All Kinds of News for November 07, 2018
The anticipation of your child’s return home from treatment elicits a mix of emotions; including hope, excitement and love, but also fear, apprehension and anxiety. 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 was a heavy drug user before treatment. 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, judgment, and the way we experience pleasure. Read, study, 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 to 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 us 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 can best 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 be a source of support 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 drug/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.” Our behaviors as parents should clearly communicate that we do not condone use by being sober ourselves and being careful not to glorify using behaviors. Mixed signals of what we are saying and what we do ourselves can quickly destabilize the safety of home for anyone in recovery. Encouraging your child to submit to regular drug testing is another effective way to communicate that you take sobriety seriously.
4. Be patient with the process and support your child as they learn to be sober at home. Being at 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 will be triggers; peers, 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 professionals for support during these times of trial. Welcome and encourage open conversation about trigger, 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 instead of control their behaviors and choices. Just make it easier to do the right thing and harder to relapse again.
5. Continue to nurture and re-establish your relationship with your teen. Your relationship with your child will likely play a large role in their continued sobriety. As the saying goes, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much your care.” We can have little influence without a meaningful relationship. Watch for and learn how to create 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 try to show you care in those ways. Let the consequences be the teacher instead of a lecture and never withdraw love when they make choices that disappoint you. When you get discouraged, seek support from those who understand positive parenting while separating what you can’t control from what you can influence.
Remember sobriety is a journey. Your child has lots of new anxiety provoking tasks to take on when returning home; new school, new friends, new behaviors, and new goals. This stress can often leave them feeling lonely. Remind them that loneliness is a temporary emotion and help them get involved in healthy productive activities. The less time they have to focus on what they don’t have or can’t do, the more likely they will strive to do those things that will help them maintain what they do have—Sobriety.
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.