Your loved one is in a rehab program. You’ve been down a long and tortuous road. There are a lot of things you could be feeling right now...exhaustion, relief, anger, pain, hope, sadness, worry…
The one thing you know is that sooner or later, your loved one will be home. What do you do between now and then?
Knowing about what addiction really is can help you understand why things have happened and what comes next.
For instance, it can help to know that Substance Use Disorder is a disorder of the brain’s reward system and it has both genetic and environmental components. The behaviors--even the lying, the lack of impulse control, and the manipulation--are all part of the disorder just as much as muscle aches are a part of the flu. This can be really hard to come to terms with. We’re used to behavior being a choice.
The type of addiction is also important. An alcohol addiction looks different than a meth addiction or a cocaine addiction. Process addictions like gambling or pornography also have their own sets of behavior patterns.
It helps to understand what is involved in the recovery process. When your loved one gets done with acute addiction treatment, they’re not cured. In fact, they’ll have to be aware of their addiction for the rest of their lives. Relapses happen and should be expected. Knowing what's normal and part of the journey can help you maintain hope.
You’ve gone through a lot--you’ve been hurt. Substance use disorder deeply affects your relationship and who you are.
When your loved one is recovery, it can seem like they are getting all the support and you are left licking your wounds. When they get back, they’ll probably also be attending some kind of support group frequently. What do you do?
There is support for family members. Al-Anon has been around for decades as a way to approach how to live with a loved one who is in an active addiction or who is in recovery.
Other groups include:
These support groups (and others) use peer support to help you process your experiences, learn to set healthy boundaries, and to recover from your experience.
Your spouse’s treatment program should also be engaging your relationship issues. Educating and treating the whole family lays a foundation for a successful recovery.
Consider finding a therapist
One-on-one support is also a great idea during this time. A therapist can help you process the pain and trauma you’ve experienced and then help you figure out how to deal with the future. Sometimes it is just good to have someone listen and affirm what you feel and be on your side.
Know your relationship is going to need work
Addiction batters relationships, whether it’s a marriage, a parent-child relationship, or one between siblings.
It’s not unusual for divorce to happen after the addicted person is through recovery. It hardly seems fair. You’ve walked by their side through all of it, dealt with being lied to and manipulated, and shouldered all the daily responsibilities for so long.
They’ve gone through treatment, they’re staying sober. Life is returning to normal. So why does everything explode now?
Because before, you were in survival mode. Now that things are stable, your brain says “Now I can be angry.” The pain comes flooding to the surface. Maybe you even want some kind of pay-back. What do you do with it all?
Both of you may feel like things should be normal now and not expect that you need to learn to trust again. You may not have realized that you have spent a long time creating patterns that helped you get through that don’t apply anymore.
Many couples have navigated these rough roads and come out stronger for it. They’ve learned to trust each other again once through the recovery process.
Realize It’s Not Your Fault
It’s so easy to feel to blame. You couldn’t prevent the addiction or control it, and you won’t be able to control the recovery process either. You can only participate in it and support where you can.
Spring Gardens Recovery is Here to Help You with Your Relationship
Throughout our program, we’ll work with you and your loved one to begin the healing process for both of you. In treatment, your loved one will be doing a lot of self-care and self-reflection--figuring out ways to handle relationships and daily life better. Your feedback and involvement will help that process.
You’re not alone.