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Alcohol & Health
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Updated on March 21, 2023
8 min read

Teen Alcohol Rehab

Alcohol is the most abused substance among teens in the United States. Many teens struggle with alcohol abuse and addiction, which can have serious consequences.

In some instances, teens might require professional treatment. It’s worth finding a rehab center that caters to youth, regardless of its proximity.

Teen Alcohol Use Statistics

According to the NIAAA, in 2019:8

  • About 24.6 percent of youth ages 14 to 15 reported having at least one drink in their lifetime
  • 7.0 million youth ages 12 to 20 reported drinking alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month
  • 4.2 million youths said they engaged in binge drinking at least once in the past month

The CDC also reports that the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days:3

  • 29% drank alcohol
  • 14% binge drank
  • 5% of drivers drove after drinking alcohol
  • 17% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol

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How to Talk to Your Teen About Alcohol Rehab

Many parents who believe their teen may have a problem with drugs or alcohol are unsure how to speak to their child about it.

Consider enlisting the help of a professional to help you speak to your teen about rehab. These professionals can include:

  • Your child’s pediatrician
  • An addiction treatment provider
  • A school counselor

Once you’ve determined your teen has a substance use problem, a medical or drug treatment professional can assess its severity. They will develop an appropriate treatment approach.

There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for drug addiction. What works for one teen may not be suitable for yours.

10 Signs Your Teen Might Need Rehab

Some signs your teen might need rehab include:

1. A Drop in Grades or Academic Performance

Low grades or changes in school performance may be signs that your teen is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. Even a slight slip in grades may indicate that your teen needs to attend rehab, especially if they are at risk for mental health problems.

In such cases, your teenager may dedicate more time to drugs and less time to their studies. Or they may also lose concentration on homework, tests, and grades.

2. Secretive Attitude

If your teen acts secretively or defends unusual behavior, it might indicate drug and/or alcohol use.

This likelihood could especially be actual if your teen is:

  • Locking their door more often
  • Maintaining irregular daily or evening schedules
  • Staying out later than usual with friends
  • Suddenly spending time with new groups of people
  • Avoiding your questions about their activities

Watch for drastic or unexplained shifts in your teen’s schedule, social life, and energy levels.

Sometimes more minor, unexplained changes in daily activities can suggest your teen uses drugs or alcohol.

3. Changes in Physical Appearance

If your teen has a drug addiction, their habits might affect their physical appearance.

Physical changes to look out for include:

  • Bloodshot or tired eyes
  • Unexpected weight loss, gain, or fluctuations
  • Unexplained cuts, scars, or wounds
  • Random nosebleeds or runny noses
  • Sweaty or shaking hands
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Talkative or hyperactive periods

4. Shifts in Behavior

You may also notice changes in your teen’s behavior that could indicate substance use habits.

These include:

  • Unexplained changes in favorite activities or hobbies
  • Increase in stress, anxiety, paranoia, or nervousness
  • Reckless driving
  • Missing money, pills, or alcohol
  • Repeated dishonesty

If you notice any of these signs, your teen might need rehab, especially if you see more than one.

5. Major and Sudden Changes in Friends

Another sign to look out for is abrupt and significant shifts in your teen’s social circle. Spending less time with old friends and suddenly hanging out with new people could suggest they’re taking on new and potentially risky behaviors.

6. Missing Classes or Skipping School

Another significant warning sign of substance use is if your teen is missing classes or skipping school.

If your teen isn’t in school and spends time with people who are also skipping, there’s a good chance they’re engaging in risky behaviors.

Ask your child’s school to alert you to these absences. This way, you can address the problem at home.

7. Loss of Interest in Favorite Hobbies or Activities

Losing interest in once-favorite hobbies or activities can also suggest trouble.

Quitting sports teams or clubs or stopping favorite hobbies or interests means your teen might be doing different activities, which can include alcohol or drug use.

Additionally, drug and alcohol withdrawal can cause physical side effects that can make your child tired. As such, they may not participate in their everyday activities.7

8. Changes In the Home

Not all signs of drug and alcohol use occur externally. Some happen at home.

For example, finding a hidden stash of drugs or alcohol is typically a sign that something’s wrong. Sometimes the indicators are more subtle.

Keep an eye out for other unusual changes at home, such as:

  • Unrecognizable containers or wrappers
  • Drug paraphernalia, such as smoking devices, eye drops, lighters, and syringes
  • Unexplained dents in the car
  • Missing prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, or alcohol

9. You Have a Substance Use Problem

A parent with a substance use problem is one of the most significant risk factors for teen substance use issues. There’s a genetic component to addiction.

Another reason why substance abuse can influence children is that they learn by watching. They may assume that whatever you do is usual behavior, even if it’s heavy drinking or drug use.

Having drugs and alcohol in the house also enables access. If they are already at risk, they can experiment with drugs and alcohol at a younger age. If you have a substance use problem, it’s best to seek a drug addiction treatment program before trying to help your child.

10. Your Teen Admits to Substance Use on Social Media

Your child may seem unlikely to admit to drinking or drug use on social media. However, never underestimate a teen’s desire to impress their friends. This desire can even manifest through bragging about substance use.

If you suspect your child may have substance use issues, consider looking at their social media activity.


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What to Do if Your Teen Needs Rehab

Moving past feelings of frustration may be challenging if your teen refuses addiction treatment. Hearing your teen’s side of the argument without bias or assumptions can also be challenging.

If your teen needs rehab, try to remember and do the following:

  • Your teen is struggling with an ‘adult problem.’ You’re an adult, so use this connection to your advantage.
  • If you have any personal experience with addiction, teenage refusal, or rebellion, share it with your teen.
  • Acknowledge what your teen is dealing with by showing that you respect their hardships. Make it clear that you’re not belittling their capacity and that many adults receive addiction treatment, too.

Consider an intervention if your teen still refuses treatment after solid communication efforts. An intervention is an attempt made by a family member or friend to help someone addicted to drugs or alcohol accept treatment.6


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Research-Based Treatment Models for Teens

You can expect professionals to use the following treatment models when treating teens with substance use issues:

Behavioral Therapy

This form of therapy helps teens identify and change unhealthy behaviors. Counselors often use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help teens recognize and manage their triggers. This approach is helpful for teens who struggle with craving and relapse prevention.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational interviewing is a form of counseling designed to help teens become more motivated to change their behaviors. Many feel helpless over their drug or alcohol use and cannot stop on their own. MI allows teens to recognize that they can control their lives and change their behaviors.

12-Step Programs

12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, provide a supportive community for teens with substance use disorders. Teens can receive guidance and support from peers in recovery. This help can help reduce the risk of relapse and provide long-term sobriety.

Medially-Assisted Treatment

MAT uses medication to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and relieve cravings. Currently, three drugs can treat alcohol use disorder (AUD):

  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram

How to Pay for Alcohol Rehab for Your Teen

Here are some ways to pay for alcohol rehab for your teen:

Insurance Coverage

The Affordable Care Act requires all insurance plans to provide coverage for substance abuse treatment. Your teenager may be eligible for alcohol rehab coverage through your insurance provider. Check with your provider regarding coverage and limitations.

Government Assistance

Government assistance programs are available to help cover the cost of alcohol rehab for teens. For instance, state-funded health insurance programs may offer coverage for substance abuse treatment. Contact your local public health department to learn more about financial assistance options.

Scholarships and Grants

Many nonprofit organizations offer scholarships and grants to help cover the cost of alcohol rehab for teens. Depending on the family's financial situation, these organizations may provide partial or complete coverage of treatment costs.

Payment Plans

Payment plans and sliding-scale fees may be available through substance abuse treatment centers. These allow you to pay for rehab services in installments or on a sliding scale based on your income.


Crowdfunding is another way to raise money for medical treatments, such as alcohol rehab for teens. Families can create an online crowdfunding page and share it with friends, family members, and other donors. You can collect the donations via the website and use them toward treatment costs.


Alcohol use is a serious problem among teens, and it can lead to addiction and health problems. Fortunately, professional treatments are available for teens with substance use issues. These can help your teen deal with the underlying causes of their alcohol use and develop healthy coping strategies.

Updated on March 21, 2023
8 sources cited
Updated on March 21, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Winters et al. “Advances in adolescent substance abuse treatment.” Current psychiatry reports, 2011.
  2. Winters et al. “Current advances in the treatment of adolescent drug use.” Adolescent health, medicine and therapeutics, 2014.
  3. “Underage Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  4. Passetti, et al. “Continuing Care for Adolescents in Treatment for Substance Use Disorders.” Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America, 2016.
  5. Esposito-Smythers C and Goldston DB. “Challenges and opportunities in the treatment of adolescents with substance use disorder and suicidal behavior.” Substance abuse, 2008.
  6. Das et al. “Interventions for Adolescent Substance Abuse: An Overview of Systematic Reviews.” The Journal of adolescent health: official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, 2016.
  7. Gupta M, Gokarakonda SB, Attia FN. Withdrawal Syndromes. [Updated 2021 Oct 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-
  8. “Underage Drinking.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
© 2023 by Treatment Pathway LLC. All rights reserved.
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