How to Decide on a Teenage Rehabilitation Program

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated February 2, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Deciding on a teenage addiction treatment program can rely on several factors. Whether you're a teen or a parent, choosing rehabilitation is often a significant step forward. Once this pivotal accomplishment is achieved, your next step may be finding a rehabilitation center to meet your needs.

Teenage Mental Health

Anxiety and stress levels in teens are often elevated. Additionally, teens may deal with unique mental health challenges as they grow up, along with transitional changes and stressors. These changes may be due to a stream of activities and demands placed on modern teens. 

Although substance use among teenagers is not new, substance use rates have increased among teenagers. Mental health conditions and substance use may often be related, and using substances can increase distress in adolescents who are already experiencing an increase in responsibility as they age. 

Teenage Substance Use 

Substance use and addiction are issues that can arise in adults and teens. Teens may turn to illicit substances for a variety of reasons, including the following: 

  • Environmental factors

  • Peer pressure 

  • Poor mental health 

  • Poverty 

  • Lack of parental supervision 

  • Trauma

  • A desire to escape or dull pain 

Treating substance use as a behavioral or criminal problem may ignore the core issue, which is often related to mental health. Addiction treatment, such as a rehabilitation center, may often focus on these underlying symptoms and causes and support a teen through their emotional responses to addiction. 

The Purpose Of Addiction Treatment: Rehabilitation Programs

Addiction treatment centers may work on changing a teen's environment, getting to the root of the addiction, and treating their symptoms. 

Changing The Environment 

An environmental change is often a crucial part of substance abuse treatment and recovery because humans are creatures of habit. Teens may struggle to recover when surrounded by the same sights, sounds, and stimuli as always. 

Attending a rehabilitation facility may allow teenagers to work toward healing in a safe, controlled, and monitored environment that parents and caretakers may be unable to provide. 

Getting To The Root Cause 

Getting to the root of the addiction may look different at each facility. Some centers might focus primarily on mental health and treating substance abuse through the lens of mental health conditions. In many cases, these conditions can play a significant role in the desire to use substances to numb pain or cope.

Other centers may focus more on behavioral healing. Your teen may learn how their behaviors, urges, and expressions impact themselves, others, and their environment. They might also learn new behavioral techniques to take home with them. 

Treating Symptoms 

Treating substance addiction may also differ from place to place. In some cases, medication is used to manage symptoms. Additionally, your teen may meet with a counselor, medical professional, and support staff during their stay. They could have a treatment plan developed upon entry to the program. 

Choosing A Teenage Rehabilitation Program

Because a rehab facility is often an inpatient, ongoing care facility, parents might want to feel their children are carefully monitored, supported, and cared for. Before deciding as a parent or teen, you may want to consider the following. 

Distance Of The Center 

For some families, closeness to home is essential. Even if a center has outstanding reviews, many families may feel it counterproductive to send their child to a faraway facility. This choice can be personal and may be made based on the options available in your area and according to your budget. 

The Type Of Rehabilitation Offered 

Different therapy models or psychological treatments may be involved in each rehabilitation center. Some therapies focus primarily on mental health, while others work with mental and physical health and use medication as treatment. 

Some centers may have a particular religious or philosophical affiliation. Each of these components could positively and negatively impact your family's choice. 

Qualifications Of Staff

Addiction treatment facilities should thoroughly vet all employees and keep employees on staff who are trained in rehabilitation. You may wish to look for a rehab center that only hires individuals with university degrees and clinical experience. Research the facility's history, hiring policy, staff, and client experiences before determining if it is the proper fit for you. 

Success Rates 

Although a success rate may not guarantee your teenager's success in treatment, a rehabilitation facility with a high record of recovery might suggest that the treatment program has been beneficial in the past for other adolescents in similar situations. 

Amenities Offered

As addiction recovery can be a stressful and time-consuming process, many rehabilitation facilities offer amenities to improve guests' stay. These could include a dining hall, movie nights, bowling, or a swimming pool. You might look for a program that offers enjoyable activities for your child. 

Some centers also offer equine therapy, a research-based method of treatment that benefits mental health. Studies show that teens participating in equine therapy often report lower anxiety levels and increased positive mood. 

Past Reviews

When looking for a center, you might consider reviews from past clients, including adults who were once teens in treatment. If there was malpractice, unkindness, or a lack of services, those who once utilized the services might know. Finding a location with many positive reviews from past clients and parents combined can be a positive sign. 

Improving Mental Health Through Rehabilitation 

Mental health is often a component of addiction treatment. Poor mental health may not always indicate a mental health condition. Poor mental health can mean difficulty safely, carefully, and logically addressing setbacks, stressors, and fears. 

Additionally, addiction may arise because of poor mental health or a mental health condition. Many addictions are fueled by a desire to numb unpleasant or difficult emotions, avoid intrusive thoughts, or banish feelings of inadequacy.

Including mental health as a critical component of addiction treatment may allow therapists and teens to work through the underlying cause of addiction to increase the likelihood of successful recovery. 

Removing substances from a teenager's reach may not break an addiction. For this reason, treatment centers often pinpoint a teen's underlying cause and mental health. Many teenage-specific rehabilitation programs work to create a trusting, professional relationship.

Family Therapy In Rehabilitation 

Family therapy may not seem to be among the first steps to take when substance abuse occurs. However, it may be utilized in rehabilitation centers alongside other forms of treatment.

Often, concerns at home may increase teenage distress, such as family disagreements, grief, or traumas experienced in the household. A therapist may act as a neutral third party for teens and parents as they discuss mental health, addiction, and treatment. The following family matters may increase the risk of substance use or mental health concerns in teens. 

Parental Neglect 

Parental neglect may occur in several ways, including emotionally or physically. With physical neglect, a caregiver might ignore a child's need to eat, drink, or sleep. They might leave a child for several days or weeks without support. 

On the other hand, emotional neglect can look like ignoring a child's emotions, blaming a child for their response to trauma, or refusing to give displays of affection or love, such as hugs, meaningful conversations, or quality time together.  

Parental Substance Use (Past Or Present) 

SAMHSA indicates that children growing up with a parent who has used substances or experiences addiction may be more likely to experience substance addiction, mental health conditions, or neglect. 

Unhealthy Family Dynamics 

Authoritarian parenting styles, where standards are held high, and children cannot fulfill expectations, are often unhealthy for children. Studies show that children raised by authoritarian parents often have unhealthy behavioral patterns as they grow up. 

Other unhealthy behaviors may include expecting children to act as surrogate partners if one parent is absent (physically or emotionally). A parent might also practice favoritism toward one child or emotionally or physically neglect a teen. Speaking to a family therapist can be one method of identifying potentially unhealthy or toxic family dynamics. 

Unhealthy Home Environments 

An unhealthy home environment could include a home environment where violence is the norm, children are considered a nuisance, or parents and children rarely engage in loving, supportive, and considerate interactions.

Counseling Options 

No matter what rehabilitation facility you and your teenager decide on, you may look for alternative treatment methods or support options. Additionally, if you are the parent or caregiver in the situation, you may want to reach out for individual mental health support through a therapist so you can better support your teenage child.

While your teen is going through treatment, you may appreciate the accessibility and comfort of online treatment options. As many adults feel most comfortable at home, you can meet with a therapist comfortably from your bed, couch, office, or anywhere with an internet connection. 

If you are unsure how to proceed with the initial steps, speaking to a mental health professional, such as those working on a platform like BetterHelp, may help you gain clarity and perspective. Seeing your teen experience addiction can feel stressful, concerning, and scary. Caring for your mental health as a parent can be a significant first step toward healing. If your teen hopes to participate in online counseling as well, a platform such as TeenCounseling may be a beneficial choice. 

Takeaway

Substance abuse in teens can be a challenge for families worldwide. If you're looking for a treatment center, consider the options above. If you or your teen requires extra support, consider reaching out to a counselor to discuss your needs further.

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