Recovery from addiction is a long and arduous journey. Patients aren’t suddenly cured after rehabilitation. In reality, returning home from residential treatment is just the first step towards recovery.
Residential treatment centres such as DayHab are designed to break addiction cycles by introducing structure to the lives of their clients. Residents engage in daily routines and periodic counselling. They are encouraged to attend workshops and group therapy. These activities condition the mind and the body to establish healthy new routines while in recovery.
Returning home from a recovery program can be very challenging as there is a great transition between the structured environment of a rehab centre and everyday life. There are fewer restrictions at home. There are also many circumstances that can trigger a relapse.
After rehab, the individual will need a supportive environment to prevent a relapse. Family members, friends and loved ones play a crucial role in this.
If you know someone who is coming home from rehab, here are a few things that you can do to provide support.
Transform your home environment
Life at home is very different from life in the rehab centre, but there are a number of ways to transform your home and make it conducive for recovery.
Remove all signs of the object of addiction
Seeing or smelling the object of addiction can easily trigger a relapse. Keep your house free of these triggers.
Be a good influence
Your presence can definitely influence others, and you can be a source of motivation by attending support groups, avoiding addictive substances, eating well and exercising regularly.
Engage in healthy activities
You can find time for healthy activities and invite the person to join you. There are many activities that can help lessen stress and keep you occupied. You can jog, bike, play a sport, cook, meditate, or do something that appeals to your interests. Do these activities together and do them regularly.
It’s normal to feel angry and frustrated when taking care of someone who’s struggling with addiction. Try your best not to direct your anger towards that person—no good will come of it. Remain positive and remember that it is ultimately up to your loved one to stay substance-free. If you are finding it hard to be supportive, join the Family Support offered by DayHab once a month.
Provide an alternate release for stress
Relapses commonly happen when an individual is under heavy stress. Many individuals who struggle with addiction try to cope with stress by resorting to substance misuse. A recently treated individual may resort to the same behaviour when they experience a stressful situation.
It’s impossible for the individual to avoid stress altogether, so what you can do is help them find a healthy way to manage stress. It’s best to do the activity with the person. You can try meditating or relaxation training. You can do time management exercises if maintaining a schedule is the source of stress. You can go to the gym to work out. You can try creative pursuits like painting.
Once they have found a constructive way to deal with stress, encourage them to make it a habit. Getting them accustomed to refreshed daily routine helps enormously in recovery.
Avoid certain people, objects and places
Try to avoid people, objects and places that are related to the individual’s addiction. All of these can cause a relapse. If your loved one is addicted to gambling, then avoid casinos, playing cards and people who love to gamble. If your loved one is addicted to drugs, then avoid anyone they used to share this behaviour with. If it’s alcohol, then avoid bars, clubs, pubs and anyone who used to drink with the individual.
Doing this can be very difficult, but it is crucial to recovery.
Be mindful around celebrations and holidays
For alcoholics in particular, though positive in nature, events such as birthday parties or weddings can be triggers too. Be vigilant during these events as even a small sip can easily lead to a full-on relapse.
Taking care of a person who is struggling with addiction can get very stressful. Don’t forget to look after yourself too. Treat yourself once in a while, and stay healthy.
You can join a support group to widen your support system and learn healthy coping skills to manage your emotions.
If you are a family member, consider going to family therapy with the individual you are taking care of. Besides further strengthening your own support system, it is always best to seek the aid of professionals.
Don’t be controlling
At the end of the day, it’s still up to the recovering individual to remain addiction-free. Remember that recovery is a process, and it differs from person to person. Try not to be overly controlling of the person’s environment. Following the individual’s every move is counterproductive. Create the best environment for your loved one and let them grow and recover at their own pace.
Also remember that recovery isn’t a smooth path. There will be difficult times. It is during those times that your loved one will need the most love and support. Do not judge the person when they are being difficult. It’s all a part of the recovery. Take it one day at a time.
Be open and accepting
Show that you are easy to talk to and that you are there to listen and empathise. Someone recovering from addiction will need a listening ear. While it is important to acknowledge that you may not always be equipped with the knowledge or experience to provide support on your own, and when needed, it is important to seek the assistance of those who have the proper training. Just make sure that your loved one knows that you are there, for them! Educate yourself and try to put yourself in their shoes. Avoid judgment. Always come from a place of love, care and acceptance, instead of control and punishment.
Remember that this is not your fight, but theirs. Do not fight their battle for them. Instead, help your loved one by giving them the best chance to succeed.