Your friend has made a brave decision to attend rehab for substance abuse and you’ve been at their side, supporting them the whole way so far. Things are going to change when once they’re part of the program but your support will remain invaluable. Here are some tips on how to help your friend as they start their recovery.
Learn as Much as Possible
Unless you’re in the same shoes as your friend, it’s not likely that you know exactly what they are going through at this time. Read as much as you can about addiction and recovery to better understand what you’re friend is experiencing. Do an online search of the program your friend is in so you know what to expect in the coming months and how to prepare yourself.
Express Love, Concern and Support
Anyone going through a rough time wants to know that they are loved and supported so don’t hold back on telling your friend that you care about them and are always there if they need anything. Don’t wait until they are at the bottom of the barrel and feeling their worst before you tell them—get it out early and don’t be hesitant to continue if you are met with hostility and denial. Ultimately, you are doing the right thing.
When a person leaves an inpatient facility and starts life again in the real world, there are going to be a lot of triggers (things that might make them want to use drugs or alcohol) that they aren’t used to or even expecting. Some will be very easy to spot—for example, don’t take them to a party where everyone is drinking and doing drugs. Talk to them about their known individual triggers are, and make sure you do what you can to avoid them.
Remember—It’s a Long Road Back
Recovery is a long process—one that your friend will work on for the rest of his or her life, most likely. Don’t expect them to come out of rehab and be “fixed.” What’s more, know that there isn’t anything you can do to “fix” them or make things better other than provide your support. Prepare yourself—whether through your own counselling or other coping mechanisms—for the long haul.
Don’t forget that this road to recovery is one that you and your friend are on together, but they are in the driver’s seat—you are simply there to guide them if they get a little lost. Make sure that you have their best interests in mind at all times and don’t be afraid to ask them what they need from you along the way.
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