How to Help Your Teen After Treatment

If your teen has recently been to an in-house treatment program — whether that’s an inpatient treatment center for a substance abuse issue or an away-from-home at-risk youth program — it’s normal to be worried about the transition back to home. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help your child make the adjustment and continue taking positive steps toward a better life.

1. Create a Supportive Home Environment

When your teen comes home from a treatment program, they’re coming from an isolated, controlled environment, and being back in the real world with temptations can be a challenge. You can create a supportive home environment by removing problematic substances such as alcohol from the house and locking up prescription meds.

2. Manage Expectations

Coming back home will be an adjustment for your teen and for the rest of the family. Have a meeting with the other members of the family before your teen comes home, including siblings and extended family members, about what to expect and how you plan to handle the transition.

You may also be worried about your teen relapsing or causing issues in the home, but it’s important to focus on moving forward in a positive direction. This means not overreacting when your child makes a wrong choice and remembering that recovery and changing behaviors doesn’t always happen in a straight line.

3. Don’t Make It All About the Program

It’s normal to have questions about what your teen did and what they experienced during their treatment program, but it’s important to respect their privacy and wishes. They may want to focus on moving forward instead of talking about what has happened and want to just go back to being a “normal” kid. On the other hand, if your child does want to talk about their discoveries while they were gone, support that and remember to listen without judgement to help foster a deeper relationship.

4. Have a Support System in Place

A solid support system is crucial to success in life, and this is even more true when you’re trying to get past a difficult season. Set yourself and your child up for success by organizing family and individual counseling sessions, making time for enjoyable activities, hobbies and creative outlets, and setting aside time to maintain social relationships.

5. Remind Them You Still Love Them

Going through a treatment program can sometimes cause teens to have extreme feelings of guilt over what they’ve done in the past or feel a lot of pressure to be perfect from now on to make up for it — neither of which are good for mental health. Remind your child that no one is perfect and that while you won’t support or encourage harmful behaviors and will enforce consequences, nothing they have done or will do can change your love for them.For more information on at-risk youth programs and things you can do as a parent and a family to help support your child, check out the resources and tips on At Risk Youth Programs.