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Diseases & Conditions

Treating Alcohol & Drug Abuse Problems in Adolescents

(Also Called 'Treating Alcohol and Drug Abuse Problems in Adolescents - Cleveland Clinic Department')

Adolescents have a lot to deal with — a fast-paced family lifestyle, school, peer pressure, conflicting emotions and often a sense of isolation. To cope, some adolescents turn to drugs or alcohol. Adolescents involved with drugs or alcohol are often having difficulty with school and are experiencing high levels of conflict and tension within the family and in other personal relationships.

Admitting that you, or someone you care about, has a substance abuse problem isn't easy. How do you know when drinking or drugs have gotten out of hand? The answer varies, but generally, if drinking or drug use interferes with family and social life, work, health, emotional stability and/or spiritual life — chemical dependency is a problem.

Chemical dependency affects adolescents from all walks of life. And tragically, it impacts the family and friends of each dependent person.

Chemical dependency is a disease that can not be helped by will power alone — it must be treated. If chemical dependency is not treated, it becomes progressively worse and can be fatal.

The Alcohol and Drug Recovery Center's (ADRC) Adolescent Treatment Program can help adolescents whose use of drugs and/or alcohol:

  • Is interfering with school or relationships with others; and/or
  • Is resulting in problems with the legal system; and/or
  • Represents a danger to oneself or others

The ADRC offers the highest quality treatment and care coordination for people who have or may be developing an alcohol and/or drug dependency problem.

How we can help

The Alcohol and Drug Recovery Center, a center of excellence at the Cleveland Clinic, provides a multi-disciplinary team approach to the evaluation and treatment of substance abuse.

Our chemical dependency team of professionals can assess the extent of the adolescent's chemical dependency problem and develop a treatment plan to meet the individual's special needs as well as the needs of the family.


The first step to successful recovery begins with a comprehensive assessment of the adolescent. The ADRC's multidisciplinary team performs a thorough medical, psychological and laboratory assessment to determine the appropriate level of care.

With appropriate assessment and treatment, the ADRC can help adolescents develop strategies to maintain chemical-free lifestyles.

Treatment alternatives

The ADRC and the Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry offers a full spectrum of treatment options, specialized according to the patient's personal needs. Parents and other family members are an integral part of the treatment process.

Group Counseling for At-Risk Teens

Many times, the ADRC At-Risk Group is recommended, which helps adolescents understand the dangers in using alcohol and/or drugs and develop healthy coping methods.

Separate weekly groups are available for male and female adolescents who are experiencing consequences from their use/abuse of alcohol or drugs. Both groups include weekly supervised urine toxicology screenings.

ADRC counselors work closely with family members and school personnel to assure effective collaboration and support.

Inpatient Residential Referral

Upon completion of the assessment, the ADRC staff may determine the patient would clearly benefit by entering a residential facility. The ADRC staff works with selected residential centers throughout the country to provide the best total care available.

About the treatment team

Our specialists are committed to providing comprehensive care in a compassionate setting.

The supervising child psychiatrist works closely with an interdisciplinary team of child and adolescent psychologists, psychiatric nurses, clinical social workers, special education teachers and occupational therapists. The team assesses patient needs and develops a specific, individualized treatment plan for each child or teen.

Subspecialty pediatricians, including neurologists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists and intensivists, are available 24 hours a day for consultation from the Cleveland Clinic's Division of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

Financial counselors are available to help with questions about insurance coverage. In addition, our social services department can provide referrals to community resources.

Because the Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is located on the main campus of the Cleveland Clinic, patients benefit from the Clinic's group practice approach to care, with more than 750 physicians in 100 specialties and subspecialties available for consultation as needed. Sophisticated laboratory and testing facilities are also available.

Affiliations and community outreach

The Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation is proud to work closely with the Positive Education Program (PEP), Metro Health Medical Center, Beech Brook, New Directions, Shaker Youth and Family Counseling and Cleveland Health Network.

Together, these institutions offer a full range of child and adolescent mental health and substance abuse services to its clients and their families.

© Copyright 1995-2009 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 6/18/2009...#4685