4 Important Ways You Can Support Friends or Family in Rehab

GateHouse Treatment has as much experience with friends and family supporting our patients in rehab as we do with our patients. Saying goodbye to a loved one undergoing drug addiction treatment can be highly stressful. Nothing can brace you from being separated from someone you care about, and you may be worried about the journey forward and what you can do to help. If you’re not familiar with addiction, this can be a confusing time for everyone involved.


Watching a close friend or family member begin addiction treatment is never easy, but it is important to remain supportive. It will be an adjustment period for you, too. You will have to quickly get used to spending less time with this person while also trusting they have everything they need to get healthy.


Rehabilitation requires much more than detox. Once rehab is complete, long-term success will be determined mainly by the environment a patient re-enters. Like all humans, individuals recovering from addiction need people to lean on. Knowing how to meet their needs best can go a long way toward keeping them on a straight path. If you have a loved one in treatment, here are a few tips on supporting their journey.


1. Understand Your Role


Prolonged success and sobriety begin and end with the addict, but no one can do it alone. It is crucially essential for the family and friends of addicts to understand how to be helpful, healing, and supportive. Avoiding triggers and bad influences is critical to resisting relapse, but resisting temptation becomes much more difficult once a person is out of rehabilitation and back into the real world.


Studies have proven it is hugely beneficial for recovering addicts to have social support. When family members and friends play an active role in an individual’s treatment plan, it dramatically increases the client’s chances of completion while minimizing relapse.


2. Embrace Limited Communication


Rehab can be a full-time job at times. If you haven’t heard much from your loved one since they began their addiction treatment, you may be growing worried or concerned about their whereabouts or why they’ve decided not to talk to you. If this sounds like you, you are not alone, but part of supporting their treatment is understanding why contact can be limited.


Also, do your best to empathize with your loved one in treatment as they acclimate to an unfamiliar place surrounded by people they don’t know. On top of this, detox can be highly physically draining, and a sober living facility can be a jarring experience for those experiencing it for the first time. Furthermore, privacy rules prevent most facilities in America from sharing detailed information about the day-to-day happenings of rehab.


All these factors and more contribute to decreased contact. One thing you can do to offset this is to be available when your loved one is ready to talk. If they’re in a different state, note any time zone differences, and do your best to keep the conversation light. For some clients, it can feel liberating to talk about their journey with a friend or family member from home, but others want to chat about the latest TV show or football game.


Limiting contact can be incredibly challenging if this is a person you talk to daily. For their betterment, you must understand that you may have reduced contact with them during this time. Though it may feel frustrating to have limited phone calls or long waiting times in between updates, it’s important to remember there is a reason for this. Whether an individual is detoxing, attending group therapy, or seeking employment after getting clean, these goals take extreme focus. By embracing limited contact, you’re helping your loved one focus on the task at hand: sobriety.


3. Educate Yourself


Addiction is still widely misunderstood. Unfortunately, this leads to people sometimes having less compassion for addicts than they should. The variety of substance addictions present different risks, and because no two people are alike, it can be challenging to feel like you fully understand your loved one’s condition. Educate yourself on your family member’s addiction and learn more about the associated symptoms and risks. Understand that addiction is a brain disease, and some people are more susceptible to it than others.


In addition to medical education, now is a great time to get to know your loved one better. Without prying for information, having a vulnerable conversation with your recovering friend or family member can help you understand them better. Don’t be afraid to ask how they would like you to hold them accountable for life changes they’re planning to make.


4. Forgive and Heal


Addiction affects more than addicts. You may still be wrestling with some of the frustrations and hurt you’ve felt as a direct result of your loved one’s addiction. Addiction treatment continues to improve, and today, there are support groups for family members of addicts. Here, you will have a safe place to vent your frustrations and learn new tools to support your recovering loved one. You may also hear inspiring stories of individuals going through a similar situation.


If your friend or a family member has decided to undergo drug addiction treatment, you have a great reason to be hopeful for changed behavior. Seeking help is not an easy decision to make, and though their past actions may have hurt you, forgiving the past can go a long way toward healing. The stronger you are, the more present you will be able to be for your recovering loved one.


GateHouse | Drug Addiction Treatment


If you or your loved one are still searching for a drug rehab facility that can help you get on the path to long-term sobriety, GateHouse Treatment is here to help. We offer safe housing, expert clinical care, and extended treatment plans beyond the traditional 28 days. For more information on how we can help, contact us at 855-448-3588 or click here to schedule a free consultation.

Jim Fredrick

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