Your support may be the most important that your boyfriend receives after coming home from rehab, according to a 2010 article in "Clinical Psychiatry News Journal." The good that you can do your boyfriend, however, must be weighed against the costs of staying in the relationship. Recovery in patients who have required rehab usually takes many years of cycling in and out of treatment, according to Michael Dennis, Ph.D., and Christy K. Scott, Ph.D. in their 2007 review published in "Addiction Science & Clinical Practice." After your boyfriend's rehab, you may experience an atmosphere shrouded with negativity, self-doubt and criticism from others for sticking with him. Dennis and Scott noted that most people who go to rehab do eventually recover, however.
Respect yourself first. Vasileios Kalampalikis, speaking at a 2010 international symposium for psychiatrists, depicted how family members often learn of the need to take care of their personal needs as the last step. Let it be your first step. If you don't take care of you, you won't have the resources to take care of him.
Inspire your boyfriend to continue outpatient treatment after rehab. Dennis and Scott pointed out that the American Psychological Association, the American Society of Addition Medicine and the Department of Veteran Affairs recommend continued treatment after discharge from an intensive care experience such as rehab. Continued treatment usually results in longer sobriety and the person with the addiction making more effort at preventing relapse.
Foresee struggle in early recovery. Your boyfriend may slip up by relapsing or engaging in behaviors that could potentially lead to relapse. Relapse is part of the learning process that leads to recovery, according to Dennis and Scott.
Recognize triggers to abusing alcohol or drugs. Your boyfriend will likely bring a list of triggers home from rehab.The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, in a 2006 publication, suggested that family members should refuse to encourage patterns that lead to triggers -- this is excellent advice for girlfriends, too.
Forestall relapse by watching for signs. The Center for Substance Abuse Recovery also recommended education on how to recognize signs of relapse. Behaviors such as increased anger; physical evidence such as paraphernalia; or biological signs such as passing out may indicate a need to ramp up treatment or get additional support.
Refuse to accept responsibility for rebuilding your boyfriend's life. This advice, Kalampalkis notes, may prevent you from blaming yourself for not being able to control your boyfriend's choices. Rather, focus your behaviors on opportunities that are within your grasp.
- If your boyfriend becomes physically or emotionally abusive during recovery, take action. Consider calling the authorities, leaving the relationship or discussing your boyfriend's behaviors in a session with your boyfriend and his therapist.
- Clinical Psychiatry News: Social Support Lowers Dependence on Alcohol
- Addiction Science & Clinical Practice: Managing Addiction as a Chronic Condition
- Annals of General Psychiatry: The Family's Attitude Towards Addiction
- Substance Abuse: Clinical Issues in Intensive Outpatient Treatment: Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 47; Chapter 6: Family-Based Services; Center for Substance Abuse Treatment
- Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images