Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment
Denver Health STEP Program
STEP Program (Substance Abuse Treatment Education & Prevention) for Adolescents
Established in 2004 with a generous grant from The Daniels Fund, the Denver Health STEP (Substance Abuse Treatment Education & Prevention) Program offers personalized mental health and substance abuse treatment for teens and young adults (ages 11-24). Using distinct, research-proven techniques, we collaborate with teenagers and youth to identify new approaches to life’s challenges and create the meaningful life they want to live.
Program Details and Amenities
The 16-week outpatient treatment program includes:
- A comprehensive evaluation conducted by a therapist and board-certified child and addiction psychiatrist.
- Motivational interviewing to encourage change in adolescents who are not initially interested in stopping their substance use. Motivational interviewing is an empathic, non-confrontational approach that motivates teens to make positive change. With motivational interviewing, our therapists align themselves with the positive goals and values of each adolescent. As treatment progresses, therapists help adolescents and their family members discern the discrepancy between current behaviors such as substance use.
- Individual cognitive behavioral therapy. Individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most research-based psychotherapy in child/adolescent mental health. CBT helps people change the way they think and act to help them change the way they feel. We treat our clients individually as it allows us to tailor the therapy to meet the needs of each adolescent and his/her family; research shows that group treatment can do harm if adolescents learn negative behaviors from each other.
- Family sessions. Family therapy involves meeting with parents to help their children maintain their sobriety. A positive relationship with one's parents is how teens learn to internalize the healthy values of their parents.
- Integrated treatment for co-occurring psychiatric disorders. Integrated care for psychiatric and substance abuse problems is provided to all adolescents from the outset. Most adolescents presenting for substance treatment have co-occurring psychiatric problems. Research shows that substance treatment is most successful when treatment is providing, not just for the substance abuse, but also the co-occurring psychiatric problems. For this reason, initial assessment are done with a therapist and a psychiatrist, who can provide medication management as necessary. The ongoing CBT treatment is also designed to address co-occurring psychiatric problems.
- Medication-assisted treatment, as needed.
- Prizes for clean urine drug screens. We practice contingency management, which means STEP rewards clean urine drug screens with prizes from our prize cabinet. This is one of the most effective ways to help teens achieve initial abstinence.
- Case management. STEP therapists work hard to get adolescents involved in positive activities that promote long-term sobriety. Case management includes coordinating care with other agencies and providers.
- Plan for continued sober living. Continuing care means that we ensure ongoing activities that maintain progress made while in treatment. People once thought that addiction was cured with treatment. We now know that for most people it is a life-long process that needs ongoing attention. For these reasons, we help teens and their families plan for ongoing success.
We accept most insurance carriers. STEP appreciates referrals and works regularly with schools, faith-based organizations, community groups and the juvenile justice system.
STEP Program printable rack card to share with others.
Substance Abuse Treatment Education & Prevention (STEP) Research
STEP also conducts clinical research that may result in effective, new treatments for adolescents and teens with substance abuse problems. Find out more about
STEP research projects.