Adolescents aren’t usually thrilled to be in treatment for substance abuse. Many adolescents don’t even believe they have a problem — it’s their parents who want them to get sober. If the adolescent isn’t keen on the idea of recovery, it can be difficult to keep them engaged in treatment. As a professional, you can make recovery a bit more tangible for your adolescent client. Getting them on board, interested, and engaged in their recovery isn’t always an easy task, but it’s crucial for a successful recovery.
Treatment Should Be Personalized
If your treatment isn’t tailored to the adolescent client that you’re working with, you aren’t going to reach the adolescent when it counts. Individualized treatment is so important for each adolescent that you work with. Everyone comes to treatment with their own story. Some adolescents will have a background rooted in trauma, while others deal with co-occurring mental disorders. Beyond their background, it’s also important to connect with the adolescent you are treating on a personal level. The more you understand what they are passionate about, the easier it will be to help tie those passions into treatment.
Treatment Should Be Engaging
Along with individualized treatment, you should also try to make the process as engaging as possible for the adolescent. If you’re only getting management and compliance from your adolescent client, that is the bare minimum. If this is the case, they aren’t engaged in their treatment at all. To help make their recovery more tangible, try to tie the recovery to their future. What does the adolescent want their future to look like? How can they achieve their goals? What things do they see as roadblocks to their goals? How can you help them bolster their healthy coping skills, so that they can reach — or even exceed — their goals?
Some adolescents might not have any concrete future plans or goals. In your treatment, you can help them identify places where they want to be more successful. Encouraging them to create goals is a great way to keep them engaged in their treatment.
Goals Must Be SMART
Some adolescents dream of becoming a doctor or professional athlete, but they often don’t consider the small daily steps it takes to build up to the accomplishment of achieving those dreams. If your adolescent client is serious about these dreams, you can help them identify ways to start making meaningful changes that can help propel them toward their dreams. One way to help make their dream — and overall recovery — more tangible is to create goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely).
If your adolescent client is interested in sports and considers that to be something important to them, you can help them work on skills that will help them reach their goal of playing a sport at a higher level. If they want to be a serious athlete, they must understand that there are certain expectations of athletes. One major expectation is that athletes must be able to pass random drug tests. They also must possess a strong work ethic, be able to collaborate with a team, and control their emotions. While your adolescent client may not be able to do all of these at the beginning of their treatment, you can help them make changes to their lifestyle so these skills become attainable.
Putting Goals Into Practice
For example, if your adolescent client is using drugs recreationally, they can work on decreasing their drug use over a set period of time until they are no longer using. You can help with the specifics of making sure that this goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. As for other goals, you can help your adolescent client work on making changes in their daily life that set them up for future success and keep them on the path they want to be on for the long term. If your adolescent client wants to increase their work ethic, teamwork skills, and emotional regulation, you can encourage them to create goals such as attending school and completing their work on time and to the best of their abilities, working on interpersonal relationship skills, and coping with their emotions in healthy and safe ways. The more you are able to keep the treatment personalized and engaged, the better success you will have with your adolescent client’s recovery.
Lastly, it’s important that your adolescent client feels like they are setting these goals for themselves. Many adolescents don’t follow through with their treatment because they feel like their caregivers are pushing it onto them. It’s important to give your adolescent client the space they need to let their interests guide their goals. If the goals don’t have any meaning for them, there’s a good chance they won’t care about achieving them. Similarly, goals that are too broad can be difficult to accomplish because they don’t feel real to your adolescent client. By making sure that you hit all the important areas of successful goals, your adolescent client will feel more in control of their recovery.
Sustain Recovery provides quality care to adolescents who are struggling with substance abuse and other co-occurring disorders. If you have any adolescent clients who could benefit from our programs, contact us for more information. We are here to help your adolescent clients achieve their goals and build a successful and sober future.
To learn more, call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052.