Recovery Support

Problematic substance use can be experienced at many different levels.

A person does not need to have full-fledged clinical addiction to be negatively impacted by substance use. 

One way to start to address issues is to have a primary care provider see a teen. 

Also, see what counseling services are available at the school — counselors, social workers, a wellness center, or the nurses' office. Many schools are working hard to let students know they are not there to punish them but to get support and on a healthier and safer trajectory. 

Some schools have designated staff whose sole job is to help teens with substance use issues (for themselves or someone in their homes). 

Schools often know of many outside resources that can be of help. 

Finding treatment

One good place to look for therapists for a teen or parents is

In its search engine, a person gives their location and can specify what they are looking for, such as someone who sees adolescents or does family therapy.

It may be the case that a person found on Psychology Today says their practice is fully booked, but give a call anyway and continue to let that person know you are interested. Availabilities of therapists are always shifting, so being on many therapists' waiting lists usually results in an opening sooner than one may think. 

Tap into ideas for resources parents and teens have. For far too long, families have felt scared to say they were looking for help. The good news is this is changing. It is not easy, but talking with friends to find other people who have gone through similar situations can be one of the best ways to find help., allows one to type in their zip code and the type of treatment they seek for mental and substance use disorders to help locate services. They also provide this phone number for help in  finding treatment: 800-662-HELP (4357)

SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) is a free, 24-hour-a-day information service for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides information about local treatment facilities, support groups, community-based organizations, and more.

SAMHSA’s online treatment locator is quite useful. 

Treatment eBook: How to find the right help for your child with alcohol or drug use. This is a free eBook is put out by Partnership for Drug Free Kids. It provides a good step-by-step action plan and advice from others who have gone through similar experiences.

When teens are resistant to help

Dr. Ruston is a fan of these two books, which explain a system of intervention called Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT). These books are based on supportive and non-confrontational methods to engage those who are resistant to getting treatment. 

Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading and Threatening by Robert Meyers by Robert J. Meyers and Brenda Wolfe 

Motivating Substance Abusers to Enter Treatment: Working with Family Members by Robert Meyers and  Jane Ellen Smith

Mutual support programs (12 steps and others)

One of the things that helped in Jo’s recovery was free community support meetings. There are many types of such meetings, including Smart Recovery and AA.  Often these programs are called “mutual support” since the model is all about people supporting each other. 

There are also support groups for family members of the person struggling with addiction, including for parents. 

“As a physician, I have seen countless people get their lives back on track by being a part of AA or a different type of mutual support program. There are open AA meetings in which anybody can come and sit in and get a feel of the supportive environment,”  — Delaney Ruston, MD.

Here are some links to examples of different mutual support organizations:

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): These are free and happen online and in person. AA has some specific meetings called “open” in which people can go and attend a meeting to see how one works. They do not have to participate. 

Families Anonymous--This is fellowship for family and friends of people with drug, alcohol or related behavioral issues. Just like other groups, they have both online and in person support meetings across the country.

Narcotics Anonymous

Marijuana Anonymous: 12-step meetings for people who are seeking recovery.

Smart Recovery: This program does not follow the traditional 12-step model. They hold online and in-person groups. In groups, talk about their recovery plan. SMART has meetings for different groups, including Family & Friends, veterans, and more.

Association of Recovery in Higher Education Collegiate Recovery: Many colleges have collegiate recovery programs.  It is important to let all kids know these programs exist so that if they go to college and need support or have friends that need support, they will have already heard of this. 

Programs addressing problematic internet use and video gaming 


The nation's first center specializing in the treatment of problematic internet, video game and technology use.

The Center for Internet & Technology Addiction

Founded by Dr. David Greenfield, one of the world's latest voices on internet, computer and digital media behavior.’

Game Quitters

Founded by a person who experienced video game addiction, Cam Adair. The site is full of useful tools, including a quiz.