by Nicole Arzt
Over 2.5 million individuals receive treatment for substance use each year, though experts strongly suspect that many, many, many more people could benefit from such support.
While an abundance of information exists for those expecting to enter treatment themselves, there is significantly less discussion about what this process looks like for the affected loved ones.
Let’s get into some of this uncertainty.
My Loved One Is in Rehab. What should I expect?
While all rehabs vary in their programming and specialties, each setting typically includes:
- Defining and committing to recovery
- Learning and implementing new coping skills
- Groups and individual therapies
- Outside meeting attendance
- Experiential activities, such as exercise, art, and yoga
- Privilege systems (access to phones or going out on pass)
- Access to a treatment team, typically via case manager, therapist, psychiatrist, and various support staff.
Your Relationship May Change
In treatment, clients can expect to experience tremendous growth through critical analysis of their past, present, and future selves.
They are encouraged to talk openly about their deepest vulnerabilities and greatest sources of shame. Many groups and therapies focus on the interpersonal dynamics in families, intimate relationships, friendships, and even acquaintances coworkers.
As a result, as individuals rediscover their identities, it is normal for them to reevaluate their relationships with others. This may mean some temporary distancing or changing of boundaries. It may also entail redefining the parameters and understanding of your relationship.
This is normal, and it is healthy. As your loved one learns to lean on positive sober and clinical support, they learn to depend less on you for things you may not be able to provide.
Your Loved One May Change in Different Ways Than Expected
One of the greatest misconceptions individuals quickly learn is that recovery entails so much more than just eliminating the drugs and alcohol.
Rehab settings can be so efficient because they represent a controlled, structured, and safe environment. This type of setting, while not necessarily practical to recreate in the real world, provides a framework for the discipline and routine often necessary in recovery.
Changes, therefore, may include changing relationships, jobs, or hobbies. They may include changing location and even changing spiritual beliefs.
Again, recovery so often integrates rebranding and reestablishing the self. Individuals who commit to the recovery process often learn that certain elements of their life must change to offset relapse risk.
As a loved one, you can show your support by keeping curious and open-minded about these possible changes- even if you don’t necessarily agree with all of them. Ask questions. Ask for feedback. Ask how they’re growing. You might be surprised at what he or she wants to happily share!
Boundaries Matter. A lot
Your loved one may start asking you for things you feel uncomfortable providing. You may be asked for money or visits or promises to come home.
Rehab strengthens the individual’s ability to set healthy boundaries with others, but it is important for you, as the loved one, to know your boundaries as well. Brushing up on understanding addiction never hurts. In fact, it can create an even deeper relationship and mutual respect.
Boundaries keep communication clear and effective. It also assures that you are taking care of your own needs and health, which are crucial for your own well-being during this process.
Our treatment teams at Windward Way Recovery happily assist loved ones with open discussion about boundaries and how to show support. Utilize these resources!
Sobriety Is Not Guaranteed
While this is not the ideal outcome, it is an outcome nonetheless, and it is important to be prepared for if the worst case scenario does happen.
With that being said, be wary of any treatment program or professional who promises sobriety or 100% success rates.This is simply untrue. Recovery from addiction is up to your loved one; while he or she may have the support and tools needed, this does not provide a guarantee.
If you are struggling to envision what you should or would do if relapse does occur, it is highly recommended to reach out for your own support. Recommendations include Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, individual and family therapy.