Kids today are under tremendous pressure. That pressure can come from peer relationships, or just growing up in general. Our kids, however, don’t have to go far to find other pressures that we may not have known when we grew up.
For instance, there is school pressure to earn the strongest and highest grade point average possible. If not, the chances of getting into a top-notch university decline exponentially.
There’s social pressure as well. Sure, it may not matter to a parent how high they or even their own kid ranks on social media. But to kids who have grown up socializing online, sites where “likes” or “thumbs up” images can make or break a kid’s personae can result in even more pressure.
Then there’s the gravity of dating, or if a kid’s an athlete, the rigorous pressure from sports and competition. And if that weren’t enough, life after college can weigh on a child’s mind as early as middle school. Even at this point in their lives, our children might fear a lack of post-college careers could find them in terrible enough financial shape, that they may have to live at home.
STRESS AND RELAPSE
The pressures above can have a tremendous effect on our children who either are or recently recovered from substance abuse. In short, our kids’ sobriety – because they are still kids – might stand on wobbly legs, not quite ready for a full walk into a substance free life.
This remains true even if our kids don’t show outward signs of stress. We should keep a watchful eye on our sons or daughters regarding their stress level. Or better yet, if you and your child feel comfortable discussing the issues in their lives that cause them stress, find out what those issues are. If left without regard, the stress recovered teens feel could invariably lead to relapse.
This second installment of 3 Common Relapse Triggers for Recovered Teens uncovers three additional common triggers which can cause relapse in our kids.
Over-confidence can be a strong indicator of our kids’ attempt to mask the fragility of their sobriety.
For example, a friend from your child’s school is throwing a party this Saturday. Although you suspect alcohol and quite possibly drugs will be shared at this party, your kid may have their own self-resolve to not get involved.
They promise you they’re strong, that their sobriety will hold up, and as far as fun goes, your child will have it, but without his/her prior substance abuse being an issue.
Experts suggest self-confidence coupled with an optimistic outlook are protective factors against relapse. Yet it’s over-confidence that can easily lead to relapse.
If you sense over-confidence in your child, remind them that a large part of a successful rehabilitation is humility and the admission of powerlessness over addiction.
Some kids who have been sober for an extended length of time, like to “test” their sobriety by having a drink or taking an illicit drug.
These teens stop following their relapse prevention plan, and balk at attending sober counseling meetings. Ties with their network fall apart, and eventually they become less vigilant about monitoring their emotions and cravings.
These lapses in your child’s attentiveness to their sobriety can lead directly to relapse. Remind your child that their sobriety needs care, so they will less likely be tempted by alcohol and drugs.
Complacency and over-confidence are closely related, particularly when a teen feels that once clean, all work is done toward having and maintaining a substance-free life.
Attitudes like this risk the hard work that goes into becoming sober. The child’s mental state toward past abuse is no longer monitored, which puts their relapse prevention plan at risk.
Sooner or later, a child may believe they can dabble in their past habit. They might think a drink, a smoke, a snort, etc., won’t cause them to revert to their prior addictions.
Well, it will.
Even if their intent is to prove to family and friends their sobriety is well intact, a sampling of any drug can cause teens to go back to their prior habit with more ferocity than before.
MENTAL OR PHYSICAL ILLNESS OR PAIN
It’s difficult for a parent to discuss – or even consider that their child may have a mental illness. And while a child’s substance abuse can be cured with attention, dedication and time, mental illness such anxiety and depression, unfortunately, can take much longer to cure.
Because of this, it’s easy to understand how mental illness can trigger relapse in a teen. In fact, most teens who suffer both substance abuse and mental illness have what’s called co-occurring disorders, in which they take dual diagnosis treatments to address the abuse and illness.
Addiction frequently goes hand in hand with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Something that aggravates an underlying mental illness can also trigger the desire to use drugs or alcohol.
Physical illness poses as many problems to a budding sobriety as mental illness.
If your student is an athlete, and has an injury for which a prescription painkiller is needed, be sure to closely follow the instructions for taking that medication. The painkillers should never be shared with anyone else, and use the medication no longer than its prescribed time.
Teens who self-medicate a mental or physical illness may eventually find themselves dependent on drugs that are designed to enable mental and physical relief that they may not necessarily need, but can also be dangerous to their health.
As was counseled to them while in rehab, remind your teen that they need to stick to a regiment of self-care. They should maintain a healthy diet, exercise and take in an abundant amount of sleep to help stem exhaustion, illness, and other issues unconducive to a drug-free lifestyle.
Stay tuned for the third and final installment of this series in which we will examine three more common relapse triggers for recovered teens.
If you feel alcohol and/or drugs is causing a block between yourself and your loved ones, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers, we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. We specialize in programs that include alcohol and drug detox and recovery, intensive outpatient rehabilitation, and specialty curriculums for members of the LGBTQ+ society. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at
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