All Kinds of News for February 14, 2018
One of the biggest concerns parents have when considering a treatment program is, “How do I know this will work?” Turn-About Ranch strives to help parents understand their role in making long-term changes with their teen throughout treatment and beyond. It’s normal to experience a mix of emotions including hope, excitement and love, but also fear, apprehension and anxiety about your child’s return home from treatment. Having a “cautiously optimistic” attitude is quite healthy. The reality is that there are likely to be challenges on the horizon, especially if your child has been a heavy drug user. Before you push the panic button, realize that there is indeed hope for change, continued sobriety, and long-term happiness. Here are some tips to help you support your child’s continued change and long-term sobriety.
#1- Become educated on addiction. Learn how addictive behaviors and substances impact the brain, the decision-making process, judgement and the way we experience pleasure. Read, study about and listen to other people’s stories and experiences of addiction, what has helped them continue in their sobriety and what the challenges have been. Kevin McCauley’s “Pleasure Unwoven” is available on YouTube and is a great resource. Attending an Al-anon or Narc-anon group may be a useful way of learning how to support challenges that your child is going through. The more educated you are on this issue, the more empowered and confident you will be in supporting your teen the right way.
#2- Understand why your teen was using drugs or alcohol to begin with. Were they trying to escape the challenges associated with being a teen or life circumstance? Were they using to deal with emotions or mental health struggles like depression or anxiety? Did they use substances to fit in with their peers, help them sleep, or simply to meet their need for fun, thrill or excitement in their lives? Understanding the why informs how we support them, and what we need to watch for in their behaviors moving forward. Make sure you have an in-depth discussion with your child and their therapist regarding these issues so that they know you understand the issue and can trust you to be a non-judgmental resource for problem solving should the trigger arise again.
#3- Expect continued sobriety at home and clearly communicate this expectation to your child. If you are not clear on your stance regarding your child’s future use of drugs/alcohol, then they will likely start second guessing their decision to be sober as well. Lines get blurred when we communicate (verbally or otherwise) that recreational use or occasional weekend use is okay as long as use doesn’t become a “significant problem.” Clear communication through our behaviors as parents that we do not condone use by being sober ourselves and being careful not to glorify using behaviors. Encouraging your child to submit to regular drug testing is another effective way to communicate that you take sobriety seriously. Actions do speak louder than words.
#4- Be patient with the process and support your child as they learn to be sober at home. Turn-About Ranch will definitely give your child a head start on the path to long-term sobriety. However, there is a difference between being sober at a program and being sober at home. Understand that there are going to be triggers such as peers, loneliness, boredom, and a variety of situations and circumstances that will likely test your child’s resolve more than they anticipated prior to graduation from their program. It is crucial that they can rely on you, other loved ones, and professional support during these times of trial. Welcome and encourage open conversation about triggers, temptations, and challenges. Be patient and supportive. Realize challenges and even an occasional relapse are not uncommon in the recovery process. If relapse does occur, hold them accountable - but separate the use from the user. Remember, your job is to influence rather than control their behaviors and choices. Simply put, set them up for success by making it easier to do the right thing and harder to relapse again.
#5- Continue to nurture and re-establish your relationship with your child. Your relationship with your child will likely play a large role in their continued sobriety. Watch for and learn how to create and take advantage of windows (opportunities) to connect with your teen. Pay attention to times where it seems like your child is opening up (communicating well) and be willing to listen without dominating the conversation. Pay attention to how your child feels loved and cared about and try to show you care in those ways (using principles like those found in Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages”). Let the consequences be the teacher and don’t withdraw love when they make choices that disappoint you. When you get discouraged, seek support from those who understand positive parenting and focus on what you can do to affect change, rather than waste energy on what you can’t control.
Remember sobriety is a journey. Your child has lots of new anxiety provoking tasks to take on when they come home - new school, new friends, new behaviors, and added pressure to succeed. Your teen will likely struggle with loneliness as well. Remind them loneliness is a temporary emotion. The more quickly you can get your teen involved in healthy productive activities, the less time they have to focus on what they don’t have or can’t do and it helps facilitate their need to make new friends.
About Turn-About Ranch
Turn-About Ranch is a wilderness therapy and residential treatment program located in the heart of Southern Utah’s canyon country. Students experience life on a real working ranch while undergoing treatment to improve their life back home. Surrounded by multiple national parks and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Turn-About Ranch is the ideal location for youth of today to have the space they need to find healing and purpose.