Treating Substance Abuse in Teens
Series Examines the Challenges of Getting Effective Help
Listen to Part 1 | Part 2
March 2003 -- Drug and alcohol abuse is a significant problem among American teens. Research suggests more than 1.1 million teens needed treatment for a drug abuse problem in 2001, but only one in 10 received help. Often, factors such as problems at school, learning disabilities, troubled relationships at home and mental health issues also need to be addressed as part of effective treatment.
But many families with teenagers who abuse drugs or alcohol say they feel lost and abandoned themselves when they try to find help for their children. Experts in the field acknowledge that effective addiction-treatment programs for teens are difficult to find, hard to get into, and even harder to pay for.
In a special two-part series, NPR examines the challenges and pitfalls teens and their families face on the road to recovery from drug abuse.
Part 1 -- Families in Trouble
March 11, 2003 -- NPR's Vicky Que introduces us to Heather Doe, a mother who has been struggling to get her daughter Nicole off of drugs for the last three years. (All names have been changed.) The quest to find effective treatment for Nicole has left Heather emotionally drained and financially in debt.
Listen to Part 1.
Part 2 -- Tailoring Treatment to Teens
March 12, 2003 -- NPR's Joseph Shapiro reports on Multidimensional Family Therapy, an innovative Miami treatment program aimed at keeping kids off drugs and in school. The highly individualized program involves intensive interaction with a therapist, who also works with the courts and schools to keep teens on track. Shapiro follows one 16-year-old boy and the counselor who is helping him get his life back together.
Listen to Part 2.
Oct. 31, 2002: Listen to a Talk of the Nation discussion on drug prevention strategies for parents.
Drug Strategies, a non-profit policy research center, has identified nine key elements for effective drug abuse treatment in teens. The organization's Web site allows users to research 144 adolescent drug-treatment programs across the United States that meet these requirements.
The National Drug and Treatment Referral Routing Service can help locate nearby treatment centers. The toll-free telephone number is 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests teen drug use declined in 2002.
NIDA offers numerous fact sheets on drug abuse and treatment, including information on on youth drug use trends.
Research from NIDA suggests family-based treatment can reduce adolescent drug abuse.
Research articles on teen drug-abuse trends in America are available from Monitoring the Youth, the University of Michigan's ongoing study of youth behavior, attitudes and values.
The National Clearinghouse for Drug and Alcohol Information
Preventing Drug Abuse Among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide