How to Support an Addict After Rehab
Completing a rehabilitation program for drug or alcohol abuse is a major milestone worth celebrating. But afterwards, recovery is a lifelong commitment. While rehab will teach a recovering addict the tools they need to live their lives free of substance abuse, individuals in recovery are not suddenly “cured,” and will need to make decisions that maintain their sobriety every day.
If your loved one is returning home from rehab, here are some of the things you can do to help support them as you navigate how to live with an addict in recovery.
Understand Their Lifestyle Changes
When an addict comes home from rehab, your support and understanding will be vital. In addition to removing any addictive substances from the house and avoiding gatherings where they might feel tempted to use, it may be beneficial to you to educate yourself on addiction and recovery in general, and that includes researching on your own as well as talking to your loved one about the things they learned in rehab.
For example, in rehab, they were likely taught to identify possible triggers, in addition to pinpointing the root causes of their addiction. If you know these triggers, you will be able to help your loved one avoid them, whether it’s supporting them as they break ties with the people they used with or helping them find a new job if their previous one included stressors that led them to turn to substances.
Make and Uphold Boundaries
It’s likely that your loved one’s addiction put a strain on your relationship at one point or another, and it’s natural that this relationship may still be strained once they return home from rehab. As we said, completing rehab is praiseworthy but not a cure-all, and it does not wipe a person’s slate completely clean. While your patience and understanding are important to rebuilding a relationship with a person in recovery, no one should ask you to forget the past.
If your loved one betrayed your trust while they were addicted, you can still support their recovery while creating and enforcing personal boundaries to protect yourself; this may feel selfish, but in all actuality, it is self-care. Trust and respect should be mutual between you and your loved one, and they should understand that it may take some time to build both back up once they return home from rehab. Don’t just be patient with them — be patient with yourself as well.
Recognize the Signs of Relapse
Relapse is sometimes part of the recovery process, and if it does happen, it’s crucial to get your loved one help as soon as possible. Although every individual in recovery is different, there are some things to look out for. If your loved one is suddenly being secretive, losing interest in their sober hobbies or friends, reconnecting with people or places that were common when they used, or they stop attending work or counseling sessions, it could be a sign that they have either relapsed or are planning to use again.
If you suspect this is the case, it’s important to approach them calmly and without judgment; don’t make them feel like they are being cornered or attacked, or purposely try to make them feel guilty. Ask open-ended questions and listen to their answers. If your suspicions were correct, encourage them to contact their sponsor or counselor, seek outpatient treatment, and remind them that relapse doesn’t mean failure — it’s just an obstacle on their journey in recovery, and one they can overcome.
Know When to Ask for Help
Recovery is a lifelong process, and it’s unrealistic to expect that you need to be your loved one’s only source of support. This may lead you to feel frustrated or isolated and may even make you begin to resent your loved one if they’re struggling. No one deserves to feel that the world is on their shoulders.
That’s why, if you’re struggling, it’s important to take care of yourself. As the saying goes: you can’t pour from an empty cup. Make sure you have people to talk to, whether it’s your close friends or family members or a therapist. And remember that help is always available if you or your loved one need it. You are never alone.
At Prosperity Haven, we’re an all-male recovery facility nestled in the quiet Cleveland suburb of Chardon, Ohio. Among our drug abuse recovery services is Group and Family Therapy, where we facilitate the rebuilding of relationships between those in recovery and their closest friends and family in a safe, supportive, and comfortable space.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, reach out to Prosperity Haven today.
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