If your teen has recently (or not-so-recently) gone through rehabilitation for a substance abuse issue, one of the first topics on your mind is likely the possibility of a relapse.
Teen relapse is common among teens who have gone through recovery; in fact, an overwhelming majority of people do relapse at least once. While you might not always be able to prevent a relapse, it’s helpful if you know the common causes of teen relapse.
Read on for several reasons why your teen might find him- or herself back in throes of an addiction.
1. Being in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time
One lifestyle change that is stressed during the acute recovery process is finding new places to be and new friends to hang out with. If your teen ends up back with the same people they used to spend time with when they were abusing drugs, chances are very high that they will get right back into the same situation.
Urge your teen to take special precautions to avoid the people and places that played a part in their substance abuse or addiction. This will mean making new friends and avoiding those whom they partied with. It will also involve finding new hangouts and activities.
2. Not Having Social Support
Your teen might feel like him or herself against the world when they are freshly out of rehab. Although they made friends and gained a support system in their program, facing the world on their own can be terrifying.
Many people who leave rehab go back to their old habits within just a few short weeks. Part of this is due to a lack of social support.
Do what you can to keep your teenager busy during this critical time. If they’re lonely, they’ll want to contact old friends.
Try to get them involved in some type of extracurricular activity, a youth group, or some type of community service project that will expose them to teens and adults who are making healthier choices.
Also, insist that they continue to participate in group therapy and a support group. These activities will keep them in contact with others who are going through the same difficult situation.
3. High Stress Levels
Once your teen is past the first few critical weeks after rehab, his or her recovery is not anywhere near complete. Stressful events can lead them back into temptation. These can include:
- fights with parents
- the breakup of a romantic relationship
- school exams
While there’s no way to eliminate stress from your teen’s life (and it’s not a good idea even if it were possible), it’s wise to keep this in mind so you can keep a close eye on your child’s whereabouts and activities when they’re under stress. Suggest various relaxation and stress-reducing techniques to help.
What do teens do when they get bored? They often fall into a comfortable, favorite behavior. They might play too many video games, sleep, or, in the case of a teen who has had a substance abuse issue, begin using again.
During the time of acute recovery, it’s important to keep your teenager as busy as reasonable to help them keep their minds off of what they’re craving.
How can you keep your teen busy?
After school activities are good. There’s some evidence that shows that teens involved in certain activities have a lower drug use rate than other teens.
Volunteering is an excellent option that will give your teen a sense of purpose. They could also get a part-time job.
Find out whether your son or daughter would like to take classes in the community; many areas have dance classes, art classes, and community sports leagues that are perfect for those who might not be interested in the activities offered by their schools.
5. Overconfidence and Complacency
Teens tend to think they’re invincible.
A teen who is battling an addiction might think they have it all under control, not realizing how difficult it really is to overcome a substance abuse problem. They might disregard instructions to stay away from old friends and to continue to go to support group meetings.
This leaves them open for a teen relapse.
Some teens will also simply become bored and complacent with the process. They will think that whether or not they do what they were taught to do in rehab won’t make any difference in the long run. They might even decide that having just one drink or using drugs just once won’t be a big deal.
Within a very short period of time, they can find themselves in the middle of a full-blown teen relapse.
Keeping up with therapy appointments can help your teen avoid these pitfalls. Do what you can to get them there.
6. Mental or Physical Illnesses
Substance abuse is sometimes the result of self-medication.
If your teen is feeling depressed, anxious, or in physical pain, they might think that drugs or alcohol are a good way to make themselves feel better. Even after recovery has begun, your teen might find that the bad feelings or pain is stronger than the desire to stay clean.
Getting your teen treatment for whatever mental or physical struggles they’re going through can help them resist the temptation of self-medicating.
Lifestyle changes like more frequent exercise, a healthy diet, and enough sleep can improve a variety of illnesses and make teen relapse less likely.
Don’t Forget to Care for Yourself Too
As the parent of a teen who has dealt with a drug or alcohol addiction, you have been through a lot. So has your teen!
Getting help for your adolescent has likely taken a lot out of you. It’s important that you get yourself the help and support you need to navigate this next phase of your child’s recovery process.
A support group can help you meet with parents who are going through or have gone through the same thing. Don’t forget to engage in good self-care; see your doctor regularly, seek counseling, and take the time to take care of your physical and mental health needs.
Only be caring for yourself will you be strong enough to care for your child as he or she continues the recovery process.