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Teen Drug Treatment: What You Need to Know

SunCloud Health offers both Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP). Our PHP runs Monday through Friday from 9am-3:30pm, while our IOP is available three to five times weekly from 4-7pm. Both programs are available at our Naperville, Chicago, and Northbrook centers. Designed for adolescents requiring varying levels of support, we provide dedicated time for schoolwork and maintain direct collaboration with their schools. Our approach sets us apart from other programs in the Chicago region. We specialize in treating depression, substance use disorder, eating disorders, anxiety, PTSD, school refusal, and other behavioral health conditions. Please contact us for an assessment to determine if our offerings are the right fit for the needs of your child, patient, or student.

Substance Use Treatment for Adolescents

When it comes to teenage drug treatment programs, there are many questions: does your teen need a treatment program? Do they have a drug addiction? How would you know? And if so, How severe and what are your options? This article will discuss, in depth, teen drug treatment programs, and different types and signs of substance use in teens to help you better understand:

  • Signs of teenage drug abuse
  • If your teen might need drug abuse treatment
  • What teenage drug and alcohol treatment programs typically look like
  • Options for teen drug abuse treatment here at SunCloud Health

Teens are at an important stage in their development. Not fully experiencing the world as children or adults, they are living through a time of change, confusion, and uncertainty. Teens who struggle with drug addiction are suffering from an adult problem, but are not fully developed adults or have the ability to cope like adults. Their needs are different from the needs of struggling adults, as are their perspectives on the world and the things that matter most to them. Therefore, addiction in teens has to be treated differently than addiction in adults. Getting to know the signs of teenage drug abuse, and what your options are as a parent or concerned loved one are important to ensuring you can offer them a helping hand in the most appropriate, and effective way.


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Teen Drug Abuse: What Signs Should You Look For?

Getting to know the signs of teen drug abuse can help you identify these problems before they become serious, life altering decisions. While difficult behaviors come with the territory of development and young adulthood, changes in behaviors as they are developing, and mood swings are a normal part of adolescence. However, patterns of the following can be signs of drug use in teens:

  • Breaking curfew and ignoring rules
  • Slipping in school, both in grades and attendance
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • An abrupt change in friend groups
  • Money and valuable items disappearing from the house
  • Relationships with family members deteriorating
  • Activities that were once of interest are no longer of interest

If you see these patterns forming in your teen’s life, and suspect drug abuse could be one of the causes, it is important to address the issue head-on with empathy. Creating a calm and trusting atmosphere is essential when handling teen addiction. However, it is also important to set boundaries and expectations.


Dr. Alexander Chevalier, Medical Director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at SunCloud Health, gives parents helpful advice on what to look for when considering treatment centers their child.


Kevin A. Sabet, PhD, former advisor to three US presidential campaigns and President & CEO at Smart Approaches to Marijuana, explains at SunCloud Health how addiction is a unique brain disease that responds well to treatment. 

Does Your Teen Need Drug Abuse Treatment?

If you discover or suspect that your teen is abusing substances such as drugs or alcohol, it is important to remember that there is a difference between substance use and addiction. Addiction occurs when a user can no longer control the desire to use, with attempts to get sober independently not only resulting in failure, but often adverse effects such as anxiety, irritability, nausea, and other forms of illness. These are called withdrawal symptoms. Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is the term given to patients who may need help from a treatment center to recover from their addiction. Here are some indicators that your teen might be suffering from teenage drug addiction:

  • They have tried to stop on more than one occasion but could not
  • They have used more or for longer than intended
  • They have spent a lot of time sick/recovering from use
  • The amount used has had to change to achieve desired effect
  • Desired effect can no longer be achieved and they are still using
  • There have been times when using was all they could think about
  • They continue to use even though it has a negative impact on their life and relationships
  • They have sacrificed opportunities that were important to them in order to use
  • Using has put them in harm’s way
  • Continuing to use is worsening their mental/physical health

What Does Drug and Alcohol Treatment for Teens Look Like?

Teenage Drug and alcohol treatment centers for recognize that their patients require a different approach than adult patients working through the same challenges.

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Dr. Alexander Chevalier, Medical Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at SunCloud Health, details the questions parents should be asking when looking for a treatment provider.


Hear from Dr. Chevalier on the balance school and extracurricular activities with treatment. In most cases, coursework is unaffected and can be improved while a student is out of school receiving treatment.

In treatment for teen drug abuse, a greater emphasis is placed on the teen’s support system: friends and family are encouraged to offer authentic emotional support during treatment.


Dr. Kim Dennis, MD, CEDS, explains how SunCloud Health treats co-occurring disorders.

Many treatment centers engage the teen’s support system in treatment exercises, including family-based therapies that target potential issues such as familial conflict, peer pressure, and co-occurring disorders that can all contribute to and exacerbate SUDs.

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Different Teen Drug Abuse Scenarios Need Different Levels of Care

Treatment for teens abusing drugs should always be custom built around the individual. Depending on the substances, and severity of the disorder, a combination of multiple forms of treatment can be implemented. Detox under professional care can be a crucial part of recovery, especially in cases involving substances prone to cause withdrawals. Therapy is the most universal service offered in treatment. Talk therapy and family-oriented therapies are both common options offered to patients experiencing drug abuse disorders. Contingency Management is a form of therapy that involves rewarding desired behavior or offering prizes after periods of sobriety. Motivational Interviewing involves coming alongside the teen in their decision-making, helping them to weigh the pros and cons of the decisions they face without making them feel they have lost their free-will in the situation. Medications are also prescribed to help patients overcome teenage drug abuse. These medications can include opioids, stimulants, and mood stabilizers, and they are more common in adult treatment. However, there are cases when a teen may need prescribed medications to heal from their drug or alcohol addiction.

Teenage Drug Abuse Treatment at SunCloud Health

SunCloud Health currently offers outpatient care for teen drug treatment. We will work with teens who are suffering from substance use of just about any kind. Together, we can help your teen get back on track.

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Alexander Chevalier, MD, Medical Director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at SunCloud Health answers the question, what does treatment look like and how do you make a live worth being sober for?

SunCloud Health’s Accreditations, Certifications & Licensingjoint commission national quality seal

The Joint Commission signifies that all people always experience the safest, highest quality, best-value health care across all settings with a devotion to patient safety. The Gold Seal, is a symbol to the community and patients we serve that SunCloud Health has placed an emphasis on quality of care.

Why Our Patients LOVE SunCloud Health:

The best decision of my life. I have never had more gratitude and love for a place in my life. I was a outpatient here for about 3 and half months this past year. I learned skills for coping, self-compassion, emotional regulation, and self-care that I use on a regular basis. The treatment I received created a foundation for me that I never had before, and it has helped and taught me to do what is best for me. Having both the group and individual therapy helped teach me a lot of important communication skills when it came to my emotions and shame. I have overcome so much because of this program, and I continue to grow because of everything I experienced and learned here. If you are wondering if this is the right place for you just know that in most cases it is. If you’re ready to work hard and become the person you need in your life then you are going to love SunCloud Health. Or in other cases if you need help and support to do the work SunCloud Health is there for you. It isn’t easy but it’s beyond worth it. You will meet many amazing people here both staff and other patients that will help guide on your path of recovery. It is a magical place and I am forever grateful for my experience here! 

Meet our Adolescent Medical Leadership Team

  • Alexander Chevalier, MD
    Alexander Chevalier, MD
    Medical Director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Kimberly Dennis, MD, CEDS
    Kimberly Dennis, MD, CEDS
    Chief Medical Officer, CEO and Co-founder | Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine
  • Johnathan Coleman, MD
    Johnathan Coleman, MD


Alexander Chevalier, MD, Medical Director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at SunCloud Health discusses the impact of COVID 19 on adolescents with Jacqueline Rhew, CADC, LCPC.


Mike Mehta, DO, MBA, Psychiatrist at SunCloud Health, on what he likes about child and adolescent psychiatry.

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Our Adolescent Treatment Locations

Northbrook Location

40 Skokie Blvd
Suite 200
Northbrook, IL 60062

Chicago Location

1840 North Clybourn
Suite 520
Chicago, IL 60614

Naperville Location

280 Shuman Blvd.
Suite 190
Naperville, IL 60563

Accreditations, Certifications & Licensing

LegitScript approved
DASA License. Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse.
Joint Commission Behavioral Health Care Accreditation.
EDC Member
IAEDP Member

The Joint Commission signifies that all people always experience the safest, highest quality, best-value health care across all settings with a devotion to patient safety. The Gold Seal, is a symbol to the community and patients we serve that SunCloud Health has placed an emphasis on quality of care.

We are here for you.

One of the nations most trusted names in treating substance use addictions, eating disorders, mood disorders, PTSD and related traumas.
(866) 729-1012