How to Help Your Teen after Drug Rehab
There are countless myths surrounding teen addiction. One of the biggest ones is: “Things will get so much easier once your teen gets out of rehab.”
In reality, rehab is just the first step on a long and challenging journey. After all, completing a substance abuse rehabilitation program is not like taking antibiotics to cure a bacterial infection. In other words, rehab does not usually “cure” addiction; there is a strong chance that your teen might need another rehab center visit in the future.
That is not to say that rehab is useless for your teen. Rehab is an important first step, but it is essential that you do everything that you can to aid your teenaged son or daughter when he or she arrives home after an inpatient rehab stay.
Lay a Good Foundation
First and foremost, you must keep in mind that the first few weeks at home after rehab will likely be the most difficult. Your teen may experience a wide range of emotions from melancholy to anger to detachment as he or she tries to readjust to a “normal” routine.
Before his or her arrival, you should go through your home and look for temptations that you can eliminate. Discard any unused or out-of-date prescription medicines, remove or secure any alcohol, and search his or her bedroom carefully for any drug paraphernalia or illicit substances.
Open Communication Channels
Once your teen is home from rehab, you should set aside some time to speak with him or her privately. Since the rehab program probably focused strongly on communication, try to hammer out some rules for communicating with one another. You can even ask your teen which topics he or she feels comfortable discussing and which ones should be avoided.
Most importantly, emphasize that you are there for your teen and that he or she has your love and support. If appropriate, speak with other family members and give them advice on how to interact with your teen going forward.
Stick to the Plan
A key factor in any addict’s recovery is his or her willingness to adhere to a predetermined post-rehab recovery program (which you hopefully helped assemble before your teen’s discharge). Though every recovery plan is different, it may include outpatient treatment, psychiatric therapy, family or support group counseling, or taking prescribed medications.
To maximize the chances of recovery, you should strive to facilitate this recovery plan wherever possible, whether it means providing transportation to appointments, taking time off from work for family counseling, or continuing to support your teen even if he or she does not seem to want your help. (Note: If opioid addiction or overdose is a potential issue, you should try to purchase a few doses of naloxone as a preventative measure.)
Seek Out Helping Hands
Another vital aspect of recovery for teens is surrounding themselves with people who support them. That is why being part of a support group of people who have gone through similar experiences can be extremely helpful in an addict’s recovery process.
However, you should not confuse the role of a support group with that of friends and other traditional peer groups. Teens also need companionship with peers who are not involved with drugs or alcohol, so look for opportunities to facilitate such relationships. (Here is a tip. Encouraging your teen to help others is an excellent way to focus his or her energy on something other than drug issues.)
Prepare for the Future
Finally, you should create an agreement (or “sobriety contract”) with your teen that outlines privileges that he or she will enjoy for abstaining from drugs or alcohol as well as consequences for rule-breaking or boundary-pushing. It is also wise to determine the conditions that constitute a relapse so you can change your strategy and explore other options like a return to rehab if needed.
Since your teen may be anxious about the future, it may be helpful to discuss strategies regarding upcoming events in an effort to reduce temptations and his or her stress level. These events may include family gatherings, holidays, a return to school, or parties where alcohol may be present.
Above all, you as a parent need to be ready for anything once your teen comes home from drug rehab. Sadly, about 40 to 60 percent of addicts relapse at least once during the recovery process, so you should accept the fact that regression is not abnormal nor is it an indication of failure on your (or your teen’s) part. If you keep persevering and supporting your teen, you give him or her the best chance of conquering substance abuse or addiction and growing up to lead a happy and prosperous life.
Will rehab help your son or daughter? Contact us for more information about our individualized treatment approach for teens.