impact their mental well-being. This, together with the pressure to make decisions, define themselves, and face their peers, particularly makes them vulnerable to adopting harmful coping mechanisms, such as addictions.

An adolescent addiction rehab can come in handy to help such adolescents get back on their feet and live healthy life by breaking free from addiction. These treatment facilities are designed to manage adolescent substance use disorder needs while acknowledging their psychological and physical changes. An adolescent alcohol rehab implies different treatment programs at varying levels of care to ensure the provision of multiple services, such as medical drug detox and counseling. Most programs last 30 to 90 days in a structured and safe environment.

The Need for an Adolescent Drug Rehab

Experts have good reason to believe that adolescents these days have more access to various addictive substances than ever. While some tend to get attracted to using these substances independently, others are pressured by their peers to go down the way. Regardless of the triggering factor, the substance use statistics for adolescents in the United States are alarming.

According to a 2918 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:

  • 2.2 million American adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 years used alcohol in the last month
  • Approximately 4.2 million American adolescents belonging to the age group of 12 to 17used an illicit drug of any type in the last month
  • 1.5% of the adolescent population in America was found to misuse prescription stimulants such as Adderall
  • Around 460,000 American adolescents were found misusing prescription sedatives and tranquilizers (such as benzodiazepines)
  • Nearly 695,000 American adolescents, or 2.8% of the population, were found to misused prescription painkillers (such as oxycodone and other opiates)

Benefits of Adolescent-Specific Rehab

Many people seem to question the point of having separate rehabs for adolescents and teenagers. The answer lies in the multiple benefits of adolescent-specific rehab that cannot be enjoyed in any regular rehab. Some of these benefits include the following:

Group therapy gears toward age-specific needs.

In an alcohol adolescent rehab, a patient can expect to go through different types of treatment methods, one of which is group therapy. Most adolescents greatly benefit from this type of therapy as it allows them to share their experiences with others while learning more about their problems with peers.

Most youth today are naturally skeptical, and most of them find it difficult to trust adults, even if they are therapists or counselors. Even while going through severe addiction-related consequences, they may still consider themselves invincible. When such adolescents enter group therapy in an age-specific rehab, it becomes apparent that no one is safe from the dangers of addiction.

As the patients around them share their rock-bottom stories, including financial struggles and health-related issues, adolescents find it easier to realize how desperately they need help. In simpler words, these adolescents are more likely to identify with these first person-accounts and believe them. Additionally, group therapy is ideal for them as it involves taking advice from those not in any authority position. When peers who are in the same age group discuss recovery, patients tend to be more receptive.

There is a controlled family environment.

Substance abuse treatment for adolescents often involves the participation of the patient’s family members and parents. Many parents sincerely wish to participate in their child’s recovery, but the responsibility can confuse them. An adolescent-specific rehab can help such people understand how to help their children in a supportive and caring environment.

Many adolescent-specific rehabs emphasize parental involvement in the form of family therapy. During these therapy sessions, parents and other family members learn more about addiction and come up with a plan to support their recovering child in the best way possible. However, these rehabs also understand that parents are not responsible for the 24-hour care of their children at this point. Some responsibility also lies on the medical professionals and other care teams involving nurses, physicians, and therapists.

Peer Support is available.

For young adults fighting substance use disorder, having peer support can make a huge difference. Regardless of the type of program one opts for, adolescent-specific rehab will provide plenty of opportunities for patients to interact with peers of the same age group. These interactions may occur in common areas or during meal times and can significantly improve recovery while building stronger connections.

Each patient gets a comprehensive diagnosis formulation.

It is not uncommon for adolescents to realize that they are fighting with more than one psychiatric issue at a time. In some cases, their underlying addictions are also being fueled by one or more mental health illnesses, such as anxiety and depression. Dual diagnosis is the term used to describe such adolescents who are fighting on different battlegrounds at the same time. Every adolescent with a dual diagnosis requires specially-formulated plans that treat all illnesses together through various well-integrated programs, which is possible in an adolescent-specific rehab.

Aadolescent-specific rehab can help adolescents get over their primary addiction along with all other contributing factors simultaneously to promote recovery and minimize relapses. The dual diagnosis programs offered at these rehabs also help them heal their minds, spirits, and bodies while better understanding that sobriety is a part of a healthier and happier life in the long run.

When to Start Looking for an Adolescent-Specific Rehab?

To begin with, it is important for all parents to understand the signs and symptoms suggesting that their adolescent is using substances. While the physical symptoms of substance use vary depending on the type of drug being used, some common ones include the following:

  • Changes in pupil size
  • Altered sleep patterns
  • Appetite changes
  • Memory loss
  • Changes in personal appearance
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Lack of coordination
  • Uncontrolled shaking
  • Trouble speaking

If your child has started displaying one or more warning signs, it may indicate the need for them to join an adolescent drug rehab.

  • Focusing more on drugs than family or school obligations
  • Getting in trouble with the law because of drug or alcohol use
  • Engaging in high-risk behavior, such as using drugs while driving or unprotected sex or
  • Suffering from relationship problems because of substance use
  • A lack of interest in friends or family
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of substance use
  • Developing increased tolerance to the substance
  • Losing control over substance use
  • Always thinking about using substances

How to Pick Drug Rehab For Adolescent Treatment?

Picking a rehab for your adolescent may not be an easy process. It typically involves carefully assessing multiple facilities before settling on anyone. Regardless of which rehab you are thinking of choosing, make sure to ask the following questions:

  • What kinds of substance addictions does it treat?
  • What levels of care are available?
  • Does it offer detoxification services?
  • Does it offer medication-assisted treatment as a part of therapy?
  • Are the staff members delivering the program properly trained, experienced, and licensed?
  • What kinds of therapy are available for patients to work on the behavioral aspect of addiction?
  • What kinds of accommodation does the rehab offer?
  • How long are the treatment programs?
  • How much does it cost to seek help from rehab?
  • Are there any individual sessions? If yes, how many?
  • Will there be family involvement in the treatment programs?
  • Will the rehab offer aftercare services?
  • Does the rehab have dual diagnosis facilities that cater to addiction and mental health issues together?

The answers to these questions will give you an idea if the rehab you are choosing for your adolescent will benefit them in any way. If suspicious, you can always look for more options and select the one that fits your child’s needs more appropriately.


What types of programs are available in adolescent drug and alcohol rehabs?

Adolescent addiction programs are pretty similar to treatment programs meant to help adults. However, the former tends to understand the difficulty that a young person with addiction may face. These programs can help teenagers stop drug use while ensuring that they safely withdraw from it.

These treatment facilities have well-trained and highly experienced staff members who evaluate and assess each patient before admitting them to find any specific problems. Later on, they devise different strategies to give these adolescents the best chance at overcoming them. Most of these programs make use of multiple forms of therapy and emphasize helping adolescents learn how to avoid peer pressure once they leave the facility.

What are the common elements of a treatment plan at an adolescent addiction rehab?

Different rehabs design their adolescent addiction programs in different ways. Most of them give patients a choice to choose the elements they wish to incorporate into their treatment plan so that they can individualize their experience. Some of these elements include the following:

What are the principles on which an adolescent substance use disorder treatment program is based?

As per the National Institute for Health (NIH), the following principles must be kept in mind while dealing with adolescents fighting addictions:

  • Early intervention is critical as drug and alcohol use in young individuals can affect their brain development
  • Addiction treatment in adolescents is likely to work even if the patient does it unwillingly
  • Every treatment must be individualized to meet every teen’s needs
  • Every treatment plan must have follow-up sessions

How long is inpatient rehab for adolescents?

The duration of inpatient rehab is not fixed but varies from individual to individual. In general, an expert performs an in-depth assessment and evaluation to find out more about the history of drug use in an individual before recommending a time duration for treatment. For most people, the treatment duration is at least 28 days and can go up to 3 months or sometimes more. Some factors that determine this duration of treatment include:

  • Type of substance being used
  • Severity of addiction
  • Duration of addiction
  • Risk of withdrawal and relapse