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Addiction is a disease that can affect anyone, from any racial or socioeconomic background, male or female, at any age. Certain demographics of the population, who find themselves abusing drugs and alcohol, have a special set of needs in recovery.

One group is teenagers. When the still-developing brain is impacted by mind-altering substances, unique techniques, therapeutic approaches, and areas of focus have proven effective for a teenage addict’s recovery.

A teen program, that can successfully integrate the client’s family, is providing a vitally important piece of treatment. A safe place for families to honestly deal with problems, where the teen has a voice, is heard, and can also listen openly to family members, is priceless in the healing process.

Teenage Substance Abuse: A Growing Problem

Currently, alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, and psychedelics (ecstasy, salvia divinorum, and mushrooms) are the most commonly abused drugs among teenagers, despite the continuous publication of the dangers and potential consequences.

The age of first use of drugs and alcohol, is getting younger and younger. The use of mind-altering substances, like alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogenic mushrooms, LSD, MDMA (or ecstasy), or anything else that alters brain chemistry, is prevalent among the youngest members of our population.

While smoking marijuana once may not seem like a big deal to a thirteen-year-old, the age of first substance use is the single best indicator of substance abuse and addiction later in that person’s life. When any substance is used, including nicotine and caffeine, before the age of 12, the chances of abuse and addiction to any substance is exponentially greater than when use happens after the age of 18. Further, since the brain is not fully developed until approximately age 25, those who do not drink or use any drug before then, rarely progress to any form of chemical dependency at any point in life.

To treat teenagers who have suffered from any of the disorders, issues, or combination of struggles on the list below, special care is important. A family program helps address each individual need, ideally with the inclusion of the most important and influential people in this young person’s life.

  • Alcohol abuse or addiction (alcoholism)
  • Drug addiction (to any mind-altering substance)
  • Depression
  • An eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder)
  • Mental illness (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.)
  • Isolation (social, relational, familial)
  • Legal troubles
  • School problems
  • Peer pressure
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Problems with authority
  • Manipulation and lying
  • Runaways, homeless, orphan

Rates of Teen Drug Use

According to the University of Michigan’s 2013 Monitoring the Future Study, conducted through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), each year, in the United States alone, the following percentages of high school seniors abuse each drug:

  • 36.4% abuse marijuana
  • 7.4% abuse Adderall
  • 5.3% abuse Vicodin
  • 5.0% abuse cough syrup
  • 4.6% abuse tranquilizers (mainly in the form of prescription drugs)
  • 4.5% abuse hallucinogens
  • 4.8% abuse sedatives (mainly in the form of prescription drugs)
  • 3.6% abuse OxyContin
  • 4.0% abuse MDMA or ecstasy
  • 2.5% abuse inhalants
  • 2.6% abuse cocaine
  • 2.3% abuse Ritalin

These percentages add up to millions of only high school seniors who are abusing highly-addictive and life-threatening substances. These statistics do not take into account all other people under the age of 18, or the abuse of alcohol, heroin, and several other prescription drugs.

To stop the use of any mind-altering substances in your teenager, call Recovery Now TV today at 800-281-4731. Life can change. Your teen can choose a substance-free life. Call now!

Adolescent & Teenage Development

The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain located directly behind the forehead, controls executive functioning and impulse control, and is the part most greatly impacted by drugs and alcohol.

As we all know, major physical, emotional, mental, and psychological changes happen between the ages of 10 and 18, depending upon the person. The process of maturing through puberty is not easy. Hormones are all over the place, new desires and sensations are confusing and awkward, and often times young people feel isolated or separated from society, and from their families.

Through these years of change, the brain is developing and the body is maturing. As the brain slowly develops, from back to front, important parts of the reward/reinforcement pathway are the last to form. The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain located directly behind the forehead, controls executive functioning and impulse control, and is the part most greatly impacted by drugs and alcohol. When a drug affects this developing area of the brain, telling it that substances are the way to feel pleasure, the still growing brain stores that information as knowledge.

A major consequence of an altered prefrontal cortex is a young person’s inability to control compulsive drug use. Without an established sense of healthy reward/reinforcement, functioning, and impulse control, the choice to continuing abusing substances is much easier than the choice to stop. Anyone with prefrontal cortex impairment is unable to delay gratification, to make and carry out long-term plans, to recognize potential consequences of choices and actions (example: smoking marijuana at a young age could cause permanent and irreversible damage to the developing brain), or to recognize a problem with substances, therefore, living with a strong sense of denial.

Drug and alcohol abuse in adolescent and teenage years is beyond dangerous. If you see a young person in your life using any substance, contact the team at Recovery Now TV to find out how you can intervene to stop the progression.

Call now! 800-281-4731.

Identifying a Problem

A list of signs and symptoms to look for in a teenager can help you identify a problem with substance abuse.

How can a parent, teacher, or other adult recognize a problem with drugs and/or alcohol?

These signs and symptoms of use, abuse, and addiction indicate a problem that needs to be addressed:

  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Missing school
  • Grades dropping
  • Constant runny nose and watery eyes
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain (indicates the abuse of different substances)
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Consistent coughing
  • Changes in clothing choices
  • No longer caring about appearance
  • Wearing inappropriate clothing (offensive images or phrases, wearing long-sleeved shirts when it is hot out, etc.)
  • Changes in friends and social groups
  • Stealing
  • Lying or secretive behavior
  • Loss of appetite or excessive hunger
  • Forgetfulness
  • Disrespectful demeanor and dialogue
  • Money or valuables missing from your home
  • Hostile, aggressive outbursts that are out of character
  • Unusual sleeping habits
  • Visible anxiety or depression
  • Something seeming “off”

If you see any combination of these symptoms, contact Recovery Now TV at 800-281-4731. Intervention and treatment can stop recreational drug and alcohol use from progressing to problematic substance abuse and addiction.

Intervention: Stopping Substance Use & Offering Treatment

Interventions are not a one-time, scared-straight technique. Interventions work because they are an effective first step in the road to recovery that requires follow through.

Interventions are designed to help a teen see how loved he or she is, and how destructive the current path of drugs and alcohol will very soon be, if use continues. The design of an intervention is to interrupt the damaging and dangerous behavioral choices, and to offer alternative possibilities. With the help of a trained professional, a treatment program can be introduced to your teenager that will help the substance abusing young person face the consequences in a loving and supportive environment.

Interventions are not a one-time, scared-straight technique. Interventions work because they are an effective first step in the road to recovery that requires follow through. For young people who have been abusing alcohol and various drugs (which include prescription drugs), and who also suffer from a mental illness, an eating disorder, unmanageable anger, aggression, or sadness, chronic feelings of isolation, legal problems, or communication issues, an intervention is a great way to guide him or her toward the treatment that can address and treat each aspect of suffering.

To break the cycle of substance use before major life consequences forever change the life of a young person, call Recovery Now TV today at 800-281-4731.

Treatment for Teenage Substance Abuse & Addiction

Treatment for teenagers is most beneficial when it includes: short-term goals, drug and alcohol education, and constant peer involvement.

Formal rehabilitation services for young people are based on therapeutic methods of guidance, clinical assessment, and medical supervision that combine to treat the mind, body and soul of the troubled teenager, plus his or her family. An effective treatment center employs a medical doctor, a psychologist, and several drug and alcohol counselors, all of whom have many years of experience and expertise in dealing with the specific needs of teenagers, and the established family dynamics.

When a young person chooses treatment, generally during a formal intervention, there are a series of steps that involve various levels of care.

Inpatient Treatment

Following a medically-monitored detoxification program, an inpatient, residential treatment program is recommended for all substance-abusing teens. In this level of care, clients live and receive treatment at the same facility.

The benefits of inpatient treatment are:

  • Twenty-four-hour monitorization
  • Majorly restricted, if not prohibited, ability to leave the facility
  • Access to a member of the treatment team at all times
  • Constant peer involvement
  • No access to drugs or alcohol
  • Involvement in 12 Step programs
  • Ongoing medication management
  • Continuous care for every aspect of recovery

Outpatient Treatment

An outpatient treatment program means that the teenager reports to the licensed facility every day for group and individual meetings, just like in inpatient treatment, but with much more freedom. While a client must hold him or herself more accountable for choices, outpatient treatment provides a way to continue formal care.

Using the coping skills and techniques for recovery learned in inpatient treatment, and while being required to pass random drug screens, outpatient treatment allows a newly sober client to participate in the “real world” with a consistent support system and treatment team in place.

Family Therapy

Family involvement can greatly help a teenager during all stages of treatment. Individual therapy sessions can be scheduled where a client, his or her therapist, and the family who choose to participate, engage in open and honest dialog, with a third-party mediator (the therapist.) Often families want to simply “fix” the alcohol and drug problem without a true understanding of the addiction. As family members are educated and exposed to the reality of substance abuse, common ground can be found, support is offered, and young addicts heal.

An 18-year-old polydrug abuser shares his experience while participating in family therapy while in an inpatient treatment program:

I burnt every bridge that I’ve got with pretty much everybody in my whole life. The family sessions here are helping a little bit, you know. My mom comes in - my stepdad doesn’t want anything to do with me but my mom comes in; we’re working, we’re listening, you know. We’re not just fighting anymore. She’s not yelling at the top of her lungs. I’m not telling her to f*** off anymore. We’re actually working together. It feels good. I might be able to get a life.

Important Aspects of Treatment for Teenagers

A few approaches to treatment are helpful, and needed, for teenagers to make progress in the right direction during substance abuse treatment:

  1. Since chemical use has altered the prefrontal cortex, and the teen’s mindset is present-oriented (not seeing into the future), treatment needs to be focused on setting goals that can be achieved in a short period of time. With daily and weekly goals, for example, a teen can experience the reward and positive reinforcement of a good choice.
  2. Treatment for teens must downplay the benefits of alcohol and drug use. By explaining that the perceived fun and enjoyment of substances is actually more of a fantasy that a reality, a young person’s brain can compute the information and then see the misconceptions that tend to glorify substance use.
  3. Teen drug and alcohol treatment must involve peers. Research shows that teenagers are much more likely to listen to one another than they are to listen to adults. When guidance, support, and honesty can come from peers, teenagers hear it and let it sink in. An effective rehab program for teens needs to include peer process groups that are built into each treatment day.

By calling Recovery Now TV at 800-281-4731 today, you can find a set of treatment programs that are best for your teenager’s unique set of circumstances and needs.

Coalition Against Drug Abuse
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens
University of Michigan 2013 Monitoring the Future Study
Uppers, Downers, All Arounders by Darryl S. Inaba & William E. Cohen
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