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Where to Find Help for Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

The abuse of prescription drugs has skyrocketed over the course of the last decade with teen prescription drug abuse rates rising accordingly. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as of 2014, the following trends shed some light the scope of the teen prescription drug abuse problem:

  • Compared to other drugs of abuse, teens’ perception of the risks involved with prescription drug abuse runs considerably lower
  • Among 12th graders, prescription drugs rank fourth as the most commonly abused drug type, with alcohol, tobacco and marijuana ranking one, two and three
  • An estimated 13.9 percent of 12th graders reported abusing prescription drugs in the previous year

While addiction in all form warrants cause for concern, the developmental stages taking place during the teenage years makes teen prescription drug abuse especially dangerous. Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options for teens. As there’s no “one-size-fits-all” treatment approach for teens (or adults), understanding your teen’s treatment needs can go a long way towards finding the right type of treatment for him or her.

Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

The combined effects of hormones, body changes and social pressures keep many teenagers on an emotional roller coaster throughout the adolescent years. For these reasons, teens may gravitate towards drug abuse practices as a way to cope with difficult emotions and outside pressures. Considering the pace of today’s society, it’s no real surprise to see rates teen prescription drug abuse continue to rise.

teen prescription drug abuse

The stresses of adolescence can cause teen prescription drug abuse.

While some teens may abuse drugs to relax or get “high,” others may turn to prescription medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall to help enhance their scholastic performance. Over time, the effects of teen prescription drug abuse cause considerably more harm than good.

Level of Treatment Needed

A range of factors should be considered before deciding on the level of treatment most suited for your teen. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, factors to consider include:

  • Age
  • Maturity level
  • Level of family involvement
  • Presence or absence of co-occurring disorders, such as depression or ADHD

Ultimately, addiction severity most determines the level of care most needed when treating teen prescription drug abuse. Addiction severity can be measured by length of use and/or frequency of use. In turn, the more severe the addiction the more intense the treatment approach should be.

Types of Treatment Programs for Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

Outpatient Treatment

Treatment program options range from low intensity care, such as outpatient treatment to high intensity programs, such as long-term residential care. Outpatient programs work best in cases of early stage teenage prescription drug abuse. At the early stages, teens may still be experimenting, using only occasionally with little to no impact on their school or home life.

Outpatient programs provide individual and group counseling services, support group meetings and drug testing. These programs offer considerable freedom and flexibility allowing teens to schedule treatment times around their existing schedules.

Brief Intervention

Brief intervention approaches typically take place within the primary care setting as opposed to a full-scale drug treatment facility. With teen prescription drug abuse, brief interventions work well for teens struggling with mild to moderate drug abuse problems.

Brief intervention treatment services include:

  • Evaluation screening
  • Drug education and counseling
  • Self-help, self-management tools
  • Psychotherapy

This treatment option works well in cases where a teen’s drug abuse practices interfere with his or her ability to function effectively in the classroom. Problems in the home may also be an issue. In general, brief intervention approaches may run for several months in duration with teens attending scheduled treatment sessions.

Day Treatment or Partial Hospitalization

Day treatment, also known as partial hospitalization offers the most intensive level of outpatient care. In effect, day treatment marks the cut-off between outpatient and inpatient care. Teens who’ve reached the tipping point in terms of school performance and problems on the home front may benefit from day treatment programming.

When working with teen prescription drug abuse, day treatment programs require teens to attend treatment sessions five days a week, typically after school or on weekends. Treatment services offered include a mix of individual, group and family therapy.

Inpatient Treatment

Unlike outpatient treatment approaches, inpatient programs require patients to reside at the facility for the duration of the program. As the most intensive level of care, teens requiring this form of treatment struggle with chronic, oftentimes long-term addiction problems. It’s also not uncommon for co-occurring psychological disorders to be present as well.

Inpatient programs provide round-the-clock monitoring and supervision in the form of:

  • Medical care
  • Psychiatric services
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Support group work
  • Family therapy

Where to Find Help

Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator

Teen prescription drug abuse and drug abuse in general have become a growing issue, affecting families and communities across the United States. For this reason, government agencies take an active role in providing online reasons for finding drug treatment programs.

The Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator, managed by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administrations offers up a searchable database of treatment facilities as an online resource. Information regarding facility locations, phone numbers and services is updated on a weekly basis.

Narcotics Anonymous

Much like the addiction lifestyle breeds its own social network, a healthy support network plays an important role in your teen’s recovery process. Compared to adults, teens rely even more on peer supports, especially when going through difficult times. Support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous or NA meetings can help meet this need

Narcotics Anonymous, a spin-off of the Alcoholics Anonymous organization sponsors support group meetings for teenagers struggling with drug addiction problems. Narcotics Anonymous also provides a searchable online database for finding meeting locations and times in your area.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Many teens with a long history of teen prescription drug abuse also struggle with mental health problems. Dual diagnosis conditions develop in cases where addiction and mental illness exist as co-occurring disorders.

In effect, teen prescription drug abuse can cause brain chemical imbalances to take shape, which predisposes teens to developing mental health problems. Under these conditions, it’s essential to find a program that has experience in treating dual diagnosis conditions.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness resource site lists a helpline number for finding local treatment programs that work with both teen prescription drug abuse and dual diagnosis conditions.

Teen Prescription Drug Abuse: Family Considerations

Like most any other form of addiction, teen prescription drug abuse develops out of a teen’s daily experiences, according to the University of Washington. Family, school and friends all play a part.

When searching for help for your teen, it helps to keep in mind that a good part of your teen’s recovery process will require family involvement. As your teen progresses through recovery, the family’s active participation in the treatment process can make all the difference.

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