When a Loved One Leaves Treatment
Once your loved one leaves treatment, they have hopefully thought about how life will be like afterwards and what it will be like to live a sober life. For a person just stepping out of treatment, the first few weeks can be trying. Relapses have a tendency to occur only weeks after leaving treatment, due to the fact that people are coming from a highly structured treatment setting to a world with high expectations and demands. With what seems like the weight of the world on their shoulders, they will need plenty of support and love from those around them to help them succeed in their recovery.
What to Do and What Not to Do
When visiting your loved one who is newly sober, here are some simple tips that will help show them that you are in their corner:
Meet at a safe location. For example: no bars, hookah lounges, or clubs. Think about your loved one and where might be a trigger for them, you can also ask them to pick the safe place. Some possible trigger situations to keep in mind are going to the movies, watching a football game, and bowling alleys. Some things you may not have even thought about could be triggers for your loved one, including going grocery shopping, going to a restaurant with a bar, or playing pool.
Don’t bring or drink alcohol (even if they say “It’s fine”). Refrain from drinking in front of your loved one and definitely don’t bring them wine to go with dinner. Maybe they had a cocaine addiction but only drank alcohol recreationally, still don’t drink in front of them.
Avoid glorifying drug use. This includes alcohol and marijuana use. Your newly sober friend does not need to hear about your recent partying experience with marijuana. Instead, praise and support them for staying sober after treatment.
Ask them how you can be of support. There is nothing wrong with asking this question. This will let your loved one know that you care about how they feel and what they need. It is also okay to say “I don’t understand”.
Refrain from asking them to discuss the details of their substance use, the consequences that occurred because of it, or past conflicts between the two of you. Ruminating over the bad things that happened when they were using is not healthy for either of you and neither is focusing on the bad outcomes it had on your relationship.
Don’t put pressure on them. When visiting your loved one who is newly sober, it is best not to push them to be doing too much. For example, your loved one is recently out of treatment, attends five meetings a week, and works part time at a local store. It would be unwise for you to push them to work full-time, get another job, or go to school while they are in the first few months of their recovery. This is due to the fact that they need to be treating their recovery like a full-time job, in the way that they need to take responsibility for it and work on it on a daily basis, otherwise relapse is imminent.
Completing a treatment program is a HUGE accomplishment and should be celebrated accordingly. Be proud of your loved one. They may be scared of what the future brings, and they need your support and praise.