As the family member or loved one of someone in recovery for a drug or alcohol addiction problem, it is important for you to prepare yourself for when your loved one returns home. There are things you can do ahead of time to get ready for their return, and also things you should be aware of and watching for as they get back to their life.
The return home after residential treatment for addiction should be a happy time, but you and your loved one are probably a bit nervous about it, and rightfully so. You will face difficult days. There will be challenges, and sometimes you won’t know what to do or how to help. Keep the following points in mind as you welcome your loved one home, and you can play a supporting role in their sobriety.
Learn from the professionals. First of all, just about everything you need to know can be learned from the treatment center your loved one is enrolled in. Listen to the professionals working with your family member and follow their guidance. They will most likely encourage you to participate in family therapy with your relative, which will help you all work on communicating effectively, respecting each other, and addressing any dysfunctions in the relationship. Family therapy is one of the best ways for you to get involved with the person’s recovery and heal your relationship. The lines of communication that are built during therapy will help you better understand the addict and how to help him or her. These sessions will prepare you for when your loved one comes home so you know how to interact with the person in a way that encourages sobriety.
Be encouraging. Be an encourager, not a hindrance to the person’s recovery. As your loved one tries to get back to their normal life, they will face many ups and downs, and they will make mistakes. It is important for supporting family members to remain positive and encourage the person when they are feeling low. Encouragement can take many different forms, and while positive words of affirmation are effective, there are other ways to help your loved one as well. A hug when they need it, a little note to get them through the day and even a listening ear can help the recovering addict realize you are there for them and want to see them succeed. Find ways in your everyday life to encourage your loved one.
Follow the rules. Family members and friends are important influences when it comes to helping their loved one remain sober. Be mindful of the situation you put your loved one in if you yourself are not staying sober. It is much more difficult for the recovering addict to abstain from drugs and alcohol if their close loved ones are drinking or using. Before your loved one comes home, it is a good idea to clean the house of all alcohol, drugs, drug paraphernalia, and anything else that would be a temptation to your loved one. The recovering addict will need to learn how to face triggers every day as they work on their recovery, and if you can help them by removing triggers, you can aid in their sobriety. This might mean that for a time while they are still vulnerable, you need to avoid using substances yourself, and keep all prescription medications locked safely away. The more willing you are to make a life change yourself, the more you can help remove temptations from your loved one’s life.
Watch for signs of relapse. It is important for you to know the warning signs of relapse. Relapse does happen, and loved ones can help the recovering addict by getting help for the person as soon as a relapse occurs. If your loved one is suddenly more secretive or avoids conversations with you, if they struggle with money once again, if you feel like they are not telling you the whole truth, or certainly if you find drugs on them or find them drinking again, they have probably relapsed and need help. Keep in mind also that relapse is not the end of the world. Yes, it is a setback and it means recovery will last even longer, but it is still possible for the person to recover and achieve lasting sobriety. Keep encouraging your loved one, praying for them, and getting help for them when they need it.
Know when to get help. Finally, know when to get help. You are not alone in this struggle, so if you are having trouble connecting with your loved one when they get home, talk to someone at your loved one’s treatment center. Don’t think once the recovering addict comes home they are done with treatment and don’t need help anymore. Consider the staff at the treatment facility as a valuable resource that you and your family can go to when you need advice, information, and encouragement even after treatment. Families that try to downplay or cover up problems often end up with more conflict and relapses.
Most importantly, if you suspect your loved one has relapsed, get help as soon as you can. Your loved one might need to go in for additional therapy or your family might benefit from a counseling session. Be sure to enlist the help of professionals before you get in over your head and the situation escalates too far.
By doing a little research and some planning, you can be prepared for the return of your friend or family member from addiction treatment. If you work at being a source of support and a positive influence for the person, you can help your loved one continue in their sobriety long into the future.