When a loved one is recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, chances are pretty good that they’ll end up in a sober living facility at some point. In Southern California for example, one finding a sober living facility in Orange County is easy. What draws recovery patients to Orange County sober living facilities is the good weather, access to supportive resources and a strong base of recovery professionals. Sober living house rules cover many aspects of a resident’s daily activities, but it doesn’t control what happens when families come to visit their loved one. By this time, a recovering addict has already gone through Rehab or detox, then likely transitioned to and Orange County partial hospitalization program (PHP) or a similar program elsewhere. As they continue their addiction treatment process, a sober living home provides the opportunity for residents to begin living a life free from substance abuse issues. All of this is part of the current and proven addiction treatment methodology. Still, residents are not out of the woods and will at this point, begin to lean on their family and friends for support. Friends and family play a critical role in addiction recovery. Their support and comfort can help residents feel that their new life brings new opportunities – a fresh start – and helps with the healing process for everyone. It’s important to remember that addiction recovery is a lifelong process – the journey is just beginning after Rehab and will continue long after a stint at a sober living home. While a sober living environment helps build the life skills necessary for a successful life, it can’t fix existing family issues. Family therapy is part of the process and will help provide a controlled environment for safe discussions. When a loved one first started drug or alcohol treatment, you were probably experiencing doubts and anxiety. That’s just the tip of the iceberg and in fact, you were likely feeling strong emotions and had many questions. These conflicting emotions of your own probably had you wondering how best to communicate with your loved one:
- There may have been a sense of great relief in knowing that your loved one is getting real help for his or her addiction.
- You had some anxiousness as to whether or not your loved one could actually learn coping skills and how to work through the addiction.
- Anger: Your loved one has caused you and your family a lot of pain emotionally, mentally and financially.
- Perhaps you had a sense of comfort: Knowing where your loved one is physically provides at least some comfort – you know he’s shooting up in a bathroom, or in a sketchy neighborhood looking to buy substances.
- You almost certainly felt sadness: How did it get to this point? What could you have done differently?
- Frustration: You couldn’t help him by yourself – and now he has to go to somewhere so someone else can help him.
- Shame: How will face your family, friends and co-workers?
- Optimism: Perhaps he’s hit his bottom and you finally change.
It’s natural to want to communicate feelings of frustration, hurt and betrayal – but these feelings are a tad selfish. You must step outside what you’re feeling and focus on what your loved one needs to successfully complete their addiction treatment. Her are some solid tips for effective communication: Start With Love. Hate the addiction, love the person. They are two separate things. Addiction is a disease. The first high was a choice, everything after that was addiction attaching itself like a parasite to the brain of your loved one. Like a disease, without treatment, it can be fatal. Know that your loved one is scared, anxious and angry at himself. Chances are, he’s already doing a hell of a job beating himself up – and he sure doesn’t need guilt, shame or negativity from family or friends. Begin with love and you will have set the stage for positive communication. Show Forgiveness. Forgiving doesn’t mean sweeping all of your emotions away moving forward without discussion. Forgiveness, instead, will help you find a sense of peace. There will be time for discussion about the pain your loved one caused to others, but it’s not while they are in sober living or in any addiction treatment facility. Your loved one knows he made some serious mistakes, and if you’re having a difficult time moving on, any conversations to that affect can trigger a relapse. Forgiveness is about understanding that your loved one was sick with the disease of addiction when he or she said or did things to hurt you or break your trust. Forgiveness means releasing those powerful, negative thoughts that have been stored in your head and your heart. Forgiving will also be a starting ground for rebuilding your relationship and communicating effectively. Build Their Confidence. Your loved one was likely at or near their lowest low when they entered addiction treatment – and it’s likely that they are still overcome with feelings of embarrassment and shame. They need to hear that you believe in them. As they transition to a normal life in a sober living facility, the program focuses on building confidence. You can do your part by:
- Telling them how much you admire their commitment, accomplishments and decision to get help.
- Focusing on their positive traits and the qualities that will see them through addiction recovery.
- Letting them know you still respect them perhaps even more so now that they’ve made the commitment to recovery.
Show Unwavering Support. Your are likely feeling very anxious – and so is your loved one. In fact, many of our clients express that they worry their parents, spouses or friends won’t understand why they haven’t been able to just “get sober”. Letting your loved one know that you understand their condition and their challenges will come as a huge relief to your loved one.