We all wish that a stay in a treatment facility would be as good as a cure. We would love to send our kids to be “fixed” following a long-term stay. Imagine if our kids could come back home, never use substances, feel depressed, punch holes in the wall, or engage in any other issues again without any continued effort on our part or theirs. They are magically transformed into people who never feel tempted or falter again.
Of course, magic spells do not exist, and recovery is a long-term process. Though our child’s stay in treatment might have felt long enough to be cured, treatment is only a step in the recovery process. After a stay in a residential facility, the real work in recovery begins. Once outside of the safety and support of a facility, the real world will test your child’s ability to manage and thrive with skills attained during treatment.
Begin Planning Aftercare Right Away
You might wonder when aftercare planning should begin. Let’s assume your child just went into treatment a few days ago. Should you wait until they are ready to leave the facility to plan what comes next upon coming home? No, right now, you have time to work on the following stages in your child’s recovery. You can begin to take the necessary steps while your child is in treatment to set them up for success upon discharge. Though they might be in the facility for a few months, they will return home at some point, and you can focus on aftercare right now.
The Entire Family Needs Work
One of the most common myths surrounding recovery is that only one person needs to be “fixed” during the process. Parents might believe that if their child’s behaviors change, then all other issues in the home will go away. You might feel stressed, worried, or exhausted from spending years acting more like a case manager than a parent. Your relationship with your parenting partner might have become strained. The siblings of your child who struggles might feel neglected, hurt, or worried about the family.
While your child is in active treatment, use this time to look inward to how these issues affect you and the rest of your family. When your child returns home, they will have a better chance of succeeding in recovery if they return to a healthy home environment. Do some of the following to ensure your child returns to a conducive place for recovery:
- Check-in with any siblings
- Have they been worried about their sibling struggling?
- Has this stress impacted them in any negative way? They might hold back from discussing these things, feeling that you have enough to worry about with the child struggling.
- Connect with your parenting partner
- Have you and your partner or spouse unintentionally neglected one another during the current family crisis?
- Is this relationship near the breaking point due to stress in the home?
- Check-in with yourself
- Are you in a healthy place right now—physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually?
- Remember that you will do your best work with your kids when you take care of yourself first, adult relationships second, and then you will have the resiliency to care for your family.
Aftercare for the Child Who Struggles
As you tend to the entire family’s needs, you also need to focus on aftercare for the child in recovery. Most treatment facilities, like Fire Mountain, will involve you in the treatment and aftercare planning for your child. However, remember that to take an active role in the process. Some parents might just wait on the facility to take over and do the work. You know your child best and will play a vital role in this process.
Aftercare planning involves some of the following elements:
- Ensure that your child has support outside of the facility
- Some groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or SMART Recovery, are great places to begin.
- For yourself and the rest of the family, a group like Al-Anon might benefit the entire family.
- Other community support groups focus on specific issues, like eating disorders, cutting, anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma, and other challenges.
- Behavioral contracts and consequences
- While your child is in treatment, you might be asked to discuss a coming home or behavioral contract with your child.
- While many parents might find contracts strange, when you sit down with your child and put expectations in writing, they become much more real and less likely to be forgotten or grow inconsistent.
- Continuing therapy and other treatments
- Treatment facilities can connect you to continuing therapy or other programs for your child.
- If your child is currently in treatment, your child’s treatment team, such as doctors, therapists, and others, can be involved in the aftercare process.
A stay at a treatment facility is not a cure for addiction, mental illness, or other challenges. Recovery is an ongoing process that requires aftercare planning for successful outcomes. While your child is in active treatment, you should be working on their aftercare planning. You might feel like you have time to focus on this later; however, your child will return home sooner than you think. Preparing for the transition back home in advance will alleviate stress from you while focusing on mending the entire family during this time. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center believes that success in recovery comes to the child who struggles when the whole family heals. We are here for you, from treatment to aftercare planning and beyond. If you are the parent of a child struggling with addiction, mental health issues, or other problematic behaviors, call us today at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to make your family’s fire burn brightest.