Welcoming someone home from drug or alcohol rehab can be almost as nerve-wracking as sending them off. After possibly months away from each other, you will undoubtedly wonder how to start this next chapter. You most likely spent months or years struggling to get your loved one help. Their addiction consumed so much of your life that now, you might not even be sure how to interact with them without substance abuse being a part of the conversation.
Here are seven tips to help you welcome your loved one home with open arms and get on the path toward rebuilding your relationship.
Treat Them Like Normal
“Normal” is subjective, and maybe you have a hard time even remembering how things were between the two of you before addiction. Try your hardest to focus on the present and not bring up past arguments or old wounds. These subjects can be triggering, and they’re best dealt with in family therapy or individual counseling.
Give them a hug. Ask them how they’re doing. Talk to them about the latest movie on Netflix or your crazy coworker. Make sure that you treat them like a regular person whose identity isn’t rooted in their addiction (or recovery).
Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Their Recovery, But Don’t Focus On It
Your loved one shouldn’t feel ashamed of what they’ve been through; on the contrary, they should be proud of what they’ve overcome. Everyone has different feelings regarding their openness about substance abuse. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about rehab or recovery but only do so with a kind heart and good intentions. The last thing you want to do is make your loved one feel judged or ashamed.
A big part of recovery is readjusting to life as a sober person. Getting a job, going back to school or tending to other responsibilities may be challenging at first. Understand that your loved one might need some personal time to fully be themselves again and do everything they used to.
Offer Assistance Without Embarrassing Them
It’s okay to offer help with things, but don’t make it sound like your friend or family member isn’t capable of doing anything on their own.
Know Your Role in Their Recovery
Everyone serves a purpose in an addict’s recovery. You are an important part of their support system, but you must understand your boundaries and limitations. Well-intentioned people may accidentally overstep and come off as controlling or untrusting if they are too eager to help.
Create Opportunities for Meaningful Connection
Go to the movies, take them out to eat and enjoy sober activities together that help make new memories. Their return is the start of a new relationship.
Educate Yourself and Be Understanding
Learn about addiction and recovery. Understand that no one’s story is the same, and every addict will struggle with their own challenges. Some people may find that they’re able to adjust to life with only a few weeks of hard work while others require months of intensive outpatient therapy.
Try to put judgement aside, acknowledge your loved one’s journey so far and learn as much as you can about addiction to be the best supporter you can.