Rehab for Young Adults and Teens

3 min read · 7 sections
What you will learn:
Statistics about teens experimenting with substances
Treatment models and therapies
American Addiction Center's programs
The pros of community and family support for your teen

Adolescents, who use substances have different treatment needs than adults, who use substances. In addition to issues involving addiction and withdrawal, these young people may need help with education, co-occurring mental health conditions, family life, and more.

Teen Drug and Alcohol Use Statistics

Some levels of experimentation and risk-taking behavior are expected at this age, as the prefrontal cortex and other regions of the brain involved in impulse control, willpower, and healthy decision-making are not fully developed.1

In 2022, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 15.1% (or 5.8 million people) aged 12-20 had consumed alcohol in the 30 days prior to being surveyed. Additionally, 14.3% (or 3.7 million people) aged 12-17 used an illicit substance in the past year.2

For young adults—those aged 18-25—numbers increase significantly:2

  • The percentage of illicit drug use was highest among this age group. In fact, 40.9% (or 14.2 million people) used an illicit substance in 2022.
  • Marijuana use was also highest among this group with 38.2% (or 13.3 million people) reporting its use. About half (50.2%) of these individuals ate or drank marijuana and half (50.0%) vaped it.
  • There were 1.5 million young adults who initiated nicotine vaping in 2022.
  • Drug use varied on the type of substance:
    • About 262,000 young adults initiated prescription pain reliever misuse in 2022.
    • Approximately 294,000 young adults initiated prescription stimulant (e.g. Adderall) misuse.
  • Young adults were also the most likely to binge drink alcohol with 29.5% (or 10.3 million people) reporting doing so within the prior 30-day period.

Young adults may have different treatment needs than adults, and many in this population may not seek treatment on their own. Secrecy about substance use and denial may be common reactions in young adult and adolescents with an addiction. Treatment may initially be sought by their parents or guardians. Age-specific and specialty programs catering to young adults may be beneficial in reducing problematic drug or alcohol use as well as enhancing addiction recovery.

Research-Based Treatment Models for Teens

Methods that have been scientifically tested and have evidence to support their use are often called research-based or evidence-based treatments. These treatment facilities combine scientific evidence and knowledge from personal experiences to create programs that work for their patients.

While many of the same treatment models that are used for adults may be used during drug rehab for a teenager or young adult, some of the specifics of the program may differ to address the unique circumstances related to age and life experiences of a teen or young adult.

Young adults with a mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), may try to self-medicate, which can lead to dependence and addiction to a substance. In these cases patients are diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder. Treatment for co-occurring disorders is integrated so that medical, mental health, and substance use treatment providers can all work together towards recovery and healing the entire patient.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Teen Drug Rehab

Behavioral therapies like Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), helps patients identify negative thoughts and behaviors which often lead to addiction. Patients attend group and individual therapy sessions in an attempt to better understand how social, personal, and environmental triggers may lead to substance use, and how negative and self-destructive behaviors and thoughts can be transformed into more positive and healthy ones.

Motivational Techniques and Methods for Teen Rehab

Motivational interviewing (MI) helps patients realize the need for change. Young people may struggle with personal identity. By helping individuals to learn to accept that their feelings are valid, and learn how to positively impact and modify them, adolescents and young adults may gain the motivation needed to stop engaging in risky and self-harming behaviors.

Community, Family, and Peer Support for Teens and Young Adults

There are many moments in a young adult’s life that are stressful, such as starting at a new school, entering college, moving out of the family home for the first time, and starting a job, which could lead to substance misuse.5 In addition, childhood trauma may increase the risks that a teen or young adult will misuse drugs or alcohol, possibly as a form of escape.6

After rehab, it is important that patients are surrounded by support. Supportive environments can positively impact recovery for teenagers and young adults.7 Teens and young adults with the support of caregivers, such as parents or legal guardians, who are involved in recovery, are more likely to live a life of sobriety, than those who don’t have support.8

Family therapy sessions and family-based approaches encourage positive changes in a family’s dynamic in order to support recovery for a teen or young adult.9

Mutual-Help and Support for Teens and Young Adults

Substance misuse and addiction impact entire families, and family-based approaches may improve overall quality of life and enhance recovery. Peer support, or 12-Step recovery programs, may also be beneficial during rehab and recovery. These groups can provide a sympathetic and supportive peer network that is dedicated to abstinence and preventing relapse.

With the support of family, peers, and healthcare professionals, tailored treatment plans for adolescent individuals, and continued support after rehab, patients can achieve a life of sobriety.

Rehab for Young Adults at Laguna Treatment Center

Our American Addiction Centers’ (AAC) location in Southern California offers treatment options for young adults. The specialized young adult treatment track at Laguna Treatment Center offers specialized and tailored addiction care for individuals, aged 18-26, who struggle with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders.

The program is designed to support holistic recovery by providing a variety of therapies and services to address the physical, mental, and emotional needs of young people.

The specialized treatment track at Laguna Treatment Center utilizes evidence-based therapies, including trauma-informed cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and motivational interviewing—all of which focus on providing young adults with the tools they need to identify triggers, manage stressors, prevent relapse, and sustain recovery.

Laguna Treatment Center takes a holistic approach to young adult addiction treatment. So, in addition to the evidence-based therapies, other activities and groups in the program include yoga and mindfulness, expressive therapy, nutrition education, and health and fitness.

Treatment within the young adult track looks different for everyone since treatment is personalized to meet the individual’s specific needs but includes:

  • Individual therapy. One-on-one counseling helps individuals get to the root of their substance use, addresses mental health issues, identify needs, and set goals.
  • Group therapy. Group therapy sessions give young adults an opportunity to connect with and relate to their peers, learn from one another, and realize that they are not alone in their struggles.
  • Family therapy. Addiction affects more than the individual with the disease. It impacts the entire family. Family therapy helps improve communication and understanding.
  • Addiction education. Addiction education helps young adults understand the disease of addiction, its causes, and how treatment can help.
  • Life skills training. Young adults learn skills to help them sustain recovery and live healthy, substance-free lives.
  • Aftercare. After the formal treatment ends, aftercare provides young adults with a plan to support their recovery. This may include ongoing counseling, participation in mutual-help groups, alumni networks, and more.

If you or a loved one struggle with drug or alcohol addiction, call us at . One of our compassionate and knowledgeable admissions navigators will listen to your story, answer your questions, explain your options, and help you take steps begin your recovery.


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