Opiate Addiction Treatment Options for Teens

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Opiates are a group of drugs including heroin, opium, codeine, morphine, Oxycodone, and more. They are abused more and more each year in the United States as they become more available, especially synthetic and pharmaceutical opiates. The increase in availability of opiates has led to increased drug use and addiction, and teens have not been exempt from this trend. Due to increased use among teens there has been research into adolescent-appropriate addiction treatment options and some programs have been developed to help teens specifically. Research has shown that these methods are some of the most effective opiate addiction treatment options for teens.

Behavioral therapy and contingency management

treatment for adolescents

Teenagers have their whole lives ahead of them. Don’t let opiate addiction interfere with your future – get treatment.

An important component in opiate addiction treatment for teens is behavioral therapy. Through individual, group, and family sessions, you can begin to identify what leads an individual teen to use opiates. Identifying the behaviors and patterns of thought that lead to use will help you turn them into more productive actions. Teen specific therapy is important as they face different issues than adults, and should therefore be treated differently.

Voucher-based contingency management is a form of behavioral therapy that is effective with teens. The way it works is that you set up a system of rewards for abstinence from drug use and other positive behaviors. It will usually consist of incentives such as coupons or gifts that are awarded for clean urine tests.

Behavioral therapy for teens may also include an outreach component to engage teens in recreational activities. Getting involved in sports, community service, and other activities can help adolescents with opiate addiction as it gives them safe sources of reinforcement and encourages positive behavior. Part of drug use is sometimes boredom and exposure to a bad environment, getting involved in other things can help.

Psychotherapy for teens is very important in opiate addiction treatment, and must focus on teen-specific issues. Talking to opiate-dependent kids about going to school, having a career, and having good relationships is an important part of treatment and recovery. Extended therapy could be important for treating teens and preventing relapse.


Teens may be prescribed to a safe alternative to opiates, such as buprenorphine or methadone. These are called substitution therapies as they act in a similar way to opiates, but last longer and do not create the intense high. They curb cravings and help mitigate withdrawal. These drugs are administered in a controlled setting and therefore take out the criminal component of drug use while greatly decreasing the potential for overdose.

Naltrexone is another drug used in opiate addiction treatment for teens. It is usually employed in treatment after the initial detox phase to help curb cravings. Overall, opiate addiction treatment for teens requires a combination of behavioral therapy and substitution therapy with medication.

Inpatient and outpatient programs

Adolescent treatment can be in an outpatient or inpatient setting. Inpatient programs require patients to live in the facility and offer daily treatment and counseling. This may be optimal at the beginning of treatment especially for teens with particularly severe opiate use. With inpatient facilities teens have a good chance of meeting and connecting with people their age who are going through the same thing, and can be further helped through mutual support. With outpatient programs you do not live in the facility and have a more flexible treatment program depending on your needs. Both of these types will usually offer both behavioral therapy and medications along with drug screening.

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