Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment in Barnwell, SC

In 2017, the South Carolina Profile on Substance-Related Indicators reported that around 25% of adolescents were using alcohol. The same report says approximately 15 percent of adolescents use illicit prescription medications.

Substance use is a severe problem in South Carolina, but treatment for substance use disorder can help adolescents overcome substance use issues at a young age. Axis I Center of Barnwell is committed to helping our youth find lasting recovery.


During a person’s teenage years, their brain goes through a series of rapid changes. These changes often challenge a person’s mental and emotional well-being and development. Often this development is accompanied by experimentation with substance and alcohol misuse. For some young people, the urge to experiment subsides naturally, and they enter adulthood free of substance use disorder. However, in the United States, 407,000 teenagers meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder, a severe condition that can negatively affect a person’s physical and mental health. For adolescents, the safest substance use option for optimal development is abstinence.


Substance Use Treatment for Adolescents

A 2019 report said South Carolina has the 4th highest rate of teenagers drinking and driving. The usual adolescent tendency to experiment sometimes leads to dangerous behaviors. Teenage experimentation with substance use can sometimes lead to substance use disorder.

With this condition, a person struggles to control their substance use even though they face severe health and social consequences. When a person develops a substance use disorder, they should receive treatment from a licensed and or certified professional who can help them find long-term recovery.

Environmental Factors for Adolescent Substance Use

Several risk factors contribute to adolescent substance use disorders. Often these are factors that a young person cannot fully control due to age. Therefore, great care should be taken in helping adolescents cope with these risk factors.

Risk factors that affect adolescent substance use include:

  • Homelessness or financial instability
  • Presence of a mental health condition
  • Family history of substance use disorders
  • Family history of substance use
  • Discrimination
  • Stressful family events or conflict
  • Stressful life events
    Peer Pressure
  • Exposure to substance use

Challenges of Adolescent Care

When treating adolescents with substance use disorders, some specific challenges are unique to their age group. For example, adolescents face many risk factors that are not always in their control. Furthermore, many young people feel a significant stigma about their substance use diagnosis and may struggle to open up to treatment providers.

These factors make it difficult for a counselor to build rapport with an adolescent patient. However, counselors who work alongside adolescents are highly skilled in creating a space where they can feel comfortable sharing. They do this by getting to know their adolescent patients, taking an interest in what they care about, and involving trusted adults in their care to make them feel more comfortable. For our counselors working alongside adolescents, building rapport is vital to proper diagnosis and effective treatment. Teenagers don’t trust adults if there isn’t time spent building rapport early in the treatment process.


Many practices promote mental wellness that can positively impact an adolescent’s substance use condition. One such practice is the fostering of positive relationships. Doing so will give an adolescent a sense of self-worth and belonging. Relationships also provide emotional support.

Providing adolescents with healthy coping skills can also discourage substance use. We cannot shield them from all of life’s troubles, but it is possible to equip adolescents with skills to cope with the difficult times when they present themselves. Activities like meditation and deep breathing can help reduce stress. Teaching teenagers how to manage their schedules can prevent many stressful situations.

Learning new skills and hobbies will give an adolescent working to manage their mental health positive goals to focus on. Accomplishing these goals will boost their self-esteem and give them tangible evidence of their work.

Educating young people about substance use can significantly affect their ability to communicate their well-being and needs. Positive mental health will decrease the probability that a teenager will choose substance use. Furthermore, good communication with adolescents, especially about their overall well-being, can create the trust needed to address and overcome a desire to use or engage in risky behaviors when they arise.


Physical activity not only provides benefits to a person’s physical fitness, but it also increases their mental wellness. For some teenagers, this comes naturally through participation in team sports that they find enjoyable. For others, it may mean they have to be intentional about choosing physical activity over more intellectual pursuits they naturally gravitate towards. Hiking, biking, working out at the gym, or swimming are all examples of physical activities that adolescents might enjoy.

Good nutritional practices can maintain physical and mental wellness in adolescents as well. Sometimes young people who are worried about their weight or appearance will attempt to make unhealthy changes, such as skipping meals or cutting out an entire food group from their diet.

A better way is to make all meals fit into these nutritional guidelines as much as possible:

  • Half of every meal should be fruits and vegetables.
  • Whole grains should be consumed over refined grains.
  • Low-fat or lean protein options should be utilized over more high-fat options.
  • Good options include turkey, seafood, chicken, beans, and nuts.
  • Dairy provides calcium needed to develop stronger bones. Lactose-free options are available for those who have difficulty digesting dairy products.
  • Healthy fats are important for normal development. If you are unsure which fats are healthy, a good question is, “is it liquid at room temperature?” If so, it is likely a healthy fat. Examples of healthy fat foods are avocados, nuts, and olives.
  • Foods that are high in sugar should be limited.


At Axis I of Bramwell, we are committed to helping your adolescent through their substance use condition. Our staff is equipped to provide individualized treatment that will give your child the tools they need to achieve wellness and thrive. For more information about Axis I, and our adolescent treatment program, contact us today at (803) 541-1245.


How do adolescents work in therapy?

Adolescents usually engage in talk therapy with a licensed and or certified counselor specially trained to build rapport with young people. This is because adolescents need to know they are safe and secure to open up and share their feelings. Once rapport is established, a counselor can help young people work on strategies to overcome their substance use struggles and strengthen their mental wellness.

How do you counsel a troubled teenager?

One of the best things a person can do when a teenager decides to open up to them is to listen and affirm their feelings. Unfortunately, so often, offering quick solutions is not helpful because it does not address the root causes of their emotions. Recovery from substance use is a journey that usually requires a robust network of supportive individuals.