Caron in Pennsylvania: 800-854-6023
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Teens (13-18)

Although treating teens struggling with drug and alcohol problems can be challenging, our onsite education and age/gender-separate programs help us meet their unique physical, psychological, and spiritual needs.

Treatment Programs for Boys and Girls

Our gender-specific and separate treatment programs and facilities for teens focus on the unique effects chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health disorders can have on teens. Because teenagers are growing and maturing at an amazing rate, addiction can affect them differently than anyone else. Teens can feel a lack of meaning or direction, a sense of hopelessness, guilt, shame, or many other emotions. At the beginning, many teens don’t want to go through rehab. Caron’s staff has extensive experience dealing with these and many other issues related to teenage addiction.

Multidisciplinary Treatment Team and Individual Care

Each teen patient at Caron is assigned a multidisciplinary treatment team, made up of experienced, dedicated professionals from various disciplines, including:

  • Psychology and psychiatry
  • addiction counseling
  • medicine
  • nutrition
  • health and wellness
  • physical education
  • spirituality

The multidisciplinary team will talk extensively with the patient and their family and perform several different evaluations, then design an individual treatment plan based on substance abuse history, and other factors, including any co-occurring addictions, disorders, or other problems. The team collaborates daily to ensure that every teen is progressing as they should in treatment.

Our treatment team members have extensive experience as it relates to teens – how they speak their own language, their reliance on technology and their own culture. Our staff makes sure teenagers aren’t treated on an adult basis. We work hard to uphold and respect teen culture, and we maintain a safe, non-threatening, non-judgmental environment.

Getting Substances Out of the System

A physician or nurse practitioner will provide a basic medical assessment for each teen entering treatment at Caron. This allows the medical team to assess the health of the patient and determine whether or not medical detoxification (detox) is necessary. The medical assessment includes a urine screening (blood screens and lab work are done when necessary), analysis of a teen’s medical history, addiction assessments, and HIV and STD testing, if applicable. At the same time, the medical staff will also assess the need for adjunctive medications, such as anti-craving medications. Significant medical issues are addressed and considered in a patient’s individualized treatment plan.

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Elements of Teen Treatment

Life Skills

A key element of our Teen programs is the development of coping skills and other tools necessary for staying sober. Counseling is designed to motivate adolescents and teens to implement healthy lifestyle changes to maintain their recovery once they leave Caron.

To increase self-esteem and encourage usable, practical skills, teens participate in activities such as writing a resume, completing college applications, and building a sober support system. Building life skills also includes developing a sense of responsibility. We assign simple chores to each patient to strengthen community and develop a sense of accomplishment.

Peer Counseling

In peer counseling groups, we often pair teens with young adults. Teens tend to place more value on advice from someone close to their own age, rather than the advice of an older adult: if a peer says something, they’re more likely to listen.

Parent Programs

At Caron, we believe the patient is the family and the family is the patient. We involve parents and families as much as possible in a teen’s addiction treatment. Family programming and education help the whole family recover, and can lessen the chance of relapse. Learn more about our Family Education Programs.

Onsite Education

Caron is one of the only addiction and behavioral health treatment centers in the country to offer onsite education for teenagers to keep up with their studies while in treatment. Learn about the program.

Wilderness Therapy

Caron offers a wilderness therapy component that incorporates backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities. Available for an additional fee through Dr. George Bright, M.D., at Blackwater Outdoor Experiences, the program includes:

  • 22-day challenging, year-round courses
  • 1:3 staff to student ratio
  • intensive family component
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Gender-Separate and Specific Teen Treatment

Our 60 years of experience has shown that gender-separate and specific treatment utilizing dialectical and cognitive behavioral therapies are highly effective.

With or without addiction problems, boys and girls are different. They think differently and learn differently. When it comes to addiction and drug rehab, research has shown that adolescent boys have very different responses and motivations to alcohol, drugs, and treatment than adolescent girls. For this reason, we provide gender-separate and specific treatment programs and facilities for girls and boys. Without the distractions of the opposite sex, teens are better able to be themselves and concentrate on their treatment and recovery.

In the following gender-specific sections, it’s important to remember that we look at each patient as an individual. Although our extensive experience allows us to draw some broad conclusions about the trends and tendencies we’ve found in each gender, we do not generalize or categorize any individual.

Our Treatment Program for Teenage Boys

Teenage boys reside together throughout their treatment at Caron within a free-standing building. Through individual, group, and family programming, they are encouraged to express their emotions as opposed to suppressing or “stuffing” their feelings. We give teen boys a safe environment in which to truly open up and discuss gender-specific issues such as:

  • sexuality
  • abuse
  • dating/relationships
  • anger
  • self-loathing
  • low self-esteem

At Caron, we treat the whole person, not just the addiction, and this can often mean simultaneously treating other disorders or problems in addition to the addiction. For teen boys, these co-occurring disorders or conditions include:

  • mood disorders
  • anger issues
  • sexual issues
  • self-injurious behaviors
  • anxiety/depression
  • family problems

Our Treatment Program for Teenage Girls

Teenage girls reside together throughout their treatment at Caron within a free-standing all-female building that provides programming for teen girls, young women (20-25) and adult women (25-60+) under one roof. This multi-generational structure provides an environment where female patients can form trusting relationships and build a solid foundation for lasting recovery.

Teenage girls face pressures from school and peers that may be difficult for adults to understand. These pressures can cause them to feel inadequate or lost, resulting in negative behaviors including not only alcohol and drug use but also:

  • abuse
  • dependency
  • co-occurring psychiatric and mental health issues
  • family conflict
  • low self-esteem or self-loathing
  • cutting & self-injurious behaviors
  • anger
  • body image issues

Building Healthy Relationships

Teenage girls live together and work together in groups throughout their treatment at Caron. This close contact with other girls allows us to work on one of the most important elements for recovery for this group: building healthy relationships.

Nearly all of our female teenage patients arrive at Caron saying “I hate other girls.” Girls are deeply affected by body issues, and they seem to hold onto grudges longer than boys. Living and working together in a community of other young women, supporting each other, problem-solving together, and learning to trust each other is key to changing girls’ attitudes toward these important relationships. The girls who arrive at Caron with that negative attitude usually leave having developed vital friendships among their peers.

One element affecting girls’ relationships with other girls is their relationships with their mothers. Our staff is familiar with codependent relationships between adolescent girls and their mothers that can involve control issues and other factors. All the aspects of counseling--individual, group, and family--are critical to healing and getting beyond these issues.

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Continuing Care

Throughout the entirety of treatment, from the very beginning, we’re working toward a goal of recovery for life. Every patient’s treatment team contributes to their Continuing Care plan. For teens, this includes a home contract, which outlines things, places, and people we recommend the teen shouldn’t be connecting with. As needed, we can work directly with a teenager’s school to help him or her with the return transition.

Increased Lengths of Stay in Treatment

Sometimes we recommend that a teen continue their treatment with an increased length of stay beyond primary treatment in order to provide adequate treatment. This can foster the ongoing development of recovery skills. Teens participate in Big Book studies in addition to 12-Step meetings. They continue with counseling groups that focus on many of the same issues and topics that were introduced during primary treatment, such as:

  • Development of a sober support system
  • Positive peer problem solving
  • Dealing with cravings
  • Forming healthy relationships
  • Body image
  • Self-injurious behaviors
  • Managing feelings
  • Grief and loss
  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy (drumming)

We use a four-level Stage System, in which teens are assigned treatment work, challenged with goals, and given increased responsibilities. This system eventually leads to therapeutic home passes.

By treating the whole person- mind, body and spirit – at Caron we are able to help teens reclaim their lives and begin new, sober lives. Armed with new coping skills, the ongoing support of their peers, and improved self-esteem, teens are prepared to embrace healthy, fulfilling lives.

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Meet Our Staff

Chris O'Reilly
Christopher O'Reilly
Executive Director of Adolescent Services and Breakthrough
Christopher Owsiany
Chris Owsiany
Clinical Director of Teen Services
Thomas Deitzler
Thomas Deitzler
Senior Clinical Advisor to EVP of Treatment