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How to Make the Most of Your Time in Teen Rehab

Counselor and teen

It’s true that teenagers decide to enter a substance use treatment facility for different reasons. Some make a deal with their families in exchange for a future reward; others may simply realize that they need to change their ways.

But some of the adolescents who enter rehab probably may do so because of the influence of other — either from their family, their school or the criminal justice system. If a teen is unmotivated they may:

  1. Do the bare minimum to finish rehab and then return to their previous lives of substance misuse.
  2. Do all they can to escape or get expelled from rehab so they can immediately resume substance use — but then face whatever consequences there are for failing to complete the program.
  3. Accept their fate and try to make the most of the time they spend in rehab — and hopefully get something positive out of it.

Start Preparing for Rehab Admission Day

Those teens who choose the third option should start readying themselves for rehab before they enter the program. This means ceasing any substance use, resting as much as possible and packing only what is allowed and necessary for their stay.

Many people who have gone through substance use treatment will freely admit that walking into a facility to enter a rehab program is the hardest thing they have ever had to do. The best way that adolescents can approach this is to try to remain calm, actively reject negative or worrisome thoughts, and perhaps tell themselves (repeatedly) that it is all for the best and that they’re getting to hit “Reset” on their lives.

Get Into a Daily Routine

Once adolescents have been checked in and settled at the facility, the next challenge is to orient themselves to the busy day-to-day schedule. Like making the transition from elementary to junior high school, the pace may take some time to get adjusted to. One good thing: If there’s something that teens want or need, adjustments can often be made to accommodate them, within reason.

Part of the rehab process involves addressing any non-substance use issues that may be contributing to the teens’ dysfunctional behavior. Often, this includes mental health disorders that physicians may have diagnosed. Though the idea of suffering from a mental condition can unsettle many teens, it’s essential that they embrace their prescribed treatment; if left unaddressed, these issues can reemerge after rehab and may scuttle any progress that had been made.

Don’t Worry About What You Cannot Control

By design, rehab centers try to minimize patients’ contact with events and people outside the facility so that teens remain focused on their recovery. While it’s natural to worry about what’s happening in the lives of their friends, family and community, teenagers are better off accepting the fact that their life will be there when they leave rehab. They should try to work on acquiring the skills they need to cope in the outside world once they do.

Throughout rehab, the teens are likely to experience emotions of varying types and severity. While this can be bothersome or uncomfortable, it’s a typical part of the recovery process. After all, their bodies and brains are learning to cope with the absence of drugs. Talking to a therapist can often help, though accepting the presence of emotions instead of fighting them is typically the best path to take. Anger is almost always counterproductive, so it’s vital to do everything possible to avoid lashing out or throwing tantrums in rehab.

Focus on Learning

More than anything, the number-one priority for teens in rehab is to soak up as much knowledge as possible during their time in the program. After all, since teenagers don’t have to worry about life distractions like social circles, parties or housework, they can fully concentrate on learning the tools, tactics and approaches they need to eschew returning to drugs or alcohol.

Though completing a rehab program doesn’t guarantee a completely substance-free lifespan, the probability of a long-term recovery improves greatly if teens approach the experience with an open mind and a positive attitude. Once they return to their “normal” lives, they’ll usually have the opportunity to put much of their troubles behind them and make a fresh start. And really — how often do people of any age get to do that?

Teens being happy as therapist and mom cheer on.

For more information on teen rehab programs at Next Generation Village, contact a representative today. With a comprehensive care program designed just for teens, Next Generation Village can be a stepping stone for a lifetime of healing.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation 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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