After Drug Rehab – Healing with Family
Entering rehab is a hard decision. But the challenges of leaving rehab can be even harder. Turning to family, and other means of support, can help you maintain recovery and heal relationships.
Choosing to enter rehab can be one of the most difficult decisions you must make in your life. As human beings, we’re wired to fight to the end to make things work on their own, and we’ll go to battle to maintain control. The disease of addiction makes us think we’re not sick – and thrives upon our egos. Admitting we need help and asking for that help is humbling – especially when the drug or alcohol addiction is involved.
It isn’t easy to reach out, admit that we’re powerless – and enter rehab.
But sometimes, coming home from an Transitions Recovery Program can be almost as difficult as going to an addiction treatment program.
The Challenges of Leaving Rehab.
After completing an addiction treatment program, probably the last thing you look forward to is picking up the pieces of damaged relationships and facing the loved ones who were hurt by your addiction. It can be daunting. As you know, addiction didn’t just affect you – it’s affected your spouse, parents, children, siblings, additional family and close friends. The damage that substance addiction causes within a family unit is huge, and the conversations in the recovery process will be difficult.
Family members often have to distance themselves from their loved one who is addicted, in order to keep themselves emotionally safe – and sometimes, physically safe, too. During the time that you have been away at rehab, you’ve sobered up, learned things about yourself, dug up past issues and sorted through them in a healthy manner. You’ve grown. You’ve recovered. But your family? They’ve been at home. Hurting.
At addiction treatment facilities, there tends to be a lot of support – as the entire environment is aimed at positivity, healing and opening up about mental and behavioral health issues, trauma, and substance abuse. You’ve likely been encouraged to open up and share your feelings.
However, when you return home after rehab – the legacy for your spouse, family and friends may be that they are struggling to believe that the change you’ve made will actually last. You may be ready to have open conversations, share your emotions, apologize and move on. Your family, however, may not be ready. Your family may ask themselves why they should be listening. Your family may feel concerned or anxious about your behaviors and actions that went unheard by you for many years.
It’s not uncommon for family members – especially partners and spouses – to feel a sense of anger, resentment, and even rage when their loved one comes home from rehab. After all, they have likely felt wronged and neglected for a while – and now, all of a sudden you’re present and available. They may feel that you don’t understand how hard life was when you were using drugs or alcohol – they may feel it’s unfair that the relationship has been on your terms.
One Step at a Time.
Maintaining recovery and staying sober can, at times, be exhausting. This is why many support groups such as NA and AA encourage members to take things slow, one step at a time Think about starting fire with a magnifying glass: Holding the magnifying glass still on one point, and focusing the sun on one point can create flames. Moving the magnifying glass around rapidly won’t get you anywhere. Focusing on one small area – one small step at a time is the best way to be productive and gradually move away from compulsive using or drinking behaviors.
While taking one small step at a time is helpful for you – the person healing from addiction and focusing on recovery – often times, mentally and emotionally, there’s only a room to take into account your needs. Family and friends sometimes have to take a backseat in order for your to heal properly.
Time Takes Time.
You may feel that you have a sense of what it was like for your spouse or family members in this situation – after all, you have lived through the hardships and hurts of active addiction. You may feel true concern and empathy for your loved ones. However, there are limits as to how far we, as humans, can relate to the experiences of others.
Sometimes, apologizes take time to sink in. You can’t change the past – but it may be difficult for your loved ones to accept that fact. They may feel as though they are expected to sweep the past under the rug and focus on the future – whether they are ready or not. In these cases, time is often the best answer. Be prepared to take time – and focus.
Regardless of all else – your health and recovery are of utmost importance after completing drug rehab. Nothing positive will come without your health and sobriety. In order to heal relationships, you must heal yourself. In order to do that, you must maintain emotional well being. If your situation isn’t providing that – find a place, emotionally, mentally or physically that will provide that stability.
It may be a long road before you and your family are ready to begin talking realistically and honestly about your future – but making decisions that will support your recovery are worth it.