Children’s Health Launches DFW’s First Adolescent Substance Use Program

Children’s Health recently launched the first outpatient program in North Texas treating a combination of substance use and behavioral healthcare tailored to adolescents. The program has started taking patients aged 13 through 17 at Children’s Health Specialty Center in Dallas.

According to Children’s Health, its Teen Recovery Program was developed after realizing the “growing need for integrated substance use and behavioral health services” specifically in that age cohort in North Texas. The medical center cites National Institute on Drug Abuse data stating “addiction nearly always starts in adolescence.”

Patients can self-refer, or parents/legal guardians can refer patients to the clinic. The program aims to treat addiction causes, rather than just the symptoms of substance use, by combining teen-specific substance use therapy and behavioral healthcare tactics.

The program is comprised of three phases and starts with individual therapy, then transitions to group therapy sessions with a family-centered approach. Children’s Health’s Dr. David Atkinson, assistant professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern who’s board certified in child, adolescent, and addiction psychiatry, serves as medical director of the program.

Atkinson says it’s critical that substance use disorders are treated as early as they are detected, since individuals with emotional and behavioral problems are at high risk for developing addictions. He told D CEO Healthcare: “We’re proud to be the first program in North Texas offering outpatient substance use developed specifically for teens using a model that is scientifically demonstrated to be effective. We’re also adding treatment for depression, anxiety, ADHD and behavioral issues in order to care for the whole child and help them move on from using substances, as opposed to just stopping their use.”

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