Does My Teen Need Rehab

Drug rehab – known these days as treatment for substance use disorders...

James Ekbatani
April 2, 2024

Part One: Getting Started – Know the Levels of Care

Drug rehab – known these days as treatment for substance use disorders – comes in many shapes and forms.

If you’re worried your teen has a problem with drugs and needs treatment, don’t panic. Your first step should be to seek the help of a qualified mental health professional. It is important to understand that licensed and certified mental health professionals are the only people qualified to diagnose your teen with a substance use disorder. As a parent, you might know it in your bones, but you still need a second opinion. Preferably from someone trained to identify and work with adolescents who need treatment.

After consulting with a psychiatrist or therapist, the next thing to understand is that there are several options available. These options are known as different levels of care. Generally speaking, there are three levels of care in the world of drug rehab. That’s not including detoxification, which is a category of treatment by itself. Detox is often a precursor to treatment, but detox is not treatment.

Now, with that said, we’ll move on to the levels of care you’re likely to find when you begin looking for treatment for your teen.

Levels of Care

Outpatient Treatment
The first level of care is Outpatient Treatment. At this level, teens typically see a qualified professional therapist in an office twice a week and participate in Group sessions; 12-step community support programs such as Narcotics Anonymous .Teens at this level of care live at home, go to school, and carry on with most of their regular daily activities.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment
The next level of care is Intensive Outpatient Treatment. At this level, teens typically receive a half day – around three hours – of treatment per day, 3 times a week, but continue to live at home and go to school as usual. Teens at the intensive outpatient level need more support than weekly office visits and 12-step meetings. Teens in intensive outpatient programs have typically tried outpatient programs without success, or are transitioning down from a more intensive level of care.

Partial Hospitalization Treatment
The next level of treatment is Partial Hospitalization. At this level, teens continue to live at home, but receive a full day – typically six to eight hours – of treatment 5 days a week. Teens in partial hospitalization programs need more structure than the half-day offered by intensive outpatient programs, but don’t require the 24/7 supervision offered at a more intensive level of care.

Residential Treatment
The next – and for all practical purposes, the highest – level of care is Residential Treatment. At the residential level, teens live on-site at a rehab center. They receive support and supervision twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. With some exceptions, this is not an entry level of care. Most teens in residential treatment have been unsuccessful at the lower levels of care. For them, outpatient, intensive outpatient, and partial hospitalization were not enough. These teens need  full immersion in the treatment experience. Residential treatment is for teens whose lives have become unmanageable whose behavior has spiraled out-of-control due to their substance use.
Resource: EVOLVE Treatment