Substance Abuse

Substance Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes in 2013, more than 24 million Americans age 12 or older—roughly nine percent of the population—used an illegal drug in the past month.

The good news is cocaine use is down nationwide; the bad news is heroin and prescription drug abuse are both on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention label prescription drug abuse in the U.S. an epidemic. The University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study for 2014 found eighth, 10th and 12th graders in their survey sample used heroin on more than one occasion. The average age for an eighth grader in the U.S. is 13.

What is substance abuse?

Substance abuse is the use of drugs—prescription or illicit—expressly for the psychological and physical effects they produce. Substance abuse among young people poses significant health risks because a young person’s physiognomy has not fully developed. Drug use affects internal organs, the central nervous system and brain. These effects are often permanent.

Individuals between 12 and 17 who abuse drugs are more likely to become addicted to drugs as adults. There is no such thing as innocuous drug abuse. A young person who uses substances to cope or to fit or just to get by will always be found out. His grades will slip, his relationships will deteriorate. He will become furtive and irritable. He’ll develop acne. His eating habits will fluctuate wildly.

How you can tell if your son is using drugs

Different drugs produce different symptoms. Marijuana produces red, watery eyes and an increased appetite. Cocaine dilates the pupils and ratchets up energy levels. Heroin produces a sense of euphoria followed by stupor. Adolescents deep in addiction disregard their appearance and hygiene. They have impaired memory, emotional volatility and irregular sleep habits. A young person who regularly smokes crystal methamphetamine will develop meth mouth—rotting teeth, infected gums, and cracked and bleeding lips.

Help with substance abuse

Treatment begins with admission to White River Academy. During intake, our admissions staff conducts a thorough assessment of your child. Depending on the extent of drug use, the first phase of treatment may include detox. Detox must be conducted under the care of medical professionals. If a person has been using abusing drugs for a significant period of time, going cold turkey is not only reckless; it could prove fatal. The medical staff at White River Academy monitors detox patients closely. These patients join the rest of the community only after they are healthy and free of withdrawal symptoms.

Drug addiction is complex. In addition to dependence, addiction includes a psychological component. Psychotherapeutic methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy—CBT—assists in identifying the negative thought processes that feed addiction. Individual and group therapy, art therapy, equine and recreational therapy—White River Academy uses a wide array of conventional and innovative therapies to treat addiction. Patients participate in 12-step based programs such as Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous.

White River Academy

White River Academy is a residential treatment center located near the rim of the Great Basin in Utah. Surrounded by mountains and natural wonders, White River combines challenging academia with outdoor activities. We treat and educate teenage boys between 12 and 17 who have behavioral and substance abuse issues. Each student receives an individualized treatment plan. Students participate in group and individual therapy. Students receive weekly chores. For more information about the admissions process, our programs and financial options, contact 866-520-0905.

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What makes us great!


Justin Nielson

Program Administrator

It is natural for parents to worry and have concerns when sending their son away to a residential treatment center. We hope this detailed description of the admission process at White River Academy will answer some of your questions.

  • Small and Family-Directed

  • Accredited Educational Facility

  • Individualized Academics

  • Behavior Learning Component

  • Positive Peer Culture

  • Licensed Residential Treatment Center

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