As a parent of a teen who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you try to do everything you can to help your child overcome his or her problems and look to the future. Often, this involves rehab, outpatient treatment, counseling, family therapy, and even fighting through relapses.
Just when you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, it hits you: what if your son or daughter gets clean and sober, but faces a bleak future due to a lack of skills or education?
To avoid this potential pitfall, it is essential to address the need for academic support while your teen is going through recovery. Why? Because the further behind your teenager falls in school, the harder it will be to catch up once your teen vanquishes his or her addiction.
Figure Out Your Teen’s Educational Needs
The first step in this process is to have someone conduct an educational assessment of your teen. This will help determine a starting point from which you can begin structuring an educational plan.
If your teenager is in outpatient therapy, you can take steps to liaise with school officials so they can accommodate his or her educational needs while maintaining enough flexibility so that he or she can continue to recover from addiction. Be proactive in communicating with counselors, teachers, and administrators to learn about school policies and the resources that are in place to help your teen. (If possible, try to involve your teen in this process as well.)
Learning During Recovery
Some academic coursework can be initiated or completed while the teen is undergoing treatment inside a rehabilitation center. Many facilities have on-site classrooms in which teens can learn much of the core material that they would be studying in school.
A popular option is to arrange for the teen to be individually tutored in one or more academic areas. A tutor can be especially helpful for students who are struggling with a particular subject.
In some parts of the country, a teen may be able to enroll in what is known as a recovery high school. This type of school combines traditional classroom learning with counseling, group therapy, and other activities that are designed to facilitate addiction recovery.
Support is also available for teens or young adults who have completed (or are completing) their recovery but who have fallen a year or more academically behind their peer group. Many addicts can benefit from test preparation services which can help them ready themselves for standardized tests like the GED (for a high school diploma) or the ACT/SAT (to assess their readiness for college).
Finally, there are service providers who can offer non-academic support to recovering addicts as they enter adulthood regardless of whether they will pursue higher education. Those who wish to attend college can benefit from application assistance, college essay preparation, and even course enrollment. Others can receive training in job hunting, resume building, and interpersonal communication so they can be ready to enter the workforce. All addicted teens can be educated about how addiction works, how to cope with relapse temptations, and how to improve their self-esteem so that they can transition to permanent sobriety.
While education is important for everyone, it is especially vital for addicts because if they are not prepared to enter society (either as a college student or a skilled worker), they are much more likely to relapse and unravel all of the progress they made during recovery. In other words, if all of your efforts are focused on battling substance abuse and you ignore what comes after recovery, there may not be many opportunities available for your teen once he or she finishes treatment except, of course, the drugs or alcohol that contributed to the problem in the first place.
Would you like to talk with a professional addiction specialist to have your questions about academics and addiction answered? Contact us today to have a private discussion with one of our compassionate, courteous addiction specialists.