Coping After Treatment: What Families Need To Do After Their Teen Returns Home

Health & Medical Blog

Dealing with drug addiction is tough enough when the person is a friend or non-nuclear family member, but it's even more difficult when the person is your teenager. Getting your teenager into treatment is the first step, but the treatment stage doesn't end when the teenager comes home. Maybe the teen is no longer in a residential treatment setting, but you, your family, and the teen will have to forge a new way of dealing with life in order to help the teen stay sober.

Family Counseling and Guidance Programs

At the very least, your family as a whole needs to attend counseling. Some treatment centers offer guidance programs specifically designed for families supporting a teen who deals with addiction. If you can't enroll in one of those, find a family counselor who has experience with teen addiction. Not only will the teen still need help, but you need to know how to deal with potential relapses and what signs to look for. You also have to explore your feelings and reactions to the teen's preference for drugs, which can range from you feeling guilty to feeling angry.

Behavior Modeling

If you want your teenager to stay clean and get back to what would pass as a normal teenage life, you and your spouse need to model that behavior. Even if you do not use the drugs that your teenager did, you need to be very careful about what you ingest and how you deal with life. For example, if you smoke, you need to stop. If your teen was addicted to alcohol, you need to stop drinking in front of your teen. In fact, it can be helpful to stop drinking alcohol totally. If you react to stressful situations by overeating, you need to find more constructive ways of dealing with the stress, other than by eating. While food might not be the same as tobacco or heroin, your behavior -- running to a comforting substance when stressed -- just tells the teen that this behavior is fine.

No Judgment

The family has to be careful not to judge. What happened, happened, and you can't try to give anyone a guilt trip about it or make them feel horrible -- that will just push people away. Bullying behavior from siblings needs to stop, too.


Not all of the post-treatment coping is emotional, though. If you have prescription drugs, you need to take the practical step of securing them even if your teen hadn't used them before. Addiction can resurface in many forms, including simply changing which substance the teen uses to get high.


You can't pretend everything is normal now that the teen is home. It's nice to resume a normal schedule, of course, but you can't ignore the fact that something in the teen's supposedly normal life led to the addiction. You have to keep an eye on the teen including, possibly, ending certain friendships or associations, monitoring internet use, restricting phone use and time away from home, and so on. This is another reason to get into a guidance program as the counselors can help you figure out which changes are best given your situation.

Teen drug addiction is not pretty, but it's not permanent, and families can overcome the problem with the right help. Contact treatment centers to find programs and counselors to keep your teen and your family on the right path.


23 September 2016

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