Getting a family member or friend the treatment they need is a huge and important step, but family assistance and support should never stop with the end of rehab, and when the addict is reintegrated into the home and into the community after a treatment period, family help and support can be important factors in the ultimate ability of the recovering addict to maintain sobriety.
Ultimately, the decision to stay sober must come from the recovering addict, but there are some things that the family can do to decrease the probability of relapse; and convincing an addict to get the help they need is a great first step to recovery, but recovery doesn't end with rehab.
Get educated and get involved
Firstly, the family should be involved in the rehab process, and the family of the recovering addict needs to learn how best to support the addict once home, just as the addict needs to learn how to stay sober. Most recovery and rehab programs will include a family component, and caring family members should make every effort to attend and get the most out of this available resource.
Stay sober with the recovering addict
Secondly, the family needs to make it as easy as possible for the addict to transition back into the home environment and newly sober living. The family should provide a sober and alcohol and drug free environment for the addict, and the house should ideally be emptied of all possible intoxicating substances. A recovering addict can always get drugs or alcohol if they truly want to, but sometimes if it is too readily available, the temptation to use can be overwhelming.
Help to reduce stress in the recovering addict's life
Thirdly, support the addict in all areas of their life. Many recovering addicts relapse in response to stress and due to poor problem solving and coping skills. The recovering addict needs to take responsibility for their life, and this in fact a part of the healing process; but family members should be available to assist in any area that threatens to overwhelm the recovering addict during their first months of recovery. Whether it's helping with the kids, helping with the bills, or just being their for companionship; family should make these first months as stress free as possible, so the recovering addict can concentrate all of their energy on staying sober.
Don't let a relapse happen
Lastly, the family needs to take action if they suspect a relapse is imminent. There is no need to wait until after a relapse to act, and if you think that the recovering addict is in danger of using, you need to make sure they get into a safe environment. Sometimes all it takes is a visit and some companionship to get the addict back on the right track.
The family needs to care of itself as it takes care of the addict
You can't do it for them, but by offering educated support you increase the probability of long term sobriety and an ultimately happy outcome for everyone. Addiction often causes pain throughout the family, and the effects of addiction can ripple through the family for a long while even after sobriety is achieved. The family may also need to heal itself, and sometimes professional family counseling, or family addiction peer group support services are very beneficial in this healing process.
Recovery is ongoing, and although it tends to get easier with time, the family will need to be there for a while; doing everything they can to help the recovering addict stay sober.
Page last updated Jun 22, 2012