After staging an intervention for a loved one and supporting him or her through the addiction treatment process, your family is probably breathing a sigh of relief and hoping events will soon settle down. But just as family support is a crucial part of treatment, your level of involvement can also affect the post-treatment effectiveness either for better or for worse. Here are four pivotal ways you and the rest of the family can maximize the positive potential of this period.
1. Lead by example.
Any person who's just finished addiction treatment is at a vulnerable stage and is more susceptible than you may realize. For this reason, it's vital to not only verbally support your family member's freedom from the substance in question, but to uphold it by example as well. Each member of the household needs to demonstrate support by staying free of the substance, even if it's a legal drug such as alcohol, and by refraining from supporting its use.
2. Minimize and combat stress.
Because stressful circumstances are often a catalyst for addiction, elevated stress levels may trigger an impulse to relapse that can be difficult to overcome. Try to minimize external stress factors and encourage participation in healthy ways to combat stress (such as meditation and exercise). The whole family is involved in this issue because, especially if the family member who's been through treatment is empathetic, he or she may feel vicarious stress when relatives are dealing with stressful circumstances. Each person in the family can play an integral part in keeping a positive environment in the home by minimizing personal stress levels.
3. Find and attend support groups.
The treatment center your loved one attended has probably already provided resources for individual and family therapy, but it's important to utilize the strength of both individual and family support groups as well. A support group, made up of like-minded families, can encourage you throughout the post-treatment phase. Involvement in the group also enables you to seek advice from those who've recently experienced the same things your family is going through.
4. Provide healthy fun.
If your family member slipped into drug addiction as a means of escaping a dull life or coping with a less-than-ideal job, obtaining alternative coping and escape mechanisms is an important part of building up a new life. Help your loved one find enjoyment in recreational activities and hobbies to forestall a possible relapse fueled by a need for escape. Options include sports, camping, amusement parks, gardening, or any other healthy activity he or she enjoys.
By supporting your relative throughout the addiction treatment process, you've already made great progress on the path to a better life for the whole family. Following these four steps to get the family involved can provide a positive framework for the affected family member and help enable greater overall success. Remember that sometimes recovery takes more than one attempt. Use resources like http://www.olalla.org to stay on top of additional recovery and treatment options for your loved one, should he or she need them.