If a friend, family member, coworker, or other loved one has chosen to go to rehab, you likely have high hopes for them. It must have been quite the challenge for them to admit their addiction problem and commit to treatment for it. Already, things may be picking up from when your loved one was at their worst. But rehab may not be smooth sailing all throughout, either for you or for the patient in question. There are a lot of new routines to get used to, rules to follow, and major life adjustments to anticipate post-addiction. There will be times that both of you will trust in the process, and other times that you will be filled with doubt about it.
Regardless, you may be wondering about the best ways to help your loved one once their treatment plan begins. Here are some tips on how to cheer up someone in rehabilitation and contribute to their full recovery. Be prepared for difficulties along the way, but don’t forget how much your support means to the patient.
Don’t Judge Them Harshly
Those undergoing rehab for substance abuse likely feel enough guilt, discouragement, and anger at themselves already. There’s no need to add to it while they’re going through their treatment. Keep this in mind if ever you feel the impulse to scold them or offer judgment. Take a step back from your emotions and realize that this isn’t easy for them, either. They are in rehab precisely because they want to change, despite how difficult dealing with change is.
Remember that this mindset should also apply if they experience a relapse. Their relapse doesn’t mean that they are hopeless or that their first attempt at rehab was a total failure. Believe in their potential to turn things around for the better, no matter how many tries it takes.
Take the Time to Learn About Their Condition
Another helpful thing that you can do for both yourself and your loved one is to educate yourself about addiction. There are a lot of myths that prevail about substance use disorder, including the fact that addiction is a choice and not a serious illness. You may also recognize the risk factors of addiction, such as trouble with finances or relationships, in the environment you share with the patient.
Learning about these things will help you get some perspective about why rehab is necessary and what it seeks to achieve. You’ll also understand how you can help your loved one fulfill their treatment goals, such as staying physically and emotionally healthy.
Talk Them Through Their Fears
Though they may know that rehab is meant to aid in their recovery, your loved one may still be nursing some fears about it. Perhaps they’re afraid of what medical procedures they’ll undergo, or perhaps they’re antsy about being in an unfamiliar environment with strangers. They may also be scared of what kind of life awaits them after their treatment, and whether they’ll be judged, isolated, or looked down upon.
With that in mind, let them know that their fears are valid ones to have. Encourage them to stay calm, to take things by the day, and to have faith in their future after rehab.
Help Them Follow the Structure and Rules of Their Treatment Plan
One of the hardest things about helping your loved one through rehab is getting them to maintain their discipline. They must understand that they have to follow certain rules and routines in order for their treatment plan to be effective.
No matter how much they plead, don’t agree to breaking or bending the rules for them. If their treatment plan doesn’t allow for visitors during a certain period, respect the center’s rules. Don’t break their diet by sneaking any prohibited foods or beverages in for them. Always strive to be the best possible influence for them, both when they’re in and when they’re out of rehab.
Know When To Talk and When to Give Them Space
At some point during rehabilitation, your loved one may want to talk about what they’ve learned and what they’re going through. When they show readiness to have such conversations, lend them an ear.
Conversely, there may be times that they’re not ready to talk just yet. Maybe they don’t have the words to make sense of the experience, or they just don’t feel comfortable enough to share. If that’s the case, you shouldn’t force them just for the sake of it. It matters just as much for you to give them the space they need.
Volunteer Financial, Logistical, or Emotional Support
There may be opportunities for you to volunteer financial, logistical, or emotional support to your loved one during their rehab. If you have the time and the resources, do those acts of service for them. These could be of concrete help to their treatment plan, and they can also boost your loved one’s morale.
For example, if they’re part of an outpatient rehab program, you can volunteer to drive them to the center on scheduled days. If they’ve got the jitters about attending their first Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting, perhaps you can take them to meal after.
Show Up For Them When You Have the Chance
Lastly, it will contribute a lot if you simply show up for your loved one at rehab. Being in rehab can feel very frightening and lonely, and your appearance may be just what they need to gain courage and mental fortitude.
If visits are allowed, make time to drop by and have quality time with them. And if the rehab center holds special events, like a family day, come with your other family members to show support for them.
Rehab may be one of the most challenging experiences that your loved one will ever have to live through. It won’t be an easy time for you, either. But know that your efforts while they’re at rehab will go a long way in your future together, when they’re finally free of their addiction.