Teen Substance Abuse Counseling

Teen Substance Abuse

Teen substance abuse is a serious widespread problem that causes increasing damage to humanity. Social consequences of such an abuse are becoming more and more apparent in many different countries around the world. Social factors, in any case, are closely related to this problem.

Substance abuse takes its tribute from humanity, making a significant contribution to the loss of years of potential life expectancy due to deaths from accidents and due to physical abuse; stupefying young people who lose their ability to work productively; imposing an additional burden on the health care system, which is already unable to cope with its tasks; forming prerequisites for the degradation of society.
In this article, we review the main concepts of teen substance abuse, its symptoms and possible treatment methods offered by Bridge to Awareness Counseling Center.

What is substance abuse?

It is much easier to describe the various parameters and the total use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco products than to determine the nature, extent and consequences of their abuse. Substance abuse occurs in a specific social context. The willingness of an individual to use psychoactive substances and to react in one way or another to their use is determined by many factors, such as the availability of substances, cultural traditions concerning their use, the reaction of the public, financial circumstances. However, frustration, failures when trying to achieve goals, an internal need to get away from difficult situations caused by social inequality also play a significant role.

Symptoms of teens substance abuse may include:

  • the social and economic functioning of the person using the substance is deteriorating;
  • consumption leads to serious and potentially irreversible health consequences;
  • the level of use threatens to undermine social foundations;
  • cessation of use causes pronounced physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal and other forms of health disorder;
  • the individual strives to obtain psychoactive substances and continues to take them, even knowing the harmful effects of their use. In other words, teen substance abuse presupposes the presence of certain functional disorders.

Features of teen substance abuse

In general, teen substance abuse is different than in adults. Etiological factors, patterns and context of use, as well as therapeutic approaches may be different.

  • In adults attending drug treatment clinics, the use of psychoactive substances is mainly aimed at avoiding the consequences of their unuse (i.e., the effects of withdrawal syndrome). Teenagers use psychoactive substances because they cause them something that they perceive as positive. Addiction among teens is not typical;
  • Among adolescents, the use of a variety of psychoactive substances is the rule, not the exception, and the idea of their favorite substance is somewhat atypical for them. They are less likely to use expensive substances, rarely resort to injections, are more likely to be involved in episodes of heavy use and usually suffer from the effects of acute intoxication, rather than from chronic use;
  • Treatment motivation is more characteristic of adults who, in particular, seek treatment because of severe adverse effects. Teens tend to be stubborn patients; they rarely ask for help. They usually have fewer adverse effects of abuse, and they are less likely to have a motive for change;
  • Differences in development require different approaches. Adolescents are still forming values and attitudes; moreover, they have strategies for overcoming difficulties other than those of adults. For example, the experience of coping with stress, the ability to resolve interpersonal conflicts and discuss changes are more characteristic of adults. Many adolescents experience tremendous difficulties in relationships, and personal and social skills are problems that almost always have to be addressed. Adolescent choice and decision making skills are not yet fully developed;
  • Adult substance abusers often seek help in the later stages of addiction – usually in the stage of physical and/or psychological dependence, and adolescents, as a rule – in the earlier. Therefore, the latter rarely need to be detoxified, and rehabilitation is often required because substance abuse seriously disrupts the development of many basic life skills (education, social relations, employment skills, etc.).

Therefore, the needs of teens who use psychoactive substances are different from those in adults. Moreover, they turn to services like Bridge to Awareness that offer a complex set of psychological, personal and social problems and needs, including delinquent behavior, family difficulties, and needs for education and work.

Treatment options at Bridge to Awareness counseling center

The need for treatment, its type and intensity depends on the nature of the use and the severity of disorders or social insufficiency caused by psychoactive substances. However, the medical plan should take into account the complex of personal needs and requirements for the environment of the adolescent, the existing mental illness, lack of communication and study skills, somatic pathology and problems in the family. The plan should be coordinated with the adolescent and his family.


  • Alcohol. Adolescents rarely develop alcohol dependence syndrome, which requires detoxification. However, if dependence is confirmed at the time of the survey, detoxification is carried out in the same manner as adopted for adults. Benzodiazepine derivatives are useful in this regard since they reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and the likelihood of delirium (reported by My Canadian Pharmacy). The dose and type of drug, as well as the duration of treatment, depend on the severity of the syndrome and the motivation of the adolescent. However, for the benefit of the case, one can also be guided by the results of the cancellation syndrome rating scales. Other medications that can be bought online for reducing withdrawal symptoms include phenothiazines, naltrexone, carbamazepine, and beta-blockers, but they are not as effective as benzodiazepines in eliminating the risk of delirium and seizures;
  • Opiates. When using opiates, detoxification is carried out in the same manner as in adults. Depending on the severity of the consequences of the use of opiates and the presence of a supportive environment at the place of residence, it can be carried out on an outpatient basis or in conditions of permanent residence. Methadone is the preferred drug treatment. The results of a study of adult populations suggest that other drugs, such as clonidine and naltrexone, may be useful. Symptomatic treatment of withdrawal syndrome (for example, diarrhea and central nervous system arousal) may also be helpful. The dose of methadone and the duration of its use, as in alcohol dependence, depend on the severity of dependence and the motivation of the adolescent. However, you should strive for quick detoxification: long-term methadone maintenance therapy in adolescents is undesirable;
  • Other psychoactive substances. Detoxification programs for abuse of other psychoactive substances, such as benzodiazepines and cocaine, are carried out in the same way as in adults. The task of our counseling center is to gradually reduce the dose of psychoactive substances. However, antidepressants such as desipramine and fluoxetine from My Canadian Pharmacy may help, especially in adolescents with affective disorders.

Individual counseling

The latest development in individual counseling in UA counseling center is a short-term intervention method, which can significantly reduce the use of psychoactive substances, especially alcohol. However, the main approach is a new approach based on the theory of change – interviewing, reinforcing motivation. It is becoming increasingly popular as a new useful addition to psychotherapeutic intervention. The cycle of changes consists of 5-6 stages – the intervention begins with determining the place of the individual in this cycle. The goal is to help the adolescent move from one stage to another, increasing motivation to change behaviors, including the use of psychoactive substances. This approach is especially useful in resisting clients of Bridge to Awareness (particularly adolescents). Different stages require different approaches.

Family work and family psychotherapy

Family members can benefit from psychotherapy. Family and family dynamics are important as risk factors for initiation and progression (the process of transition from experimentation to chronic use) of substance abuse. On the other hand, the majority of recovered adolescents report that the family helped them a lot in the recovery process. In particular, family members can improve the quality of adherence to the medication regimen.

Family psychotherapy in our counseling center can take the form of structural, strategic or behavioral work, should be time-limited and goal oriented, especially for those defined by the family. In this sense, the role of the family is very useful. The psychotherapist must maintain attention to the issue of substance abuse and should not be interested in “distraction maneuvers.” If family members want to discuss other issues, this can be done after the “current” goals are achieved. The role of parents should be strengthened and they should be given the opportunity to advise and make decisions regarding treatment. Family psychotherapy will also mitigate conflicts between family members and help the adolescent replace friendships that encourage abnormal behavior with other relationships that encourage socially appropriate behavior.

The last approach in family psychotherapy is multidimensional family psychotherapy. This is a strategically behavior-oriented method of psychotherapy by place of residence, when the use of psychoactive substances by a teenager is considered taking into account the matrix of influences (individual, family members, peers and community). Behavior changes are achieved in different ways, in different contexts and through various mechanisms.

The model of multidimensional family psychotherapy provides for individual and family sessions, which may be attended by other participants, that is, not only family members. The psychotherapist helps to organize treatment by offering several main topics for discussion, separately for parents (for example, a feeling of humiliation and lack of methods to influence their child), separately for teenagers (for example, a feeling of lack of communication with parents and anger at them). During the sessions, the psychotherapist uses the topics of conflict between parents and children as assessment tools and as a way to determine their actual content.

Group work (psychotherapy)

Group work (psychotherapy) in Bridge to Awareness counseling center can be oriented (or not oriented) towards substance abuse. In the latter form of psychotherapy, you can engage in the development of communication skills, relationships, and to introduce an element of enlightenment and catharsis. For example, group psychotherapy, especially its form which implies peer confrontation, is effective for adolescents, at least for a short time. However, most of the work focused on substance abuse is actually based on the 12-step model of Anonymous Alcoholics. The main goal is self-help and prevention of relapse. However, although this work model may be beneficial for adults, there are some problems with adolescents. The concept of self-help should be modified in order to take into account the development process of adolescents.

Children’s health is in your hands! All types of drug treatment (medical advisory) care for teen substance abuse are provided at Bridge to Awareness Counseling Center. We are happy to provide you with all possible assistance and support in improving the health of your children.

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Tags: alcohol, health problems, substance abuse, teens