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5 Common Relapse Triggers for Teens in Recovery

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5 Common Relapse Triggers for Teens in Recovery

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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