How to Support a Loved One in Rehab
You just dropped off your child, spouse, parent, or friend at an addiction recovery center.
It’s been a long path getting to this point and you’re a mixture of exhaustion, relief, anxiety, or maybe even guilt or fear.
You’ve been so focused on your loved one’s monumental addiction problem that as you drive away you realize you have no idea what to do now. How are you supposed to spend your time? How can you help your loved one through addiction? What should you do?
The day you drop off your loved one at a program is in many ways the beginning of a story—an uphill, difficult, yet hopefully very beautiful story. Here are some pointers to help you know how to proceed:
1. Understand the Boundaries Put on You
Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is to walk away and give your loved one space.
At the beginning of a person’s recovery process, programs usually prohibit interaction with the outside world for a period of time during detoxification. The purpose of this blackout period is to keep the patient from distractions and temptations. There are also strict rules that limit information that can be shared with family and friends.
Even when your loved one is allowed to contact you, don’t be hurt if it takes them a bit of time to reach out. Often during recovery, people struggle with feelings of shame. It might take them a while to work through their own emotions enough to be ready to handle someone else’s emotions. Remember, recovery isn’t all about you and what you’re feeling, it’s about helping your loved one.
2. Take Care of Yourself
Even if recovery isn’t all about you, your needs still matter. One of the best things you can do for your loved one is to take care of yourself. Get enough rest, eat good food, invest in healthy friendships, exercise, get outside, and continue the hobbies that you love or pick up a new hobby.
Some people might feel guilty going about their ordinary lives or doing enjoyable activities while their loved one is in a detox program. There’s no need for that. If you make yourself miserable out of guilt, it doesn’t help your loved one at all. It’s best to make sure you’re taking care of yourself so that you are at your strongest to help your loved one when they’re done with the program.
Some people might have residual resentment, anger, or hurt from the actions of the person in recovery. This is normal and in many cases justified. As your loved one works through his or her own issues that led to destructive behavior, it’s your job to work on your own issues such as forgiveness, reconciliation, co-dependence, etc. You might not be able to fully heal your relationship with your loved one, but you can always deal with the issues in your own heart.
3. Visit Your Loved One in the Program
Many programs have “Family Day” when families can visit and learn about the program. Make an effort to be present for these days. Even if you feel nervous or unsure how to act, your presence will make a huge impact to your loved one. It shows that you care.
Family days also provide an opportunity to learn about addiction and recovery. You’ll have a chance to learn about signs of relapse, strategies to help your loved one, and how to seek help in the future if you need it. The visit will also give you an opportunity to ask any questions that you have.
4. Educate Yourself About Addiction
There are many resources to help you understand the difficulties and issues that a person in recovery faces. Even if you can never fully understand what your loved one is going through, it will make them feel loved that you tried to understand.
5. Find a Support Group
You’re not expected to navigate through this alone. To take care of your loved one, your family, and yourself, you’ll need to have help and guidance along the way. Find trustworthy friends who you can lean on—preferably friends who have had loved ones go through similar situations.
Look for a support group in your area. Even better, if they have one, join the support group at the recovery center where your loved one is.
Victory Addiction Recovery Center offers a Family Care Support Group. Victory knows that an individual is more likely to be successful in recovery if they have the love and support of their communities. Victory also knows that there are specific difficulties and emotions that arise in families. The Family Care Support Group meets weekly with a qualified counselor. There is no cost to the families of past and current clients of Victory Addiction Recovery Center.
The aim of the group is to educate and provide a safe environment for families to share and learn about how to support their loved one in recovery. The group addresses issues such as codependency, boundaries, disease model of addiction, 12 steps, and self-care.
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