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Rehab for Teens

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Addiction Rehab for Teenagers

Teens have unique needs when it comes to addiction treatment. Drug addiction impacts teenagers differently than other demographics.

In certain cases, they might require professional treatment. It’s worth taking the time to find a rehab center that caters to youth, regardless of its proximity. Your teen may feel more comfortable recovering in an environment surrounded by peers in their age group.

Searching for the best youth-friendly rehab center is a task many parents face. Drug and alcohol addiction is difficult enough when an adult loved one struggles. But when addiction affects your child, the stress is particularly challenging.

It’s important to remember that you have options, and youth-specialized rehab can help.

Some common addictions among teens include:

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Cigarettes and tobacco
  • Stimulants
  • Painkillers and prescription drugs
  • Heroin
  • MDMA
  • Crystal meth
  • Hallucinogens 
  • Inhalants
  • DXM

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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 be dedicating more time to drugs and less time toward their studies. Or, they may also lose concentration on homework, tests, and grades.

2. Secretive attitude

If your teen is acting secretive or defending unusual behavior, it might indicate drug and/or alcohol use. 

This could especially be true 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 

Keep an eye out for drastic or unexplained shifts in your teen’s schedule, social life, and energy levels.

Sometimes smaller, unexplained changes in daily activities can suggest your teen is using 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. This is especially true if you see more than one of these signs.

5. Major and sudden changes in friends 

Another sign to look out for is abrupt and significant shifts in your teen’s social circle.

If they seem to be spending less time with old friends and are suddenly hanging out with new people, it 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 is spending 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. In severe cases, the issue has already taken hold.

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 leaving room for different activities. This 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 feel up to participating in their normal 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 signs 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

Having a parent with a substance use problem is one of the most significant risk factors for a teen substance use issue. This is because there’s a strong genetic component to addiction.

Another reason why substance use influences children is because 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, this allows them to 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 for yourself before trying to help your child.

10. Your teen admits to substance use on social media

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

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

How to Talk to Your Teen About Rehab 

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

Consider enlisting the help of a professional to help you speak to your teen about rehab. This 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. 

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What to Do if Your Teen Refuses Treatment

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

If your teen refuses treatment, try to understand their perspective.

Remember: 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 you respect their hardships. Make it clear that you’re not belittling their capacity and that many adults receive treatment for addiction, too.

When is an Intervention Necessary?

If your teen still refuses treatment after solid communication efforts, consider an intervention.

An intervention is an attempt made by a family member or friend to help someone addicted to drugs or alcohol accept treatment.6 

The first step of an intervention is to contact a qualified substance use professional. They will walk your family through the intervention process.

An intervention provides support for the family as well as the teen who is using drugs or alcohol.

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Updated on June 16, 2022
7 sources cited
  1. Winters, Ken C et al. “Advances in adolescent substance abuse treatment.” Current psychiatry reports vol. 13,5 : 416-21
  2. Winters, Ken C et al. “Current advances in the treatment of adolescent drug use.” Adolescent health, medicine and therapeutics vol. 5 199-210. 20 Nov. 2014
  3. Morrison, M A. “Addiction in adolescents.” The Western journal of medicine vol. 152,5 : 543-6.
  4. Passetti, Lora L et al. “Continuing Care for Adolescents in Treatment for Substance Use Disorders.” Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America vol. 25,4 : 669-84
  5. Esposito-Smythers, Christianne, and David B Goldston. “Challenges and opportunities in the treatment of adolescents with substance use disorder and suicidal behavior.” Substance abuse vol. 29,2 : 5-17
  6. Das, Jai K 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 vol. 59,4S : S61-S75
  7. Gupta M, Gokarakonda SB, Attia FN. Withdrawal Syndromes. [Updated 2021 Oct 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-

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