They’re our society’s future. And some would say this young generation is using themselves to deteriorating health in epidemic proportions.

Teen drug abuse has become a major public health concern, and according to an article by CASAColumbia, it presents clear danger to millions of our country’s teens that comes with severe and expensive long-term consequences. CASAColumbia, a leading addiction research group, found that 46% of all high school students currently use addictive substances, and 12% meet the clinical criteria for addiction. Their research results also found that 90% of Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking or using otherdrugs before age 18.

As a widely preventable and risky health concern for our public, another study also calls out systems for treatment and an understanding of this issue—ones that work.

Evidence-based approach

The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that evidence-based approaches to treating adolescent drug abuse, such as behavioral and family interventions, and medications, have shown lasting effectiveness.

In understanding the nature of substance addiction, no matter what age or background, we must first acknowledge that it affects the brain as a chronic disease. According to their study, the institute mentioned that the adolescent brain is “often likened to a car with a fully functioning gas pedal (the reward system) but weak brakes (the prefrontal cortex).” Once reward paths in the brain have been conditioned to a reward or substances, the proverbial pedal is put to the metal.

Treatment that works

Under the umbrella of addiction treatment for teens, programs that show long-term effectiveness for sobriety include comprehensive plans for adolescents that treat the whole of the person, not just their addictions. Personality, background, trauma, drug use, history and other coinciding medical conditions are taken into account when providing tailored treatment.

Through behavioral approaches, according to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, therapists may provide incentives to modify attitudes and behaviors related to drug abuse. They can also assist families in improving their communication and interactions with their loved one, and increase life skills to handle stressful circumstances and deal with cues that trigger temptations. All of which can be done in group therapy sessions, 12-step programs, medical detox, residential treatment and care programs after formal rehab has taken place.

Because a great deal of teen drug abuse is connected to family life or conflict, a family-based approach is taken to work through communication issues and other factors. According to the study, research shows family-based treatments perform better than other individual and group treatment approaches.

Know a teen abusing substances or someone who does? Our treatment programs are geared specifically toward helping drug and alcohol addictions with evidence-based approaches.

Find out more about teen drug abuse and contact us today.


“Adolescent Substance Abuse: America[…]c Health Problem.” Addiction Research Reports. Casa Columbia. June 2011. Web. 08 Jan 2016.

“Principles of Adolescent Substance Us[…]arch-Based Guide.” National Institute On Drug Abuse. 2014. Web. 08 Jan 2016.

Image courtesy of Lis Roe, under Creative Commons License.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.