When your loved one finally seeks help for his or her addiction, it is cause for celebration. When they complete treatment by graduating from drug rehab it is truly an achievement. It doesn’t matter what their drug of choice was or whether their program was 30 days or longer, finishing treatment means that they have been able to maintain a period of sobriety – and that’s great news.
Your loved one will return home from rehab armed with the tools that they need to make a new life in recovery. It will now be up to them to use those tools and continue the work of maintaining their sobriety. But what about you and the rest of the family?
Addiction doesn’t only affect the addict. It affects everyone who is around the addict, from family and friends to coworkers and the community. Unless you have also sought help yourself, for learning how to support your loved one who is in recovery, you may not know how to handle it. Unfortunately, when you don’t know what to do, it can be harmful to your loved one and hard on you.
Here are a few tips that will help you to know how to help your loved one who is just returning from rehab while taking care of yourself at the same time.
Tip #1 – Get Help for Yourself
Most drug rehab centers offer a family care and counseling program, or at least involvement from the family of the patients. That can be a huge help to family members in beginning to understand addiction and how to best help their loved ones. If the rehab that your loved one attends doesn’t offer that, or you don’t feel like what they offered was enough, you may want to seek out a therapist of your own.
Oftentimes, when family members are dealing with a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they take on destructive roles of their own. A therapist will help you work on accepting the new role you will be playing in your loved one’s life and help you heal from the trauma you may have experienced as a result of the addiction.
Tip #2 – Don’t Use Blaming Statements
When your loved one was in the throes of active addiction, it’s likely that you blamed him or her for the negative impact that addiction had on your life. You may have said things like, “I wouldn’t have to be so untrusting if he wasn’t an addict,” or “I lost all my savings because she is a heroin addict.” You have to stop saying those things now. Your loved one is no longer addicted to a substance, and he or she had to work hard to get there. When you continue to blame your loved one after treatment, it can be detrimental to their recovery.
Tip #3 – Find Support from Others in Your Shoes
Recovery from addiction isn’t only challenging for the former addict, it is also difficult for the family members at times. Just as there are support groups for people in recovery (Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, etc.), there are support groups for family members of addicts and alcoholics. It will be extremely beneficial to you to not feel like you are alone in all of this. Not only are support groups great ways to learn new strategies to help your loved one, but they are also great for finding new friendships for yourself.
Tip #4 – Make a New Life for Yourself
This is likely to be the hardest suggestion for you to take. Your life up until this point has probably been nearly consumed by your loved one and the disease of addiction. You may have spent a significant amount of time trying to get your loved one to go to treatment, spending a lot of money, bailing your loved one out of the negative consequences that they got themselves into, and worrying about their welfare. Your life has not been your own. It may be hard to face, but you’ll need to build a new life in many ways.
Tip #5 – Trust, But Be Aware
This bit of advice may seem a bit contradictory. The tip above says that you have to trust your loved one, and that’s true. However, you also need to be mindful. And that’s the way it will be for a while. What you can trust is communication. Your loved one likely learned in rehab that they will have to reestablish trust with the family and friends that they hurt. That means that they should communicate more than usual – be completely transparent with their life, at least until they rebuild your trust. As long as they are doing that, you have to be satisfied.
What you cannot trust is old behaviors, and you have to be aware that relapse is often a part of recovery. But you now know what it’s like when your loved one is using or drinking – the telltale signs. If you start to see your loved one’s old behaviors pop up and you suspect that they are using again, get them back to drug addiction treatment as quickly as you can.