My Gentleman friend has gone to a detox facility, now what?
June 24, 2014 2:57 PM   Subscribe

The love of my life has been admitted into a detox and rehab facility. Communication has been cut off (I'm told this is part of the process) and I have no idea how he is. I am sad, I never knew it was this bad, but he almost died of alcohol poisoning. What should I expect while he is in this facility? What will happen when he returns home? What should I do when he is home to make sure I am conveying my love and support?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total)
You may not be able to speak to him, but you should be able to speak to a counsellor at the facility that will answer all your questions. Ring them and speak to the switchboard, there will be support and advice for families also. It's likely it will happen closer to discharge, but he won't(shouldn't be) be released without you being supported and counselled. Because if family is not on board with all the changes, likelihood of success is greatly diminished.

Its a big thing and so wonderful he's getting help. Take care of yourself, too.
posted by taff at 3:02 PM on June 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

You could try a few Al Anon meetings. They help educate and support the loved ones of alcoholics.
posted by fireandthud at 3:05 PM on June 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

Write him a letter right now. Send it to the facility. They will hold it until he is able to communicate with the outside world. So as soon as he's eligible, he'll get the letter.

Do it now, so he's not waiting for you to contact him.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:39 PM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Al Anon is a great suggestion.

So is the suggestion of requesting to speak to a counselor. When I was in your shoes back in the day, the rehab center had family & friends visiting days, where we were encouraged to come, listen and learn. You could ask the counselor if your bf's center may have some such thing available, a few weeks down the line when he is feeling (emotionally) stronger.

Be careful though - keep in mind that rehab is about what your bf needs, not what you need. If your inquiries are too much about what you need ("I need to see him", "I miss him so much", "I am so sad without him") the counselor might actually discourage you from coming for a while. Keep your inquiries short, professional, and to the point.
posted by vignettist at 3:50 PM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

First of all, good for him to be taking that step.

Yes, discouraging outside contact is fairly standard. The person detoxing needs some initial space/time away from "outside" concerns.

It's unclear from your OP how medical/structured this facility is. Some offer full staff support, including medical professionals and mental health counseling, while others mostly just provide a safe, quiet place to start the recovery process without the bells and whistles. Some are very protective of clients, while others have a liberal visitation policy, at least for close friends and family. In the former case, his counseling may carry with it some confidentiality stuff; you may only be able to get a general outline of his state from staff. In either case, you should be allowed to talk to him on the phone, and -- eventually -- probably in person.

I did one very short stint in a hospital detox, and was allowed a brief, monitored visit from some friends. A year or so later, I spent a month at an informal recovery center, and was allowed phone calls after a day or two, and visits in the second two weeks. As noted above, early support via traditional mail is probably allowed and encouraged (email is almost certainly not). In the first few weeks of my own recovery, my little brother sent me a series of snapshots of some family friends -- and total strangers -- holding supportive signs. It was really neat.

One advantage of that approach is that it allows you to express your support more clearly. There may be a lot of emotions stirred up during this process, for both of you, and writing things out could be wise. As your dude starts feeling better/coming to terms with how he ended up in treatment, don't be surprised if things get a bit bumpy. You may not have known how bad things were, but you may have been sitting on some painful feelings. And, in a sense, he will be coming out of this a "different" Gentleman Friend than the one you were friendly with previously. It's sometimes the case that couples have to get to know each other all over again. Not trying to cast a pall, but sometimes these things are like car crashes. Everyone walks away fine, but is stiff, bruised and exhausted the next day.
posted by credible hulk at 4:01 PM on June 24, 2014

Kind of obvious but...

Do not drink in front of your love. Do not offer your love a drink. Do not have liquor in your house. Find activities you can do with your love that do not involve drinking.

Do not substitute some other addiction for alcohol in your or his life.

If your love has reached a point where he almost died and is in in-patient detox than you can be quite sure that he is an alcoholic and should never drink. A lot of the time people drink because of culture and habit. You can help him by providing him with a non-drinking milieu and alternatives to the habits - Things like doing dishes together after dinner instead of having an after dinner drink, or instead of going to a ball game and drinking beer in the ball park, going to the beach where the activity is less likely to trigger the craving for the booze.

That said, while you could sabotage his recovery, you can't keep him sober, so if he goes back to drinking after detox it won't be your fault unless you encouraged him going back to liquor. You're on the sidelines in this. You can cheer him on or try to trip him up but in the end this one is up to him.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:30 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

If his expected residence after he leaves is your home, you will be invited to participate in one or more sessions to review what you should do when he returns.

If this facility is 12-step oriented, AlAnon is probably a good place to spend some time in the meantime. You will be among people who have been through this.

I would actually suggest not writing anything more than a card saying "I'm thinking of you and I'm not mad" or whatever. You cannot put your feelings on him right now. There will be a time and place for that, but it is not yet.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:09 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing Al Anon. If you go to a meeting and you don't like it, try another. Some are awesome. Some are bunk or annoying. Keep trying till you find one you like. When they ask for newcomers, raise your hand and identify yourself. Share about your issues. You may find quite a lot of help.

Also, some rehabs purposely have family/loved ones interaction in the days or weeks before the patient is released. If you're invited, participate fully.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:56 PM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm just going to repeat what a bunch of other people have said but I think it is important enough that you hear it again: Go to Al-Anon. I didn't want to go to those meetings and I saw no reason to make it a part of my week but I did it when my husband was in rehab because his counselor told me to, and it has become a crucial part of my life. It's an hour of your week and can help you beyond any other single thing you can do for yourself. Just go and sit. You don't have to talk to anyone if you don't want to.

I would also advise to try to just check any and all expectations of what life is going to be like when he comes home. Those first few months after rehab are really really really hard, even if they stay clean and sober. It's a lot of changes for you and your relationship and a whole new way of approaching life for him. You're going to have to be patient and non-panicky and take things day by day for a long time until you both figure out what post-drinking life looks like. But you can get there. And, circling back around, Al-Anon can help with that more than anything else.
posted by something something at 7:15 PM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

And also: take heart. Tonight he is safe. He has people looking after him. You don't need to worry about him right this second.
posted by something something at 7:16 PM on June 24, 2014 [7 favorites]

Sorry for your hurting heart. Lots of good suggestions above. Best thing to do now is to take care of yourself and focus on you. It sounds hard, but you have to put yourself first. Whether Al-Anon, friends, religious/spiritual/intellectual pursuits, exercise, etc., self care should be your priority.

One thing I didn't see above is: be prepared to not speak to your partner for a while...even long after (s)he is out of rehab. Sometimes people need to cut ties with their "pre-rehab" lives to maintain their sobriety, even if you weren't a drinking buddy. That is hard to hear and think about, but it can be true.

Feel free to memail me if you have questions or want to talk.
posted by stillmoving at 8:49 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mod note: From the OP:
Thank you for all of the wonderful answers so far, some of this is really eye-opening because of the following:

I am not a drinker, I don't drink not even a bit. I am not an alcoholic. I grew up a goody-goody who needs help understanding addiction. We do not cohabitate so I was not aware of the drinking or the extent of it. I would smell it sometimes and once questioned, he would tell me he had a drink or two. I don't really know what a person who drinks is like because I only had and have friends who are just like me. I love this man beyond the moon and I want to do what is right for him even if after rehab, he breaks up with me. I want him to be happy and I want to do and say the right things. I am going to look into Al-Anon today and participate in meetings as suggested. Again, thank you.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:21 AM on June 25, 2014

Depending on the facility and plan (30 day, 90 day type of inpatient places), there's usually a visiting day (eg Sunday afternoon, 12-5). Additionally, there is also, usually, a family-weekend where family comes in for a Sat/Sun session to go over "what's next" when the patient is released.

(Based on friend who's been in treatment that I visited, and a different friend who is a counselor at a treatment place.)
posted by k5.user at 7:07 AM on June 25, 2014

Read up about codependency also. He may be an alcoholic but you also do not need to feel this jumpy about doing the wrong thing.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:38 AM on June 25, 2014

I love this man beyond the moon and I want to do what is right for him even if after rehab, he breaks up with me.

Yeah, this is weirdly co-dependant and self martyring talk. Maybe address that.
posted by htid at 9:45 AM on June 26, 2014

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