By: Kevin Craner, BS, NCIP, CRS, Manager of Family Integrated Services at Transformations
Returning home after treatment is a major transition. Of those going home directly after PHP, the challenge is exponentially higher. Those that decide to remain in the area for aftercare often increase their chances for success.
Overall, ideally, there is no longer a “home” that involves living with family members without responsibility. Investment in one’s own life and recovery is key to achieve long-term recovery. This personal investment will help defend against relapse.
Self – Esteem
One critical component of recovery is restoring and/or developing healthy self – esteem. True self – esteem comes from working hard and accomplishing things for one’s self. False self – esteem comes from the outside, in many, many forms.
When someone buys you a new car, you may look pretty cool. Imagine, however, the self – esteem boost of working hard to purchase that new car. Think about this key difference and how it would make you feel. How much better would you treat that car? How would you feel about yourself?
Often times, in addiction, individuals will become entitled, self – centered, and egocentric. The irony of this is that they often feel inferior on the inside.
In recovery, it is crucial that a shift is made from these previous attitudes and behaviors to an attitude of gratitude and taking responsibility for one’s actions. This responsibility breeds unlimited growth opportunities in true self – esteem.
The Role of the Family
Allow Growth to Happen – Family members must be careful not to prevent growth opportunities by solving every problem the individual experiences. Every time a family member resolves an issue that the addict can solve themselves they send a message, “you can’t handle this,” and prevent an opportunity for them to further develop healthy self – esteem.
Avoid Unsolicited Advice – Family members often like to give their opinion or input, especially when the addicted individual has exemplified poor decision – making. However, as most families can attest, unsolicited advice has often gone unheeded and/or ignored in the past. Learn the difference between the addicted individual asking for advice versus providing unsolicited advice.
Who Can Help You with That? – Rather than jumping in to solve every problem your loved one may present, begin to encourage them to utilize outside resources. This can be essential to their growth, and help them begin to develop that network of support and resources needed for long – term recovery.
Restoring Trust – Ever hear the question, “why don’t you trust me?” Trust is a natural process, if you don’t trust someone there is often a reason, or 1,000 reasons. You have been trained not to trust. Regaining trust requires time and consistency.
Entire Family Change – Like the addicted individual, the family will be used to acting a certain way, as they have been trained to act over many years of dealing with addiction. Changing this takes intentional effort, it does not come naturally. Just like the addicted individual must engage in ongoing recovery support, it is important that the family finds their own recovery using similar resources.
Al-Anon and Nar-Anon
Staying connected with a family support group and fellowship is key to changing the way family members act and react to the addicted individual. Left to one’s own devices, it is very easy to go back to being the rescuer or the enabler. By engaging in family support groups, family members can receive ongoing support to help them through the certain ups and downs of early recovery.
The Doing-Nothing Trap
It is tough to change by doing nothing. So goes the saying if nothing changes, nothing changes. Without change, people are sure to revert back to old behaviors and attitudes. If you went to the doctor with a sinus infection, and he said, “take these antibiotics and you will feel better in a few days,” would you go home and not take them? Would you instead go to the beach or eat pizza and believe that will help? This may seem insane, but this is so often what happens to people leaving treatment. Placed before them are all the tools for successful long – term recovery. All too often, we see people leave treatment and “do nothing.” No meetings, no aftercare, no outpatient, no therapy, even no job. Commitment to recovery can be seen by action, not words.
Loneliness and Boredom
Returning home from treatment is difficult. To succeed, one must build a new network of sober friends and participate in sober activities. For a population of people often ridden with social anxieties, this can be a trap when returning home too early. Without establishing new friends, support, social lives, it is so easy to get “lonely and bored.” This loneliness and boredom can easily lead back to the same old people or activities from active addiction. This is a key reason that some form of supportive housing is extremely beneficial being that it provides a natural network in early recovery.
The highest-level issue when returning home is whether or not the addicted individual is clean and sober. If relapse is to occur, action must occur. Gone are the days when we look the other way and wait, hoping things will somehow magically improve. A relapse is a sign that something isn’t working, something needs more attention, effort, or change for long – term recovery to be successful. What is the plan? What is the plan to step things up? What is the plan if that doesn’t work for you? We always want to be moving forward in one way or another. Staying stuck in relapse waiting for terrible consequences is no way to live.
To learn about our family program and how families can be involved in their loved one’s treatment, click HERE.