Every teenager experiences ups and down in the course of growing up.

However, when self-medicating becomes a coping mechanism for mental health problems, it can only deepen episodes of depression and may even drive teens to thoughts of suicide. That’s why it’s important to recognize that teen addiction is more than just having a problem with drugs or alcohol. It is often a symptom of deeper issues, and it may be time to consider cognitive behavioral therapy as a means of helping your teen recover.

Why Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Through the recovery process, it is common to use more than one type of treatment or therapy to help a teen work through any co-occurring issues that might have prompted their use of drugs and alcohol. Cognitive behavioral therapy is particularly helpful to teens with substance abuse problems because it is a problem-focused, active-type of therapy that prompts the exploration of the patterns of thought which have led to their self-destructive behavior.

By going over the relationships between a teen’s feelings, thoughts, and subsequent behavior, teens are able to deconstruct and re-build themselves as the most basic levels, gaining a greater understanding of themselves and creating better coping skills in the process. This is essential to the healing process, because it not only builds self-confidence and self-esteem, but it provides the building blocks to forming a more healthy teen identity.

How Can CBT Help My Teen?

The reason why cognitive behavior therapy is so successful in treating teen addiction is because it isn’t limited to a specific form. It is a highly adaptable therapeutic method that may be implemented through the use of an assortment of different strategies, including the use of traditional journaling of thoughts as they occur, physical activity, art, role-playing, and utilizing mental distractions. It is also a preferred method for teens because it helps to avoid the need for long-term use of pharmacological products to treat the depression or anxiety that led them to their addictions.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, CBT “has been shown to be as useful as antidepressant medications for some individuals with depression and may be superior in preventing relapse of symptoms.” Cognitive behavioral therapy can re-establish the positive thought processes when it comes to teen identity and coping, and provide a teen a better means of dealing with their mental illness than through self-medication.

How Can I Get My Teen Help?

Understanding that substance abuse is a symptom and not a core problem is the first step. The next is to find a treatment program that can use cognitive behavioral therapy to help them heal. At Waterford Academy, you will find a collaborative outpatient program that blends the best of CBT with other types of therapy, while still allowing your teen to retain the family support they need by remaining at home. Their therapeutic day school was created specifically to help teens with drug and alcohol problems to get back on track, and look toward a brighter future.