Can Exercise Help Prevent Teen Relapse?


Can Exercise Help Prevent Teen Relapse?

Parenting a teen who is in recovery is not an easy job. It is normal for parents to feel concerned about the risk of their teen’s relapse. While adolescents must learn to take responsibility for their sobriety, as a parent you can help them. This is particularly important if your teen is just out of treatment. One way to help is to encourage and assist them in building healthy habits, including exercise. In doing so, you are helping them reduce their risk of relapse now and in the future.

Importance of Avoiding Relapse Immediately After Treatment

Getting treatment for your teen is the first step to helping them heal. However, addiction is a chronic disease in which individuals are prone to relapse. As a result, avoiding relapse is one of the main goals of recovery. A particularly important time to help your teen avoid relapse is immediately after treatment.

When your teen is freshly out of treatment, they return home to an environment where they have struggled with substance use in the past. Therefore, the surroundings and relationships are more likely to facilitate them using drugs and alcohol again. This makes the time immediately after treatment an important time to help your teen manage their risk of relapse. While it will look different for each individual, helping your teen find ways to build a new lifestyle will help.

Contributing Factors to Teen Relapse

The first step to managing relapse is understanding what contributes to your teen’s risk of relapse. Each individual will have a unique blend of factors that play a role. However, mental health, social groups, and stress often impact the risk.

Mental Health

Addiction and mental health are closely linked. Many teens who struggle with addiction have co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety. Additionally, other aspects of mental health, such as self-esteem, are often impacted by substance use and play a role in relapse. As a result, poor mental health will impact your teen’s risk of relapse. Therefore, helping your teen improve their mental health is one tool to aid in their relapse management.

Social Groups

Before treatment, your teen likely participated in and was a part of certain social groups. Teens who use substances commonly spend time with peers who also use drugs and alcohol. When your teen returns to their life after treatment, they are unlikely to find adequate support from these social groups.

One way to manage your teen’s risk of relapsing is to support them in finding set social groups that help them stay sober. Research supports this idea. Findings indicate that a lack of adequate social support is one of the primary factors in adolescent addiction and relapse, making social groups an important contributing factor in your teen’s risk of relapse.


There are many reasons why adolescence is a stressful period in your child’s life. Many physical, emotional, and mental changes occur during this time, which can cause stress. Additional negative life events can increase stress for teens. However, it’s important to understand that stress is a contributing factor to relapse. Research shows that chronic stress in adolescents increases their vulnerability to addiction and relapse. Helping your adolescent to find healthy ways to manage stress can therefore help them decrease their risk of relapse.

How Exercise Can Decrease Risk of Relapse in Your Teen

Exercise is a simple and effective method to help your teen manage factors commonly contributing to relapse. By improving their mental health, building new social groups, and giving them a healthy outlet for stress, increased exercise can make a huge difference in your teen’s life.

Helping your adolescent get more exercise will have a positive impact on their mental health. Whether they are struggling with a specific mental health disorder or not, exercise helps adolescents to improve their self-esteem. It also helps decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise can also help them feel more energized and focused while releasing physical energy that is pent up from more sedentary activities.

After treatment, helping your teen build a new social circle can be challenging. You do not want to encourage them to spend time with their old social circles if they encourage substance use or unhealthy behaviors. However, it is crucial for your teen to have a community. Exercise is an easy way for teens to build new relationships that are centered around sports or other activities. Helping your teen find an exercise they enjoy can help them bond with others over a mutual interest.

Finally, exercise is a healthy way for teens to manage stress. When they are experiencing stress, getting exercise can release the feelings they have built up. However, it can also help them become more resilient to stress overall. Both of these are positive outcomes of exercise that can provide your teen with important tools to maintain their sobriety. In doing so, your teen will build a foundation that supports their recovery – now and in the future.

Exercise is a way for teens to release energy, improve their mental health, and manage stress. As a parent, your encouragement and support can help your teen find ways to get more exercise and build a community around it. At Sustain Recovery, we believe that recovery is a result of making sustainable changes. In our programs, we use evidence-based clinical treatment modalities that help our clients learn new skills and habits that support their mental health and sobriety. We offer multiple levels of care that can be individualized to meet each client’s needs. If you are interested in learning more about our program and how we can help your teen, call us today at (949) 407-9052.