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Struggles With Finding Addiction Treatment For Teens

Clinically Reviewed by: Dr. Robin Campbell, LMFT, PHD

The teenage years are a whirlwind of emotions, social pressures, and self-discovery. Unfortunately, these same factors can also make teens vulnerable to addiction. While substance abuse and addiction are problems that affect people of all ages, finding the right treatment can be especially challenging for young people. This blog post dives into the specific struggles teens face when seeking help for addiction, highlighting the need for increased access to specialized care.

The Scope of Teen Addiction

According to the NIDA he percentage of adolescents reporting they used any illicit substances in 2023 continued to hold steady below the pre-pandemic levels reported in 2020, with 10.9% of eighth graders, 19.8% of 10th graders, and 31.2% of 12th graders reporting any illicit drug use in the past year, according to the latest results from the Monitoring the Future survey These numbers are concerning, but they might not paint the whole picture. Teens are often more adept at concealing their substance use compared to adults, making the true prevalence potentially even higher.

The earlier a teen receives addiction treatment, the better their chances of long-term recovery. However, navigating the healthcare system to find appropriate care can be a daunting and frustrating task.

Challenges Teens Face in Addiction Treatment

1. Lack of Teen-Specific Programs: Many addiction treatment facilities primarily cater to adults. These programs might not address the unique developmental needs and challenges faced by teenagers. Teens in adult programs may struggle to connect with peers going through similar experiences and may not receive age-appropriate therapy techniques.

2. Cost and Insurance Coverage: Addiction treatment can be expensive, often costing tens of thousands of dollars per month. Many families simply cannot afford these hefty fees. Furthermore, insurance coverage for teen addiction treatment can be limited, with some plans offering less comprehensive coverage compared to adult programs.

3. Stigma and Shame: Teens struggling with addiction often face a double whammy of stigma. There’s the general stigma surrounding addiction itself, but there’s also the added perception that teens who are addicted are somehow weaker or more flawed than adults. This can create a barrier for teens seeking help, fearing judgment and isolation.

4. Limited Access to Outpatient Care: Inpatient treatment, where teens reside in a treatment facility, can be highly effective but often comes with a hefty price tag. Outpatient treatment, where teens live at home but attend therapy and support groups, can be a more affordable option. However, access to qualified outpatient programs specially designed for teens can be scarce, especially in rural areas.

5. Navigating the System: The healthcare system can be complex and bureaucratic, and parents of teens struggling with addiction might not know where to begin. Finding qualified treatment providers, understanding insurance coverage, and navigating the intake process can be overwhelming for families already experiencing a crisis.

The Path Forward: Addressing the Needs of Teens

It’s crucial to address the unique challenges teens face when seeking addiction treatment. Here are some potential solutions:

  • Increased Funding for Teen Treatment: Increased government funding and private grants can help establish and expand specialized treatment programs for teenagers.
  • Insurance Reform: Insurance companies should be encouraged to provide more comprehensive coverage for teen addiction treatment, including both inpatient and outpatient services.
  • Raising Awareness: Educational campaigns aimed at teens, parents, and healthcare professionals can help reduce the stigma surrounding addiction and encourage early intervention.
  • Telehealth Services: Telehealth options can provide greater access to addiction treatment for teens in rural areas or those facing transportation challenges.
  • Community Support Groups: Creating and supporting teen-specific support groups can offer invaluable peer connection and a safe space for teens to share their experiences.

By working together, we can improve the availability and affordability of addiction

Help is Available, Don't Hesitate

  •  If you or someone you care about is struggling with gambling or substance abuse, don’t hesitate to seek help. Contact New Hope Healthcare Institute at 866-806-1027 to learn more about our comprehensive treatment programs and supportive resources.


See our Treatment Approach that includes a variety of different options for different situations. 

Many insurance plans cover addiction treatment. Contact your insurance provider to understand your specific coverage. There are also government-funded programs and scholarships that may offer financial assistance. 

Ask about the program’s philosophy, treatment methods used, qualifications of staff, and experience working with teenagers. Inquire about the program’s success rates, aftercare options, and family involvement policies.

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