If you have a family member who is going to treatment you have probably been through a lot. The sleepless nights, wondering if they are safe, feeling anger, frustration and fear. If only they could stop using! It’s an arduous path and now you probably feel a big sense of relief. Relief…and maybe a void. So much time and energy has been directed towards the addict or the alcoholic that its difficult to let go of the worry and the obsessive thoughts. This is because many people aren’t sure how to support someone in rehab.
Now you may wonder what they are doing in treatment, will they get better, what happens when they come home? The hamster wheel just changes direction and the focus becomes the recovery vs. the addiction, wondering when the other shoe will drop.
Recovery needs to happen for the family, as well as for the identified addict/alcoholic. The family needs to let go of the control and obsession about their loved one as much as the client needs to let go of their addiction. This is an important step in learning how to support someone in rehab.
Addiction is a Family Disease
Addiction is a family disease and dysfunctional and unhealthy family dynamics require healing and change. While the client is in treatment they are getting intensive group and individual therapy with constant focus on recovery. Families however, do not typically have that luxury.
It is critical for the success and continued sobriety for the client that the family change too.
Active participation in family programs and individual therapy, Al-anon, Naranon, Families Anonymous or similar groups can be extremely helpful, as well as participating in a Family Program that the treatment center offers.
The Challenges of Learning How To Support Someone in Rehab
The first hurdle when learning how to support someone in rehab is keeping the client in treatment. The vast majority of people coming into treatment will want to leave prematurely at some point. It is the “fight, flight or freeze” response to stress and treatment is stressful. Often this happens in the first few days when the client is still detoxing and is uncomfortable.
The desire to stop the discomfort and pain can overcome any rational thinking and the denial can be so powerful that the client is unaware they that they aren’t making smart choices. The family has to be strong enough to say no to the client when they ask to come home. Sometimes this might mean removing all access to funds, not taking phone calls and allowing the client to “sink or swim.”
The dichotomy is that the more the family tries to help or rescue the client, the more they actually enable or contribute to the disease and potentially prevent the client from recovering.
How To Help a Loved One Stay in Rehab
Sometimes the client does fine for the first couple weeks and then when the deeper issues start surfacing, they want to run.
The lure of their addiction becomes too strong and when confronted by harsh truths the client can’t tolerate the reality that brings with it pain, guilt, shame and grief.
If the family steps in and rescues the client they are robbing the client of the opportunity to learn positive coping skills and build confidence in themselves.
A firm stand by loved ones can make the difference between a client staying or leaving treatment prematurely; the difference between life and death.
Keeping a Family Member From Relapsing After Rehab
Then finally the day of discharge draws near and a new set of fears may develop. What will happen when they return home? Or maybe, will they even return home? There are many factors that go into creating a comprehensive individualized discharge plan.
It is important for the family to rely on the recommendations of the professionals that understand all the factors and know the best follow up care for each person in their hometown or possibly a local alternative, if the client stays in the area.
Learning to let go and give up the futile attempt to control the addict/alcoholic, trusting in both the professionals and the process, is as important to the recovery of the client as it is to the recovery of the family members. Again, solid and consistent participation in Al-anon, Naranon, or Families Anonymous and individual and/or group therapy can help the family with this transition.
For the client, participation in daily 12 Step groups, working with a sponsor to complete the 12 Steps and participation in a good aftercare IOP program can make the difference between ongoing, long term sobriety and relapse.
It is important to understand that though it is not ideal, relapse is a common component of recovery and can even be a positive learning experience. With commitment and professional guidance both the family and the client can recover and experience long term sobriety.
Call Beachway Therapy Center Today
Our expert team of therapists, counselors and administrators are standing by, ready for your call. If you need help getting a loved one into rehab, call us at 877-284-0353 today.