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.