5 Ways to Sabotage a Family Member’s Rehab 08/09/12
Life is full of choices. But when those choices lead a family member to drug addiction the consequences can be devastating, sending ripples of guilt, grief and regret through the entire family. Although drug rehabilitation is essential in getting an addict back on the road to recovery, the level of family support shown during the rehab process plays a critical role in the program’s overall success— especially during the post-rehab period. Unfortunately, during this often awkward and difficult time, well-meaning family members can end up doing more harm than good. In the interest of helping families better assist loved ones in beating their addictions, here is a look at 5 sure ways to sabotage a family member’s rehab that you’ll want to avoid at all costs.
1. Set unrealistic expectations
They made it through rehab, so they must be cured, right? If only it were that easy. The truth is, addiction is a chronic disease that can only be controlled through prolonged treatment. And family members who have unreasonable expectations are only setting themselves up for more heartache and disappointment, as setbacks are bound to occur. In fact, sharing such unrealistic feelings with a family member who is fresh out of rehab can put undue pressure on them that could eventually trigger a relapse. It is also important to realize that you can’t really know what they are going through if you have not been there yourself.
2. Ignore and deny signs of relapse
Another danger that comes from having unrealistic expectations about a family member’s recovery is the danger of ignoring signs of relapse. After all, you want them to be cured, and any signs to the contrary only help to reinforce the fact that they are not. The real danger that comes from denial is that you are sabotaging your loved one’s back up plan, which typically calls for family support and intervention at the first signs of relapse. Telltale signs such as anxiety, anger, poor judgment, lying, or falling back with the same pre-rehab crowd need to be recognized and addressed quickly, with patience and love, instead of sweeping them under the rug.
3. Be an enabler
When a family member comes out of rehab it’s important to show them as much love and compassion as possible. After all, they’ve been through quite an ordeal. But misplaced desires to please an addictive person by giving them money or allowing them freedoms they are not yet ready for may ultimately lead them to relapse. From early on it’s important to set boundaries, not only for the recovering addict, but also for each family member. If you or anyone else is using alcohol or any prescription medications that are subject to abuse, make sure they remain hidden safely away. As much as you want to trust that everything is now “fixed”, it is better not to put the recovering addict in a situation where they will be swayed towards unwanted behaviors.
4. Don’t participate in post-rehab treatment
Those counseling sessions you participated in while your loved one was in drug rehab really put you through the ringer. And now that they’re home you deserve to take a break, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. If there’s one thing you’ve learned by now it’s that participation in the addiction treatment process is vital—especially during those first challenging months of sobriety. Along with encouraging your recovering family member to continue prescribed treatments, family counseling can help to heal the wounds caused by addiction, and help to identify and address family dynamics that may be encouraging addictive behavior. The other big benefit of counseling is that it provides family members with practical education about addiction that can be crucial in identifying and preventing relapse.
5. Don’t seek support for yourself
Dealing with the needs of an addicted family member on an ongoing basis can be all consuming—if you let it. The danger of ignoring your own needs is that you may end up emotionally and physically drained, a state that does no one any good. Along with making sure you are eating right, getting enough sleep, and are getting regular exercise to keep your stress-laden immune system in check, you should seek out a support group, individual counseling, or some other type of support that works best for you.