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Why We Need More Addiction Specialists Focused on Teens

Written by: Melissa Lyon
Edited by: Jonathan Strum

group of teens sitting outside, talking

Substance use can easily change the course of an adolescent’s life. The effects of drugs and alcohol can stunt brain development, cause debilitating addictions and lead to a variety of mental health conditions. Substance use can also cause teens to struggle academically, engage in reckless behavior, get involved in criminal activities and more.

Early intervention services provided by addiction professionals can help teens correct their course and avoid these long-term consequences.

The Significance of Teen Drug Use

The most popular substances among teens include alcohol, marijuana and tobacco. Around half of high schoolers reported using marijuana before, four in ten tried cigarettes and two-thirds of seniors had tried alcohol. Opioids, such as heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers, are another dangerous substance to be aware of: 3,391 people aged 15–24 died of overdose due to illicit opioids in 2019, while 672 died due to prescription opioids.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may also be playing a role in substance use rates. In a survey by The Recovery Village, 74% of parents said their children’s mental health was impacted by the pandemic, with 27% reporting a significant impact. People often turn to substances to cope with mental health symptoms: another survey found 32% of respondents used substances in the past month to deal with mental health concerns like anxiety or depression.

How Addiction Specialists Are Helping Teens Avoid Drug Use

Addiction professionals work in a variety of roles to help prevent, address and treat substance use concerns among young people. Here are some of the key activities that addiction professionals may participate in.

Substance Abuse Prevention and Education

Addiction professionals provide outreach within the community, helping raise awareness about addiction and treatment resources. They may visit schools, colleges, businesses and other organizations to provide education about substance use, the consequences of addiction and ways people can find the help they need.

Crisis Management

Addiction professionals are trained to effectively navigate crisis situations, such as drug overdoses, dangerous mental health concerns and criminal behaviors. They may also provide harm prevention services, such as needle exchange programs and fentanyl test kits, to help mitigate some of the risks that people face when using drugs.

Support for Schools, Family and Friends

Addiction specialists may work with school faculty members to identify and help students struggling with substance use. Further, they may help the parents and friends of teens with addictions better understand how to support their loved one throughout recovery.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders

In clinical settings, addiction experts work to diagnose addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions and create individualized treatment plans. Treatment typically includes detox, group and individual therapy, counseling, and long-term aftercare programming. Addiction specialists help patients follow their treatment plans, provide support and monitor the recovery process.

Types of Jobs in Teen Addiction Treatment

There are many different career paths within addiction treatment, ranging from entry-level support staff to licensed medical roles. Employment opportunities include but are not limited to:

  • Behavioral health technicians
  • Interventionists
  • Mental health and addiction counselors
  • Therapists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Social workers

Is a Career in Teen Addiction Treatment Right for You?

With a career at Next Generation Village, each day brings you the opportunity to make positive changes in the lives of the teens and young adults you serve. If you are a caring, compassionate professional searching for a fulfilling role, a job in addiction treatment and recovery may be the perfect fit for you.

Our nationwide network of addiction treatment facilities employs more than 800 staff members, and we provide a generous benefits package that includes 401(k), PTO, medical, dental, vision and more.

Career Openings at Next Generation Village Teen Drug and Alcohol Rehab

We are always updating our career portal with the latest employment opportunities available at our facilities. As of this posting, open positions at Next Generation Village include:

  • Behavioral health technicians
  • Mental health counselor
  • Licensed practical nurse


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