For Families: How Can My Teen Cut Off Friends They’ve Previously Used Substances With?

Teens cutting off bad influencesWhen our adolescent has established a routine with friends at school – and they’ve considered them part of their social group – it can be hard for them to let go. Adolescents crave that sense of belonging, and while unhealthy, their social group may give them a sense of belonging. Even in the throes of addiction, those we abuse substances with may seem to be our closest friends at times – and it’s usually not until we’re sober and working towards recovery that we learn they’re really not the people who will help get us to where we need (and want) to be. This is a realization that your teen may need time to come to grips with – but you can certainly help support them in this.

It’s normal for your teen to feel a bit lost as they navigate their way through recovery. During an already confusing period of a person’s life, the changes that come with recovery can lead to a huge change on virtually all levels of their life. It’s hard to adapt to new changes, especially when we have no idea what lies ahead. You have to help your teen keep in mind the bigger picture, however – and remind them that this disconnection is the only way they can be sure to carry out the goals they’ve set for living a lifestyle that is conducive to their happiness and health.

A book published in 2016 titled Addiction, Behavioral Change and Social Identity: The Path to Resilience and Recovery states that in addiction recovery, we go through self and social identity changes; for example, teens may go from viewing themselves as “alone” in the world to a person who contributes to their community, and with this change comes different behaviors and activities that they’ll enact in real life. It typically starts with spending less time with past friends who used substances, and spending more time engaging in activities that add meaning to their life – such as through volunteering, school groups and more. Your teen will need to distance themselves from those they used to abuse substances with, and you’ll find that as they do this, they’ll begin to form relationships with others (and, with your help, they’ll have a better understanding of what type of relationships they really need in their life).

Major changes like this are challenging, but your teen has an entire network of social support around them – including those from treatment. You can start helping your teen develop lifelong friendships and meaningful connections that will have a strong, positive impact on their life – but as you explore this process, remember that it’s going to take some time. Work with them step by step, one day at a time.

Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program located in Kingston Springs that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966, and is located in Nashville, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998.