Learning how to create a safe space for a loved one after they’ve returned home from rehab can be crucial in a successful recovery. Understanding the emotions of yourself and your loved one in this dynamic situation can provide a challenge but, if done with proper nurturance, can lead to a stronger relationship. It’s a normal feeling to want everything to go back to normal but the process of recovery (for both the individual and the family) can be a lifelong journey. To ensure a successful recovery at home, we’ve included some ideas that you can incorporate.
Take Care Of Yourself First
The expression “You can’t pour from an empty cup” reiterates the most important part of being able to support your loved one after they come home from rehab. It’s imperative that you do what you need to do for yourself first and not place the needs of your loved one before yours. That road can lead to a lack of self-care, increased illness and sometimes increases bouts of depression and anxiety. If you’re experiencing severe challenges of your own, how are you going to be able to support your loved one? Taking care of your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental needs will boost your ability to provide the best support for your loved one on their journey of recovery.
Remember That They Are Human, Not Monsters
This reminder will be needed throughout the recovery process. Human beings are perfect with all their imperfections, and we make mistakes, sometimes over and over again. The road to recovery isn’t a straight path and there may be times when small lapses of relapse occur, which is a normal part of recovery. Of course, it’s okay to get frustrated or angry with your loved one, and for your well-being you may need to take space if he/she is actively using. However, treating them like an outcast or disgrace will not generate any positive outcomes, for the individual or the family. It’s best to continue creating that safe space and keep the communication open and loving.
Education About Substance Abuse Is A Must
While your loved one is in rehab it is recommended to learn what you can about substance abuse and recovery, there’s a lot to cover. Feeling worried, scared or angry is understandable and normal. The more knowledge you have the better you will be able to support them with the love that they require.
Be Careful To Not Use Your Love And Comfort As A Weapon
Having a strong awareness of your emotions is critical when providing your loved one support after coming home from rehab. There could be moments where things get heated and you’ll need to bite your tongue. If you find yourself saying things like “if you loved me, you’d never use again”, please be aware that this is destructive behaviour that will backfire. It’s better to take a couple of deep breaths before reacting and then conveying your concerns with love. Learning about their love language and providing them with the love they need can optimise their recovery.
Support But Do Not Enable
People who are in their early phases of recovery need emotional and material support. This type of support can be helpful and healthy, but a boundary needs to be established. Let your loved one know that you will only support their recovery efforts and nothing else is required. Again, having a strong sense of your emotional awareness is largely important here because you’ll want to do everything you can to help, but sometimes the best thing is to let them do what they need to do.
Reduce Environmental Triggers
Before they come home from rehab it’s imperative to remove any possible triggers in the home. That means removing any alcohol or drugs and abstaining from using alcohol or drugs yourself. If you want to drink, call a friend and go out, do not drink in the presence of your loved one in recovery. It’s also a good idea to keep any prescription medication out of sight.
Learning From Mistakes Is Important
Although you can prepare your home for the most successful recovery as you possibly can, life will happen, and your loved one can experience certain triggers. They may be able to manage them, or they may fall into them. Your job isn’t to catch them when they fall but to reach out a hand so they can get back up. This whole process is about rewiring their neural pathways, so sometimes mistakes will happen and it’s a normal part of recovery. Allow your loved one to develop the ability to speak about their addictions without shame. Providing them with that safe space will help them bounce back even quicker in the future.
Recovery Support Can Be A Lifelong Process
Recovering from an addiction is a gradual change that isn’t linear. With the right type of support and love, recovery can be achieved. Results from a multi-year study show that ⅔ recovering addicts will likely relapse within their first year. As time and abstinence go on the chances of relapsing drops. However, it might take several relapses before finding an effective treatment formula that keeps your loved one on track. Being consistent and stable in life is difficult to achieve- even for sober people. Albeit it, the journey to recovery may not be easy but it can be worth it. If your loved one can do it, perhaps they can help others do it too.
For additional information or support, we invite you to reach out to us via our website Simcoe Addiction and Mental Health, Ontario’s luxury addiction rehabilitation centre.
Bibin K. Ittiavira, Clinical Therapist MSW, RSW. Simcoe Addiction and Mental Health.