Creating a Positive Environment that Prevents Relapse When Your Loved One Gets Home
Many people assume that the war on drugs greatly diminished the amount of drug abuse that takes place in America, but that simply isn’t the case. More than 72,000 people died in 2017 from a drug overdose, proving that drug abuse is still thriving in the United States.
It’s important for people to get the help they need to overcome an addiction to any drug as soon as they can, so they don’t end up becoming just another statistic. Going to an inpatient drug treatment facility can be a great way for someone to get the help they need, but the fight doesn’t stop during treatment.
Addicts need to have a strong support system when they get out of rehab in order to have optimal success with their recovery. It can be hard for a family to know what steps to take to help support their loved ones when they get out of recovery but making an effort to let the person know that they are loved and supported is essential.
Below are a few tips to use when you have a loved one coming home from rehab to ensure you do everything you can to promote long-term recovery from their drug addiction.
Getting Your Home Ready in 6 Easy Steps
1. Clean the House: You may think it is strange but the first thing you should do is clean your house. When you have a loved one coming home after rehab there are changes that need to be made to the home to make it a comfortable and safe living environment for them. You first want to make sure that the house is as clean as it can possibly be.
One of the things that people in active addiction like to do is hide their stuff or paraphernalia. If your loved one was addicted to heroin, you may find syringes under the couch, in the air vents, behind furniture, hidden in the garage, stashed in the backyard – you name it, it could have been a hiding place for drugs, alcohol, and/or drug-related items.
By doing a thorough cleaning of your house you could directly impact the difference between a 3-minute craving and a relapse. Removing those temptations before they return could be the best thing for them and your family. Not only is it dangerous to have drug-related items hidden randomly in the house but removing that temptation could save a life from overdose
2. Encourage a Routine: In rehab, a daily routine is important for a successful recovery. Many people can get stuck in their head about their substance abuse history. They tend to focus on negative thought patterns like their raw feelings regarding their period of active addiction or being able to handle daily stressors. Those negative thought patterns could push them right into a relapse. Having a set daily routine can promote a healthy lifestyle in recovery. Healthy routines after treatment can entail making the bed, cleaning, maintaining a job, fellowship meetings, gym time, school or household responsibilities. Staying mentally and physically busy can mean the difference between a fulfilling life in recovery and relapse. Help your addicted loved one stay treatment focused by keeping them busy.
3. Locking Up Prescription Pills: Many people are on the fence about whether they should lock up their prescription pills when their loved one returns from rehab. Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but the simple answer is yes. Being in early recovery is a journey; on any journey, there will be ups and downs and trials and temptations. Your loved one has to want to stay sober, that doesn’t mean you can’t help them along on this journey. Removing their access to painkillers, anti-depressants, or even alcohol will decrease the potential of relapse. As you begin to trust their mindset in recovery you may be comfortable enough to stop locking up your prescription pills.
4. Practicing Open Communication: Active addiction is all about isolation and deception, so practicing open communication and inclusion should be at the top of the priority list. You must talk to your loved one about potential triggers, their struggles, life goals, healthy boundaries, what do they fear the most about relapse, what you fear the most about their relapse, when they are uncomfortable, and where they should turn to for continued care or co-occurring disorder problems. Encourage them to get involved in volunteer work, religious events, hobbies, and/or sober community functions and meetings. The last place they need to be is bored and restless in their room. Practicing open communication with your addicted loved one will not only mend the relationship but also rebuild trust in each other.
5. Setting Healthy Boundaries: ABTRS is sure you have heard how important it is to establish healthy boundaries. A big part of living a life of recovery is being accountable for your actions and being proud of the time and effort into maintaining their sobriety. Sometimes healthy boundaries look like strict rules with consequences and other times it looks like leaving the nest. Many family members no longer trust their loved ones because of the drug-seeking behaviors that go with active addiction. Many loved ones ask, if they do not house their loved one, will they relapse? That is a difficult question but like all difficult questions, there are complex answers.
The stress of not having a safe place to live can indeed cause a relapse but rehab teaches your loved one how to properly cope with the stress that they might experience once they leave treatment. Sometimes it is better to leave the environment that promoted their active addiction lifestyle. In rehab, your loved one is encouraged to consider a sober living home and we highly encourage you to do the same for your loved one.
Sober living establishments provide your loved one with a strict routine similar to the one in rehab, surrounded by people who are also in recovery, drug, and substance-free environment, and more often than not, sober livings have in-house fellowship meetings. Just because you do not house your loved one, doesn’t mean your loved one with turn back to active addiction. That healthy boundary of living apart could be the best thing for your relationship that is on the mend.
Decreasing triggers around the house: If your loved one does continue to reside with you and your family, consider decreasing triggers that could cause a relapse. Talking to your addicted loved one about their triggers could ensure a happy healthy environment to live in. Triggers vary from person to person but some common triggers are:
- Easy access to alcohol and pills.
- Friendly visits from people they used to drink or get high with.
- Things they used to do drugs ( straws, syringes, pill cutters, grinders, pipes ).
6. Search for Local Fellowship Groups & Meetings: In rehab, your loved one was introduced to fellowship support groups and the value of attending a meeting. Exploring your area for local AA, CMA, HA, or NA support groups could demonstrate to your addicted love one that you are here to support them and that you know what they need in early recovery. Know that your loved one should be held accountable for finding the right sponsor and working their steps but you can encourage them to get involved in the sober community in your area the moment they return.
Getting Yourself Ready
It’s important to realize that when a loved one is returning home after rehab, it affects more than just them; your entire family will be affected by their return and you need to properly prepare everyone before the day arrives.
Talk to your children about the person coming back into the home. Explain that they have had treatment for their addiction, but that everyone still needs to understand that they may not be the person they were before addiction took hold of their life for quite a while.
You need to get help for any anger, irritation, or fear that you have about the situation, as well. There are many times where addiction can make your loved one an absolute monster while they’re on the drugs. The memories of the way the person treated you or things that they did may cause you to harbor resentment deep inside toward them.
You may need to go to talk to a counselor or a psychiatrist before the person comes home so that you can learn how to cope with the feelings that you have and learn different ways to address them in a healthy way. Many addicts end up going to counseling with their family to address the emotional scars they caused during their addiction. This may be a viable option for you to consider in the future to help you and your loved one rebuild the trust and love that you once had.
The Importance of Clear Communication
Don’t be afraid to talk to your loved one openly and honestly. Many families make the mistake of thinking that everything will be peaches and cream when their loved one returns after rehab, but that isn’t always the case. Your loved one has to account for all the wrongdoings they did while on drugs. This could mean repaying debts, dealing with criminal charges or simply addressing negative things they did to people that they love.
Most people don’t know how to help an addict after rehab, but most addicts need help taking the necessary steps to rebuild their lives and are willing to talk about their needs if someone is willing to ask. Talk to your loved one before they come home to find out what you can do to help them get their life back on track.
There are many people who simply need to know where the local support groups are, so they can go to them as soon as possible and aren’t tempted to go back to their old ways. They may need you to help them find a lawyer, so they can deal with their criminal issues. Being willing to help them in any way that you can show them that you support their recovery and that they have someone they can depend on when they get home.
It can be hard to know what to expect after rehab but talking to your loved one about what they need can make the transition easier. You want to be sure they have the tools necessary to support their recovery because the better chances they have of a strong recovery, the better chances you have for a normal life with everyone you love in it.
If you have never been addicted to drugs or alcohol before it can be hard to know what is needed to recover. Talking to the person openly and honestly ensures that both of you can be on the same page and you can help support their sobriety as much as you possibly can.