When someone in your family or inner circle returns from alcohol and drug rehab, you may experience mixed emotions. Part of you is probably feeling anxious to see them and overjoyed by the work they’ve accomplished to face their addiction. The other part of you might be filled with uncertainty on how long the sobriety will last this time around or stressing over how they will act now that they are sober or how you’re supposed to act around them. If the individual is your domestic partner or spouse, you may wonder if they’ve decided that they need to end the relationship to maintain sobriety. Addiction is a family disease on many levels that impacts the family system, not only during active addiction but also during recovery. However, after someone has completed treatment and leaves the rehab center, they begin their path to a future in recovery. Let’s ease some of your post-rehab fears by assessing a few scenarios.
#1 Fear of Love Lost
Sometimes we only know this individual as an addict. So we are anxious to think about how they’ll behave, will I like them, will they still like me? Fear of the unknown is natural; the only way to dismiss the qualm is to wait and see. The silver lining is you will get to know the natural person this time, not the person masking their pain with drugs and alcohol. One genuine truth is that, unfortunately, some individuals form new relationships while at an alcohol and drug treatment facility. During their stay, they are working on themselves; they feel vulnerable and share intimate details about their lives during group therapy sessions and live with others 24/7. Treatment centers do not support these rehab relationships and do everything they can to monitor and prevent them from happening. No individual working on their recovery can enter into a new relationship emotionally. If your domestic partner or spouse returns from rehab and tells you they want to end your relationship because they met someone else in rehab, they most likely did not embrace the drug and alcohol treatment offered. You may decide that you agree and it is best to end the relationship, or you may want to seek couples counseling.
#2 Fear of Change
One of the first items on your to-do list you’ll need to accomplish before someone returns from a rehabilitation center and re-enters your home is purging all alcohol, prescription drugs, and paraphernalia from your household. The person returning from rehab may not be there due to a problem with prescription pills; however, even just seeing the pills in the medicine cabinet can be triggering. Some households may not be on board with this. They may feel they don’t have a problem with drinking and are entitled to come home from work and have a large glass of wine or beer. This may lead to resentment towards the individual in recovery. If you or someone in your residence feels this way, it may be time to assess your alcohol or drug use patterns. Recovery is an excellent time for you and your partner to find new ways to have fun without substances. Removing drugs and alcohol from hobbies and social settings is one of the positives for families in recovery.
#3 Fear of Not Being Needed
During active addiction, individuals struggling with substance use disorders rely on co-dependency. It’s natural to worry that now since they don’t need the money for drugs or they may no longer need housing from you if you’ll see them as much or if the dynamic of your relationship will change entirely. However, once again, you’re worried about the negative ways they were coping with their addictions. Please think of the positives, such as the fact that they are now clean and sober and not consuming dangerous drugs or alcohol daily. They have hopefully learned how to take care of themselves and are on the road to growth to lead an overall happier, healthier, and fulfilled life. Helping individuals when they require help can sometimes become an addiction for the caregiver. Their addiction consumes your life and gives you a sense of purpose; don’t allow your fears to hold your partner back from their recovery goals.
Helping others can become addictive in itself. This is an excellent time to deal with your fears and how they may subtly hold your loved one back from a life of recovery.
#4 Fear of Relapse
One of the most significant fears family members have when someone is returning home from a rehabilitation center is the fear of relapse. Some families may have already experienced this in the past and are wondering how long the sobriety will last this time. Rehab is not an instant cure; most individuals will need more than one stay at an addiction treatment facility. During rehab, individuals work on themselves by discovering the root cause of their addictions and what triggers them to want to engage in substance abuse. Through individual and group therapy, they learn how to cope with stress and others and deal with addiction cravings. Relapse is unfortunately not an unfounded fear, about 85% of individuals relapse within one year of attending a drug and alcohol treatment facility. Relapse can still be viewed as a positive, though; an individual often realizes that they need help and cannot do it alone. They also realize they need to embrace their recovery and not attempt to return to their old lives, including people, places, and things.
#5 Fear of Resentment
Resentment may have been the individual’s initial emotional response towards you when you placed them in a drug and alcohol rehab center. However, those emotions may have transformed into gratitude and appreciation when they return from rehab. Individuals have had the time to reflect on their past behaviors and why people took what they felt was the necessary course of action to save their life from drugs and alcohol. Almost every individual that enters recovery has a story regarding the lengths their loved ones went to save them from themselves and their addiction. So while you may have initially been known as the villain in the story, it can end with you being the true hero that saved the individual’s life.
Replace Fear with Family Therapy
If you are worried about what to do or how to act when your loved one returns home from rehab, it’s a good idea to participate in some of our family sessions at Avatar Residential Detox Center. We offer family therapy to work through many emotions, feelings, and behaviors that impacted everyone while the individual was using drugs and alcohol. We also provide aftercare planning, where we establish a plan for the individual on every level to maximize the opportunity to embrace a successful recovery.