Advice to the younger, more codependent me from the stronger, more independent me – thanks to nine months in the rooms of recovery. When your loved one is in Detox:
Don’t Pose As A “Friend” Of A “Potential Client” And Request A Tour Of The Facility
When your loved one is in detox, knowing the details of their physical discomfort won’t bring you peace. Likewise, inquiring about their suicide prevention policies isn’t necessary. Knowing the length of bed sheets compared to window height or the availability of razors won’t bring you the comfort you’re seeking.
Do Trust The Expertise And Kindness Of These Addiction Professionals
Your daughter, husband, or sister isn’t their first client, and accommodating your addict’s likes, dislikes, triggers, and hurts wasn’t enough to heal him. It’s time to let the experts give it a go. Overprotective parents – the helicopter lands here.
Don’t Expect Hourly Updates
Your loved one’s healing will take months, even years. Also, don’t expect wake up calls each morning letting you know Suzy made it through another night. She will. They’ll protect her in ways you couldn’t.
Do Take Care Of Yourself
When your spouse or child enters inpatient rehab, your schedule instantly clears. Hours you spent calling to check on them, cleaning up their messes, and making excuses for them are now painfully free. Fill the void by taking care of you. Long walks, bubble baths, and getting lost in a book are healthy replacements.
Dos and Don’ts When Detox Is Over and Inpatient Longer Term Begins
Don’t Walk, Run To Your Nearest Family Support Group
Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Celebrate Recovery and CoDA all offer support for the addict’s family. The people in these rooms of recovery have been in your situation and SURVIVED. They won’t try to fix you, but learning what worked for them can be life changing for you.
Do Make Big Changes – Starting With YOU
The only person YOU can change is you, and heavy soul searching is required. Use your newfound free time to learn about healthy boundaries. What behaviors will be allowed in your home when your loved one returns? What works for YOU and what doesn’t work for you? Changing what you allow is essential to your peace of mind, and it’s the best thing you can do for your addict’s sobriety.
Don’t Take A Batch Of Homemade Cookies To Your First Family Session
Yes, little Freddy has been through the living hell of detox, but he doesn’t deserve a treat. (Unless you believe his decision to get help deserves a reward. Cancer patients get casseroles after all, and addiction is a disease. This cookie choice is up to you)
Do Treat Yourself
A healthy salad, a refreshing smoothie, or a comforting bowl of soup will do the trick to make you feel better. If you’re still crying every day, drink plenty of water. Your loved one isn’t the only one facing hard work. You’re going to have to start uttering the most difficult word in any language: “No.”
Don’t Speak. Just Listen.
You will have limited contact with your loved one. When you do get to talk, don’t say things like, “Your boyfriend was such a jerk. He would’ve driven me to drinking years ago.” She needs to feel the pain and discomfort that only comes from the natural consequences of their disease. You shouldn’t prevent the pain or inflict more.
You’ve feared the addiction for months. While entry into rehab is distressing and confirms your suspicions, it’s your loved one’s the best shot at recovery. This is a critical first step to healing for all of you. Rehab is hard, but what you’ve all been doing didn’t work. Rehab can.
It’s a first step, but an important one. Concentrate on the present now and take it from there.
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Pam is the author of Co-dependent In The Kitchen, and she's a contributing editor for Recovery Guidance. She's a recovery advocate who likes long walks on the beach and chocolate.