A fixer-upper: Repercussions after a teen’s rehab


Carter’s dad remembers being nervous and excited the day Carter was born. He remembers Carter’s first steps, the first basketball game to an all-star career, the first science fair, the first day of high school, the first time Carter was suspended for drug use, the second suspension, Carter’s first trip to rehab and Carter’s first time returning from rehab. He hoped it would be the last. Carter’s dad is unsure of what to do, as he drives his son home after completing rehab.

Continuing care

Depending on the situation, most teenagers returning from a rehabilitation facility are feeling just as nervous as the parents. Starting a new life after substance abuse is difficult but not impossible. There are tools and techniques available to aid families in the transition process.

Recovery is not some magical service, where a patient is cured of substance abuse and life is smooth sailing from there. For teenagers who complete treatment, there is still a chance of relapse in a society full of triggering substances and settings. In 2014, The Monitoring the Future Survey found 66 percent of 12th graders abusing alcohol and 44 percent were abusing marijuana.

Parents do not have to go through the transition process alone and can work with treatment facilities to continue care in beneficial ways for the patient. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids provides a plethora of information for continuing care, describing the services to include:

  1. Direct communication with the treatment program after the patient leaves.
  2. Outpatient counseling sessions (group or individual).
  3. Phone follow-ups.
  4. Activities that take place in community-support organizations.

The level of continuing care is based on the level of severity with the patient and the specific services offered by the facility. The parent needs to monitor and support the teenager through the transition; a task easier said than done.

Proper levels of support

To alleviate the stress and confusion over the transition into a new life for the recovered teen, parents can contact a treatment facility before the rehabilitation is complete. Certain facilities may not offer continuing care, but may be able to reference another continuing care program.

Support groups allow the teen to continue treatment with a group of individuals who have gone through similar experiences. In building a continuing care plan, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids recommends being, “Aware of the meeting schedule and check[ing] to make sure that it is easy to get to the sessions.”

Parents need to enforce rules in the household, while accommodating support for the teen. Setting ground rules will not hinder the treatment process. “Monitoring behavior will help keep your child safe and healthy,” the Partnership explains. Set ground rules clarifying the monitoring to not be an invasion of privacy but a concern. Establishing ground rules will help to build stability in the home. On top of everything else, remember that no one is perfect and this transition will take time.

White River Academy is a therapeutic boarding school for troubled boys from ages 12 to 17, offering guidance through disciplined education programs and instilling character values to promote positive growth. WRA hosts parent weekends throughout the year, in which parents visit their teen and learn techniques to continue care after treatment. With a program such as WRA, parents will learn and understand the level of involvement needed to help their son get on track toward a brighter future. For more information or to register, feel free to call 866-520-0905.

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