Tag Archive: relapse

  1. How Can I Help My Teen Prevent a Relapse?

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    How Can I Help My Teen Prevent a Relapse?

    Families who are not familiar with addiction recovery may be surprised to learn that you cannot just send your child to a facility for a period of time, and then they come back completely healed. Approximately half of all people who receive treatment for addiction will relapse within the first year. Staying in recovery is very hard, and your teen is going to need the support of the entire family. How can you help your teen prevent a relapse?

    Educate the Family About Relapse Prevention

    The first step that you and your family should make is to educate yourselves about relapse prevention. What is a trigger? What is a craving? What are some common reasons that people relapse? What are some things that you can do specifically to help prevent your teen from relapsing?

    A trigger is a person, place, event, memory, or something that triggers them to want to use substances again. A craving is a physiological event in the brain that creates a powerful urge to use a substance. Some of the common reasons that people relapse include not doing their daily self-care routines or having an intense emotional experience, such as a fight or breakup.

    Supporting Proactive Relapse Prevention

    As a family, you can support proactive steps to prevent a drug or alcohol relapse. An important strategy is to help your teen avoid triggers. Keeping them busy doing active things such as offering to exercise with them will help reduce cravings and fill in time they might be tempted to think about using. You can also support them in activities like eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and drinking plenty of water. Being actively involved in their recovery is a great way to support your teen and prevent relapse.

    Watching for Signs of Emotional Relapse

    Most people emotionally relapse prior to a physical relapse. They might return to old habits or stop being proactive about their recovery, but they have not yet returned to substance use. These signs are important to be aware of because you can catch the behavioral changes before a physical relapse. Ways your adolescent could emotionally relapse include:

    • Dwelling on memories associated with prior substance use
    • Engaging with people or places from that time
    • Forgetting to exercise
    • Not sleeping well
    • Not going to support meetings
    • Withdrawing from family or friends
    • Stopping medications or other prescribed treatments
    • Obvious changes in mood or habits

    Learning Relapse Prevention and Coping Skills

    One of the most powerful skills you can give to your child is helping them to identify when a craving is happening and be able to communicate that to you.

    • Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired (HALT) – many cravings happen when people are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Taking care to avoid these situations is ideal, but it is also important to identify and remedy the situation when a craving comes along.
    • Urge Surfing – based on the idea that a craving always has a beginning, a crest or peak, and then an end, closing eyes and “riding” the urge in the mind like a wave can help get through it without giving in.
    • Mindfulness – mindfulness is training the mind to simply notice what is happening in the moment without judgment. This allows your child to endure without reacting or acting upon a craving.
    • Breathing Techniques – breathing brings more oxygen to the brain and body, and focusing on breathing takes the focus from the craving.
    • Distraction – using a physical distraction such as doing jumping jacks or using an ice-cold washcloth or other distraction until the craving is gone.
    • Five senses grounding – counting backward using the five senses to identify things around you: five things you see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, one thing you can taste.
    • Play the tape through – when thinking about using a substance, play through everything that will happen if you do, then about the consequences of using/not using.

    Making a Plan and Communicating

    Communication as a family is essential to supporting relapse prevention. How will your teen help you know they are having a craving? Is there a plan to deal with cravings as they come up? What are the techniques that work best for your child? You may want to make a list and post it on the refrigerator or somewhere so that family members can refer to it.

    Preventing a relapse is being proactive in supporting your adolescent’s daily recovery, as well as learning how to help them avoid triggers. Being able to help them through it when a craving hits is also part of relapse prevention. When you and your family are attentive, supportive, and can communicate well, you can work as a team to prevent relapse.

    You and your family can be an integral part of your teen’s support system in preventing an addiction relapse. By learning about the signs to watch for, the coping mechanisms to help them in difficult moments, as well as offering daily support for recovery, your family can help your child continue a successful recovery. At Sustain Recovery, we teach teens how to find the underlying problems that are causing their substance abuse. Our extended residential program treats teens with substance abuse and also those with co-occurring mental health diagnoses. We are located in Irvine, California, and offer a program that teaches structure and accountability. We create opportunities for our clients to connect with people who can support them in their communities when they leave our program because we care about their recovery beyond their time with us. Call us at (949) 407-9052 to find out if our program is right for your child. 

  2. Relapse Prevention for the Family: Don’t Be Your Child’s Trigger

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    Group of happy family hugging each other
    Group of happy family hugging each other

    Addiction and mental health issues are not limited to your teen. When your child has substance abuse and/or a mental health diagnosis, your family does, too. Perhaps no one else has the diagnosis or abuses substances, but your child’s behaviors and interactions impact the entire family. Most families have improvements they can make in the way they interact, discipline, or enable. When your child is in recovery, your family should be in recovery, too. To prevent a relapse for your child, your family should work hard not to be the trigger for your teen.

    Addiction and Mental Health Are Family Issues

    Some call it “dysfunction,” but whatever you call it, when your teen is abusing substances and has behaviors stemming from a mental health diagnosis, the entire family can be impacted by your child. In fact, in many families, it can feel like the entire family revolves around your teen’s mental health and behaviors. Not in a good way, either. Those who have been in this situation may be more likely to describe it as being held hostage by these behaviors.

    However, just because the teen is creating the drama and getting all of the attention does not mean that the problem is theirs alone. Most families have, usually unintentionally, contributed to the problems the teen is experiencing that are making them act out. Thus, when your child is in treatment, your family needs to seek treatment as well. Exploring family dynamics, relationships, and habits can help to improve communication and strengthen bonds to avoid falling into the same habits.

    How Family Issues Contribute to Addiction and Mental Health

    If kids came with manuals, everyone would parent perfectly. You would know exactly what to say and do in every situation, and you would teach your children to be perfect, too. But they don’t come with manuals, no one is a perfect parent, and it is impossible to get it right every time. Also, you come with your own baggage, and your parents’ baggage, and generations before that. Families require diligence, patience, and understanding from every family member, and that also does not exist. The dynamics of your family, how you communicate, parent, and discipline can cause misunderstandings and pain, which can contribute to substance abuse and mental health issues in your child.

    Family Recovery From Old Habits

    When your child goes into recovery, it gives all of you the opportunity to sit down and communicate about how you can improve to support one another. Was there fighting before? You may blame your child, but it takes two to fight. Did you enable the behaviors by being too lenient or too strict? Or maybe just inconsistent? Did you allow them to manipulate you to get what they want? What is your relationship with your child like? Do you spend time with your teen and communicate well? Or has your child fallen to the bottom of your priorities because of life’s stressors?

    You may not be able to identify the problem. In fact, the best way to identify the problem is to listen to your child. Don’t react or try to defend your words or actions. Listen to where their pain is coming from. Parents often think the problem is one thing when the child is hurting for an entirely different reason. This lack of communication widens the gap between family members and deepens the wounds on both sides of the conversation. Listen with an open heart and mind, and you can have a healthy dialogue and make plans for compromise and change within the family.

    Relapse Prevention for the Family

    One of the relapse prevention techniques your child will learn in treatment is to identify triggers and avoid them. This can be really difficult when you all live under the same roof and spend so much time together. Yet if you relapse into your old habits, your child may relapse into their substance abuse as well. Families need to be fiercely vigilant of boundaries and changes developed in family therapy. Communication is vital, and if someone begins to escalate, there needs to be an escape plan — a place they can go to cool down and be left alone until the storm blows over. Relapse prevention requires planning and cooperation from every member of the family.

    Don’t Be the Trigger for Your Child

    Relapse is a common occurrence in recovery, and if your child is also battling a mental health diagnosis, then it is even more important to pay attention to both the mental health treatment and stick to the family relapse prevention plan. Make boundaries, set guidelines, be willing to listen and communicate without judgment or reaction. The last thing you want as a parent would be to relapse in your recovery and be the trigger for your child.

    Because addiction is a family issue, so is relapse prevention. Listening to your child and their pain can identify where the family needs to heal and support one another to prevent a family relapse. When you maintain your boundaries and keep the lines of communication open, you don’t have to be a trigger for your child. Sustain Recovery is an extended residential care program located in Irvine, California. Through our program, we are able to work with adolescents who may have struggled in other programs or facilities. With a longer duration of care, we can gradually reintegrate them back into their lives again while they are in treatment. We work with families because we know that families need to heal as a unit. Sustain is focused on long-term success; we strive to connect clients to support and resources in their community to increase the probability of success. Call us at (949) 407-9052to learn more.

  3. Helping a Loved One Avoid Relapse

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    temptation relapse

    Maintaining sobriety in the long-term can be just as difficult as the detox-and-rehabilitation process, especially since it’s up to the recovering addict to manage themselves. Those who attending community support groups and maintain a network of support within your home and social life have the best odds of staying sober and happy.

    To help your loved one get past their addiction, help them succeed in the following areas.

    Avoiding Temptation

    Cliche, I know, but this is a crucial element of long-term sobriety: accepting that we do not have all the power; that certain places, people, and things must be avoided, not conquered, in order to beat them.  A common refrain among the casual public is that temptation is unavoidable. On the contrary, addiction is partly a disease of willpower, and avoiding temptation is entirely practical. What isn’t practical is putting yourself in tempting situations necessarily.

    Maintaining a Support System

    This is what should replace the tempting elements in their previous, drug-using life. It seems simple and obvious, but it’s not, because those who want us to succeed are not always those who are helpful. Sometimes our most passionate friendships and relationships are totally counterproductive. Maybe those friends or family members are drug users themselves, or maybe, for whatever reason, you associate them with painful memories that you just can’t stand. Comfort and support are not mutually exclusive, but they are often separate.

    Staying Humble

    When life seems to be going well, there is a tendency to fizzle out on our aftercare treatment obligations like AA. That’s a problem, because just one slip can send you back down the rabbit hole of addiction. You want to maintain some sort of support system not as a reminder that your life is messy, but as a fail safe to maintain clean living.

    If You Do Relapse, Don’t Abandon Ship

    Have you ever spent hours writing an essay or assignment of some kind only to have your computer crash and all progress lost? The thought of starting over is so infuriating, and so daunting, that you probably considered walking away and failing the assignment. The same goes for a drug relapse, except that this is a much more important assignment, and it’s going to be a lot harder to pick up your pencil the next day. If you have to, you will.


    To help yourself avoid relapse, we recommend immersing yourself in some of our fantastic aftercare programs

  4. Recovering from Relapse

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    Recovering from RelapseAn adolescent recovering addict’s therapists, sponsor, and fellow recovery group members can play an essential role in helping him to recover from a relapse. Unlike friends or family members who will not understand a recovering addict’s struggles, they will offer support and advice to help an addict overcome any negative emotions associated with a relapse. If nothing else, they can give a recovering addict a sounding board. They will be listened to without being judged. A recovering addict who has experienced a relapse should reach out to their support networks as soon as possible after a relapse.

    Addiction recovery requires addicts to make a long-term commitment to sobriety. A young adult who has suffered a relapse in their addiction might feel that they have abandoned that commitment. Rather than feeling trapped by that sense of abandonment, guilt, shame, and failure, they should promptly renew their commitment to get and stay sober. This can involve a painful self-examination to determine the causes of the relapse and an admission of his own shortcomings. A renewed commitment to sobriety coupled with an admission of mistakes will give him a platform to rebuild his self-esteem and to continue with a recovery program.

    Recovering from Relapse

    Immediate action should be taken after the event of a relapse. If detox is necessary, it should be entered as soon as possible to avoid furthering the chemical dependency. After detox, a young person in recovery should return to their regular programs of recovery. Should they pose a risk to themselves or others, they might require another round of inpatient or outpatient treatment. Otherwise, they simply need to ramp up their recovery efforts. More meetings, regular meetings with a therapist, and another honest attempt at the 12 steps are great ways to start. Getting “in the middle of the herd”, it is said, includes socializing and making friends with other young people who are excited about recovery in their lives.

    Relapse for many is a monumental turning point to change the theme and direction of his recovery. Some report feeling that they “needed” their relapse in order to truly appreciate recovery. However, keeping an “attitude of gratitude” is a way to maintain that appreciation on a daily basis. Those who are grateful for their sobriety rarely contradict it with a relapse. Find ways to stay grateful for everything sober life provides and never feel the need to drink and use again.


    Sustain Recovery Services in southern California helps adolescents and young adults to recover from drug addiction and alcoholism. We believe long term sobriety is possible. Our extended care services offer young people in recovery a loving home environment coupled with structure, community, and fun. Please see our website or call us at 949-407-9052 for more information.

I first met Sayeh in November of 2013 just after my 15 year old daughter had been admitted to a residential treatment program. As part of the program I was required to attend 2-3 AlAnon meetings a week. Sayeh attended the same AlAnon meetings as well as Alumni events as I. It soon became apparent to me that Sayeh had a heart for recovery, program, and God. When I was encouraged to get a sponsor I didn’t hesitate. Dependable, respectful, kind and generous of spirit, she exudes an inner peace that I hope to achieve with her loving guidance, as I work my own program. She is patient, & full of wisdom that she is always happy to share with her sponsees and fellow parents. I am so grateful our journeys brought us together.

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