15 May How Involved Is Your Family In The Aftercare Process?
How Involved Is Your Family In The Aftercare Process?
Although aftercare is intended to increase the probability of an individual staying sober, there are tremendous healing opportunities for a family through aftercare as well. More often than not, it takes time for a family to nurture a relationship with their loved one who is in treatment. 30, 60, or even 90 days isn’t typically long enough for a family to have the trust back for their loved one that’s necessary to sustain a healthy relationship. My mom asked, “is everything ok?” when she answered every one of my calls for the first year of my sobriety, and truth-be-told, my brother didn’t answer my calls for two years. In my own experience, it took more time than I had expected to re-create my relationship with my family, and I was lucky to be a part of an aftercare that provided the resources, the mentorship, and the platform to do so.
I was not the only person in my family to benefit from my year in aftercare, and I watched my entire family grow with me throughout the process I landed in. My aftercare program was structured in such a way that not only allowed but also promoted my family’s involvement throughout my stay there. Through groups that included our family’s, barbecue days that created a safe setting for us to hang out, through the updates my parents received from the staff, and even through my outreach and the amends process; in fact, it may have been a result of all these things. I still remember taking my year sober cake at the aftercare, my family was there and spoke on behalf of my recovery; the moment was beautiful and unforgettable. My mom and my sister were crying, and my dad was proud; I’m still grateful for the program providing the structure that allowed for this moment to take place.
Aftercare programs should provide a structure that allows for a family’s involvement because, through these foundational structural elements, my relationship with my family evolved over my stay in the program. Because of this evolution in our relationship, I firmly believe that these simple platforms nurtured a space that allowed my family and me to re-create, and promote, a healthy relationship for the first time since my childhood. I didn’t do this on my own, the aftercare program I went to encouraged the idea of a good relationship with my family, and since my peers were doing it, or had already done it, I was nearly obligated to follow suit.
My family benefited as much as I did from my aftercare program; (at least I like to think so) watching them grow, and our relationship evolve throughout my sobriety, has been one of the biggest blessings in my life. I wanted nothing to do with them at first, and now I call my family on a regular basis and make sure that I show up to be involved in their lives. I learned how to treat them with respect, and be grateful for what they have offered, through my experience at aftercare; it didn’t happen naturally. Just because my experience at my aftercare with re-creating a relationship with my family was so profound, I recommend and encourage those seeking aftercare facilities to better their chance at long-term sobriety, also look for ones that provide a space for a family to evolve.