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More Than Drug Use: Taking a Holistic Approach in Treating Adolescents

If you’ve discovered that your adolescent is using or abusing drugs, it can be easy to focus entirely on the drug use and on trying to make your child stop. However, this is an opportunity to try to understand what’s going on with your child that would make them turn to drugs. In addition, it’s important to find a treatment program that takes a holistic approach, addressing the person and his problems, needs and goals, instead of just focusing on the drug use itself.

Why Is Your Child Using Drugs?

Drug use taking holistic approach treating adolescentsAdolescents can start taking drugs for a number of reasons, depending on the person. Some are having trouble dealing with depression or other disorders, or with painful experiences that happened to them, and they use drugs as a way to cope or escape. Some start because of pressure from their friends or other peers, while others use drugs for the feelings they create. Some adolescents use drugs so they can do better in school or boost their performance in sports1. Once the teen starts using drugs, sometimes that can lead to abuse and addiction.

Underlying Causes of Teen Drug Use

  As you can see, there can be many underlying reasons for using the drug. The problem isn’t entirely about the drug use itself, but about the feelings or problems that the adolescent is facing that cause them to seek out drugs as a solution. That’s why treatment needs to focus on why the person is using drugs and whether there are other problems that need to be addressed. For example, the person might need treatment for a mental disorder or help learning to deal with peer pressure. Even if your teen won’t confide in you, he might be willing to talk to one of the professionals at a drug treatment center.

Choosing a Holistic Treatment Program

A quality treatment program provides a variety of solutions that focus on the entire person instead of one or two facets. It needs to target different areas of the person’s life and parts of the addiction, and be tailored to each person through an individualized approach2 Once a person uses a drug over and over, the brain changes in response to it. It affects decision-making, behavior, memory and other parts of the brain3. This makes it more difficult to quit. Treatment needs to address these changes to the brain with treatments such as medications, behavioral therapy and nutrition. The treatment program also needs to address the reasons the person looks to drugs in her life, and provide tools and guidance on creating a life without drugs.

Achieving Recovery Goals

Your teen can achieve recovery goals through different types of therapy, including:

  1. Individual
  2. Group
  3. Family therapy

For example, individual therapy can help your child explore why they take drugs and what aspects of their life they need to work on. Family therapy can help your child and your family talk through your problems and focus on a new start together. The program might also need to address a mental disorder or other concerns. Destinations To Recovery provides holistic treatment for many types of drug addictions. Its specialized approaches include medical and psychiatric interventions, and a variety of therapies, including individual, group, family, experiential and wellness therapies. Give us a call at 877-466-0620 to learn more.


  • Sara Bellum, Real Teens Ask: Why Take Drugs?, NIDA for Teens, September 30, 2011,
  • DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction, National Institute on Drug Abuse, September 2009,
  • What to Do if Your Teen or Young Adult Has a Problem With Drugs, National Institute on Drug Abuse, June 2014,