Helping a loved one after treatment includes providing a tremendous amount of support and encouragement as they continue with their recovery. Setting boundaries and avoiding enabling are among the most vital elements.
After a loved one returns home from an extended period at rehab, families will likely with a wide variety of emotions. While many seek simple normality, the process of recovery for both the affected individual and the family may be a lifelong battle. When your loved one comes home, you must realize they are not “cured.” Addictions must be dealt with daily, and sometimes, just minute-by-minute.
Consider the recovery process not as a final destination, but instead a very long journey with a strong potential for mistakes. Nevertheless, there are many actions you can take to help your loved ones after they have completed addiction treatment and for the rest of their lives.
What Should I Expect After My Loved One Returns Home From Addiction Treatment?
After a loved one returns from treatment, you can expect things to be remarkably different – at least for a time. However, recovery is often a vulnerable, confusing, and awkward time for individuals, especially in the first few weeks or months.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) described four points that can best support a person in recovery:
- Health: Managing one’s disease and symptoms and making healthy choices that promote physical and emotional well-being
- Home: Having a stable residence in which to live
- Purpose: Engaging in meaningful daily activities
- Community: Having relationships that provide support, love, and hope
Health professionals urge family members to educate themselves about addiction – including the specific substance use disorder their loved one has experienced. Learning more about how substances affect a loved one can help you understand their mindset and why addiction is considered a chronic disorder.
Moreover, alcoholism, opioid addiction, and meth or cocaine addiction are all different, and people act differently when under the influence of different substances. Educating yourself will also help you identify potential triggers and bad influences. To get started, make sure your home is clear of intoxicating substances.
Next, once you’ve established boundaries, you can encourage your loved one to engage in healthier habits to avoid triggers. Most 12-step groups, such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous urge individuals to exercise and participate in activities to keep busy.
You must keep communication open with your loved one and be patient. Also, it’s helpful to be honest and non-judgmental with this individual. Your trust may have been undermined by the effects of his or her substance use disorder, but working to rebuild these relationships is an essential part of recovery.
Life After Intensive Treatment
After returning from rehab, your loved one will likely benefit from attending meetings regularly as part of an outpatient rehab program or a peer support group. During this time, they will need to continue concentrating on maintaining their sobriety and avoiding stressors that could instigate a relapse. It’s crucial not to mistake this period of vital self-care as selfishness and it should not be taken personally. As your loved one’s recovery advances, they will begin to focus on making amends in other aspects of their life, including relationships, work, school, etc.
Expect to develop a regular routine after rehab. Many outpatient facilities maintain firm schedules so patients can engage in habits that contribute to substance-free lives. Research has shown that individuals are more likely to drink or use drugs when they are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT).
How Do I Identify Signs of Relapse?
When a loved one is on the brink of relapse, often there are signs you may be able to recognize in advance. For example, if this person begins to reminisce or romanticize the “good old days” when they were using substances, this could be a sign of imminent relapse. If the loved one starts to reconnect with individuals or social circles who abuse substances or revisit places they associate with their addiction, this can also be a hallmark sign of relapse.
Other signs of a potential relapse include the following:
- Abrupt changes in behavior and attitude
- Stopping attending support group meetings
- Lack of interest in hobbies
- Keeping secrets or attempting to conceal something
How Do I Convince a Person I Love to Get Further Treatment?
It’s vital for loved ones to remember that relapse is frequently a part of the recovery process. Few people can stop using “cold turkey,” and it in some cases, doing so can be lethal to do so without medical supervision. Once a person relapses into abusing substances, it’s important they get more professional help as soon as possible. Like other chronic conditions, addiction may require lifelong medical assistance to manage.
If you believe some you love has relapsed, approach them calmly, honestly, and without judgment. Also, do not confront an individual when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and refrain from accusatory statements. Instead, ask questions and actively listen – a more productive strategy than being in “attack mode.” Furthermore, avoid invoking feelings of guilt, which commonly lead to substance abuse as individuals try to escape from their problems.
Above all, remember that loved ones play an invaluable role in helping a person in recovery foster hope and that permanent change is possible.