Drug and alcohol treatment for teens and young adults can be challenging. One of the keys to success in treatment is to establish clear plans of action. Young people in recovery depend on knowing what to do. If a young person doesn’t know what is expected he or she can become very insecure. A lack of security can lead to sabotage in treatment.
What Is Really Important?
The first year of sobriety is critical. Most young people in treatment have a difficult time accepting the fact that drugs and alcohol are actually a problem. Parents may also have trouble with this issue. Without a clear understanding of what the primary issue actually is, undermining the priority of sobriety is inevitable. Young people in early recovery need to abstain from drugs and alcohol, connect with a sober peer group, and understand the pathology of their problem. A list of priorities for the first year of sobriety may be:
- consistent abstinence from all mind-changing chemicals
- connection with a sober peer group
- a clear working knowledge of 12 step recovery
- an understanding of the pathology of the problem
Mainstream Can Wait
It is a fact that if a person coming out of treatment does not learn to apply the principles of recovery to “normal” life situations, long term sobriety will be impossible. However, timing is critical. Someone with a drug and alcohol problem is learning to adapt to life situations without the help of chemicals for the first time in a long time. This requires a period of adjustment. Ups and downs should be expected. It takes at least eighteen months for a young person in recovery to achieve any semblance of emotional stability. This doesn’t mean he or she should wait that long to enter into mainstream life, simply that this needs to be considered when developing a long term recovery plan.
All parties involved in the life of a recovering young person need to exhibit patience. No one wants to see a teenager struggle with his or her sobriety because of an illogical rush to make things “normal.” An advantage to entering drug and alcohol treatment young is having the time to address all areas of life affected by substance abuse. It also gives the entire family the chance to heal.