How to Cope When a Family Member is in an Alcohol or Drug Rehab Program
If a member of your family is going through drug or alcohol rehab, it is generally a good thing—that family member is getting the help he or she needs. However, you may be facing questions, concerns or misconceptions about what this treatment entails and how you should cope. The following information may help you get through this difficult time.
Your Loved One Is Getting Needed Help
Relax and breathe deeply—it will be okay! Your family member isn’t being held or locked up. When people have a substance abuse problem, they may need professional help. A drug or alcohol rehab center is the right place to get this expert help.
Your family member is under the watchful eye of professionals—both in mental and physical health. These professionals have training that helps them better work with those facing alcohol or drug dependency. Your loved one is also surrounded by peers who are facing the same struggles—this will help him or her build a support system for recovery.
Generally, in rehab, a patient receives group therapy, one-on-one counseling, medical care and a healthy diet. This is exactly what he or she needs to address a substance abuse problem.
Contact is Limited
Your family member is being cared for in a highly controlled environment. You will not be able to talk with him or her right now. During the early days of the program, outside contact is highly restricted. The patient may not be able to watch TV, read newspapers or listen to music, so don’t take the lack of contact personally. This helps your loved one concentrate on getting and staying sober—without all the distractions of the outside world.
The rehab facility will not be able to give you information about your loved one, due to privacy laws. Your loved one may be able to fill you in on the details at a later date.
Rehab: A Family Affair
Eventually, a time will come where you will need to become involved in your family member’s rehabilitation experience. Most of the time, these programs include family in the recovery process because it can help reduce the chance of relapse.
You may be asked to visit the treatment center for a family day. You’ll have the opportunity to share concerns, experiences, fears and questions related to your family member and his or her treatment program.
Benefits of Getting Involved
Participation in family workshop program provides several benefits:
- The rehabilitation counselors can get important input from family and understand the family dynamics.
- Your loved one will see the family support up close and personal.
- Your family member will understand how his or her addiction affects the entire family.
Learning About Addiction
While these other benefits are very important, the main reason for involving the family is so that you can understand more about what addiction is and how you can help support your family member during his or her journey.
The following topics are commonly addressed during the family workshop:
- A review of substance abuse and dependence—including facts, statistics and basic concepts
- Effects of addiction on the individual, family group and particular family members
- What to expect over the course of recovery—including both issues and measuring outcomes
- Information about how the family can help as well as behaviors to avoid
- Tips for helping family members recover from their involvement with the alcoholic or addict
- Resources for additional help for family members who need guidance
- Warning signs of relapse and relapse prevention planning
Family Workshop Is Not Therapy
It’s important to remember that while the family workshop is important, it’s not therapy. These workshops may bring up strong emotions among family members. While the treatment center wants to support and educate the family, they are not equipped to offer family therapy.
The purpose of rehab is to help the addicted family member. If other family members need emotional or psychological support, it is highly recommended that the family seeks other outside support as well.
Seek Help for Yourself
When seeking additional support, you can join support groups like Al-Anon or Alateen or you can seek professional counseling. Participating in a support group or other form of therapy can be a positive, uplifting experience for the entire family.
It’s also important to educate yourself about addiction and alcoholism and its effect on the entire family. When you know more about the family dynamics regarding addiction, you are better equipped to offer support, understanding and encouragement to the addicted family member as well as helping yourself.