7 Signs Your Adolescent Daughter Needs Residential Treatment

7 Signs Your Adolescent Daughter Needs Residential Treatment

Although your child may not want to admit it, she may be struggling with a problem much bigger than she can handle on her own. Worrying your daughter has a problem with drug or alcohol addiction is nerve wrecking, but it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, nearly 3 percent of U.S. women 12 years or older struggle with substance abuse.

Treatment for drug or alcohol addiction comes in many forms, but the biggest choice you may have to make is whether to choose residential or outpatient treatment. Neither is inherently better than the other, rather, the one you choose depends on many factors.

Sometimes, however, it can be hard to know whether your teen truly has a problem with drug or alcohol addiction. Adolescents go through a lot of changes, and sometimes the dramatic nature of their life and mood swings are misleading. Despite the confusion, there 7 clear signs your adolescent girl may need residential treatment.

RELATED: Here’s Why Depression and Addiction Often Occur Together

Teenagers often go through hard times, some that need professional help

1) She starts changing in drastic and harmful ways

Most adolescents go through plenty of changes, so this shouldn’t be the only sign you rely on. Mood swings and dramatization seem like normal events in the life of a teen. Some changes are more pronounced than others, though. If you notice one of these patterns, it might mean your adolescent girl is using drugs or alcohol in excess:

  • She starts losing interest in her favorite activities and hobbies
  • You notice changes in her personality, mood, and habits
  • Her grades start dropping and may have other problems at school
  • She suddenly starts hanging out with new people and abandons old friends

Everyone changes, and so do their interests, but if you feel like your teen is losing their core personality, acting destructively, or has suddenly become radically different, there’s likely a deeper issue that needs to be addressed.

2) You know or have reason to believe your teen is abusing drugs or alcohol

Many parents have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, but there are other more physical, and perhaps obvious, signs your girl needs help.

  • Pills or alcohol start to go missing around the house
  • She has bloodshot eyes
  • Her pupils seem larger or smaller than usual
  • She has sudden weight changes
  • She seems less coordinated
  • She begins to smell different
  • She has frequent nosebleeds
  • There is physical evidence in her room, car, or other places she typically uses of drugs or alcohol use such as empty bottles, pills, or syringes

3) Outpatient treatment isn’t realistic or feasible

After you and your adolescent girl realize and admit that there’s a problem, the next step is to seek treatment. Although you can choose an outpatient service, it isn’t always realistic or even possible.

To successfully complete outpatient treatment and prevent relapse, your adolescent girl will need to have these types of support systems or factors in place:

  • A reliable mode of transportation to get to the treatment center
  • A stable living environment
  • A stable and supportive community
  • No exposure to drugs or alcohol

Unfortunately, outpatient treatment doesn’t usually provide the type of environment necessary for recovery. Many people who struggle with addiction have distanced themselves from their old friends and strained relationships at home.

Outpatient programs may also offer too much freedom. On the other hand, inpatient programs control the substances that enter the building, and patients don’t leave until they’ve completed treatment. Outpatients may be tempted to give in to cravings and can easily access drugs or alcohol.

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4) She has a mental illness in addition to her addiction

If your teen has a mental illness, this is another sign of residential treatment may be the best choice. Mental illness and substance abuse often occur together. According to a study published in JAMA, 37% of people with alcohol addiction and 53% of people with drug addictions also had a mental disorder.

It’s nearly impossible to treat one without treating the other, especially since an untreated mental illness may be what drove your teen to experiment with drugs or alcohol in the first place. Ultimately, a residential center specializing in dual diagnosis may be better able to help your girl.

5) She has other medical issues that need to be addressed

When someone has specific medical needs, especially when it comes to medication, it may be best to get treated in a residential facility. Your teen has an addiction – and this means it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to control some of their actions. The urge to get high or drunk takes over, and they may be unable to resist.

Having to take medication that’s necessary for their health or wellbeing complicates the situation further. Your girl may not be in a position to measure and take her necessary medications responsibly by herself.

6) She has struggled with drug or alcohol use before

Even when people want to quit, staying drug or alcohol-free for the long hall is a challenge. Sometimes, people relapse. Which is why it’s important to look out for common relapse triggers. If this has happened to your adolescent girl, she may need more support than outpatient treatments provide, especially if she was an outpatient the first time.

7) She does not seem fully invested in her recovery

You can’t force someone to get help – people need to have internal motivation to find the strength to resist their addiction. There are different levels of motivation, however. If you have confronted your teen about addiction and were the driving factor in seeking treatment, her motivation may not be high enough to successfully complete outpatient treatment.

In this case, residential treatment will provide a more stable environment conducive to success.

RELATED: What You Need Before You Discuss Treatment Options With a Loved One


As a parent, trying to sort through your options and get help for your daughter can seem overwhelming. Even though everyone is experiencing a lot of emotions right now, just remember treatment is a step in the right direction. Recovery is possible, and neither of you has to do it alone.

Author’s bio: As the financial director and co-owner of Alpine Recovery Lodge, Amy is very involved in the finances and marketing operations. A graduate of Nevada State with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration, Amy also took Masters level math, finance, and economics classes at UCSD. She is committed to the business end of daily operations and strives to use her knowledge of business processes to encourage the continued growth of Alpine Recovery Lodge. She works with insurance companies to get the most possible coverage available for the residents. The content above was reviewed for accuracy by a mental health professional.