Post-Rehab: Be Realistic With Your Loved Ones

There are few things in life more painful and stressful than having a family member with an addiction. It causes a strain on the entire family. Everyone tends to wander around aimlessly, not knowing whether to take charge and force sobriety or stand back and let them change when they’re ready. A blend of both is often needed. Family members must recognize that an addict will never change unless they find the desire within themselves to change. You cannot make their mind up for them. You can not inject them with that desire or bully them into it. However, like the old saying says, you can lead a horse to water. You can lead your addict or supply them with the resources they need. You can motivate them. You can encourage them. You can believe in them. Most importantly, you can choose not to enable them– do not give them money or reasons to turn to their addiction. Support, but never enable.

If your loved one has recently undergone a turn in rehab, you absolutely must remember to be reasonable in your expectations. It’s so easy to subscribe to the fairy tale life that your loved one will be clean forever. Maybe they will be. Hopefully, they will be. Yet it’s easy for an addict to slip back into their old ways. You have to see the signs of this early. Without a doubt, you should believe in your loved ones. If you see those old habits creeping back, however, you have to point them out. You have to be aware.

At the same time, you cannot hold this addiction over their head. They need a fresh start. Don’t constantly bring up the issues or use it as a “trump card” in arguments. This will only frustrate your loved one. They will feel as if they can never get past that one addiction, and that can make them feel like the only thing they’ll ever be known as is an addict. That feeling can make it even easier to slip back into being an addict. Be supportive, but be realistic.