Once the decision is made to get help, parental involvement continues to play an integral role in the drug rehabilitation process. Although during drug rehab your teen may no longer be living under your roof, you as parents remain the strongest people of influence in his or her life, and you need to remain supportive and involved even as your teen receives treatment in a residential facility.
Research has shown that a high level of parental involvement throughout the residential drug rehab period is the single greatest factor influencing eventual completion of the program and long term sobriety. Occasional phone calls are not enough, and parents need to be involved with the therapy, education and counseling, to encourage the best eventual outcome.
The period of residential drug rehab is a period of enormous growth and challenge for an adolescent coping with a transition away from drug or alcohol abuse, and the process is rarely free from trauma or abuse. Parents need to remain involved, and remember that some of the behaviors as exhibited against the parents are not necessarily true expressions of emotion, but a process of acting out against the facility and the required changes to be made.
Parental Involvement Can Make the Difference
Acting sooner rather than later is always a positive step, and generally, if parents are considering the need for a residential rehab, there probably is a real need for it.
The earlier an addiction is tackled, the better the ultimate prognosis and most people who battle addictions throughout their lives started down the road to abuse as teenagers. Abuse and addiction rarely solves itself, and outside professional intervention is usually required. Because the behaviors of addiction, and the difficulties involved in selecting a treatment facility, can overwhelm, it can be useful to enlist the services of a professional addictions therapist or interventionist for advice on how best to enable the transition into rehab, and for recommendations on the most suitable local rehab.
The most important thing that parent can do during the period of residential rehab is to maintain continued contact, regardless of the resentment and anger that may be expressed by the recovering teen; and to get fully involved in all of the family therapy and education as is offered in the rehab program. Making sure to heal the family as the rehab heals the addict ensures that the recovering addict comes home to a strong and supportive family, and reduces the risks for younger siblings.
Parental Involvement for Long Term Treatment Success
The growth and change needs to occur from within, but parental involvement in drug rehab is the single greatest indictor of long term success.
A rehab facility that does not offer, or worse, does not allow significant parental involvement should never be considered.
Parents should be prepared to expect a range of emotional expressions during this transitional period, and because your teen may greet you with anger and or hatred, this does not necessarily represent truly felt emotions, and should never deter parents from continuing involvement in the rehab process.
Parents and siblings of the recovering teen addict need to participate in healing family therapy sessions. These sessions with a psychologist or addictions councilor help the teen and the family to better understand the abuse and the behaviors that have occurred, and help the family to heal some of the rifts caused by the behaviors of abuse. Although emotionally difficult and draining, family therapy in drug rehab teaches the family as a whole a better model for support of the recovering addict once back home, and helps to resolve any underlying family dynamics that may be contributing to the expression of abuse behaviors.
Education for the family is another important facet of rehab programming, and through educational seminars, parents come to better understand the progression and mechanisms of addiction and learn more effective discipline and support models most likely to allow for long term success and sobriety.
Peer group sessions with other families are beneficial to the family and adolescent addict alike, and through a mutual expression of the pain and heartache caused by teen addiction, there can be some measure of healing and better understanding promoted.
Phone calls and family visits are equally important, and your son or daughter needs regular parental support and encouragement throughout this very challenging and frustrating period of self growth. Even if this contact is difficult, it's very necessary and shows the recovering addict that family and parents offer unconditional love and support, and this can be the most helpful of all.
Choosing a Treatment Facility
Whenever a child is abusing drugs or alcohol, the stress on the family and on the parents especially is profound; and when the decisions to intervene and mandate residential treatment is ultimately made, the stress of selecting an appropriate rehab facility can begin to overwhelm.
What type of facility is needed? How much will it cost? Will it work? The questions parents ask themselves can compound the difficulty of the situation.
Teens require a treatment facility specific to their age, and do not do well in rehab for adults. The rehab facility should be close enough to home to allow for frequent visits and family participation. The treatment facility should encourage family participation, and there should be a significant component of family education and therapy involved. The rehab should offer high school equivalency courses, and should offer a positive, disciplined and comfortable place for your son or daughter to recover.
Professional advice and support during the intervention period can both help parents with the needed intervention, and also in selecting an appropriate facility, and even to arrange transportation to the facility for reluctant participants.
Your adolescent son or daughter may not want to admit their problem, and may be adamant that they do not need rehab. Using a professional intervention service can strengthen parents from the emotional manipulation of addicted teenagers, and allow for as smooth a transition as possible into the rehab facility.
Parents Also Need Healing
When a son or daughter is suffering with an addiction, and the family is dealing with all of the negative behaviors and pain created by this addiction, it is too easy for the family to suffer just as the addict is suffering.
The family cannot offer useful strength and support to the teen addict in recovery if it falls apart, and as such it is vitally important for the family to look after itself as the addict recovers.
Alanon or Narcanon meetings have proven invaluable to many parents and families struggling through addiction; and the method of family preservation preached has been clinically proven very effective both for better family heath, and as a very effective way to support a recovering addict through the transition to sobriety. Experts recommend that families try a minimum of 6 meetings to best evaluate their comfort level with this style of peer group support.
The drug or alcohol addiction of an older sibling is statistically very likely to promote the later addiction of a younger sibling, and as such it is important that even when one member of the family requires an inordinate amount of attention, that other family members are not neglected. It's important to speak candidly about the situation with other siblings, and to thank then for any increasing responsibilities they may heave been required to take on as a result of the addiction of a brother or sister. Some one on one time with each child needs to be maintained, and important events like birthdays, and the attendance at plays, recitals and sporting events should be considered a continuing priority.
Parents should also examine their own alcohol and drug use, and should consider maintaining a drug and alcohol free home during the period of adolescence.
The First Step… Getting Help
When speaking with parents who have enrolled their children in a residential rehab program for drug or alcohol abuse, you invariably encounter a great deal of personal pain, sadness, frustration and anger; but you also hear of guilt and regret.
Most parents regret having allowed a situation to get so desperate before being forced into action, and most would recommend needed action and intervention sooner rather than later.
The truth is that if your son or daughter is using or abusing drugs and alcohol, the problem is not likely to go away on its own; and if you continue to witness abuse behaviors despite your best efforts to intervene, it's time to consider whether professional outside help may be required. Intervention at an earlier stage in the abuse and addiction makes the eventual treatment easier and improves the odds of recovery; and since research indicates that addicts do not need to be willing or motivated participants at the time of entry to a rehab facility to benefit from the program, waiting for your son or daughter to agree to needed treatment is not necessary for success.
Page last updated 01/10/2015