Teen Alcohol Rehab

Teens who have become alcohol dependent, or addicted to alcohol, may need a teen alcohol rehab to help them in the alcohol recovery process. This article offers teen alcohol rehab statistics, information on types of rehab, and benefits of teen vs. adult rehabilitation centers.

Teens who have an alcohol addiction usually benefit from going through some type of rehab program to help them overcome their addiction. There are several types of teen alcohol rehab programs to help teens with alcohol problems.

Teen alcohol rehab programs are designed to help people overcome an addiction to alcohol. For teens with an alcohol problem, getting into a teen alcohol rehab can be especially important because they are at a stage in life where alcohol use can have serious negative impacts on their social, mental, and physical health.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, teen alcohol abuse statistics show:

  • Teens make up about 10% of people admitted for alcohol abuse treatment
  • 21% of teens who receive treatment for substance abuse are treated for alcohol use, and another 34% abuse alcohol along with other drugs, meaning that alcohol is a factor in over half of teen substance abuse treatment admissions
  • 80% of people admitted for alcoholism treatment began drinking as teens
  • Only 16% of teens with an alcohol dependency get treatment
  • Almost 1 million teens suffer from alcohol dependency

Teen alcohol rehab helps a teen go through the process of overcoming physical or psychological dependence on alcohol. Physical dependence on alcohol occurs when a teen's body has become used to the presence of alcohol and needs it to feel normal. Getting over physical dependence on alcohol requires detoxification, which lasts several days and requires medical supervision as the teen goes through alcohol withdrawal. Psychological dependence is when a teen thinks he or she needs alcohol to face life or to function. This kind of dependence is treated with counseling and learning better coping strategies. Teens may have both types of dependence. Underlying mental health problems that may be related to a teen’s drinking problem also need to be treated in this process.

There are several types of teen alochol rehab, depending on the teen's needs. Some of the types of teen alcohol rehab parents may encounter when looking for a program include:

  • Inpatient programs, where the teen spends all day and night in the program, or outpatient programs, where the teen goes in for sessions but does not stay at the facility all the time
  • Short-term programs that consist of only a few sessions, or longer programs, which may be several weeks or months long
  • Long-term residential programs, which can involve a year or more of inpatient therapy, and are usually reserved for teens with several co-existing problems

Parents should consult with their teen’s doctor in choosing the program that is right for their teen.

Teens may need different things from rehab programs than adults do. Teens usually do best in a rehab program with a special focus on teen problems. Teens in rehab may need consideration of several factors:

  • The impact of peer pressure on teen's decisions about alcohol
  • The importance of education for teens
  • Developmental issues in teens
  • Underlying mental health issues, which are more common in teens with alcohol problems
  • Involvement of family in the teen’s treatment
  • Cultural differences, learning disabilities, and other factors affecting a teen’s life
  • Teens and adults should be in separate programs
  • Teens should have help developing a plan for staying sober after rehab

Going through rehab to overcome physical or psychological dependence on alcohol is not the same as curing alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is considered a chronic, or incurable, disease. This means that rehab can help a teen quit using alcohol and learn healthier ways to live, but they will always have alcoholism and will need ongoing support to avoid relapsing into alcohol use.

Teen support groups can be helpful to teens who are recovering from alcohol addiction. Some cities and states have special recovery or sobriety high schools for teens after rehab. They help teens avoid falling into old patterns or dangerous friendships. These schools often include support group meetings, substance abuse counselors, urine tests for drug use, and teachers who understand the teens' situations. Many are public schools, so there is no tuition, and they often have high graduation rates.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA Health Information Network, "Alcohol Treatment and Adolescents" [online]
CNN.com, "Recovery high school a 'soft landing' for post-rehab teens" [online]
Nemours, TeensHealth, "Alcohol" [online]

Related Article: Teen Alcohol Intervention >>