How Can I Support My Young Adult In Treatment?

Being a parent of a young adult in addiction or mental health treatment can be wrought with mental and emotional challenges. Whether your young adult has recently admitted themselves into treatment or is transitioning through different levels of care, it is likely that you want to support your young adult as best as possible during their recovery. Supporting a loved one in treatment is never easy; however, there are added challenges for parents who have never participated in treatment themselves. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can support your loved one as they journey through recovery. 

Understanding Your Young Adult’s Need for Treatment

When learning how to be supportive of your young adult in treatment, it is first important to meet yourself exactly where you are at in your knowledge and understanding of recovery. For example, consider where you stand in your young adult’s decision to seek treatment. Perhaps you were raised in an environment that did not favor open and honest discussions about mental health as a family. Or, in contrast, perhaps your family has always been invasively involved in your family member’s mental and emotional health. 

Recognizing how you approach the topics of mental health and addiction can be a great place to start in your journey of support. If your young adult is seeking treatment for substance use disorder (SUD), you may feel unconfident about their ability to achieve lasting sobriety, especially if you know others that remain in the perpetuating cycle of addiction. In this case, it is vital to understand that although SUDs are chronic conditions, they are treatable. There are numerous evidence-based treatments and other effective recovery approaches aimed to help your child prevent relapse throughout their lifelong recovery. 

It is also common for parents to feel guilty about missing warning signs that often indicate the presence of SUD, a mental health disorder, or co-occurring conditions. If your young adult recently informed you of their decision to seek treatment due to their symptoms or diagnosis, you may benefit greatly from seeking professional support. Treatment facilities often offer family-oriented treatment services to foster family involvement in a loved one’s care. 

4 Ways to Support Your Young Adult

Supporting your young adult can be as simple as showing compassion and understanding for what they are going through. However, most parents want a variety of tools at their disposal to ensure that their young adult in treatment feels loved and empowered. Here are four ways to support your young adult in treatment:

#1. Become Educated on Their Diagnosis

How can you truly support your young adult in treatment without understanding their diagnosis? Although every SUD and mental health disorder affects individuals uniquely, it is important to have a general understanding of your young adult’s diagnosis. This way, you can gain a better understanding of their symptoms, concerns, and goals for recovery. Learning about their diagnosis can also help you identify warning signs while they are in treatment. 

When researching their diagnosis, you may also want to become familiar with medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and the benefits it can pose for your young adult’s recovery. Medication may be prescribed to your young adult to balance improper and dysregulated brain chemistry caused by mental health disorders or to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms caused by chronic substance use. 

#2. Become Aware of Your Use of Language

Being supportive of your young adult also requires you to become aware of the language you are using when discussing mental health and addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, “Often unintentionally, many people still talk about addiction [and mental health disorders] in ways that are stigmatizing … . With simple changes in language harmful stigma and negativity around SUD [and mental health] can be reduced or avoided.” 

For example, using the word “addict” just doesn’t fly anymore as it stigmatizes the person with a substance abuse problem. Rather, person-first language can be used to replace this word as it shows that a person has rather than is the problem. The previous example can be replaced with a term such as “a person with alcohol use disorder” or even “a person in long-term recovery.”

#3. Participate in Treatment When You Can

As mentioned previously, many treatment facilities offer family-oriented treatment services. You can support your young adult by staying involved in their treatment, participating in family therapy, and receiving treatment yourself. Participating in services like family therapy can help you learn specific ways to support your young adult in treatment. 

Likewise, these services can offer a safe and supportive environment where you can address your concerns to a health professional. From there, the professional can provide you with advice, support, and other resources to help you be the best parent you can be for your young adult in treatment. 

#4. Set Boundaries and Limit Enabling Behaviors

Healthy boundaries are necessary for any healthy relationship. However, learning how to set boundaries can create conflict, especially when boundaries are not the norm for your family. It is important to set boundaries with your young adult while they are in treatment, especially if they are still living at home. Talk with your young adult about why these boundaries are necessary and explain that they exist because you want the best for them. 

Some of the most important boundaries involve limiting enabling behaviors. According to the National Center for PTSD, enabling behaviors are ones that “help, rescue, support, or protect their loved one from facing the negative consequences of their substance use” or other problematic behavior. For example, you can set a boundary where you will not lie for your young adult. Additionally, you may consider limiting how much money you are giving to your young adult to ensure that they are not spending their money on their addictive or otherwise self-destructive behaviors. 

If you are a parent of a young adult in treatment, you may wonder how you can best support them on their journey to recovery. Support can be as simple as ensuring they feel understood and validated or as extensive as participating in family therapy alongside them. 12 South Recovery knows how challenging it can be to be a parent of a young adult in recovery. For this reason and more, we offer family-oriented services like family therapy as a part of our outpatient treatment programs. We can equip you with the tools and resources you need to be the best parent you can be for your child in treatment. For more, call us today at 866-839-6876.

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