If you have a friend or loved one who has recently completed rehabilitation treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, you are likely experiencing a range of emotions along with him/her. This time can be exciting, since both you and your relative feel hopeful and optimistic about the future. However, he/she may also be a little nervous or apprehensive about the transition and need specific things from you to help them overcome their fears. Here are some of the ways you can help your family member or friend maintain sobriety after treatment.
1. Don’t Push Family Time
When your loved one returns home after being in rehab, there’s a chance that he/she may not prioritize spending time with family as much as you would like. If you find that your relative is attending lots of meetings and therapy sessions, this is a sign that he/she is serious about staying sober, and you should encourage this.
2. Manage Your Expectations
Remember that your relative may not be completely back to “normal” immediately after rehab. Be patient and allow your loved one the space to figure out to complete everyday tasks again, and make sure you’re available for support if needed as your family learns to be a responsible member of society again.
3. Don’t Avoid Communication
If you’re not sure what to do to help your relative or make him/her feel comfortable after rehab, express this. Let your family member know that this is a transitional period for you as well, and keep the lines of communication open so that conversations will improve over time.
4. Be Honest
You may think that if you say or do something to anger your loved one, you can send him/her into a relapse. Be honest about your feelings without being too harsh. What you have to share could help your relative to see a new perspective and have another reason to stay sober.
5. Don’t Create Your Own Recovery Plan
Unless you are a trained drug counselor, physician or therapist, avoid trying to create your own treatment plan for your loved one. This is especially difficult if your family member is a teenager and still living at home. Remember that everyone achieves sobriety achieves sobriety in their own way and at their own pace. Set realistic goals that your family can reach based on his/her needs and tendencies.
6. Don’t Bring Up the Past
It’s no doubt that you’ve been confused and hurt by your friend’s drug use. Don’t bring up the things he/she did in the past when you’re angry. Keep in mind that your loved one is making the right steps to be sober, and rehab is one of those steps. If your friend or relative is taking the correct steps to move on in life in a positive way, you should be doing the same.
7. Don’t Blame Yourself
If you blame yourself for your family member’s addiction, it’s more likely that they will blame you as well. This could make the recovery process longer and more difficult. By being helpful but not placing blame on yourself, you show your loved one how to take responsibility for his/her actions.
8. Don’t Withhold Affection
Don’t pass up a chance to tell your friend who proud you are of him/her or to be a shoulder to cry on. When he/she sees that you truly care, this will help to make the transition back into the “real world” less scary.
9. Plan Social Events
Your family member may be unsure and afraid about going to social events, especially if there will be alcohol there, or if the friends they used to do drugs will may attend. Ease some of this fear by planning social events and inviting friends and loved ones who will encourage your family members recovery, and ask everyone to refrain from bringing alcoholic beverages to show your relative that it’s possible to have fun without additional substances.
10. Encourage Healthy Habits
Finally, staying sober often means adopting a new way of life, which can include exercising more and eating a balanced diet. Encourage your loved one to do this by being an example and offering to attend workout or nutrition classes with him/her. This will benefit the both of you and help to strengthen your bond.