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Using Replacement Activities to Help Your Child Avoid a Relapse Into Addiction

Published on August 13th, 2014

Addiction recovery is no simple task. It can feel overwhelming to the people recovering and their support system. Simple challenges seem like unavoidable roadblocks that often lead back to old habits.

For many people recovering from addiction and their families, the time after rehab is one of the hardest to get through. If you have a child recovering from addiction, you can help him or her to avoid a relapse. You just need to know the signs of relapse, be familiar with preventative steps, and use appropriate replacement activities.

Understanding the Signs

As the parent of someone recovering from addition, you want to prevent your child from relapsing. Once you understand the warning signs of a relapse, it becomes much easier to prevent one from happening. Triggers vary from person to person, but many of them are easy to catch if you know what to look for:

  • Lacking appetite or hygiene
  • Exhibiting obsessive behavior
  • Becoming easily frustrated and upset
  • Avoiding responsibilities
  • Sudden changes in routine
  • Excessive anxiety or worry

Although some of these feelings are common for the adjustment that comes after leaving rehab, you should look for excessive and extreme behaviors. It’s okay for people recovering from an addiction to have an off day every now and then, but you should be aware of these signs so you can watch for a pattern of behavior.

Preventative Steps

The best way to help your child avoid a relapse is to help him or her avoid relapse-triggering situations. You may want to have your child talk with a fellow member of an addiction recovery program. Talking with someone in a similar situation greatly helps to control urges and cravings. It also fosters solidarity for avoiding situations where relapse is likely to occur. This is why certain sponsorship programs yield success; it’s much easier to go through a tough transition when you have a friend experiencing it with you.

Something to consider, too, is that avoiding situations of temptation is more powerful than just denying a temptation directly. If possible, help your child avoid situations that provide easy access to anything related to the addiction. This may involve changing your child’s group of friends, which will be difficult at first but worth it in the end.

Last but not least, becoming engaged in a addiction-free life may be one of the most important factors in avoiding relapses and building a new life. By proactively seeking out wholesome and productive activities, your child will feel like they have motivation and a passion again, but this time it doesn’t come from his or her addiction.

Pursue Old and New Passions

Help your child think back and remember the time before addiction became a part of life. Whatyou’re your child enjoy? What made him or her feel fulfilled and excited about life? Sometimes pursuing old dreams or hobbies can provide a valuable outlet for your child’s time, energy, and need for excitement.

It’s possible that old hobbies could be problematic or even painful to revisit-if this is the case, do not fear. Pursuing new directions and passions also contributes to the well-being and adjustment of your child after rehab. Most importantly, new passions help to engage them in their life again and provide a way to move forward.

Activities of Note

Perhaps the most important strategy for your child to avoid relapsing is becoming involved and engaged in their life again. Whether it’s an old hobby or a new passion, a replacement activity helps people recovering from addiction in several ways. It fills their time with wholesome and uplifting activities. It banishes negative thinking. It allows them to build a new version of themselves that doesn’t need their addiction to feel happy.

Encourage your child to pursue productive activities that require interaction. There is no specific list of helpful hobbies or skills to pursue, but keep in mind that succeeding in something new can give your child the confidence they need to turn their life around. Activities that promote friendship, self-worth, skill-building, and self-reflection all create an atmosphere of improvement and happiness for someone recovering from addiction.

The following is a basic list of ideas that match with the values discussed above:

  • Exploring nature through hiking, fishing, boating, etc.
  • Keeping a journal
  • Taking a cooking class
  • Learning a musical instrument
  • Participating in community theatre or improvisation class
  • Writing poetry or short stories
  • Growing a garden
  • Exercising
  • Attending workshops
  • Reading
  • Volunteering at a homeless shelter
  • Building a tree house

The above list is by no means all-inclusive, but you and your child can use it to start thinking about activities that make life fun, exciting, and meaningful.

Supporting Your Child Through It All

As you can tell, most techniques to avoid relapses depend upon the support system of the person recovering from addiction. Being part of that support system is not always easy, but it cannot be emphasized enough. Adolescents recovering from addiction especially need parental support and encouragement-they need you to believe in them. Although this daunting task is difficult, it’s worth it to the person you are helping.

So support and encourage your child to try new passions and activities by doing new things with them and building that relationship. A relapse is not a failure, but you want to do everything you can to avoid one. Use these techniques to help your child pursue a bright and addiction-free future.

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