If you’re anticipating a loved one returning home from treatment, you probably have mixed emotions. You’re excited to see them and proud of their progress, but you’re probably also feeling nervous and anxious. Has your loved one really changed? Will they be able to function outside of rehab? How will the rest of the family react?
Transition is never easy, so give you and your family time to adjust. You can’t force this part of the process, but you can set your family up for success. Education and knowledge are powerful tools, so we at The River Source recommend learning as much as possible about addiction and recovery while your loved one is in treatment.
Specifically, recognize addiction as a brain disorder and how to be a positive influence in your loved one’s recovery. Many family members don’t realize that they contribute to their loved one’s addiction either by denying the problem or enabling negative behavior. If you can get yourself out of this cycle, you can help your loved one make real change for the better.
In the meantime, here are three important things to know about your loved one returning home from treatment.
1. Rehab is not a cure
The time your loved one spends in rehab is not enough to “cure” the addiction. In fact, addiction is chronic and can never be fully cured. Your loved one will have to realize that they are vulnerable to relapse and must make healthy choices to avoid putting themselves at risk.
But, don’t focus on the “curing” aspect of this disease, or lack thereof. Look at your loved one returning home as the next step in the recovery process. Your loved one has learned a lot about themselves and the things they need to work on. Continue building on this and look forward to the progress that will evolve over time. It’s these positive moments that will empower your loved one to remain sober.
2. Your influence is important
Addicts cannot take charge of their addictions on their own. Your loved one needs you, so it’s important to know where you fit into their support system. Focus on your strengths and what you feel comfortable taking on.
For example, some people enjoy taking their loved one to AA meetings or helping them look for jobs. Others feel best offering emotional support or assisting with the kids. Also consider how other members in the family will contribute.
3. You need support, too
The families of addicts rarely get the support, compassion and recognition they deserve. What you’re going through is similar to what anyone with a chronically ill family member is going through. Unfortunately, addiction is still sometimes looked at as a moral flaw, poor choices or a product of bad parenting.
You need extra TLC right now, so don’t ignore your needs. Join a support group to be with others sharing similar experiences. Spend more time on hobbies or activities you enjoy, such as a book club or exercise class. Find healthy ways to release stress, such as by practicing yoga or meditation. Seek counseling for yourself.
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