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Supporting a Newly Sober Loved One

When a loved one returns home from rehab, they will be returning to a world that is entirely new to them. Their time spent in a rehab facility was very structured and predictable. Upon their return home they will again be responsible for their own selves. Keep in mind that most relapses occur within the first few weeks for newly sober persons. As their support, you will also be facing a few challenges yourself, such as providing a supportive environment for them to feel welcomed and comfortable in, but more importantly, one that will allow them to remain sober.

Along with creating an action plan and a “to-do” list, also consider the things you should avoid doing to support your loved one’s new sobriety. As a family member, it is crucial for you to understand that there are actions and conversations that may be detrimental to the newly sober member of your family.

To begin, give your loved one the time they need to ease into their new life. Don’t push too much on them too soon. Letting your loved one acclimate to their new way of living at home, at their own pace, will help them establish themselves with better success.

Also, do not take their choice to attend counseling and meetings as a means to avoid the family. Your loved one’s main priority at this stage of their recovery is to remain sober. Their willingness to attend meetings and counseling is a positive sign of true change. Over time this commitment to sobriety will strengthen your family.

Communication is also very important at this stage of recovery. Don’t be afraid to talk. If a situation arises where you are unsure about what to say, communicate that with your loved one. Let them know you are not sure or don’t understand. This will be much better than not saying anything at all.

With that being said, don’t over-communicate by bringing up the past. Your loved one has chosen to move forward and complete a rehab program, you should follow suit and move forward with their new outlook on life. Leave the past behind and be as positive as possible.

Also, don’t assume anything. It is very beneficial for you to sit down with your loved one and discuss what their needs from you are. Knowing ways you can support them will provide clear expectations for everyone.

Lastly, don’t be afraid of triggering a relapse. Being open and honest about your feelings will be best for their recovery. Ultimately, there is nothing you can do or say that will make them relapse. If your loved one returns to a life of drugs or alcohol it is their choice alone, it is not your doing. The power of addiction is beyond your control.

Understandably, this can be a challenging time in both of your lives.  By providing support and love throughout their transition to home life, you can provide the best environment possible for your loved one to be successful in their recovery.  

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