After completing a residential addiction treatment program, the transition back home is a critical time in the recovery process. As a loved one or family member to someone who is struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction or a process addiction, you play an important role in this phase.
There are many things that you as a family member or friend can do to support someone completing residential addiction treatment that will not only help them avoid relapse and but also help with your own healing. While it’s natural to feel many emotions – like nerves, fear or anger – above all, it’s about providing your loved one with the best platform for maintaining their sobriety and a healthy lifestyle.
Here are five ways to effectively support a loved one after residential treatment and help them on their path to recovery.
1. Start your own treatment or recovery program
Addiction is a disease that impacts the entire family system. As such, loved ones need help too. Family-centred treatment programs, such as the Cedars Discovery Program, educate participants about addiction and provide family members with the tools to begin their own journey of recovery. Along with the personal benefits, an addict in recovery reuniting with a family who has the education and skills to support them has a much better chance at success.
2. Learn the difference between helping and enabling
When it comes to someone you love, it can be difficult to tell when you are genuinely helping them or when you are in fact enabling. The first step? Knowing the difference. To enable someone is to protect them from experiencing the full weight of the consequences for their actions. In an addicted family system we may try to protect our loved ones from the possibility of pain, but when it comes to addiction, this proves to be more hurtful than helpful. A common phrase taught to family members impacted by addiction is “I will do whatever it takes to support you in your recovery, and nothing to enable your addiction”. What this can look like varies for each family, and it is important to establish boundaries and a plan of what being supportive in recovery would mean for you. Focus on helping, rather than enabling, in order to empower the addict to take responsibility for their own actions.
3. Follow your own recovery plan
As part of our residential treatment recovery program at Cedars, we sit down with each individual to develop a comprehensive and individualized after-care plan for when they return home. But it’s also beneficial for you to have your own recovery plan. Support groups such as Al-Anon or CODA can provide a wide range of tools to create your own recovery plan, and also the opportunity to interact with other families going through the recovery process.
4. Practice love and forgiveness
Harbouring old feelings from the past of pain and anger will only hold you and your loved one back. Even if this isn’t their first time returning from treatment, you need to create a positive environment without judgement and blame. Express your love, boost their confidence and let them know you understand the challenges they are facing and that you are also ready to move forward together on this new path in recovery.
5. Reach out for support
Just as the individual in recovery will require support from family and friends, it’s also important for family members to have their own support systems. Having someone, or a group, that you can talk to and lean on in times of stress can help you cope with and process the emotional effects of addiction. You also set a good example for your loved one and others, who may be too afraid to ask for help.
Together, we can support changes that allow everyone to thrive as the entire family breaks the chains of addiction. Please visit the Cedars Discovery website to explore our family program offerings.