With good reason, there is always a lot of attention focused on the recovery intervention process and getting an addict into treatment but not as much attention on what comes after the inpatient stay and what the family and the individual face on a daily basis in recovery. Because recovery as well as addiction can affect the entire family, I have decided to divide this blog article into two sections. The first section which follows is directed towards the family of a newly recovered individual. The second part, which will focus on the individual, will follow shortly.
Getting an individual successfully into treatment is just one step of the recovery process not only for the individual but for the family and loved ones as well. I have often heard people say, regarding an individual’s addiction, that they just want the old husband, wife or son back; the person they used to know before all the craziness of addiction began.
Often times in recovery what they get is a whole new person they have never met! Who is this person? What the heck are they talking about? Where was this person when we were on the alter saying “I do,” twelve years ago?
What’s worse is that you newly recovering person may be going about their business with their new recovery lifestyle, seemingly happy as ever and you are sitting back watching doing a slow burn.
“Why am I so miserable,” you might ask? “Why are Feelings of anger, jealousy, resentment and fear rising at a time that realistically should be filled with relief and happiness?”
What you are feeling is very normal.
One reason for this is the feeling of helplessness. The same helplessness that you dealt with during your loved ones active addiction is now present in recovery but for a different reason. Your recovering person is learning new skills and ways to cope with the outside world and in many ways, they have to go it alone. Another negative emotion that is common is resentment. This resentment is not aimed so much towards your recovering loved one but towards the institutions, self-help groups and new friends your loved one has found in recovery that have somehow pulled your husband, wife or child out of active addiction where you have been unsuccessful. No one knows your loved one more than you, yet that knowledge and unconditional love could not do what a handful of strangers were able to accomplish in a 28 day rehab stay and a month of 12-astep meetings.
It does not seem fair.
To add insult to injury, you may have a well-intentioned counselor tell you to be patient while your loved one is going through this change from addiction to recovery.
You have been patient. You have asked friends and neighbors for help, read countless article online about enabling, prayed, talked to you family doctor, talked to your family priest or spiritual advisor and now you are being told once again to pull it together, keep calm and carry on.
There is another option. Approach you husband and tell them how you feel. Let them know you are happy for them to be turning their life around and you would like to know more of what they are experiencing in recovery. Maybe even go to one or two 12-step meeting with them if it is agreeable. Many 12-step meetings are open to the public as long as you check the listing of the meeting first. Keep in mind this is about everyone’s individual comfort level. No one should feel pressured to do something they are not ready for yet. Having a loved one in active addiction is an isolating experience. Recovery does not have to be that way.
Also consider that initially your loved ones recovery will be a fulltime job. Keeping up an active addiction takes a lot of time, effort and planning on the part of the addict so recovery should require no less attention. The good news it will balance out. When you wife or child gets steady in their recovery they will begin to integrate more of the outside world, more of their family responsibilities into recovery and begin to live what most people would call a normal life. That is the goal after all!
My golden rule is if you are feeling a certain way, tell your loved one. It’s cheaper than therapy.
Frank Say 2/16/2017