When Should I Consider Residential Treatment for My ADHD Teen?

Moody teen without a care for the future—or something deeper?

If you are a parent dealing with a teen who struggles with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and suffers from a lack of focus is frustrating and difficult for both the parent and the child.

You probably find yourself asking “why hasn’t my teen outgrown this behavior by now?” You might notice that your son is struggling to meet the demands of high school or that your daughter has a very low tolerance for frustration. You wonder if you have a troubled teenager that needs more help, or if the attitudes and apathy will eventually shift into a more mature approach.

You are not alone.

There are parents everywhere struggling to have healthy relationships with their teens and ADHD or ADD will only further complicate that. I have watched so many relationships failing as parents just didn’t understand the underlying issues for their teens.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be difficult to fully pinpoint and get a clear picture on with children. According to the CDC, as many as 5% of children have ADHD, but other studies within the US have reported higher rates in their community samples. It can be hard to identify what causes troubled children to act out, so ADHD isn’t always considered the culprit.

Parents that can get ahead of the curve may be able to stop the behavior from becoming worse for their at-risk youth.

What Causes ADHD or ADD?

There isn’t a known reason that ADHD or ADD occurs. There are a number of causes that researchers suspect lead to the disorders, including:


      • Chemical imbalances in the brain

      • Genetics (it often runs in families)

      • Changes within the brain, including disorders and brain injuries

      • Development issues, including poor nutrition, smoke inhalation, alcohol, substance abuse during pregnancy and other problems that can impact a baby or young child’s growing brain

    To the best of our understanding, it is not caused by stress in the home, sugar, allergies, TV or the school setting. It is important to note that in the majority of cases, ADHD is not the parent’s fault, but it is causing a very real roadblock for your teenager.

    ADHD Changes in the Teen Years

    ADD or ADHD may shift to something more subtle with age. While you think your teen is outgrowing their hyperactivity, it has just shifted to a difficulty to handle frustration or disappointments. You may find your teen acts out from a place of embarrassment and may work to deny there is a problem there at all. You may notice your ADHD teen struggles with:


        • Feeling tired

        • Fighting with close friends

        • Feeling stressed about seemingly small tasks

        • Suffering from low self-esteem

        • Feeling ostracized as an outsider from their peers

        • Struggling with engaging in activities they find boring

        • A disconnect with parents and general feelings of being misunderstood

      The problem is, these symptoms are not very different from what you will see in all teens. But when your child is acting out to a point you start considering a residential treatment center, then you know there is something more intensive going on than a normal shift of hormones.

      When Should I Consider Teen ADHD Treatment?

      Usually, by the time parents are asking this question, they’ve considered all the options within their grasp. They’ve tried getting their kids into a sport or club that excites them. They’ve tried to provide hobbies and help them work through their emotional stressors to learn coping skills. They’ve gotten tutors to help with academics and focused on improving the social struggles.

      If after all this, you are still feeling stuck and lost, then it may be time to consider a residential treatment facility.

      When teens turn to self-harm, aggression, lying, manipulation, substance abuse or other harmful acts, they are often crying out for help. Sometimes your teen just needs to get a break away from their norm, which has become their rut. Rather than keep pushing for change and hoping something sticks, you can place your child in a program that will work to meet his or her needs.

      Making that decision can be difficult and scary, but we are here to help. RTC can connect you with solutions to help your family grow stronger together. Speak to one of our counselors today.

      Finding Hope: Our Journey Towards Choosing ADHD Residential Treatment

      October 24, 2023

      Dear Owen, 

      As I sit here, reflecting on the journey that led us to consider a residential treatment center for our son, James, I realize it’s a story of hope amidst challenges. James was diagnosed with ADHD when he was seven. We navigated the early years with a mix of therapies, school accommodations, and endless patience. But as he entered his teen years, the challenges intensified.

      High school brought a new world of struggles for James. His impulsivity wasn’t just about blurting out answers in class anymore; it led to risky behaviors that scared us. His inattention became more than unfinished homework; it was about missing out on essential life skills. And then there were the co-occurring issues – anxiety and bouts of depression that seemed to tighten their grip on him.

      We tried everything. Adjusting his IEP at school, therapy, medication adjustments, but the pieces didn’t seem to fit together. It felt like we were always a step behind, reacting to problems instead of preventing them. Our family was in a constant state of alert, and the stress was affecting all of us, including James’s younger sister.

      The turning point came during a particularly tough parent-teacher conference. It was clear that despite the school’s best efforts, they were not equipped to handle the complexity of James’s needs. That’s when we heard about ADHD residential treatment centers. I remember the mixed feelings – hope, fear, guilt. Could we really send our son away? Was this what he needed?

      We researched tirelessly. We visited facilities, talked to experts, and met with families who had walked this path before us. The more we learned, the more we realized that this was a chance for James to receive holistic care tailored to his unique challenges. A place where he could learn coping strategies, get consistent therapy, and be in an environment designed to help him succeed.

      The decision wasn’t easy, but watching James thrive in the residential program, seeing his confidence grow, and his abilities strengthen, we knew it was the right choice. He’s not just learning to manage his ADHD; he’s learning to excel despite it. And as a family, we’re learning too – about letting go, trusting the process, and most importantly, about hope.

      Our journey is not unique, but it’s ours. And if sharing it helps another family find their path to hope and healing, then it’s a story worth telling.


      Speak to an expert about When to Consider Residential Treatment Center for ADHD Teen? and how it may help your child.

      Connect with an Admissions Counselor who specializes in When to Consider Residential Treatment Center for ADHD Teen? to help your teen begin their recovery today.

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