Adolescents are social by nature, but friends can often have a negative influence on sobriety. Summer is a time when teens have more free time, less supervision, and naturally gravitate toward spending more time with peers. How can you help them feel socially fulfilled without risking their recovery?
Help Them Build a Network of Sober Friends
You can support your child in building a network of sober friends by helping them attend support meetings and alumni functions, as well as networking to meet new friends who have similar values. This may take some effort on your part and some sacrifice of your time and energy, but will pay dividends when your teen has good, strong friends to turn to in good times and in difficult times.
A major part of finding the right friends is being in the right places. Without being too overbearing, you can encourage your teen to continue attending support meetings and participating in the types of activities where they will meet friends who are sober and supportive.
Replace Old Habits With New Activities
One of the pitfalls teens face during the summer is returning to their old habits and old friends, the people they used to use substances with. The best way to avoid this pitfall is to introduce them to new activities where they can meet new people and create new habits.
For example, they might like to try a new sport or performing art for the summer where they would spend a lot of supervised time and be able to make new friends. They could take a community college class for credit for enrichment, which would also keep them busy and help them meet new people. They might even enjoy getting involved in a volunteer organization like a pet shelter or working with younger children which could be fulfilling and give them the opportunity to meet new people as well.
Create Opportunities to Be Social in Your Own Back Yard
One way to offer social opportunities where you know your child will be sober is to be the host. There are plenty of summer activities that you can plan in your own home or yard to bring your child’s friends to you where you can provide the supervision. Rather than do the same thing every week, plan different activities to keep it fun and sober. Ideally, your teen plans the activities and you provide the support. Here are some ideas:
- Trivia Olympics–teens compete for gold, silver, or bronze in trivia categories suited to their interests (i.e. video games, cosplay, science fiction, etc.)
- Backward Night–serve breakfast for dinner, wear clothes backward, talk backward, etc.
- Water Balloon Volleyball–work in pairs using towels to hoist water balloons over a net or a line, catching and returning balloons with towels from the other side.
- Movie Night–everyone works in pairs or small groups to make mini-movies, then you enjoy the screenings all together outdoors with popcorn and snacks.
- Theme Party–have a disco night, a cosplay party, or any other theme and plan a night where everyone dresses up, with music, food, etc. in the theme.
- Art Walk–for the kid at heart or aspiring artists, grab the sidewalk chalk and let your creativity loose on the sidewalk. Silly or serious, this can be tons of fun.
- Social Media Scavenger Hunt–teens work in pairs to find specific posts or types of posts; the first team to find all of them on their list wins a prize.
- Pizza Night–have them bring their favorite pizza toppings to make their own pizzas, then enjoy while watching a movie outdoors.
- Kid Party–have a proper kids party with a piñata, bubbles, kids games, and treats where everyone can be a kid again.
- Meme Charades–act out your favorite memes, friends have to try to guess which famous meme you are portraying.
Establish a Sober Network for Parents
Is your child suspicious that you are always hosting? Get to know the parents of some of your child’s friends that you can trust and set up a network of families. Take turns being the hosts and planning the activities, but be sure to share the same ground rules and make each other aware of any specifics about your child’s triggers to help keep them safely sober. Ideally, these will become homes that you can trust your teen to stay overnight at or go on family trips with as well.
Having this network of parents can help all of you keep your teens safe this summer by supporting one another and creating safe and fun environments for your adolescents to enjoy without risking their recovery.
Summer is a great time to be social, and it can be a great time to be sober, too, if you are in the right places and with the right people. Helping your teen replace their old habits with new activities and offering them support by giving them options will help them have a socially sober summer. At Sustain Recovery, we know that family support is essential to maintaining sobriety. We know that teens want to be social but still need support while they are new in recovery. Substance abuse and mental health diagnoses are not the problems; they are symptoms of your child’s problems. Our extended residential program seeks to help your teen identify and process their pain as well as learn accountability while they heal from substance abuse. Contact Sustain today at (949) 407-9052 to find out if our program is right for your family.