5 Behaviors We Need to Let Go of When Our Teen Comes Home from Treatment
Sending a beloved teen to treatment for drug and alcohol addiction is one of the most difficult, but best decisions we can make for ourselves, our child, and our families. When our teen comes home, there are certain behaviors we have to learn to relinquish in support of their fostering independence and autonomy in recovery.
Forcing them to eat:
Balanced diet and nutrition is a critical part of recovery. Throughout treatment, your teen worked closely with a nutritionist to determine the right balance of health and nutrition for them. They gained valuable skills and knowledge about their diet, like what food to eat, how to cook and prepare food, and how to make good food choices. Teens go through ups and downs with their hunger, their eating patterns, their food likes and dislikes. Trying to force a diet or meal time on a teen in recovery acts against their experience and invalidates the critical learning they did in treatment about their nutrition. Encourage them to share what they learned, participate in family meal planning, and invite them to cook meals on occasion using their favorite recipes from treatment.
Diminishing their emotions:
Parents want to alleviate stress from their child as swiftly as possible, which can sometimes act as a detriment rather than a help. We are sometimes too quick to tell our children it isn’t that bad, you’re overreacting, it isn’t that important and more. Parents face a particular challenge when their teen is in recovery. At once, a parent needs to keep their child’s emotions in check with reality in order to make them more manageable as well as validate and affirm their child’s emotional experience.
Silencing their tears:
By participating in family therapy, family activities, and family programming at our teen’s treatment center, we learn that tears are okay. Crying is okay. In order for our teens to stay sober, they have to fully feel their feelings and process their emotional experience- even if that includes crying. Teens need to have a safe space to process all of the unique parts of recovery and cry tears of joy, tears of frustration, and tears of sadness.
Inhibiting their social life:
Fellowship is a critical component of recovery. An infamous study called “Rat Park” turned traditional models of studying rats and addiction on its head. Most studies placed rats or lab mic in isolated cages, left alone with he option to consume cocaine laced water. Rat Park created an open cage full of other rats, rats of the opposite sex, as well as toys, exercise toys, and more. Rats much less often chose to consume the cocaine laced water. A rich social life in recovery is necessary to create a thriving livelihood filled with relationships and experiences.
Pushing spiritual beliefs:
Spirituality will become an important part of your teenager’s life during treatment and throughout their recovery. Traditional twelve step models of recovery include the discovery of and development of a relationship with a ‘higher power’. Your teen will work diligently to create a higher power of their own understanding. If your teen’s concept of a higher power and spirituality differ from yours, it is important to be as supportive as possible. Spiritual fitness, as it is called, is what empowers a teen to face any challenges in their recovery without picking up a drink or a drug.
Recovery changes everything. If you and your family are ready to start the journey of recovery, Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center is here to lead the way. Call us today for information about our long-term residential treatment programs and academic support: 662-598-4214