This is a guest post by Lisa Sussman.
It was the worst day of your life when you discovered that your teenage child had succumbed to addiction.
You must have been wondering where it all went wrong. When did your darling little girl or lovable son change into this person you don’t even recognize?
You made the first and most difficult step by acknowledging their problem and placed them into a treatment program and they are now on their way back to being the kid you remember.
However, we all know there is more to the story than just getting them treatment and everything going back to normal. The way your family interacts with each other has a huge impact on your teen’s addiction recovery. Luckily, positive and proactive actions as individuals, and as a family, can help both the person recovering and the family as a whole.
Voice Your Input on the Treatment Plan
Despite your best efforts, you may be feeling a bit deflated because of the choices your child has made, but remember, you still know him or her best! Your input can make a world of difference, so don’t keep your opinions to yourself.
You can offer insight to your child’s healthcare provider as to how your child learns best and what efforts he or she does and does not respond well to. The professionals you are working with will take the information you give them and factor it into the overall treatment plan.
Take Advantage of Offered Therapy
An addict is not an island; meaning, every person interacts, learns, and reacts to other people. As part of a family, the behavior of every individual member of a family adds to the climate of the home. Perhaps a certain family member is feeling resentful at the actions of addicted teen and isn’t on board with all the trappings that are involved in supporting your teen’s recovery.
Perhaps they are withdrawing or acting out. Take the time to give the individual some undivided attention and validate his or her feelings of frustration, and let them know that they truly are heard. Every member of the family is critical to the ongoing health of the recovering teen.
It is next to impossible for your teen to be successful after going through treatment only to come home to a family who has not also worked to improve the interaction and climate of the home. Resources such as family therapy, Al-Anon, and church services can be the outlet for each member to voice their feelings, and come home with the tools to cope with their emotions and be helpful to the recovering teen.
Staying Positive Will Help Teens and Parents Alike
No doubt, this is a very difficult and trying time in your life, and it probably has been for some time. It can be hard to stay positive when someone you love is struggling with addiction. Keep in mind that your child is probably acutely aware of the pain their actions have caused, and they most likely feel terrible. Kids are perceptive and they can see the big elephant in the room, and no one wants to be defined solely by their shortcomings.
Keep in mind that getting on with life is part of healthy recovery too. Treat them like you did before they had their problem. Give your child (and yourself) a breather, by involving them in conversations that have nothing to do with recovery, such as their hobbies, favorite music and friends. Try to have a laugh! It will be a welcome change.
As long as they are working their program, there is no reason to make every topic of conversation about their addiction and recovery. Always accentuate the positive, look for even the smallest steps in the right direction and celebrate your teen’s accomplishments with them. Getting back to normal takes time and may feel downright awkward at first, just remember, there is hope, and light at the end of the tunnel.
With the right support and course of action, you’ll begin to recognize the bright and lively child you had, and your family will be happy and whole again.
Lisa Sussman is the Clinical Director at The Palm Beach Institute.
If you enjoyed this article, please share on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Thank you.