Choosing to enter rehab is the best thing that addicts can do for themselves. For those who love them, the start of addiction treatment is often a time of tremendous hope. When recovery is successful, it gives families the opportunity to heal, and the chance to begin their lives anew.
Although much of the addiction recovery process depends largely on personal effort, the support that family members or friends provide definitely matters. Your involvement can be a constant source of motivation. Moreover, your commitment to learning what addiction is, its causes, and why it’s considered a chronic, lifelong disease will help you provide continued support after your loved one completes treatment.
Learn More About Their Addiction
Addiction is an incredibly complex disease. Unless you’ve personally dealt with it, it can be difficult to understand your loved one’s fears, challenges, and overall experience in recovery. Learning more about addiction in general, and about the specific type of addiction your family member is experiencing is important.
This is especially true if your loved one will be returning home after drug rehab. You can find out what the early signs of a developing relapse are. You can also learn how to create a safe, temptation-free, and supportive environment.
Consider joining a support group and taking part in family addiction therapy. Both of these things will help you begin healing from the trauma of living with an addict. They’ll also give you a better understanding of what to expect going forward.
Taking the time to educate yourself will make you more thoughtful, patient, and forgiving. It will additionally allow you to identify enabling behaviors and put them to an end.
Communicate With the Facility
It’s important to communicate with the facility that your loved one is attending. You’ll want to reach out both at the start of treatment and near the program’s end. Early conversations will give you a clear understanding of what is and isn’t allowed. Many inpatient programs maintain secure, closed campuses.
During the initial stages of addiction treatment, inpatient rehab centers rarely allow visitors or cellphone use. This separates recovering addicts from outside stressors that might put their recovery at risk. It also ensures that they’re able to place their entire focus on getting better.
Knowing the restrictions on outside contact can keep you from becoming panicked if you don’t hear from your family member in a while. These conversations are also a good time to learn more about what you can and cannot send, and what you should and should not talk about when writing letters or taking part in onsite family activities.
When it’s time for your loved one to come home, pay careful attention to discharge instructions. These will include tips on how to identify the start of emotional or mental relapse, recommendations for post-treatment support or continued addiction treatment, and strategies for safely transitioning back to work or school. When patients have co-occurring disorders and receive dual diagnosis treatment, discharge instructions will also include advice for successfully managing secondary mental health issues.
Attend and Participate in Family Day
When you can, you should always make an effort to attend the family day. This is an opportunity for patients to reconnect with their loved ones. Although you might be eager to talk about the things that are going on in your life, it’s far better to keep your focus on the individual receiving treatment.
Try not to discuss things that might cause stress, sadness, guilt, or shame. These are emotions that many people with substance use disorder are already battling while in recovery. Keep your communication positive and encouraging instead.
Family day is also a time to participate in various activities and group therapies. If you aren’t participating in a support group for family and friends of addicts or receiving private counseling for your own healing, you can work with onsite staff during family therapy to identify and correct enabling behaviors. You can also learn how to be a reliable option in post-treatment support.
Send Letters or Care Packages
Care packages can be an incredibly welcome surprise when completing inpatient rehab. When well-planned, care packages are uplifting and motivating. They can include comfort items and essentials that your family member might not have access to.
However, before creating a care package, take the time to learn which items patients are and are not allowed to have. Among some of the best items to include in your loved one’s care packages are:
- Comfortable clothing
- Comfortable footwear
- Personal hygiene items
- Books, puzzles, or games
- Journal-writing supplies
- Art supplies
- Uplifting and inspiring quotes
Care packages are an excellent form of support during rehab. In addition to their mood-boosting benefits, they’re also an opportunity to provide practical items that your loved one really needs. Good hygiene and clean, comfortable clothing can go a long way towards helping recovering addicts feel good about themselves.
When including letters in care packages, always keep your tone positive. Make a list of attributes that your loved one possesses. Tell them how much you look forward to seeing them again and how proud you are of their accomplishments.
It’s important to remember just how fragile people are when navigating the early stages of recovery. If you’ve lived with an addict for quite some time, you may be dealing with pent-up resentment, frustration, and emotional fatigue. These are things that you have to work out on your own time and in your own way.
Whenever you speak with a recovering addict, whether in-person or by letter, make sure that your words are kind, motivational, and supportive. Letting people know that you believe in them, that they’re valuable and loved, and that they matter in your life can be incredibly beneficial during this time.
Support and Follow Their Aftercare Plan
Although support during rehab is important, the support you provide after rehab ends is infinitely more so. Addiction treatment does not cure addiction. In fact, addiction does not have a known cure.
Your loved one will spend the rest of their life in recovery. Although staying clean and sober will gradually become easier, it’s important for recovering addicts to stay on target.
At Mississippi Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center, we help our patients establish solid, multi-pronged support plans before their rehab is complete. These plans can include:
- Time in sober living facilities
- Continuation of addiction treatment in outpatient rehab
- Participating in a structured relapse prevention program
- Finding a sober sponsor
- Attending sober meetings
- Joining a local support group
Learn the details of your loved one’s post-treatment support plan and then help them stay accountable. If you notice that they’re no longer attending sober meetings and no longer making recovery a priority, you can intervene before an actual relapse event occurs. If you want to know more about supporting a family member in rehab, or if you want to help your loved one find effective treatment options in drug or alcohol addiction treatment, call us today.