Updated on February 6, 2024
6 min read

Teen Alcohol Rehab: Alcohol Treatment for Teenagers

Key Takeaways

Teenagers are more susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse than adults. They can experience real and substantial consequences because of addiction.

Reportedly, 1.19 million teens aged 12 to 17 binged alcohol in 2020. About 2 million teens nationwide report using drugs.1 Research shows that people who begin drinking before age fifteen are four times more likely to develop a substance use disorder.2

How to Recognize If Your Teen Needs Alcohol Rehab

Not all teens who abuse alcohol will need to go to rehab. Alcohol treatment is most useful for adolescents who have an alcohol use disorder.

Here are some signs that your teenager may have a severe problem with alcohol:

  • Sudden and drastic changes in behavior and appearance
  • Lying about alcohol use
  • Borrowing or stealing money for alcohol
  • A sudden drop in grades
  • Getting in trouble at school or with the police for drinking
  • Hanging out with new friends that drink
  • Giving up previous activities in favor of partying
  • Memory lapses
  • Poor concentration

What to Do if Your Teen Needs Rehab

If your teen has a problem with alcohol, talk with their doctor or therapist first. They can direct you to facilities that offer alcohol addiction treatment.

Many medical facilities will have resources that you can utilize. If they don’t have any services in-house, they’ll refer you somewhere else that has them.

Why Do Teens Abuse Alcohol?

Teenagers and young adults love to experiment and try new things out of curiosity. However, some teens quickly move from experimentation to binge drinking or alcohol abuse.

Several factors contribute to alcohol abuse and addiction, including:

  • Self-esteem issues
  • Stress relief
  • Environmental influences or peer pressure
  • Mental health problems like anxiety and depression
  • Early exposure to alcohol through family members 
  • Exposure to domestic violence 
  • Fast and easy access to alcohol

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Types of Alcohol Rehab for Teens

Alcohol rehabilitation programs help you fully recover from addiction. These programs help maintain a healthy, sober life long-term.

The best treatment option will depend on a few factors, such as: 

  • Their physical and mental health condition 
  • School and work responsibilities
  • Living situation 
  • Support system 

The three most common types of alcohol rehab for teenagers are:

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment or residential rehab requires your teen to live in a facility for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They’ll stay for a determined amount of time, depending on their specific needs.

  • Teens receive constant care and supervision
  • Round-the-clock access to medical professionals
  • Intensive individual and group therapy sessions
  • Access to teen drug rehab activities like yoga, fitness classes, and outdoor activities

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient rehab allows your teen to live at home while undergoing treatment. They’ll travel to the facility for scheduled appointments or therapy sessions.

  • Allows teens to continue with school or work responsibilities 
  • Therapy sessions help them recognize triggers that may lead to alcohol abuse
  • Less intensive than inpatient treatment 
  • Can be more affordable than inpatient treatment 

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

PHPs are an outpatient treatment that provides more intensive care than traditional outpatient programs. Teens will typically attend therapy sessions for several hours during the day and return home at night.

  • More structured than traditional outpatient programs
  • Provides medical and psychiatric support
  • Involves educational workshops and classes to help teens learn about addiction and develop coping skills
  • Allows teens to maintain relationships and responsibilities outside of treatment

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What Makes Teen Alcohol Rehab Different?

A teen alcohol rehab is different from an alcohol rehab for adults. Here’s a quick rundown of the difference between the two:

  • Specialized training: Medical and mental health professionals at teen rehab centers specialize in teen substance abuse treatment, keeping the kids safe and comfortable.
  • Teen exclusive program: Programs are specifically for those under 18 years old to help them focus on their issues and build positive relationships.
  • Separated housing: Inpatient teen rehab centers keep the boys and girls separated. Such a setting also ensures zero exposure to things they aren’t ready to handle.

How to Choose an Alcohol Rehab Center for Your Teen

There are a lot of treatment facilities available for teenagers. However, choosing an alcohol rehab center isn’t going to be easy. 

There are several factors to consider before making the final decision. Here are some things that you should look for to fully help your teen:

  • Parent involvement and family therapy sessions
  • Customized treatment plans according to your teen's needs
  • A safe and comfortable environment where your teen can fully recover
  • A comprehensive and holistic treatment plan 
  • A program that tackles co-occurring factors like mental health issues
  • An aftercare program to prevent relapse
  • A treatment program that is appropriate to your teen's development and growth

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How Does Alcohol Affect Teenagers’ Brains?

Teenage brains are still developing and won’t fully develop until 25 to 30.3 Alcohol abuse can affect the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, which can impair the following:

  • Judgment
  • Decision making
  • Impulse control
  • Memory and learning

Long-Term Effects of Teenage Drinking

Long-term adverse effects of teenage drinking include:

  • An increased risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD)
  • Problems with learning and memory
  • Decreased problem-solving skills
  • Poor performance in school and work responsibilities
  • Many health risks, such as liver and heart disease

Teen Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is the most common form of substance abuse among teenagers.4 It happens when they have four to five drinks within two hours.

Findings from the 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed that 23% of high school students consumed alcohol. 11% of these students engaged in binge drinking.4

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Binge drinking is hazardous, especially for teenagers. Their impaired judgment and decision-making can lead to a lot of dangerous situations, such as:

  • Drunk driving
  • Avoidable injuries (falls, burns, and collisions)
  • Alcohol poisoning 
  • Violence and assault
  • Sexual assault and domestic violence
  • Increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Increased risk of pregnancy 
  • Chronic health diseases later in life (high blood pressure, liver disease)
  • Cancer (liver, colon, mouth, throat, and breast)
  • Memory and learning problems
  • Developing alcohol use disorders
  • Death

Teen Drinking and Sexual Assault

Sexual assault among adolescents is more likely to occur when alcohol is present.5

Every month, one in five teenagers engage in risky drinking behavior that could lead to injury. Teenagers are especially susceptible to alcohol-related dangers and have the highest rate of alcohol-related emergency room visits.5

Drug and Alcohol Research Connections

Alcohol is a significant factor in sexual assault and can contribute to sexual abuse in multiple ways. Here’s how alcohol can lead to sexual assault:6

  • A method that potential assailants use
  • It invokes a false sense of security
  • Produces difficulty refusing sexual advances
  • Can cause an inability to decline due to inebriation
  • This can lead to the misinterpretation of sexual interest

Signs of Progress and Recovery

Many improvements in a teen’s life as they receive treatment aren't easily visible. However, here are some signs of progress and recovery to watch out for:

  • Improved school performance and attendance
  • More positive relationships with family and friends
  • Increased participation in extracurricular activities and hobbies
  • Taking responsibility for their actions
  • A more positive attitude towards treatment and their future
  • Improved communication skills and coping mechanisms
  • A decrease in alcohol consumption or abstinence from it altogether


Teenage drinking is a serious issue that can have long-lasting effects on a young person’s life. It’s essential to seek help from professional teen alcohol rehab centers to provide the necessary support, guidance, and resources to help your teen recover.

If you suspect that your teen may have a substance abuse problem, seek help from an alcohol rehab center today. Early intervention can significantly impact your child's life and future.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
11 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Drug Use Among Youth: Facts & Statistics” National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 2020.
  2. Addiction.” Parents Empowered.
  3. Understanding the Teen Brain.” University of Rochester Medical Center.
  4. Underage Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022.
  5. Banvard-Fox et al. “Dangers of second-hand drinking: Teen drinkers at high risk of assault and sexual harassment.” Drug and Alcohol Research Connections, 2019.
  6. Gilmore et al. “A randomized controlled trial targeting alcohol use and sexual assault risk among college women at high risk for victimization.” Behaviour Research and Therapy, 2015.
  7. Guo et al. “Differential effects of alcohol-drinking patterns on the structure and function of the brain and cognitive performance in young adult drinkers: A pilot study.” Brain and Behavior, 2022.
  8. Garofoli, M. “Adolescent Substance Abuse.” Primary care, 2020.
  9. Binge Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022.
  10. Teen Drivers: Get the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022.
  11. Hahn et al. “The Association Between Type of Sexual Assault and Post-Assault Alcohol Misuse Is Moderated by Avoidance Among Recipients of a Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examination.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 2019.

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