Your loved one will have a lot of adapting to do and will likely come to you asking for you to make things more to their liking when they first enter treatment and are in early recovery. While it might seem to you like they’ve got reasonable complaints like, “I don’t like my roommate, the food, my bedroom, my case worker, the rules…”, research shows that the anxiety of adapting to new situations, is necessary for creating new neuro-pathways in the brain which allows for real change to take place and remain solid. Therefore do not become tempted to triangulate with your loved one against the treatment protocols or professionals. It is NOT in your, or your loved one’s best interest. They are there to begin their journey toward long-term recovery, not to meet their immediate desire for comfort.
Ask your loved one to sign the HIPPA and consent to release information forms. If they are resistant, let them know this is not an attempt to control them. This will allow you to speak with their treatment team so you can better understand what their needs are, what they’re going through and be better at supporting their recovery process. If they are at first unwilling to do so, you may want to use leverage. Leverage can be anything that they want from you, such as spending money for cigarettes, paying their bills, or providing them with a cell phone, transportation, etc. Conversations around using leverage must be done in a loving, non-punitive tone, so as not to cause unnecessary defensiveness from your loved one.
At Families United for Recovery, we teach parents and family members how to use leverage to help move their loved one toward recovery. In this case, it means communicating with their treatment team to ensure the best chance for the treatment success and plan for their long-term recovery.
If your loved one still is unwilling to sign the consent to release information forms, you should most definitely request to speak to their case manager and provide as much information about your loved one’s background as you can. This will help them – help your loved one.
With all that you’ve been through and the likely enormous financial investment you are making in your loved one’s treatment and recovery, it makes sense to do and learn everything you can to be their best chance for recovery and that means communicating in a healthy way with members of their treatment program. We at Families United provide scripts, tools and strategies to help you speak with your loved one and their treatment team.
One person to speak to as soon as possible is their case manager. Let them know you will stand by and support the treatment center’s suggestions for length of your loved one’s stay, levels of care, therapy protocols, sober living…. as much as you are able. Your respect for their professionalism will help them help your loved one and they will appreciate that you are determined not to enable or argue on behalf of your loved one’s desires or will, at the cost of what’s in their long-term best interest. Also, let them know that you will appreciate gentle reminders if you slip into enabling patterns or other unhealthy behaviors as they continue to support your loved one’s recovery. Additionally, we recommend you request to have a weekly appointment with them to get an update on your loved one’s progress and so you can be optimally supportive during your calls and texts with your loved one.
If you are working with Andrea Arlington as your coach, let their case manager know that she’s able to speak with them as well. She can share her awareness in working with your family and support the treatment team in helping the family’s participation in their loved one’s recovery.
It’s vitally important to provide them with all the facts leading up to your loved one entering treatment, any challenges that may interfere with a successful treatment experience, or other information that could help your loved one’s recovery. It may be difficult to be completely transparent with the case manager and/or treatment team, but protecting or hiding the truth can be dangerous. This is a life and death issue and complete honesty is a must. Do your best to answer all questions they are asking and if you need support with this, talk with your coach.
While it is crucial to openly talk about how the family has been impacted by your loved ones SUD or addiction, (which can be done in a letter as well if that is more practical or comfortable), sharing the facts of what you’ve seen and experienced with your loved one should be done in a non-emotional, objective way in family therapy or group sessions.
Remember that research shows that the longer a loved one is engaged in treatment, the better the outcomes. You can help their decision to stay in treatment by keeping your cool and avoiding triggering your loved one. This is a priority. Therefore, while they’re in treatment, avoid bringing up current information or issues that could be upsetting without first discussing it with their therapist or counselor, as this could trigger them to relapse, or at the very least distract them from working on their recovery.
Be informed about the topics the treatment center prefers you discuss with them and make sure you check in with your loved one’s frame of mind before doing so. This way, if they’re struggling with anything else you don’t over burden them.
Be supportive and encouraging of their attendance and commitment to meetings, therapy, group etc. and do not invite them to attend other activities that interfere with these important activities for sustaining recovery. Encourage them to share whatever they want with you about their new awareness and recovery. If you have concerns about any of it, share your concerns with your coach, their counselor or case manager, not with them!
Before your loved one completes initial treatment, be sure the treatment team has defined and discussed an aftercare protocol with your loved one. If possible, help your loved one go directly into a sober living home and continue with outpatient. If not, and if they are returning to your home, create a contract with your loved one, with the help of their therapist or counselor and your coach, to clearly establish the conditions of them returning home.
In the contract, you along with their treatment team will clearly define and commit to yourself and your loved one the terms under which you are willing to have them return home. Along with a well written protocol for after treatment and continuing recovery activities, included should be regular weekly scheduled check-ins with them and in addition, as you deem needed, to share the facts of what you see happening with them.
These check-ins should include positive feedback and areas you feel need improvement. All conversations should be started with a loving acknowledgment of them as a person and/ or the importance of them in your life. All topics are to be discussed in a loving, non-confrontational tone. All conversations should be solution focused and kept brief. Regular interaction and activities should be resumed immediately following, i.e.: no all-day, all week, gloom and doom, or hyper-focusing on what’s not working!
The contract must be solid. You must be willing to enforce it and reach out for help with your coach or other professionals for support if needed to strengthen your conviction and follow through with the boundaries you’ve set. Your boundaries will likely be tested by your loved one. They may try to break you down. Be clear on why you set them in the first place and hold strong.
Work closely with your coach to stay calm and rational/ non-emotional when interacting with your loved one. Stay in touch with your loved one’s recovery team. Stay focused on solutions, not problems.
Be sure to include in your contract the minimal requirements of therapy sessions/meetings/meetings with sponsors, or their recovery coach that you expect them to abide by in order to have the privilege of being in relationship with or, living with you. While it’s true that their recovery is their business ultimately, being in a relationship with you and/or living with you can and should be comfortable for you and will be more so if you have established solid ground rules in your contract with them. Additionally, living with or being in a daily relationship with you is a privilege and is in a very real sense leverage to help you apply gentle external pressure to stay in recovery until their own internal drive to do so is well established.
For more on helping your loved one in early recovery or to learn about using leverage visit us for family group coaching on Wednesday evenings at 6:30, hosted by Alo House Recovery Centers located at 28955 Pacific Coast Highway suite#200, Malibu, Ca. (free and open to the public), check out our website www.familiesunitedforrecovery.com, visit us on Facebook, or call us at (424)203-4569. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.
We at Families United provide research based recovery tools and strategies that are solution focused. Studies show the family plays a critical role in the cycle of addiction or recovery. Their influence can be destructive or supportive in helping loved ones choose to sustain long-term recovery. When the family gets into recovery, their loved ones stand a much better chance for choosing recovery and/ or sustaining it. We are here for you every step of the way.