Sending a teen off to inpatient rehab is a heartbreaking thing to have to do as a parent, but it is the best way to help her heal from addiction. Once she’s been through a treatment program, she’s done the hard work, but not all of the work needed to be sober in the long term. She will need your love and support, as well as some practical guidance. Before you welcome your teen home from rehab, make sure you have a plan in place.
Create a Safe Zone
Returning home after rehab can feel overwhelming, especially for a teenager. Your teen is likely to feel guilty or ashamed about the trouble she has caused for the family. She may be embarrassed, uncertain about her future, anxious, stressed and nervous about relapsing. Make sure she has a place in the home that is just hers. It should be a place that is cozy and inviting and that she can retreat to when feeling overwhelmed or out of place. Stock the room or area with her favorite snacks and books, a TV and anything else that you know she loves.
Set Rules and Consequences
Coming home from rehab isn’t just uncomfortable for your teen. It can be upsetting, disruptive and awkward for the whole family. How do you handle a newly sober teen who was formerly out of control? Regardless of what happened in the past, now is the time to set boundaries and rules. Make them fair, but strict if necessary. She abused your trust before, which means that she may need tighter guidelines now. Explain this to her and that you are not trying to be mean, but that she needs to earn back your trust.
Find a Teen Support Group
Continued treatment after rehab is important for addicts of all ages. Relapse is more likely when treatment lapses. A great way for teens to keep up with some kind of treatment is to join a support group. Support is crucial to staying sober, and family support is just one piece of the puzzle. Having the support of peers and fellow recovering addicts makes a big difference for teens struggling to resist cravings and peer pressure.
Getting the whole family involved in continuing treatment is also a powerful way to help a teen be successful in recovery and to show support for her efforts. Addiction is called a family disease because the entire family is affected by it and may also have contributed to it. Get everyone to attend family therapy sessions at least semi-regularly. Face your teen’s addiction and her recovery as a family, and she will have the extra support she needs to stay sober and to thrive in recovery.
Family support, bonding and togetherness are important, but they don’t always have to be as serious as therapy. Do fun things as a family to strengthen your bonds and to support your teen in recovery. Take vacations or day trips together. Go to an amusement park or just take a walk in the park. Have family game night or go get pizza. These activities don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Just spend time together, as a family, but also one-on-one. Develop an open, trusting relationship so that your teen knows she can come to you with problems or worries. Be ready for your teen to come home from rehab by preparing the house and the family for her new life. Every member of the family should be ready for change and to welcome her home with support, love and the opportunity to start again.