If your loved one or family member has gone to rehab, you may feel relieved they are finally getting the help they need. It’s also natural if you feel worried or unsure about how to support them.
Coping with family in rehab can also feel lonely at times. Know you’re not alone. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 46 percent of American adults say they have a family member or close friend who is addicted to drugs or has been in the past. There is support available to you, and you can be a positive influence in your loved one’s recovery. In this post, we’ll provide tips for coping with a family member in rehab and share healthy ways you can show your support during treatment and when they come home.
Five Ways to Cope With a Loved One in Rehab
If you’re wondering what to do with a family member in rehab, you may feel overwhelmed with concerns. Keep in mind there’s nothing to fear — your loved one is exactly where they need to be. Here are five tips to help you manage difficult emotions and provide the best support possible.
1. Know They Are in Good Hands
You might be worried about your loved one’s safety while they are in rehab. You might wonder who they are with, what they’re doing and how they’re feeling. It’s not easy to deal with uncertainty. However, you can rest assured your loved one is surrounded by compassionate and experienced professionals who have been trained to help clients with substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders. You can expect your loved one to receive support and care from a psychiatrist, licensed counselors, nurses and trained support staff. Treatment specialists at Tranquil Shores are available 24/7, so your loved one never has to cope with challenges alone.
2. Learn About Addiction
It may be hard to understand what your loved one is going through because addiction is a complex disease. However, as a family member, you play a major role in your loved one’s recovery. By learning about your loved one’s addiction, you’ll gain a better understanding of what to expect and how you can help. You’ll also learn not to place all the burden on yourself while still offering your support.
You do not have to learn about addiction alone or without guidance. With your loved one’s consent, you may be asked to participate in family group sessions where you’ll learn about the recovery process and how to be supportive. Eventually, you may also partake in private family therapy sessions. Family therapy sessions aim to teach helpful behaviors and decrease unhelpful behaviors, as well as improve family dynamics. While you’re in a group or private family session, you may learn or ask questions about the following topics:
- How to build a healthy support network
- How to help a loved one cope with triggers now and in the future
- How to restore relationships that were impacted by addiction-related behaviors
- How to communicate in a productive way
- How to avoid enabling behaviors
- How to set boundaries
- How you or other family members played a role in the addiction
- How you are affected by the addiction and how to heal
- How to recognize the warning signs of relapse and strategies to prevent relapse
Through your involvement, counselors will also gain a better understanding of your loved one and how they can help.
3. Know What to Expect
If you’re feeling anxious about your loved one and their experience in rehab, it helps to know what their treatment entails. Typically, your loved one will undergo an evaluation when they arrive at the treatment center. Our clinical professionals will then develop an individualized treatment plan based on your loved ones needs.
You may or may not hear from your loved one during the first few days of their recovery, depending on their needs and wishes. It’s important not to take this personally, as this is part of the process and meant to help your loved one focus entirely on getting sober. Know that someone will be in contact with you soon, and you can relax during this time. Your loved one is being cared for by medical professionals who are doing what’s best for their physical and mental health.
In the early stages of treatment, your loved one will also be evaluated to determine the presence of a co-occurring disorder. Many individuals with substance use disorder have a co-occurring disorder, such as depression or anxiety. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about half of individuals who have a mental health issue also experience a substance use disorder at some point throughout their lives. It’s critical that treatment addresses all your loved one’s mental health needs. Counselors will develop an individualized treatment plan to work through mental health issues and addiction.
In general, treatment will include a mix of group and individual therapy. Group therapy helps clients feel less alone and provides peer support. Individual therapy sessions allow clients to work one-on-one with a counselor to recognize and change negative behaviors and learn ways to cope with triggers.
Eventually, or typically within the first two weeks, you may be asked to join family therapy sessions. A quality rehab program will tailor family therapy to your loved one’s needs and incorporate family involvement when they are ready. You may also be encouraged to receive individual therapy to recover from the effects of addiction as a family member.
4. Consider Ways to Provide Support
You want to support your loved one while they are in rehab, but you may not know how when you can’t physically be by their side. There are plenty of ways to show you care while they are in treatment. Your involvement makes a significant impact on their recovery. A Gallup poll found that 23 percent of survey respondents said the main reason a family member was able to overcome addiction was due to family support — more so than any other factor in the survey.
Here are ways you can help:
- Attend family therapy sessions: One of the best ways you can support your loved one while they are in treatment is to participate in family group therapy and private family therapy sessions. By being there at the treatment center when you can, you’ll show your loved one you take their recovery seriously, and that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to help them. It’s important for them to see you believe in their recovery, as this will give them the motivation to keep pushing forward.
- Work on rebuilding trust: You may feel your loved one has betrayed your trust during their struggle with addiction. To help them recover, it’s important to reestablish trust. Restoring trust takes time, but it’s something to work toward. Trust will help your loved one take responsibility for their actions and rebuild their self-confidence. To help build trust, treat your loved one with patience and understanding while they’re in recovery.
- Communicate honestly: You’re probably wondering how to talk to a loved one in rehab. In general, you’ll want to be honest in a gentle, non-judgmental manner. This means you shouldn’t be afraid to open up and let them know how you feel, what your hopes are and what it has been like for you. However, listen to what they have to say and strive to keep an open mind.
- Be compassionate: Compassion is a powerful tool when it comes to healing any addiction. Let your loved one know you care about them, empathize with their pain and invite them to share their concerns with you. This will help them recognize the issues at the root of their addiction. Don’t forget to practice self-compassion and find healthy ways to experience and release anger, disappointment and other negative emotions associated with the addiction.
- Be available: Let your loved one know you’re there for them no matter what, and you want to help them get better. Assure them you will do your part to create a supportive environment at home.
- Respect their privacy: Your loved one may not want other family members or friends to know about their addiction and treatment. Respect their wishes and avoid talking about their treatment with others. In therapy, if they do not wish to discuss something that has happened, try not to push them to talk. They may need more time to feel comfortable talking about painful past events and behaviors.
- Learn as much as possible: Learn as much as you can about their addiction and any co-occurring disorders. You’ll understand your loved one better, and you’ll be prepared to support them during treatment and once they come home.
5. Help Yourself
Substance use disorder takes a toll on family members. You might feel angry, anxious, depressed or guilty. You might be worried about financial issues resulting from the addiction, or your relationship with your loved one may feel tense. It can be a lot to handle on your own. To help your loved one, it’s best to help yourself and address your mental health needs. Only then you can provide a positive and supportive environment.
First, make sure you get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise and seek therapy for mental health problems and codependency issues. By discussing your experience with a counselor and examining your behavior, you can learn to change unhealthy behaviors and provide better support as a result. If you struggle with addiction, now is the time to get help.
Also, seek others who are going through the same experience as you. Lastly, make time to enjoy hobbies, explore your interests and live life separately from your loved one.
When Your Loved One Comes Back Home
Once your loved one leaves rehab, their recovery will still need to continue. Your loved one will develop an aftercare plan with a counselor before they return home, which will make the transition easier. As a family member, you can develop a plan to help them transition, as well. Here are ways you can help your loved one continue their recovery:
- Create a supportive environment: While in rehab, your loved one was in a structured, drug-free environment. When they leave, they transition back into an unstructured world. It’s critical to create a home that is free of temptation. That means removing any alcohol from home and refraining from using substances around your loved one. If possible, help your loved one develop a routine that will help them avoid triggers.
- Encourage joining a support group: Encourage your loved one to join a support group within the community. This can help them overcome triggers and remind them they are not alone in their journey.
- Communicate openly: Practice exchanging your concerns and struggles openly, honestly and with understanding. Remind your loved one they are strong, and that you are there to help them. Ask what their expectations are of you during their recovery and what they need.
- Share healthy habits: Help your loved one stay on a positive path by keeping busy and enjoying healthy activities together. Take an art class together or go on hikes when you have free time. Help them make healthy lifestyle choices like eating a nutritious diet and getting enough sleep. Also, give them time and space to adjust to their new life — and be patient.
- Focus on them as a person: It can be hard to focus on anything other than your loved one’s addiction at times, but it’s important to help them realize that addiction does not define who they are. Remind them of their dreams, talents and their goals in life.
- Take breaks: Don’t forget to nurture yourself. Being in a caregiver role can be exhausting, and you won’t be able to do your best if you don’t take care of yourself. Make sure to save time to recharge your battery.
Perhaps most importantly, do not blame yourself if your loved one relapses, and know that professional help is always within reach. Also, keep in mind that although you have the power to support your loved one and show you care, you cannot control their actions — they are responsible for their recovery. Don’t take on things they can handle themselves, and gently remind them they are in charge of their life.
Call Tranquil Shores Today
If you have a friend or family member who isn’t currently in rehab but you believe they could benefit from it, it’s time to address it. The best step you can take for your loved one struggling with addiction is to help them get help. Call Tranquil Shores today at (727) 591-4119 to learn how you can support your loved one as they reclaim their life.