Adolescent Residential Treatment: More Than Just Substance Abuse


Kids are notorious for being picky eaters. As they grow, determining what they will and won't eat can be a way of establishing their independence. Unfortunately, picky eating can also be a sign of a child who is unable to control their emotions. A study found a positive correlation between young children who were picky eaters and an inability to regulate emotions. Fussy eating can turn into disordered eating in adolescence. When our adolescents exhibit signs of unhealthy eating habits, it's not merely a phase; it's a serious issue that requires our attention and support. In this blog we’ll dive into the intricacies of disordered eating and how residential treatment can help. 

Disordered Eating vs. Eating Disorders

Confusingly similar in name, there is a difference between disordered eating and eating disorders. “Disordered eating refers to a spectrum of problematic eating behaviors and distorted attitudes towards food, weight, shape, and appearance.” “Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses that are characterized by persistent disturbances in eating behaviors and impairment in psychological functioning.” In general, the persistence and severity of eating disorders is greater than that of disordered eating, however the latter can turn into the former if left untreated. 

How Residential Treatment Can Help

The Holistic Approach


Adolescent residential treatment programs take a holistic approach to addressing behavioral health. These programs recognize that disordered eating stems from a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. They focus their spectrum of treatment modalities to ensure that your teenager receives comprehensive care that is tailored to their specific needs. These approaches may include various therapeutic modalities, nutritional counseling, and medical interventions.

The Role of Structure

Structured eating sessions alongside a balanced daily routine is paramount to the treatment of disordered eating. In-patient adolescent treatment programs provide a structured environment free from triggers and distractions. With set meal times, therapy sessions, and daily routines, your child learns to develop healthy habits and coping mechanisms. This structured approach fosters a sense of stability and predictability, which are essential for overcoming the chaos often associated with eating disorders.

Harnessing Peer Support

Being in community with like-minded individuals is a big part of internal and external acceptance as a teen. In a residential setting, young adults have the opportunity to connect with their peers who share similar experiences. Peer support plays a vital role in the recovery process, as it promotes empathy, understanding, and camaraderie. Through group therapy sessions, recreational activities, and shared living spaces, teens build a support network that encourages honesty, vulnerability, and mutual encouragement. This sense of community alleviates feelings of isolation and fosters a collaborative approach  healing.


Personalized Therapy

Individualized treatment plans that delve into the underlying factors contributing to disordered eating are crucial. Every teenager has their own story about what brought them into treatment - their recovery should match that unique path. Trained therapists work closely with teens to identify triggers, challenge negative thought patterns, and develop coping strategies. By addressing co-occurring mental health issues, past traumas, and distorted beliefs about food and body image, teens gain insight into their struggles and acquire the tools needed for sustained recovery.

Transition & Aftercare Planning

Residential treatment is just the first step. Successful recovery extends beyond the confines of residential treatment. Aftercare planning is an integral component of the treatment journey. These programs equip teens and their families with the resources and support necessary for a smooth transition back into everyday life. This may include outpatient therapy, support groups, nutritional guidance, and ongoing monitoring to ensure long-term success. A collaborative approach between treatment providers, families, and community resources empowers your teen to navigate the challenges of reintegration with confidence and resilience.

Give Us a Call

If you know a teenager that’s struggling with disordered eating, give Sustain Recovery a call today. Our dual-diagnosis adolescent treatment program may be able to help. If we can’t, we’ll happily answer any questions we can and help you find the appropriate facility for your child.