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How to Help Your Teen Build a Support Network after Rehab

A young teenage couple hugging and smiling.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has identified four components that make up a strong foundation for a sober life after completing substance use treatment:

  1. Health
  2. Home
  3. Purpose
  4. Community

As a parent, you probably are capable of providing a home for a teen in recovery, and you might have a good grasp of how to help them stay healthy and find a purpose in their life. But you may be wondering what role you can play in fulfilling that fourth key need for your teenager. Here are some suggestions on how to support your family member during their journey to recovery.

Recovery is a Team Effort

The importance of adolescents assembling a support network once they leave rehab cannot be overstated. Since typical adolescents often struggle with finding their place in the world, it’s easy to see how post-rehab teenagers would desperately need a group of caring, helpful individuals in order to feel a sense of belonging.

Moreover, strong support networks are essential if teens are to overcome future obstacles they will invariably encounter in life (such as a breakup, job loss or death of a loved one) without relapsing. And these loyal people won’t simply serve as ego boosters; they will also bring the recovering substance user back to reality whenever a firm admonishment is necessary.

Parents Can Coach the Support Team

The simplest way for parents to start building a support system for their recovering teenagers is to become a cornerstone in that group. If appropriate, parents can also encourage siblings, other relatives and neighbors to join in the effort to help the teen stay sober. 

But parents will only be effective advocates for their teens if they can successfully embrace their children’s current desire to remain sober, rather than dwelling on past mistakes or hurt feelings from when the teen was misusing drugs or alcohol. Patience, open communication, and positive reinforcement are all necessary for this type of relationship to succeed.

Teenage girl sitting opposite a therapist.

Finding More Support Team Players

Equally essential is the willingness of the teenager to faithfully attend recovery meetings, 12-step programs and/or group therapy sessions. These gatherings consist of people with challenges, pasts, and goals that are relatable to a person in recovery. Nowhere else will your child find a more like-minded, understanding group than at these meetings.

In addition, parents should encourage their teens to leave their comfort zones and proactively forge new social connections. Church groups and civic organizations are common places to meet new people, or perhaps the teenager might be more comfortable taking a class or volunteering for a charity. Extending their social circle will give teens more avenues for help and support should they need it in the future.

However, parents might want to ascertain whether any new acquaintances or friends are helping their teen in their recovery process. Some questions to consider include:

  • Do these people have a positive attitude?
  • Is the teen happy when they are around these people?
  • Do these people live healthily and maintain balance in their lives?
  • Do these people spend inappropriate amounts of time gambling, having sex, or engaging in risky activities?
  • If they have misused substances in the past, how seriously do their take their recovery?

Even though your teen may be substance-free, he or she still has a long, difficult road ahead to eliminate the temptation and impact of alcohol or drug misuse. As a parent, you’ll also have to work hard to support your teen’s recovery, especially if a relapse occurs. Though they are ultimately responsible for their own sobriety, a strong support network can provide the companionship, encouragement, and inspiration teens need to lead a normal, drug-free life.

If a teenager who you love needs substance abuse treatment,  contact us today!

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