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As noted above, treatment for adolescents with substance use disorders works best when it is provided and implemented with their particular needs and concerns in mind. In this TIP, the Revision Panel used a broad definition of treatment. Treatment is defined as those activities that might be undertaken to deal with problem(s) associated with substance involvement and with individuals manifesting a substance use disorder . Although the Panel recognizes that primary or secondary prevention of substance use is included in expanded definitions of treatment, the Panel limited the continuum of interventions to what is traditionally viewed as acute intervention, rehabilitation, and maintenance. The elements of the continuum primarily reflect the treatment philosophies of providers, with less emphasis on settings and modalities.
Regardless of which specific model is used in treating young people (e.g., 12-Step-based programs, family therapy, therapeutic communities), there are several points to remember when providing treatment for adolescents.
Adolescents must be approached differently than adults because of their unique developmental issues, differences in their values and belief systems, and unique environmental considerations (e.g., strong peer influences).
Not all adolescents who use substances are, or will become, dependent. Programs and counselors must be careful not to prematurely diagnose or label adolescents or otherwise pressure them to accept that they have a disease: This may do more harm than good in the long run.
Programs should be developed to take into account the different developmental needs based on the age of the adolescent; younger adolescents have different needs than older adolescents.
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