How to Communicate With Your Person in Rehab
It's happened -- your spouse, family member or dear friend has checked into a rehab. Perhaps the person took action on his or her own; perhaps you were part of a team of family members, friends and professionals who put together a carefully prepared intervention to emphasize the seriousness of the issue and pressed for the necessity of treatment. Perhaps this action is one you've been praying for. Perhaps you are breathing a sigh of relief. Perhaps you are thinking that everything is fine now that the person is safely admitted to a treatment center. The reality is that inpatient treatment can be challenging for both you and the person in treatment, even if the person is Tiger Woods. It is potentially the beginning of a new life for the person who has been struggling with a compulsive condition -- and a chance for you to offer genuine support to that person in a way that furthers recovery, growth and change. Write to your person in care of the postal address of the treatment center -- send cards, letters or notes. Comment on his or her courage in accepting treatment, your love and caring, and your desire to see him or her healthy. Respect the person's desire for confidentiality. Don't make any general public announcements, business memos or social media postings that undermine your person's need to avoid gossip and keep private concerns private. Ask the person's wishes about who to tell and in what way. Educate yourself as much as possible about alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, compulsive gambling or sex addiction -- the main conditions for which a person may seek inpatient treatment. Often there are comprehensive resources at the Web site of the treatment center, and you can use your search engine to find other reputable information. This education will help you understand the illness, the tasks involved in recovery and wellness and allow you to communicate with your person accurately and with understanding. Attend Al-Anon or Alateen meetings, even if your person isn't actually an alcoholic, in your local area to learn how to identify enabling behaviors that you have used with your person in the past and help you to respond to him or her in the future. In some cites there are also support groups for family and friends of gamblers and people with eating disorders and sex addiction. You may also be able to find online meetings to supplement your local meetings. Read "The Language Of Letting Go" by Melody Beattie to learn how to detach from a person's problems with love and compassion -- and without fixing, blaming, enabling, manipulating or abandoning. It's a classic that is available at most book stores and online. Attend family sessions, which should be a part of the treatment experience. Go with an open mind; allow yourself to learn how you have been affected by your person's illness and how you can respond differently to support your person and your person's health and well being. If your person decides she doesn't want to stay in treatment and asks someone to pick him or her up and take her home, stand firm. Never make decisions in isolation; contact other family members who support treatment, the staff at the treatment center, trusted advisors and the intervention team to discuss these decisions. Say, "I will have to get back to you," if he or she asks help in leaving treatment. Consider professional help from an experienced psychotherapist in your area for yourself and possibly your family, including your children. Stay connected as a team. Continue to send love and caring to your person who is struggling to learn how to live a new life.