HOW TO REMAIN SUPPORTIVE AFTER TREATMENT
If your friend decides to come back home after rehab, remember, this can be a bittersweet experience for him or her. It’s about returning back to “normal” life and new opportunities, but it’s also a time of immense stress and confusion. NIDA explains, “When residential treatment is over, your friend will have to re-enter the community and it will be a difficult time. There could be triggers present that might contribute to a relapse. One way to stay educated about their triggers is to simply ask what they are. The more you know about your friend’s addiction and behavior the better. It’s important to offer love and support as long as your friend continues to follow their unique treatment plan.” If your friend relapses, you should encourage additional treatment or sober living.
Life after rehab will require adjustment and patience. Don’t expect things to be just like they were before treatment. Take steps to be supportive while still remaining non-judgmental. Make sure your friend is staying connected to his/her recovery. Sometimes, offering to drive them to their meetings and events can be a big help. Being there for your friend during the good and bad times can be an invaluable part of their recovery process. Inviting them to fun sober events may help but be understanding if they do not want to participate. Remember, you’re simply there for support but the recovery process falls on your friend’s shoulders. If they falter in their recovery, do not take personal offense. They must take their own journey and sometimes that requires failure. The best thing you can do for your friend is be consistent and reliable if they decide to reach out after losing touch.
WHAT WORDS TO USE?
Before, during or after treatment, what you say really makes a difference. And the words you choose matter as well. Labeling or defining your friend by their addiction can be harmful. NPR explains the gravity of seeing your friend as a person with addiction and NOT just an addict or alcoholic. It matters in conversation. It matters when you talk with your friend, and it matters when you speak about their unique experiences. This careful phrasing supports the proven studies that addiction is a disease and not a moral issue. It puts the person — your friend! — very first, and addiction second.
Be that as it may, regardless of how you express it, at each phase of recovery, perhaps the best things to do is ask. Ask how you can help. Ask if what you’re doing and saying is OK. Be transparent. Admit when you don’t recognize what to do. Also, be completely sure that you listen when your companion answers. You can be there for the person you love now, later and into the distant future of shared happiness and healing.