Kids' Health

Approaches to Treat Adolescent Substance Use Disorders

Adolescent substance abuse is problematic for several reasons. Teenagers are still developing essential life skills, their identity, their likes, and their dislikes. Many parents are worried about how their teens get addicted to substance use disorder? At what point does substance use truly become problematic? How can parents help their teens to avoid substance use disorder? If you are among those parents who are worried about their teen’s substance use disorder, you need to know that the danger is real and It is a severe issue. Let’s take a closer look at adolescent substance use disorder.

The word ‘substance use disorder’ is applied to people with destructive substance problems. Over the years, the medical community has updated terms as the treatment and diagnosis for these cases have emerged. A person can abuse substances- indulging in drugs or alcohol from time to time or develop an addiction.

Substance use disorder needs patients who abuse or depend on a substance to display some impairment or distress under its effects. Though any connection with drugs or alcohol can be devastating, some people can manage it and still function generally alongside everyone else. A substance use disorder, on the other hand, becomes an obvious issue the moment it develops. If your teen is suffering from substance abuse disorder, the result can spread like a fire into all aspects of their life. 

Symptoms of substance use disorder:

When a professional diagnoses and provides patients with treatment options for substance abuse disorder, they will typically address it using the particular substance at hands such as alcohol use disorder or marijuana use disorder. Cases can range from mild to severe. The teen’s exhibit at least 2 to 3 of the following symptoms. 

  • Hard times when teens used more, or longer, that they indeed.
  • Wanted or tried to cut down or stop on more than one occasion but couldn’t.
  • Spending a lot of time using or being sick from the after-effects.
  • They wanted to use the substance so severely that they could not think of anything else.
  • Continued the use of it even after knowing it was causing trouble with family and friends.
  • Gave up on their favorite hobby or activity.
  • Continued the use of it even though it is causing depression, anxiety, and other health problems.
  • Felt withdrawal signs when the substance was wearing off, for example – sleep issues and nausea.

Adolescent substance abuse problem:

Today’s teen has a reputation for enjoying the nightlife and experimenting with new trends. More than 75 percent of high schoolers have used addictive substances at least once, and almost half of them are still using them. Around 65 percent of young people in the United States have used more than one substance. 

There is extensive evidence that teens who abuse drugs or alcohol are more vulnerable to substance use disorder than adults. Around 90 percent of US adults with addiction started using before they turned 18. 

This is why educating your child and keeping them safe from substance use go a long way in preventing them from using. But there are so many things parents can do. 

How can rehab help?

A rehabilitation center is the best place for teen substance abuse treatment. It can be highly effective, and, in some cases, it is a significant turning point in the teen’s life. Each teen admitted to the rehab center undergoes a proper diagnosis, and their treatment plan is then modified for their addiction. However, their programs will likely include some variations of these substance abuse treatment modalities-


When the teen arrives for rehab, the first treatment option available is detoxification. In this, the teen’s body finishes flushing the drugs or alcohol out so that the natural healing can start. The human body will do this naturally, but the period depends on the teen’s situation. When done under a professional, Detox makes sure that it is done safely without forming any harmful substance. Your teen may experience withdrawal symptoms as well as physical or mental misery from not feeding their addiction. 


Teen drug, alcohol, or substance rehab is often focused on therapy. In teenagers with substance use disorder, biological factors play an immense role. 

Segments of the brain typically show underdevelopment or other abnormalities. This includes the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for goal setting, reasoning, and judgment. The nucleus reclining is also still developing in teens, which explains their tendency for thrill-seeking. When combined with genetics and environmental factors, these factors can help doctors understand why a teen may be coping with substance abuse. 

Whether you choose inpatient or outpatient rehab, the former occurs at a residential facility full-time stay and the latter taking place part-time. Therapy is offered in both one-on-one and group settings. Depending on the severity of the teen’s problem and the substance at hand, the doctor may prescribe one or more of the following types of therapy. 

  1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  2. Family therapy
  3. Contingency management
  4. Motivational interviewing
  5. Recreational therapy

Medications for treatment

Prescribing medications during substance abuse treatment can help your teen reduce cravings, restore their everyday health, or address any underlying psychiatric disorders. The professionals can determine that medicine would be beneficial; it may be implemented into your teen’s treatment plan. Medications prescribed in substance abuse treatment may include the following-

  1. Opioids- pills like Vicodin and Percocet that help numb patients to pain.
  2. Stimulants- drugs like Adderall and Ritalin that increase mental functions like alertness and energy.
  3. Mood stabilizers- medicines like Lithium that reduce the appearance of emotional swings.

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