Family Member Returns from Rehab: Part 2 – Communication and Respect

Links to other resources: Residential Treatment, Detox, Language and Addiction

Last week we began talking about some things to do, or not do, when a family member is returning home from rehab for drug and alcohol abuse, including if they completed treatment at the best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida, Florida Springs in Panama City. I have scoured all different sources for information on what to do after picking up a family member from rehab for drugs and alcohol, and I found a few important themes to keep in mind. Communication and respect are two of the most important concepts when discussing the individual rules that many other people have touched on regarding this topic. Many people have similar advice about what to do when a family member returns home after substance abuse treatment, but many of those sources leave out very important context and details. As an example, many writers have given the advice that a family member should not incessantly nag or question their family member who has just returned from rehab.

That makes sense as a general concept, but that statement on its own is lacking important context. I would put it this way. Rather than feeling like you need to incessantly question the family member who is newly in recovery, make an exhaustive list of possible concerns that you think might come up after the family member comes home. Always have respect for your family member, even though they may have made many mistakes during their drug and alcohol use, and even wronged you personally. Part of that respect is being up front and honest. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Even though your family member who has an addiction problem may have been dishonest in the past, we would like everyone to try to be honest going forward. Be honest with your family member about all the possible concerns you have about their return home from treatment. If you miss something, then you can address it later when it becomes relevant, but we should strive to make an exhaustive list and discuss the list in advance. If the family member breaks a rule that was openly discussed in advance, we can refer to the discussion, or even the list itself, in order to show respect and show that we aren’t trying to nag, but simply trying to demand accountability based on what was agreed upon. Also try to have a sense of scale when choosing what to bring up with the family member. If you are bringing up something the family member is doing wrong, even if it is a small thing, it will sound like a reprimand. Nobody wants to feel like they are being reprimanded for small things over and over. So, pick and choose what things are worth discussing further.

Bringing Up the Past

This is hugely important. This subject came up in all the sources I checked for today’s article. Most people called this “trying to get the addict to deal with old issues”, or “reminding the addict about how they hurt the family/others”. I would call all of this “bringing up the past”, and most people who are in recovery or have had a family member in recovery know what we mean by “bringing up the past”. I have one main piece of advice on this topic. Most people who write about this issue simply say, “Don’t bring up the past” or “Don’t nag them about the past”. I agree with that sentiment in theory, but we must be realistic and fair to the people who are  allowing the person in recovery to have a place to stay. It might not always be easy to avoid bringing up the many instances where harm was done in the past because of substance abuse. Rather than trying to avoid the topic all together forever, let’s come to a fair understanding. Let’s have one short meeting each week, or even every two weeks, where we sit down for 45 minutes and discuss the things that happened in the past that hurt us, how we feel about those things now, and what the best course of action is to heal those wounds. People in recovery who attend AA meetings will know that 12-step programs often have ways of dealing with the past that are prescribed in great detail. However, we must remember that not everyone is in a 12-step program, and even if the person with addiction is going to AA, the person who they are living with probably is not. This is another thing that should be discussed and agreed to by all parties in advance, but a short meeting each week to deal with and heal from the past should be good for everyone and may be more helpful and healthy than attempting to avoid the past entirely. That’s all for today. If you or a loved one needs substance abuse treatment, the best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida is reachable at the number listed on this website. Please come back next week for more thoughts and discussion about what to do when a family member is coming home from drug or alcohol rehab or treatment.

By T.A. Cannon