Being a caregiver of a child with a substance abuse problem on any given day is difficult but during the Coronavirus era, it is perplexing–everything is new territory. As we all adjust to life adhering to social isolation or social distancing, we are being challenged to maintain a norm, or become creative with a new form of behaving and doing that retains balance. Providing your teen with extra care and resources during this crisis can bolster their confidence in maintaining their progress in recovery.
Addiction + Virus
A person with an addiction disorder engages in compulsive behaviors regardless if it is harmful to them and others. People addicted to substances can repeatedly use nicotine, alcohol, and drugs once their brain has become dependent on the substance rewarding it. Moreover, substance abuse can be an underlying trigger to a psychological issue. In fact, 50% of adolescents with substance abuse also have a psychological disorder, the most common being depression, anxiety, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.
While addiction is always worrisome, it may be more so during our current worldwide epidemic. People who smoke, vape, and use opioids or methamphetamine are vulnerable to respiratory and pulmonary issues. And using substances in general compromises the immune system, making heavy users susceptible to contracting the virus or developing pneumonia with the virus.
How to Help
People in recovery get used to having the support they can depend on every week. To have that taken away is potentially devastating. Isolation from their friends, concern for family finances, tension within the household, and an inability to participate in activities can worsen addiction. You may not have all the tools to guide your teen through their recovery while they cannot be fully immersed in a program but there are ways to help them navigate the process.
- Lead With Example – Respect your government’s orders to stay at home or to limit social interaction, plus health officials’ recommended practices for safety such as hygiene and protective wear. Showing your kid that health and safety is important to you may inspire them to adopt the same value.
- Talk With Others – For most, each day is filled with a lot of human interactions from chatting with friends or colleagues to exchanging a few words with a cashier to signaling to a driver to sparking up a conversation during an elevator ride. Now, a lot of the interaction is done in the household with the same people each day. Teens are especially feeling a void from being away from their friends. So, make a commitment to having weekly calls with family or friends and ask your teen if they are up for the challenge too. The more they are able to express themselves freely and vulnerably with people they trust, the better the likelihood of them sustaining their sobriety.
- Be An Accountability Buddy – Many recovery and mental health facilities have kept their doors open to be able to create stability in clients’ lives during hard times. However, there is the option to shift online if necessary. If you or your teen’s rehab have transitioned to the virtual space, you can help keep your teen on schedule for meetings. You can suggest stepping outside to a book while they take their meeting, in an open space like the living room, to give them privacy and also to make sure they are doing the work. They may receive homework too so you can check in to see how they are doing on any assignments that will be discussed at the next meeting, without meddling. Following a schedule creates less chaos and ensures that your teen will receive proper care.
- Join Therapy – Ask your teen’s rehab team if they can provide additional care for the family unit or continue it online. Having a safe container to discuss how each person copes can help improve communication, help establish trust, create boundaries, reveal unknown truths, and develop goals for everyone during recovery and lock-down.
Your teen with a substance addiction will need to go through a detox program prior to starting a treatment plan. If they have not already gone through a detox, and if rehab facilities are not open to you, it is advised to postpone the recovery care until your teen can get in-person care. Going cold turkey without medical assistance is potentially life-threatening.
For more information on teen drug treatment, call Insight Treatment at (888) 295-9995.