Has your child just completed drug treatment? Is your loved one coming home from rehab? This is an exciting time for your family, but also a time of uncertainty. What should you expect? As a parent, you want to make your teen’s transition home from rehab as smooth as possible. What can you do to help? What can you do to prepare?
1. Establish a plan for continuing care
As a parent, it is important to know that your child’s recovery does not end with drug rehab. Because addiction is a chronic disease, it requires active management and continuing care. Continuing care is an aftercare plan or the activities one should pursue once completing young adult drug treatment. For your teen in particular, continuing care may involve:
- Ongoing communication with his or her treatment program’s support staff
- Outpatient counseling (one-to-one, group, or family sessions)
- Attendance of 12-step meetings or other support groups
- Participation in sober, recreational activities
- Case coordination with your child’s school and probation officers
Before your teen comes home from drug treatment, talk to the professionals at his or her drug treatment facility. These individuals are trained in addiction care and have seen your child progress through the phases of drug treatment. More than likely, these are the people who will help you determine the best possible plan for your teen’s aftercare. For example, they may deem that your child could benefit from social skills training after returning home. They will also sit down with you and your teen to discuss the best schedule for continuing care.
The ideal continuing care plan will encourage twice weekly counseling sessions for the first month, weekly therapy sessions for the next month, and bi-weekly therapy sessions in the months moving forward. It may also require monitored drug testing and regular checkups with a doctor.
Whatever continuing care plan you decide most appropriate, support your child one-hundred percent through it. Help your son or daughter stick to the plan: offer to drive your child to a support group, or make plans to grab dinner together after your weekly family therapy sessions.
2. Set goals with your child and rules for your child
As soon as your child arrives home from rehab, sit down together and discuss your expectations for what will come next. Let your son or daughter do most of the talking at first, while you ask questions such as:
- What is your number one goal now that you are back home?
- Do you want to join any extracurricular activities? Are there any newfound interests you want to pursue?
- When do you want to go back to school? Do you want to apply for college?
- Are there any people you want to talk to, any relationships you want to mend, now that you’re sober?
- How many days, weeks, months, years do you want to stay sober?
- What do you want me, as your parent, to do if you don’t meet those goals?
In long-term drug treatment, it is important to establish goals from the very beginning. These goals serve as the roadmap to recovery, the directions to one’s success. Once you establish specific goals with your son or daughter, use those to establish repercussions. If the main goal is to stay abstinent, set consequences for a positive drug test. If your child wants to do better in school, make sure you have rules in place to balance his friend-time and his homework-time.
3. Stay aware of what’s going on with your teen
If you have a teenager, you understand how hard it is to keep up with all of his or her friends, relationships, activities, grades, and feelings about any of those things. But to safeguard your child from relapse, you will have to monitor and stay aware of those items on a regular basis. This is going to take a lot of commitment and ongoing communication with your teen.
The most important factors to monitor as a parent are your child’s activities (hangouts/whereabouts) and your child’s social relationships (who he or she is hanging out with). This includes both online and offline activity and connections. If you find your daughter is consistently on Facebook, it is likely she is being exposed to pictures of old friends drinking or partying. Ask if she wants to talk about it. If you find your son progressively coming home late from school, find out what or who is keeping him there. Hanging out with old social circles is easy for teens to do after completing rehab. The problem, however, is that these previous relationships can trigger old habits.
Knowing the signs of relapse can help you understand if and when your teen is in trouble. If you see any warning signs, talk to your teen right away, in a supportive way. If you have any concerns, contact your child’s treatment provider about next steps.
4. Inspire, encourage, and always support your teen
Life after rehab is never easy. Your teen is not only starting a new page, but an entire chapter in his or her book. A lot of changes are going to take place. Your child is now needs to make new friends, find new hobbies, catch up on school, establish new priorities. And more than ever, your child is going to need your encouragement and support.
As a parent, do your best to keep your child engaged in new activities and sober friend groups after rehab. Encourage your teen to try new activities at school, join a sports league or ski club, and fill his or her time with healthy, sober activities. Keep your child trying every activity until he finds the one that he likes the most. Through these activities, your child will meet other young people who share the same interests. Encourage your teen to keep in contact with those friends made through drug rehab.
For more information on how to help someone after rehab, or to get help for your loved one right away, contact Turnbridge at 877-581-1793.