For the first time, substance use disorders will be treated like other chronic illnesses and health plans will be required to offer care for the full spectrum of substance use disorders at par with other medical disorders. As such, prevention and early intervention should be available to prevent the progressive behavioral and brain changes that often become the chronic illness of addiction. ACA extends dependent coverage under a parent’s healthcare plan until the age of 26 years, and since substance use disorders regularly develop during adolescence and emerge as serious problems in young adulthood, the system and insurers alike are working to help improve prevention, early intervention, treatment and continuing care services during this critical period.

Based upon work by Drug Strategies and by Treatment Research Institute, there are practices that have strong empirical, clinical, and expert support as being associated with reductions in substance use and co-occurring problems among adolescents with substance use disorders. There are also evidence based treatments (EBTs) to help adolescent substance abusers. Family-based (e.g., multi-dimensional family therapy, functional family therapy), psychosocial based (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy), pharmacotherapies and integrative models (CBT/MET) have all been shown by extensive research to reduce alcohol and other drug use among teenagers.

This substantial body of evidence — culled from both reviews of empirical research and the informed clinical views of experts in the field of adolescent treatment — demonstrates that providing adequate and appropriate EBPs and EBTs for substance use disorders can improve not only substance use outcomes (e.g., reduce alcohol or other drug use) but also can positively impact other life domains (e.g., interpersonal functioning). In a related manner, substance abuse treatment can lessen the rate, duration, and intensity of many health and behavioral health problems and consequently cut or at least control the growth of overall health care costs. Societal costs can also be lessened by increases in productivity (e.g., academic success) and reductions in public health threats.

Meyers, K, et al., Paving the Way to Change: Advancing Interventions for adolescents who use, abuse or are dependent upon alcohol and other drugs. 2014.

Finding The Right Addiction Help and Treatment

Depending on your child’s substance use level, there are different types of treatment that may be effective. If you’re looking for a drug or alcohol treatment program to help you child, you cannot be sure if a program is the best fit for your child unless you get to talk to the people at the program and ask questions. The most important thing you can do to help your child is ask treatment programs/providers valuable questions so you can truly understand how their approach works. Knowing what to ask – and comparing the answers from different programs – will help you determine which program your child should try. And, can help you save money (often thousands of dollars) by avoiding the mistake of sending your child to a program that wasn’t a good fit for him/her or your family.

Use your consumer education skills that you would use in any serious health care decision. Trust your judgement and your feelings about the answers you get from the people you talk to. The responses you receive should be clear and concise.

Find Questions to Ask Treatment Providers and other helpful resources to support treatment, substance use and addiction recovery.