How Does my Environment Affect My Recovery?12 October 2021
What is the Blue Mind?22 August 2022
How to help when rehab ends.
How to Support Your Loved-One after Rehab
it is a beautiful thing to watch a loved one choose to start their recovery journey. Enrolling in a rehabilitation program can be a crucial first step, but it is still only the beginning. Life after rehab will be a learning experience for your loved ones, which challenges them to avoid the temptation to fall back into using substances. You can help them to ease the transition back into the real world if you have a sense of what to do when they come home.
How can I support my loved one?
It is great to have goals and ideas of how to support your loved one but even the best intentions may fall short without careful planning. The goal is to create a positive environment for them when they return home. Here are some actionable steps to take as you prepare for their return:
Clean their space
If you live with your loved one or if you have access to their living space, it is important to clean their space house and make it comfortable and safe. The main goal is to eliminate any items such as drugs or paraphernalia. You want to make sure you go through your home as much as you can; you might be surprised what hiding spots they used for drugs that you had no idea about. If possible, try and get some help with this task; it will feel less overwhelming and it’s always good to have a second pair of eyes looking out for things you may have missed. Removing any temptation from their space could be the difference between a passing drug craving and a relapse. it is also worth talking to your loved one about their triggers, as they may flag up some things that might not even have occurred to you.
Lock up prescription medications
Early recovery is a journey; there will be days when your loved one is highly motivated and full of resolve, but there will also be days when cravings feel unbearable. It is worth discussing this with them first and explaining why you chose to put away the medications but making them less accessible is a proactive way to protect them in early recovery. Reassure your loved one that this decision doesn’t mean you don’t trust them, or that you think they don’t have any self-control. Remind them that you are aware of the complex nature of addiction, and that addiction is a disease that takes time to heal from.
Keep the communication open
One of the worst things for your loved one is for them to feel isolated as they embark on their recovery journey. You may have both said and done things that damaged your relationship before they went into rehab. They may have broken your trust several times and created an environment of ineffective communication. As time goes on it is important to rebuild trust with them, by asking questions about their recovery journey. Encourage them as much as you can to join a sober community and get involved in new hobbies. You must also create and enforce any boundaries that you need for your own wellbeing- you can only support them when you are mentally and physically sound yourself.
Encourage a daily routine
While they were in rehab, your loved one likely followed a strict daily routine. This routine would have encouraged healthy habits such as proper nutrition and sleep, interactions with the people around them, and recreational activities. It is not necessary to replicate their old routine exactly; it would be unrealistic to try. However, you can certainly incorporate aspects of this routine in your loved one’s lifestyle. Try to encourage them to keep physically and mentally stimulated. They could join a workout class or take walks outside. They could pick up a daily hobby, such as gardening or playing an instrument. You can help them craft nutritious recipes or even cook for them. If you notice them drifting of from their routine, encourage them to get back on track.
Set and enforce healthy boundaries
Your loved one has likely spent some time in rehab learning the importance of accountability. It is completely normal to have lost trust for your loved ones because of their past drug-seeking behaviors. Rebuilding that trust is a process that doesn’t happen overnight; it will require lots of time and patience. Boundaries can look different depending on the people enforcing them and the state of their relationship. Healthy boundaries can be as simple as making a request and letting the other party know your expectations. They can also look like strict rules with enforceable consequences. You may not feel comfortable having your loved one live with you after rehab, and that is a choice you may have to make together. If you decide to enforce this boundary and ask your loved one to live elsewhere, you can still support them by finding a sober living environment.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your loved one openly and honestly. You will both be learning a lot about how to navigate this new phase of your relationship, as they will be learning how to navigate sobriety outside of a rehab center. Talk to your loved one to find out how you might be able to help them get their life back on track. Even just knowing that they have someone outside who is committed to their recovery journey can help them through the difficult stages of early recovery.