How to Handle Your Recovering Teen
Handling a teen with a drug addiction is extremely difficult for parents. Handling one who is in recovery can be even more difficult, for some. During these times, many parents are more comfortable with up-front discipline than they are with standing back to support idly. There is good news for you! There are many things you can do with and for your teen as they overcome this substance abuse issue without being overbearing or causing any further damage; here are a few.
The first thing is to know their triggers. You’ve already been through this and you’ve seen how they react to certain stressors. Anxiety, stress, environment, poor self image, and even certain people can all trigger the need for drug use in your teen. This is especially important if all of their friendships have been created surrounding substance abuse. It will be very difficult for your teen to create new, sober friendships. Being supportive, when you see a possible trigger, is key.
Secondly, you’ll need to monitor your teen for any old habits and behaviors. Keep an eye out if your teen is being irrational, resentful, defensive, diverting conversations surrounding their use or any substance abuse, or if they’re exhibiting any physical symptoms such as enlarged pupils, weight loss, paleness, etc. In order to re-develop your relationship with your teen, you must not get angry or take it personally if you notice any of these signs. To address it, speak with them one-on-one with the help of a professional.
Thirdly, encourage them to replace their old habit of substance abuse with a new sober hobby. You can help them to occupy their time with more positive, life-fulfilling experiences. As the saying goes, “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.” Now, this doesn’t mean you need to start signing them up for every extracurricular activity you see. Your teen must make the decision to participate on their own. The whole idea of this is to provide them with space, so that you are able to rebuild trust with one another. Encourage them to take part in sober activities such as volunteering, working out, going to church, cooking, or painting.
The fourth factor, and most important, has more to do with yourself than it does your teen. You must know that substance abuse relapse is part of the recovery process and addiction. Many parents blame themselves for their children’s behavior. We must remember that when our child gets to a certain age, they begin to make their own decisions. We need to be there for support. Even after a long recovery process from substance abuse, relapse is always a possibility and is very common. Remembering this will help you be less angry if it does happen and more understand too; it will an anticipated be a bump in the road.
A lot of shame comes with addiction, so it’s important to always reinforce the belief that although people make mistakes, it doesn’t make them bad people. Each teen is different; some will need more interaction and monitoring than others. Now is the time to trust your instincts. You know your child better than anyone. Be there for them the best that you can.