When you learned that your son or daughter was addicted to drugs or alcohol and decided to help him or her do something about it, the world surrounding everyone involved changed drastically. Then, when he or she agreed to go to rehab, obviously things started to get better already, but clearly, your life, your child’s life, and your family’s life continued to be unavoidably altered by the substance abuse problem and the subsequent admission to a rehabilitation facility. All of these changes can be very stressful for everyone involved – your child, you, his or her siblings, and your extended family, too.
Of course, most importantly, you know that you still love your child with all your heart – that doesn’t change. Your priority now is to do everything in your power to help him or her on this new recovery journey. So much has changed, and needs to change going forward, and many of these changes will take some getting used to. But remember, this is a massive change for the better. Your child is on a clean and healthy path to a life free from drugs and alcohol, and that is a huge victory already. Moving forward, you just need to keep your eye on the prize – as each week, month, and year goes by, the chance of relapse decreases, and every recovery journey starts with baby steps. Change can be challenging for both you and your child, but as long as you are properly prepared for it, you can easily take it in stride and can fully embrace the evolutions and transformations happening both within and around you.
Regardless of whether your child is attending a week-long ibogaine detox, a month-long residential treatment program, or a program that is even longer than that, there are several things you can do to prepare to support your him or her before the program is even complete.
- Read and learn all you can about your child’s addiction. Do research on addiction in general. Know various signs of relapse. Be well versed in potential pitfalls for newly recovered addicts and plan ways to avoid them. Make sure to learn as much as you can so you are prepared to help your son or daughter upon release.
- Ask questions. Your child’s recovery center is there to help you, too! You certainly have many questions about what has happened, why it has happened, and how to keep it from happening again in the future. No question is stupid; they have heard them all. Feel free to ask away.
- Participate in support groups. Support groups for parents and loved ones of addicts exist almost everywhere and can be very helpful during this transitional time and onward into the future. Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are the two groups most well known for this, but if they don’t feel like a good fit, perhaps check out Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PAL) or Learn to Cope.
- Have a plan for discharge. Your home life might look different when your child returns home after rehab, so be ready for that. You will certainly want to remove all prescription drugs and alcohol from your home, but also consider things like schedules, family parties, house rules, and things of that sort. You should have a plan in place before your child comes home, so you are not scrambling to change things once they arrive.
- Take care of yourself. Changes often result in people staying up half the night worrying about things. Don’t do that to yourself. Certainly, that’s easier said, than done, but the best way for you to help your child when he or she returns home is for you to be well rested, happy, healthy, and ready to be there with your full support. If you need to see a therapist, do so. If you need to take naps or go for a run or experience release through artistic expression, do so. Take care of yourself first, so you can be an effective helper to your child.
When Your Child Returns Home
When your son or daughter returns home, remember that he or she is a changed person in many ways, but he or she is also the same person as always. Although many things around your house will change as a result of all this, more things will stay the same. However, with that said, there are some easy ways you can support your child on this new path to recovery once they have been released and have returned to you.
- Create a positive environment. An upbeat home that encourages good behavior and self-esteem will go a long way on keeping your child from returning to drugs.
- Remind your child who is in charge. Even though your son or daughter has unfortunately experienced the very adult tragedy of addiction already, your teen is still a child. Be sure to set boundaries and rules and enforce them consistently.
- Be active in your child’s therapy. It is extremely important that you not only get your child to therapy always and on time, but also that you support their therapy any way that you can, including attending when necessary.
- Attend family therapy. Family therapy can help your family to cope with the changes and perhaps get to the bottom of some of the reasons your child began using drugs and alcohol to begin with.
- Be alert for relapse triggers or signs of relapse. Give your child space, but be very watchful for signs of relapse, and when your child experiences something that may be a trigger for him or her, be there and ready to offer healthy alternatives to using.
- Don’t be pushy. It’s one thing to help, it’s another thing to be overbearing. Surely you want to help your child every way possible, but at the same time, remember he or she is a teenager, and doesn’t necessarily want mom or dad hanging over him or her all the time. This is your child’s battle; he or she has to win it alone. You can help, but you can’t do it for them.
In the Long Run
In time, your child’s time in rehab will simply be another piece of your past, but it is important that recovery always be a priority in all of your lives from this point forward. Thankfully, as time goes on, recovery generally gets easier for most people, but as a parent you have to stay vigilant in helping to keep your son or daughter on the right track.
- Break isolation. It’s easy to isolate your entire family from the greater world when you are all focused on the recovery of one member. But now that your child has been released from rehab and is well on his or her way to doing well, get out into the community and start doing things as a family in public again. This return to normalcy will certainly be helpful for everyone involved.
- Model good behavior. Even if you used to drink or smoke or do other drugs, it’s probably better to avoid doing these things in front of your recovering child anymore, even if he or she seems to have a good handle on sobriety. Your child looks up to you, so model the behavior that you’d like to see emulated.
- Enforce discipline and consequences. Teenagers – even clean and sober ones – like to test limits. Even though your child has already been through a lot and has transformed in a positive way, it’s important that you still set and enforce rules for him or her.
- Know their friends. A teen’s biggest influence is always his or her friends. Be sure you know who your child is hanging out with and make sure their influence is positive, not negative.
- Don’t ignore the rest of your family. It’s easy to become hyper focused on the child that is recovering from addiction, but don’t forget to spend time with your other children as well one-on-one, as well as your spouse. Addiction and recovery can put a lot of strain on a family; be sure to be attentive to yours.
- Be patient. Few things change permanently overnight. This is not going to be easy for your child or for anyone who loves him or her. Be patient. Be kind. Be encouraging. Know that all good things happen in time.
Your son or daughter has a good chance of staying clean and sober for the long term, but he or she will need your love, support, and guidance. Although this may seem like an overwhelming task at first, you can be this supportive force in your child’s life and can be an integral part of his or her recovery.
At Clear Sky Recovery, we understand the important role of the parents when it comes to recovery and our teenage clients. We look forward to answering any questions you have and will work with you to help you develop an aftercare plan for when your child returns home from our facility. Our intake specialists are standing by and would be happy to discuss with you the ways that ibogaine treatment can help start your child on a path to recovery from his or her addiction. Please give us a call today. Please note: we will not treat minors.
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.