Teen Drug Abuse - Treatment

What kinds of treatment, therapy, and medication did you receive for your drug addiction?

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What are treatments for drug addiction?

There are few medications that are considered effective in treating drug addiction. Those are currently limited to the treatment of alcoholism, as well as opioid, and nicotine addiction. Please read the Alcohol and Teens article for information about the medications that manage alcohol addiction. Effective medication treatment for other addictions is primarily limited to address addiction to opiates and nicotine. Methadone, levo-alpha acetyl methadol (LAAM), and buprenorphine hydrochloride are non-sedating, non-intoxicating opiates that treat opiate addiction by preventing symptoms of withdrawal from heroin and other opiates. Naltrexone blocks the effects of opiates and is therefore useful in both treatment of overdose of opiates and in longer-term treatment. Nicotine addiction is often medically addressed by medications that replace nicotine in the form of patches, gum, or nasal spray. Buproprion, which was originally found to be an effective antidepressant, has been found to decrease patients' cravings for nicotine.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends that treatment of substance abuse: be readily available when the addicted person is ready to enroll; be tailored to the complex, multiple and changing needs (for example medical, mental health, social, legal, and family) of each individual; and consider the use of medication treatment when appropriate and include random drug testing. There are numerous individual treatments for chemical dependency in teens. Relapse prevention uses methods for recognizing and amending problem behaviors, as well as providing support to the adolescent in his or her community. Individualized drug counseling specifically emphasizes short-term behavioral goals in an attempt to help the individual reduce or stop the use of drugs altogether, as well as maintaining their safety. Some such programs include drug testing. Twelve-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous are individualized drug-counseling methods. Motivational enhancement therapy encourages the teen to increase their desire to participate in therapy. Stimulus control refers to a treatment method that teaches the person to stay away from situations that are associated with substance abuse and to replace those situations with activities that are contrary to using drugs. Urge control is an approach to changing patterns that lead to drug use. Social control involves family members and other significant others of the addict in treatment.

Family interventions for drug addiction that tend to be effective for teens include multidimensional family therapy (MDFT), group therapy, and multifamily educational intervention (MFE). MDFT has been found to be quite effective. Longer-term residential treatment of three to five months that addresses peer relationships, educational problems, and family issues is often used in treating substance abuse in teens.

For youths in the first stage of drug use, where they have not yet used drugs, preventative measures are used. Therefore, limiting access to drugs, addressing any risk factors of the youth or family, as well as optimal parental supervision and expression regarding expectations is often recommended. The approach to those who have experimented with drugs is not minimized by drug treatment counselors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental-health professionals, since infrequent use can progress to the more serious stages of use if not addressed. Therefore, professionals recommend that the youth be thoroughly educated about the effects and risks of drugs, receive fair but firm limits on the use of substances, and that the user be referred for brief counseling, a self-help group, and/or family support group. Teens that have progressed to the more advanced stages of drug addiction are typically treated intensively, often including inpatient drug treatment (drug rehab) and involves a combination of the medication, individual, and familial interventions already described above.

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