20 Dec What to Expect When Visiting Someone in Rehab
It’s not easy to watch a friend or family member struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. The person you once knew and loved has slowly turned into someone you don’t recognize. Addiction is a physical and mental disease that impacts every aspect of a person’s life, including relationships, careers, finances, hobbies, education, health, and overall well-being. Although it can feel like your loved one chose drugs or alcohol over you, addiction is actually not a choice or a character flaw, it is an illness that requires professional treatment.
Sometimes it is difficult to convince a person that they have a problem with drug or alcohol abuse. It can be even harder to get that person to agree to go to a drug and alcohol treatment program. Some people may not be ready to stop using drugs or alcohol, others might not know what to expect in drug and alcohol rehab and are afraid of the treatment, and still some might think that they can overcome their addiction without professional assistance.
If your friend or family member has agreed to go to a rehab center, they have reached an important milestone in their journey to achieve lifelong sobriety. Strong support from loved ones is an important component of substance abuse recovery, and you should offer your support to your friend or family member during and after their stay in an alcohol or drug rehab center.
The amount of support you can provide while your loved one is in a treatment program may vary. Some programs offer visiting hours and family day events, while others may limit the amount of contact you can have with your loved one during their stay. Assuming that your friend or family member is in a program that allows you to visit them, you might be concerned about what it will be like when you go to see them.
This is a common worry for friends and family members of people in rehab because rehab is an unknown to many. To ease your nerves and make you feel more comfortable with visiting your loved one in rehab, the drug and alcohol treatment professionals at HARP have compiled some information to help you know what to expect when you visit someone in rehab.
What to Expect During the Visit
When a loved one invites you to visit them in rehab, you will likely feel a mix of emotions that include anxiety, excitement, and curiosity. These feelings are common, and you should not feel guilty about having them. It may have been a few weeks since you’ve seen your friend or family member, and the last time that you saw them might have been stressful and emotional for both of you.
Now, as you prepare to visit them in a drug and alcohol treatment center, you might be wondering what it will be like. You might also be anxious to know if your loved one will act differently, or if you should behave in a certain way. You may also wonder what the two of you will talk about, and if you should avoid any particular topics.
While it is impossible to create a guide that will apply perfectly to everyone, you are more likely to have a smooth, and even enjoyable, visit if you consider the following:
- Don’t worry: It can be difficult to see your loved one in rehab, but they are in good hands. Your friend or family member is not being held against their will. They have a substance abuse problem and they are getting the help that they need to overcome it. It’s important to remember that your loved one is receiving treatment from trained medical and psychological professionals while being surrounded by other people who are also struggling with addiction. The combination of professional and peer support is valuable during the recovery process. During your loved ones stay, they will also receive individual counseling, group therapy, medical care, nutritious food, and opportunities for exercise and leisure. Even if your loved one isn’t thrilled to be in rehab, it is the best place for them right now.
- Embrace emotions and awkwardness: It is common for people in rehab and their loved ones to experience shyness or awkward silences during a visit, especially during the first one. It may even be an emotional experience for the two of you. After all, your loved one is starting a new chapter in their life and it isn’t easy. Their body and mind are overcoming a strong addiction, which is challenging on its own. Even more, trying is remembering all of the hurt and embarrassment that their addiction might have caused over the years. If the visit feels awkward and emotional, just embrace it as a part of the transformative process of addiction recovery.
- Take time to listen: When you visit your loved one in rehab, you can expect them to have a lot that they want to share with you. In some cases, rehab and therapy may have made your loved one consider their past behavior and they may want to have a heartfelt discussion with you that ends with an apology. Others might still be angry about being in rehab. Although rehab centers strive to make treatment for addiction as comfortable as possible, it is still difficult to overcome an addiction. As a result, your loved one may want to vent some anger and stress to you. In other cases, your loved one might be bubbling with possibilities for the future. Rehab can inspire people to make changes in their lives, other than just getting clean and sober. In all of these situations, the best thing that you can do for your loved one is to simply listen to them. It will likely be easier to listen to an apology than an angry rant, but people just want to be heard when they speak, especially when they speak from an emotional place. Additionally, when your loved one knows that you have heard what they have to say, they can continue the addiction recovery process.
- Express yourself: Although listening to your loved one in rehab is very important, you are still allowed to express your feelings too. While you shouldn’t lose control and start nagging or attacking your loved one, you also don’t have to sugarcoat your emotions. Friends and family members of people who struggle with addiction often feel like they are living on an emotional rollercoaster. You don’t have to hold in your feelings or past hurts. The most effective way to express your emotions is to write them down before your visit. If you have a script to follow, you will be less likely to descend into a rambling verbal attack on your loved one. A civil and organized discussion is the best way to resolve any issues you have with your friend or family member.
- Ask Questions: You likely have many questions for your loved one about their stay in rehab, so feel free to ask them. Asking your loved one reasonable and non-intrusive questions about their time in the drug and alcohol treatment center shows that you care about them and are interested in their life and recovery. Other questions that you can ask your loved one relate to how you can help them in their recovery. Ask your friend or family member if they need anything or if you can do anything to aid in their recovery after they complete the rehab program. You don’t have to feel obligated to do everything they ask, especially if the request is unreasonable, but it is important to know what your loved one thinks will help support them on their journey to lifelong sobriety.
- Don’t be discouraged: If you don’t see immediate improvement in your friend or family member, don’t be discouraged. Addiction takes hold slowly, changing a person’s body and mind. Because addiction didn’t appear overnight, it will take time for your loved one to recover. If you feel like you don’t see any progress, or you see only minimal progress, keep in mind that the treatment process is a long journey and your loved one is in a place that will help them recover from their addiction. Patience is key when it comes to rehabilitation.
How to Help After Rehab
If you visited your friend or loved one during their stay in rehab, you are likely committed to helping them maintain their sobriety. Once your loved one completes rehab and returns home, you can do several things to help them stay clean and sober.
- Offer your support: You supported your loved one while they were in rehab, but it is important to continue that show of support when they return home. A strong support network is a predictor of long-term addiction recovery success. To help them avoid a relapse, let your friend or family member know that you are there for them. Also, don’t hesitate to ask if you can help them. Just keep in mind that you must set boundaries. When a loved one returns home from rehab, it can be easy to cross the line from supportive to codependents. By setting and sticking to reasonable boundaries, you can provide a healthy form of support.
- Connect them with resources: You shouldn’t be your loved one’s only source of support when they leave treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction. Support groups are a valuable tool to help your family member or friend gain knowledge and strength from people who are also working hard to recover from an addiction to drugs or alcohol. The rehab center can help your loved one find the right support group.
- Support Yourself: You may want to consider a support group for yourself because having a loved one with an addiction is not easy. It can also be a struggle to have a loved one who is recovering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol. There are support groups available to help you deal with the struggles and stresses associated with having a loved one with an addiction. You may also want to consider attending ongoing family therapy sessions after your loved one returns home. A trained therapist can help you and your loved one work through any lingering issues and challenges.
It is far from easy to have a loved one who struggles with an addiction. Even when your friend or family member decides to go to rehab, it is still challenging. However, your loved one is taking an important step to improve their life and yours. Your loved one will have to do most of the work to overcome their addiction, but you can help them by providing support when you visit them in rehab and when they return home. By knowing what to expect and how to help, you can consider yourself ready to support your loved one as they recover from addiction.
If you have questions about our treatment center and our HARP methodology to treating a variety of addictions, you can contact our experienced team of compassionate drug and alcohol treatment professionals to get the answers you need to get your loved one in the best treatment program for them. If someone you love needs help, the experts at HARP are here with treatment and support.
HARP treats addiction to a variety of substances. Our team of medical professionals and addiction treatment specialists provide detox, therapy, and long-term support resources to ensure that your loved one has a comfortable and productive stay at our treatment center before they return home – clean and sober. With help and support, recovery is possible. HARP can help your loved one live a new life that’s free from the chains of addiction.