The goals of adolescent treatment are the same as treatment for the general, adult population—detox, therapy and education that stop the addictive behavior and help the client grow up. Because of the client’s ages, however, the approach is different. Generally, teenagers are grouped by age; the most common groupings are 13-17 and 18-mid-20s. Some adolescent treatment centers require special evaluation for boys who are 13 or 14 to assess their ability to benefit from the program.
Although outpatient adolescent treatment is available, there is general agreement that a residential stay of at least 30 days is preferable for many teens and some programs run nine months or even longer. The theory is that adolescent drug abuse is often at least in part a response to family dynamics. By removing the teenager from the family, both the family and the adolescent have an opportunity to heal. Most centers also provide help for the family in the form of meetings and, sometimes, group therapy sessions. Structured visits by family members are usually considered an important part of the healing process.
Given the length of stay, the center also has to continue the academic education of the client as well as help them deal with their addiction. Most have arrangements with their state’s department of education to assure the teenager will receive proper credit.
Many adolescent treatment centers include vigorous outdoor activities, including wilderness camping, working with horses and other livestock, etc., as a way to help the teen learn self-reliance and mutual support, as well as personal growth through adventure. There are, however, programs based in urban areas.
The 12 Step model is used by many treatment centers and these centers may include trips to outside 12 Step meetings.
Some adolescent treatment centers deal with addiction only, while others will work with dual diagnosed teens and teens with health problems.