Early and specialized intervention is crucial when it comes to helping teenagers who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Studies show that a person’s brain doesn’t stop developing until they reach their mid-twenties or early thirties. This information highlights the danger posed to children who consume drugs and indicates that poor decisions made during the teenage years are likely to affect the person for the rest of their life.
In order to minimize the damage created by drugs and alcohol, teenagers need to receive drug treatment as soon as possible. Unfortunately, drug and alcohol treatment centers tend to focus on adult patients, rather than children. This problem can lead to unhandled addictions among the younger population and increase the potential for overdose deaths among those under the age of 18.
Drug and alcohol abuse among teenagers is especially concerning when one takes into account that the brain is still developing. Flooding the brain with chemicals can permanently alter a person’s ability to handle the day to day stressor associated with living.
“When substance use disorders occur in adolescence, they affect key developmental and social transitions, and they can interfere with normal brain maturation. These potentially lifelong consequences make addressing adolescent drug use an urgent matter,” wrote the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
“Engaging people earlier in their addiction improves their chances of recovery and overall better health. Meanwhile, costs for the health care system are dramatically reduced,” explained Dr. David E. Smith.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that experts agree on the importance of teen-focused treatment, there is not much available to families seeking help for their children. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 90% of teenagers that are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol were not receiving the help they needed. This is likely due to the fact that there are very few treatment centers designed to cater to the younger population.
This problem is expected to get addressed by more treatment providers as people realize the importance of early intervention. Not only are treatment centers expected to provide more services to adolescents, but there is also likely going to be a more pronounced shift to evidenced-based treatment. In fact, most insurance companies are requiring that treatment centers practice evidenced-based therapy.