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What You May Experience When a Loved One Is In Treatment

Getting a loved one into treatment can be a relief to months or years of agony and worry about their well-being. After all, treatment represents a safe environment in which to move toward sobriety and normalcy. However, addiction does not vanish when a client enters treatment. Therapy is hard and clients must reinvent themselves and their relationships – no easy task. The following are some common situations that you may encounter when a loved one is in treatment.

  • Dropping out before the completion of treatment is common and is known as leaving Against Medical Advice (AMA). Most treatment facilities are purely voluntary and clients are not confined against their will. However, if you have an inkling that your loved one is truly considering leaving treatment, be sure to let their therapist know. If an addict drops out before the completion of their treatment, their chances of relapse increase significantly.
  • It is all too easy to enable your loved one, even if you don’t realize you are. Your loved one may call you saying that treatment is ineffective or that they are cured. They may tell you that they don’t need more treatment or it’s of no use – they’ll continue doing drugs until they die. They may play on your guilt, saying you have abandoned them. These are all common scare tactics that addicts use to sabotage the treatment process and convince their family members to remove them from treatment. Remember, this is no cake walk – it requires dedication, persistence and structure, which is not easy to accept after years of out-of-control behavior. Stand firm. And if you have any concerns, speak to their therapist or a trusted medical advisor.
  • Be prepared to participate in treatment of your own. You, as the family, are a big part of successful aftercare and often family members do not know how to communicate effectively and without judgment. These are key skills that you will have to learn (and your loved one will be learning) during the treatment process. Education and understanding is the key to success.
  • Eliminate guilt. Many parents and loved ones blame themselves – to one degree or other – for their loved one’s addiction. It is natural to wonder “what have I done?” Your loved one may play on this guilt to manipulate you during the treatment process. Just remember that it is the addict that has chosen his or her path – it is also up to them to get better.

The most important principle here is that your loved one needs help and they can only receive it if they stay in treatment. They will try to take the easy way out – recovery is the hardest journey they may ever have to take. Your support is essential.

Of course, there are times where there is honest and serious concern about the effectiveness and safety of the treatment. During these times of crisis, if the treatment center is not offering additional support and communicating appropriately with you and your family, this may be a time for concern.

When in doubt, or if you’re wavering in your resolve, lean on the clinicians at the facility, get a second opinion or speak to appropriate regulatory bodies to ensure that the decisions you make are best for your loved one’s health and recovery.