Teens: What Will Your Life Be Like After Rehab?
Actress and writer Carrie Fisher, who passed away in late 2016, once said, “Sometimes you can only find Heaven by slowly backing away from Hell.” She was speaking about her mental illness, but this same sentiment is relevant for people who are trying to overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
This task can be especially difficult if you are a teenager going through a rehabilitation program at a substance abuse facility. One of the many uncertainties that you may face during this ordeal is what will happen once your course of rehab is finished. It is a frightening thought because, if you cannot go back to the life you knew when you were addicted, what should you expect your future to look like?
The Road to Sobriety Begins When Rehab Ends
The most important thing for you to realize is that once you leave rehab, your work to remain clean and sober is just beginning. After rehab, you may have to attend individual or group counseling sessions, undergo drug testing, and possibly coordinate with law enforcement agencies.
Parents and family members can help with this transition by sitting down with you and assembling a recovery plan. In addition to scheduling the various appointments with therapists, counselors, and others, you and your family should work together to establish recovery goals, household rules, and consequences for violations of those rules.
Your Educational Future
One major decision to make is when (or whether) you should go back to school. If your drug abuse originated at the school or was heavily influenced by your classmates and friends there, it may be wise to consider other educational options. These may include homeschooling, completing courses online, transferring to a different school, studying for a GED, or even enrolling in a recovery high school (which is uniquely tailored to the needs of recovering teens).
Giving Up Temptations Forever
Another important concept that you must accept is the realization that you will probably never be able to consume the addiction-causing substance again. This may present problems if you get sick or injured and cannot turn to cough medicines or opioid painkillers for relief. More commonly, it means that you will not be able to consume alcohol even once you turn 21 years old.
That is because addiction is a chronic disease which is heavily influenced by genetics, past trauma, and underlying mental conditions, all of which are still present when you enter adulthood. Though every teenager’s case is different, the rule of thumb is that you need to convince yourself to permanently avoid the drug which landed you in rehab in the first place.
Perhaps the most pressing concern for recovering teens is the high possibility of relapse. In fact, about three out of every five teenagers in recovery relapse at least once during the year following their rehabilitation program. While a single “slip” does not constitute a relapse, it is a red flag which should be taken seriously by you and your family.
Common triggers for relapses in recovering teenagers are:
- Social situations where drugs or alcohol are present
- Reconnecting with friends or acquaintances with whom they abused drugs
- Reminiscing about the “fun times” had while abusing drugs
- Physical illness or pain
- Life stress
- Overconfidence or complacency regarding their recovery efforts
- Depression or self-pity
Some of the warning signs of a teen relapse include:
- Frustration, anger, or irritability
- Being defensive when recovery is discussed
- Skipping support meetings or therapy appointments
- Failing to avoid people or situations where drugs are present
- Downplaying the importance of a slip
Again, recovering from addiction is usually a years-long (if not lifelong) battle which is often plagued with mistakes, relapses, and discouraging events. The keys to overcoming addiction are perseverance during tough times, seeking support from family and other positive influences, and engaging in purposeful activities and pursuits. Above all, it is vital to remember that you are valuable and unique and that drugs can only hold you back from achieving success and happiness in life after rehab.
If you are a teen who needs some help to break free from the chains of addiction, contact Next Generation Village to learn more about our teen treatment programs.