My Teen Has Completed Treatment. Now What?
Parents often feel uncertain and ill-prepared when their child has completed addiction treatment. Many wonder, “How can I best support my teen’s recovery?”
To help parents, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and the Treatment Research Institute created an interactive guide called Continuing Care: A Parent’s Guide to Your Teen’s Recovery from Substance Abuse.
Continuing Care, or aftercare, is the support plan following addiction treatment. Continuing Care can involve:
- Direct communication with the treatment program after the patient leaves
- Outpatient counseling sessions (group or individual)
- Phone follow-ups
- Activities that take place in community support organizations
Optimal but less frequently available continuing care options include:
- Drug testing and feedback
- Counseling or family therapy for parents and adolescents
- Social skills training
- Case coordination with schools and probation officers
Usually the nature and extent of continuing care varies by treatment facility. Some treatment centers offer very little continuing care, others will offer more. Most recommend a continuing care plan, often a 12-step program or less intensive care.
Ideally the time to start thinking about continuing care services is during treatment.
“A month of treatment is, of course, a milestone for one suffering from substance abuse, however, it is only the beginning of recovery for an individual – the first step. The tools they learn in treatment have yet to be applied in the real world, the pressures of school, relationships, sports and work, all of which can sometimes be overwhelming.” – Denise Mariano
An ideal continuing care plan should involve:
- A counselor or support group and at least twice weekly sessions for the first month
- At least weekly sessions for the next two months
- Twice monthly sessions for at least four more months
Better plans would include:
- Continued regular checkups and monitoring via drug testing provided by a professional. The intensity of the continuing care should adjust based on the results of the checkup.
- New activities your child enjoys that will bring him or her into contact with friends who don’t drink alcohol or use drugs.
If the treatment program does not provide a continuing care plan, then you and your child will need to develop one, preferably with a counselor or medical professional. If your child has a probation officer, you may be able to work with this individual.
It is not always easy for teens to stick to a continuing care plan and it will likely require effort and support from all involved.
To learn more, please visit Continuing Care: A Parent’s Guide to Your Teen’s Recovery from Substance Abuse. You’ll find the answers, tools and support to make your family stronger, and to help you deal with the complex and challenging situations your family may experience during the days, months and years after treatment.
What are your family’s experiences with continuing care or aftercare? Please share in the comments section below.