Drug and Alcohol Treatment for Troubled Teenage Girls

Drug and alcohol addiction is an epidemic that affects all demographics here in America. However, the most vulnerable and at risk of any demographic is that of teenage girls, who are statistically the most likely to abuse substances. 

Substance abuse rates among teenage girls have never been higher than today. According to the latest findings, girls are more likely to develop an addiction to harmful substances than teenage boys. To combat the rising trend of teenage substance abuse and addiction is a steady rise in drug and alcohol treatment programs specifically designed to treat teenage girl addicts and the underlying issues that enable their substance abuse issues. However, before choosing a drug treatment program for their daughter, it would be wise for parents to become educated on a few key factors regarding today's drug epidemic.

Parents of addicted girls can increase their daughter's chance of achieving full sobriety by learning what to look for when diagnosing their daughter, why their daughter is of higher risk than boys to abuse drugs, and what to look for when seeking the services of a drug and alcohol treatment program. 

In the following article, we will cover three main topics that include: 

  • why teenage girls are more likely to develop drug and alcohol-related issues
  • why seeking residential treatment for an addicted teen is necessary
  • what parents should look for in a drug and alcohol treatment facility when seeking treatment for their teenage daughter

Why Are Teenage Girls More Likely to Use Drugs and Alcohol Than Boys? 

Recent clinical studies indicate female teens are more likely to abuse and become addicted to drugs and alcohol than teenage males. There are numerous reasons as to why this is the case.

A SAMHSA study found that one reason to be that girls have a ‘heightened proclivity’ to give in to peer pressure. The same study also found that girls are more likely to have a dual-diagnosis or co-occurring mental illness that leads to drug or alcohol abuse and addiction. 

Girls are More Likely To Turn to Alcohol or Drugs as a Means of “Self-Medicating” 

One of the leading causes of teenage girls turning to drugs and alcohol more than other demographics is that they are more likely to suffer from depression. Due to this heightened propensity to become depressed, teenage girls are also more likely to use harmful substances as a means to self-medicate their underlying, mental health-related pain.

Teenage Girls More Likely to See ‘Benefits’ of Drug Use

Many teenagers, both male and female, are prone to overthinking and even obsessing over their appearance to impress their peers. If unhealthily motivated to achieve their ideal body type, overzealous boys and girls will even turn to unhealthy means. However, both tend to go very different ways about achieving their ideal body.  

Boys tend to strive for muscular development and even go as far as to go to unhealthy lengths to achieve their ideal form by using legal and illegal muscle-building supplements. The same can be said for teenage girls. But, unlike boys, girls tend to strive to be thinner rather than bulk up. Rather than use muscle-building supplements, girls who strive to achieve their petiteness with an ‘at any cost’ attitude will sometimes turn to stimulants.

According to Drug-Free America, females are more likely to develop dependency issues relating to hardcore stimulants, both prescribed and illicit narcotics -such as amphetamines, cocaine, methamphetamines, etc. - to lose weight.   

But teenage girls use drugs for other perceived ‘benefits’ that go beyond weight loss. They also are more likely to use drugs and alcohol to (in their eyes) enhance their life. 

A study conducted by the Partnership in a study titled Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) found that: 

  • 68% of substance abusing girls resort to abusing drugs and alcohol because of family-related issues
  • 53% reportedly use drugs to forget or escape their problems
  • Marijuana use increased 29% in teen girls from the previous year

Does Your Teenage Daughter Suffer From Addiction? 

If you are suspicious of but not sure your daughter suffers from drug abuse or addiction, their certain tell-tale signs you can look for. The sooner a parent can identify their child's drug and alcohol-related issues, the better chance their child has at achieving full rehabilitation. 

Signs of teen drug and alcohol abuse to look out for include:

  • Changes in physical appearance
  • Borrowing or stealing money
  • Spending time with different friends than usual
  • Appetite changes
  • Sleep habit changes
  • Excessive secrecy
  • A sudden drop in grades or academic performance
  • Drug paraphernalia in their bedroom

We recommend visiting this page at the Hazeldon Betty Ford Foundation's website for a more in-depth list of signs and symptoms. 

How to Choose a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program 

While there are many options to consider when seeking drug treatment, parents should be aware that not all programs are created equal. Unfortunately, there are just as many unreliable treatment options as there are viable ones.

With that in mind, below is a comprehensive checklist that will help parents when selecting a potential program. 

According to an In-depth 2004 National Survey, drug treatment programs should have the following nine key features: 

  • An individualized treatment program for every teen
  • A treatment curriculum that is well-versed in treating a wide array of treatments such as mental health-related, underlying issues
  • Prioritize family involvement - statistics show programs that emphasize family involvement significantly improve a child’s chances of achieving sobriety
  • Age and gender-specific 
  • A curriculum that is fundamentally built on trust between clinical staff and patients
  • Full clinical and therapeutically licensed staff
  • A therapeutic curriculum that is sensitive to a client’s gender, cultural background, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background
  • An aftercare service that assists client’s in transitioning back into society upon completing the program.