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The Factors for Success in Addiction Treatment for Teens

Alcohol and drug use among adolescents continues to be a major concern for parents and healthcare providers. Even seemingly harmless “experimentation” with drugs can lead to lasting problems due to the fact that early substance use is one of the greatest risk factors for adult addiction. Since adolescents may not have experienced any of the negative effects of substance use, like job loss or financial problems, they rarely see treatment as being necessary. They may not feel as if their drug use is a problem, at all. This means that it may be up to you as the parent to acknowledge the problem and seek out help.

Adolescents Needs Specialized Treatment

Because adolescent substance abuse manifests differently than that of adults, they require specialized treatment. There are a variety of evidence-based treatment modalities that you may choose from:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • 12-step facilitation
  • Family therapy
  • Motivation-enhancement therapy, among others

The program you choose may focus on just one type of approach, or incorporate many. Regardless of the specific approach, parents who are concerned about whether their child will be successful in recovery should consider three factors when selecting an addiction treatment program.

Treatment of Co-morbid Disorders

  Adolescents who abuse drugs may also suffer from mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety. Effective treatment programs like Destinations to Recovery for adolescents must integrate the treatment of co-morbid disorders with substance abuse treatment for the best results. Your child may have started using drugs as a way to self-medicate due to an existing psychological, emotional or behavioral problem. Or, your child may have developed the symptoms of a disorder after chronic drug use. No matter, which came first, research shows that adolescents are more likely to relapse if co-morbid conditions are not identified and treated as well.

Length of Treatment

Another factor that greatly impacts the outcome of treatment is the amount of time your adolescent spends in a program. According to data collected by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, programs lasting for three months or more are most effective. The length of time yielding the greatest effects will be based on your child, as varying levels of abuse may require more intensive programs. Unfortunately, depending on the severity of your adolescent’s addiction, on more than one occasion a treatment program may be necessary for a lasting recovery.

Aftercare Programs

  The third factor you should consider in arranging the most helpful substance abuse treatment for your adolescent is continuing care programs after the initial period of inpatient or outpatient treatment is complete. These services can range from regular support groups to high school specifically designed for adolescents recovering from alcohol or drug abuse. Whichever choice of program your family decides on, it is the accountability of providers and peers, bridging of principles learned in treatment, and ability to share one’s experiences with addiction and recovery that are going to make after-care programs an ideal choice in supporting your adolescent beyond treatment.

Finding the Right Program

Destinations to Recovery not only offers a world-class team of professionals who can provide multi-disciplinary treatment for addiction and co-morbid disorders, but it also provides long-term residential programs in which your adolescent can get the treatment needed while still attending high school. Furthermore, with the Aspire Education Program your child has the opportunity to continue receiving quality educational services after the program ends. Contact us at 877-466-0620 to learn more about teen addiction treatment.


  1. Principles of adolescent substance use disorder treatment: A research-based guide. National Institute on Drug Abuse. January 2014.
  2. Winters, K.C., Botzet, A.M., Fanhorst, T. Advances in adolescent substance abuse treatment. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. October 2011.