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What to Expect From Adolescent Outpatient Programs

Knowing what to look for in adolescent outpatient programs can feel intimidating. There are so many factors to consider, as well as how your child will respond to the treatment. Luckily, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Here at Sage Recovery, we want to make sure you can make a healthy, informed decision for your child. Before we discuss what you should expect from adolescent outpatient programs, we first need to understand why this treatment is so important.

Why Is Adolescent Substance Use Treatment Important?

Adolescent outpatient programs are specifically geared toward young people who are struggling with drug use and other mental health concerns. Adolescents need to attend their own treatment program because they have different needs and cognitive abilities than adults do. They also typically need to attend school during the day, so schedule flexibility is crucial.

Furthermore, because most adolescents do not know how to recognize they have a problem, it may be difficult for them to understand why they would need treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, “Given that adolescents with substance use problems often feel they do not need help, engaging young patients in treatment often requires special skills and patience.” The professionals in adolescent outpatient programs intentionally put these skills and patience into practice.

What to Look For in Adolescent Outpatient Programs

The most important aspect to look for in any treatment program is that the clinicians are licensed. This ensures that the treatment will be legal, in the best interest of the patient, and safe. Next, you want to make sure that the clinicians specialize in adolescent addiction or mental health. The type of specialization will vary based on your child’s individual needs; however, the clinicians should be specifically trained to help adolescents.

Another important factor of any treatment program is the reality that there is no one cure for addiction. What helps one person may not be as effective for someone else. Each treatment should be customized to the patient’s individual needs. Additionally, their medical history, past trauma, as well as their emotional and mental health needs to be taken into account. NIDA confirms that to successfully treat adolescents, “It requires taking into account the needs of the whole person—including his or her developmental stage and cognitive abilities and the influence of family, friends, and others in the person’s life, as well as any additional mental or physical health conditions.”

The amount of customization will depend on the clinician’s expertise, available resources, and the patient’s needs. There will be some evidence-based practices that are commonly used across the board. However, the clinician may also use additional techniques that will complement the treatment which will, hopefully, make it more effective.

Additionally, it is important to look for clinicians that are trained in treating co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders, or the presence of more than one disorder, are almost always intertwined with substance use. Since addiction is typically the symptom of something deeper, like a mental disorder, it is important to get to the root of the substance use before it can ever be treated.

Substance use commonly develops out of a desire to numb mental or emotional turmoil. This is often associated with diagnoses like:

NIDA reiterates, “Such issues should be addressed at the same time as the substance use treatment. When treating adolescents, clinicians must also be ready and able to manage complications related to their young patients’ confidentiality and their dependence on family members who may or may not be supportive of recovery.”

Common Treatments Used for Adolescents

The good news is that, even though it may feel complicated, treatment is available for adolescents who are struggling. There are many treatment centers, like Sage Recovery, that understand the complexities and importance of making sure adolescents get the help they need. This is done by using evidence-based therapeutic techniques, such as psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy, also commonly referred to as talk therapy, is the most used technique in treatment centers. Which type of psychotherapy used will vary based on the patient’s needs and the clinician’s expertise. The most commonly used forms of psychotherapy are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). These techniques focus on changing destructive thoughts and behaviors into healthy, positive ones. It also allows the patient to discuss their emotions and feelings in a safe place, where they know they will be heard and seen. As a result, clinicians are often able to help equip patients with coping skills so they can make healthier choices in the future.

In addition to psychotherapy, the following techniques are commonly used in adolescent programs:

Summarizing the Benefits of Adolescent Outpatient Programs

An adolescent outpatient program, like the one at Sage Recovery, can be beneficial to any young person struggling with substance use or mental health. Not only will they be receiving the support and guidance they need to be healthy, but they’ll also be interacting with peers who are going through similar struggles. As a result, they may be able to form deep bonds over their victories and triumphs, learning from each other as they grow. It may also help them feel understood and truly seen, which may not be something that comes easily with their other friends.

Additionally, in this program, adolescents may also gain deep, intimate knowledge of themselves. They’ll learn about their triggers, habits, unhealthy patterns, and much more. This self-knowledge is irreplaceable as they proceed into adulthood and deal with future relationships, job performance, and overall health.

Knowing that your child is getting quality, safe care is important. That’s why at Sage Recovery, we make sure our masters-level clinicians are experts in helping their patients heal healthily. Additionally, each staff member is extensively trained in providing trauma-informed care, so you can rest easy knowing that your child will be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Our adolescent outpatient programs can be attended in person or virtually, as to not disturb your child’s school schedule. We also offer family counseling, as we know what a positive impact it can have on your family’s healing journey. No matter what you or your child are going through, we’re here to help. Reach out to us at (512) 306-1394.