Teen Relapse Prevention: Strategies for Long-Term Sobriety
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Statistics show that between 40 to 60 percent of people who receive treatment for substance abuse disorders will relapse at one point in their lives [1]. Teens are not exempt from this statistic, as many of them will relapse as well, all for different reasons. One of the pillars of teen relapse prevention is understanding the reasons why they return to drug and alcohol use and what can be done to avoid this from occurring. Teens should strive for long-term sobriety to live successful, healthy lives.

As we look at the different reasons why teens relapse, we’ll explore different relapse prevention strategies that you can suggest to help your teen stay on a long-term path to sobriety.

Teen Relapse Prevention: Why do Teens Relapse?

Research shows that teens relapse for several different reasons. These include [2].


Studies show that 85% of teens reported stress as a risk for relapse. Stress for teens includes peer pressure, school, and parental issues.

Cognitive Factors

Cognitive factors such as motivation and confidence predict relapse for 75% of teens. Many teens lack the motivation to stay sober and the self-esteem to keep on the path of recovery.

Social Pressures

Media and peer pressure also contribute to reasons why teens relapse, with 65% of teens reporting this as an issue. Exposure to social media and a culture of drugs and alcohol can pressure teens to want to use drugs and alcohol.

Environmental Issues

Over half of teens also say that environmental issues, such as the easy accessibility of drugs, contribute to relapse. Many teens can get drugs and alcohol from friends or can find them in their homes.

Difficulty Dealing with Emotions

Trouble dealing with negative emotions is also a contributing factor to why teens relapse. Many have co-occurring problems, such as depression and anxiety, which can make it difficult for teens. This is why it’s important to treat mental health issues and substance abuse problems simultaneously.

Teen Relapse Prevention Strategies

Being aware of some of the reasons why teens relapse can allow parents and caregivers to help with different prevention strategies. Here are some ways you can help your teen sustain long-term sobriety.

Avoid Friends & Situations Connected to Addiction

Helping teens avoid people and situations that lead them to use drugs and alcohol can be a significant relapse prevention strategy, especially if the same people are still doing so. Encourage your teen to meet new people who do not have these habits.

Attend Therapy & Support Sessions

Even after the primary treatment program is complete, it’s essential for teens to attend therapy sessions still and have group support. Being with people going through the same things and having the same goals can help your teen stay on the path to sobriety. Friends and family caring about your teen will give them the strength and purpose vital to their recovery and preventing relapse.

Develop New Coping Strategies

Rather than turning to drugs and alcohol when things get tough, help your teen develop new coping strategies. This can include seeking ways to de-stress, such as exercise, meditation, or journaling. These can all help your teen better cope when they are faced with difficult situations or drug and alcohol triggers.

Avoid Isolation & Boredom

Being alone too often may lead to boredom for teens, thus tempting them to relapse. By avoiding isolation and boredom, teens may have a greater chance to stay on track and have a better chance at long-term sobriety.

Practicing Self-Care

When teens are battling an addiction, self-care is typically not a priority. Learning to stay healthy and practice self-care can help teens recover and prevent relapse. Things like eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep can all help teens stay on track.

Try New Hobbies

Encouraging your teen to try a new hobby can help them to prevent relapse. When teens are invested in an activity, they want to stick with it and are less likely to be tempted by drugs and alcohol. For some teens, a new hobby can lead to a career interest. This interest can help your teen have the self-confidence and motivation to remain sober.

Seeking Substance Abuse Treatment at Ember Recovery

At Ember Recovery, we are committed to helping teens get sober and prevent relapse. While our treatment programs teach young adults how to live without drugs and alcohol, our team does not stop there. We believe in offering aftercare recovery planning to teach teens how to cope in the real world and resist the temptations that can lead to relapse. We know how to give your teens the tools they need to be successful and remain sober.

Aftercare recovery planning at Ember Recovery can include a combination of an outpatient recovery program or individual and group counseling. The goal is to help teens develop the necessary support system and gain the resources they need to thrive.

For more information on our treatment programs, call Ember Recovery today or contact us online.



[1] https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery