Travel Frequently? Don't Wait to Visit the Doctor

« Back to Home

Supporting A Friend Through Rehab

Posted on

The first very difficult step on the road to recovery for any type of addiction is for a person to admit that they have a problem and need help. But no one wants to be known as a junkie or an alcoholic – especially among the friends and family whose opinions matter most to them. That's why, if someone you know has made the choice to enter rehab, it's important that you know the best ways to support them on their new path. Most people do want to be supportive when dealing with a friend (or family member) in rehab – but what does that mean?

If your friend has entered an addiction rehab center voluntarily, this is something to feel very positive about. Depending on the rehab center, they may or may not be able to communicate with you while they are in the early stages of treatment – just remember that they are in the hands of professionals. Because of privacy concerns, the staff of the treatment center probably won't be able to tell you much about how they are doing, either, so patience is a virtue.

Once you are able to contact your friend, whether by visiting, phone, or letters, you may wonder if there are topics to avoid talking about. Try to help them focus on the present – while they may want to discuss the past or plan for the future, too much of that can distract from the difficult work they are currently doing.

If they are having difficulties, you can always encourage them to talk with one of the professionals at the treatment center, but don't discount the value of lending your own ear. And it's important not to walk on eggshells with them, either; be supportive, but don't excuse their mistakes. Focus instead on the fact that they can be proud of the steps they are taking to fix their mistakes. This way, you can be positive about the changes they are making without whitewashing the past.

Humor is also a wonderful tool. You know best what kind of sense of humor your friend has (and you don't want to inadvertently make light of their problems), so follow their lead; if they feel comfortable enough to joke about a topic, that's a good sign. It's also a way for them to work through some of their stress.

And what if they want to leave the treatment center early? This is incredibly common. Remember that what your friend is doing is very difficult. It's important to stand your ground on this and not encourage them. If you think they have genuine concerns about the treatment they are receiving, then the only option should be finding a different rehab center.

Lastly, throughout this whole process, remember not to let yourself be overwhelmed. You can't shoulder your friend's burden yourself – and it wouldn't be helpful to them if you could. Encourage your friend to make use of all the resources available: other friends and family, therapists at the rehab center, and eventually community groups or support groups. With a strong network, their chances of staying clean are that much better.