Submitting to a voluntary drug test will probably never be in a teenager’s to-do list any day. Drug use and abuse after all, regardless of how prevalent among the adolescent population is a heavily stigmatized social problem. Kids want to belong and they will not want to be branded and cast out. Perhaps that fragile sense of social belonging may have been partly responsible for driving some of them to drug use in the first place.
So how can we effectively address teenage drug abuse? Parents and health providers have been seeking proven adolescent-specific treatment programs. Since these types of treatment services only began to be widely available in the 1990s, information about them is very limited. This research brief holds the spotlight on family and motivational enhancement therapy. Studies indicate that in combination with family therapies, METs and cognitive behavioral therapies show the most promise.
It is suggested that recovery seems more achievable if during treatment the following factors are considered:
- Discharge status
- Rapport with counselor
- Psychiatric illness
- Family involvement
- Drug-using peers and their continued influence
- Coping skills
All these factors affect a teenager’s decision-making and risk for relapse. More in-depth research is needed however in order to include existing and new developments in the treatment of teenage drug abuse. More careful background screening may be required, performed by highly experienced assessment counselors in order not to overlook important individual case peculiarities. More research is also needed in the field of teenage brain development.