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Finding Peer Support for Your Addicted Teen

Group of happy teens

Sure, there are plenty of ways that parents can help their teens who are dealing with substance misuse challenges. Parents can assist in practical ways like transporting teens to treatment sessions or paying for inpatient rehab programs, and they can provide emotional support through consistent encouragement and unconditional love.

Unfortunately for parents, there are some aspects of this struggle to which only someone who has undergone a similar experience can relate. This is where peer support can play a major role in a teen’s recovery.

What Is Peer Support and Does it Really Help?

Peer support can be defined as “the process of giving and receiving nonprofessional, nonclinical assistance from individuals with similar conditions or circumstances to achieve long-term recovery from alcohol or other drug-related problems.” It’s important to keep in mind that “peers” in this context does not necessarily mean other teenagers; in fact, young adults who have completed their own recovery journeys are often an excellent source of support for those who are currently battling teen addiction.

Research also bolsters the positive impact of peer support. In a National Institute on Drug Abuse study published online in the journal Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation in 2016, the authors conclude that “Peer support groups included in addiction treatment shows much promise,” though they admit that more research is needed to gauge these groups’ effectiveness.

Peer support for teens with a substance use disorder can take many forms. One of the most common is one-to-one therapy or counseling from a drug treatment professional or volunteer sponsor. This person can act as a mentor, advisor or a sounding board for a teenager who needs someone to listen to his or her needs and provide practical, evidence-based solutions to problems.

Group therapy sessions are also valuable for teens in recovery because they can act as a peer group for adolescents to strengthen the idea that they aren’t alone in their struggles. These support groups are usually led by a facilitator or counselor who encourages participants to verbalize their thoughts and problems and then fosters discussion about appropriate ways to respond to these issues while maintaining a sober lifestyle.

Making New Friends and Finding New Places

Many treatment professionals or counselors can also work to expand teens’ social circles to create peer groups that aren’t centered around drugs or alcohol. Introducing recovering teens to youths from churches, community groups or volunteer organizations can provide troubled adolescents with additional support and allow them to channel their energies toward something other than substance use.

Finally, there are often physical locations which are designed to facilitate the recovery of teenagers who have misused drugs or alcohol in the past. Many municipalities and neighborhoods have community centers where teens can attend therapy sessions and also engage with their peers in social activities as well. There are even recovery high schools that combine conventional classroom learning with intensive therapy so teens can advance their recovery efforts without falling behind in their studies.

Teenage friends laughing and smiling

Assessing New Peer Groups

There’s one more way that parents can guide their teens toward recovery: by monitoring their kids’ peer groups. While it may be encouraging to see teenagers staying away from the “bad influences,” parents must still be vigilant in determining whether any new (or existing) peer group has a positive effect on their child.

If these new friends have a positive attitude, maintain a healthy life balance and make their teen happy, then they’re most likely a helpful influence on the teen’s recovery. But if they engage in risky activities like sex, gambling or drug use (or if they are taking their recovery seriously), then your teen may be better off without them.

To be sure, it takes a team effort to help a teen struggling with addiction. Having peer support that can assist in that journey and inspire a teen to become a better person helps to increase the odds of successfully navigating that road to recovery and remaining substance-free as they grow into adults.

If you’re searching for peer groups for your teen with substance misuse issues, contact Next Generation today. A full-service rehab facility designed specifically for teens, Next Generation Village can offer the peer support and clinical attention necessary for long-term recovery.

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