How To Support Your Loved One In Rehab
When your loved one goes to rehab, it is normal to have mixed emotions. Maybe you feel relief that they are getting help, fear that treatment won’t work, or pain caused by months or years of struggling with addiction.
You may be accustomed to taking care of them, and suddenly, you don’t have to anymore. They are in the hands of professionals who specialize in helping people overcome addiction. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t need your support.
One way to ease the emotional turmoil that addiction can cause is to do what you can to help your loved one heal. Here are some tips on how to support your loved one in rehab:
Learn About Addiction And Recovery
Educating yourself on the disease model of addiction can help you grasp what your loved one is going through. Understanding that there is no single cure for addiction may help you be more compassionate about the challenges of recovery.
Once your loved one has completed a rehab program, they will need to continue implementing the tools that they learned in treatment. This may include coping skills, fitness, and nutrition. The more you learn about these things, the more prepared you will be to help your loved one continue to live a healthier life.
Recognize That Recovery Is A Process
Recovery doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work and encouragement. If your loved one struggling in treatment, your support may help them continue working at it. If they are doing well in treatment but you express disappointment in their progress, it can be very harmful to their healing process.
An effective way to support someone in rehab is to recognize the work they are doing and be excited about their progress. Knowing you believe in them will help to build their confidence that they can overcome addiction for good.
Communicate With Them When You Can
Many rehab programs have “blackout periods” when the individual in treatment has no contact with the outside world. This generally lasts a few days to a week. The goal is to integrate the person into the therapeutic community without any distraction from the outside world.
After this time, communication will likely be limited, but you may be able to speak with your loved one on the phone or write them letters. Many rehab programs also have monthly family days when families eat together, learn about treatment progress, and become more educated on how to prevent relapse.
Use these opportunities to let the person in treatment know you are there for them, you are proud of them, and you love them. Keep things positive and encouraging.
Participate In Family Therapy
The goal of family therapy, or family counseling, is to foster deeper understanding and help family members learn healthier ways of interacting with each other. Addiction affects the whole family. Working together to resolve related issues can help families heal as individuals and as a whole.
Some rehab programs offer less intensive family-involved therapy. This is more focused on educating family members on addiction and equipping them to prevent relapse. It is important that you prepare yourself to live differently once your loved one returns home. You may have to be more careful about what you say and do so you can be a positive role model.
Take Care Of Their Home Life
While your loved one is in rehab, they will need someone to make sure their bills are paid, their pets are cared for, and their plants are watered. Whether you share a home with them or not, you can support them by taking care of these things so they can focus on recovery.
You can also use the opportunity to prepare their home environment for their return. Remove things that may be triggers to substance use, such as drug paraphernalia. Create a clean and comfortable environment where they can feel safe.
Find A Family Support Group
Family support groups like Al-Anon give you the opportunity to discuss your situation with others who are going through it. It can be very helpful to know you’re not alone and may give you insight into how to cope with the ways that addiction may have changed your life.
Addiction can take a toll on your health as you care for the other person. Now is the time to take care of yourself and let the rehab center take care of your loved one. Be involved when you can, but remember that most of it is up to them.
How To Support Your Loved One In An Outpatient Rehab Program
After an inpatient treatment program, some individuals transfer to an outpatient program to ease the transition back to everyday life. Outpatient programs allow people to live at home but continue to receive treatment through therapies similar to those in an inpatient program.
Some people choose not to enroll in residential treatment at all due to work or familial obligations. In either case, an outpatient program means that you will have more opportunities to show your support and play an important role in your loved one’s recovery.
Here are some ways to support your loved one in an outpatient rehab program:
- Keep the lines of communication open
- Trust them, but hold them accountable
- Do not blame, shame, or judge them
- Celebrate any progress they make
- Remove triggers from the home environment
- Be conscious of your words and behavior
- Learn about their treatment program and help reinforce what they learn
- Be aware of behaviors that may indicate substance use
Finding The Right Rehab Program For Your Loved One
As supportive as you may be, it can be difficult for your loved one to change if their environment stays the same. Everyday life is often full of people and places that encourage substance abuse. Inpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs take an individual out the home environment and away from negative influences.
These programs provide around-the-clock support in a substance-free setting, making it much easier to break free from addiction. They use a variety of therapies to create a unique treatment plan that matches your loved one’s needs. Treatment programs often include behavioral therapy to help individuals recognize destructive thought patterns that lead to unhealthy behavior.
The right rehab program can make the difference between relapse and recovery. To learn more about treatment options and how to support your loved one in rehab, contact us today.
National Center for Biotechnology Information—Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy