Coping With Having a Family Member in Alcohol or Drug Rehab Article HOME
Your, Encouragement and Support Is Important!

Having any member of your family in rehab for drugs or alcohol means that you're inevitably facing, and perhaps even struggling with, a lot of concerns, questions and maybe some misconceptions about how professional treatment works. The following may answer some of those questions:

He Is in Good Hands

First, relax and take a deep breath. Your family member is in a well protected, safe and alcohol/drug free environment. His disease has just been arrested. Apparently, he had a substance abuse problem and he needs to get professional help. If that is the case, he is exactly where he needs to be to get the help that he needs.

He is in the hands of a staff of professionals, including medical and nursing personnel, who have the experience and training to help people who have alcohol or drug problems. He is also surrounded by peers who are or have been in the same situation that your family member is in and will provide an additional support system for him while he begins recovery.

He will receive group therapy, individual counselling, medical care and a balanced diet. At Hope, he will also be participating in proven traditional healing activities such as Yoga, meditation and Art of Living courses. He will also learn to lead a disciplined lifestyle. In other words, your loved one is in the hands of exactly who he needs to be in order get the help he needs to address his substance abuse issues.

Don't Take It Personally

Your family member is in a medical and addiction recovery facility with a holistic approach. His recovery will be on several levels: physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual. Recovery is not a simple, straightforward graph. There will be continual roadblocks. While the client addresses his personality issues, he may find it painful and wish to bail out. His physical status, medical concerns and other broad therapy issues are made aware to immediate family on a monthly basis through progress reports. The family is also called for discussing the same with his doctors and counsellors and some issues shall be addressed through interventions.

No, you cannot talk with him right now, but don't take it personally. In the early days of his rehab program, his contact with the outside world will be highly restricted. He needs to focus on himself: just like in an ashram. His counsellor facilitates his communication with immediate family only in person during family sessions/interventions. His first intervention will be approximately 3 weeks after admission. Phone conversations may be allowed (only on Sundays) after completing 30- 40days of his stay in recovery. This is necessary so that he can concentrate on getting and staying sober with as few distractions or outside influences as possible. In the early hours and days of his treatment, his entire focus needs to be on doing what he needs to do to maintain abstinence.

While he is in rehab, the family can avail this opportunity to look at the damages caused to them due to the problem. They need to initiate a process of healing for themselves. They should empower themselves by attending and participating in Al-anon and Alateen programs. They should read the literature provided by Hope at time of admission.

Family Involvement in Rehab

A point will come in your loved one's rehab when you will be asked to become involved. Most professional alcohol and drug rehab programs include the family of the patient in his recovery process because research has shown that it reduces the risk of relapse.

Usually during the first month of his rehab, you will be invited to the treatment facility for a "Family Psycho educational Workshop," or family sessions/interventions. During this time, you will be able to express your concerns, questions, experiences and feelings related to your addicted family member. You shall be shown PowerPoint presentations by your Hope Trust counselling staff to facilitate better understanding.

You will also be given documentation to be filled in by you. Please take your time and fill it in great detail. Give copies of this to other family members who may be able to provide inputs and let them fill in the forms independently. This shall provide valuable information about the person's behaviour and attitudes.

Benefits of Family Involvement

Participation in the family sessions/interventions is beneficial in several ways:

  • An overview of substance abuse and dependence, including prevalence, symptoms, causes, and basic concepts.
  • Effects of substance use disorders on the individual, family system, and individual family members, including children.
  • Overview of recovery issues for the affected person (physical, psychological or emotional, social, family, spiritual and other) and how to measure outcomes.
  • How the family can help, including enabling behaviors for the family to avoid and behaviors that support the addicted family member's recovery.
  • How a family member can heal from the adverse effects of involvement in a close relationship with an alcoholic or addict.
  • Self-help programs for family members and how they can help.
  • Common warning signs of relapse, the importance of relapse prevention planning, how the family can be involved, and how to deal with an actual relapse.
Family Workshop/sessions Is Not Therapy

Although there are many benefits to attending a family educational workshop while your family member is in rehab, those sessions are not therapy. Many times these workshops will bring out strong feelings among family members and they can become emotional. But from the treatment centre's point of view, these sessions focus on support and education, not therapy.

The rehab program's purpose is helping the addicted family member. If you feel that you or other family members have been psychologically or emotionally affected by your love one's alcoholism or addiction, you will need to seek additional help on your own.

Seek Help for Yourself

You can seek professional marriage counselling, family counselling or individual therapy for yourself. For further support, you can participate in mutual support groups, such as Al-Anon and your children can participate in Alateen. Many family members of alcoholics and addicts have found that joining an Al-Anon Family Group can be a positive, life-changing experience.

You can also begin to educate yourself about alcoholism and addiction and how it can affect every member of the family. The more you know about the dynamics of a family affected by addiction, the more you will be able to offer your addicted family member understanding and encouragement.

Hope gives literature of Al-anon/ Alateen and contact details at time of admission.

Allow the Rehab to Help

You have obviously brought your loved one to Hope because you could not control or manage him. Now, allow the staff to deal with the situation. The Al-anon program will teach you the power of detachment. Take care of yourself, while Hope Trust takes care of your loved one!

Your road to recovery begins with Hope...


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