While most kids still have their minds focused on summertime activities, parents know that schooltime is just around the corner. Unfortunately, adolescents who deal with addiction to drugs and alcohol can be at risk of having a difficult time transitioning back into school. We’ve got some tips for how to help stack the odds in your young patients’ favor, so they enjoy a successful new school year.
Why This School Year Will Be Like No Other
This fall, most schools will reopen fully for the first time in over a year. The pandemic proved to be a game-changer, forcing children of all ages to adapt to attending school from home. Many felt the loss of in-person contact with their teachers and the socialization of being with friends.
Most children spent a long time dreaming about returning to the normalcy of going back to their school campuses. But, for some, that excitement has turned to trepidation. Many therapists report their young clients to feel reticence at going back to school this fall.
“Re-entry agoraphobia,” and “cave syndrome,” and other terms have entered the lexicon. Consistently being homebound and avoiding socialization took its toll on many students. Family members and treatment professionals should start working with these young people now to help them assimilate more easily when the school year starts.
The Fear Factor of Getting Sick
Most adults understand how far society has come in terms of being protected against coronavirus. However, adolescents have a more difficult time grasping the intricate details related to pandemic health. Opening up a dialogue with your young patients about this can help dispel myths and build confidence.
Talk about how many people, both adults and kids, have received the COVID vaccine. Ask if the child and their family members have gotten vaccinated yet. Provide age-appropriate information to help assure your client about how much protection the vaccine offers. By the time the fall semester begins, even more people will have been vaccinated. A general overview of how widespread the application will be can help soothe a worried child’s mind.
Boundaries and Comfort Transitioning
Discuss the importance of boundaries when it comes to post-pandemic choices. For example, many children feel they must acquiesce to adult preferences when it comes to physical contact. Let your patients know that they have autonomy related to things like if they want to hug or otherwise touch other people.
A patient’s parents can contact the school or their child’s teachers to discuss rules related to COVID policies. If their child still feels more comfortable wearing a mask, make sure the teacher respects this choice. While no one wants to foster paranoia, some children will assimilate more easily if they go in stages.
Planning for the Future
So much of the past year has been about focusing on staying safe in the now. What steps would come next during the pandemic often remained a mystery. This mindset may have led some young people to stop planning for the future.
Adolescents who struggle with substance use disorders often feel enveloped by an attitude of doom and gloom. Therefore, clearing the cloudy thoughts and preparing for their first steps as they enter adulthood is crucial. Whether they go to college, start working, or choose another avenue, excitement about their plans improves their chances of success.
If you have a client in the right age range to plan for college, talk to them about their plans. See if they feel comfortable switching their mindsets to allow for seeing the future as bright and open. Talk about what type of career choices interest them and what schools they feel inclined to attend. School counselors can help your patients find a plethora of information.
Don’t Neglect to Plan Relaxing Downtime For the Fall
At-risk adolescents benefit from making solid plans for their future, but they also need downtime. Talk to your patients about what activities excite them. For example, high schools offer many options for sports teams, giving kids an outlet for getting some exercise and learning the benefits of working as part of a team.
School and local community organizations offer group activities that appeal to many teenagers. Help involve your patient’s parents in looking at neighborhood groups, continuing education classes, and other sources that provide fun activities for young people. Volunteer work can also offer a way for adolescents to enjoy themselves while helping out their communities.
Talk to your patients about how balancing school work and hobbies prove vital to living a healthy life. Too much of one while neglecting the other leads to imbalance. This imbalance can add stress to a young person’s life, which can be the impetus to them losing ground when it comes to staying in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
While an adolescent’s mind may still be rooted in summer days, the new school year will be starting soon. Starting school this fall will be different than in past years, as students return to campus after a long time engaged in distance learning. Many kids may be nervous about feeling safe and need reassurance. Adolescents also may need assistance in switching back to the mindset of planning for their futures while enjoying recreational activities. Sustain Recovery offers several treatment programs for adolescents and young adults who struggle with addiction to drugs and alcohol. Many of our clients have attended other treatment programs that weren’t a good fit. We know how to help young people take responsibility for their lives while learning how to love and believe in themselves. Call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052 to find out how we can help a child return to their school lives as healthier individuals.