Triggered By Your Own Family? Tips For Relapse Prevention At Home!

Getting clean and staying clean are two very different aspects of the same adventure: living well in recovery. Getting clean is a process that involves stopping your use, detoxing, making it through withdrawal and then coming back to “normal” for your body. It is an intense physical process, and can be life-threatening depending on what you’ve been using, how much and for how long. It is a physical, emotional, psychological and perhaps even spiritual process, but it has a beginning, middle and end. The end of getting clean marks the beginning of staying clean.

For many people, staying clean involves a multi-faceted approach. Psychotherapy can be really helpful for working through any trauma, or dealing with attitudes, beliefs or habits that hold you back, preventing you from enjoying your sober lifestyle. Medication may be important if you were drinking or using drugs to self-medicate—all too common among people suffering from anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. And Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings are often a key component of staying clean.

Family As A Trigger To Use

Triggered By Your Family-Tips For Relapse Prevention - ChristianRehabImagine that you are working your program, attending your therapy appointments, going to work every day, attending your meetings at night and doing all that you can to be a present and connected husband or wife and/or parent. And let’s imagine that your 15-year-old son comes home from a party drunk. A week or two later, you smell marijuana on his clothes. And then the school calls because he’s been cutting classes.

Your sponsor and your therapist have stressed that you can’t go hang out at the bar or spend time with your old drinking buddies. You have been scrupulous about following their advice, doing everything you’re supposed to do to protect your sobriety. One of the key slogans that all your support networks keep reminding you about is “people, places and things”—don’t keep people or things in your life that are connected to your using days. Don’t go to places that are connected to drinking or using. Sounds simple and wise until your home and your family become a danger to your sobriety.

So what should you do about this? Every family and every situation is a little different so you’ll need to work closely with your partner or spouse and your support team to create a plan that works for all of you.

What You Should Do When You’re Triggered By Your Own Family

Here are some suggestions to get you moving in the right direction:

  • Be honest with your therapist and your sponsor about how you feel – Sounds obvious, I know, but it might be really hard to admit how much you miss the smell of pot, or how sad and nostalgic it makes you feel to smell beer. You might think that you need to hate those memories or those feelings so it might be tempting to hide them. Remember feelings aren’t actions, and sharing them may help make them easier to tolerate. Talk about all your emotions to your support team.
  • Continue to attend your meetings – You might feel like you need to be at home, or maybe you feel like you need to go out looking for your son on nights when he isn’t home. Prioritize your meetings, therapy appointments and other commitments. Don’t let your son’s use pull you into an old pattern of behavior in which you place other activities ahead of your recovery. You can address his issues before or after your meeting, but you won’t be any help to him or to your partner if you pick up.
  • Try to separate your experience of using from his – This might seem either obvious or impossible, but it is important. Because you’ve been there, you might feel like you understand or know why he’s using. Think back to your own teen years. If your mom and dad said that they knew why you were doing whatever you were doing, based on their own experience, you would likely discount that entirely. You do have much more wisdom and life experience than your son, but that doesn’t mean you know what’s going on for him. Don’t assume that your experience of using is the same as his.
  • Set clear boundaries and limits with clear consequences – Be really careful not to prevent your son from experiencing consequences of his use, no matter how tempting. Any “saving” of him you do by preventing him from getting in trouble now makes him that much more likely to continue to use and end up in bigger trouble later.

See Additional Tips To Deal With Family Stress!

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