Leaving rehab and returning home can be a stressful time for everyone in the family, there will be essential changes that need to be faced. Everyone will be seeking to reflect the changes seen in their loved one who has been on an intense journey of self discovery; witnessing these changes and not being on a personal recovery process can lead to feelings of frustration, confusion, anger and feeling left out. I identify with all these feelings, and when I find myself exhibiting controlling behaviours I recite the Serenity Prayer, remembering to Let Go and Accept The Things I cannot Change. It’s important that all the focus isn’t on the individual newly out of rehab, and that the whole family is reviewing their own part in the family dynamics.
We’ve compiled some do’s and don’ts that may help that transition period for everyone:
Did you manage and control much of their previous life? Making yourself indispensable in sorting out problems? manipulating situations? Now you need to let them find their own way and manage their own life. They will have been given the necessary tools whilst in rehab, and now they need to get used to using them and finding their own answers to problems. Once in recovery it is common for secondary addictive behaviours to emerge including shopping, gambling, sugar, carb loading, and negative obsessional behaviours including male/female attention. They have the tools, step back and let them find their new path, however difficult it may be to watch.
2. Look After Yourself
This is an emotionally exhausting time and everyone needs to heal ; take some time for yourself and consider whether you need some support or counselling. Support groups can be wonderful in enabling us to talk openly and express our fears, hopes, anxieties and joys. Al-anon, DrugFam, NACOA are accessible nationally and internationally and everyone attending will be able to empathise. Western Counselling delivers a Family Programme every 6-8weeks giving useful information and support on addiction, treatment and recovery.
3. Recovery is personal, don’t interfere
Its important that having left treatment they take responsibility for themselves and the subsequent consequences. They’ll have meetings to attend and a sponsor to phone and meet, so let them get on with it. If previously you would helped with management of their daily affairs, nows the time to let them get on with it. Of course you’re going to be concerned and will want to keep checking up on them, checking their movements, interactions with others etc – old habits are hard to break!! However its important that this be discreet and you start to Let Go and let them move forward in confidence. Reminding them of appointments, meetings etc isn’t allowing them to fully take responsibility for themselves, now’s the time to let them try.
4. Welcome New Roles in your Relationship
During a time of active addiction in a loved one around us we tend to assume “roles”. There’ll be the caring, loving individual, always there to reassure and take control of everything and make everything all right. There’ll be the angry individual, expressing their feelings negatively and possibly persecutory; and then there’s often the forgotten one who sits back, presenting as passive with the situation. Now’s the time for self-awareness, take a look at what’s going on around you and in your relationships, start making some changes and challenging previous personal convictions. Stop projecting outcomes of a situation or potential conversation and making the necessary preparations for interventions, these assumed outcomes are unlikely to arise and they will further conflict your attitudes. Take this time to develop your own recovery journey and establish coping mechanisms that don’t perpetuate the previous negative patterns.
5. Make Changes
Reflect the change you see in your loved ones, as they start to broaden their horizons now’s the time for you to similarly take some action, consider a new hobby, social activity or other personal opportunity. Be proactive in the change even if it doesn’t feel comfortable initially. – just think of all the changes the addict has made during their treatment, now you too can make some changes. No longer place their health, happiness and life before your own, assert your boundaries and start living for yourself outside of their needs.
6. Avoid Shame
Living in todays society it can be so easy to deny our situation publically and feel shame and humiliation at whats happening at home. However, we should be positive about all attempts to get clean and sober and not perpetuate the negativity around us. Share your feelings in your support meetings or with a private counsellor
7. Never Give up Hope
When you are living in the eternal cycle that is totally addict-centric it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t give up hope, be a consistent reassuring presence.