What Is Rehab Aftercare?
It’s likely that teens who leave formal, intense rehab programs still have cravings for drugs or alcohol. It’s also likely these teens are dealing with challenges they didn’t face when they were spending a significant amount of time in a therapeutic environment. That combination could put teens at risk for relapse
, but aftercare can help.
Organizations like NIDA say that addictions are chronic conditions that teens can learn to manage. A teen diagnosed with addiction
will probably meet that addiction criteria for life. Just because the condition is chronic, however, doesn’t mean it can’t be controlled. Addiction impulses can be controlled, and aftercare is designed to provide that message in a compelling, actionable way.
Aftercare programs are typically provided on an outpatient basis
, so the teen is once again living at home when these programs start. The therapies are typically handled in appointments, and a teen might have several of these meetings each and every week. The time commitment is significantly reduced when compared to the amount of time a teen might typically spend in residential rehab
; however, the help provided here could be truly revolutionary in terms of a child’s ability to heal.
Counseling and Coaching
During rehab, teens spend a significant amount of time in the presence of a therapist, a counselor and/or a social worker. It’s important that therapy continues during the aftercare portion of a child’s healing process with a therapist in the child’s local community. That’s because the lessons a child needs to pick up to maintain sobriety can change once a child leaves the protection of rehab.
In counseling sessions outside rehab, professionals can help teens to examine the new pressures they’re facing on their return to their communities. Anything that puts the child in jeopardy of relapse is a fair topic to discuss in a follow-up counseling session. And after those sessions, teens might be provided with homework they can do to learn even more. When sobriety is new and a little fragile, counselors can be wonderful resources that keep teens on track and on course.
- Peer pressure
- Life responsibilities
- Family conflicts
Before graduating from treatment, case managers can help adolescents locate reputable counselors in their local communities.
Even though college can be remarkably helpful for almost any student, it can be hard for young people with addictions to make the leap from high school to college. Even teens in recovery from addictions face very serious struggles that other students don’t face. At times, those difficulties may seem insurmountable. But thankfully, with raised awareness of the prevalence of addictions in young people, options are opening up that allow students in recovery to complete high school, prepare for college, and enjoy a sober experience there.
Every college admissions team will look for one specific thing: proof of completion of high school coursework. Students who can’t prove this step can’t get into school, no matter how wonderful their test scores and community involvement. There are a number of ways to meet this requirement. Some students with a history of addiction enroll in alternative high schools.
- Substance abuse
- Criminal activity
- Language barriers
- Social difficulties
Others complete their GED during night school, or online. In addition, some rehab programs offer educational classes to keep students up to date on any schoolwork they may be missing when attending rehab.
Teens may also learn valuable lessons from their sober peers. That kind of help is readily available in support group meetings that follow a 12-step protocol. In 12-step meetings, peers with a desire to stay sober come together to learn more about how recovery really works. They share stories of their own recovery, study published works about sobriety, and lean upon one another for ongoing support.
Sometimes, teens also benefit from programs that allow them to either volunteer or work. Activities like this keep kids busy, so they have fewer opportunities to use and abuse drugs. They can also provide teens with a sense of responsibility and accomplishment, and those good feelings could also keep teens on the sober pathway.
Helping Your Teen With Sobriety
Researchers suggest that the risk of relapse dips when people remain abstinent for a minimum of five years. At that time, the habits they’ve made tend to become permanent, and those habits can help them to stay sober in the face of temptation. The key to beginning this process is enrolling in a comprehensive drug treatment program. After a teen detoxes and learns life skills they need to maintain sobriety, counselors can help teens find aftercare programs that work best for them. Parents and guardians can also help this process by supporting their teen’s decision to be involved with any form of aftercare.