Everyone knows that rehab is a long, hard road, but maintaining sobriety in the long-term can be just as difficult of a process—especially since it’s entirely up to the recovering person to manage. For adolescents, it’s even harder. Any parent who wants the best odds of success for their child should make sure that he or she regularly attends community support groups—like 12 step programs—as well as maintain a network of support within your home and in the child’s social life. Support and attention is everything.
A common refrain among the casual public is that temptation is unavoidable, so the addict must learn to resist. Avoiding temptation is entirely practical; teens and young adults don’t need to be in those situations anyway. Families should do whatever they can to make sure their loved one doesn’t relapse, even if it means teaching them to avoid certain friends, even if they’re good people. It’s not hard to determine if a situation or scenario is high risk for temptation so create a sensible plan for checking in and making plans together.
Maintaining a Support System
This is what should replace the tempting elements from the adolescent’s previous, pre-rehab life. It can be more difficult than it sounds, because it’s not always bad people that encourage bad behavior. Sometimes, unfortunately, the relationships that comfort us most happen to be counterproductive. Maybe those friends or family members are drug users themselves; maybe something about their personality triggers cravings; or maybe the memories the teen associates with that person steer their mind toward a bad place. Comfort and support are not mutually exclusive, but they can be totally separate. Recognizing that divide is an important part of any program of recovery.
Don’t Get Cocky
When life on the outside seems to be progressing, and the responsibilities become more and more time-consuming, teens may begin to slack on group meetings or therapy. It feels like a step forward, moving on with life, but addiction doesn’t just fizzle out completely; it sits and waits to be sparked up again. Life is unpredictable. More than half of heroin, alcohol, cocaine, meth, and marijuana addicts relapse after treatment. Having a sobriety system doesn’t mean your life is a mess; it’s a fail-safe to maintain clean living. Active participation in aftercare should continue for several years before returning to activities and environments that could be considered trigger-worthy.
Don’t Abandoning Ship
If you’ve ever spent hours writing an essay or assignment of some kind, only to have your computer crash and all progress lost–you know the urge to say “Screw it” and walk away from the assignment altogether. How could you possibly start over? The same goes for recovering addicts. Once they relapse, they have to two choices: either accept the incident as a slip, a setback, and simply push forward; or continue using and enter full-fledged relapse. The best way to handle a relapse is to figure out what triggered your cravings and make a note to avoid that situation in the future. But don’t give up on your sobriety altogether.
To someone who has never experienced drug addiction, the recovery process might seem open-and-shut: admit your problem, accept treatment, get better, and put it all behind you. The reality of addiction is that sobriety will always be a challenge, the urge to use lingers for years to come, and addicts must learn to identify, understand, and avoid the psychological triggers that lead to relapse.