Summer is quickly upon us, bringing with it the promise, as well as the intimidation, of spending a summer with our son in recovery. For families, summer is always a balance of excitement and worry. When our children are off from school, they are granted copious amounts of time which may or may not be accounted for. That golden, nostalgic freedom of summer and the opportunity to roam, play, adventure, and explore, is something that any parent wishes for their child while the sun is shining, the temperature is hot, and the daylight hours are joyfully long. However, as the parents of young boys who have struggled with addiction and gone through treatment to recover, our concerns about the freedom of summer take a different turn. Too much free time could lead to a slow journey into problematic old behaviors, connecting with trouble-making friends, boredom which triggers a desire to use, and the terrifying idea of relapse into active using. While we know we cannot police our child’s every move and we do not want to limit their fun during summer vacation, we want to provide a healthy structure to ensure their success in maintaining abstinence in sobriety.
Consider A Day Camp Instead Of A Sleep-away Camp
Few summer opportunities provide the fun, protection, structure, and safety of our children like a summer camp. Sleep-away camps are a cherished part of summer experiences for young boys, but the extended time away from home can be difficult, especially when our son has spent a portion of his year away from home in a residential treatment program. To fill the hours of the day with fun, new friends, and monitored activities, we can consider a day camp program. Day camps will offer three choices in terms of timing: a morning to early afternoon camp, an afternoon to early evening camp, or an all-day camp option. Rather than send our sons off again, day camp gives us a few extra luxuries we cannot have with a sleep-away camp. Firstly, we can have a morning as well as a nighttime routine with our sons, which can be of the utmost importance for their recovery. If there are medications, prayer and meditation routines, check-ins, or other components of our son’s recovery that is routine for the morning, we can know he is home with us to hold him accountable to his program. Secondly, day camps are extremely flexible. Should regular visits to a therapist, specialized care practitioner, psychiatrist, or other doctor be part of our son’s recovery, we can easily pick him up from camp and take him to a necessary appointment. As well, if our son is stepping down his treatment process through lower levels of care, he can work his camp schedule around his treatment schedule without complication. Being nearby to a local day camp means we are available to our young boys should any complications or challenges arise throughout the day. As we have learned through his treatment process, some days in recovery are easier than others. If and when our son might need our extra care and attention, we can be quickly at his aid to support his sobriety. Meanwhile, he can make all the wonderful memories of a summer camp experience, with the comfort and structure of his recovery supporting him.
Spend Time In Nature
Frontiers in Psychology published a study in early 2019 which illuminated just how much time in nature effects positive change in people. Mashable reports that according to the study, “The researchers found that participants who immersed themselves in a ‘nature experience’ for at least 20 minutes [per a three time a week outing over the course of eight weeks] experienced a significant decrease in their levels of the stress hormone cortisol.” Twenty-minutes a day three days a week equates to about one hour per week of immersed nature time. Today’s tech-dependent, digitally attached youth need to be encouraged to spend time outdoors at all, let alone surrounded by nature. An hour per week in nature is something we can manage as a family- not just for fun but for our mental well being. Each week, pick a new park in the area, a local nature adventure, or some other kind of outing such submerges our sons and family into the greenery and tranquility of a natural setting.
Put Sobriety First
Planning a vacation can be a challenge when we have a child who has found recovery from addiction early in their lives. No matter what kind of party, vacation, event, or adventure we have planned with our family this summer, when we put our son’s sobriety first, everything else will fall into place.
If you or an adolescent you know needs to get help for drug or alcohol abuse, Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center can give you the guidance that you deserve. Establishing a strong network of family and community can reinforce practices for living substance free.
Call us today to start living in your recovery: 662-598-4214