- Difficulties at school, disinterest in school related activities, and declining grades
- Spending more money than usual and repeated requests to borrow money
- Staying out all night and sleeping all day
- Chronic tardiness to work, lack of interest in work duties
- Repeated loss of jobs
- Changes in appetite, weight loss
- Experiencing euphoria, becoming extremely happy for no reason
- Sickness like appearing like the flu, in and out of the bathroom
- Pinned pupils, blood shot eyes, poor skin tone and appearing tired or run down
- Changes in their physical appearance, such as dirty or inappropriate clothing and lack of interest in grooming
- Issues with financial management such as not paying their bills on time on time.
- Borrowing money over bogus repayment of debt
- Repeatedly “lost” or “stolen” cell phones.
- Dishonesty or lies about simple matters
- Loss of contact with old friends
- Distancing self from family (can be especially noticeable during family gatherings at holidays.)
- Things are missing from your house
- Secretive phone calls, not responding when asked where they are going
- Staying out all night, and sleeping all day
- Being defensive when asked about substance use
The opportunity to get your loved one into treatment has a small window of time. To be prepared for when your loved one is ready for treatment, you must familiarize yourself with local detox facilities and rehab centers. You can often get good feedback regarding detox and treatment centers through family support groups because they know which ones are good and bad. Prepare a list of these facilities, including phone numbers and contacts. Be sure your entire family is on the same page and put your plan to work when your loved ones say they are ready. The first step will be a detox so that your loved one can be physically removed from his or her drug of choice before entering an intensive long-term treatment program. Make sure your loved one participates in your search for a good facility and that you are not doing more work than they are to find treatment.
- In our experience, we have found that bringing our loved ones home is not usually safe or successful for their recovery. Some of the reasons are:
- Triggers in the home
- Reacquainting themselves with the same friends
- There may be drugs hidden in the home
- Parents medication can be a trigger
- For some trying to recover, they have said even their bedroom or a dresser they used to cut their drugs on has triggered them
- Money is more readily available
- Former dealers can drop off drugs on your property for your loved one to access
Most often, when leaving treatment, the next step is sober living. Structured sober living looks more like a treatment program and provides more direct attention to an individual‘s journey. The staff will assist with recovery and help residents improve their life skills and integrate back into the community to find a job and gainful employment to support themselves. They will establish a structured daily schedule that may include meditation, 12 steps, and introducing residents to a group of people in the recovery community.
The other option is regular sober living. Someone in long-term recovery owns these homes, and they are managed by a former resident who has agreed to stay on as a manager. There is no specific structure or schedule for the day. Most residents should be working, have a support community, and a sponsor. Like structured sober living, a resident is expected to have a sponsor they meet weekly, obtain employment, and volunteer a certain number of hours per week. They are expected to attend AA meetings, complete chores, follow all house rules, and be subject to random drug testing.
Throughout New England, there are many sober houses. Unfortunately, not all of them live up to the standards which we believe are essential for success. Please make sure the person who is managing or owns the sober house is in recovery themselves. If the person running the house is in recovery, it will encourage and guide the residents in their own recovery. Inquire about the rules of the house and familiarize yourself with the standards for accountability. For example, if a house has a rule that residents make progress in the 12 steps, how will the house manager hold the resident accountable? A quality sober living home will not allow your loved one to sleep in and watch tv all day; it is not healthy or conducive to recovery. A quality sober house will only accept people who have completed some type of long-term, inpatient treatment, usually a minimum of 30 days, ensuring that other residents at the house have been clean for a period of time and are pursuing their recovery. Steer clear of any sober home that has a constant turnaround of people entering and exiting weekly
In our experience with our child’s recovery journey, we have found that a structured sober living stay of 6 to 12 months is the most beneficial.
If your loved one has chosen a 12-step program as their path to recovery, you will start to notice little changes in their lives. Things like going to meetings, connecting with their sponsor, and steady work becomes their way of life and no longer a chore. They may also start to include you in life decisions they need to make in recovery like asking questions such as, ”Is this job a good fit for me?” or “I think I’m ready to leave the sober house, what do you think? When your loved one is living honestly, is no longer dependent on you, and is taking responsibility for their own actions, you can feel assured your loved one is on the right path. They are beginning to live a new sober life.
Due to the dishonest nature of addiction, this can be a somewhat tricky question to answer. Although your loved one may show improvement with their physical health, employment, and relationships, this does not necessarily mean that they are ready to move beyond sober living. They can often appear to be doing well on the outside but have not grown internally. Rather than focusing on their physical health and appearance, how are they internalizing their recovery?
- Are they honest with you?
- Are they still self-centered, or have they become more independent financially, emotionally, and responsibly?
- Do they have a reliable recovery network?
Be sure that they have a well thought out plan for moving out of sober living and that there is not an ulterior motive such as being asked to leave the house for bad behavior or resentments. Be sure that the new living situation is conducive to sober living, such as:
- Are the roommates sober?
- Are they moving in with a new partner, or is it an ongoing relationship, and was that relationship healthy?
- Use your gut; they should be at a point where they are not relying on you financially.