Help for Troubled Teens


Help for the troubled teen is available today in the form of treatment programs and recovery centers that specialize in help for the troubled teen. Help for the troubled teen can range from long-term residential care to community based outpatient groups. Help for the troubled teen can be thought of as varying on two dimensions: length and intensity. No one program is better than any other; rather, the relevant question is which program is appropriate to facilitate the proper help for the troubled teen in need of treatment? When seeking out help for the troubled teen what level of care is sufficient to help an adolescent get away (and stay away) from substance abuse? In general, the greater the intensity of the program offered requires a more extensive removal of the adolescent from his or her normal environment and lifestyle. If certain parts of the adolescent’s lifestyle are still functional (school, work, etc.), and the desire to maintain them is still strong, then a less intensive level of treatment may be sufficient. Long and short term residential treatment, after school programs, therapeutic adventure programs, partial hospitalization, halfway houses, and intermittent drug testing are all viable methods of applying or finding help for the troubled teen. The challenge is to decide upon a program that matches the depth of the adolescent’s abuse problem. The following guidelines can be helpful when formulating a treatment strategy. Experimental/Social Use When involvement with substance abuse is at this level, some form of intervention may be warranted. A team composed of a professional counselor and one or more trained peer counselors, employing an educational preventive approach can be effective. It should be a time - limited program with a main goal of discontinuing use while still in the experimental/social stages of development. Discussion topics should include the physiology and psychology of addiction, stages of use, risk factors, the effects of substance use on personal development and emotional growth, and the alternatives to substance use as a social agenda. Based on personal assessments some youths may benefit and some may be referred for further treatment. Instrumental Use Once an adolescent has moved into a more active (seeking) level of use, a more intense form of intervention is needed. If the adolescent is beginning to rely on chemicals as a means of recreating and coping, development could become affected. When peer pressure begins to play a role, or initial outpatient based programs have failed; if school and or the home environment have become suspect as a risk factor (e.g., parental abuse), then a partial clinical setting or an impatient residential could be a better way to provide help for the troubled teen. Habitual/Compulsive Use Once use has become habitual, so that there is a noticeable accommodation of lifestyle patterned around substance abuse, it is time to find additional help for the troubled teen. There is little choice other than to remove the adolescent from his or her physical environment. Short term residential care is recommended for habitual users, as well as youths who have failed outpatient based programs. Help for the troubled teen may require long term care even after a successful completion of a primary treatment program.