November 3rd, 2005

Adolescent alcohol and drug treatment now is available at Great River Addiction Services, a service of Great River Medical Center. Weekly individual sessions with a certified alcohol- and substance-abuse counselor may last one to three months.

“Traditionally, teens have been treated with group therapy,” said Meg Cavanaugh, Great River Addiction Services program development coordinator. “But studies show that teens who are in outpatient programs and trying to overcome addictions may absorb the negative behaviors of others in the group.”

One-on-one treatment addresses peer influence, which has a greater impact on teens than adults. Turning to alcohol or drugs may be the result of being unable to resist peers who offer addictive substances or not having the emotional maturity to cope with life’s problems. Learning coping skills also is part of the program.

“Adolescent alcohol and drug treatment is different than adult treatment, Cavanaugh said. “Teens are learning how to make decisions and think abstractly. Understanding the consequences of their actions doesn’t develop naturally until the late teens.”

The initial assessment with young clients includes family, school, peer and mental-health concerns. Even more than with adult treatment programs, the adolescent program strongly encourages families and other sober people to participate in family sessions during the treatment period.

Adolescent drug detoxification, an inpatient service, is not available. However, Addiction Services staff can help families find inpatient programs that meet their treatment and financial needs. Aftercare services are available for teens who have been in residential placement and are coming back into the community.

For more information about the adolescent treatment program, please call Great River Addiction Services at (319) 768-3725.