There is a lot of information on the internet regarding how to stage an intervention and encourage a loved one to seek treatment, but what happens when this friend or family member finally goes to rehab? How should the family and friends of this person – the people who have been affected most – cope with a loved one in rehab?
It’s not just the addict that drug and alcohol addictions affect, but the family as well. And just because your loved one finally makes the choice to seek rehab does not mean the problems go away. In fact, you’re probably feeling many things right now. You’re relieved that some step forward was made, but will it last? Will treatment be effective? Will your loved one be angry with you? Can you talk to them?
First of all, take a deep breath and relax. Your loved one is in good hands, and keep in focus the reasons why you chose the treatment center you did. Families that choose The River Source know that their loved one receives intensive inpatient care that includes holistic detoxification and natural therapies. Addicts are kept comfortable, given individual care and support from staff, many of whom were addicts themselves. Take comfort in knowing that your family member is safe and being cared for.
Take One Day at a Time
One important lesson that is taught in both recovery and the 12-Step Program is to take one day at a time. We don’t have control over the future, and we can’t promise what will happen tomorrow. This is not just an important lesson for addicts but also for the families of addicts. Do not let what could happen keep you up at night. Instead, focus on the fact that your loved one has made the choice to seek recovery and is making strides to get better. When they return home, this same mindset is crucial.
Know the Treatment Center’s Policies on Family Involvement
Family involvement on any level is beneficial to recovery, so the treatment center may welcome and encourage your engagement. However, it is important to know how and when you can connect with your loved one. For instance, The River Source uses the first week for intensive therapy without any distractions. Family and close friends who are documented may receive information on their loved one, but communication is postponed until the second week of treatment, providing the client is doing well. Knowing these restrictions beforehand will help prepare you.
Many treatment centers also encourage families to participate in family therapy. The River Source offers family counseling over the phone or in person. This is a wonderful opportunity to discuss delicate matters with a neutral third party. Be prepared for the emotions you may face during this time as well.
Take Time to Deal with Your Own Emotions
We often find that a few days apart is healthy for the healing process. Family members know their loved one is safe, and they can focus on their own emotions. Your loved one will be building themselves up for recovery, and so will you. It’s a journey you will inevitably face with your spouse, child or parent. Speak with a therapist, pastor or other trusted individual about your own feelings. The best thing you can do for yourself and your loved one is build up your inner strength so that you can face what’s to come.
Remember that you don’t owe anyone a detailed explanation for what is going on, either. People may ask for information, but wait until you are comfortable discussing the matter with them, if ever. When dealing with an addict, you don’t want negative comments around you, so it’s often best to share only the information you feel comfortable with. Joining a support group like Al-Anon will also help since you can develop a rapport with people who understand what your family is going through. You’ll feel less isolated and have a support network to turn to for constructive advice.
Get Educated on Addiction as a Disease
While your loved one is in rehab, use this time to educate yourself. Addiction is a disease, and understanding this concept will help you become less angry at your loved one. If your friend or family member has lied or stolen from you, it’s hard not to let those behaviors feel personal. But, they are not. The addiction is in control, not the addict. The more you know, the more you can help your loved one and be a positive force in their life.
When your loved one does return home from rehab, make sure to consider the same healthy habits of taking care of yourself, keeping realistic expectations and taking one day at a time.