There is a particularly difficult challenge when referring to adolescent drug rehab, and it has to do with the combination of factors that occur when you are dealing with younger people and recovery. In particular, you have to contend with these challenges, which make it all the more difficult to get someone clean and sober:
1) Lack of surrender – most adolescent drug addicts are not at a point of surrender. In fact they are usually nowhere near the point of surrender, and they are probably able to abuse drugs and alcohol for at least another few years or even decades before they are miserable enough to really hit bottom. This is a huge problem in terms of trying to get them clean and sober. The motivation is just not there.
Why would an adolescent want to stop using drugs and alcohol if they are still having fun with it? Think about the adults who finally surrender to their addiction: they are miserable, and have been for a long time. The drugs and the alcohol stopped working for them long ago, and stopped being fun. Now they just drink or use to maintain an even keel. An adult who has been abusing drugs for decades can clearly see this, and they know that the fun part is long gone. An adolescent cannot know this, cannot predict it. They have to learn it for themselves over many years.
2) Lack of maturity – This is a huge problem in drug rehab for adolescents. It can be overcome though, as long as the kids are serious about getting clean and sober. But it can be a huge distraction when they are not serious enough and they think everything is a joke. It can be hard to find a group of adolescents where this is not a problem with anyone.
3) Lack of experience – Kids in rehab simply lack a huge deal of experience that could otherwise be used to educate the group as a whole. When adults come together in rehab, they can share their experience with each other and thus become each others teachers. This is much harder with younger people because they lack experience. For example, in an adult drug rehab, you will generally have at least one or two people who have experienced multiple years clean and sober before relapsing. This is not generally the case with younger people.
4) Hesitation at forming a new peer group – Kids are resistant to forming a new group of friends in recovery, because they place such a high importance on their peers and their friends. Just asking them to “change all your friends” to new ones in recovery is not realistic.