If you suspect that your child, or another young person you know, is abusing drugs or alcohol, it can be a very scary time.  At YouthZone, we help kids through a lot of issues, including substance use.  While some teens “experiment” with substances and have little or no issues – for some teens, early use and abuse of substances can have a devastating impact on their immediate lives and future.  And, since teenage brains are still developing, substance use can have long-term cognitive and behavioral effects.

While every person is different in terms of how continuous use of substances may affect them, there are some common signs that parents, teachers, and friends may notice in a young person that might be abusing drugs or alcohol.  These signs include:

  • A drop in grades or school attendance
  • Loss of interest in activities or their usual friends
  • A decline in hygiene or diminished personal appearance
  • Avoiding eye contact

Kids who may be abusing substances come to YouthZone in a variety of ways. Some may have received a Minor in Possession offense and have been sent to YouthZone through the court system.  Other young people may be referred by a school counselor or teacher, a family friend, or a parent.  And, sometimes, teens recognize themselves that they need help and make the bold move to seek assistance.

Once a young person comes to YouthZone, they undergo an extensive assessment process.  It’s during this process that their individual needs are determined and what the treatment goals will be.  At YouthZone, we offer both group and individual therapy for kids struggling with substance use.

The majority of young people attend group therapy, which offers an opportunity for them to process the situation and learn valuable coping skills.  It is often helpful for kids to gain these skills in a group environment, with peers they can relate to.  For some young people, a combination of group and individual therapy is necessary – especially when it’s determined that the substance use began as a way to deal with trauma, depression, or mental illness.

While some kids attend therapy for 8 to 12 weeks, while others find it beneficial to stay in the program for a longer period of time. Often, they may re-enter the program when experiencing a setback or at a point when they simply need more support.   This is why it’s integral that the group therapy setting is a comfortable environment where they don’t feel like a failure by re-entering the group at any time.

YouthZone is fortunate to have professionals like Cam Daniel, a Level II Certified Addiction Counselor, and Cortney Dunn and Kerri Cheney, licensed therapists, who are trained to help kids understand and overcome their substance use issues.  If you know of someone who could use YouthZone’s help, reach out to us today at 970.945.9300.