You have succeeded in setting boundaries between yourself and your addicted loved one. The relationship is not over, but rather “on pause” until you have witnessed sufficient progress in his or her recovery. An immeasurable amount of fear, grief, anger, and pain led you to this separation and the thought of going through it all again is unfathomable.
The universe doesn’t give you what you ask for with your thoughts – it gives you what you demand with your actions.
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
How then, do you know that your loved one has really changed? How do you know when it’s safe to go back? Before any decision is made, consider these five signs of readiness:
You Have Established Your Own Support Network
You Have Been Involved in the Treatment Planning and Therapy of Your Loved One
The Actions of Your Loved Ones Are in Keeping With the Observations of the Treatment Team
You Have a Safety Plan in Place and are Prepared (Emotionally and Physically) to Utilize It
You Trust Yourself
Until now, your world has likely revolved around your struggling loved one. The recent space you’ve created will allow you to establish your own supports. Use this time apart for maintenance on social bridges you may have burned, and attempt to build new ones as well. If you haven’t connected with a support group, this is the time to do so.
Whether your loved one has received inpatient or outpatient treatment, your involvement is critical. The information you receive regarding the progress made in treatment as well as the discharge plan will likely play a role in determining when (and if) you choose to go back. Family sessions can be emotionally draining, so be certain to keep a list of written questions on hand for the treatment team.
While the successful completion of a treatment program will afford you and your loved one with a tangible sense of progress, it’s your responsibility to observe how that plays out in the real world. The transition from both rehabilitation and intensive outpatient treatment programs can be jarring for an addict. Before diving back into the relationship full-throttle, it’s necessary that your loved one have some time to re-acclimate.
The discharge plan will likely include ongoing treatment interventions like addiction support groups and outpatient therapy. Is your loved one attending these appointments regularly? What is his/her attitude prior to and after the sessions? Do you talk about their progress on the goals they are working on? Does it appear as though momentum is being maintained, or are there red flags surfacing?
This likely sounds counterintuitive, but if you are ready to go back, you must also be ready to leave again. While successful drug rehabilitation does occur, the chances of relapse are relatively high. Seek input from your own professional support system to create a plan to keep yourself safe in the “>event of a relapse.
No one is as intimately familiar with the nuances, red flags, and patterns of your relationship as you are. As you determine if it’s time to go back, consider the knowledge you’ve obtained throughout the treatment process as a guide, but also trust your instincts. If you sense that something is “off” with your loved one, it likely is.
“Anyone who has had their heart broken learns to keep a little safety area. Even now in my relationship, I have something I can call my own in case something goes wrong. You need a place to retreat to.”