Whether we have a loved one or family member in recovery from addiction or are the immediate or extended members of the family, the days, weeks and months following our loved one’s return home from drug rehab are critically important. This is the time when they need nurturance, love and support more than ever.
How can we help? Here are some ways that family can provide just what a loved one returning from drug rehab needs:
Reinforce the strength of family connection.
In our culture and community, nothing is more important than family. We will stand by our family, look out for them, protect them and do all that we can for them above all else – even at the expense of ourselves. When our loved one returns home after drug rehab, we need to show our strong family connection, reinforcing it in the event that it has been damaged. Research shows that strong family support is one of the most important pillars of addiction recovery.
Treat our loved one with respect and dignity.
Going through detox and rehab has been a life-changing experience for our loved one. After returning home, feelings of vulnerability, guilt, shame, depression and anxiety are often displayed. This is a critical time to treat our loved one with respect and dignity. This will help speed the healing process that’s already begun.
Show love and affection without criticism.
We love to show our affection for our children and family members. It’s part of who we are. With our newly sober loved one, this has never been more critical. Make it a point to demonstrate our affection and our love freely, without any overt or subtle criticism. Love is a powerful tool to help heal all types of wounds, physical, mental and emotional. Knowing that they are loved without reservation will also aid in the recovery journey.
Be sensitive to the needs and wants of our loved one.
We cannot expect life to just go back to normal, to be the same as it was before for our loved one – or for the rest of the family. This requires sensitivity on our part to what our loved one needs and wants upon returning home and for the next few weeks and months. Schedules and routines will need to be created and adhered to. Healthier lifestyle choices must be made. Learning to communicate better, to prioritize tasks, improve decision-making and other recovery skills takes time. We need to allow for a learning curve, and be supportive without becoming judgmental.
Be patient and understanding.
Our home wasn’t built overnight and neither will our loved one’s physical/mental/spiritual well-being be made whole upon returning home. We can advance this healing process by exercising patience and understanding. Things will get better. Our loved one will get stronger. And it will be due, at least in small part, to the level of understanding and patience we display.
Tend to our spiritual needs.
For those with strong spiritual convictions, religion plays an important part in addiction recovery. During early recovery, the spiritual needs of everyone in the family continue to require attention. Take part in regular church and other spiritual activities. Give thanks to a Higher Power for the blessings bestowed upon our family and the fact that our loved one has returned to us and is on the path to healing.
Ensure all appointments and schedules are met.
Whether our loved one needs to go to regular doctor’s appointments or requires a reminder and/or a lift to self-help support group meetings, family members can pitch in and offer to help. The important point is that the newly sober loved one adheres to the recovery schedule they worked out during drug rehab. As time goes on, these schedules and regimens may change, but they still need to be kept. We can help make sure this happens. It’s all part of being a caring and loving family.