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Teen Rehab: When Is It Needed?


teenage boy in rehab

Adolescence is filled with new experiences, shifting hormones, physical development, challenging lessons, and a newfound need for autonomy. It is among the most difficult periods in one’s life as it is denoted by fast-paced evolution and physiological growth. Adolescence is a time when a young person learns about his or her true self through experimentation, pushing boundaries, and by being faced with enduring unavoidable experiences. Due to the highly volatile and emotional nature of teenagers, it can be difficult to distinguish between typical teenage behavior and an indication that something may be awry. To further complicate things, every young person is unique and each will encounter distinctly challenging situations during adolescence, test a different combination of boundaries, and experiment with different stimuli (e.g. drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.). The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) reported findings from a survey that found 58.8% of teenagers had consumed alcohol by their senior year in high school, and 47% had used illicit drugs. Some teenagers that experiment with drugs and/ or alcohol will go on to develop unhealthy habits and patterns surrounding substance use that may require treatment, and others may not. 

Warning Signs

Teenagers have the propensity to exhibit any combination of warning signs, and could present with varying levels of severity of symptoms. Below are general examples of commonly reported warning signs that could indicate a teenager may be in need of professional mental health support, and/ or it may behoove them to participate in a formal treatment program, as provided by Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation:

  • Behavioral signs of substance abuse:
    • Stealing
    • Avoiding eye contact
    • Frequently asking for money
    • Acting irresponsibly 
    • Breaking curfew
    • Isolating from others
    • Resisting discipline and/ or feedback
    • Lying
    • Abandoning long-time friends
    • Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Physical signs of substance abuse:
    • Lack of hygiene practices
    • Glazed or bloodshot eyes
    • Paranoia
    • Frequent nosebleeds and/ or runny nose
    • Irritability
    • Changes in mood and/ or attitude
    • Anxiety 
    • Headaches
    • Shaking hands and/ or cold, sweaty palms
    • Lacking concentration 
    • Rapid weight fluctuation
    • Extremely hyperactive or exhaustion
    • Puffy swollen face 

Each teen will have a nuanced way of processing, integrating, and/ or internalizing the experiences that arise during adolescence. Though they once served as useful tools, without intentionally cultivating updated methods many teenagers default to ineffective, outdated coping strategies that no longer effectively serve them. Young people that turn to drugs and/ or alcohol as a means to cope with the trials and tribulations of adolescence reinforce a useless coping strategy and simultaneously increase their risk for developing substance use disorder. Attending rehab for those teenagers in need can help to equip a teen with ample, are-appropriate mental health coping mechanisms that are likely to be useful long after his or her teenage years.  

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

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