Your teen has relapsed. Despite whatever fear, disappointment, and frustration you may feel, you need to remain as calm as possible. Your loved one still needs your support.

So, what can you do as a concerned parent to help them get back on the road to recovery?

1. Envision Relapse as a Setback—Not a Failure

First, understand this: relapse is not a failure; it’s a setback. If teens view their relapses as failures, they may fall prey to feelings of hopelessness and lose faith in their ability to succeed, which can lead to depression and, in some cases, thoughts of suicide. Don’t let your loved ones feel useless. They’re not hopeless. In fact, approximately 85 percent of young former users relapse within the first year. It happens. Now it’s time to help your teen look at relapse as part of the recovery process. It’s not uncommon, but it’s still possible to overcome.

However, if you are too critical, you might actually exacerbate the situation to the point that your loved one feels the need to escape your criticism and wrath by turning back to alcohol or drug abuse.

2. Maintain Open Communication

In any relationship, communication is key. A common mistake that parents make is not communicating with their teenagers about the relapse, often because they’re uncomfortable, embarrassed, or unable to discuss the situation in a civilized manner. Don’t be that parent. Here are some great reasons to maintain open communication between you and your teen:

    • Open communication at any age helps build trust.
    • It helps ease any tension between you and your teen.
    • Your loved one is more likely to open up about personal struggles instead of keeping them inside or talking to the wrong people.

Instead of building a wall of silence, create a path of conversation. If you don’t, your teenager may open up to the wrong people and get into drug or alcohol abuse again—with even less of a desire to come clean the second time around.

3. Establish Boundaries

Maybe your teen relapsed because of a lack of boundaries. Maybe the boundaries that were set were too loosely enforced. Use the method of open communication to make known your expectations and the consequences should your teen fail to meet them. When setting your boundaries, consider these:

    • Set curfews for school nights and weekends.
    • Spending time with peers who use drugs or alcohol is unacceptable.
    • Avoid areas or events at which drug and/or alcohol use is present.

Now, kick it up a notch—clearly explain what the outcome will be if the boundaries are not respected. Whatever the needed boundaries are to keep your loved one clean must be established to ensure recovery and prevent another relapse. Your efforts to maintain order and discipline may not be appreciated now, but they will be when your offspring is no longer a teen.

4. Make Your Teen’s Sobriety a Priority

You’re most likely bogged down by career and family responsibilities. Included in those responsibilities should be your teenager’s sobriety. With your continued concern and support, your teen may be less likely to experience another relapse. When teenagers realize that their sobriety affects not only them, but their friends, family and peers, as well, they tend to take becoming sober more seriously.

5. Utilize Outside Resources and Professionals

If you’re a single parent or you and your spouse are struggling with supporting your teen throughout the recovery process, the only way to ward off another relapse may be using outside support groups. It may be beneficial to your teen to spend time around others who are also recovering from drug or alcohol abuse. It can help your loved one realize that others are going through these dark times as well, which can reduce your teen’s feelings of isolation and hopelessness.

For more information on how you can seek help for your teen during or following a relapse, contact Pyramid Healthcare, Inc. Teenagers often have trouble visualizing the immediate consequences of their actions, but they’re sure to appreciate your dedication and support further down the road.

Author's Bio: 

Desiree Patton is a Media Correspondent for Pyramid Healthcare, Inc., a provider of treatment for adults and teens suffering from addiction or substance abuse, as well as individuals with mental health disorders. Our locations in western, central, and eastern Pennsylvania allow us to provide comprehensive care across the entire state to people with behavioral health issues.