As a family member of someone who has just completed treatment at an addiction facility, you may be wondering how to best support them as they transition into outpatient treatment.
While your willingness to support your loved one is invaluable to their success on their sobriety journey, it’s also important for your own health that you avoid caregiver burnout. Your loved one will also ultimately have to learn how to cope on their own. That being said, there are many ways in which you can support them to give them the best chance of avoiding a relapse while still taking care of yourself.
Stages of Addiction Treatment
Having a basic understanding of the stages of addiction treatment will help you gain an appreciation for the work your family member is putting in and give you insight on how to treat them during outpatient treatment and beyond.
The first stage of treatment is detoxification, where the patient stops taking the substance they are addicted to. They are likely to undergo moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms, which may be treated by medical staff at the facility to ease discomfort. At this stage, it is unlikely you will have contact with the patient.
After detox, the patient will enter the inpatient program where they live full-time at the facility. During this stage, they will attend intensive group and individual therapy sessions to treat the mental aspects of addiction. When they’ve established the skills and tools to maintain sobriety in the real world, they’ll transition into the outpatient program.
In the outpatient stage, your family member will leave the facility but will regularly return for therapy, addiction education, and regular drug tests. The intensive outpatient program is designed for patients who need a little extra support. During this time, you should know that your loved one has developed new coping mechanisms and is well-equipped to maintain sobriety. However, sometimes unexpected triggers can come up. Dealing with these triggers is easier for patients when they have family support.
How to Support Loved Ones Post-Treatment
1) Attend Family Therapy Sessions
Addiction doesn’t just impact the individual – it also impacts relationships. After leaving the treatment facility, patients are most successful when they have a healthy and supportive family dynamic. Attending family therapy helps facilitate difficult conversations while also providing the family with education and resources on addiction support.
If you’ve never attended therapy before, the thought of doing so may be uncomfortable. Though talking about emotions is difficult, family therapy sessions are one of the best tools for supporting your newly sober loved one.
2) Lend an Ear
Sometimes all your family member needs is someone to listen. Be an active listener by sympathizing and building your family member up when they express their struggles, and celebrating their achievements with them.
3) Create a Drug-/Alcohol-Free Environment
After family support, cultivating a clean environment is crucial for long-term success for recovering addicts. Even though you may enjoy a drink when you watch the football game, if you’re having your loved one over, keep it dry.
If you live together, keep all substances out of the house to prevent a potential relapse.
4) Choose Love Over Judgment
One of the biggest fears that newly sober addicts have is letting down their family and friends by relapsing. Let your loved one know that you’re there for them and love them unconditionally, no matter what happens.
Seeking out addiction education for yourself can be helpful for understanding that addiction is a disease and not a personal failing. By choosing not to judge your loved one, they will feel safe to come forward when they need a little extra help.
5) Let them be Independent
While you may fear a relapse, micro-managing your family member’s addiction isn’t helpful for anyone. Not only will your lack of faith in them cause them to question their ability to stay sober, but you’ll also burden yourself by putting too much responsibility for their success on your shoulders.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, your family member who has just come out of an addiction treatment center needs to learn to support themselves. Though their sobriety is their responsibility, you can be there to help along the way. By treating them as a functioning adult who has the tools to maintain sobriety while still offering love and support, you’ll be well-positioned to help them help themself.
To inquire about or enroll in the family therapy program, contact the Robert Alexander Center for Recovery today.