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Will School Get in the Way of My Teen’s Recovery?

Has your child recently finished rehab or drug counseling? Are you struggling to find the balance between back-to-school stress and recovery? You’re not alone; this is a hard part of the year for us at Clearfork Academy because we see so many families tackling this problem. If you’re concerned school may get in the way of your child’s recovery, let us walk you through what you can expect and how to help your family adjust to a new normal. 

1. How long after treatment can my teen go back to school?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions. Should you wait three weeks? One day? The best time frame is not a hard-and-fast rule, because each situation is unique. This is a difficult transition and can potentially be triggering for your child. Pay attention to their habits as they leave treatment–are they making friends with other kids in recovery? Do they take an active role in their recovery process or wait for you to prompt them? 

There is a party culture and peer pressure in schools, so make sure your child has the tools to succeed before sending them back in. Have conversations about your child’s triggers and what coping strategies they can use in a social setting. 

 

2. What should we talk about before my teen goes back to school?

It’s easy to make a laundry list of topics to discuss before sending your teen back to school, but some of the most important conversations can get lost in the mix that way. Focus your efforts on a few key areas: boundaries, triggers, and people. 

– Boundaries & Triggers

Setting healthy boundaries is a critical step in long-lasting recovery–remember: it’s a life-long commitment. What are the positive boundaries we can set to help avoid negative triggers? If your teen used to stop by a popular smoking spot before or after school, don’t just give them a vague lesson in avoidance. Replace things they should avoid with a positive alternative. Instead of going for a smoke with their friends after school, maybe they can stop for a snack on the way home or get involved in an activity like sports, drama, or community outreach to fill in the gaps. Sit down and make a plan on what their before and after school will look like. It’s also important to note these should involve positive things that your teen enjoys. If they don’t like the plan, it can feel like a consequence and has a higher-potential to fail. 

Have good places, good substitutions, and good habits ready for your child to pull from for any situation that could be triggering. 

– People

Peer pressure is one of the big concerns for parents when sending their teen back to school during recovery; however, not all peer pressure comes from wild parties or bad influences. Role models and icons come in all shapes and sizes–musicians, celebrities, and even people your teen knows in real life. Don’t tear down important figures, but it’s okay to stress that everyone can make good and bad decisions. Your tten may love a rock band’s music, but that doesn’t mean they have to play guitar and do cocaine, right?

It’s not just peer pressure to partake in drugs that needs to be on the radar–even old friends and teachers could be a potential point of failure. Good friends don’t always have bad intentions–they could be trying to have fun, or loosen up and not understand potentially triggering situations for your teen. Have the conversation NOW with your child and help them set their boundaries. Roleplay some ways they can discuss them with their friends and peers or how to get out of a triggering situation. 

Teachers can be pillars of support or cracks in your child’s armor. Identify the positive adults at school with your teen and find out ways they can spend more time with that teacher. If there is an authority figure your teen butts heads with, strategize how to diffuse conflict and maybe even how to avoid that adult as much as possible. 

There is no answer that will fit every family, but having some deep conversations can really make all the difference in your child’s success as they return to school. Recovery is an ongoing process and it’s important to identify positive support and potential weaknesses to help stay on track. 

 

If your teen is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com or visit us at clearforkacademy.com. Our team of specialists is standing by to help your family with your unique situation or just to talk and help you answer some questions. 

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What To Talk To Your Teen About Before School Starts

As we gear up to go back to school, we all start planning for the physical aspects, right? School supplies and new clothes are purchased, the fridge is stocked up with after-school snacks, and appointments for haircuts and dentist check-ups were a success. Heck, we just had Tax-Free Weekend because even the government knows that this is a big time of year for parents! 

The physical needs are a little more obvious, a little more intuitive, but I encourage you to take a moment this year to think about your kiddo’s mental needs as well. They’re walking back into school and back into peer pressure. 

Peer pressure can be positive or negative, but in either case, your teen has the right to decide what their non-negotiables are this year. The best way to make sure your teen is equipped to handle peer pressure is to make sure they know about their own voice. It might be cliche, but communication really is key. 

There are three forms of communication that your teen should be empowered to use before they walk back into that school building this year: peer, parent/teacher, and self. 

The emotional quotient, or EQ, is all about how we feel. How does peer pressure make your child feel? How does talking to authority figures make them feel? Plan ahead with your child’s EQ in mind now and practice communication tacticsit can make all the difference. 

 

1. Peer Communication

 

Peer pressure is inevitable, and again, there is a good and bad side to it. Pressure on how to look, on who to hang out with, and on how to act. School is one giant social cue waiting to happen, and that is a lot to handle during puberty!

Empower your child to set healthy boundaries of their own and to set up non-negotiables to guide them under this pressure. If someone encourages them to act or communicate in a way that compromises their boundaries, it’s okay to communicate how that makes them feel. 

Practice makes perfect! Give your child some key phrases to say in the heat of the moment so they can avoid unnecessary confrontation. “Hey, that made me feel __. Please stop.” 

 

2. Parent/Teacher Communication

 

The adults in a teen’s life are here to be resources, but we can get lost under the tidal wave of pressure these kiddos face. Emphasize that communication with a trusted adult is not tattle-taling or snitching; it’s upholding the boundaries your child sets for themselves. 

And this doesn’t always have to be a ‘get so-and-so in trouble’ situation: sometimes it’s good to vent to an adult just to get things off their chestno strings attached. Tell your child that the little voice inside of them is very smart, and it knows when something doesn’t feel right. 

This is another great opportunity to practice together. Communicating with parents/teachers should be done calmly and with respect whenever possible to achieve the best, most direct results. 

 

3. Self-Communication

 

It may seem obvious to some of us adults, but clear and honest self-communication is so important. It’s that little voice again, the one that tells us how we feel and advises us how to act. Sometimes communication with ourselves is positive, but it can be negative too.

Talk about positive self-talk with your kiddos and empower them to be their own cheerleaders. Okay, maybe with a less cheesy spin: encourage them to be their own advocates. It’s healthy to give yourself a pat on the back and to second-guess yourself. It’s part of being human. 

Self-communication happens a lot internally, but it can also be expressed externally! Writing in a journal, creating private audio diaries, and even drawing are all great ways for your teen to talk to themself and work out the issues they face.

 

A lot of pressure and anxiety come with going back to schoolfor kids and parents. So, have a plan, have boundaries, and communicate. For additional resources or if your child struggles with substance abuse/mental health, Clearfork Academy is here to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com, or visit our website at www.ClearforkAcademy.com.

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The Effects of Trauma in Teens

Spotting the underlying trauma that oftentimes manifests itself as substance abuse can be hard. As providers, parents, and friends we see the issues that are present right now most clearly, but where do these problems stem from? In some cases, substance abuse and behavioral changes result from trauma

Traumatic stress can stem from anything that threatens the physical or psychological well-being of your teen and traumatic stress is not one-size fits all. Not every distressing event will cause trauma and what does cause trauma varies from person to person. Something traumatic for your teen may not be traumatic for another child or adult. 

Once we realize that trauma has a variety of triggers, how it manifests itself in each individual is also varied. Trauma can produce a multitude of side effects including:

  • Poor impulse control, destructive behavior, or aggression

  • Low self-esteem, shame, or guilt

  • Disturbed body image

  • Trouble sleeping, excess sleep, or nightmares

  • Difficulty regulating emotion and expressing emotions

  • Unexplained physical symptoms and increased medical issues (i.e. asthma, skin rashes, etc.)

  • Social isolation and difficulty relating to or sympathizing with others

Trauma that exceeds these symptoms can develop into clinically diagnosed posttraumatic stress disorder (or PTSD). In these cases, PTSD can cause your teen to re-experience the trauma, avoid situations that are reminiscent of the trauma, and to numb themselves emotionally. 

If a teen is dealing with traumatic stress, substance abuse issues are often a gateway to avoid or defuse this negative emotional state. It is arguably the most common maladaptive coping mechanism for traumatized teens. 

This is where substance abuse can get tricky; if adolescents are treated for their traumatic stress and substance abuse separately, they are more likely to experience relapse and revert back to drug use after a trauma-triggering event. That is why increased communication between mental health professionals and drug treatment providers is so important. 

Our staff is trained and equipped for treating teens suffering with the effects of trauma. In fact, almost half of the teens that undergo treatment at Clearfork Academy are also dealing with trauma. If your teen is struggling with mental health or substance abuse, we want to help! Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com or visit us at clearforkacademy.com. Our team of specialists is standing by to help your family with your unique situation.

 

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Calling the Police on Your Child for Substance Abuse

When a child is struggling with substance abuse, many families try to handle the situation in-house for various reasons like embarrassment, finances, and the perceived best interests of the kiddo. Sometimes that works, but sometimes it doesn’t. If the situation escalates, your family faces a tough question: 

“When is the right time to call the cops and bring in somebody other than a family member to take legal responsibility for my teen?”

The answer isn’t black and white. Police involvement is never ideal for parents. You never want to get your child into trouble, but taking accountability for their actions is sometimes needed when their safety or the safety of others is at risk. Calling the police is a way to get the law in your corner for recovery and prevent your teen from continuing down a more destructive path. 

Here are the two most important factors to consider when calling in outside help like the police:

1. What is your child’s mental/emotional state?

If they are having thoughts of self-harm, suicide, or even homicide, it’s time to get the police involved. If your teen’s physical and biological well-being is beyond your help, seeking help from an establishment to stabilize them is essential.

2. Do they pose a danger to the world around them? 

Destructive behavior, damage to property, stolen possessions, threats of physical harm, and even real cases of bodily injury are common. These behaviors are red flags that your teen may need outside help.

 

As parents, you have to set the tone and be ready to follow through on your commitment. If your boundary is, “If you bring drugs into my house, I will call the cops on you,” monitor the actions of your child. If they disregard your boundaries and expectations, it’s time to follow through and get the police involved. 

Substance abuse should not be taken lightly, and it’s key to remember that there can be legal ramifications for both teens and parents. Harboring drugs and paraphernalia is most common, but substance abuse can even lead to harboring weapons and illegally obtained money in your home. Believe us, we’ve seen it. 

Set your boundaries and expectations, then repeat them over and over to your child. Before calling the police, before involving a mental health authority, establish those boundaries and expectations. If your child falters on upholding them, then it is time to call the police. Remember, if their mental/emotional health is in danger (especially from self-harm, suicide, or homicide), substance abuse can only make this worse—step in. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and dial 911 to save your child’s life. 

If your child is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, we’re here to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com, or visit our website at www.ClearforkAcademy.com

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5 Dangers of Vaping

Is vaping dangerous? Should parents encourage their teens to quit vaping during or after recovery? The standard argument against this is that vaping “isn’t as bad” as cigarettes, marijuana, or worse. And while this is technically true, it’s also not good for your child either. We’re here to discuss five dangers of vaping for you and your teen to be aware of before it’s written off as harmless and cool.

 

1. Unknown Chemicals

We aren’t advocating for tobacco leaves, but at least it is an organic compound that we can see, touch, and feel, right? On the other hand, the chemicals inside vapes and e-cigarettes are unknown to us. Not only are we putting a foreign chemical into our body when we vape, but it’s also hard to definitively say the amount of risk it poses. Each cartridge is different, as is each brand and flavor. 

 

2. Illicit Substance Additives

Besides the nicotine and unknown chemicals, we get in typical vape cartridges, the risk of adding illicit substances to the blend is high. THC can be added to the vape in higher-concentrated doses (which is risky enough alone), but what makes this even worse when vaping is the flavored vapor that masks the smell and taste. This creates a perfect storm for concealed use and overuse of THC.

 

3. Vaping Impacts Brain Development

Nicotine is harmful to brain development in large amounts, especially in adolescents when this development is at its highest. Areas of the brain like neurotransmitters are slowed down and can even be broken with regular smoking or vaping. Since nicotine is addictive, it makes the slide to regular and overuse even more risky. Once you pick up the habit, it’s hard to stop–even when it’s hurting your brain. 

 

4. Long-Term Lung Damage

Vaping comes with adverse health effects to the lungs after continued use. Coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath can all start to affect your teen after a few weeks or months of vaping, and these symptoms worsen over time. Lungs should be clear of excess substances to allow for proper airflow. Filling them with chemicals and water vapor causes an excess strain as they expel the foreign materials. 

 

5. Marketing and Media Influence

The sleek pod, the multitude of flavors, the “tricks” kids can do with vapor–all of these things create the perfect storm of unhealthy marketing to young adults. The visibility isn’t placed on the dangers of vaping and nicotine like a pack of cigarettes; the market focuses on the aspects that draw in younger and younger wallets. The misconception and misinformation surrounding vaping are some of the most dangerous aspects of it today. When it’s the cool thing to do, kiddos don’t realize the harm. 

 

So, when discussing vaping with your teen, keep these five dangers in mind: unknown chemicals, illicit substance additives, impaired brain development, long-term lung damage, and the marketing and media of vaping. The goal is to provide knowledge so that your family can have an informed conversation. It’s time to discuss the harmful parts of vaping that are so often left out and that your kiddo may not even have considered. 

If your child is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, we’re here to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com, or visit our website at www.ClearforkAcademy.com

 

Are you wondering if your teen may have a substance abuse problem? Download our free “Teen Substance Abuse 101” guide. This comprehensive guide will walk you through discovering if your child has a substance abuse problem, and what to do next! Download your free guide here: Download Now
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What is a Family Contract? How Do I Make One?

A family contract can be one of the most critical steps in getting your family back on track after treatment, especially for your kiddo who is trying to re-adjust at home. But family contracts aren’t just for families discharging from a treatment facility–a family can benefit from one at any stage of the recovery process.

 

What is a Family Contract?

In short, a family contract is an agreed-upon set of boundaries, rules, and expectations for your household and family dynamic. How do you want to treat each other? What are your expectations for your child as you move forward together? The family contract is a great way to put everything on the table immediately. It takes the guesswork out of maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship during the recovery process at home. It does not have to be a lengthy document–contracts are typically one to four pages in length, depending on the family. Write down whatever feels best for you!

 

Why do we need a Family Contract?

Setting these boundaries will add a sense of accountability and responsibility for your teen and give them tangible goals to aspire towards as they continue their recovery. Create a list that incorporates your family values, and don’t forget to establish consequences or accountability measures should expectations fail to be met. Drafting a family contract will help your family avoid the common pitfall of going straight to accountability measures without first laying out the boundaries you expect. 

 

How do I make a Family Contract?

It is important when drafting a contract that you have an open panel discussion. Your child should have buy-in to the contract, as well as a trusted counselor/therapist (if applicable). Allowing input from these sources will help facilitate real changes and adherence to not only what you want but what your teen wants for themselves. Opening the floor to discuss the contract rules will encourage conversation and allow self-expression from your kiddo on their feelings. Everyone has different aspects that they deem to be the most important–talk about the boundaries you value most and allow your kiddo to do the same. 

Practice active listening regarding the items your child suggests; they may even have boundaries and goals for you as a parent! Avoid shutting down their suggestions and allow them to share their perspective. Remember: you aren’t just their parent, you are also their biggest advocate and supporter. 

A successful family contract that follows these guidelines will bring your family together and establish open lines of communication right from the start. The goal is never to make your child dread signing the bottom. Everyone should sign with a clear conscience and a light heart as it represents the collective.

 

If your child is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, we’re here to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com, or visit our website at www.ClearforkAcademy.com.

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How to Have a Healthy Relationship With Your Teen Who’s Struggling With Substance Abuse

If your teen is struggling with substance abuse, it’s going to call for a shift in your relationship. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it could be the best thing for both of you at this juncture. 

Figuring out how to have a healthy, meaningful relationship with your teen can be hard in the best of circumstances; families struggling with substance abuse can often find this basic need to be even more challenging. Where do you start when communication breaks down, and new worries are introduced into your family dynamic? 

There are two key things to remember as you embark on this journey of recovery with your teen: 

 

1 . This is not your fault.

Taking the blame is one of the most common reactions for parents, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s right. Too often, when we think things are our fault, the logical next step is to try and fix it. But this isn’t a problem you can fix alone, nor is it your fault. When we try to fix things that aren’t our problem, we risk making things worse. Let go of any feelings of blame you may be holding on to. Remember the serenity prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

 

2.  It’s ok to be the cheerleader.

Be a cheerleader, a strong embrace, and the shoulder to cry on when they need it. The authority comes naturally as a parent; you set the boundaries and expectations, which are not things to forfeit. But your teen isn’t just in need of the parent role. They also need an advocate. Be their cheerleader during these tough times and advocate for their success. Encourage their heart and their mind. 

Step out of the role of control because you can’t control this situation. And don’t be afraid to advocate for the inner fortitude of your child. Cheerlead when you can instead of being an authoritarian. 

 

Having a healthy relationship with your teen struggling with substance abuse isn’t easy, but you’re not alone. There is support for your teen, for your family, and for you! 

 

Want to learn more? Watch our most recent YouTube video: https://youtu.be/lBKeM418n24

 

If your child is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, we’re here to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at help@clearforkacademy.com, or visit our website at www.ClearforkAcademy.com

 

Are you wondering if your teen may have a substance abuse problem? Download our free “Teen Substance Abuse 101” guide. This comprehensive guide will walk you through discovering if your child has a substance abuse problem, and what to do next! Download your free guide here: Download Now