Staying Strong and Sober: Teen Substance Abuse Relapse Prevention Strategies
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If your loved one has relapsed during substance abuse treatment, they’re not alone. Statistics show that around 40 to 60 percent of individuals in treatment for substance use disorders will relapse. 1 Although this is common, the goal is to reduce this number, especially when discussing teens. Teens face different challenges than adults who are going through substance abuse treatment, which is why there are specific teen substance abuse relapse prevention strategies that can be implemented to help them.

We’ll take a closer look at what can cause a teen to relapse and how you can help prevent this from happening and keep them on the road to recovery.

Teen Substance Relapse

Relapse occurs when someone stops reaching their goal of sobriety and returns to using a substance. When discussing relapse, it’s important to note that it is not a sign of weakness or failure. It may be because someone is reverting to their old coping patterns and has been unable to replace them with new ones.

This is why teens must know how to avoid going down this path. Understanding the situations, people, and places contributing to the threat of relapse is integral to preventing it.

Relapse Triggers

Many different things can prompt a teen to relapse. These triggers include:


If a teen feels stressed out at school or home, they may seek comfort in a substance. They may want to experience the high that the drug once offered them as a way to destress.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is a significant factor in initial drug use and relapse. When a teen sees friends using substances, they may feel the need to do the same to fit in.

Life Changes

Divorce, death, or a recent move can all be examples of life changes that can lead a teen to relapse. These scenarios prompt a tremendous emotional response that may lead teens to look to drugs and alcohol as a comfort.

Environmental Issues

Access and environmental issues can play into a teen’s likelihood of relapse. Drugs and alcohol are easily accessible for many teens, which can make it much easier for them to use again.

Teen Substance Abuse Relapse Prevention Strategies

Recognizing possible triggers is only part of the puzzle to prevent relapse. Awareness of and implementing teen substance abuse relapse prevention strategies is crucial to keeping teens on track. Here are some strategies to try:

Provide a Support System

Ensure your teen has a strong support system behind them as they go through treatment. Positive family, friends, and mentors can all encourage teens during this challenging time.

Find Healthy Coping Mechanisms

While a teen may be tempted to turn to drugs and alcohol to destress, helping them find healthy coping mechanisms is a great strategy to prevent relapse. Exercise, journaling, and finding other hobbies can provide teens with an outlet to keep them away from substances.

Avoid High-Risk Situations

Since many people and places can tempt a teen to relapse, avoiding them is critical. It is also essential to teach them what to do when faced with social gatherings and other situations that may challenge their sobriety. There are many things they can do to still have fun in these settings without using a substance.

Create a Relapse Prevention Plan

Since everyone will react to relapse triggers differently, having a customized plan can help them stay on track. This can include realistic goal setting and how to set boundaries.

Prioritizing Self-Care

Prioritizing self-care is another positive teen substance abuse relapse prevention strategy. When you’re taking care of yourself and care about your well-being, you should be less likely to want to use a substance.

Finding ways to take care of yourself, such as going for a walk, participating in a sport, or maybe even talking to a friend, can help you maintain good self-care.

Seek Support and Treatment at Ember Recovery

At Ember Recovery, we help teens overcome their substance abuse disorder and give them the tools they need to stay sober. One of our programs includes an after-care recovery program. This program helps teens cope in the outside world and teaches them a combination of strategies to help them develop support systems and get the resources they need to help them minimize the risk of relapse. This can include individual and group therapies as well as other types of treatment plans.

For more information on our treatment programs, contact Ember Recovery today to learn how we can help your teen with their substance abuse program and beyond.