As a parent or caregiver, it can be devastating to learn that your son or daughter has a substance abuse problem and needs treatment. But drug and alcohol addiction among teenagers is a growing problem that can’t be ignored. Recent reports show that close to 200,000 teens enter a rehab facility each year.
No matter how frustrated or upset the situation makes you feel, it is important to remember that your child’s future depends on you. If they have an addiction, they need your help and support. They cannot get through this alone.
At Safe Landing, we specialize in adolescent addiction. We understand what you and your teen are going through, and all of our rehab programs place a strong emphasis on involving and healing the whole family. Teens and parents have unique needs when it comes to addiction treatment, and we are fully prepared to meet those needs.
When your teen has an addiction, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling you have to take charge and correct their behavior. But the key to successful, productive intervention is more about listening than talking. And not just listening to your son or daughter, you can learn a lot by taking the time to hear what other people say about your teen – teachers, school counselors, youth sports coaches, or the parents of your teen’s friends.
When you decide to talk to your teen about their addiction, don’t feel you have to wait for the right time and right setting – it may never come. The conversation will likely be uncomfortable for both of you. But the consequences of their addiction and the risk to their future are too great to ignore. It’s never too early to begin talking.
It’s important that you resist the urge to “preach” to your son or daughter and criticize their behavior. Don’t nag them, don’t threaten them, and don’t try to use scare tactics to get their attention. And don’t try to bribe or coerce them into entering rehab. Instead, try to speak to them with empathy and compassion. Talk about the dangers of their addictive behavior in a calm, reasoned voice, and set boundaries for their behavior and establish realistic goals for their treatment.
Your role in your teen’s recovery is vitally important. Here are some things to keep in mind when your son or daughter enters rehab.
Educate yourself. There are many online resources for information about teenage addiction and treatment. As you learn more about the issue, it should become clear to you that your teen is not blame for their addiction. They did not become hooked on drugs or alcohol because they are rebellious, stubborn or weak. Addiction is a mental health disorder that is caused by changes within the brain. Acknowledging and accepting these facts will help you let go of any anger or disappointment you may feel toward your child. It will also give you more hope and confidence that their addiction can be treated successfully.
Attend family therapy sessions. These sessions are designed to address and resolve the tension and distrust that can develop between family members when a teen is in rehab. Parents and siblings bear some of the consequences of their loved one’s addiction, and they may have a hard time expressing how they feel about this. Our family therapy sessions give everyone a chance to be heard. When families learn to work through conflict in a healthy way, everyone is able to overcome their anger and resentment and contribute the support that is a vital pet of your teen’s recovery.
Find your own support group. It’s natural to feel stressed about your teen’s addiction. Connecting with other parents and caregivers who are in the same situation can help. Having a safe, non-judgmental relationship with other people who share your concerns gives you an opportunity to discuss and learn from each other’s experiences. You begin to realize that you are not alone. Groups like Al-Anon and Alateen often offer these group meetings, which can help you have a better relationship with your teen and also help you find a better, healthier life for yourself.
Manage expectations for yourself and your teen. Getting your teen into rehab is a big step. It’s easy for both you and your teen to be excited about this development and think that everything will soon get better because you’ve finally addressed your problems. But recovery from an addiction is not easy. It’s important that you understand – and help your teen understand – that rehab can be a long, difficult process. There will be pitfalls and setbacks along the way, and neither of you should expect overnight success. And you should both understand and acknowledge that the chance of relapse is always there. There’s nothing wrong with being enthusiastic when your teen enters rehab. But it’s important to temper that enthusiasm with a dose of reality.
Don’t forget to do things for yourself. You may feel that you need to devote 100 percent of your time to helping your teen recover, but you will be better equipped to help them if you look out for your own health and well-being, too. This includes making sure you get a good night’s sleep, which has been proven effective in relieving stress, anger and other volatile emotions. Regular exercise is also important, even something as simple as a stretching regimen or daily walk. And you should take time for activities that you like, whether it’s gardening, cooking, crafting or enjoying sports or creative pursuits.
Get therapy on your own. We greatly value family therapy sessions, but it can also be beneficial for you to take time for private therapy sessions where the focus is on you and your feelings and emotions. Parents and caregivers often pour everything they have into helping a child, when they may not have the coping mechanisms and life skills to handle the stress that can come with such a commitment. A therapist can help you identify and address issues in a private, one-on-one setting.
Will I be able to phone my teen during treatment? At Safe Landing, phone schedules are planned in advance, allowing ample time for family members and loved ones to connect during supervised sessions. You are also welcome to participate in family systems therapy, and in some cases you may work with your teen’s case manager to set up visitation and additional methods of contact.
Can they get mail or email? All mail deliveries are held by staff and released upon completion of treatment. Internet access is not generally available during rehab, although limited, monitored internet access may be allowed.
What is your approach to treating teen addiction? We work diligently to correct negative self-image, build confidence and self-esteem, and provide a safe place for addressing other underlying causes of addiction. Through individual, group and family counseling, we focus on personal accountability, mindfulness and developing positive means of processing stress and emotional challenges. Following a comprehensive assessment upon admission, our behavioral health specialists create an individualized treatment program for your child. As a parent or caregiver, you are kept informed and involved at each level of care, helping to heal and promote support as a family unit.
How long does treatment last at Safe Landing? Our addiction treatment programs and services are not defined by a number of days, but rather by your teen’s individual needs. Our phased approach allows them to advance through treatment at a pace based on their specific situation and clinical milestones.
Do you offer outpatient programs that allow my teen to still go to school or work? Yes. We offer a variety of outpatient treatment programs for alcohol and drugs. Our programs are centered around making rehab work for you and your teen. We know those who are committed will put in the work. So we are committed to providing programs that will let your teen fulfill their responsibilities, while still putting their sobriety first.
What’s your confidentiality policy? Your teen’s privacy is important to us. We follow federal HIPAA guidelines and all communication must be approved by you with written consent. Your teen’s treatment will be completely confidential at our centers.
What amenities do you have for teens? As a parent, it’s natural that you want the best setting possible for your teen’s rehab. At Safe Landing, we take pride in providing a nurturing, healing environment where our young clients can relax in a comfortable, secure setting. We have a recreational room that is fully outfitted with Xbox gaming consoles for team-building, as well as a separate area for movie nights and Netflix streaming. Teens also have access to a ping pong table, board games, puzzles and art activities. We encourage physical activity through play and fitness training with an on-site basketball court and soccer field for recreational use. We also schedule outings to movies, the beach, rock climbing, airboat rides, ice skating, rollerblading, laser tag, go-kart racing, pier fishing, escape rooms and more. And our certified therapy dog, Mantequilla, is on-site five days a week to help teens open up and fully receive the benefits of animal therapy.