Adolescent Recovery: Treating the Family


It’s been a whirlwind of activity, fear, and finally, relief. Your child was in crisis but they’re now safe and receiving the appropriate care at a program tailored to their needs. Now comes your time to heal. When a teen struggles with addiction and mental health, the entire family feels the impact. The recovery journey isn’t just for your kid, it’s for the whole family. At Sustain Recovery, we recognize the crucial role that family healing plays in the recovery process. In this blog, we'll explore why healing the family is essential, how addiction affects everyone, the importance of self-care for parents, and three first steps towards treating the family unit.


Understanding the Impact of Addiction on the Family

Addiction and co-occurring disorders are referred to as family diseases because their effects ripple through the entire household. The family unit works as a system of parts. If one piece of the machine is struggling, the rest of the pieces feel the strain. If you’ve noticed an increased sense of tension or felt like emotions were running high throughout the family, you’re probably not wrong. It’s normal for family members to experience heightened levels of fear, guilt, anger, and confusion. Depending on the circumstances, there may have been broken trust, strained relationships, and a breakdown in communication. The family dynamic can become destabilized as everyone navigates the challenges of living with behavioral health challenges. 


The Importance of Self-Care


As parents, we naturally prioritize our kids' well-being over our own. We want them happy, healthy, and safe. Working towards that end can put our own health, safety, and emotional state in jeopardy though. It’s important to remember that you also need and deserve support and care during these difficult times. Taking care of yourself emotionally, physically, and mentally is not only essential for your own well-being but also for your ability to support your teenager effectively. Think about what makes you happy, leaves you feeling refreshed, and keeps you grounded and calm. Build time into your weekly routine to engage in these activities. Whether it’s therapy, meditation, a spa day, or exercise - prioritizing time for yourself to heal will pay dividends in the long run. 


Three Important First Steps to Healing the Family


  1. Education & Understanding


It can be difficult to have empathy for something we don’t understand. Educate yourself and your family about substance abuse, co-occurring disorders, and their impact on the family unit. Understanding the disease model of addiction and the complex nature of how it works within the mind of the individual can help you be more supportive of your child. When appropriate, attend family therapy sessions, workshops, or support groups to learn more about their struggles, communication strategies, and healthy coping mechanisms. Remember, this isn’t an issue of bad parenting or moral failure. Your adolescent is sick. 

2. Open & Honest Communication


Building a two-way street for communication with your teen is key to rebuilding your trust and fostering a supportive environment for healing on both sides. If your relationship with your kid has been strained by their illness, cultivating an open and honest ability to talk can go a long way towards repairing things. Encourage open dialogue with your teenager, where they feel safe expressing their thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment. Likewise, be open and honest about your own feelings, concerns, and boundaries. Effective communication lays the foundation for rebuilding relationships and strengthening family bonds.

3. Establishing Healthy Boundaries


Healthy boundaries are crucial for creating a stable home environment for yourself, the family, and your child. Especially in the early days of recovery, it is important to set clearly defined and verbalized boundaries. Clearly communicate expectations, consequences, and rules within the household. You can do this while also respecting your teenager's autonomy and individual needs. The house shouldn’t feel like a dictatorship but the boundaries should provide structure and stability, helping both parents and teenagers navigate the challenges of recovery with clarity and accountability.

Do the Next Right Thing

Treatment and recovery, while difficult at times, can be the most rewarding thing for a family. To have everyone back together, healthy, and working together is a wonderful way to live. It is possible. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with their mental health or substance abuse, call Sustain Recovery today. We’re a family owned and operated adolescent treatment program and we understand the importance of the family dynamic and healing the family unit. Call us today.