6 Steps That Can Help Your Troubled Teen Achieve Full Recovery

In the fable of the Eagle and the Chicken, an eagle is raised as a chicken. It acts like a chicken. The eagle believes it’s a chicken and is limited to the abilities of a chicken as long as he’s restricted to the barnyard and chicken coop. A naturalist arrives and attempts to get the eagle to soar among the clouds, but the eagle won’t do it.

In a final attempt to help the eagle, the naturalist transports the regal bird to a nearby mountain. With exposure to a new environment, the eagle slowly stretches its massive wings. Then, it soars high into the sky as it was always meant to do.

This fable demonstrates what can happen when troubled teens are given the opportunity to replace negative habits and behaviors with positive ones as they spend time in constructive rehabilitation programs. They spread their wings and begin to feel good about themselves in the new environment. Wonder why this story is important to your teen’s recovery?

Parents play a vital role in recovery

Parents can learn and grow along with their child or they can reinforce their child’s negative habits and strengthen damaging patterns. They may unwittingly present obstacles to their child’s full recovery. Upon a teen’s return from treatment, he can revert back to poor habits if the home environment has failed to change. Parents must have a plan in place to overcome the negative thoughts, beliefs and values that he was practicing prior to entering the rehab center.

Teens in recovery must continually and consistently replace the existing negative habits and behaviors with positive ones to increase the odds of success. If parents don’t have a solid plan in place, the void produced by eliminating the habits that originally sent your teen down the rabbit hole will most likely be filled with negative behaviors again.

So what can parents do to help their teens during and after treatment to achieve full recovery?

  1. Before committing to a treatment facility program, ask the center’s counselors questions about how to improve the odds of success for your child. If they don’t appear eager to work with you, immediately find another program. There are more than 14,500 specialized drug treatment facilities in the U.S. providing counseling, behavioral therapy, medication, and other types of services.1 Look for a facility that is ‘in-network’ for insurance purposes.
  2. Attend the rehab center’s parent orientation to discuss family structure, develop a new container, learn and practice mirroring and validation exercises with counselors.
  3. Consider attending Al-Anon The Al-Anon organization supports family and friends of the recovering individual and operates on the belief that changed attitudes can aid in recovery.
  4. Appreciate the many gifts surrounding you each day – health, home, music, etc. Your child will model your behavior of gratitude.2
  5. Open up to the uncertainty that life brings. It’s possibly the best modeling a parent can provide.2
  6. Encourage and validate feelings to develop a connection with vulnerability – your child with his and you with yours.2

Helping your teen soar like an eagle into full recovery can be one of the greatest gifts that you give her. Evaluate your beliefs about the situation and your teen’s abilities. How do these beliefs influence your relationship with your teen and potentially affect his recovery?

If you’d like help getting started, call me. I’ve had experience in this area.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states
  2. https://www.amazon.com/Parallel-Process-Alongside-Adolescent-Treatment/dp/1590562364

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