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How to Support Teens in Recovery in 2021

Written by: Melissa Lyon Edited by: Jonathan Strum

Teen with arm in the arm

If your teen is struggling with substance use amid the added stress of the pandemic, these strategies and resources can help you support their recovery.

Though adults face many of the pandemic’s challenges, it’s important to think about what children are going through as well. Since March of last year, many adolescents have been isolated from friends and peer interactions at school. They’ve lost graduations, birthdays and other formative milestones to lockdowns and social distancing. The result is that more teens are struggling with mental health symptoms, and some are turning to drugs or alcohol to cope.

A recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that while the number of teens using substances like drugs or alcohol has gone down during the pandemic, they’re using more frequently than before. The largest percentage of these teens used substances while alone, likely fueled by poorer mental health and the need to cope with stress. Isolation, boredom and other pandemic-related problems may also play a role. 

Stress can create a significant risk of relapse for a teen’s recovery from drug or alcohol use. As the pandemic continues in 2021, they’ll need extra support from family, friends and loved ones to avoid relapse during this stressful time. 

Ways to Support Teens in Recovery

Because of safety precautions taking place throughout the country, it’s likely that your teen is spending much of their time away from friends and peers. As such, it’s important to find effective ways to support your child while they’re stuck at home.

Some examples include:
  • Being patient and understanding when your teen is restless or irritable
  • Fostering an environment of trust and open communication
  • Interacting socially or planning activities like game nights or movie marathons
  • Researching relapse prevention strategies and other recovery tips
  • Preparing for relapse and knowing how to handle it
  • Giving your child space when they may need it
  • Providing opportunities for them to connect with friends and family
  • Letting them know how proud you are of their progress

The Importance of Support in Recovery

While fostering a supportive environment at home is vital, teen drug addiction often requires professional assistance and peer support as well. At a rehab facility, teens can learn new ways to cope with difficult feelings that they likely relieved through substance use. They also have the opportunity to spend time with peers going through the same situation, which can continue long after treatment ends. It can be difficult to relate to your child’s struggles during recovery when you haven’t been through it yourself. Support from others in recovery can be an invaluable part of maintaining long-term sobriety. Peer support holds people accountable for their recovery and encourages them to continue even when they stumble.

New Paths To Recovery

Next Generation Village now offers an easy-to-use telehealth app through The Recovery Village, allowing your teen to receive addiction treatment online from licensed therapists and counselors. Whether your teen is in active recovery or looking to begin treatment, our professionals can provide evidence-based care through teletherapy and other virtual resources.

Additionally, our state-of-the-art rehab facility provides a full continuum of in-person care. Our programming is tailored specifically toward the unique needs of adolescents so they can heal in a safe, comfortable environment. Contact us today to learn more about treatment plans and programs that can work well for your teen.

Sources:

Dumas, Tara; et al. “What Does Adolescent Substance Use Look Like During the COVID-19 Pandemic? Examining Changes in Frequency, Social Contexts, and Pandemic-Related Predictors.” Journal of Adolescent Health, September 2020. Accessed January 8, 2021.

Sinha, Rajita. “Chronic Stress, Drug Use, and Vulnerability to Addiction.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, October 2008. Accessed January 8, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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