Finding out that someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol can really affect your family relationship or friendship. Addiction not only has a major impact on the suffering addict, but the family and friends of the addict endure a great deal of pain as well. When the addicted person finally takes the first step and enters a treatment program, family and friends of the addict experience a sense of relief and gratitude where fear is replaced with faith.
While your family member or friend was in treatment you did everything in your power to support them. You probably actively participated in teleconference counseling, or maybe you even attended the educational Family Weekend Program at The Watershed. Some of you even did your own research on the disease of addiction to expand your knowledge and figure out how to cope with the recovering addict when they come home.
Knowledge of the disease and therapy are great, but putting this into action is another challenge in itself. You must have a solid plan of action for at least the first few months upon the addict’s return home from treatment. This plan will eventually turn into a natural routine.
Use the following list to prepare for the addict’s return home. This list contains not only suggested things To-Do, but also things To-Accept. Once you begin practicing the things on this list, they will be incorporated in your daily routine and you will be providing maximum support to your recovering loved one.
There is no cure for addiction. Time in treatment is necessary, but your loved one is not cured when they leave the facility. Treatment is not the permanent solution for recovery from addiction. There is much work in store for your loved one as they return home from treatment.
Things will not go back to the normal days before the addiction started when your loved one returns from treatment. The lives of everyone around the addict have been greatly affected. You can not go back to the days prior to your loved one’s addiction. You should immediately begin family therapy with the recovering addict or individual therapy for yourself. Attending 12-step meetings such as Alanon, Naranon and Alateen is extremely beneficial for you. Encourage you’re your loved one to attend Alcoholics, Narcotics, or Cocaine Anonymous meetings. You will both receive the support you need from these kinds of fellowships.
My loved one is sober, why still all the meetings and the psychiatric meds? Your loved one should continue their medication regimen upon returning home from treatment at least until they see a doctor. If they were dually diagnosed, meaning they have the disease of addiction along with a psychiatric disorder, they may be on their medication for a while and maybe forever. 12-step meetings are a vital part of your loved one’s ongoing recovery. In the rooms of these meetings your loved one will find their sponsor and get support from other sober friends.
I played a part in their addiction, so am I responsible for their recovery? Aside from whatever happened in the addict’s life that led them to become addicted, family history of addiction, psychiatric disorders or abuse, family and friends of the addict must understand that they are not responsible for the addict’s recovery. When the addict takes control and responsibility for their recovery, they become empowered by they personal success and continue the journey to a new life. Ultimately, family and friends should come to terms with these three things: You did not cause the addiction, you cannot cure the addiction and you cannot control your loved one’s recovery.
Communication is extremely important. Healthy communication involves give and take. While in treatment, your loved one most likely participated in an activity like this: When you __________ I feel ____________. This simple exercise can be utilized to express positive or negative feelings affecting interpersonal relationships. By starting any conversation on a level playing field, you can avert anger, frustration, fear or confusion from escalating to a yelling match and subsequently saying things neither of you mean. Remember, too, if the addict seems out-of-sorts or depressed during those first weeks home, never hesitate to ask what is bothering them. Give them a loving, supportive communications outlet and they are less likely to try to alleviate their uncomfortable feelings with drugs or alcohol.
Continue to watch for relapse warning signs. Unfortunately, not all people who go through alcohol and drug addiction treatment remain sober. The sooner after treatment the your loved ones dives into therapy and a 12-step program of their choice, the better chance they will have. Family and friends should be aware of certain warning signs that a relapse may be coming on. Please read the article Relapse Warning Signs included in this magazine.