Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Preparing Your Teen for College

A young man looking at the camera smiling with his hands in his pocketsGetting a teenager ready to go to college can be a stressful experience for parents, especially if the teen is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. Parents who have high hopes for their children may be devastated by the idea that their son is turning out to be an addict. Making it through this difficult time requires support from addiction treatment specialists who understand the unique challenges of helping high school students in recovery.

Many parents are hesitant to send a son to rehab because they fear that three or more months away from school will destroy his chances of getting into a good college. However, addiction is a disease that must be addressed before your son can succeed in a stressful, competitive academic environment.

Overcoming Addiction Before College

The college years are a vulnerable time for young men. In their late teens and early 20s, young people have a dangerous combination of low impulse control and poor judgment. Teens who leave home to go to college suddenly find themselves living independently in a largely unsupervised environment. Fraternity parties, college sports events and dormitory gatherings present daily opportunities to overindulge in drugs or alcohol.

According to data compiled by NBC News, substance abuse is on the rise at American colleges and universities:

  • 68 percent of college students drink alcohol
  • 40 percent of college students binge drink (defined as consuming four or five drinks in two hours or less)
  • 4 percent use cannabis daily
  • 23 percent meet the diagnostic criteria for chemical dependence

Teens who leave home for college without a strong sense of direction and a desire to stay sober are ill equipped for the triggers and pressures of university life. The stresses of keeping up with college coursework, maintaining a part-time job and trying to develop a social life make it easy to fall back on drugs and alcohol for relief.

One of a parent’s biggest responsibilities is to help teenagers transition successfully from childhood to adulthood. If your teen has a problem with substance abuse, it’s tempting to sweep it under the rug so you can go ahead with your preparations for college. Unfortunately, unless a teen has the resources at his disposal to avoid substance abuse, he won’t be adequately prepared for the autonomy and freedom that he’ll find on a college campus. A comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment program for teens can help your son in these important ways:

  • By teaching him healthy strategies for coping with stress
  • By helping him build a strong self-image
  • By helping him learn to respect authority
  • By teaching him how to trust himself and others

The tools that your son acquires in rehab will help him not only stay sober, but become a more successful, purposeful man. Recovery services like individual therapy, family counseling, group support and experiential therapies will allow your son to reach his full potential in a more challenging academic setting.

Staying on Track With College Goals

Going to rehab doesn’t mean that your son has to postpone his college plans indefinitely. Specialized treatment programs for adolescents take your teenager’s academic goals into account by providing services such as:

  • Continuing education (a minimum of three hours a day, five days a week) at on-site classrooms
  • Credentialed teachers and counselors
  • Academic placement testing
  • Educational and vocational counseling
  • Esteem-building therapies

Helping your teen set and maintain goals is one of the most important objectives of a drug rehabilitation program. By the time they get to rehab, a lot of teens are unmotivated, have low self-esteem and possess little motivation. Through intensive counseling, positive peer support and family-based therapy, teenagers can find their own internal source of motivation again. Experiential therapies like adventure treks, hiking, and kayaking help teenagers learn self-reliance and develop a healthy respect for the world around them.

Preparing a teenager for college isn’t just about helping him get good grades or achieve high scores on college admission exams. It’s about preparing him to launch successfully into the adult world by giving him effective coping tools. The addiction specialists at Muir Wood have extensive backgrounds in helping teens realize their potential. We give boys ages 12 through 17 the opportunity to continue their high school education in a classroom setting while they undergo counseling and therapy for addiction.

For information about college preparation and answers to your questions about teenage recovery, call Muir Wood or fill out our online application packet. We’re here to help your teen reach his highest aspirations.