How to Be a Supportive Friend to Someone in Rehab
If someone you know has a chemical dependency issue and goes to rehab, naturally, you want to be a supportive friend. It’s important that you’re supportive in the right way. In some cases, you might think you’re helping, but you’re actually making the situation worse.
This article describes a few ways you can help a friend who is in rehab.
Set Boundaries and Stick to Them
If you want to be a supportive friend when someone’s in drug or alcohol rehab, it’s vital that you set boundaries.
For example, you might say your friend can only come to your house if they’re going to be sober. If they overstep the boundaries you set, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to cut contact, either temporarily or permanently.
Addicts need to understand their choices have consequences. Sometimes, setting boundaries is the right way for them to learn this lesson.
Take Care of Yourself First
While you should be supportive of a friend in rehab, you shouldn’t do it at great cost to yourself.
Being supportive doesn’t mean tolerating abuse. If your friend becomes abusive, it doesn’t make you a bad friend if you walk away. In fact, you might be harming their recovery process if you let them get away with being abusive to yourself or others.
Be a Patient Supportive Friend
Rehab is a long process. Sometimes, it can take over a year to successfully complete a program.
Don’t expect rehab to work miracles. In some cases, people will relapse immediately after completing it. This can sometimes be part of the recovery process.
You should be supportive, even if your friend falls back into their old ways. Using drugs or alcohol again doesn’t necessarily mean the recovery process has failed.
Don’t Enable Them
While you should be patient and tolerant of someone going through rehab, you shouldn’t enable them.
If an addict tries to borrow money from you, you should treat it with suspicion. Never lend an addict or an alcoholic straight up cash, as they’re very likely to spend it getting intoxicated.
If you want to lend your friend money for something specific, consider doing the transaction yourself. But bear in mind an addict could still pawn items for cash.
Make Yourself Available
Someone who’s going through rehab might have moments when they feel very tempted to use drugs or drink. This might be triggered by an argument with someone, or perhaps a personal failing. You can help your friend by making yourself available in these moments.
Of course, this needs to be within reason. Calling you once in the middle of the night might be acceptable, but doing it 5 times a week shouldn’t be tolerated.
You should make yourself available to your friend. But don’t tolerate that offer being abused.
Give It Time
When it comes to rehab, patience is the key. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking rehab is a miracle cure. If you want to be a supportive friend, you need to understand that it’s the first step in a long process.