I have written several posts about a plan of action for the Codependent prior to the Alcoholic/Addict seeking help. I think it’s time to talk about what happens after they finally surrender and ask for help. When an Alcoholic/Addict finally surrenders and decides to seek help you may be relieved and hopeful, however you need to stay grounded as this journey of recovery has just begun.
There are a few different scenarios that usually play out. These are actually pretty predictable as the disease is consistent. It’s consistant in its attempts to get the Alcoholic/Addict loaded again. That is its main objective, please remember that. This point of the journey is often made difficult as once the substance has been removed, it will seem you finally have your loved one back, you will see glimpses of the person you know and love. However, you will need to stay on your toes, stay in Alanon meetings and rely on your support team as the journey has just begun.
In a perfect world, the Alcoholic/Addict will go into detox/treatment and utilize all the tools they provide and follow the after care plan given to them by their recovery team. They will start going to AA meeting regularly, get a home group and a sponsor, do the 12 steps and then in turn, start helping others. They will find a new purpose and life will take on new meaning. This sounds like the happy end to a fairy tale. However, if you have not been attending Alanon meetings, you might be surprised by your reaction. You may start to feel jealous, abandoned and resentful. You may start to think he is spending too much time at “those” meetings, he talks about “those” people far to much. How is it that they are able to help him when you couldn’t?
These are all very normal feelings. It might be helpful to borrow a Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and Read Chapter 8 “To the Wives”. Don’t let the name of the chapter confuse you. It was written in 1939 , and as it might seem outdated, it’s not. Just read it with an open mind. The chapter really should be titled “To all of those who have to deal with the Alcoholic/Addict”. Wives, husbands, siblings, children and employers. It applies to all those affected by the disease. While you’re at it read Chapter 9 “The Family Afterward”. It talks about the family dynamics after someone get’s sober. All very good information.
If you think that your loved one is going to get sober and everything will be the way it was, or the way you think it was, or would like it to be, then you are going to be disappointed. The truth is that this will be a new chapter in their life and in yours. It will take some time for the entire family to adjust.
That might not be the scenario you get. Another scenario is that they seek help and then as soon as the substance has been removed, they decide that they can do this on their own. Many times they will walk out of detox, this is so frustrating and disappointing for the family. Or they may finish treatment, but decide that they are cured. Let me explain that 30, 60 or 90 days of treatment is not a cure. It is just a process to interrupt the disease long enough to get the person set up on a program of action so they can treat thier disease on a daily basis once they leave treatment. Remember, this is the only disease that makes you think you don’t have it.
The answer is the same in all these scenarios. Take care of yourself and stay in Alanon meetings. If you are working on your own program you will probably have a home group and sponsor of your own. You will need this kind of support to handle whatever is coming down the pike. By now you should be able to see a common theme in everything I write. You can not control or change another person. Anyone. They must want to change themselves. You are powerless over them and the consequences of their disease. The only thing you can change is you and your reactions.
If you read my post “The Basics of Boundaries for the Codependent” you will have some basic guidelines on how to handle someone who is walking out of treatment AMA (Against Medical Advise). The staff of the facility will also help you in setting up some boundaries and suggest how you can hold a firm line in supporting that they stay or go back immediately. At least at this point in the game you can decide how much you want to play.
Some people get sober their first time and some it takes a few attempts. It depends on thier own ability to let go of the Ego and take suggestion and daily action. The good news is, you will be ok. You can live your life knowing you have done and are doing everything that you can to help in a healthy, functional way. God has a plan for you… and for them.
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God Bless 🙂