Understanding Triggers That Can Cause a Relapse in Your Teen After Rehab Treatment

Understanding Triggers That Can Cause a Relapse in Your Teen After Rehab Treatment

Understanding Triggers That Can Cause a Relapse in Your Teen After Rehab Treatment

Understanding Triggers That Can Cause a Relapse in Your Teen After Rehab TreatmentFor some teens, the hardest stretch of drug rehab may not be the time spent living in the rehab facility but in the weeks and months which follow. The rehab environment is fully supportive and everyone around shares a single goal. Once that teen completes rehab, however, he/she will return to a world with many of the same stresses, temptations and influences that led to drug use. There will be less oversight, less support and more drug use triggers for the teen to deal with.

The biggest challenge to staying sober is the fact that the brain has learned some bad habits -using drugs has actually rewired the brain, and overcoming the brain’s initiative is a tough row to hoe.

The brain is designed to respond favorably to pleasurable experiences. A delicious meal, for example, sends out pleasure messages to areas of the brain like memory, decision-making and mood, creating an association that leads a person to eat that delicious meal again. This reinforcement is good for us, leading us to repeat things like eating, procreating, exercise and so forth.

Drug use can hijack a learning system meant to promote healthy choices. Instead of leading the teen away from drug use, the pleasurableness of past drug use has hardwired a desire. Despite being armed with correct information about drugs and the experience of damaged relationships, the hardwiring of the brain will continue to impel the teen toward drug use.

All kinds of things can trigger the brain’s directive to use drugs for pleasure. That’s why it is so vital for the teen to comprehend what’s happening to him/her when the strong urge to use drugs comes along. He or she needs to know that some of their strongest cravings weren’t faced initially, but may occur one to three months after they stop using. Teens who can remain sober three months to one year have the best odds for lifelong sobriety.

A few of the most common triggers that lead to relapse are:

  1. Being Bored
    After the steady work of rehab, teens may return to situations where drug use was the most interesting thing in their lives. Teens need remedies for boredom like exercise and social activities.
  2. Being Isolated
    A teen may have wandered into drug use to escape loneliness. After rehab, they may find themselves lonely once again in an attempt to stay away from drug-using ‘friends,’ and they may close themselves off from all society, including those who can help. Regular attendance at group meetings or with an individual counselor can help to protect against the failed coping mechanism of isolation.
  3. Being Anxious or Stressed
    Of course none of us can escape stress and anxiety – they are hazards of life. But when the teen returns from rehab only to face all those former causes for anxiety and stress, the temptation to once again use drugs as an escape can be great. Since these stressors cannot always be eliminated, it’s important for the teen to stay connected with others who can support new coping mechanisms.
  4. Being in a Drug-Friendly Environment
    Obviously a rehab facility is a drug-free environment, but sadly many teens go home to an environment where drugs are readily available, whether through family members or close friends who abuse drugs, and that can trigger a relapse.Teens will have talked about triggers while they were in rehab, but not until they’re home again will they face the tough reality of working past them. Therapies which train teens to learn their own triggers and adaptive skills for re-routing the brain’s strong urging are key in avoiding relapse. Staying in contact with a support group or personal therapist can also make a crucial difference.

Find relief in recovery. Life gets better with addiction treatment.

Call our experts today.