The more information you can access the more you will be prepared. We want to arm you with as many of our experiences as possible, so we can all achieve more understanding. Although trusting the process is inevitable, most treatment programs don’t inform you what to expect from them, and exactly what your loved one is going through and learning. This can create problems with understanding, communication, and lack of trust in the program.
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Especially for Families & Loved Ones
Things You Must Know
You can expect that we will do what we say and say what we do as a program and as individual professionals in the program. We operate out of pure transparency and accountability. You can expect that your loved one will be experiencing a wide ride of emotions and behaviors. We both have asked them to essentially give up everything they’re used to and help them develop a worthwhile life of meaning and value. Expect to see a wide range of emotions.
Talk to someone about what’s going on! Get some insight from an outside party. There’s always the professional route, but you will be surprised how many people you know that have gone through what you are going through now. The goal is to gain some knowledge, so you can start implementing some boundaries in the home. Ultimately, this will promote change in the home, or it will help prepare your loved one for treatment. We need to start looking at what is working and what isn’t working, or what is ok and what is not ok in your home. Establishing awareness around boundaries will help you start to formulate a structure in your home. Don’t forget, this is your home! You don’t have to be held hostage anymore.
Letting go is a difficult process to go through. As the support system, we have worked tirelessly to help fix and find solutions to aid our loved one. Once we have committed to the treatment process, it’s quite the learning curve to adjust to a lifestyle where the person struggling isn’t taking up all our time and energy. Please don’t forget, we are professionals in our industry and people in recovery, your loved one will be taken care of. They are safe and in a structured environment. Many times, we see our patients initially commit to the treatment process then quickly struggle because they don’t know how to manage change. Change is uncomfortable even for those that don’t struggle as much. Knowing what to expect through the changing process with your loved one is crucial. Expect your loved one to fall into a few behaviors that we’ve experienced:
- I’m feeling better than I have ever felt! I’m good to come home.
- The food is horrible. They don’t fee us enough here.
- I’m not getting my therapy, or not enough therapy.
- This isn’t the right program for me. I will go somewhere else.
- They don’t know what they’re doing here. I could basically teach the program.
- It feels like I’m in jail.
The list goes on. A great reaction and response is always to validate their feelings, then ask them what they’re going to do about it. Or, you might ask them what are YOU going to do to make your situation better? Always remind them, if needed, they (and the family) made a commitment to complete treatment, and that we will help you do everything that is needed to follow through with that commitment. Always put the responsibility on your loved one. Addiction never wants to take ownership over anything!
Prior to your loved completing treatment, it’s imperative to have a family/support contract. Your loved one will most likely be more willing to agree and to work out any issues that you may have with them coming home or with you supporting them once treatment is completed. This is where the rubber meets the road. Now we have to practice what we preach and what we have learned. This goes for both the patient and the family and loved ones. It has been our experience that life can go well for a little while, and hopefully, it stays going well. The best outcomes result from family systems that stick to the family/support contract. They don’t waiver no matter how well everything is going. Old behavior usually creeps in slowly and starts with little compromises to the family/support contract. It seems to be justified because your loved one is doing so well. As a matter a fact, you haven’t seen them look this good for a long time! One thing to remember, this isn’t a diet where it’s implemented for a period of time. It’s a lifestyle change! A lifestyle change is the only way to find long-term success for everyone. The good news is that once the new behavior has been reinforced often enough, it will become a habit.
Allow your loved one to face natural consequences. Because we potentially see some unhealthy behavior, this doesn’t mean we should intervene and stop the possible opportunity for growth. Once your loved one is equipped with the knowledge of recovery, hounding that person on what they should and shouldn’t is not effective. We have had several people whom we have served, tell us that these situations are the most frustrating. When someone knows something, and then someone else feels the need to educate that person on what they already know, (even though they are just wanting to help because they see unhealthy behavior), the person becomes defensive, which in turn, creates stress and anxiety. Your loved one is leaving treatment with fresh coping skills to deal with stress and anxiety, let them use these new abilities to manage. There is much to manage, they trying to deal with their job, with staying sober, managing relationships, managing feelings, etc. They are very fragile at this point, but this shouldn’t mean that shouldn’t be held personally accountable.
It’s not uncommon for some people to use drugs and alcohol for a long time, even years. Over time, the person creates and develops an intimate relationship with the drugs and alcohol. Think about this, the drug has always been there for them, when they were up and when they were feeling down. The drug always got them through feeling horrible about the past current or future situation. Eventually, most of the time spent is with this drug, obtaining it, or even just thinking about it. When everyone has left the drug is still there for that person. It never lets the person down. These are qualities most people are looking for in a relationship.
It’s not about drugs or alcohol, it’s about the way chemicals make a person feel. We get addicted to the feeling of things, not the actual things. If we got the feelings we were looking for in our relationships, work, interactions, self, etc. there would be no excuse to use chemicals anymore. As people, we are constantly looking for meaningful connections to people and things. When connections aren’t met or fail we are left feeling down or incomplete. At this point, artificial feelings and connections become the only options. We want good feelings and meaningful connections so bad we force artificial feelings and artificial connections to a place of reality.
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