Family and friends need to understand what to expect when a loved one comes home from a drug or alcohol treatment center.
Many believe that addiction is a disease with biological roots as well as mental and emotional ones, therefore it’s important to know that you’re not to blame for the individual’s addictive behavior, nor should you consider it your responsibility to “cure” the individual; rather, you should leave it up to doctors and therapists to help your loved one recover.
First, you need to understand that just because your loved one has been through treatment at Bayshore Retreat… this doesn’t mean he or she is “cured”. It means that the body has been cleansed of the toxins and the physical cravings eliminated. It means that many hours were spent in counseling and training to help the individual understand the “why’s”, “what to expect”, and “how” to deal with future triggers that could lead to relapse. It means that he or she has worked to develop a personal agenda for ‘staying clean’ and sober. This plan may or may not include your participation. Don’t take it personal. Understand that the individual must take ownership of his/her desire to remain clean and sober. You are there to help support this decision in any way possible.
If you’re living, dating or are friends with a recovering individual, it can often seem as though you’re not exactly sure how to interact with them. Should you walk around on eggshells for fear of triggering a certain emotion that could cause a relapse, or should you pretend as though nothing happened?
A few key things to remember are:
While he/she may not seem remorseful for the cost and heartache their actions have caused, this is probably a defensive action, and the real feelings of remorse are actually there. Don’t dwell on it. It’s in the PAST – let it remain there.
Going to Rehab in itself can be embarrassing. Instead, think of it as any other ‘Illness’ where professional help is needed. And just as with any illness, there will be healing necessary after leaving the hospital or having the surgery.
Give words of praise and encouragement, not criticism and blame. Don’t use the “You” word when communicating – instead express your feelings and needs with “I”.
Get Involved. The worst thing to do is to ignore the individual’s recovery process. Instead, get educated as to what the recovery process involves. Read and talk to others that have gone through the process. Do as much as possible for you (personally) to understand what’s involved and know that it’s a ‘forever’ process.
Promote A Sober Environment. If the recovering individual lives in your home, it’s important to eliminate any and all temptations. For example, if the individual is recovering from alcohol abuse, don’t keep any alcohol around in the house; it’ll be too easy for the individual to relapse and ruin his or her progress.
Naturally, you’ll want your recovering wife or husband, son or daughter, mother or father, or other relative that lives with you to come home to a clean house. But this entails more than scrubbing and vacuuming. Clean, in this sense, refers to a home that’s completely free of any alcohol or illicit drugs.
It doesn’t matter if you aren’t an alcoholic or only smoke marijuana occasionally. This, by the way, isn’t a moral judgment on either drinking alcohol or smoking cannabis. It’s merely a recognition that a recovering individual can’t be around such substances. Proximity and ready access to drugs and alcohol is like waving a red flag in front of a bull: It’s impossible not to charge right for it.
Ditto any prescription drugs, which should be placed under lock and key. No kidding. Nonmedical use of prescription drugs serves as an alternative to other mind-altering and harmful illicit substances. And, if they’re available on the kitchen counter or in the bathroom medicine cabinet, how long do you think it will be until some are snatched and used? This isn’t something you want to chance. So, lock them up if you or someone else in the family still has a medical reason to continue taking them.
Don’t forget to clean out the garage, shed, basement, attic and any other area in and around the property that may have served as hiding places for alcohol or drugs. Individuals are notorious for finding ingenious places to ferret away their stash of drugs of choice. You most certainly can’t rely on them to tell you where they’ve put them. You’ll have to be the detective, find the stash, and eliminate it.
Finally, at Bayshore Retreat, family counseling is important. Sometimes clients don’t want family involvement because their behavior from the alcohol or drug addiction has damaged the relationship. They tend to think it’s all about themselves and the family really doesn’t play a part in it. Not true, the family suffers emotionally and financially. We encourage forgiveness and understanding from both sides and this can only happen when the family is included.