How Can I Best Support a Loved One Preparing to Enter Treatment?
No part of treatment or recovery is exactly easy. Each phase of the process has its own unique challenges. For example, it can take quite an effort to convince your loved one they have a problem at all and it might be just as difficult to convince them to accept professional help. Once they’ve agreed to accept help, getting them physically into treatment is sometimes a project in itself. There’s no point at which you should assume that recovery or even treatment is a done deal. You will probably have to put some energy into it throughout the process. There will be times when your loved one is scared or when they just don’t have the ability to help themselves. This is when you, as a friend or relative, have to do what you can to help. Once your loved one has expressed willingness to get help for a substance use disorder, the following are some things you can do to help make sure it actually happens.
Help with a treatment plan.
There are a dizzying number of options for addiction treatment. There are more than 14,000 addiction treatment centers in the US alone and that doesn’t count other elements of treatment such as consulting with counselors, therapists, or doctors. With all these options, it’s hard to narrow down the best one, and it may be next to impossible for someone with a serious substance use issue, especially if there is a co-occurring issue like major depression to consider.
Choosing a good treatment program is beyond the scope of this post, but start by getting recommendations from your doctor, therapist, or people you know who have gone through a program and have a strong recovery. Also, look for accreditation and credentialed staff. When making a final choice, a good program will want to know a lot about any potential client to make sure they are a good fit. Be wary of a program that accepts anyone. This is quite a bit of work and it’s likely you will be much more motivated than your loved one to make the effort.
Pack a bag.
One common route to getting a loved one into treatment is to hold an intervention. Most people are familiar with this concept. A group of people, typically family and maybe a close friend or two, get together and explain calmly and clearly why the person has a problem and needs to accept help. One element of an effective intervention is that there can be no space between someone agreeing to accept help and actually leaving for treatment. Otherwise, they start having second thoughts, come up with excuses for why they don’t need treatment or why they want to go later, or maybe just disappear.
By the time you have the intervention, everything should be ready for them to enter treatment. That means they should have a place booked in a treatment program, travel arrangements to get there, and a bag full of necessary items packed and ready to go. Each treatment center has its own list of items to bring and this list can typically be found on its website. These items typically include a credit card for medications and other expenses, current medications, insurance card, photo ID, family and emergency contacts, a small amount of cash, casual clothes, sleepwear – assume they will have a roommate – gym clothes, toiletries, a journal, and recovery-related books. Items that typically aren’t allowed include clothing with drug or alcohol references on them, excessively revealing clothes, anything – including toiletries – with alcohol in it, weapons, valuables, food or drink, electrical devices, and books not related to recovery.
Escort them to the facility.
A lot can go wrong between intervention and walking into the treatment center. Your loved one’s motivation is already fragile and it might collapse at any point, especially if the treatment center is far away. Also, keep in mind that you might be dealing with someone whose mind may not be that sharp outside of drug-seeking behavior. Sometimes people intend to enter treatment only to get lost or distracted on the way. You should have a plan either to accompany them or to have someone accompany them to treatment.
Some treatment centers provide this service and there are also third-party services that will escort your loved one to treatment. As noted, travel arrangements need to be made ahead of time so you’re not working out details while your loved one has time to reconsider.
Encourage them to complete treatment.
Your loved one will likely have some fears about treatment. These typically revolve around being out of control, being vulnerable, being lonely, letting everyone down, or fear of change in general. Again, this is beyond the scope of this post, but do your best to assure your loved one that it’s going to be fine, that everyone has their best interests at heart, and that they will be happy they saw it through.
It’s not uncommon for people to spend a week or two in treatment and sort of panic, often feeling like they don’t belong there or that they’ve gone through detox and can handle the rest on their own. Sometimes they feel like staff members are out to get them. This is especially common among people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or borderline personality disorder. If those are considerations in your loved one’s treatment, they should be in a program that is equipped to handle those co-occurring conditions. As for their promise to complete the program before they leave and if they call wanting to come home, remind them of their commitment and encourage them to stay.
Sending a loved one to treatment for a substance use disorder is never easy, for you or for them. They have no idea what to expect or how their life might change. They may feel like they are being treated unfairly. You don’t know what to expect either. Your time, money, and hope may not amount to anything. On the other hand, you might save your loved one’s life.
Steamboat Springs, located in the Rocky Mountains, provides a setting for the natural stimulation of mind and body, allowing for a return to our innate senses and a new foundation from which to build. Foundry Treatment Center’s vision was formed through personal experiences and continues to grow through the dedicated compassion of the Foundry team. We share a commitment to provide a comprehensive, whole-body treatment program that encourages each to seek their values and beliefs through innovative and evidence-based treatment modalities. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call us today at 1-844-955-1066.