Step by Step Guides to Finding Treatment for Drug Use Disorders
How to Find Help

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If I want help for my teen or young adult, where do I start?

A teenage girl on a swing in the sunset

Asking for help from professionals is the first important step.

You can start by bringing your child to a doctor who can screen for signs of drug use and other related health conditions. You might want to ask in advance if the doctor is comfortable screening for drug use with standard assessment tools and making a referral to an appropriate treatment provider. If not, ask for a referral to another provider skilled in these issues.

You can also contact an addiction specialist directly. There are 3,500 board-certified physicians who specialize in addiction in the United States. The American Society of Addiction Medicine website has resources for patients and their families, including information on how to find a physician who can treat addiction. You do not need a doctor’s name; simply fill out the zip code section, and it will reveal treatment experts in your area. In addition, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Finder on its website. you and the physician can decide if your teen or young adult should be referred to treatment.

It takes a lot of courage to seek help for a child with a possible drug problem because there is a lot of hard work ahead for both of you, and it interrupts academic, personal, and possibly athletic milestones expected during the teen years. However, treatment works, and teens can recover from addiction, although it may take time and patience. Treatment enables young people to counteract addiction's powerful disruptive effects on their brain and behavior so they can regain control of their lives. You want to be sure your teen is healthy before venturing into the world with more independence, and where drugs are more easily available.

What if my teen or young adult has been in rehab before?

This means your child has already learned many of the skills needed to recover from addiction, and will only benefit from further treatment. Relapse does not mean the first treatment failed. Relapse rates with addiction are similar to rates for other chronic diseases, such as hypertension and asthma. Treatment of chronic diseases involves changing deeply imbedded behaviors, so setbacks are to be expected along the way. A return to substance use indicates that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted, or that a different treatment might be needed.