Future Expectations Today

Adult vs. Teen Drug Treatment Programs


When searching for a teen drug treatment program for your troubled teen, it is important to understand that there are major differences between adult and adolescent programs. Teens have different experiences when it comes to substance abuse than adults, as they are still continuing to develop psychologically, emotionally, and physically. Additionally, the teen brain is not completely developed, so the abuse of drugs and alcohol has the potential to be especially dangerous for young adults who havenít finished developing emotionally or physically.

Teen substance abuse treatment programs focus on a variety of issues, some of the most prominent of which include the following:

  • Education
  • Acting out behaviors
  • Self-isolating from family
  • Peer issues
  • Family dynamics

Additionally, adolescent programs that include family members as a part of the treatment process are also extremely important, as are programs that have staff members who are specifically trained in the field of adolescent development.

Drug Treatment Program Enrollment

When compared to adults, few adolescents enroll in drug abuse treatment because they do not recognize that they have a substance abuse problem and do not voluntarily look for help. Teens are more likely to attend treatment after being coerced by their parents or after the criminal justice system or their school become involved. While treatment isnít necessarily more effective when it is entered into voluntarily, special consideration should be given to these specific issues as part of an adolescent treatment program. While few programs are specially designed for adolescents, these differences are important in demonstrating that the needs of adolescents in drug treatment should be tailored differently than those of adult treatment models.

Questions for Potential Treatment Providers

When looking for a teen drug treatment program, some of the most important questions to ask a potential provider to determine whether or not the program is a good fit for your teen are identified below.

  • What treatment types are available?
  • How does your program address the specific substance abuse needs of teens and adolescents?
  • What evidence can you provide regarding the effectiveness of your program?
  • How can my teenís family be involved within the substance abuse treatment process?
  • What do you do in order to help teens stay in treatment and remain engaged?
  • If my child is not successful in this treatment facility, what other options are available?
  • Do you offer continuing care or aftercare for when this treatment program ends?
  • Can you work with my teenís mental health issues along with his/her drug or alcohol problem?

How long will my son or daughterís treatment program last?

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