The recovery journey that your loved one goes through is fluid; ever-changing with the ebb and flow of life. In this respect, you’ll be overjoyed as your loved one goes starts rehab with all the commitment and enthusiasm their body can contain.
But, as people leave rehab and continue their recovery journey at home, their dedication and enthusiasm can sway as life after rehab takes over and you wonder how to support a loved one in recovery.
Importance of Family Intervention in Addiction
This is where family members and loved ones can play an integral role in aiding a person in their recovery and helping with any co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders that may impact their recovery.
Of course, to best help your loved one, you’ll need to show them support, encouragement, and understanding while avoiding enabling and setting realistic boundaries. Follow the below helpful tips that have helped others in your situation.[i]
Managing Expectations After Rehab
Families often experience a whole world of emotions as they try to get life back to normal after rehab, with the main problem being an expectation for life to return to normal. But to avoid dashed hopes and unsuitable expectations, remember that recovery is a lifelong journey, and life will always likely be a little different now.
Your loved one is not magically cured when they return home from a rehab addiction centre. To best help your loved one and avoid unnecessary disappointment, try to think of recovery as a lifelong journey that will change with time.
In comparison, the support your loved one needs will also change with time. There is always the potential for missteps along the recovery journey, but there are many things you should and shouldn’t do to help them along the way.
The Best and Worst Things You Can Do
Whenever you try to help a loved one, no matter how good your intentions are, there are always do’s and don’ts to supporting a loved one after a rehab stay. You can do things that will be helpful, and others will have a less than desirable effect.
Try Not to Stay in the Past
It’s incredibly likely that your loved one caused you pain or hurt while in active addiction, but constantly dwelling on the past and remaining in that hurt state won’t help you or your loved one move past addiction.
Your loved one has completed addiction therapy to move forward in their life, and so should you.
Any pain that people have caused you in the past can also lead to judgement. Rehab may not work the first time for everyone, and you may have seen your family member fail multiple times, leaving you with plenty of negative feelings and judgements.
But the recovery journey is different for everyone, and some will find it harder to stay sober the first time around. Being understanding and positive is the best thing you can do to help your loved ones find the commitment they need to achieve sobriety.
Ease Up On the Pressure
Whether this is the first time or the fifth time your loved one has entered rehab, you’ll likely have plenty of expectations. But, as exciting as recovery can be, your loved one may find it overwhelming, stressful, and challenging.
So, give your loved ones the space and time they need to carve out their path to recovery, no matter how long that takes.
Don’t Play the Blame Game
You didn’t cause their addiction; you can’t control it, and you certainly can’t cure it. There is no cure for addiction, and there’s no use in blaming anyone for the addiction.
To be in the right headspace to help your family member, remember that you are not the cause of their addiction, and neither are they.
Your spouse, family member or friend hasn’t chosen to be addicted; they suffer from a chronic condition and need your help.
Don’t Overwork Yourself
As your loved one’s addiction grows and they embark on their recovery journey, it’s common to find loved ones giving more of themselves than is helpful.
Usually, family members don’t want to risk their loved one’s sobriety with any undue stress.
So, spouses, friends, and family often take on too much of life’s daily burdens. As a result, they devote so much of their time and energy to helping the other person that they neglect themselves entirely.
Not only is this counterproductive, but it’s also exhausting and creates resentment. Unfortunately, the recovering addict can often sense this resentment.
Leave the Fear of Triggering a Relapse at the Door
This motto is vital in helping your loved one transition from rehab back into reality. It’s just not true that other people can trigger a relapse.
Relapse occurs in so many diseases, and you wouldn’t blame yourself for a loved one suffering a cancer relapse, so why would you blame yourself for a loved one suffering an addiction relapse?
Remember, you didn’t force your loved one to abuse alcohol or drugs, and you can’t cause them to relapse. Whether or not they stay on their recovery journey is their responsibility, not yours. [ii]
Learning all you can about drug addiction, alcoholism, mental health disorders, and integrated treatment is essential in helping your loved one.
For example, conditions such as mental health disorders can co-occur alongside an addiction.
Integrated treatments help treat these co-occurring disorders, but there are many different strategies you can research to help your loved one.
Encourage Attendance at Peer Support Groups
Theirs is nothing quite like the support your loved one will experience when attending peer support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Connecting with like-minded people who have gone through what they have gone through and can share their successful sobriety stories is a tremendous help to recovery.
Therefore, one of the best ways to support your loved one’s sobriety is facilitating peer support participation by ‘meeting shopping.’
Attend several local peer support groups local to your loved ones to find the right one for them. Next, learn everything you can about peer support groups so you can understand their philosophy, language, and concepts.
Lastly, adjust the family schedule to ensure they have the time and freedom to attend these meetings.
Know the Signs of Relapse
Recognising the signs of relapse is another vital part of the support you can provide. Watch out for signs of deterioration, which are easier to spot than you might realise.
For example, reminiscing about the ‘good old days when they were abusing substances is a potential sign of relapse.
Similarly, reconnecting with friends who previously used substances or revisiting places they associate with their addiction can also be a sign of relapse. However, these are not the only signs of relapse.
Other symptoms of relapse include:
- Sudden changes in their behaviour or attitude
- Showing sudden stress or depression symptoms [iii]
- Keeping secrets of attempting to hide their actions
- No longer attending their 12-step programme or support group meetings
- Losing interest in hobbies or holistic therapies that were previously helping the
Know-How to Minimise the Chance of Relapse
You’re not powerless. Once you suspect your loved one of a potential relapse, you can do things to prevent relapse or minimise its severity. Knowing the methods to mitigate relapse is vital because relapse rates are high in addiction recovery.
However, this does not mean that an individual still can’t attain life-long sobriety eventually. [iv]
Some of the best ways to contain and limit a relapse include:
- Encourage your loved one to attend a support group meeting
- Know and recognise your loved one’s early warning signs of relapse
- Express your concerns in a loving, caring, and non-judgmental manner
- Check with other friends and family to see if they share your worries.
- Recommend that they contact their sponsor or therapist for help or do this for them.
- With your loved one, make a relapse plan in advance so you can check for signs of relapse and set up pre-emptive steps. Involving other people, especially professional treatment providers can be constructive in the planning process.
Supporting Your Loved One Through Recovery
Conclusion: there’s no doubt that addiction is a terrible, life-shattering chronic condition that affects those abusing drugs and alcohol and their loved ones.
But there is hope; recovery is entirely possible. Furthermore, recovery has even more chance of success when family members can appropriately support their loved ones.
Therefore, family members can be invaluable in helping their loved ones stay committed, allowing them to keep their feet firmly planted on the path to recovery.