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Teens Program

When the challenges a teen faces are bigger and more complex than their family can handle alone, Caron can help. Our comprehensive integrated program for teens treats substance abuse and mental health disorders.

Caron’s programs to treat mental health issues and substance use are specifically designed to help teens, ages 13 to 18, build a foundation for long-term recovery. Our staff offers compassion and empathy along with a breadth and depth of experience and expertise to give teens a supportive environment for recovery and healing. Our treatment plans include families and are designed to uncover the root causes of behaviors and the best approach for treating them.

Whether this is a teen’s first time in treatment or they’ve tried another program, we’re here to support them and their family until they are whole again.

As a leader in the field, Caron relies on evidence-based therapies to address teens’ treatment needs.

Know the Signs

It can be tough to tell if troubling behavior in a teen is just part of growing up or a problem that should be discussed with a healthcare professional. If the following signs and symptoms last for an extended period of time and interfere with daily life, you should contact a healthcare professional. Your loved one might need help if he or she:

  • Often feels anxious or worried
  • Has frequent bursts of anger or is intensely irritable much of the time
  • Has frequent stomachaches or headaches with no physical explanation
  • Has trouble sleeping, including frequent nightmares
  • Loses interest in things they used to enjoy
  • Avoids spending time with friends
  • Has trouble maintaining their usual academic performance — you may notice a sudden drop in grades or hear from teachers that assignments are not completed
  • Quits participating in extracurricular activities or sports, especially after an injury
  • Fears gaining weight; exercises, diets obsessively
  • Has low or no energy
  • Engages in self-harm like cutting or burning
  • Engages in risky, destructive behavior
  • Has thoughts of suicide
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Specialized Programming for Teens

While the most common issues we deal with are substance use with anxiety, ADHD, trauma, or depression, our team of medical and mental health professionals can also help teens with these co-occurring conditions and behaviors:

  • Anger issues
  • Body image issues
  • Co-occurring psychiatric and mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Codependency
  • Family conflict/problems
  • Mood disorders
  • Self-esteem/self-loathing
  • Self-injurious behaviors, including cutting
  • Sexual issues

We combine proven evidence-based therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive processing therapy (CPT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) with 12-Step principles to address all aspects of optimal wellness.

At Caron, teens and young adults are in treatment together because many of their core issues are similar. So that they can also deal with issues unique to their age group, Caron’s Teen Program incorporates a variety of treatment elements, including:

  • Firm boundaries and expectations
  • Safe environment
  • Life skills development
  • On-site education and academic coaching individualized to each teen’s goals
  • Peer counseling
  • Nutrition education
  • Bolstered recreational/adventure activities
  • Optional wilderness therapy
  • Continuing care planning

Teens are encouraged to develop their sense of responsibility as they progress through treatment through the use of “recovery stages.” Each of the three stages requires that the teen meet established clinical and behavioral benchmarks. As patients progress through the stages, they receive incentives and are given additional responsibilities, such as taking on a leadership role or mentoring newer patients, which gives them a sense of pride and bolsters their self-esteem.

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Gender-Specific Programs

Our experience is that young men and women often face similar issues, but also have unique needs based on their gender. Gender-specific treatment provides the security and freedom young men and women need to explore who they are, their experience, and how to begin a life in recovery.

For Young Men: The need to establish their own identity creates both problems and opportunities. Caron’s specialized treatment teams are prepared to help young men as they seek to find ways to develop a healthy masculine image. Young men participate in gender-specific groups that offer them the safety to deal with issues related to:

  • Sexuality
  • Cross addictions
  • Entitlement and narcissism
  • Anger management

For Young Women: Many young women struggling with a substance use disorder have an elevated need for connection. Being in a gender-specific program allows relationships to grow, risks to be taken, and therapeutic work to take place. In having a safe and private space in which they can share their stories honestly and openly with their peers, young women can begin to create a way forward to long-term health and healing. These safe spaces provide an opportunity to address issues like:

  • Anger, depression, and anxiety
  • Trauma
  • Self-injurious behaviors
  • Body image

We help them confront those issues, build a sense of confidence, establish healthy boundaries, and better understand how to create and nurture healthy relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners.

An important aspect of Caron’s approach to treatment is that teenage girls live during their stay in a building with women of all ages. We have found that this multigenerational residence offers nurturing and support that enhances the young women’s treatment and gives them a network of other women on which they can depend.

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Foundational Treatment Elements

All of the treatment programs at Caron are founded on the same critical elements:

  • Thorough assessments of a patient’s physical and mental health and medical history to develop an individualized treatment plan
  • Detoxification at an on-site, state-of-the-art medical facility under the supervision of medical professionals
  • Age- and gender-specific treatment unique to each patient’s level of emotional and personal development and under the care of an experienced team who understands the significant life changes and challenges their patients face
  • Dedicated, expert professionals who are a part of the patient’s multidisciplinary treatment team, including licensed psychologists and psychiatrists, certified and master-level addiction counselors, American Board of Addiction Medicine–certified medical doctors, registered dietitians, health and wellness experts, and spiritual leaders
  • Core counseling via a variety of formats including group, individual, and family sessions
  • Family engagement that acknowledges that the family is critical to one’s treatment success and provides education, information, and counseling that enables the whole family to recover and move forward in ways that lead to optimal emotional health for everyone
  • Screening, specialized counseling, and education for addiction interaction disorders, such as gambling, sex, or eating disorders, which can become chronic and progressive if left unidentified and untreated
  • Understanding the disease component of substance use disorder
  • Attention to physical activity, including access to Caron’s on-site, state-of-the-art fitness center
  • Nutrition education provided by registered dietitians
  • Therapeutic activities, including physical activity and creative work
  • Introduction to the 12-Steps both on campus and off-site
  • Adventure-based counseling and off-campus activities, with recreation and clinical staff, designed to provide active challenges that stimulate feelings and reactions that can be processed and learned from and foster community
  • Relapse prevention skills
  • A continuing care plan developed by the treatment team includes tools and recommendations for recovery when the patient returns home. Caron’s My First Year of Recovery program provides additional support for the patient and their family as they navigate the ups and downs of the pivotal year following treatment.

There is strong evidence that patients who discontinue all addictive substances at one time are significantly less likely to relapse in their recoveries. To that end, Caron’s teen program is smoke and tobacco free. Nicotine replacement programs are available for patients requiring assistance.

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Attention to Academics

As we build a strong foundation for our patients’ long-term recovery and mental health, we also provide them with support for their education, from keeping up with high school classes to preparing for or continuing their college careers.

High School Success Program: A full-time, credentialed teacher provides education services to teens. Caron’s school has its own building and private space to provide a comfortable learning environment. Working with a teen’s school and family to obtain necessary assignments, the teacher oversees the completion of the assignments and returns them to the school during treatment. The teacher participates as a member of the multidisciplinary treatment team in order to:

  • Provide information to the team on the student’s academic performance
  • Aid clinical staff in assessing the student’s overall progress in treatment
  • Send daily reports to each student’s counselor and other support staff to ensure continuous monitoring of the teen’s academic and treatment progress

Teens benefit from another layer of support through individual coaching with an assigned Caron college success specialist. The specialist works with each student to learn about their individual academic needs and is able to integrate treatment and academics to give the student an understanding of how they work together to enable progress. A weekly co-ed process group prepares students to return to school when they leave treatment.

On-site schooling is only available at Caron’s Pennsylvania Treatment Center. The program is licensed through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The teacher is certified to teach in an alternative education setting.

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Extended Treatment

Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse has shown that treatment that extends beyond 90 days provides a deeper level of effectiveness. The Phase II Program offers extended treatment so that teens can continue learning coping skills and using sober peer support in a safe and supportive environment.

Patients work on skills for developing healthy relationships with siblings, peers, and parents, and participate in 12-Step meetings and Big Book studies. They are guided through levels of increasing self-sufficiency by setting goals and taking on treatment work and increased responsibilities.

Teens in Phase II continue to participate in recovery stages, progressing as they did in Phase I to increasing levels of responsibility and receiving incentives, such as off-campus/overnight visits with family. Some patients in Phase II, for example, take on mentoring roles for patients in Phase I. This is not only valuable for those Phase I patients, it also allows the mentors to further master skills they began working on in Phase I.

Phase II presents an opportunity for patients who may need treatment for trauma, depression, another mental health issue, an addiction interaction disorder, or a process addiction to get beyond initial treatment into in-depth therapy that leads to deeper healing and mastery of the skills they need when they leave treatment.

Families also can take advantage of the Phase II program through a multi-family education program they attend with their teen. This program enables patients and their families to delve more deeply into issues specific to their experience.

When their clinical team thinks they are ready, patients receive a therapeutic home pass to explore re-integration into family, home, and education/work. Staff members support patients throughout this challenge by mapping out plans, setting goals, and maintaining accountability. Patients are supported as they work toward:

  • Obtaining a recovery sponsor
  • Practicing coping skills and exploring issues such as grief/loss and seeking safety
  • Continued involvement with families and referral sources

Each teen’s treatment team works with the teen, their family, and their referral source (if applicable) to develop an individualized relapse prevention plan along with a continuing care plan to support the teen when they leave treatment.

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