If a loved one has recently completed a rehabilitation program, returning to school to finish their education and receiving a degree is a natural and noteworthy goal. Addiction treatment should not deter anyone from completing their education and moving forward with life goals.
However, there are potential problems that may arise along with returning after a gap in the school term, and they should be considered prior to returning. Transitions such as this in adolescent’s lives can often lead to stress, anxiety, and other problems. On top of this, social challenges will need to be thought through, especially if returning to the same school is the only option.
Begin working with the school long before treatment has finished. If you are making arrangements for a child or minor, know ahead of time exactly when treatment is scheduled to discontinue. In certain districts, re-enrollment might be the only option if there has been an extensive absence. This is normal and is no cause for alarm. It is also important to take note of changes that the student will need to know ahead of time, such as a new locker assignment or a new class schedule.
It will also be vital to set up a meeting between the student and the school’s mental health staff. This may be someone specifically hired to deal with students who have experienced conditions such as this, or it might be the school’s general counselor. In any case, request a meeting ahead of time and inform the school that you would like to focus on a transition plan so that everyone know what to expect. This will help lessen the stress and anxiety for the returning student during the first weeks back.
Push for Positive Choices
The returning student will need to begin positively interacting with teachers and peers to stay on a healthy and successful path. Although the adolescent will not necessarily need to be told what to do in order to reinforce recovery, it is always helpful to push them towards engaging positively with peers and joining positive school activities.
A great idea is to share with the staff the goals and interests the student specified during and after recovery. By bringing these up, teachers and other staff at the school may be able to link these to specific teams, clubs, and after-school programs that the student will enjoy taking part in.
Tips for Sober Success
The process of returning to complete education after rehab is a long and difficult journey. Ultimately, however, it is always worth it. If a student seems nervous about making the return to school after completing time in rehab, it may be helpful to share the following tips for success:
• Take your time – if you are not ready to pile on all of the classes you were in before and join an after-school program on top of this, that is understandable. Take time to adjust to school again while still maintaining sobriety.
• Do not let the pressure get to you – you are on a different path than other peers, so try not to compare where you are in your education to where they are.
• When you are ready to become involved in extra-curricular activities, they are a great option for students in recovery. Not only will these activities keep them busy after school, but they will keep their mind busy as well.
Make Yourself Available
As a parent or supporter for the student returning to school after rehab, making yourself completely available to both the school and the student during this time is vital to their success. Before the student returns to school, offer the teachers and staff your contact information. Make sure they know you are a resource if any concerns are raised. This small gesture will create a sense of partnership, and will help the student and you feel more at ease with their return.
Remember to offer the student acceptance and understanding as they go through this challenging transition. Keep expectations high, but be sure to express patience as well. With achievable goals and a plan in place for the student before they even leave rehab, you will help set them up for success as they return to school to complete their education.