Alcohol treatment for teens includes both a pharmacological approach and a psychotherapy approach. Medications are used to prevent cravings associated with alcohol, to lessen or prevent withdrawal effects associated with alcohol and to induce unpleasant side effects when alcohol is consumed.
Behavioral therapy, family-based approaches and recovery support systems such as Assertive Continuing Care, Mutual Help Groups, Peer Recovery Support Services, and Recovery High schools are the mainstay of psychotherapy approaches used for alcohol treatment in teens. Behavioral therapy focuses on identifying the negative feelings, thoughts and emotions driving the teen to use alcohol and uses positive behavior approaches, coping skills and problem-solving techniques to prevent these thoughts and negative behaviors. Family therapy approaches are used to provide education to the family as a unit about addiction and focus on family stressors and negative behaviors that may be present triggers for the teen’s behavior.
Alcohol is the most commonly abuse substance among teenagers in the United States. Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,500 deaths among underage youth each year, and costs the U.S. $24 billion each year on average and although drinking under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United State with more than 90% of this alcohol consumed in the form of binge drinking. Alcohol is known to lessen inhibitions resulting in risky and even illegal behaviors among teenagers potentially leading to violence, drug abuse and incarceration.