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Effective Teen Treatment

Addiction is a frightening reality for millions of individuals around the world, including adolescents. As the parent of a teen struggling with substance abuse or addiction, it's only natural to be scared, concerned, or frustrated, especially as you attempt to navigate the waters of treatment and rehabilitation.

Admitting the need for help is a significant step on the road to recovery. Effective treatment is a critical part of a successful return to sobriety, and guidance from experienced, educated professionals can be the difference between ongoing addiction and a healthier tomorrow. As outlined in Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report for 2016, a clinically-approved plan can provide a personalized path to a substance free-life.

The Principles of Effective Treatment

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) as published by the Surgeon General, the principles for effective adolescent treatment are as follows:

  • Effective Teen TreatmentSubstance abuse in teens must be identified and addressed as quickly as possible.
  • Teens abusing but not addicted to illicit substances can still benefit from drug intervention.
  • Regular medical appointments and preventative care can be a good opportunity to ask teens about drug use.
  • Legal interventions and family sanctions can be both effective and necessary to keep teens involved and active in rehabilitation.
  • Substance abuse treatments should be tailored to individuals' needs.
  • Treatment is best with a holistic approach, focusing on overall health rather than just drug abuse.
  • Behavioral therapies can be a positive way to address addiction.
  • Community and family are both a large facet of the recovery process.
  • Identification and treatment of co-occurring mental disorders is a significant part of adequately addressing substance abuse issues.
  • Other sensitive issues, like child abuse, depression and suicide risk, or violent tendencies, should be determined and addressed as necessary throughout treatment.
  • All drug use must be monitored during rehabilitation and recovery.
  • All treatments must be maintained for an appropriate period of time.
  • If necessary, treatments should include care for drug-related disease transmission, including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV.

In essence, these principles are designed to address the core facets of treatment, including how to approach care, the important factors in a teen's recovery, and the identificaiton of co-occurring disorders that could be playing a role in substance use. Options available are diverse and comprehensive, including inpatient and outpatient facilities with focuses on behavioral therapy, medication, and recovery support services.

Unlike care for traditional health issues, treatment for drug addiction is often handled outside of the medical system in specialized clinics and centers rather than conventional hospitals. Despite these differences, however, treatment for drug addiction is generally as effective as most common medical cures, providing stability and safety for addicted individuals from all walks of life. Per the Surgeon General, relapse rates for addiction – generally between 40% and 60% – are comparable to averages for other chronic conditions, including diabetes, asthma, and hypertension.

Planning Treatment

As with many medical conditions, treatment isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. There are numerous ways to both evaluate and implement proper treatment paths, and each opportunity depends both on the professionals involved and the unique needs of the patient. Rehabilitation for abuse or addiction should never be a decision made in haste, and careful steps are required for truly effective resolutions.

Assessment and Diagnosis

Effective Treatment for teensAddiction, like most diseases and illnesses, should not be taken at face value when developing treatment. In order to determine the best course of action, medical professionals need to first make a diagnosis. Simply observing abusive behavior, like consumption to excess, isn't enough; medical professionals need to follow legitimate assessment guidelines as provided by the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition).

While not all-inclusive, symptoms frequently used to make a diagnosis include:

  • Use in large doses for longer time periods than intended
  • Failure to quit, despite desires to do so
  • Strong cravings
  • Struggles keeping commitments like school or work due to use
  • Continued use even in cases of physical or psychological danger
  • An increasing tolerance

Once observed, doctors assess these signs on a scale based on number of symptoms, with fewer than two indicating no disorder and six or more indicating a severe disorder.

Assessment can be managed in several different ways, each with its own pros and cons.

Addiction Severity Index (ASI)

This evaluation option takes the form of a loosely structured interview in which professionals can address overall problems, including drug use and psychiatric issues.

Substance Abuse Module (SAM)

A more detailed option, SAM provides a way to address substance abuse disorders in accordance with the DSM-5 with detailed sections on tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and drugs.

Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN)

GAIN provides a series of measures that combine research with clinical assessment through the use of 99 scales and sub-scales for accurate diagnosis, including observations of change over time.

Psychiatric Research Interview for Substance and Mental Disorders (PRISM)

This option uses a semi-structured interview format in order to measure substance abuse-related diagnoses that can differentiate between the varying stages of addiction, like withdrawal and disorders caused by substance abuse.

Individualizing Treatments

Upon making a determination, clinicians and medical professionals can move on to planning a treatment plan.

This process can vary greatly depending on diagnosis, assessment results, and goals in rehabilitation. In general, this stage is always patient-centered, focusing on unique lifestyle and health factors to determine individual strengths and weaknesses. Treatments can take into account any number of features and factors, including but not limited to gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, culture, language, family history, educational history, and trauma history. These categories of personal information are necessary to truly understand a patient's motivations, drives, and needs: in short, the components that go into a successful plan.

It is also valuable to note that good plans are not permanent. Patients should be assessed and reassessed throughout treatment to ensure continued forward momentum.

Treatment Setting and Strategy

Effective Teen TreatmentMedications for diseases are generally prescribed for a given period of time and hospital stays almost always have a limit. In this same vein, addiction therapy is planned out based on location and time required to maximize efficiency.

While variations exist depending on substance of choice and specific diagnosis, most treatment plans combine both inpatient and outpatient care, creating a step-down process that helps patients transition from addiction to normal life.

In general, most patients start in inpatient care, either in a medically-managed hospital program or a rehabilitation center. Medically-managed detox spans three to seven days as counselors and doctors work to break the cycle of addiction and conquer withdrawal. Upon successful completion of detox, most patients spend one to three months in inpatient rehabilitation.

Once cleared to move forward, patients enter an intensive outpatient program that involves counseling, support groups, and 12-step program meetings for six to eight hours a day. Patients stay in this stage for several months with treatment two to five times a week.

Finally, patients switch to traditional outpatient care, with meetings held at night or in the morning to work around job and school schedules. Outpatient programs are often attended once or twice a month for numerous years.

Throughout these stages, many medical professionals focus on evidence-based care, providing access to a combination of techniques that include:

  • Medication-assisted treatment that relies on prescription drugs to facilitate detoxification
  • Behavioral therapies, like cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management
  • Recovery support services that keep current and former members of treatment programs engaged and committed

Getting Help

If your teen is struggling with chronic drug use, abuse, or addiction, getting help is critically important. Successful treatment as recommended by the Surgeon General is a key objective for rehabilitation centers like Teen Treatment Center, and we are always here to help.

Contact us at (844) 319-5239 to learn more about what our compassionate team can do to treat your child. All consultations are strictly confidential.

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