How To Support Your Teen Going Through Substance Abuse Treatment

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Brief but intense, adolescence is a whirlwind of rapid physical growth, confusing emotions, and big questions like, “Who am I in this world?” When substance abuse enters the mix, a teen’s life can shift from overwhelming to out of control in what seems like an instant.

While you may struggle to see beyond your teen’s erratic behavior and distorted thinking, there’s good news: substance abuse treatment for teens works, and you’re an important part of it. Here are several ways you can be a positive force for your teen at any stage of substance abuse recovery:

Learn More About Addiction

Educating yourself on addiction is a powerful first step in supporting your teen. Research shows addiction alters the brain chemistry that affects decision-making, judgment, and the ability to “just stop” using drugs. What does this mean? Your teen isn’t a bad person but someone with an illness — one that can be treated and managed. This understanding can keep you and your teen moving forward together.

Acknowledge the Challenges Ahead

Substance abuse treatment is a huge step for both of you. Initially, your teen may resist help, seeing only disruptions to social, athletic, or school schedules. You may feel hopeful, exhausted, and frustrated all at the same time. Trust on both sides of the relationship may be damaged, and setbacks can happen at any point. While there’s lots of hard work to come, patience — with your teen and with yourself — makes room for positive changes that last over time.

Engage With Your Teen’s Treatment

While a team of doctors and therapists is most qualified to direct substance abuse treatment for teens, active family participation is an essential part of the effort. Ask about specific ways you can support your teen’s individual needs both during and after treatment. Open and honest communication with your teen’s care team is best; however, understand that privacy laws may prevent healthcare professionals from sharing details of what your teen tells them.

Prepare for Your Teen’s Recovery

Consider these strategies to help your teen feel safe and successful at home:

  • Talk openly. Offer honest, judgment-free conversation about your teen’s daily challenges. Your teen may be reluctant to talk openly due to feelings of shame or fear, so do your best to listen calmly and objectively.
  • Eliminate triggers. Remove any substances or potential triggers from your home to minimizes relapse risk and promote a safe recovery atmosphere for your teen.
  • Model healthy habits. Encourage your teen to adopt routines for meals, sleep and recreation by modeling these behaviors yourself. This structure leads your teen toward healthy habits that stick.
  • Set limits. Your teen may feel ready to return to familiar activities, friends and situations soon after treatment. Set and enforce limits until you know your teen is healthy enough to manage challenging people and environments.
  • Follow discharge plans. Help your teen keep follow-up appointments and take medication according to the details outlined in treatment discharge plans. Contact your teen’s care team immediately with any questions or concerns.

Find Help for Your Teen

At High Focus Centers, we believe in holistic approaches to substance abuse treatment for teens. When you’re ready to help your teen take first or next steps, our experienced professionals can connect you with the high-quality resources your family needs. Contact us today for confidential assistance.