What to Do While Your Spouse Is in Rehab
While your spouse is in rehab for addiction, you may feel helpless and lost, unsure of what to do to help him or yourself. Instead of stewing in sorrow, self-pity or guilt, take action and take steps to heal and to be prepared for his return after rehab. Addiction doesn’t just affect the addict. It affects you too, and in a number of negative ways. You need care right now while he is getting the help he needs. You also need to prepare for life together after rehab. Here are five things you can do now:
- See a therapist. Addiction affects everyone in an addict’s life. As the person closest to him, you probably bore the brunt of his lies, cheating, neglect or even abuse. You cannot escape the situation unaffected. This means that you need some self-care. While your spouse is in rehab fighting for his life, you should be taking care of yourself. Find a therapist experienced in working with the loved ones of addicts. You may be resistant to the idea at first, but you might be surprised at how much this helps you to feel better.
- Visit and participate when invited. If possible, visit your spouse in rehab and participate in any way in which you are invited. Many treatment programs like to involve family to some extent because addiction is not just an individual disease. If you can be a part of his treatment, you will be better prepared for life together after rehab. The work you do together in rehab will start you off on the right foot for working together later.
- Learn about addiction and treatment. Addiction is a chronic disease, and research is changing our understanding of it every day. Read up on what addiction is, how it affects people and what treatment is like. The more you know about and understand where your spouse has been and where he is going, the more compassionate you will be when he comes back home. Being educated means being empowered, so start learning.
- Learn and practice stress-reduction techniques. Another important thing to learn is how to cope with stress and other negative emotions. You’ve been through the wringer, and although your loved one is getting help, the hard work won’t be over when he gets home. He will be working hard in recovery and will need your support. There will be stressful and difficult times ahead. Take time now to learn and practice healthful and productive ways of coping. Take yoga classes, start an exercise regimen or learn to meditate. These techniques will help you both when your spouse returns from rehab.
- Build a support network. Having social support is crucial for both the addict and his loved ones. You cannot go through this alone any more than he can. Gather friends and family whom you trust with your confidences. Call on them when you are having a bad day and rely on them in the difficult times ahead. You might also consider joining a support group for the loved ones of addicts. Your friends and family may be there for you, but they won’t necessarily understand your situation. It is a powerful experience to share with and listen to other people going through the same things you are.
Having a spouse in rehab may feel like a big relief. Finally, he admitted to having a problem and is getting help. It isn’t the end of the road, though. You both have work ahead of you, and preparing for it while he gets treatment will mean that you will be better able to cope with the challenges going forward.