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Parents: Is the Seven Challenges Plan Right for Your Addicted Teen?

As a parent or legal guardian, you have the ability to make important and life-altering decisions for your child – that includes making decisions related to addiction recovery. Legally speaking, as long as your child is under the age of 18, you can admit him to an inpatient rehab program, regardless of whether or not he agrees with the decision. And while forcible rehab is often a necessary approach in dire situations, it certainly doesn’t mean your teen will respond – or even participate in – the treatment process once he’s there.

When dealing with addicted adolescents, two vital components of recovery are:

  • Getting teens to recognize the error of their current patterns
  • Showing them the undeniable benefits of changing those patterns

The Seven Challenges

The Seven Challenges program, a groundbreaking approach to the often difficult task of teenage addiction recovery, takes a very different treatment approach.

The objective is to make teenagers want to give up drugs and alcohol rather than forcing them to do it through mandatory therapy or treatment.

It provides a framework to let adolescents acknowledge that they enjoy using drugs, but also admit what the harmful effects of these substances have been.

By doing this, the work can continue once they finish their time in therapy or inpatient treatment.

Better Decision Making

“The teen can stay abstinent for their time in therapy but when that support leaves the teen will often relapse,” said Rebecca Davis, clinical director of the Substance Abuse Program at Youth Evaluation and Treatment Centers. “The Seven Challenges program looks at overall decision making and how those decisions affect one’s well-being.”

The program is tailored specifically to meet the needs of each teenager. It works with teens to make informed decisions, not quick decisions, which is in the teens’ nature.

Once they identify the issues that they need to focus on, the specific Challenges are then inserted into their work with a counselor. The additional challenges to lasting sobriety are also addressed in the program – these often include life-skill deficits, along with situational and psychological problems.

Playing A Positive Role

But while the decision to get sober is ultimately up to the teenager, parents and other influential adults can still play a positive role in their recovery process.

Davis suggests that parents make it a point to become an ever-available resource for their teenagers. That means you should take the time to talk with your teen as often as possible and establish yourself as a place he can find support, rather than constantly fighting or scolding.

“Often parents and teens have created patterns in the home that create a very difficult power struggle,” she explained. “We encourage parents to facilitate a trusting relationship first so that teens will come to them if they are feeling triggered or want to use.”

A full list of the challenges can be found here.

Additional Reading: Mothers Find Strength in the 3 C’s of Addiction