After treatment, it is extremely important to use recovery tools to maintain long-term sobriety. What happens after rehab for most teens is an overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation. Without the umbrella of a treatment center, they may feel like they are caught in a storm. However, when they use basic recovery tools, the storm will pass. Indeed, the sunshine of the spirit becomes a real possibility.
When a teenager early in the recovery process leaves the safety of a treatment center, many challenges are on the near horizon and life after addiction often proves difficult. After all, both addiction and alcoholism are chronic and progressive diseases. Thus, a teenager needs help and support to prevent relapse and stay sober amidst a plethora of potential triggers and temptations.
Battling A Chronic Disease With Recovery Tools
Nobody ever returns from a stint in rehab cured of the diseases of alcoholism or addiction. Rather, the disease is merely dormant waiting for a relapse trigger to arise and slowly grows in strength over time. Thus, recovery tools are a necessity.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Relapse rates for addiction resemble those of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.”
Over 60% of teens leaving drug and alcohol treatment relapse within the first year. Another reason why these relapse statistics are so high is because teens fail to use their recovery tools post-treatment. When treatment recovery is left behind, the benefits of having a support system in the context of the institution is lost.
Signs Your Teen May Relapse Post-Treatment:
- Anxiety or depression about returning home
- Skipping support meetings and therapy appointments
- Hanging out with old friends that are still drinking and drugging
- Feeling overwhelmed and isolated
- Bored by life; believing they’ll never have fun again
Accessing a supportive recovery community after treatment is essential, and it is relatively easy to find a community if your teen is open-minded. Outpatient services and aftercare programs post-treatment can be very successful as an addition to a strong family support system.
Outpatient Services and Aftercare Programs Post-Treatment
Finding a supportive recovery community for your teen post-treatment is essential. First, be open outpatient programs offered or recommended by the treatment center, and even ask about the center’s options of extending treatment beyond the inpatient period.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teenagers should consider outpatient therapy post-treatment. Beyond offering professional support, many outpatient programs include groups with other clients in different stages of recovery. Outpatient program in a teen’s hometown offers options for meeting people and building a recovery community because it connects teens with others who are struggling with the same issues post-treatment. If a teenager is dealing with a progressive disease, doesn’t it make sense to provide them with as many recovery tools as possible?
Finding a Supportive Recovery Community for a Teenager
When it comes to sobriety support services and forming a recovery community for life after addiction, the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends the following options with a goal of reinforcing the lessons learned in treatment and the teenager’s quality of life by reducing relapse triggers. When effective, these programs provide a positive environment where challenging experiences can be shared along with mutual support.
- Mutual Help Groups
Mutual help groups such as the 12-step programs, SMART Recovery, and LifeRing Secular Recovery provide ongoing support for teenagers and are free of charge. 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous are the most widespread and accessible. In addition, in more remote locales, sober meetings also can be accessed online.
- Peer Recovery Support Services
Peer recovery support services, such as recovery community centers, help teenagers engage in the recovery process. Such services provide peer leaders who have direct experience with addiction and recovery. Depending on the needs of the adolescent, peer leaders also can provide mentorship and coaching. By leading groups, peer leaders facilitate activities that help build sober social networks. The goal is to foster fun and meaning in recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers a free download about these services. Entitled What Are Peer Recovery Support Services?, this publication provides additional information.
- Recovery High Schools
Recovery high schools are schools specifically designed for students recovering from substance abuse issues. Such programs allow teens in early recovery to be surrounded by a peer group supportive of recovery efforts and who are faced with similar challenges. Moreover, stigma is more easily removed and mental health issues are addressed in this context. Many recovery high schools now exist within the context of traditional public school systems.
By embracing these interactive options and developing group support systems as external recovery tools after inpatient treatment, teens help to ensure that their short-term recovery becomes long-term sobriety.