Do’s & Don’ts: When A Loved One Comes Home From Rehab
Your loved one has spent what seems to you like a lifetime battling addiction to drugs and alcohol. You’ve watched as his or her quality of life has diminished over time due to drinking and drugging: lost jobs, failed relationships, financial struggles.
It feels as if you spent years of your life consumed with your family member; his drug use, her drinking, his lies, her spending. You’ve begged and argued, cried and yelled. Your heart has broken from betrayal, you’ve kept the secrets, lied for them, harbored shame, and felt utterly lost.
You’ve seen, felt, heard, smelt, and lived with the addiction.
And now – your loved one’s finally accepted help. He went to get addiction treatment. She entered drug rehab. He’s learned the skills to stay healthy and sober. She’s in recovery.
The day has finally come that’s you’ll be welcoming home your loved one from his or her residential recovery program. She looks great – healthier than you’ve remembered her in a long time. He’s positive and optimistic.
But you? You’re not sure where to start. You’ve been down this road. You’ve trusted – only to have been betrayed, been hopeful – only to be let down.
So what do you do when your loved one comes home from treatment?
Take the time to learn about drug and alcohol addiction through research and reading. Becoming more educated on the topic of addiction will allow you to better understand what your addicted one is feeling – and what he or she has gone through in active addiction – and what to expect in early recovery.
Honesty is crucial – even if it’s difficult or negative. Opening up the conversation is better than saying nothing at all.
It’s always important to connect with others and express yourself – but when it comes to families healing from addiction, it’s crucial. Find a local support group for families, friends or spouses of addiction where you’re able to open up about what you’re feeling and thinking when your loved one comes home from rehab. Listen to the stories and feelings from others in the group. You’ll realize that you can connect and relate to so many others who have been or are in similar situations.
Recovery is a process – not a one time deal. Even though your loved one spent 30, 60, 90 days in inpatient drug rehab, healing still takes time. Your loved one isn’t going to show up at your front door with every problem solved our every wound mended. Family needs to understand that they need to exercise patience in both themselves and their loved one.
With your loved one entering onto the path of recovery, it’s likely that he will lose some of the “friends” he used to party with, or she may feel overwhelmed or alone at times. Take an active role in your loved one’s life by showing him or her that care. Need some ideas? Take up a hobby together like a cooking classes or spin classes – even meeting up every for lunch Thursday at
Put Pressure On Her:
Early recovery is an exciting time – but it can also be overwhelming and stressful at times. The first few months of recovery are especially critical for your loved one, and can be some of the most difficult. Don’t come swinging right out of the gate and push your loved one to do too much too soon. Give him or her time to heal and solidify a path to health and recovery.
Be Afraid Of Triggering A Relapse:
This is a big one! There seems to be rumors that people can trigger other people to relapse, it’s simply not true. Relapse happens – not just in addiction, but in many diseases.You don’t have that much power over your loved one; nothing you do or say will cause him or her to drink or drug again. And if he or she does relapse – it’s not on you. You didn’t force him or her to use; they are responsible for their own actions and their own recovery. That being said, be honest about your emotions – without the fear that he or she will relapse.
Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction isn’t one-sized fits all. Some individuals recovery fairly smoothly, with hard work but few ups and downs. For others, it may be a very emotional process. Practice understanding and positivity as your loved one begins their healing process
You’ve probably heard of the “3 C’s of Addiction” – you didn’t cause it, you can’t control it and you can’t cure it. Despite any finger-pointing that went on while your loved one was in active addiction, it’s extremely important to remember that you as a family member, spouse or friend are not the cause of your loved one falling victim to addiction. Accepting that you are not the root cause can relieve a lot of the guilt that you may feel – and help you to realize that he or she needs to take responsibility over his own actions.
Bring Up The Past:
It goes without saying that your loved one hurt you while in active addiction. But he or she has completed an addiction treatment program now and is taking the steps to heal and move forward. It’s time that you do the same. Rather than dwelling on the past and remaining in stagnant misery, look forward to a healed and renewed relationship with your loved one – free of drugs and alcohol.
Family members, spouses and friends will often hang on to the same fears they harbored before their loved one went to rehab – and rightfully so. Whether you’re scared when he gets home 20 minutes later than usual (he was stuck in traffic), or she goes goes to the bathroom in your home with the door shut (she actually just had to use the bathroom). Your fears are real – but understand there is a difference between fears and instincts. Trust your instincts, but also allow for healing and growth in both yourself and your loved one.