Is a family member going to treatment in order to address their addiction? If you are reading this article and the answer is a resounding YES, you and your family are no doubt going through a wide range of emotions. You may be happy and extremely relieved that your loved one has finally made the commitment to go to drug rehab, but your family may also be feeling uncertainty, doubt, guilt and even anger.
Addiction is a complex disease, and the effects of addiction on the family can be both deep and wide-reaching. The treatment process can be very difficult, and both your loved one and your family may wonder if you have made the right decision. If you have a family member going to treatment, it can provide many challenges. With some basic knowledge on what to expect before, during and after drug treatment, you and your family can better weather the challenges of rehab and provide your loved one with the healthy support they need.
In the first few days before your loved one enters a drug rehab facility, your loved one will need a safe place to stay that is away from the triggers and temptations of friends and places that promote drug use. If an addicted family member is staying at your house before they enter treatment, there are a few suggested rules that you should follow:
- Hide all alcohol and prescription medications and keep them in a secured place.
- If you or other family members are casual drinkers, refrain from drinking for a few days or least do not drink in their presence.
- Hide credit cards and other valuables.
- If possible, do not allow them to have a cell phone.
- Keep in contact with treatment facility staff or the referring counselor on a regular basis.
Some of these measures may seem a bit harsh and unnecessary, but you must realize that in the first few days someone hasn’t taken substances they will experience intense cravings and urges to use they may act upon on impulse. When it comes time for your loved one to go to the treatment facility, be sure you arrange a safe means of transportation to get them to the facility.
You also should be prepared for resistance from your loved one. While they have made the commitment to treatment, they will often try to talk you out of taking them and may try other forms of manipulation. It is important that you do not listen to them; it is their addictive side knowing that the proverbial jig is up.
The Treatment Process
The one important thing that you need to realize about drug treatment is that it is a process which involves several important components. In general, your loved one’s stay in drug rehab can vary anywhere from 28 days to up to a year. Depending on the severity of your family member’s addiction, the types of drugs they are abusing and the presence of underlying medical conditions, it will take considerable time for them to complete each phase of treatment in a manner which is effective and safe.
Drug treatment can be seen as consisting of four phases:
1) Medical Detoxification
The first and most important phase of treatment is the medical detoxification process. All substances have physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that can be extremely uncomfortable and painful to endure. Trying to quit drugs cold turkey or through measure of self-detoxification can be extremely risky and potentially life-threatening. Medical detox services allow your loved one to gradually withdrawal from substances gradually, and it will make the symptoms more tolerable.
Treatment staff will utilize interventions such as medication therapy, nutritional therapy and physical exercise during the detox process. Detox staff will also conduct a comprehensive evaluation to diagnose any co-occurring mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and PTSD. Oftentimes these illnesses lie at the root of addiction, and if these issues aren’t addressed during treatment you loved one could continue the vicious cycle of addiction.
While medical detox will help your loved one overcome the physical aspects of addiction, individual and group therapy will help them address and overcome the psychological aspects of addiction. Experienced counselors will use a wide variety of beneficial therapies such as psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, reality therapy and motivational interviewing as well as holistic forms of therapy and treatment. Whatever therapeutic technique is employed, it allows your loved one to explore the underlying issues of their addictive behavior and will give them the tools and confidence to move past those issues.
3) Educational Services
A big part of drug treatment is the teaching of essential life and coping skills. During their active addiction, your loved one was not able to adequately take care of themselves and weren’t able to meet their important daily obligations. With life and coping skills training and education, your loved one will learn the following skills:
- Being able to create a healthy recovery-based daily schedule
- How to interview for jobs, search for jobs and write resumes with help from an employment coach
- Proper money management
- Acquiring healthy hobbies that fill the void left by substance abuse
- Effective interpersonal communication skills
These basic yet important skills will give your loved one the ability to take care of their needs while keeping their recovery front and center.
Aftercare and sober living are highly recommended after the completion of an intensive drug treatment program. The first few months of recovery after treatment are when those who are newly sober are most vulnerable to relapse. These programs focus on relapse prevention and long-term recovery strategies and support. Aftercare programs feature continued individual and group therapy, involvement in 12-step programs as well as the refinement of life and coping skills. The benefit of aftercare programs for your loved one is the fact they can still receive quality care and support while living at home and engaging in their family, work, and school obligations.
While successful completion of drug treatment is a major accomplishment for your loved one, the real work in recovery begins after treatment. As a family of a loved one who has completed treatment, you must provide healthy support for them to continue working their program of recovery. An excellent suggestion to create that environment is to undergo family therapy.
Many drug and alcohol rehab centers offer family therapy programs during and after treatment, and experienced therapists can help each member of the family work through their respective issues in a safe and empowering environment. If you haven’t already done so, join a family-oriented support groups such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. These groups are geared towards families of alcoholics and those addicted to drugs, and these groups can provide your family a sense of fellowship and support during your new journey in recovery.
Most importantly, you must hold your loved one accountable for their own recovery. You can be there when needed for encouragement and empathy, but you must stop short of working their recovery for them. In the event they slip or relapse, be understanding but remind them of their commitment to their sobriety in a firm but loving tone.