Drinking or using other drugs is not a healthy rite of passage for young people. Consequences are dangerous, even deadly. How do you know if your teen or young adult might be struggling with an alcohol or drug problem? Or with a mental health challenge? Or both?
As a parent, it’s always important to trust your instincts. It’s also important to be aware of the physical and behavioral signs and symptoms of possible teen drug abuse. Knowing these signs and symptoms can also inform your decisions around whether or when to contact a counseling professional.
Even if it’s not addiction, your early intervention could help to possibly prevent alcohol or other drug problems later in life for your teen or young adult.
The first step is to get a drug abuse assessment for your son or daughter by a licensed professional. Hazelden Betty Ford treatment centers offer free, confidential phone-based screenings.
Our experts will let you know if addiction and/or mental health conditions are indicated and, if so, what types of treatment and counseling options would be most effective for your teen or young adult. Our experts will also work with you and your insurance company to help you identify your coverage for rehab and mental health services and access your benefits. Hazelden Betty Ford is in-network with most major insurance companies.
Here’s what you need to know about the two general categories of addiction treatment offered at Hazelden Betty Ford, inpatient drug rehab and outpatient drug rehab.
Inpatient addiction treatment is a campus-based intensive rehab program with separate lodging and programs that are gender-specific and gender-inclusive. Your child would live on site with 24/7 support and participate in individual and group counseling and other therapeutic and educational activities.
Outpatient rehab comes in several different forms at Hazelden Betty Ford treatment centers, including: high-intensity outpatient programming (the most-supportive outpatient treatment program which is sometimes referred to as day treatment or partial hospitalization); intensive outpatient program (IOP) treatment; and low-intensity outpatient programming. These treatment programs vary in frequency of rehab sessions based on the individual patient’s progress in meeting clinical milestones.
The treatment plan developed for your teen or young adult will also encompass counseling for co-occurring mental health disorders that need to be addressed, such as depression or anxiety. Our approach is to integrate individual, group and family therapy with addiction treatment.
Patients in our outpatient treatment programs have the option to live on campus while in treatment so they can receive 24/7 monitoring and support. It’s a living situation that can help your teen or young adult learn and strengthen skills that build a foundation for lasting recovery.
Once your teen or young adult completes inpatient or outpatient primary treatment, our clinical team may recommend attending a continuing care group for ongoing counseling and to reinforce and strengthen healthy behaviors, relationships and lifestyle practices.
For adolescents and young adults diagnosed with opioid, prescription drug, or heroin addiction, Hazelden Betty Ford offers a specialized drug abuse treatment program that may involve the use of medications in detox and to ease the discomfort of withdrawal and reduce cravings.
When selecting an addiction treatment center for your loved one, make sure the behavioral health center or rehab facility is licensed and staff members are certified and licensed to practice in the fields of addiction and mental health treatment. Also, be sure the treatment center uses evidence-based protocols, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Twelve Step Facilitation, to name a few. And because addiction is a family disease, look for treatment centers that offer programs, support and resources for families. Post-treatment guidance, counseling and coaching are also important for your son or daughter to reduce the risk of relapse and to strengthen recovery concepts and practices learned in treatment.
Hazelden Betty Ford offers teen and young adult drug rehab at our Plymouth, Minnesota treatment center.
There are two interpretations to consider:
The painful truth is that people in active addiction do things that hurt their families—lie, steal, manipulate. These behaviors are typical when addiction takes hold. And because there is such stigma and judgment associated with addiction, families feel ashamed and alone against the disease.
As a parent, you need to know that you did not cause your child’s addiction, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. But you also need to know that treatment works and that families can and do heal. Learn more about family addiction resources.
The brain continues to grow and evolve through the teenage years and into young adulthood, including the systems that govern emotions and impulses. Because these areas of the brain are not fully developed, adolescents and young adults are prone to take risks, seek out new sensations, and become easily influenced by their peers—all factors that can lead to alcohol or other drug use.
Drug use during this crucial developmental period can interfere with social development and compromise cognitive development. Research has shown, for example, that heavy marijuana use by teens can cause the loss of several IQ points, and that cognitive loss is not regained even if the teen stops using marijuana in adulthood. And because the teen brain is still developing, adolescents and young adults who use alcohol or other drugs are at risk of altering their brains in lasting ways, including a greater susceptibility to eventually developing addiction.
Adolescence and young adulthood are times of increased social pressures: pressure to fit in, get good grades, perform in athletics, or move out to live more independently. These years can be challenging for the average young person, but when mental health issues make coping difficult, the need to find relief from anxiety, depression, trauma or emotional pain can push teens and young adults toward drug abuse. And while substance abuse might offer temporary relief, heavy or long-term drug abuse typically brings negative consequences that outweigh the initial relief.
Teen and young adult substance abuse can also lead to high-risk behaviors that have lifelong impact. Engaging in unprotected sex, driving while intoxicated, acting aggressively or violently, or experiencing sexual assault can all change the course of a young person's life. Especially for teenagers, the potential for alcohol poisoning or drug overdose is also a serious concern.
When substance abuse is in the picture, a young person's hopes and dreams can get put on hold—or lost for good. So identifying and intervening early is important. Unfortunately, only 10% of young people who need drug rehab actually go to a treatment program or otherwise get the help and care they require. Most young people who need treatment don't think they need help or don't want help. And as a parent, you might not realize the extent of your adolescent's or young adult’s alcohol or drug use or you might consider substance use as just a normal part of growing up.
While not all teens or young adults who use alcohol, marijuana or other drugs will become addicted, there are risk factors that make the likelihood of addiction greater.
Family history—if any biological family members struggle with substance abuse, there's a greater chance the young person could be at risk for addiction.
Age—the earlier a young a person starts using alcohol or drugs, the greater the risk for addiction.
Surroundings—exposure to and access to alcohol or other drugs
"normalizes" substance abuse and makes it "the thing to do;" a lack of supervision or support at home can also be a risk factor.
Mental health—teenagers and young adults may start using substances to ease the discomfort of an anxiety disorder or social phobia; being bullied, depression, struggling with sexual identity, and coping with other stressors are also risk factors.
First of all, you need to know that most teens are choosing not to use substances. It's simply not true that "everybody's doing it." What is true is that, as a parent, you have more influence than you probably realize.
Talk with your kids about substance abuse. Prevention experts agree that having 60, one-minute conversations with your kids is much more impactful than having one, 60-minute conversation. So share meals together and ask about their day.
Know their friends and the parents of their friends.
Set expectations and consequences, and state clearly to your kids that you expect they will not use drugs. Then, back up your expectations by following through on consequences.