Substance abuse is a problem that affects more than the adult population. Unfortunately, more and more teenagers are falling victim to addiction issues. In fact, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) has determined back in 2015 that almost 9% of the adolescent U.S. population—more than 2 million kids aged 12 to 17— are addicted to illicit substances. Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has found that 20% of high schoolers abuse prescription drugs. Certain factors make addiction significantly different for teenagers than for adults. Because of this, drug rehab for teenagers is approached differently since they have different addiction treatment needs.
The Dangerous Effects of Drugs for Teenagers
Being a teenager isn’t easy. The teenage years in a person’s life are ripe with intense physical growth, emotional development, and cognitive changes. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), teen adolescence is a unique window for neurodevelopment. So, what does this have to do with substance abuse?
The teenaged brain and body are still developing. Introducing drugs can hinder the development of both. Most teenagers have smaller bodies than grown adults, so they have a much lower substance tolerance. This puts them at a much greater risk for addiction. Additionally, studies have shown that substance abuse has a negative impact on areas of the brain connected to decision-making, judgment, learning and memory, and behavior— all of which are still developing in a teenager. So, when these changes in the brain cause teenagers to “learn” to rely on substance abuse, addiction begins. This, of course, can lead to a slew of physical health problems like damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver.
Treatment Needs for Teenaged Addicts
Teenagers that become addicted to drugs develop needs that are psychologically and emotionally different than those of adults addicts. Studies have shown that substance abuse has just as much of an impact on emotional health as it does on physical and mental health. This is because substance abuse interferes with how users process certain situations and experiences— especially for teenagers. And since teenagers are part of a larger household, family involvement is critical in drug rehab for teenagers.
The Choice to Seek Treatment
Unlike most adult addicts, teenagers are less likely to voluntarily seek addiction treatment. Instead, teenagers are much more likely to enter rehab after coercion from their parents, schools, or even the court. For this reason, addiction treatment for teenagers is approached differently than it is for adults. Addicted teenagers “forced” to go to rehab might go in thinking of it as a punishment. When this happens, the facility’s staff might act with more caution to ensure the comfort and security of their teenaged patients in recovery.
Drug Treatment Programs for Teenagers
Not that long ago, addiction treatment programs designed specifically for teenagers were incredibly limited. In fact, most of the time, teenagers in recovery had to follow adult models of treatment. This problem is one that recovery centers everywhere are addressing today by implementing age-specific treatments for teenagers.
It’s imperative that drug rehab for teenagers is approached differently than for adults. Teenaged addicts have developmental, emotional and psychiatric issues that are drastically different than those of adults. If these issues are not properly addressed in specialized treatment, teenagers may face larger risks of relapse after rehab.
The Risks of Relapse for Teenagers in Recovery
Sometimes, teenagers in rehab receive addiction treatments that are based on abstinence models. Unfortunately, the relapse rates after this form of treatment are pretty high. Roughly one-third to one-half of teenage addicts who come out of abstinence model treatment plans relapse at least once within the first year following treatment.
Alternatively, teenagers who receive specialized treatment are far less likely to relapse after leaving rehab. Addressing any age-specific co-occurring issues and helping teenaged addicts work past them is crucial for their mental and emotional recovery on top of physical recovery. Treating these issues eliminates the need for substance abuse as a crutch in times of stress, anxiety or depression. In addition, post-rehab programs like aftercare can reduce the risks of relapse down the road.
Drug Rehab for Teenagers at Wellness Retreat
If your teen is struggling with an addiction, finding an addiction treatment program tailored to his or her needs is the best way to help. At Wellness Retreat Recovery Center, we offer comprehensive and age-specific addiction treatment programs which include medical detox, individual and family therapy, drug addiction education, and aftercare. For more information, please call us at 888-821-0238.