Your loved one is doing a lot of work in treatment and will face a number of challenges in the transition back into an unstructured environment. At River Oaks, we understand this and work to make this transition a smoother one. We also count on families to support their loved ones in their recovery efforts after rehab ends.
What Is the Discharge Process?
At River Oaks, no one is put out on the street after treatment ends. We do not leave your loved one without a planned aftercare program. Every client leaves with a detailed aftercare plan. Aftercare is a step-down process that does not require you — as a family member — to find programs that suit the client’s needs. In fact, we work to arrange aftercare programs for each and every client through our case management team. However, we encourage you to understand your loved one’s plan and offer support in following it.
Your loved one’s discharge plan will be discussed with them regularly while they are still in treatment. We will also be able to discuss it with you if your loved one signs a release of information (or ROI) form, requesting that we share this information with you.
Ways to Support Your Loved One
You are likely focused on the ways in which you’ll be able to best support your loved one after their treatment has ended. It is important to be aware of how your loved one will require support, but you must also think of yourself and your needs in order to help both you and your loved one. Here are a few things to consider.
- Be empathetic and nonjudgmental. When your loved one returns from treatment, they will need you to show them that you care about them and that you do not judge them for getting help. Rather, express to them how proud you are that they took the steps needed to begin their recovery.
- Be supportive. Make sure to provide not just logistical support but emotional support to your loved one. They need you now more than ever as a source of acceptance, love, and kindness, as it may be difficult for them to feel these things about themselves. Addiction leads people to do many things they aren’t proud of, and they may think of these often, shaming themselves for things they did while influenced by drugs or alcohol. Your consistent emotional support may help them restore their self-esteem, let go of shame, and move forward in their recovery.
- Keep your boundaries and make consequences clear. While you want to show your loved one support, you will also need to set clear boundaries, so you do not end up enabling your loved one or end up slipping into old destructive habits.
- Consider getting help for yourself. One of the best ways that you can help your loved one is to help yourself. Professional therapy as well as attending Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings are great ways to work through your own feelings about their addiction and start to heal.
Understand the Nature of Relapse
Relapse is a part of many people’s journey to recovery. This is why a relapse should not be seen as a failure. You can be helpful by supporting your loved one’s journey and by being realistic about the possibility of relapse. Discussing relapse with your loved one can help as well.
Still, this does not mean you can’t help them avoid relapse as much as possible. For example, you will want to avoid any temptations by removing all alcohol or drugs from your home before your loved one arrives. Another great way to help a loved one avoid relapse is to watch for warning signs of impending relapse and to get your loved one connected to support immediately if you notice them. These can include many of the same behaviors your loved one may have participated in when they started using drugs, including withdrawing from relationships with sober friends, taking money or medications from you or others, new problems at work, etc.
Addiction is often called a “family disease” because its impact reaches into the network of the addicted individual, causing distress and fear among those who love them. If you love someone who has struggled with addiction, you are likely to have experienced a consistently high level of stress and may feel that your relationship is straining. Therapy with your loved one can help you address lingering issues appropriately and learn to deal with emerging issues in healthier, more constructive ways.
At River Oaks, we provide aftercare options to every client, so making sure your loved one becomes involved in these — and involving yourself in them as well — is a great way to help prevent relapse and keep your friend, significant other, or family member on the right track.
Attending to Your Own Needs
Addiction can be as stressful and traumatic for family members as it is for the addicted person. It can take a toll on your health, your job, and your finances. As stated above, it is important to learn to set healthy boundaries and to support yourself as well as your loved one. Attending therapy on your own can help you learn to set these boundaries and let go of any guilt and shame you may be holding onto in relation to your loved one’s addiction.
We recommend seeking out groups near you where you can get support from those going through similar struggles. One of these is Al-Anon, an off-shoot of Alcoholics Anonymous that is specifically designed to help the loved ones of alcoholics.
Nar-Anon and Co-Dependents Anonymous are two other groups focused on helping the loved ones of drug addicts and co-dependents, respectively.
In addition, seeking professional therapy is an important option for individuals adjusting to loved ones with addictions who are ready to return home.