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Aftercare for Adolescents: How to Manage Relapse Triggers

Completing a substance abuse treatment program marks a huge milestone in your overall recovery. However, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. Research estimates that more than 50 percent of addicts relapse during the first four years after treatment, and adolescents are at an especially high risk due to inexperience. Relapse triggers can be anything associated with prior substance use: a smell, a location, a text message from an old friend, etc. You’ve made it through treatment and with a strategy on how to manage relapse triggers you can stay sober.

Surround Yourself with Positive Influences

After treatment, you may be eager to meet up with your old buddies and perhaps even encourage them to seek treatment. However, peer pressure and the sight of a once ‘fun’ past can easily sway you to use once more for “old time’s sake.” More than likely, your friends will try to change you back before committing to change themselves. All it takes is one use to set off a spiral back into addiction. Don’t take the risk. Go out, visit new places, explore new hobbies, and meet friends who enjoy healthy, drug-free activities. You emulate the people you hang out with, and they can have an enormous impact on your recovery – for better or worse – it’s your choice.

Don’t Opt for a “Lesser Evil”

You’ll have days when old temptations come calling. You know not to give in, but it’s not easy, and you might try substituting your past go-to substance with something different. If you had a drinking problem, you might think that smoking isn’t as bad. If you used cocaine, you might try eating sweets as an alternative. But these replacements can be just as addictive. Binge eating in particular can quickly lead to various health problems. Rather than fill the void with a ‘thing,’ explore new activities and you may discover that there are so many better ways to focus your energy.

Practice Mindfulness

Rather than wrestle with triggers head-on, try to be mindful of yourself and the situation. Calm down, distance yourself from the situation, and take deep breaths. Repeat positive statements to yourself such as, “I’m worth so much more than that,” or “I have great things I want to achieve.” When you’re alone practice meditation or take a yoga class. Many adolescent treatment centers offer holistic treatments such as art and exercise therapy. These treatments can help heal you as a whole and build on healthy activities that will help you gain wisdom to aid you down the road.

Look Ahead, Not Behind

You’re a different person than you were before treatment. Don’t fall into the trap of self-pity, and don’t overwhelm yourself thinking about the challenges ahead. This is a new chapter in your life, and if you fill it with positive changes, you’ll find that drugs and alcohol simply don’t have a place anymore. Our specialized treatment program helps teens overcome drug and alcohol addiction and develop lifelong strategies for recovery. With individualized treatment plans, caring and experienced therapists, and an accredited education program, you’ll learn how to empower yourself and take control of your future. To learn more about relapse prevention and how we can provide support, give us a call at 877-466-0620. Sources:

  1. Teens in Early Recovery: Ten Common Triggers for Relapse
  2. Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide