Accepting Sobriety

Sobriety can bring with it and normally does many new and different problems that both the alcoholic and their families are probably not expecting.

There is normally an expectation prior to admission to a rehab and getting sober, that once sober there will be a sort of happy families situation that the alcoholic and their family will immediately revert to.

This is not normally based on any type of reality, simply a belief that once the horror of active alcoholism has stopped, things must inevitably get better.

Unfortunately this is rarely true. Even though a person may have been admitted to a rehab, what happens afterwards can vary hugely both in terms of whether the person stays sober, stays sober and goes to Alcoholics Anonymous, stays sober and does not go to AA.

The person may drink again, either after a stint in rehab or several, or may stay sober and become what is known as a dry drunk.

Whatever the reality of what the alcoholic does it will present huge challenges both for them and for their family.

The family, assuming it is a partner and kids, will have huge expectations of what sobriety will bring, assuming it will become much more pleasantville.

This expectation is in large part the legacy of a coping mechanism that they will have developed over the years, as a way of getting them through the horrors of active alcoholism.

The reality of an alcoholic when sober can be very different. Long-term, things can work out and often do, but short-term a long period of readjustment after someone has been in a rehab will be necessary.

A rehab/treatment center should have its own family program, and should do much to help the family prepare for and adjust to life once an alcoholic has got sober and has left rehab.

This approach to discharge should happen pretty much from admission to a rehab. A rehab is somewhat of a bubble, and this in part is intentional.

It can provide a safe place where someone can detoxify if necessary, get sober and begin the process of rebuilding their life, understanding some of the emotional drives behind their drinking.

Accepting that a person is sober brings very real challenges both for the alcoholic and for their partner/family.

The nature of the challenges all be very different for both sides, what really matters is that both sides recognise that it will be a new and different relationship from before.

In one sense it will be a better relationship because it hopefully will be more real, but that does not mean that it will necessarily be an easier relationship in the short term.

If both sides recognise the necessity to rebuild the relationship once sober, then it can certainly be done with a lot of work on both sites.

Part of the job of a rehab is to prepare the family for life after rehab.

When an alcoholic is admitted to a rehab there is normally a huge sense of relief by the family that things are going to get sorted and better.

There is also a period of trepidation when the alcoholic is due to leave rehab, as to what is going to happen afterwards.

Both these feelings are very natural and understandable, and a rehab should be fully prepared to work with the alcoholic and the family to begin to process the emotions involved in both the stages of treatment.