My loved one is coming out of rehab, what do I do now?
After a loved one has been to rehab, you may feel nervous about them coming home. Remember, their recovery is an ongoing process, and they will need your support. Here are some suggestions on how to best back them in their sobriety:
Adopt the “one day at a time” approach. Some days will be easier and some days will be harder, but each day your loved one can maintain sobriety after rehab is a blessing.
Be realistic in your expectations that we’ve set for someone just out of rehab, such as their stringent sobriety, or our lives being back to “normal”, are simply premeditated resentments.
Even after undergoing treatment and maintaining sobriety whilst in rehab, your loved one may still be dealing with physical withdrawal symptoms such as extreme fatigue. Be supportive and encouraging when you can, but only to the point it is healthy to do so.
Learn about PAWS (Post-Acute-Withdrawal Syndrome) and know how to recognize it. In short, it refers to a cluster of non-physical withdrawal symptoms (usually mental or emotional) that persist when someone comes off alcohol and/or drugs. There is a good chance someone returning from rehab into real world will experience some form of PAWS. By being aware of this largely mood-related syndrome you will be better prepared for it, and halt any negative reaction from you.
Don’t expect immediate and complete recovery. The addiction didn’t happen overnight and it will take time to get everyone who has been affected healthy again. The brain and the body need time to heal after rehab.
Be kind, gentle, and loving to the person returning from rehab. If you start to feel anger towards the person, ask yourself “Is this what love would do?”
However, you are not expected to be abused or taken advantage of. Be sure to set boundaries with your loved one and do what you need to do to enforce them.
Be prepared to guard against jealousy should you’re loved one choses to attend support meetings like AA or NA over spending time with you. It is best you remain encouraging and be happy for them as they continue to seek help after rehab. Keep in mind the number one priority for them is staying sober.
Avoid being resentful if your loved one spends a majority of their time with group members from their addictive support group. Remember, they had around the clock support at their disposal in rehab, and support is crucial to their recovery on the outside. Also, nothing is stopping you from planning your own events and activities.
Keep the focus on yourself. Breaking the “enmeshment” that often comes with alcoholism and addiction is critical to achieving serenity.
Remember that relapse is often part of recovery. It may seem that things are getting worse but they most likely are not. The time spent in rehab can be a positive influence in an addict’s life, but that doesn’t make them perfect, and the first time isn’t always a charm. Patience, love, support, and allowing them to make their own mistakes is key.
Abstain from controlling or forcing recovery. Create an action plan for how YOU will handle your loved one relapsing while they are still in rehab. Be resourceful and have well-thought-out boundaries set in advance by consulting with professionals or others with more knowledge and experience with this type of situation.
Don’t be overprotective or try to shelter your loved one after they return from rehab. If your loved one struggles with alcoholism, and you get invited to a party that serves alcohol, you can still go if you want to. He or she can chose not to attend with you, but even a recovering alcoholic must learn to live in the world outside of rehab where alcohol is served.
Let go of disappointments and setbacks and push forward!
Stay in the moment, remember to breath, and keep a gratitude journal. When you feel stressed or need to redirect your focus, say the serenity prayer. Where focus goes energy flows!