A Solid Start: 5 Ways to Support a Loved One in Early Recovery
The relief when a loved one enters rehab is an incredible moment in the recovery process. While the homecoming can be equally exciting, it can also bring new challenges. Knowing how to support a loved one is immensely valuable to a healthy, sustained recovery.
When someone you love walks in the door on their first day home from drug rehab, a million thoughts race through your mind. “Will he be better? Will things be different? What if she relapses? Can we trust each other?” It is likely that you’ve spent a long time encouraging the person you love to go to rehab, and those early days of recovery, while often positive and hopeful, can also feel uncertain as you navigate new ground together.
Recovery is a lifelong process, and it takes time for people to learn how to manage it. It is normal for there to be significant changes in your loved one’s expectations, goals, behaviour, and even their personality as they redefine their lives without dependency. Knowing how to support both your loved one and yourself through this process of re-discovery is essential in helping to sustain their recovery, and in strengthening your relationship. Following a few basic steps will help ease you into this important next phase.
Step 1: The Simple Act of Being Present
While the person you love may be able to ask you directly for support, they might still be grappling with feelings of shame or regret over past issues and be hesitant to reach out. In this case, it is important for you to be able to initiate an open channel of communication. Let them know that you are willing and available to talk, go for a walk, share a meal – ask them what they would like to do, as their preferred activities may have changed since rehab.
Balance is important for both yourself and your loved one in recovery. Overextending yourself can lead to feelings of stress or resentment, and checking in too often can make your loved one feel as though you don’t trust them. Talk to them about what they need in terms of contact, and consider even setting planned check-in times. Adopting a measured approach is usually beneficial in ensuring that all parties have both the support and the space that they need.
Step 2: Building Understanding
Both addiction and recovery are incredibly complex, and educating yourself about this serious health condition and the ongoing process of recovery is beneficial in knowing more about what to expect and how to support your loved one.
Some rehab programmes will feature a family therapy component where you will be included in the healing process during rehab. Doing your own research on key issues such as potential triggers, differences between support and enabling, the process of recovery, and building healthy coping mechanisms is another good starting point for better understanding what your loved one is going through. Talking to a professional about specific issues is also useful, particularly if there are areas where you may feel unsure of how to best provide support.
Step 3: The Power of Respect – and Reason
It is important to remember that the person you love has gone through a major life change, and is now putting into practice what they have learned in rehab about how to manage a chronic condition. There will be ups and downs as they continue to discern what new coping mechanisms they need to deal with old triggers or stressors, what healthy habits fit best with their lifestyle, and who they are in a life free from dependency.
There will also be problems that aren’t easily fixed – addictions can sometimes result in long-term health, financial or relationship problems that may never get fully resolved, even during recovery. This is a challenging reality both for a person in recovery as well as those who love them. For family members and close friends, being respectful of this difficult process and reasonable in the expectations for recovery are key elements of strong support.
Step 4: Expecting Emotions
Early recovery is a uniquely emotional period for many people newly emerging from a dependency. This is partially due to the emotional clarity gained in recovery, as well as the process of coming to terms with painful events or losses suffered during an addiction. Not all of the emotions experienced are negative though, and you may see your loved one going through a range of feelings, including:
- Shame, guilt, or anger about the past
- Joy or excitement about starting a new chapter of life
- Anxiety about what the future holds
- Resentment or remorse about past actions or decisions
It is normal for a person in early recovery to feel as though they are riding an emotional rollercoaster, and you can help by actively listening and showing compassion. However, if you notice that emotions are playing an overly prominent role in driving their decisions, or are beginning to negatively impact their life, it is important to raise this with your loved one and to consider visiting a trusted addiction specialist for additional support.
Step 5: Expanding the Safety Net
Because addiction is a health condition that affects both the mind and body, recovery means addressing a person’s health in a holistic manner. Recovery often works best when the community of support is expanded. This community can include family members, friends, medical professionals, fitness and wellness trainers, or a support group. By sharing the process of recovery across a supportive team, this helps lessen the burden experienced by singular caregivers and also improves the opportunities for comprehensive support.
It is also important for you to recognise if you are in need of professional help. If you start to feel overwhelmed by the stress of supporting a loved one in recovery, it might be time for you to seek counselling. Getting professional help for yourself to understand and process your own feelings and challenges can help you recharge and move forward.
The Dawn: Compassionate Support for People in Recovery – and their Families
The Dawn Thailand drug rehab is a boutique-sized facility uniquely designed to encourage personal growth, healing, and recovery for people looking to change their lives for the better. Licensed by the Thai Ministry of Health and staffed by a highly experienced team of professionals — led by internationally-renowned psychotherapist Dr. David Smallwood, The Dawn works with each individual to craft a custom treatment plan specific to their needs.
Family Consultation and Coaching
Addiction has a ripple effect, creating impacts beyond just the person struggling with dependency. Including families in the recovery process produces positive outcomes for sustainable recovery, and allows family members their own opportunities to grow and heal. Near the end of each client’s treatment, The Dawn engages with family members in a series of clinical and educational sessions either on-site or remotely.
Why Choose a Drug Rehab in Thailand?
Our serene, riverfront property offers a resort-like facility in accordance with international standards at an affordable cost. Our welcoming clinical staff is available around the clock to ensure that your loved one gets the care they need as they enter recovery. Far away from the triggers of home, our facility offers clients an opportunity to start completely fresh in a beautiful, supportive setting.
The Dawn is here to guide you and your loved one as you embark together on a journey toward healing. Contact us today to learn more about how we can be a part of your recovery team.