AiR member dziodzio435 feels worried and scared and fears making the wrong choices…
"my son just came home after doing 45 days. was going to do 90 days but didn't. he's been going to meetings and is still sober. he's just hanging out in his man cave which is dreary and is not eating properly – once a day if i'm lucky. i keep on him to do more to eat because he says he's not feeling good because he's on medicine and not eating. i know i'm wrong to push him but he just came from a regimented living environment to doing nothing. i'm worried and scared but i know i'm handling this wrong. i want to do what's best for him so he stays successful."
One would hope that the structure and activities of an inpatient facility would rub off on your son after 45 days, and it has. He is going to meetings and is taking medication. How much change can someone expect to see after a month and a half? Your son isn’t eating correctly and seems stuck in place, just sitting around in his room all day.
This period after treatment is often cause for concern for many families. Getting off drugs and alcohol isn’t sufficient to immediately embrace a new life. It takes time. What replaces those long periods of drug use? Your son has to discover substitutes that provide meaning in his life and that are rewarding. Getting off drugs and alcohol doesn’t miraculously translate into coping skills for life, or to good healthy behaviors, like healthy eating.
Critically important though, is that he is going to AA (I presume it’s AA), hopefully every day. Studies of AA have shown that it maintains abstinence. Why? Because it supports sober thinking. It provides something to do each day. It helps people feel nested in a community of peers. It teaches relapse prevention skills. AA isn’t the only way to get these important ingredients – one can go to therapy or another peer support program – but something like this is needed to fight against the drug use thoughts that inevitably creep in. In recovery, it's essential to introduce new behaviors and activities that can help to fill the huge hole left where drug use previously existed.
I was sitting in a case management meeting at a treatment program last week. A case manager voiced surprise that his client had been told to go to 90 (AA) meetings in 90 days. He thought this was a lot. I agreed it sounded like a lot, but how often did his client use or think of using before he got sober? Every day, he answered. Well then, the best way to combat those thoughts is to push back with thoughts that counter the desire to use every day.
It is unnerving to see your son mostly sitting on the couch, not doing much else. Life may not come knocking on his door with its offerings — he is going to need some gentle encouragements to step out and make it in the world. Using the principles of CRAFT can help guide what you can do: for now, let his eating habits be his responsibility. Reward treatment attendance and his regular medication visits; step back when he doesn’t go. Give him room to figure this out. (See Module 5 for more guidance on rewards)
AiR is planning a podcast that addresses your question. Many families are surprised to find that issues continue after treatment, that their Loved One still struggles with so many aspects of life. You are not alone. We would also suggest listening to the podcasts we’ve already published on the site. I hope you find them soothing and that they give you a small amount of peace in this day.