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FAQ: Teen Drug Rehab

We’re here to answer any questions you may have about adolescent addiction and treatment options. Learn what you need to know so your child can get healthy. Don't see an answer to your question? Call us to speak with a recovery counselor who can help.


10 min read

Isn’t Substance Abuse More of a College Problem?

While the college years remain the epicenter of partying and drug experimentation, disturbing trends in drug use and addiction have crept into the high school and middle school population. In circulation are popular teen drugs you may not even know about. An addiction during adolescence demands the same attention as one involving a college student — and perhaps even more.

It’s a subject that many parents are scared to approach or refuse to accept. But the only way that most of these kids stand a chance of getting better — or knowing how to identify and avoid high-risk situations in the first place — is the help of parents, guardians or other loved ones. The reality is that an unprecedented number of high school kids are using drugs. In fact, kids in middle school are using drugs now, too. In many instances, a teen rehab clinic may help them right the ship before they get too far off course.

Can Rehab Help My Teen?

An addiction is a deep-seated illness, and it can’t be cured overnight. It might take months of rehab and years of aftercare programs to get your teen’s substance abuse under control. But a qualified treatment clinic will do everything possible to properly diagnose your teen, prepare an individualized recovery plan, and give them the tools they need to get better.

Addiction is a disease that affects young and old alike. Accordingly, substance abuse treatment options are available to teens, and many facilities even specialize in treating young patients. Over the last century, the rehab community has grown and produced developments across the entire continuum of treatment. Young adults battling a drug or alcohol addiction can benefit greatly from a professional treatment program.

What Is the Success Rate of Rehab?

Approximately one-third to one-half of kids treated for substance problems will return to some drug or alcohol use within the 12 months following treatment.

But a relapse does not mean that rehab has failed. Any time spent in treatment is forward progress, as well as time spent away from substance use and negative peer and environmental influences. And at least half of teens who graduate from rehab will enjoy an extended period of sobriety. How they follow-up after rehab is over can play a massive role in how strong and stable these healthy habits become.

What If My Child Has A Co-Occurring Mental Disorder?

In around half of adolescent addiction cases, a second co-occurring mental disorder exists. This is no coincidence — mental health disorders often lead patients to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, or have poor judgment in their general decision-making. In other cases, mental illnesses can develop and co-occur as a result of heavy substance abuse and its psychological side effects. When a mental disorder exists alongside a substance use disorder, it is called a dual diagnosis.

As a parent, it is vital to learn how to understand teenagers and have a keen eye towards your child’s mental well-being. If you are able to catch a mental disorder in its early stages, you can get the necessary medical attention and help reduce the chances of a simultaneous substance problem. When you have your teen screened for a substance problem, the doctor will assess their overall mental health and check to see if any other disorders are present. In cases of simultaneous disorders, your child’s doctor might recommend they receive dual diagnosis treatment. An increasing number of rehab clinics offer integrated treatment for these patients.

What Does the Rehab Process Look Like?

No two experiences in rehab are exactly alike. In order to treat an addiction, rehab counselors need to thoroughly assess each patient’s needs — including their body chemistry, their mental health, the substances they’ve been using and the severity of their substance use disorder (the medical term for addiction). Drug detoxing is often the first step. Patients need to avoid the temptation to use substances and allow the body to flush them from their system. This may entail a painful withdrawal, so it’s best done under the supervision of a medical staff. After detox, treatment will entail a series of modules which can include therapy, counseling, behavior management, relapse prevention planning and medication.

How Long Is Drug Rehab?

Teen rehab centers typically have programs structured in increments of 30, 60 or 90 days. But if your son or daughter needs more time, the treatment clinic will work with your family to figure out the best course of action. It’s crucial not to rush somebody you love through rehab, or pull them out prematurely. In order for a patient to overcome their addiction, they need encouragement and patience. A major factor in recovery is determination — even if the process is taking longer than expected. Your teen may only have one opportunity for professional rehab, and it’s important that you show them your support and entrust the rehab staff to do their job until your teen graduates from treatment.

How Much Does Rehab Cost?

The cost of rehab depends on several factors, such as the quality of the rehab clinic, the extent of services and the length of your teen’s stay. When you interview a clinic about possibly enrolling your teen, they will go over payment options with you. Payment plans and “sliding scale” payments might be available, based on your household income. If your son or daughter requires substance abuse rehab, don’t hesitate to reach out to loved ones for help. Quality care can make the difference between a recovery and a lifetime of substance-related woes.

Keep in mind that many health insurance plans cover rehab services. Contact your insurance provider and ask if substance abuse treatment is covered, and be sure to ask about insurance coverage when interviewing possible clinics for your teen.

Where Will My Teen Stay?

When figuring out how to pick a drug rehab center for your teenager, a treatment professional will help you decide between two options: inpatient vs. outpatient rehab.

Outpatient drug rehabilitation allows patients to continue living at home while they commute to and from rehab. On the other hand, inpatient drug rehab for teenagers (or residential rehab) requires patients to stay on-site at the treatment clinic, so they can undergo 24/7 supervision and focus all their attention on getting clean. For more serious substance problems, doctors recommend inpatient treatment. Before you make any decisions like this, have the problem thoroughly assessed and discuss every possible option with your teen’s doctor.

Will My Child Miss School?

If your teen begins a residential treatment program, they may need to be excused from school and other obligations for the duration of their stay. Many facilities offer on-site classrooms or other forms of academic support during rehab. Teachers and school administrators should be understanding of your teen’s needs and help your family figure out a way to keep them on track with their curriculum. In cases of outpatient rehab, your child should be able to continue their schooling, and may only have to miss occasional classes to attend treatment.

Will Everyone Find Out That My Child Is in Rehab?

Your child’s unique situation is private and not something that needs to be broadcasted to the world — your family’s business is personal, and this is information you and your child can give out at your own discretion.

Reputation among peers is invaluable during the teenage years. This alone may keep your child from seeking out help. It may also influence choosing inpatient rehab if they do admit they have a problem.

If you do decide to inform people about it, it should be framed as a good thing. We’re all flawed and encounter hurdles in our lifetime. If your teen happens to struggle with substance use, rehab can be powerful and transformative. It shows that they are facing their problem and working to improve, rather than letting the problem carry on and control their life. Allow your teen to make the decision whether or not everyone knows about their rehab. But if they decide to tell people, you should support their bravery and honesty.

What Should My Child Bring to Rehab?

The rehab facility you decide on will have a specific list of items your teen can and can’t bring with them. More than likely, your child will be asked to bring several sets of clothes, toiletries and grooming products. Other than that, it’s up to the clinic what additional items are allowed.

Considering the nature of recovery and the importance of following certain procedures, most treatment centers have strict policies on prohibited items. Cell phones and other electronics, excessive jewelry or makeup, profane clothing and outside food are among commonly prohibited items. It should go without saying that weapons or any sort of illicit substance are frowned upon. If your son or daughter is taking prescription medications, they will need to be approved and likely examined before they’re brought into the facility. Your teen’s treatment specialists will be sure to go over what to pack and what to leave at home as you prepare for the program.

Can Friends and Family Visit?

Rehab centers usually allow family members to visit — although not excessively. Living in a hospital setting can be a daunting experience for young people battling an addiction. The best treatment clinics provide comfortable amenities and recreational activities to help make the rehab experience as pleasant as possible. They will also be sure that patients stay in contact with their immediate family, and have pre-scheduled visits from time to time.

In order for treatment to work, patients need to be relatively immersed in the program, and too many visits from loved ones can interrupt their progress or be somewhat distracting. But occasional visits can ensure that morale is high, that patients remain connected and that they’re reminded how much they are loved along the way. When you and your teen meet with a potential rehab clinic, they will explain all the details, including what to expect and how to prepare for treatment, along with their guidelines for family and friend visits.

What Happens After Treatment?

Towards the end of rehab, your teen’s doctors will help them with aftercare planning. Your child’s drug problem can affect them in some capacity for the rest of their life. When recovering addicts least expect it, these dormant addictions can creep up and turn their world upside-down. So after rehab, a number of lifestyle changes and healthy choices are essential relapse prevention strategies. This might include medication, ongoing therapy or counseling, community support groups (i.e. 12-step programs) and skill building courses. Depending on the home they’re returning to, and the emotional or financial stability of your family, they may be recommended transitional living options — sober housing where recovering addicts live and are assisted with their return to school and work.

How Long Should I Wait to Decide on Rehab?

Knowing how to confront your child about drugs should be a loving conversation that explains the things you’ve noticed and what’s at risk if he or she continues to use. The earlier you notice signs of an addiction, the easier rehab can be. Explain how professional treatment can help. Depending on the severity of their problem, they may agree that rehab is a good idea, or may believe they can get clean on their own. Use your judgment and determine how adamant you should be.

If their substance use continues, you may need to take matters into your own hands. Sometimes, direct intervention is necessary before the drug problem threatens their livelihood or the safety of others. If they still refuse help, you can elect to send them to rehab without consent, so long as they are living under your roof. If you approach the situation carefully at an early stage, it should hopefully never escalate to this point.

Your teen’s path to recovery will be long and bumpy. Alcohol or drug addiction affects the entire family, but many teens don’t have the luxury of support from loved ones or any sort of treatment. In fact, only 10% of addicted teens receive professional help at all. Don’t leave your teen to face these problems on their own. Find out what you can do to help, and be a positive influence along their journey.



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