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Preparing Your Teen for Sobriety in College

Preparing Your Teen for Sobriety in College

College is a monumental time in a teen’s life, as they are leaving their parent’s nest and entering into life away from parental supervision. For teens in recovery or who have completed an addiction program, this can create worry about whether they will maintain their sobriety. Luckily, there are ways to help prepare your teen for college. Here are five ways to prepare your teen for sobriety in college.

#1. Address Mental Health

It is common for mental health disorders and substance abuse to co-occur, and each can influence the manifestation of the other. It is important for your teen to learn how to manage their addiction before college. College involves many new challenges outside of academics. Going away requires adjusting to living in a new environment, juggling work and school, and developing financial responsibilities. Such challenges can take their toll on a teen’s mental health.

Treating mental health disorders is as important to their sobriety as treating their addiction. While your teen is preparing for college, make sure they receive care for their mental health. Such care may require medication, therapy, or obtaining a primary psychologist.

#2. Don’t “Over Parent”

It is natural to have concerns over your child entering into a new environment that may include alcohol and other substances. However, hovering over them or becoming a “helicopter” parent won’t help the situation, and may even cause them to push you away.

There should be a balance in how much freedom and parental supervision they have in college. As you and your teen prepare for college, remind them that you support them no matter what. Understand, they are still human and will inevitability make mistakes on their recovery journey. Therefore it is important that they feel comfortable coming to you when they struggle.

#3. Have a Care Plan

Before your teen leaves recovery, they should create an aftercare plan with their therapist. An aftercare plan consists of a list of resources available for your teen to use when they leave treatment to help maintain sobriety. Such resources may include:

  • Contact information for their therapist
  • Community resources both in hometown or college town
  • Contact information for their sponsor
  • An emergency plan in case of relapse
  • A list of triggers that could lead to drug use

A sponsor will also benefit your teen. A sponsor is someone in addiction recovery who successfully maintains long-term sobriety and serves as support to another in recovery. A sponsor can help with your teen’s transition into college.

#4. Discuss Ways to Have Sober Fun

There are so many other ways to have fun in college without drinking alcohol or partaking in other substances. Encourage your child to seek students that will support their sober lifestyle. For example, if there is a celebratory occasion such as passing an exam or class, suggest ways to reward themselves that don’t involve drugs. Maybe they treat themselves to their favorite foods, shop for a new outfit, have a spa day, or see a new movie.

Participating in clubs or hobbies that keep them active and out of trouble will also benefit them. If they enjoy sports, you might suggest they try out for an intramural team or check out their student center gym. Some colleges have spaces for students in recovery. Such spaces might involve AA meetings and other 12-Step programs. Before your teen embarks on their journey to college, see if the campus offers support for the recovery community.

#5. Have a Conversation

Sitting down and having a conversation with your teen about maintaining sobriety in college is just as important as having a plan in place. A conversation can help everyone get on the same page about how to support your teen and gives them a chance to express how they feel. Talk to them about how important it is to keep a drug-free lifestyle that will support their academic performance and mental health.

Before they leave for college, make sure everyone is aware of your teen’s plan and that they know what resources are available to them if they need help. Most importantly, make them feel loved and supported through this process. They may also be worried and anxious about working on their sobriety, and your support will help them feel comfortable coming to you to express how they feel.

While it’s okay to have fun know their boundaries; remember, college is an exciting time and can be fun for students in recovery. Your teen can have a great experience, too. It just takes some planning.

Clearfork Academy helps teenagers learn how to manage their mental and physical health. With us, your teen will learn ways to manage and cope with life’s challenges and get the best out of themselves. We strive to enrich their lives and help them flourish in each new chapter of life, including college. Our facilities offer both conventional and holistic approaches to care, and our refined diagnosis can identify and treat co-occurring disorders. In addition, our academic partnership with The University of Texas Charter school will prepare your teen for college life. So, whether your teen requires residential treatment or outpatient therapy, we have options. If your teen is currently struggling to manage their sobriety or considering going away to college, we can help. Our admissions staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn more about our programs, contact Clearfork Academy today by calling (888) 966-8604

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How Do I Navigate Recovery While in College or High School?

Student couple posing for photo with their masks on

Research shows that approximately 840,000 full-time students currently attending U.S. colleges are in recovery. Therefore, the key to living a successful life in college requires maintaining an honest dialogue with your peers, educators, parents, and healthcare professionals. In this guide, we will explore how those recovering from a substance use disorder can navigate the unique challenges of college or high school without using substances. 

The Challenges of Being a College Student in Recovery

Going to college is a time for transition and excitement because it offers the opportunity to begin a new life of growth and adventure. You are about to embark on a journey to meet new people, try new experiences, and learn new topics. For many of us, college and high school are a means to developing the skills and relationships that will make us successful in the adult world. However, some may face certain challenges because of trauma, substance use, and other mental health issues. 

Some of these challenges include:

  • Facing academic and legal consequences of past actions
  • Transitioning from a treatment facility to an academic institution
  • Sharing recovery status to faculty and friends
  • Attending or forming recovery support on or near campus
  • Juggling responsibilities as both a student and a person in recovery
  • Finding sobriety-friendly social activities
  • Managing triggers and peer pressure to use alcohol and drugs
  • Relearning life skills, such as time management and budgeting
  • Navigating stigmas surrounding SUDs and recovery

These issues may surface in ways that present challenges and leave the student more vulnerable to drug or alcohol consumption. 

Know the Signs

During a person’s time in college or high school, stress and anxiety run high because of the pressure to use substances and the array of challenges that stems from starting or continuing one’s education. Too many experience overwhelming feelings that often lead to relapse or continued substance use. 

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) provides some key signs of stress and anxiety:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done
  • Feeling tired no matter how much sleep one gets
  • Difficulty concentrating on anything for more extended periods
  • Procrastinating on completing necessary tasks
  • Not eating enough or eating too much
  • Physically feeling ill or not well
  • Isolating or withdrawing from peer
  • Avoiding any previously enjoyed activities or fun
  • Using unhealthy coping methods

By being aware, you can take measures to reduce the impact stress has on your well-being. 

How to Stay Clean During College or Highschool

Living a drug-free life will take some planning, patience, and discipline. Certain recovery skills allow a person to identify what’s going on in their life. Therefore, using assessment shows how to process and form a plan when faced with challenging situations. Finally, you can manage their action plan to resolve difficult situations. 

Good resources to help your action plan include: 

  • Student Health & Counseling Center: Most colleges or high schools have either a Student Health & Counseling Center or a Guidance Office. Both provide a range of counseling, and life-skills programs students can access freely. Students can receive individual and group therapy, mental health assessments, and referrals to other available services. Some might offer resources, such as hotlines, for students considering self-harm or are distressed. Most academic institutions provide educational programs or books on managing stress, developing coping skills, substance use, and mental health management.
  • Self Care Opportunities: Most schools create an environment where students can practice self-care and learn how to take care of themselves. They offer opportunities for students to consume healthy foods, take part in fun activities like outdoor group activities, and participate in volunteer opportunities. They also allow students to meditate, practice yoga, and attend to their faith in practice.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Schools provide academic resources to help students stay on track. Students can turn to their guidance counselor, dean, or Center for Academic Success for help. These officials provide students with the strategies and resources necessary to improve their grades and succeed in their classes. Students can also book free consultations, tutoring sessions, or workshops to help with difficult academic tasks like completing assignments, developing a study plan, or managing course material.

Clearfork Academy Partnership With University of Texas Charter School

We are excited to partner with the University of Texas Charter School to prepare our participants when they finish our program. Participants can join classes right at our facilities through a University of Texas Charter School satellite campus. Teachers who receive special preparation to work with the young adults in the program facilitate these courses.

For many of us, college and high school provide an environment necessary for developing the skills and relationships that will make us successful in the adult world. Nevertheless, some may face certain challenges due to trauma, substance use, and mental health issues. At Clearfork Academy, we believe that recovery is possible and that treatment centers like ours can help. We offer a variety of SUD treatment programs that can be tailored to meet the needs of any individual especially those with mental health disorders. Our center offers a holistic approach, which includes more than just medication and therapy. We also provide educational resources, such as group classes, workshops, and access to academics. Due to our partnership with the University of Texas Charter School, our participants also have access to academic success while in treatment. Our program is designed for individual students’ needs. To learn more, reach out to Clearkfork Academy today by calling us at (888) 966-8604.