If your teen is on the road to recovery, congratulations!
You can help them remain successful by pitching in!
Here are 11 smart ways to kick-start your teen’s lifelong commitment to sobriety:
1. Read Up On Addiction— The More You Know, the Better
So, what do you really know about addiction?
If you’ve only gone as far as reading general interest blog articles about the disease, you’ve got a long way to go!
Understanding the complexities of addiction is key in helping your child navigate the winding roads of recovery. Moreover, educating yourself on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques will help reinforce positive coping strategies at home your teen will continue to improve upon during continuing therapy.
Check out these titles for a well-rounded self-study course on addiction and helpful therapeutic techniques you can learn to execute flawlessly at home:
Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction
Don't Let Your Kids Kill You: A Guide for Parents of Drug and Alcohol Addicted Children
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Master Your Brain and Emotions to Overcome Anxiety, Depression and Negative Thoughts
2. Keep Your Teen Accountable
When your teen has a recovery plan, make them stick to it— and make changes as needed.
Be flexible and know that sometimes life makes a mess of even the most carefully laid plans.
If your teen has therapy three times a week, make it your mission to ensure they attend. If that means driving them personally to their appointments, so be it.
They’ll thank you in the long run.
One of the most important aspects of recovery is following a post-treatment plan to the letter.
3. Get Involved in Local Events
An underrated secret of recovery is getting yourself out there and moving!
That goes for teens in recovery too.
Get them outside and in positive environments. Attend local gatherings at parks and local centers. Take advantage of local meet up groups for interests they like.
Your goal here is to introduce them to new and enriching experiences to dam up the hole that is often left behind by addictive substances. It’s not uncommon for cravings to sunder teens into deep states of depression and spiraling anxiety.
Keeping them active, mobile, and engaged is your best secret in making the most progress in a short period of time.
4. Help Your Teen Set Sober Goals
Does your teen have a bucket list?
Science says creating a bucket list is actually great for your mental health!
If they’re uncomfortable coining their list of aspirations as “sober goals” just encourage them to list achievements they want to accomplish.
Maybe they’ve always wanted to play an instrument or get involved in a sport.
Start asking questions!
Trust us, the more you help your teen get involved in the outside world doing things that are positive and healthy for their growth— the less weight you’ll have to lift at home.
Without keeping your teen stimulated, you’re asking for a bumpy road to recovery. Teach your teen to reevaluate the world around them by showing them how to have fun and stay active without addictive substances.
5. Be a Vehicle of Change
You want your teen to turn over a new leaf right?
Well mama— or papa— lead by example!
Get involved in something you’ve always wanted to do.
We know being the parent of an addicted teen is no walk in the park, and helping them means helping yourself. If your mental health is compromised, it will make helping your little one that much harder.
Their recovery can help you change your life too, if you let it.
So break out your own bucket list and get to work.
6. You’re the Safe Haven Now
After rehab, you’re going to be the main font of support your teen relies on.
Sure, there’s aftercare therapy and the like, but you are the one who’s at home.
Embrace it, love it, and encourage your teen to confide in you. One of the best things you can do for your teen’s continued recovery is to reassure them you’re there when they need you.
That may translate into being a good listener, and not reacting with judgment about past experiences and present anxieties. Sometimes your teen may just need a shoulder to cry on. Offer yours up.
If you’re not the “emotional” type of parent, get your butt together!
Addiction is a disease steeped in deep psychological trauma.
If you want your teen to get better, you’ll have to make some personal sacrifices too. Don’t expect the therapist to do all the heavy lifting.
At the end of the day, you’re the one at home.
7. Share a Hobby Together
Get involved with a shared interest you can both enjoy.
If you can’t seem to think of anything that fits the bill, volunteering at a local animal or homeless shelter is a great way to pass on a good thing— and science says that helps us feel better.
8. Eliminate Addictive Substances from Your Home
This one’s a no-brainer, right?
Lock up your medications if you have any. You never know when an unexpected emotional outburst may turn into an instance of relapse!
Do absolutely everything in your power to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Get rid of the alcohol and recreational substances you may indulge in yourself.
Hey— no judgment.
9. Change Your Own Habits
If you’re an after-work drinker, try setting a better example for your teen in recovery.
Try indulging in herbal teas for relaxation, or break out the classical and ambient music. When your teen witnesses you actively searching for alternatives, they’ll be inclined to do the same.
Ditto for smoking— and yes, even cigarettes.
Show your teen addictive substances don’t have to be a staple of everyday life.
10. Participate in Family Therapy
Continuing therapy is pivotal in your teen’s recovery, and you should be participating too.
Many therapists welcome participation from parents and guardians. It gives them the perfect opportunity to clue you into triggers you may have previously overlooked and insight into what makes your teen tick.
Some therapists will offer alternating therapy sessions where they’ll meet one-on-one with your kid, one-on-one with you for additional insight, and joint family meetings.
11. Try Not to Be Too Overbearing
Last but not least, try not to become the overbearing mama or papa bear.
We understand addiction is one of the scariest things that could possibly happen to your family, but the more you push and push and push— the more your teen will most likely recoil, and even reject things that are critical to their recovery.
So be supportive, be firm, but let the kid breathe.