What Not to Do When Someone Comes Home from Rehab
The weeks right after a loved one comes from home from a recovery program are a critical time.
Studies have shown that relapses are far more likely to happen during the first few weeks of independent living. Without the familiar boundaries of residential treatment, it’s likely that your loved one will need extra support.
Here are some things that you shouldn’t do when your loved one returns from a drug or alcohol recovery center:
1. Impose Your Own Plans on Your Loved One
You might have your own ideas of what recovery looks like. Maybe you imagine your loved one getting a job in a certain career, taking up a specific hobby, or having weekly coffee dates with you. These might be your ideas of what recovery should look like, but that doesn’t mean that recovery has to look that way to be successful. Trust your loved one to know what they need to keep moving forward.
2. Make Everything About You
Don’t guilt a loved one into going to an event because they missed the last one while they were getting sober. Don’t complain how hard the recovery process has been for you. Don’t lean on your loved one in recovery for all your needs right now. Turn to other people—friends, family, a counselor, etc.—to meet your emotional, physical, spiritual, and social needs.
Remember, in the early stages of recovery, staying sober is the priority. This means that, for a while at least, other parts of life such as family, marriage, career, etc. might not be the priority for your loved one in the same way they are for you. That’s okay. Don’t take it personally. Over time, your loved one will be able to support you more. At the beginning, however, they just might not have the emotional capacity to meet your needs.
3. Stop Communicating
Some people are so scared that they’ll trigger their loved one into a relapse that they walk on eggshells. Like any healthy relationship, communication and honesty are key. If you are scared, confused, lonely, or frustrated, tell your loved one. It’s okay to say things like, “I don’t know what to do right now.” Your expression of feelings will not make your loved one relapse. His/her sobriety does not lie in your hands.
4. Keep Your Loved One from Experiencing Hurt
This “don’t” may be the hardest on the list. Especially if our loved ones have gone down bad roads before, we want to protect them from themselves, other people that might harm them, and the consequences of bad decisions.
However, pain has a purpose. It teaches us what is dangerous and what we should stay away from in the future. Sometimes our loved ones have to experience pain to learn how to stay away from more destructive behaviors or situations.
Also, in order to truly learn a lesson, it’s important for a person to take ownership of the situation and make decisions for themselves. As nail-biting as it can be to watch a love one face a difficult decision, if we want them to learn the life lesson, we must let the decision be theirs.
If you continuously save your loved one, you are not helping them. You are making them dependent on your salvation. Nothing is more empowering for a person than figuring out a solution themselves.
Moving Forward with Help from Victory Addiction Recovery Center
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the list of “don’ts,” there’s no need to be scared. Yes, there are things to remember while you help your loved one. However, you have the ability to help your loved one through recovery simply because you care about their health and wellbeing.
Don’t treat a person in recovery like a “to-do” list, because a person is more than a list of “do’s” and “don’ts.” If you keep communication open and seek the help of professionals when you need it, then your love and care for your friend or family member will shine through. You are probably already encouraging them in ways you don’t even know.
Victory Addiction Recovery Center offers a family care support group that meets weekly with a qualified counselor to give loved ones a place to discuss the challenges they’re facing in helping a parent, spouse, child, sibling, or friend in recovery. The group addresses issues such as breaking free of codependency, setting healthy boundaries, understanding the disease model of addiction, and the value of self-care in creating a support system for someone in recovery. Families of past and current clients are invited to participate free of charge.
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