Parenting in and of itself can become really challenging during your child’s teenage years, but when our teens come back from rehabilitation, it can feel as though we’re stepping into an entirely new world. We may begin to question whether we’re saying or doing the right things that are beneficial for their recovery; we may become paranoid, worried that we’re going to miss signs of substance abuse and we may not know whether to trust our teens again or to watch their every move. It’s certainly a major change when teens come home from rehabilitation, because they’ve just spent between 1 and 6 months surrounded by structure, sobriety leaders and more. If your teen is about to come home, don’t be worried – there are steps you can take to make this as smooth of a transition as possible.
It’s All About Perception
First and foremost, you need to take a quick inventory of how you’re feeling about everything right now. Have you come to terms with the fact that your teen is recovering from addiction? How do you view relapse? Relapse is a normal part of recovery and, while we should try to reduce the risks of it as much as possible, you don’t want to view your teen’s success in recovery based on whether or not they relapse. In fact, you’ll want to view their recovery as an ongoing process with ups and downs. The sooner you can adopt this perspective, the better.
Secondly, how important do you make your child’s recovery? If you don’t place it as a high priority, your teen will be able to sense that – and it will make it more difficult for them to remain sober without your full support. Greg Williams, 26 years old, shared his story of struggling with marijuana and prescription drug addiction when he was 17 years old. Several years ago, he told Family Circle, a website that covers topics such as teens, health, family, holidays and more, about his experience with addiction recovery and support. He stated,
“…My parents – they did not cause nor could they cure my addiction. However, my success in overcoming it is very much because of them and the support they provided me. They continue to help me make healthy choices, and I owe everything in my life to them.”
Place Your Expectations to the Side
Many parents become ready to emphasize house rules when their teen comes home, but you may want to recognize that recovery maintenance is what’s most important right now. Respect your teen’s return home by encouraging them to practice gratitude, kindness and more – just like you would with a guest staying at your house. This type of encouragement will help ease your teen back at home without overwhelming them. Residential treatment requires a lot of work from teens, and it’s likely that your child may be feeling stressed and/or exhausted. As DrugFree.org notes, encourage your teen to return to work/school at a slower pace if it’s needed; promote healthy activities, such as adequate exercise, healthy food, water and good sleep.
Be Prepared, and Be Resilient
A 2015 study published in the journal Behavioral Science highlighted the many phases that families go through when their teen struggles with addiction: 1) confirming suspicions, 2) struggling to set limits, 3) dealing with consequences of drug use, 4) living with blame and shame, 5) keeping their child safe, 6) giving loss to the child they knew before, 7) living with guilt and 8) choosing self-preservation. Addiction causes a lot of heartache, but you have to remember who and what you’re here for.
Remind yourself of what addiction is capable of and note that your teen may still experience triggers and cravings to use substances. Teens can experience relapse just as quickly as they may recover, but it’s important to remember that they’re all steps taken in their journey to recovery. Discuss consequences with your teen, and make sure they are specific and clear. If your teen nears 18 years of age, be sure to seek additional help beforehand if possible; it can be harder to convince your teen to go back into treatment once they’ve considered themselves an “adult” by legal standards. Mutual boundaries are often a great way to ensure that both you and your teen know what’s expected of them – and if rules are broken, everyone is in agreeance on what will occur.
Don’t Give Up
Whether your teen likes to vocalize it or not, they need your support. They need your unconditional love and patience. They need you to stand up for them, to fight for them, to be a voice of reason. No matter how you’re feeling about what’s going on with your teen, there is rarely a logical reason to give up on them.
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 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 Kingston Springs, 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.