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As of 2018, approximately 34% of U.S. 8th, 10th, and 12th graders reported having used illicit drugs at some point. Unfortunately, many teenagers find themselves dealing with full-blown addictions during a crucial period of development. For these teens and their families, it’s important to seek professional help that is specialized for 12- to 17-year-olds.

The Effects of Drugs on the Adolescent Brain

As we continue to learn about the human brain, we’re slowly discovering just how much time it takes for the brain to reach full development. Recently, research has begun to reveal evidence that the brain is still growing and developing during adolescence.

As the brain of a teenager matures, neuroscientists have noted they may be more inclined to take risks and could be especially tempted to try drugs. Research suggests that when these drugs are introduced to a teen’s still-developing brain, the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder in the future increases.

We’re still learning about the effects of drugs on adolescent brains, but there are concerns that teen drug use might stunt brain development in ways that cause serious long-term cognitive and behavioral issues (such as poor decision-making ability).

Spotting the Signs of a Teen Drug Problem

One of the most important things a parent or guardian can do to guard their teens against a damaging addiction is to know and watch for the signs of drug use. Don’t write off red flags because “they’re not that kind of kid.” Even the most responsible and well-behaved teenager can become caught up in drugs or alcohol.

Watch for signs like the following:

  • Notable changes to behavior and mannerisms
  • Declining grades
  • Skipping school; problems with authorities
  • Physical symptoms like red eyes, tremors, or unusual marks on the body
  • Short-lived bouts of euphoria
  • Noticeable slurring of words
  • Extremely drowsy or slow behavior (may indicate depressant drugs)
  • Extremely hyperactive behavior (may indicate stimulant drugs)
  • Medications like painkillers or ADHD meds prescribed to a family member gone missing
  • Hanging out with new friends they won’t introduce to you
  • Skipping events, holidays, dinners, and other normal family activities
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Lack of motivation for almost anything
  • Isolating themselves from the family; spending most of their time in their room
  • Breaking curfew or disobeying household rules
  • Lying about where they were/who they were with
  • Violent, uninhibited, or otherwise uncharacteristic behavior
  • Declining physical appearance and/or hygiene (wearing dirty clothes, ungroomed hair, decrease in shower frequency)
  • Low self-esteem; poor self-image
  • New or worsening symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Money or valuables going missing, especially if they start showing up in the teen’s room
  • Incoherent language
  • Increased secrecy



Individually, many of these symptoms can have other explanations. It’s important to remember that the presence of these symptoms may not necessarily mean your teenager is using drugs or alcohol. Consider the context and the possibilities. Rebelliousness, lying, and low self-esteem could just be due to the challenges of adolescence. A sudden drop in grades, skipping school, and general disorientation, however, may well be an indicator of substance abuse.

If you’re not sure whether the red flags you’re seeing are indicative of a possible addiction, give us a call. Our addiction experts can help you think through the situation and identify an appropriate course of action.

Preventing Teenage Drug Use

Drug and alcohol use prevention programs for teenagers are valuable in promoting awareness and educating students about resisting peer pressure, but there is more that can be done to keep teens safe from addiction.

As a society, it’s important for us to maintain an open line of honest communication with teens that doesn’t just feel like a lecture. Social media conversations, for example, can help teens open up about substance abuse issues without fear of retribution from parents or teachers.

What Should You Do as a Parent?

In addition to watching for the previously mentioned red flags, you can help prevent your teen from using drugs by talking to them about it in a way that is free of judgment or expectation. Ask your teen how they view drug and alcohol use and discuss ways they can combat peer pressure. If you have used drugs in the past, be honest about it and discuss why it was a poor choice.

Keep the conversation calm and help them determine safe exit strategies if they’re offered drugs. Let your teen know that they can turn to you for help getting out of such a situation without the fear of being yelled at.

You can also take other preventive measures like staying informed of what your teen is doing, making an effort to get to know their friends, establishing fair rules with consistent consequences, and modeling good behavior. Adolescents live what they learn, so if your teen sees you drinking to excess or misusing prescriptions, she may come to believe that it’s okay.

Age-Appropriate Treatment Options for Teenagers

Yellowstone Recovery


If you discover that your teen has developed a drug or alcohol problem, don’t just yell at them. Instead, the best thing you can do as a parent or guardian is to seek professional help for them. At Yellowstone Recovery, we offer age-specific treatment in three primary formats: residential, outpatient, and intensive outpatient (IOP). These programs are further tailored to suit the individual’s age and unique needs.


Residential Treatment

Residential treatment is the most immersive recovery experience, in which teens are required to live on-site. This type of program starts with a medically monitored detox process, followed by an intensive schedule of individual and group therapy to help them work through problems and develop new coping strategies. Teens have the comfort and stability of a home during treatment and learn crucial interpersonal skills.

Outpatient Treatment

After completing residential treatment, teens may choose to enter an outpatient program for continuing care. During this time, they are allowed to live at home with family and can pursue schooling or employment. For teens, especially, outpatient treatment can be a great way to transition gradually from rehab back to normal life.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Teens who don’t require detox or immersive treatment may be best-suited to an intensive outpatient program. This program allows teens to get help for a drug problem while going to school and working, even if they haven’t been through residential treatment.

Other Family-Focused Help

Maintaining sobriety after returning home can be a challenge if the same old pressures are present. Our family therapy can help clients and their families work through their stumbling blocks and create a stronger, more supportive home environment for the future.

What to Look For in a Teen Drug Rehab Center

For the best treatment results, make sure you choose a good rehabilitation center, not just whatever is closest to home. When considering drug treatment centers for your teen, look for features like the following:

  • Compassionate, respectful staff
  • Strong expertise in addiction recovery
  • A history of success supported by positive client reviews
  • Flexible financing options
  • Ability to accept insurance
  • Services throughout recovery, from detox through aftercare
  • Safe, secure premises
  • Reliable access to medical care

Yellowstone Recovery in Orange County, California is an ideal choice with a long history of success concerning teen drug treatment. Here are just a few reasons why we’re a great choice for families both in and out of state:

Yellowstone Recovery

Great Facilities and Expert Staff

Our top-notch treatment facilities and amenities are well-maintained and staffed by a team of experienced, knowledgeable addiction recovery specialists. Teens in recovery can practice things like personal responsibility and self-care by washing their own clothes in our laundry facilities and working out in our on-site gym. After a day of therapy work, teens can relax in the pool or take part in a variety of recreational activities.

Safe, Comfortable Housing

Parents and teenagers can rest assured knowing that our residences are monitored by staff at all times and are appropriately secured for client safety. Although teens won’t be able to bring many personal items with them to rehab, they can be confident that the few belongings they keep there will be safe. The houses are also nicely maintained and provide a comfortable, relaxed space in which clients can focus on recovery.

Affordable Treatment and Flexible Payment Options

Before you dip into your teenager’s college fund to pay for rehab, we’ll determine whether you’re eligible for any insurance benefits. For anything that isn’t covered, we’ll work with you to find an appropriate payment plan and schedule that fits both your budget and your teen’s treatment needs.

Is Your Teen Addicted to Drugs? We Can Help

If your teen needs help with a drug or alcohol addiction, you can be their beacon and guide them into the care of a professional treatment program. Here at Yellowstone Recovery, we give teens the structure and guidance they need without discounting their opinions and experiences. Our staff provides firm but respectful supervision, and our certified counselors know how to tailor their strategies to reach developing young people.

To learn more or discuss how we can help your teen break free from addiction, call us at (888) 418-4188.

Please Note: Yellowstone Recovery only treats individuals 18 years of age and older. If you are in need of a program for someone under age 18 please check out these facilities:

Phoenix House: https://www.phoenixhouse.org/locations/california/lake-view-terrace/

Northridge Hospital: https://www.dignityhealth.org/socal/locations/northridgehospital/services/behavioral-health-services-crisis-line/services-behavioral-health

Or use the SAMHSA treatment facility locator and specify the age group you are looking for: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/locator

 

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