While addiction is a terrible thing at any age, it’s particularly damaging when it occurs in the teenage years. Physical, spiritual, and social consequences are present in young men, but can be addressed with effective and holistic addiction treatment. But what’s next after treatment? Young men should pursue their goal of returning to school, but it’s a unique challenge mixed with potential and pitfall. A successful return to education depends on the right timing and the right strategy. Young men and their families should consider:
- Continued aftercare. Once the “official” addiction treatment program is over, it’s critical for young men to keep focused on health and recovery. The key to sober living is a strong sense of support, and continued aftercare provides positive reinforcement. Aftercare strengthens the lessons learned from addiction treatment and provides practical advice for young men returning to school.
- Structured and meaningful activities. Some of the best things about high school are the extracurricular activities available for all students. Similar to addiction treatment, these activities are a highly structured environment that promote positive thinking, personal growth, and social development. Having a schedule filled with positive commitments helps young men continue living sober.
- Making positive social choices. High school campuses are ripe with temptation. Classmates and old friends might be involved in activities that don’t align with sober living. By consciously pursuing new friends and positive influences, young men can ensure the long-term drug treatment success for addiction. Smart social choices are paramount to success when returning to school.
- Setting goals. Going back to school after drug treatment is an exciting time filled with opportunity and potential. Young men should thoroughly examine their goals and things they’d like to accomplish in the remainder of the school year. Working towards a goal makes sober living much easier. From higher grades to making the football team, trying a new extracurricular activity to finding new friends, there are many positive goals that young men can set.
- Turning school into “work.” Many students try to balance work, a social life, and school during their teenage years. While finding a job is commendable, taking the time to really focus on school and young adulthood makes sober living more fulfilling. Plus, a job could add unneeded stress right now.
- A new school. The option of a fresh start removes the stigma of being a recovering addict. This can prevent a potential relapse from being with friends still using drugs, scrutiny from peers and teachers, and bullying from fellow teenagers. ‘Recovery High Schools’ are popping up around the country and these may present a hopeful option for the recovering addict. Of course a new school is not a feasible option for everyone, and when this is the case, it’s important for the student to have a strong support system of love and encouragement.
- Keeping sober living a priority. Regardless of a young man’s activities as he returns to school, it’s imperative that every decision is strategic and focused on sober living. This improves the likelihood of long-term treatment success for addiction.