Maybe you barely recognize the person looking back at you in the mirror. Or perhaps you recently had a wakeup call that made you realize it’s time to stop. It could be that you’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired. Whatever the reasons, you’ve finally made the important decision to go to a recovery center for your substance abuse problem.
Congratulations—you are a giant step closer to a happy, healthy life free from dependence, a step closer to the life you deserve. Now that you’ve made the decision to go, the time has come for you to tell your family. Everyone’s family situation is different, but addiction causes stress, no matter how strong your family unit. You might expect your family to be relieved to hear your decision and ready to support you in any way they can. Or perhaps you fear they may react negatively. No matter what you anticipate, it’s important that you be honest and do what’s best for your recovery.
Here are some helpful tips for telling your family you need to go to rehab:
Be open and honest.
For both your own emotional health and the wellbeing of your family members, now is not the time to sugarcoat or hide the severity of your addiction. Long-term sobriety comes from a foundation of honesty. Tell your family members exactly what you’ve been doing and why you’ve decided to stop. The people who care about you deserve to know all the facts, so they can do their best to support your efforts to get well.
Think about what to say.
This is not a conversation you will want to improvise. The better you prepare for what you will say to your family members, the less anxious you will be. Have a practice conversation with a trusted friend or family member ahead of time, and ask that person to come up with sample questions your loved ones may ask.
Present the facts.
When thinking about how to tell your family you need to go to rehab, do your homework. Sit down and make a list of all the ways your addiction has negatively affected you and your family. Write down what your addiction could cost you, in terms of losing your job or important relationships. Talk about these ramifications with your loved ones and stress that you want to right all the things you’ve done wrong.
Prepare yourself for some resistance.
Substance abuse tends to run in families. As such, some of the family members you tell about your decision may have substance abuse problems themselves. These family members may not react so well to your decision, asking you why you need to go or downplaying your problem to downplay their own. Don’t feel the need to justify your decision to these resisters.
Or, view the conversation as a possible stepping stone.
On a positive note, others may actually see your decision to go to rehab as an opportunity to examine their own behaviors and choose to follow your lead.
Bolster support for your family members.
Luckily, there are many resources for family members of recovering addicts. These support resources may come from the recovery center directly or from organizations that help family members of addicts, such as Al-Anon. Tell your family how they can obtain support as you embark on your recovery plan.
Ask them to support you as well.
With the positive encouragement and support of your family members, your transition to a recovery center will be that much smoother. Explain to your family members how important their support will be, both as you start your journey to sobriety and once you return home.
As you have the important conversation with your family members about your decision to seek treatment, keep your eye on the prize. Try not to allow their comments or opinions to get in the way of your decision, and continue to stay sharply focused on getting help and breaking free.
The decision to seek help for substance abuse is a courageous one, and it is the most important step toward living the happy, healthy life you deserve. Talking openly and honestly with your family members before you start will set you up for the best possible outcome in recovery.