Updated on 10/26/23

Content Reviewed by Cameron Bolish, M.Ed., CEO of PaRC

Watching your child suffer through addiction or substance use can surface a range of emotions. You may feel frustrated, sad or overwhelmed as they struggle with their mental health. While you understand it is essential that your teen gets the treatment they need, you may not know what treatment your teen needs to heal.

There are many factors to consider when considering your teen’s needs. For one, you may want to think that you can solve their behavior because you are their parent. In this case, it is important to remember that some issues require professional intervention in order to produce results. If you’ve already made the decision to find a treatment program, it is important to evaluate the benefits of each facility you consider to find the best fit for your teen.

Inpatient (Residential) vs. Outpatient Addiction Treatment 

There are two main types of treatment programs: inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient treatment, also known as rehab or residential treatment, allows your teen to live at the facility for a certain period of time. Short-term programs are typically 3-6 weeks, while long-term programs can vary from months to a year.

3 Benefits of Residential Addiction Treatment

Inpatient treatment programs offer 24/7 support and intensive care for clients, including mental health professionals who offer guidance to clients looking to adopt drug-free or alcohol-free lifestyles outside of treatment. Residential treatment services also offer various treatment therapy modalities, which help to individualize client care.

#1 Starting with detox. Inpatient treatment begins with detox (if necessary) and helps your teen to begin their healing process safely and prepare themselves for the mental and emotional work ahead.

#2 Around-the-clock care. The 24-hour care helps your teen feel less alone in their healing journey. Medical attention and safe housing are always available, which greatly benefit teens suffering severely from multiple co-occurring mental health conditions.

#3 A full schedule of treatment. Inpatient treatment is highly structured, addressing all aspects of substance use and addiction. It will not only help your teen to achieve sobriety but also work to address the social and psychological factors that play into their mental health distress.

3 Benefits of Outpatient Addiction Treatment

On the other hand, outpatient treatment involves going to treatment on a daily or weekly basis. Individuals who go through outpatient treatment programs can return to their home and lifestyle after therapy sessions, which can be especially important for those who need to stay on track in school or at work.

#1 Less expensive. The treatment cost is much lower than inpatient (residential) treatment centers.

#2 Less disruption to daily life. Your teen can continue work or school while receiving necessary treatment.

#3. Flexibility in scheduling. Appointments can be made during the evenings or weekends to work with your teen’s schedule.

Evaluating Your Teen’s Needs

When evaluating your teen’s needs, it is important to consider their level of functioning and intensity of substance use. For example, if your teen struggles with withdrawal, triggers and cravings, they may benefit from 24-hour care at an inpatient facility. If your teen is struggling with substance use and another mental health condition, they will also receive greater individualized care from an inpatient facility.

A good place to start would be receiving a clinical evaluation for your teen from a mental health professional. Evaluations will be able to assess your teen’s intensity of substance use, specifically acknowledging considerations for detox. Some teens need residential treatment and detox merely because of their drug of choice. Your mental health professional will be able to give you options for treatment based on what is uncovered in the evaluation.

How to Talk with Your Teen About Treatment

If your teen is in denial of their destructive behavior or substance use, sending them off to treatment may seem like a cruel choice for you as a parent. To avoid feelings of guilt, shame or blame, it is important that you sit down and talk with your teen about your questions and concerns.

If your teen has kept their substance use behavior a secret, you may consider trying to find a way to get through to them without being confrontational. If it is clear that their drug or alcohol use has become a problem, you may consider taking an authoritative stance as a parent to admit your concerns. Try to verbalize your concerns objectively, explaining things such as how drug use can affect the brain or cause long-term alterations in mood and behavior.

Potential Signs Your Teen Needs Help

You can also identify unhealthy signs and symptoms that your teen is exhibiting as means for why they could benefit from treatment. If your teen is exhibiting any of the following signs, they will benefit from professional treatment:

  • Depression
  • Running away
  • Isolation
  • Destructive behavior toward people or things
  • Self-harm or suicidal ideation
  • Inappropriate frustration
  • Rollercoaster mood or behavior
  • Issues with sleep or eating
  • Sexually acting out
  • Significant concerns in academic performance

By bringing light to your concerns, your teen may begin to understand their own need for professional treatment.

If your teen is exhibiting concerning signs and symptoms of substance use, you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of finding a best-fit treatment program for them. Inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities both pose numerous benefits. If your teen needs detox, exhibits intense symptoms of mental health distress or has co-occurring mental health conditions, residential treatment may be the best option for them to achieve long-lasting sobriety. PaRC (Prevention and Recovery Center) is an intensive treatment facility that offers residential programming for teens. If you or your loved one has been adversely affected by substance abuse, look to PaRC for the treatment of alcohol and drug problems. We believe that our patients are deserving of a life filled with hope, health, healing and life-long recovery. For more information, call us at (713) 939-7272