Parenting 101: How to Support a Child After Rehab

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How Children Develop Addictions

When your child has developed an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you may struggle with how to respond. Is this behavior that should be punished? How do you support your children and help them move forward to success? Understanding the addiction recovery process can help your family heal from this addiction and improve your child’s success.

Children who have become addicted to a substance, whether drugs or alcohol, are no longer simply acting out or misbehaving. They aren’t being “bad.” Rather, they have a disease, and recovery should be treated as if they are seeking medical treatment for any other type of illness. Not only are there a wide range of health risks that can arise as a result of addictive behavior, the addictive behavior itself can be symptomatic of other problems. Both depression and anxiety can lead to young people attempting to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, as can feelings of isolation, pressure, or struggle to conform.

Treatment Isn’t Over with Detox

When your child leaves detox therapy, you’ll often find yourself breathing a sigh of relief. The addiction is broken – right? The journey to recovery, however, isn’t over yet – and in many cases, it’s really just beginning.

 Continuing treatment, from ensuring that your child is able to stay clear of illegal substances to giving them the therapy they need, will help keep your child or teenager on the road to recovery and help stave off the potential for relapse. Supporting them through that process may include:

  • Continuing therapy, especially therapy that will address the underlying issues that may have led to addiction in the first place
  • Help remaining separate from friends who may have encouraged or enabled the addiction
  • Finding support groups and organizations that will make it easier for your teen to connect with others who are also recovering, decreasing the sense of social isolation
  • Filling in the spaces that used to be filled with addictive behaviors or friends who were enabling those behaviors with healthy activities 

It’s important to recognize that these steps are every bit as critical to the recovery process as checking into a detox facility – and in some cases, even more so. By following the recovery process long after detox is over, you substantially increase your child’s chances of getting and staying clean.

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The Steps You Can Take

As a parent, there are several actionable steps you can take to help your child on the road to recovery. While every family dynamic and every addictive situation is different, there are several things that can help get your family back to normal.

  • Know the signs that your child has started abusing drugs again. Pay close attention to those signs and react quickly and definitively if they appear again.
  • Help your child build new, healthy habits.
  • Don’t berate your child for past mistakes. Be willing to forgive and to talk with them about other things without constantly going back to their drug or alcohol abuse – even if those behaviors may have led to current struggles.
  • Open the lines of communication. Make it easier for your child, especially a teenager, to talk to you about problems they may be facing or their struggles with addiction. Having a listening ear is one of the best things you can do to help prevent relapse.
  • Know your child’s friends. Even as they start to make new friends, take the time to get to know them. Consider supervising or hosting activities for a while, especially early in the recovery process.
  • Know where your child is and what they’re doing. Develop an accountability system that will help keep them clean and out of trouble.

Dealing with drug or alcohol abuse in a child can be painful, but it’s not something that you have to face alone. It’s important that you, as the parent, receive support alongside your child so that you’re able to help them develop a healthier, happier life.

 Addiction impacts the entire family, but by working together, you can help your child overcome addiction and return to health once more.


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