Updated on February 6, 2024
6 min read

Residential Treatment Centers for Youth

Adolescents aged 10 to 19 years old are particularly vulnerable to drug and alcohol use. When it comes to substance use, they have higher rates of dual diagnosis, binge drinking, and opportunities to use.1

These are the recent statistics on adolescence and substance use:2,4,5,6,7

  • Alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are the most common substances adolescents use.
  • Over 40% of youth in the U.S. have tried illicit drugs at least once. In this group, 8% are 8th graders, 12% are 10th graders, and 24% are 12th graders.
  • Roughly two-thirds of students try drinking by the 12th grade.
  • It’s illegal for people under 21 years old to drink alcohol. Yet, people aged 12 to 20 years years old are responsible for roughly one-tenth of alcohol consumption in the U.S.
  • Out of the estimated 1.4 million adolescents with an illicit drug problem, only 1 in 10 receive substance use treatment. This figure is lower than the 1-in-5 ratio in adults.

This article discusses residential rehabilitation as a treatment option for teens. We also discuss signs that tell if your child is experiencing substance use issues.

What is Residential Treatment for Youth and Teens?

Residential treatment or inpatient rehabilitation can benefit teens and young adults struggling with alcohol or drug use. It involves an intensive treatment program that requires living in the treatment center.

The program often has a rigid schedule and a highly structured environment to ensure quality care. It also provides 24-hour services, which include medications, withdrawal management, recovery, and relapse prevention.

A residential treatment program will have a full treatment team of doctors, substance abuse and addiction specialists, counselors, social workers, and clinical staff. This ensures teens and young adults receive the full care they need for recovery.

What are the Benefits of Residential Treatment?

Changing negative behaviors is more successful in structured environments. A residential treatment center offers a safe healing space that prevents access to substances, bad influences, and triggering situations.

In one study, a survey of people who had undergone inpatient treatment showed substantial improvements in abstinence from opiates, psychostimulants, and benzodiazepines. Longer treatment stays were indicative of more successful abstinence.9

In another study, outpatient heroin treatment showed a 35% completion rate. In contrast, residential programs had a completion rate of 65%.10

Why is Residential Treatment More Effective?

Here are some reasons behind residential treatment’s effectiveness: 

  • Highly structured: The environment and strict schedule can push teens to focus on recovery
  • Supportive environment: Staff members are present to monitor and supervise residents so they aren’t alone during alcohol or drug addiction recovery
  • Medical and mental health care: Health professionals are available to address severe withdrawal cases, mental health issues, and other complications
  • Safe housing: Residential treatments are drug- and alcohol-free environments that allow people to heal from substance addiction safely
  • A broad range of services: Residential treatment usually focuses on many aspects of teen addiction treatment, ranging from detox to aftercare

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How Much Does Residential Treatment for Youth Cost?

Costs can range from $6,000 to $20,000 for a 30-day residential treatment program. Extended programs may cost more, sometimes from $12,000 to $60,000.

Other factors can impact the cost of rehab. These factors include: 

  • Location of the facility
  • Size of the program
  • Types of treatment services offered
  • Amenities
  • Length of treatment

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Adolescence and Substance Use

Adolescents have different developmental needs. That’s why their substance use can lead to negative consequences ranging in severity.

These consequences include:

  • Developmental problems (especially in the brain)
  • Health problems (like heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders)
  • School problems
  • Social and family troubles 
  • Overdose
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Risky behaviors (like driving under the influence and unprotected sex)
  • Arrest and incarceration
  • Likelihood of developing substance use disorder (SUD) later in life

What are the Possible Signs of Adolescent Substance Use?

Some signs that might indicate possible alcohol or drug use among adolescents include:3

  • Behavioral changes like being aggressive, tired, moody, paranoid, or secretive
  • Frequent changes in friend groups 
  • School problems, such as skipping classes and poor grades
  • Staying out late
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or favorite activities
  • Physical changes like bloodshot eyes, unusually large or small pupils, or unexplained bruises on arms
  • Neglecting hygiene, such as not taking a shower, changing clothes, or brushing teeth
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Slurred speech or saying things that don’t make sense
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory loss
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia, prescription drugs, or alcohol

Some symptoms of substance use are also symptoms of mental illness or even typical teenage behavior. Only a qualified healthcare professional can give a precise diagnosis of substance use disorder. 

What Conditions Does Residential Treatment Treat?

Five substances accounted for 96% of treatment admissions from 2006 and 2016. Residential treatment accounted for 16% of these admissions.8

These five substances are:

  • Alcohol: In the US, it’s illegal for people under 21 years old to drink alcohol. Heavy, chronic drinkers may develop alcohol tolerance and withdrawal. 
  • Opioids: This is a group of drugs that includes heroin and misused and abused prescription drugs, such as oxycodone and fentanyl.
  • Marijuana: This psychoactive drug produces a “high” feeling. Some states allow recreational or medically indicated marijuana use.
  • Cocaine: Addiction to this stimulant commonly affects Americans of different ages. This drug rewires the brain with continued use. 
  • Methamphetamine: This is also a stimulant. Like all drug addictions, meth addiction is difficult to recover from.

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How to Know if Your Child Needs Residential Treatment

You may need to consider sending your child to a residential teen drug rehab if they exhibit the following behaviors or symptoms: 

  • Experience repeated relapses
  • Aren’t responding well to outpatient treatment
  • Need protection from harmful influences, such as family, friends, or social settings
  • Need to avoid situations that may trigger substance use
  • Have dual diagnosis (having both a mental disorder and substance use problem)
  • Have a high overdose risk
  • Endanger themselves, such as having suicidal thoughts, violence, or driving under the influence

How to Talk to Your Child About Rehab

When talking to your child about residential rehab, you must always be sensitive and choose your words carefully. There is the risk of making them feel unwanted or punished if the situation isn’t handled properly, leading to resentment and resistance from the child.

Intervention is an intense yet delicate process. However, it’s also key to giving your child the professional help they need.

When discussing rehabilitation, focus on the positive outcomes of seeking treatment. Don’t blame or shame them; let them know you’re doing this because you want the best for them.

Is Involuntary Commitment Still Beneficial for Teens?

Yes, involuntary commitment is still beneficial for teens. ​​However, some children may resist entering rehab, which can complicate their recovery.

Certain states also don’t permit involuntary commitment for teens due to concerns about violating their rights. However, involuntary commitment is legal and possible in 37 states. You must only comply with these state’s specific requirements to proceed with the process.


Residential treatment is a highly structured environment offering 24-hour services. It’s an ideal option for children who experience repeated relapses or aren’t responding well to outpatient treatment.

Other factors that may warrant residential treatment include dual diagnosis, high overdose risk, and endangering oneself or others. For children who resist seeking help, involuntary commitment may be an option in certain states.

If your child or other youth family members are struggling with substance abuse, consider talking to them about residential treatment as a potential solution for their recovery journey. It's a promising option that's effective in treating addiction and improving overall well-being.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
13 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. Brannigan et al. “The Quality of Highly Regarded Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Programs: Results of an In-depth National Survey.” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2004.
  2. Data and Statistics” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021.
  3. Drugs and Young People.” MedlinePlus, 2019.
  4. Alozai et al. “Drug and Alcohol Use.”StatPearls Publishing, 2023.
  5. Drugs of Abuse | A DEA Resource Guide: 2020 Edition.” Drug Enforcement Administration, 2020.  
  6. Monitoring the Future.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2022. 
  7. Report From the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse Volume 1: Summary of National Findings.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2002.
  8. Carden et al. “Habit formation and change.” Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 2018.
  9. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 2016: Admissions to and Discharges from Publicly Funded Substance Use Treatment.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2018.
  10. Hopson, D. “Heroin Addiction Treatment: Heroin Addiction Treatment Success Rates, Types of Treatment, and Statistics.” GuideDoc.
  11. Overview of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Care Clinical Guidelines: A Resource for States Developing SUD Delivery System Reforms.” Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program, 2017.
  12. Comorbidity: Substance Use Disorders and Other Mental Illnesses.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, August 2021.
  13. Gray, H. “State Laws Related to Involuntary Commitment of Individuals with Substance Use Disorder and Alcoholism - Part 2 of 2.” The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, 2016.

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