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Family involvement after rehabilitation

The process of recovery continues long after completion of a residential addiction treatment program. Once you are back in the “real-world” the support of family and friends is helpful to a recovering addict.

When your loved one returns home after treatment, they’ll need assistance to readjust to their new life without drugs or alcohol. They will need to:

  • Repair broken relationships
  • Avoid relapse triggers
  • Learn how to be themselves again without drugs or alcohol

Your support can give them the courage to keep on their journey when it feels too hard.

As your loved one settles back into family life, it can be difficult to know the best way to help them. Here are some tips.

Healthy boundaries

When your loved one was in active addiction, you may have found it hard to set healthy boundaries.

ending them money, driving them places, and even helping them avoid responsibilities may have seemed like you were helping them when the addiction was in control.

Having been involved in the family therapy sessions during your loved one’s addiction treatment program you will now recognise that behaviour as enabling.
Agreeing on family rules and being prepared to say no may be hard, but it’s exactly what your loved one needs to stay drug and alcohol free.

Listen

Taking the time to listen to your loved one, without judgement, will mean more than you realise.

You may not be happy to hear about your loved one’s addiction and rehabilitation, but giving them the freedom to talk about their experiences and challenges will make them feel respected and supported.

Find support

As a parent, spouse or child of an addict, you have experienced the trauma of addiction too.

Taking care of your own support needs is essential, especially if your loved one is relying on you.

Attending support groups with your loved one is part of the recovery process for both of you, but you may also benefit from a group for the families of addicts.

Support groups will expose you to a wider world of addiction and recovery to help you better understand what your loved one has experienced and the effect on you and the rest of the family.

Hearing from people farther along in the recovery journey may give you insight into what’s happening and give you strength in hard times.

Understand cravings and triggers

After rehabilitation your loved one will still be an addict, but they will be in recovery.

As they learn to live their new life, they will likely experience cravings for drugs or alcohol. Rather than deny these cravings exist, talk to your loved one about what triggers these cravings.

There may be certain social situations, stress, or people who trigger cravings for drugs or alcohol. You can help them avoid or reduce triggers or help distract them to resist the temptation of their addiction.

This may mean making some changes in your own life to support your loved one’s sobriety.

Develop healthy habits

Taking care of your own health can be an immense support for your loved one in recovery.

Making changes in your life, such as not drinking at home, will not only improve your own health, it will help your loved one develop healthier habits as well.

Eating well and having a regular exercise routine will help you to support your loved one by being physically and psychologically healthier.

If your loved one doesn’t live with you, having a regular family meal together can provide routine and show your support.

Recognise relapse

Addiction is a lifelong challenge. Your loved one may relapse on their journey to recovery.

Recognising the signs of relapse can ensure your loved one gets the support they need quickly.

Behaviour such as lying, hiding things and being secretive are warning signs of relapse.

Your loved one may return to their old lifestyle, hanging out with old friends from their period of addiction.

Other signs include poor hygiene and personal appearance, changes in sleep patterns and appetite, or inability to concentrate.

Respect each other

Addiction affects the whole family. Recovery is a process everyone in the family will go through in different ways. Respecting each other’s experiences and challenges will help you all move from addiction to recovery and return to a normal life.

More information

Establishing Family Boundaries
5 Ways to Support a Loved One with Addiction
Nature or Nature? What Causes Addiction?
Family Issues
Family Therapy

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