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Aftercare: How You Can Promote a Successful Recovery for Your Teen

The importance of aftercare for addiction recovery can’t be overstated and is essential to a successful recovery for your teen. Aftercare is the continuing individualized programming that takes place once treatment is complete. A study on the advances in substance abuse treatment for adolescents, published by the National Institutes of Health, cites a number of studies that have shown that aftercare reduces the likelihood of relapse and helps teens in recovery continue to build on the momentum and motivation for recovery gained in treatment.

Aftercare Promotes Healthy Relationships and Lifestyle Choices

During treatment in a comprehensive rehab program, adolescents learn about addiction and delve into the issues underlying their own drug or alcohol abuse. Much of the treatment protocol is designed to help prevent relapse after the completion of treatment, and the aftercare program builds on the foundation laid in treatment. Healthy and productive relationships and a healthy lifestyle are the building blocks for successful long-term recovery, and aftercare plans work to promote both through individualized programming that typically includes:

  • Ongoing individual cognitive-behavioral therapy, during which your teen will continue to work on identifying harmful attitudes and beliefs and replace them with those that are healthy.
  • Ongoing family therapy designed to help repair damaged relationships and improve communication skills to promote healthy functioning in the household.
  • Attending regular peer support group meetings that foster a sense of community, promote personal accountability and responsibility, and offer the opportunity to develop healthy relationships with other non-users.
  • Attending events or joining peer groups that promote a healthy lifestyle through enjoyable hobbies and activities that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.

The Importance of Healthy Relationships in Recovery

Peer pressure and dysfunctional peer relationships can be a major trigger for relapse, and developing relationships that are happy and healthy will go a long way toward promoting long-term recovery for your teen. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health, both good and bad peer pressure affects the decisions teens make, and nurturing positive friendships helps them get through rough spots during adolescence. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, group recovery meetings, and family therapy all help teens develop the healthy self-esteem and interpersonal skills required for healthy peer relationships and for being able to say “no” to friends and others who may want to engage in harmful behaviors. You can help your teen create a solid and healthy support system by ensuring he or she attends support group meetings and therapy sessions and providing opportunities to enjoy the company of non-using peers. Engaging in family therapy can help you maintain an open line of communication with your child and learn how to set clear boundaries, which are also important for helping your child develop healthy relationships.

The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle

The aftercare plan will include some form of ongoing counseling that promotes an overall healthy lifestyle. Adequate sleep and good nutrition are essential for good physical and mental health, which are, in turn, essential for maintaining abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Exercise is one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle in recovery. It helps alleviate stress and control cravings as well as naturally ease depression. Helping your teen find a sport or other physical activity he or she enjoys, from yoga to martial arts, running, or swimming, will help keep him or her active, and getting involved in this type of activity also promotes the natural development of healthy relationships with abstinent peers as well as coaches and other adult leaders. These relationships add to the support system your child will be able to depend upon for help should a relapse occur. Boredom and feelings of isolation are also potent triggers for relapse, so ensuring your teenager is engaging in enjoyable activities is part of promoting a healthy recovery lifestyle for your child. Helping your teen identify the activities that bring enjoyment and facilitating his or her involvement in those activities will also go a long way toward helping him or her maintain motivation and momentum for long-term recovery. For help with teen addiction treatment and recovery, give us a call at 877-466-0620.