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When Your Loved One Leaves Recovery First

What Is the Discharge Process?

Holding hands

We know how anxious you will be for your loved one to return home. We are here to work with you during this life-changing moment. Before your loved one is cleared to leave, their case manager will work with them to create a discharge plan. This plan will provide clear steps that they should take as they transition back into their daily life.

For those who are living locally, that might include instructions for joining our aftercare and alumni groups. If your loved one isn’t from this area, their case manager will help them find ongoing care in their home community. Either way, you can pick up your loved one at the facility after this plan is complete and take them home.

Recovery First is partnering with MAP Health Management, an organization that will assist your loved one as they continue to work on their recovery and rebuild their lives. Beginning mid-April, 2019, MAP will follow up with patients for the first few months after their discharge to make sure everything is on track. They’ll connect with your loved one, their case manager, and other staff by phone to help them navigate the post-discharge landscape and connect them with others in recovery.

Supporting Your Loved One

Knowing how to act around your newly sober loved one can be tricky and you may worry about saying or doing the wrong thing. Remember, you can’t control your loved one’s recovery, but you can be there for them as they navigate this new journey.

It’s generally best to be empathetic about their situation and avoid judgment as much as possible. Your loved one may be coming to terms with things they did in active addiction that they feel shame or guilt about. Avoid adding to their shame by rehashing old incidents; instead, let them know how proud you are of their progress.

Remember, addiction is a chronic disease, meaning your loved one won’t be “cured” when they leave rehab. They’ll be in recovery for the rest of their life. Offer your unconditional love and support as they adapt to their life in recovery. Remember, however, that unconditional love doesn’t mean enabling. Set boundaries and clearly state them, and the consequences for violating them, to your loved one. This part may be difficult, but in the long run, it will be best for both of you.

Logistical Support

One important step you can take is to help them find an outpatient program or recovery meetings to keep them on the right path. While we don’t have a regular outpatient program, we do offer an intensive outpatient program (IOP) which offers therapy and groups 3 evenings a week at our Hollywood facility.

We also provide a free aftercare program, also at our Hollywood location, on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. If your loved one needs transportation and you can provide it, this would be a great way to provide support for their recovery, as regular contact with sober connections goes a long way in preventing relapse.

You might also invite them to participate in certain activities or hobbies with you. Their old hangouts and friends will likely be triggering for them, and they’ll need to engage in a whole new lifestyle change in which they separate themselves from the people, places, and things that they associate with substance use.

Discuss Relapse

It’s important to understand that addiction is disease, not a choice. Addiction has relapse rates similar to those of asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure. If your loved one has suffered one or more relapses in the past, try not to hold it against them; relapse is a common part of the journey to recovery.

When your loved one comes homes from Recovery First, talk openly about relapse and their plan for prevention. Understand their triggers and when they’re most tempted to use. This can help you to avoid unwittingly exposing them to certain temptations when you’re together.

Ask them about the relapse prevention plan they developed with their case manager and therapists while in rehab. We generally use elements of the Gorski relapse prevention method, which has been proven effective for many people.

Most importantly, watch for signs of impending relapse. If you notice your loved one is starting to act odd, become more secretive, hide their belongings, or experience mood swings, they could be using again. The best thing to do in this case is not to reprimand or accuse but to connect your loved one with support right away.

Stay Involved

Staying involved in your loved one’s life is crucial, even if you’ve had a rough past. Addiction is well known for wrecking relationships and causing conflicts. But you can move past these hurdles with time, love, and support. One way you can do this is through family therapy.

We are happy to provide a monthly family program while clients are receiving treatment. This 2-day event gives you the chance to visit your loved one and work directly with a therapist to help heal any bad blood that’s brewing between you. After your loved one is discharged from rehab, it’s a great idea to continue family therapy on your own to continue to work on your relationship.

Additionally, our alumni program hosts frequent events to encourage and inspire former clients; in some cases, family members can also get involved in these activities.

Supporting Yourself

You also need to keep an eye on your own well-being while you’re supporting your loved one during their recovery. Attempting to be a pillar of strength for another person is incredibly exhausting, and sometimes even stressful and traumatic. You may find your mental and physical health, finances, work performance, and personal life begin to suffer.

The key here is to learn to set boundaries for yourself and your loved one and come to terms with the fact that you are not responsible for your loved one’s sobriety. Be there for your loved one, but avoid sacrificing your own health and wellness. Remember that you can provide the best support when you take care of yourself. Think of the airline’s advice—you always put your own oxygen mask on before you put one on your child. The same principle applies here.

There are organizations that can help you if you’re struggling to find the right balance of support. These include:

  • Al-Anon or Nar-Anon – 12-step groups for those whose lives have been impacted by a loved one’s alcohol or drug use.
  • Co-Dependents Anonymous – A fellowship designed to help those struggling to maintain healthy and loving relationships.