Connecting with Your Teen’s School During Addiction Recovery

by

Drug and alcohol addictions can severely damage a teenager’s academic performance. If your teen’s grades have suffered due to addiction, it may be time to intervene at school.

Your support is essential as your student goes through addiction recovery. It pains you to watch your child struggle—all you want is to see them succeed. Develop a system with your child’s school authorities to help your student get back on the right path academically.

Be Proactive

Connect with your teen’s guidance counselor before the school year starts or within the first week of school. Make an appointment to discuss what your teen has been through, current treatments, and how the school can help.

Asking the guidance counselor these questions will indicate your concern and level of involvement you want in your child’s academic career during this time:

  • How can the school work with my family to support my child?
  • What resources are available to my child to accommodate their needs as they go through addiction recovery?
  • Does my child qualify for a school aide?
  • Does my child qualify for additional time to complete assignments or tests?

Be Informed on Policies and Resources

Read your school’s policies on programs and resources available for students who need extra learning support or emotional support. An easy place to begin is the school district’s website.

Talk to school administrators, special education staff, and teachers. If possible, network with parents in your district and other parents of teens battling addiction. Parent information is invaluable when navigating the school system!

Encourage Open Communication

Request that the guidance counselor or an administrator help coordinates an initial meeting between you and your teen’s teachers. You can also start a weekly group email to check in with teachers and keep them updated on your teen’s progress, specific issues that may arise, and any questions you may have. Ask your teen’s counselor to schedule weekly meetings to touch base and determine if new strategies need implemented or if anything has changed with the treatment plan.

Be clear with guidance counselors, administrators, and teachers that you have a vested interest in your teen’s education and want to play a role in supporting them. Ask them to communicate concerns and questions to you in a timely manner. If you don’t hear from them, never be afraid to follow up. Building relationships with school staff is key to your teen’s academic success.

Explore Formalized Plans

All schools must provide 504 health plans and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) to qualifying students. Familiarize yourself with these options and determine if they’re the right fit for your teen.

  • Does your student have a medical condition, mental health issue, or learning disability that qualifies them for one of these plans?
  • Does your child need further evaluation; for example, to determine a dual diagnosis such as alcoholism and depression? You will need records documenting a diagnosis.
  • Ask the school for an evaluation. If you suspect your teen has a learning disability or other issue that requires learning support, the school may perform an evaluation and create an IEP to suit those needs.

Involve Your Teen

Whether you have an informal arrangement or a legal plan like an IEP, getting your teen involved in the process may make them more comfortable with receiving help. Encourage them to be actively involved in their education! Teach them how to self-advocate. Help them communicate their needs to teachers, guidance counselors, and administrators. For example, if necessary, encourage them to request more time to complete assignments or study for tests.

Every day can bring a new challenge when a teen is facing addiction recovery. Connecting with your teen’s school and setting up support is the first step in helping to ensure a successful school year!