Helping Your Teen Face the Challenges of Recovery

Reviewed Mar 27, 2016

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Summary

  • Addicted teens must remain actively engaged in recovery.
  • Find new drug- and alcohol-free friends and social activities.
  • Help your teen learn healthy ways of coping with emotions.

Strep throat, chicken pox, or even a broken arm cause plenty of discomfort for children and worry for their parents. During times of acute illness, good parents attend to their children’s physical and emotional needs and provide an ample supply of love and comfort. As infections wane and bones mend, a child’s life quickly returns to normal.

It’s not the same when a teen becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Teens with alcohol or substance use disorder must remain actively engaged in their recovery

Drug and alcohol dependence are chronic, debilitating disorders where recovery is possible, but a cure is not. Some teens require prolonged treatment or multiple stints in treatment to achieve sustained abstinence and return to a productive and fulfilled life. But unlike recovery from strep throat, teens with alcohol or substance use disorder must remain actively engaged in their recovery—perhaps for the rest of their lives. If they do not, relapse is certain.  

Recovery from addictive disease is wrought with many challenges. Some of these challenges facing teens in early recovery are different than those facing adults, particularly in the areas of emotional maturity and social life.

Social challenges

One of the diagnostic indicators of addiction is the extent to which one’s life becomes organized around using drugs or alcohol. For teens with alcohol or substance use disorder, there is almost always a well-defined sub-culture of friends, associates, parties, and rituals that becomes the center of their social life. Healthy activities that used to capture their imagination soon become secondary to the “party” culture.”

Helping teens find a new, drug-free social life is no small thing. It’s not as simple as plopping them back into healthy activities. They will need real friends, excitement, and purpose for their life. Unfortunately, many lack the social skills and emotional maturity to seek and sustain new friends. Parents must step in and blaze the trail.

Healthy recovery groups for teens and young adults are rare. Finding teens in recovery from substance use disorder can also be very difficult because there are so few of them. As a result, they will have times of loneliness, sadness, and boredom as they transition into their new life of recovery.

Here are some tips to help you help your teen:

  • If your child went through a treatment program, ask what after-care services are available for continued support. Ask for information about recovery in your community. Many treatment centers will assist in finding a 12-step sponsor or 12-step support group.
  • Check with your local Alcoholics Anonymous (http://aa.org) or Narcotics Anonymous (http://na.org) about local meetings. Local churches may also have faith-based recovery groups such as Celebrate Recovery (www.celebraterecovery.com/).
  • Try to keep him active and engaged by planning fun family activities or weekend trips, or just hanging out with him.
  • Acknowledge that recovery is difficult and sometimes “boring.” Ask how you can help today.
  • Watch for healthy, drug- and alcohol-free teens or young adults and social events.
  • No matter how bored she becomes do not lower the bar by letting her hang out with her old drug-using friends or go to parties where alcohol is available. Stand strong because the risk of giving in is too great.

Emotional challenges

Substance overuse hinders emotional development in teens. This is due to the psychoactive effects of drugs on the emotional center (limbic system) in the brain. All drugs of potential overuse change how this part of the brain functions. Teens learn that using drugs and alcohol are effective in changing their mood. When a teen is bored, smoking marijuana makes the time pass. When they feel depressed, alcohol or cocaine works wonders—for a while.

We become emotionally mature by experiencing all of our feelings and learning how to cope with them. It may take several years of sobriety for some teens to catch up emotionally. Helping your teen talk about his feelings and express them appropriately is not easy. It will require patience and persistence and, most of all, a willingness to listen.

Here are some tips:

  • Start a conversation by asking open-ended questions. Open-ended questions…
    • cannot be answered “yes” or “no”
    • allow your child to give spontaneous and honest answers—she should tell her story in her own words
    • usually begin with:
      • “Tell me about…”
      • “Describe…”
      • “To what extent…”
      • “What was that like?”
      • “Help me understand…”
  • Affirm his worth, courage and challenges. Affirming statements show your understanding and appreciation. For example:
    • “I know how hard this is for you.”
    • “You showed a lot of courage.”
    • “You overcame a major obstacle last week.”
    • “I am so glad you are home.”
    • “You are doing great this week.”
    • “No one does this perfectly.”
    • “I am proud of you.”
    • “I love you.”

Remember that recovery from addiction is a long walk that is best taken in the company of loving involved families.

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS

Summary

  • Addicted teens must remain actively engaged in recovery.
  • Find new drug- and alcohol-free friends and social activities.
  • Help your teen learn healthy ways of coping with emotions.

Strep throat, chicken pox, or even a broken arm cause plenty of discomfort for children and worry for their parents. During times of acute illness, good parents attend to their children’s physical and emotional needs and provide an ample supply of love and comfort. As infections wane and bones mend, a child’s life quickly returns to normal.

It’s not the same when a teen becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Teens with alcohol or substance use disorder must remain actively engaged in their recovery

Drug and alcohol dependence are chronic, debilitating disorders where recovery is possible, but a cure is not. Some teens require prolonged treatment or multiple stints in treatment to achieve sustained abstinence and return to a productive and fulfilled life. But unlike recovery from strep throat, teens with alcohol or substance use disorder must remain actively engaged in their recovery—perhaps for the rest of their lives. If they do not, relapse is certain.  

Recovery from addictive disease is wrought with many challenges. Some of these challenges facing teens in early recovery are different than those facing adults, particularly in the areas of emotional maturity and social life.

Social challenges

One of the diagnostic indicators of addiction is the extent to which one’s life becomes organized around using drugs or alcohol. For teens with alcohol or substance use disorder, there is almost always a well-defined sub-culture of friends, associates, parties, and rituals that becomes the center of their social life. Healthy activities that used to capture their imagination soon become secondary to the “party” culture.”

Helping teens find a new, drug-free social life is no small thing. It’s not as simple as plopping them back into healthy activities. They will need real friends, excitement, and purpose for their life. Unfortunately, many lack the social skills and emotional maturity to seek and sustain new friends. Parents must step in and blaze the trail.

Healthy recovery groups for teens and young adults are rare. Finding teens in recovery from substance use disorder can also be very difficult because there are so few of them. As a result, they will have times of loneliness, sadness, and boredom as they transition into their new life of recovery.

Here are some tips to help you help your teen:

  • If your child went through a treatment program, ask what after-care services are available for continued support. Ask for information about recovery in your community. Many treatment centers will assist in finding a 12-step sponsor or 12-step support group.
  • Check with your local Alcoholics Anonymous (http://aa.org) or Narcotics Anonymous (http://na.org) about local meetings. Local churches may also have faith-based recovery groups such as Celebrate Recovery (www.celebraterecovery.com/).
  • Try to keep him active and engaged by planning fun family activities or weekend trips, or just hanging out with him.
  • Acknowledge that recovery is difficult and sometimes “boring.” Ask how you can help today.
  • Watch for healthy, drug- and alcohol-free teens or young adults and social events.
  • No matter how bored she becomes do not lower the bar by letting her hang out with her old drug-using friends or go to parties where alcohol is available. Stand strong because the risk of giving in is too great.

Emotional challenges

Substance overuse hinders emotional development in teens. This is due to the psychoactive effects of drugs on the emotional center (limbic system) in the brain. All drugs of potential overuse change how this part of the brain functions. Teens learn that using drugs and alcohol are effective in changing their mood. When a teen is bored, smoking marijuana makes the time pass. When they feel depressed, alcohol or cocaine works wonders—for a while.

We become emotionally mature by experiencing all of our feelings and learning how to cope with them. It may take several years of sobriety for some teens to catch up emotionally. Helping your teen talk about his feelings and express them appropriately is not easy. It will require patience and persistence and, most of all, a willingness to listen.

Here are some tips:

  • Start a conversation by asking open-ended questions. Open-ended questions…
    • cannot be answered “yes” or “no”
    • allow your child to give spontaneous and honest answers—she should tell her story in her own words
    • usually begin with:
      • “Tell me about…”
      • “Describe…”
      • “To what extent…”
      • “What was that like?”
      • “Help me understand…”
  • Affirm his worth, courage and challenges. Affirming statements show your understanding and appreciation. For example:
    • “I know how hard this is for you.”
    • “You showed a lot of courage.”
    • “You overcame a major obstacle last week.”
    • “I am so glad you are home.”
    • “You are doing great this week.”
    • “No one does this perfectly.”
    • “I am proud of you.”
    • “I love you.”

Remember that recovery from addiction is a long walk that is best taken in the company of loving involved families.

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS

Summary

  • Addicted teens must remain actively engaged in recovery.
  • Find new drug- and alcohol-free friends and social activities.
  • Help your teen learn healthy ways of coping with emotions.

Strep throat, chicken pox, or even a broken arm cause plenty of discomfort for children and worry for their parents. During times of acute illness, good parents attend to their children’s physical and emotional needs and provide an ample supply of love and comfort. As infections wane and bones mend, a child’s life quickly returns to normal.

It’s not the same when a teen becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Teens with alcohol or substance use disorder must remain actively engaged in their recovery

Drug and alcohol dependence are chronic, debilitating disorders where recovery is possible, but a cure is not. Some teens require prolonged treatment or multiple stints in treatment to achieve sustained abstinence and return to a productive and fulfilled life. But unlike recovery from strep throat, teens with alcohol or substance use disorder must remain actively engaged in their recovery—perhaps for the rest of their lives. If they do not, relapse is certain.  

Recovery from addictive disease is wrought with many challenges. Some of these challenges facing teens in early recovery are different than those facing adults, particularly in the areas of emotional maturity and social life.

Social challenges

One of the diagnostic indicators of addiction is the extent to which one’s life becomes organized around using drugs or alcohol. For teens with alcohol or substance use disorder, there is almost always a well-defined sub-culture of friends, associates, parties, and rituals that becomes the center of their social life. Healthy activities that used to capture their imagination soon become secondary to the “party” culture.”

Helping teens find a new, drug-free social life is no small thing. It’s not as simple as plopping them back into healthy activities. They will need real friends, excitement, and purpose for their life. Unfortunately, many lack the social skills and emotional maturity to seek and sustain new friends. Parents must step in and blaze the trail.

Healthy recovery groups for teens and young adults are rare. Finding teens in recovery from substance use disorder can also be very difficult because there are so few of them. As a result, they will have times of loneliness, sadness, and boredom as they transition into their new life of recovery.

Here are some tips to help you help your teen:

  • If your child went through a treatment program, ask what after-care services are available for continued support. Ask for information about recovery in your community. Many treatment centers will assist in finding a 12-step sponsor or 12-step support group.
  • Check with your local Alcoholics Anonymous (http://aa.org) or Narcotics Anonymous (http://na.org) about local meetings. Local churches may also have faith-based recovery groups such as Celebrate Recovery (www.celebraterecovery.com/).
  • Try to keep him active and engaged by planning fun family activities or weekend trips, or just hanging out with him.
  • Acknowledge that recovery is difficult and sometimes “boring.” Ask how you can help today.
  • Watch for healthy, drug- and alcohol-free teens or young adults and social events.
  • No matter how bored she becomes do not lower the bar by letting her hang out with her old drug-using friends or go to parties where alcohol is available. Stand strong because the risk of giving in is too great.

Emotional challenges

Substance overuse hinders emotional development in teens. This is due to the psychoactive effects of drugs on the emotional center (limbic system) in the brain. All drugs of potential overuse change how this part of the brain functions. Teens learn that using drugs and alcohol are effective in changing their mood. When a teen is bored, smoking marijuana makes the time pass. When they feel depressed, alcohol or cocaine works wonders—for a while.

We become emotionally mature by experiencing all of our feelings and learning how to cope with them. It may take several years of sobriety for some teens to catch up emotionally. Helping your teen talk about his feelings and express them appropriately is not easy. It will require patience and persistence and, most of all, a willingness to listen.

Here are some tips:

  • Start a conversation by asking open-ended questions. Open-ended questions…
    • cannot be answered “yes” or “no”
    • allow your child to give spontaneous and honest answers—she should tell her story in her own words
    • usually begin with:
      • “Tell me about…”
      • “Describe…”
      • “To what extent…”
      • “What was that like?”
      • “Help me understand…”
  • Affirm his worth, courage and challenges. Affirming statements show your understanding and appreciation. For example:
    • “I know how hard this is for you.”
    • “You showed a lot of courage.”
    • “You overcame a major obstacle last week.”
    • “I am so glad you are home.”
    • “You are doing great this week.”
    • “No one does this perfectly.”
    • “I am proud of you.”
    • “I love you.”

Remember that recovery from addiction is a long walk that is best taken in the company of loving involved families.

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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