Teens in the early stages of recovery from drug addiction are prone to relapse once they finish a treatment plan. Read on to recognize five common relapse triggers and how parents can help their children from turning to drugs again.

Stress

All teenagers deal with stress from school, family, and friends. Teens recovering from drug abuse have the added pressure to resist falling back into bad habits. They often have to cut off friends who use drugs and change social habits, like hanging out at a classmate’s house unsupervised after school or attending parties. Sometimes it feels like family members are breathing down their necks, watching their every move, and building up the already tense pressure against a relapse. The pressures of school piled on top of all this can be daunting, causing a teen’s stress levels to skyrocket. In turn, they are at higher risk of developing anxiety or depression. To alleviate the stress that accompanies being a teenager, the effects drugs induce again become a much more appealing escape, increasing a recovering addict’s probability of relapsing.

How Parents Can Help

Create a plan together to combat stress. Break down the stressors and examine how each one may contribute to a relapse. Ask questions and listen openly. Does your teen need a tutor or help with time management for schoolwork? Do they feel pressure from parents and family not to relapse? How has giving up drug-abusing friends affected their social life?

Next, devise a plan based on their needs. Get them the help they need, which may involve their school or a counselor. Exercise, yoga, and meditation all alleviate stress as well. Support them in trying something new, like martial arts or a musical instrument. Let them keep trying until they find something they love that helps reduce their stress.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is a powerful influence. When teens go to parties or hang out with drug abusers, they may feel like they have to go along with the crowd. They think using drugs one last time won’t hurt, or they may want to use drugs to appear cool, avoid confrontation, or even make new friends. Finding new friends who don’t use drugs and are positive influences is challenging at a stage where most teens have already developed a set group of friends around whom they feel most comfortable with.

How Parents Can Help

Form a plan for expectations, rules, and consequences regarding drug use. Ask them how they feel about being pressured by old friends or others they want to be friends with. It is possible for teens to explain to their peers that they are committed to remaining drug-free. Practice playing out scenarios in which they may feel pressured to do drugs and different ways to respond. Devise an escape plan, like calling home for a ride no matter how late it is.

Focus on the positive. Figure out where they can meet clean, like-minded peers. Encourage them to join a support group where they can talk to teens going through the same challenges. Sports, after-school clubs, and church groups all offer alternatives to the party scene.

Loneliness & Isolation

Giving up old friends and situations that encourage drug use or losing interest in regular activities can lead to loneliness and isolation. Teens in recovery often feel like they can’t relate to their peers. This can also lead to anxiety or depression. Being without a friend to talk to may lead to using drugs to combat the struggles of loneliness.

How Parents Can Help

Make sure your child isn’t spending too much time alone, especially in their bedroom. Plan family activities, like a weekly game night or family dinner. Ask them to watch a show with you or offer to help them study. Encourage them to invite their classmates or new friends over for a get-together, including board games or cards, ping pong, Foosball, or something as simple as a movie marathon. Again, a support group where they feel understood by others with similar interests is extremely helpful with the ongoing recovery process.

Social Situations

The likelihood of your teen avoiding a relapse if they attend events where drugs are readily accessible is slim to none. There will be gatherings they want to attend, whether after school at a friend’s house or maybe even at a football game, where other teens they know are doing drugs. The reality is that your teen must find other social outlets. It may not be easy, but it’s possible.

How Parents Can Help

It’s not easy to start over with new social events and friends when you’re a teenager. Talk to your child and ask them what social activities seem safe to them. Instead of demanding they give up parties altogether, encourage them to try activities like community or school events. Encourage them to go out with trusted friends to the movies or for ice cream. Parent-supervised get-togethers give kids a place to have fun away from the temptations of drugs.

Boredom

Sitting around the house doing nothing is boring for anyone. For a teen in recovery, boredom is dangerous. They ruminate on how they’ve lost friends or are missing parties. They feel left out. The temptation to use drugs to fill that void at this point can be overwhelming.

How Parents Can Help

Encourage your teen to try something new at school like joining a club or sport. Volunteer together in your community once a week or take a work vacation to help rebuild a community after a flood or tornado. Helping others is a great way for your teen to meet new people and feel a sense of pride in what they’re doing, all while showing your teen what the world has to offer beyond a life of partying and drugs.

Let Us Help

Once your teen has completed a drug treatment program, the work doesn’t stop. They have to learn how to resist the urge to return to drugs while navigating their way through triggers like stress, peer pressure, loneliness, social activities, and boredom.

Does your teen need support? Pyramid Healthcare, is here to help! Contact us for more information on outpatient support groups for teens.

Together we can help your teen succeed on the path to recovery.

Featured photo credit: Mother embracing and soothes depressed daughter/David Pereiras via bigstockphoto.com

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