When Your Loved One Comes Home from Rehab
How to prepare when your loved one comes home from rehab
Returning home following rehab treatment is a huge step, not just for your loved one but also for you. It marks a significant milestone in recovery, but it can be perilous. Your loved one will be leaving an environment that is designed to help their recovery and where they were always in a strong support system. You’ll be wondering exactly what happens after rehab.
Returning home to their normal life is, obviously, the goal of recovery, but it means returning to the home where they had an addiction. Inside and outside the home will be the temptations and triggers that caused so many problems in the past.
And it will be hard for you too. You will be pleased they are returning home, but worried too. Will the situation be awkward? Will you be able to trust them again? Will you be able to provide the support they need?
Lots will have changed for both of you since they entered treatment. But there are also lots of things you can do to make sure those changes work out for the better.
Before your loved one returns home from rehab
You need to make sure you are prepared for your loved one’s return, psychologically and physically. It’s worth researching what to expect for your particular situation, and you may well receive information from your loved one’s treatment provider1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852519/.
Prepare other people for the return, especially children. While you should be positive about the return home, you should always be honest about the difficulties. Use appropriate language, so they are prepared that there may be difficult moments and the ways they can help, but also know those difficult moments will not be their fault.
You should also thoroughly clean the house. Not just for the sake of dusting — although it’s nice to come back to a clean home — but to make sure there are a no elements of your loved one’s addiction left. Addicts often hide drugs or alcohol, so finding and removing this will remove temptation and prevent impulsive relapses. This will also include any alcohol or drugs you might have. Ideally, you should remove them from the house, but if you require medication make sure it’s secure.
Finally, research the local support that will be available to your loved one. That way you will both know where the local groups or resources they can call on are.
When they get home from rehab
The first thing you will want to do is welcome them back, but there are several things you will need to do sooner than later.
Communication will be the key — every day. Start by being open and honest about everything. Some discussions will be difficult, but the more you communicate, the stronger the foundation of trust and the easier it will be.
A simple, but often overlooked, question is to ask what they want. Frequently people will think they know what their partner wants, or that they know best. Actually, you should establish from your loved one what they want and need from you. Some people might ask to be closely watched, valuing the additional support to help them through a difficult time. Others will want space, so they can find their own way to live an addiction-free life. Most will need a little of both.
Establishing how your loved one wants to adapt to their new life, how you can support them and what you might need to watch out for will make the process easier, and more likely to be successful.
But do not forget your own needs. It is your home and relationship too. Establish clear boundaries, so both sides know what is acceptable. For example, you might be happy to give them space, but you will worry and therefore would ask them to check in or be home by a certain time.
Living your new life together
Recovery is a process and will have its ups and downs. Like when they first arrived, continue making the effort to keep communication open and honest; use that communication to welcome the ups and learn from the downs. And always make sure you live in the present and look to the future, avoid nagging them about mistakes or reminding them of how they hurt you in the past.
You should, however, make them be responsible and accountable for their actions. Your role is support them, not to direct their life or to clean up their mess. You will need to give them space, and they have to be accountable for what they do with that space.
Many people find it helpful to establish a routine. A strict routine is a common feature of rehab and while the routine at home might not be as strict having something in place will help. A routine can reinforce expectations, from simply playing a role in keeping the house tidy to placing boundaries on the space they have. It also helps keep them mentally and physically active. A lack of structure may leave them with the body or mind wandering to something that triggers their addictive behaviors again. Beware also about past memories and identifications that may trigger euphoric recall.
Once again, don’t forget to think about your own recovery. Although you might not be the one returning from treatment, you will have been affected by the addiction. It’s important to make sure you also use this time to adapt to your new life. Take care not to fall into traps that might have caught you in the past, like enabling their addictive behavior or becoming co-dependent.
One of the best things you can do for your loved one is to provide support and encouragement. But don’t forget to direct some of that back towards you and don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for it, either. Often, family systems therapy can help restructure the family dynamics in a positive way.
Returning home from rehab can be challenging for everyone. Maintaining good communication with honest conversations, recognizing that the difficulties are shared between everyone and approaching them together will make the challenges easier to face and make it that much more likely the return home will be successful.
Exposing the Family Effect of Addiction | Sam Fowler |
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