Rules for Parents of Post-Rehab Teens
Being the parent of a teenage addict isn’t something any parent wants or should have to go through. However, addiction happens to many people, teens included. Once you get your teen into rehab you might begin to feel that there is hope for your teen, but you still have a long way to go. Her recovery isn’t over the day she leaves rehab; it’s something she will deal with for the rest of her life, and your job is to support her.
You may be tempted to accept the responsibility for your teen’s addiction when he leaves rehab, but you cannot do that, advises Christina Botto, author of “Help Me With My Teenager! A Step-By-Step Guide for Parents That Works” and “Fitting the Pieces.” Thinking that if you worked less, spent more time with him or forbade him from spending time with friends you knew were bad influences is not going to help anyone in this situation. Your teen’s recovery requires him to take responsibility for his addiction.
According to Botto, your teen needs to suffer the consequences of her own actions once she is home from rehab. This means you need to stop rescuing her from the outcome of her choices, such as doing her homework for her so she doesn’t get into any more trouble at school or making excuses to her teachers when she is late for class because she chose not to get up when her alarm clock went off. She won’t learn responsibility if you don't let her suffer from her poor decision-making skills.
One of the most important things you can do for your teen when he leaves rehab is encourage him, especially when it comes to attending recovery meetings. Your support and encouragement are great for your teen, but meetings with his sponsor and other teens who are going through the same thing he is going through are an essential part of his recovery. Sharing stories and hearing the stories of others in their situation often help teens stay focused on their recovery, which is important.
Relapse Warning Signs
Keep especially careful watch over your teen the first year following her release from rehab, suggests the Newport Academy Teen Treatment Center. Watch your teen for signs of relapse. According to psychologist Neill Neill, Ph.D., there are four primary signs your teen may exhibit if she begins using drugs or alcohol again 1. If you suspect her recovery is not going well, watch to see if she is lying, blaming others, exhibiting feelings of shame or acting euphoric. Each of these signs may indicate she is abusing her substance of choice again and in need of additional help.
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