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Treatment Strategies for Teenage Substance Abuse



According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 62% of teenagers in the 12th grade have abused alcohol, and 50% of teenagers have misused a drug at least once. Those statistics are astounding, to say the least.


What’s more, researchers in psychiatry at the University of South Carolina have found that about 5% of those teens will develop a substance use problem. Moreover, more than 90% of adults with a substance use disorder (SUD) began using in their adolescence.


That makes it even more important to understand the challenges of treating teenagers with SUDs. Let’s look at the strategies for treating teenage substance abuse to see what works best.


Multidimensional Family Therapy


This is a holistic approach that treats the individual, their family, and the environmental factors that might have contributed to the substance use problem in the first place. It has been found to improve not only substance use disorder behaviors but also help with other delinquent behaviors in general.


This type of treatment shows that engaging the family, a well-established first-line treatment intervention continues to be a successful component of treating teenage substance abuse.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy used widely by psychologists and psychiatrists for treating numerous problems. It teaches the individual how to modify thoughts and behaviors that are problematic.


Modifying such thoughts and behaviors helps to improve your mood, and particularly in the case of teenage users, that is a desirable outcome. The research done through the University of South Carolina shows that a personalized delivery of this type of treatment works best for teenagers, and that type of intervention remains very effective.


Effective Adjunctive Interventions


In addition to CBT and family-based therapy, the researchers have found that certain helpful adjunctive interventions can improve the efficacy of other treatment strategies for teenage substance abuse.


These include things like medications for helping with mood disorders, but it also includes other strategies. Some effective adjunctive strategies include yoga and other exercise routines, mindfulness practices like meditation, and recovery-specific educational settings. In the latter, teens can interact with peer groups, and these have reported very successful outcomes.


Digital Improvements to Treatment Strategies


One thing that the researchers noted could help improve treatment for teenage substance abusers was the use of digital technology. They noted that half of the teens reported they are online “almost constantly,” which indicates that digital interventions would be widely accessible to recovering youth.


Moreover, with features like automated feedback, tailored messages, and constant access, digital interventions have the potential to greatly improve outcomes in teenage substance abuse strategies. Specifically, they can help reduce stigma, increase discourse among teens, and have a more wide-reaching effect.


Sober Sidekick – A Digital Platform with a Heart


Sober Sidekick is the perfect digital platform for helping teenagers deal with issues related to recovery and abstinence. It’s a supportive peer community of recovering addicts who know just what it feels like to be full of anxiety and how that can make you want to self-medicate.


The platform offers instant access to motivational messages, 24/7 virtual AA meetings, accountability partners, and supportive community members who won’t judge you and want to help. There’s no stigma here, just a recognition of shared humanity. It’s a community that stands ready to help anyone with a substance use problem. Give it a try today!


Image: Freepik

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