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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

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Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse - Finding the Right Treatment for Your Teen

Types of programs

There are several types of teen substance abuse treatment programs.

Inpatient programs

Inpatient programs are highly structured and closely supervised in a hospital or treatment center. The teen stays day and night during treatment, which normally lasts about 4 weeks. These programs usually have an aftercare program that provides support and encouragement.

  • The programs provide education and individual, family, and group counseling. They are often based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
  • Another type of inpatient program is the therapeutic community, which is not based in a hospital. Teens do a series of tasks with constant feedback from peers. These programs may last up to 2 years. Some teens choose to stay and work in the program after treatment.
  • Wilderness challenge programs combine a wilderness experience and some form of treatment. The goal is to help troubled teens communicate better with their families, control their anger, and build healthy relationships. A variety of programs are available. Their quality varies greatly. They are expensive and tend to limit contact with parents. Talk with a health professional if you are considering sending your teen to one of these programs.

Outpatient programs

Outpatient programs range from very structured programs with psychotherapy and family therapy to drop-in centers.

  • These programs require that the teen spend 8 hours or more during the day at the facility, but the teen is home at night. Day treatment programs usually have the same features (individual, group, and family counseling) as inpatient programs. But day treatment normally costs less.
  • Less intensive outpatient programs are designed for young people who do not need as much time in day treatment or to be in an around-the-clock treatment center. Treatment includes one-on-one or group counseling and family therapy. Treatment in the teen's own community makes it easier for the family to be involved.

Whatever type of program you choose, it should consider teen developmental issues, such as peer pressure and the need to test limits. The treatment also needs to provide a way for your teen to continue his or her education. It may boost your teen's self-confidence and self-esteem if he or she can do even small academic tasks during treatment.

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