Advanced Therapeutic Services Tailors Program for Addiction Treatment for Teens

As most of us can recall, we thought we were invincible back when we were teenagers.  Taking stupid risks while thinking we were immortal, we look back with relief that we survived our teen years.  Usually, parents had no idea the kinds of risk-seeking behaviors we might have been engaging in.

When an adolescent develops a substance use problem it may come as a complete shock to family and friends who didn’t see it coming.  Often a teen’s experimentation with drugs and alcohol is a passing phase that renders little lasting harm.  However, countless examples of a young person’s life becoming consumed and destroyed through the use of drugs are all too common.

When seeking help for an adolescent struggling with drug or alcohol abuse or addiction it is imperative to enlist treatment from a provider that specializes in teen substance disorders.  There are important differences in effective addiction treatment methods for teens versus adults.

Teen Brains are Different than Adult Brains

There are distinct differences in the brain of an adolescent compared with an adult brain.  Research from Yale University has shown that the brain releases chemicals, such as dopamine, in response to new experiences, resulting in a desire to repeat them.  Dr. R. Andrew Chambers of the Yale School of Medicine, headed up the study that showed how drugs become addictive as a result of stimulating parts of the brain that are still evolving during adolescence. ”You have a situation where the motivational brain areas are particularly active,” Dr. Chambers said, ”and the part of the brain that is supposed to inhibit impulses is not working well, because it is sort of under construction.”

So a teen who engages in recreational drug use may find his or her brain reinforcing that behavior, and that can culminate in a substance abuse problem.  This chemical response to trying novel experiences in the brain is more pronounced in teens than in adults, making them more prone to repeating dangerous behaviors.

In addition, the teen brain is still in the process of developing its executive functions.  The executive brain functions involve processing risks, planning, working memory, and impulse control.  Because the process of brain development is ongoing during the teen years, brain function hasn’t fully matured, which can lead to increased risk-taking and novelty-seeking behaviors.  Combine that with heightened emotions and impulsivity, it is clear why teens can wind up with a substance use disorder.

Addiction Treatment for Teens

With drugs and alcohol readily available to a teen motivated to experiment, it comes as no surprise that some will become addicted.  When drug or alcohol treatment is needed, a program that is tailored for young people is going to be more effective.  There are important differences that should be taken into account for treating a teen with a drug or alcohol addiction, such as:

  • Teens require more external controls and clearly delineated boundaries, so a teen recovery program should provide these constructs.
  • The teen brain will not process information like an adult brain, so recovery needs to connect emotionally for the teen, not just logically.
  • Engaging the family in the treatment process is critical, as the teen is dependent on them for financial support, transportation, and basic needs.
  • Understanding that the family dynamic may be a factor in a teen’s development of a drug or alcohol addiction if there has been abuse, trauma, family dysfunction, divorce, or neglect.
  • Peer pressure can be a factor, so helping the teen to understand the importance of distancing themselves from other teens with drug-seeking and using behaviors is crucial.

Providing a safe and supportive space to share life issues and emotional problems will enhance the addiction treatment program for teens.

Addiction Treatment for Teens in Rancho Mirage

Serving Coachella Valley, Advanced Therapeutic Services (ATS) offers adolescent treatment services specifically designed for teens with drug or alcohol use disorders.  Located at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains in Rancho Mirage, California near Palm Desert, Indio, Cathedral City, Bermuda Dunes, and Palm Springs. ATS provides an intensive outpatient program (IOP) to help teens and their families heal in a serene and therapeutic setting.  An IOP allows for the teens to continue with their schooling while receiving the care and support needed for healing.  ATS teaches teens how to identify positive choices, how to take on life’s challenges, and how to build their self-esteem—all to aid in changing destructive patterns of behavior.  They will be counseled on how to discover meaning and purpose in their lives, how to deal with family issues such as divorce, and how to manage feelings of fear and anger.  For more information about our addiction treatment for teens, call (760) 349-7007 today.