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Drug Rehab for Teens

Last updated on: Friday, 8 March 2024

Drug rehab for adolescents in Canada includes residential centers or outpatient treatment. This article provides access to detailed listings to help you find help in your province. It is always challenging when a teen has an addiction. It is an age that brings about many changes in a kid’s life. The addiction can quickly spiral out of control without proper support and may follow them into adulthood.


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Adolescent drug rehab programs are tailored to meet the needs of teens struggling with drug addiction. Drug rehab involving detox, counselling, and aftercare support are all tailored to meet the needs of adolescents struggling with addiction. Whether a teen is experimenting with drugs or suffering from drug addiction, there are substance abuse treatment centers providing excellent resources. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teen drug addiction needs to be identified and addressed as soon as possible.

Drugs and alcohol have long-lasting effects on the developing brain and interfere with family, peer relationships, and school performance. Most adults who developed a drug addiction were likely misusing drugs or alcohol as a teen. Substance abuse among teens ranges from problematic use to addiction and is successfully treated at any stage and age. Drug addiction among young people exposes them to certain dangers and risks associated with drug addiction. Parents who begin to notice their teen is showing indicators of drug use should take every step to intervene.

Substance abuse treatment for teens is usually tailored to the unique needs of the patient. Drug rehab planning involves proper assessments and appropriate treatment addressing the unique problems that an adolescent is struggling with. Drug rehabilitation for teens should address the needs of the whole person offering help mentally, physically, and spiritually. For example, the best approach for teens includes supporting the adolescent’s larger-than-life needs.

Adolescents abuse and experiment with different drugs. Some of the more commonly misused drugs among teens include marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco. Overall, drug use differs between age groups. Young teens tend to favour inhalant drugs, like solvents, and older teens tend to misuse synthetic marijuana and prescription medications. Addiction occurs when repeated use of these substances changes how a person’s brain functions. Drugs cause physical and psychological dependence.

Some teens are more vulnerable to becoming addicted to drugs. For example, stressful early life experiences, such as being abused or other forms of trauma. Teens that have a history of abuse are more likely to become addicted to drugs. Finding the right form of drug rehab for teens is essential. Drug rehab programs for teens are equipped to manage all forms of drug addiction and substance abuse.

When is Drug Rehab for Adolescents the Best Option?

Teens begin to abuse drugs and alcohol for many reasons, and drug rehab for teens is the best option at any time. Some teens abuse drugs in an attempt to fit in and because other teens are doing it, or they think other peers are using drugs. There is often a fear of not being accepted in a social circle that includes drug-using peers. Adolescents misuse drugs to feel good as drugs interact with brain chemicals producing pleasurable feelings. Teens also abuse drugs to feel better as they may struggle with depression, anxiety, physical pain, and social anxiety.

Teens misuse drugs in an attempt to lessen feelings of distress as stress plays a significant role in starting and continuing drug use. In addition, teens abuse drugs to do better, whether in school, sports, or attempting to make friends. However, most drug use problems among teens begin because of experimentation. Adolescents are often motivated to seek new experiences they perceive as thrilling or daring. Data has shown that by 12th grade, roughly two-thirds of students have tried alcohol. Approximately half of 9th through 12th-grade students reported having used marijuana.

Regardless of the stage of drug addiction or if parents begin to notice the early indicators of drug abuse, they should take steps to intervene. There are significant risks with teen drug addiction. For example, it affects the growth and development of teens, especially brain development. Drug use also occurs with other risky behaviours, such as unprotected sex and dangerous driving. Drug abuse during teen years contributes to the development of adult health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders.

Unfortunately, most teens obtain drugs or alcohol from a friend, family member, or romantic partner. Generally, peer groups develop within one’s immediate environment, and in youth schools, neighbourhoods, and social clubs tend to influence the formation of peer groups. Peer groups can often lead to drug abuse, and family structure and family behaviour can also influence personal attributes that could lead to drug abuse.

Some of the early indicators of teen drug abuse include problems with the law, problems at school, mood swings, loss of interest in favourite activities, drug paraphernalia, violent behaviour, withdrawal, depression, and poor hygiene. Parents begin to notice the negative effects of drug use. Teens abusing drugs begin to experience emotional problems, increased risk of social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts, and violence. Adolescents who abuse drugs experience behavioural problems and tend to engage in delinquent behaviour.

Additionally, drug use leads to addiction and dependence, and without proper help, they are increasing the risk of struggling with drug addiction during their adult years. Drug abuse during adolescence damages short-term and long-term memory and can lead to problems with learning and memory later in life. Drug abuse can also result in brain damage, causing permanent or irreversible damage to the brain or nervous system. Parents must find drug rehab options that address all the physical and psychological problems associated with teen drug abuse.

How Does Drug Rehab for Adolescents for Work?

Treatment for teen drug addiction is delivered at varying levels of care within many different settings. Overall, no single form of drug rehab is right for every teen, and treatment is generally tailored to meet the needs of each patient. The steps involved with treating teen drug addiction involve drug detox, residential or outpatient treatment, and aftercare support. The first step usually involves an addiction assessment based on the level of intoxication, presence of medical conditions, emotional, behavioural, or cognitive condition. In addition, the readiness or motivation to change, risk of relapse or continued drug use, and recovery environment.

The first step involves drug detox to manage withdrawal cravings and symptoms. Typically, the extent and severity of drug addiction determine what method of drug detox is needed. Medical detox for teens manages more severe drug addiction and withdrawal symptoms. Clinical or standard drug detox treats addiction less severe and manages withdrawal symptoms that are not necessarily life-threatening. Following drug detox, there are many different treatment options to consider. Adolescent drug abuse could be treated with outpatient or inpatient options, and there are long-term and short-term programs available.

Most families and teens opt for outpatient or intensive outpatient drug rehab for teens. Outpatient drug rehab is traditionally recommended for teens with less severe addiction. Outpatient drug rehab for teens varies in the type and intensity of services. For example, low or moderate-intensity outpatient care is generally delivered once or twice a week. Intensive outpatient treatment services are delivered more frequently and typically more than twice a week for at least three hours per day.

Adolescents struggling with drug addiction can also access residential treatment, providing a high level of care for teens with addiction and underlying conditions. Long-term residential treatment models and therapeutic communities are effective approaches to manage teen drug addiction. Behavioural therapies are effective and are done to provide incentives for abstinence, building skills to resist and refuse drugs, and deal with triggers or cravings, improving problem-solving skills, and facilitating better interpersonal relationships.

Upon completing residential or outpatient drug rehab, the next phase of treatment involves attending aftercare support. Recovery options for teens include peer support groups, 12-step meetings, and even sober living homes for teens. Aftercare support is essential to help recovering addicts have a smooth transition back to society again.

Are There Alternatives to Adolescent Drug Rehab?

Alternatives to formal inpatient or outpatient drug rehab for teens involve support from families and communities and individual counselling. The support of family members is important for an adolescent’s recovery. Interventions for adolescent drug abuse should seek to strengthen family relationships by improving communication and improving family members’ ability to support abstinence from drugs. Individual counselling and family counselling separate from traditional drug rehab should address sensitive issues such as violence and child abuse. Family Behavior Therapy, for example, has proven to be effective and combines behavioural contracting with contingency management to address addiction and behavioural problems.

Drug Addiction Trends Among Adolescents

According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction, youth aged 15 to 24 continue to have the highest self-reported past-year use of illicit substances compared to other Canadians. According to some data, 71.5% of teens had used alcohol, 25.1% had used marijuana, 4.6% had used hallucinogens, 3.8% had used ecstasy, and 2.8% used cocaine. However, there has been a downward trend with teen substance abuse, but the many issues are still there among countless teens across Canada.

Alcohol is the number one substance used by youth in Canada and the past year use of alcohol among youth remains high. Approximately 57% of Canadian youth of legal drinking age reported drinking in a risky manner. Marijuana use continues to be problematic across Canada, even after cannabis became legal in Canada. Ecstasy is the third most used illicit drug among youth in Canada. In addition, cocaine is the fourth most used illicit drug among youth in Canada.

Many of the issues surrounding teen drug addiction involve polysubstance abuse, which is misusing more than one drug at one time. According to some research, youth polysubstance abuse increased over time with the rate of change accelerating. Male and Indigenous students were significantly more likely to use multiple substances. Between 2017 and 2018, polydrug use in Canada increased significantly, with over 50% of students reporting past-year use of multiple substances. Since 2012-2013, youth polydrug use has risen with a steep increase during 2016-2017.

Ask a Professional

  • What is drug rehab for teens?

    These drug rehab centers provide specific therapy and treatment to teens struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Generally, these are residential drug rehab centers that provide short-term or long-term treatment. The programs are designed to help teens with any severity of addiction and substance use.

  • Is it worth it to send a teen to a drug rehab center?

    Yes, because when drug addiction is not treated early in life, it progressively becomes worse and follows teens and young adults into their adult lives. Substance use treatment among teens should not be overlooked, and drug rehabilitation is the best solution.

  • What is the best counseling to help teens overcome addiction?

    Generally, behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, are an effective approach. In addition, experiential therapy is also effective, such as wilderness and adventure-based therapy. Finally, one on one counseling is also effective.

  • Can teens become fully rehabilitated from addiction?

    Yes, with long-term residential drug rehab, teens can become completely rehabilitated from drug or alcohol addiction. Early intervention is critical because teen drug addiction quickly spirals out of control. In addition, community aftercare support is critical to ensure sobriety continues well into their adult life.

  • Want to know more?

    The questions from DrugRehab.ca’s “Ask a Professional” are answered by Nickolaus Hayes. If you need further clarification on any of the questions above or have any other questions you can contact him directly at N.hayes@drugrehab.ca.




More Information

Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.