Why it’s Best to Treat an Early Addiction in Teens

It’s not easy to find residential treatment programs that are specifically designed for youth. Adolescents require a different type of care than adults do, as they are in a completely different stage of life. They have had different experiences, they have unique responsibilities and they have a brain that is not yet fully developed. For these reasons, it’s beneficial for addicted teens to be entered into a youth residential treatment program as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, many teens are overlooked when it comes to drug and alcohol use. Parents and caregivers often fail to realize the extent of the problem. Perhaps they are in denial and don’t want to face what could be a real issue. Or maybe they feel that some experimentation is normal and that their child is just like every other teen. It’s also common for parents to be so wrapped up in their own lives that they fail to notice what has been going on.

If a teen continues to use drugs and alcohol into adulthood, the problem becomes greater. The addiction has time to worsen, the consequences turn more severe and the side effects are heightened. The addiction then becomes more difficult to treat.

If you suspect a dependency in your teen, it’s important to get them to help today – not tomorrow. Let’s explore some of the reasons why treatment is sometimes most effective for teens.

  • They haven’t been addicted as long. Addiction is just like any other disease; the shorter time it has been going on, the easier it is to treat. By letting the addiction carry on, it becomes more severe. A teen may move onto harder drugs or start using more of the drug. It’s always easier to treat the addiction when it’s in its early stages.
  • They have fewer responsibilities. Adults tend to have more responsibilities: a job, a family, a mortgage to pay, parents to care for, etc. Teens are just beginning to have responsibility. Therefore, treating addiction at this age is easier because the teen has time to focus on their recovery without being overwhelmed by responsibility.
  • They tend to have stronger support networks. In many cases, teen addicts have families that care about them. If the addiction continues, more relationships are destroyed, and the addict tends to lose friends and family. Treating an addiction while the support unit is intact is highly constructive for recovering addicts.
  • They have time to figure out their life. Teens have time to get their lives under control. They can enter treatment, learn about themselves and understand how to cope with stress and anxiety. By the time they are ready to graduate from high school, start a career or enter a serious relationship, the addiction can be put behind them.
  • They are still dependents. As long as a person is under 18, they are considered dependent. This means that whoever is legally responsible for them must provide them with a safe home and an education. For teens struggling with addiction, they can seek treatment and then return home where they will be cared for. Adults, on the other hand, aren’t so lucky. It’s that much harder to recover from addiction when you return from treatment with nowhere to go.
  • Their bodies are stronger and healthier. Teens are young and tend to have a lot of energy, plus they recover faster than some adults. Also, since they haven’t been bogged down by years of addiction, their bodies are healthier than an addict who has been using for years. This means that they are more likely to go through detox with fewer withdrawal effects and have the stamina to complete treatment.
  • They are more open to change. Adults become set in their ways while teens are more receptive to change. This is particularly true for adult addicts; they often refuse treatment because they can’t see any other way to live. Teens often get misguided, but they can easily get their lives back on track, providing they have the desire to change.
  • Their addiction has affected fewer people. Addiction never affects just the addict. It affects everyone the addict comes into contact with. The family is enough, but if an addict continues using, their addiction will eventually impact other people. They may enter destructive relationships or have a child out of wedlock. They may not practice safe sex and end up spreading STDs. They may drive while drunk and end up hurting or killing someone. They may encourage younger siblings to use. Bottom line: Get your teen help before their addiction hurts others.

Addiction is serious at any age, but there are clear advantages to getting a loved one help when they are young. It’s emotionally difficult to admit that there is a problem, but the chances for success are much greater when you admit there is a problem and get your teen the help they need. Know the signs of addiction so that you can determine if it is just normal experimentation or something greater. And, if addiction runs in your family, keep in mind that your children are more at risk.

The River Source is pleased to offer a residential treatment program for adolescent males, ages 13-17. We can help get your teen clean and sober with our detox program and provide them with a safe, supportive environment to pursue their recovery. Contact us at 866-294-9331 to learn more.


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