Melanie recalled the night she quietly walked into her daughter’s room and looked down at her sleeping child. It was the eve of her entry to alcohol rehab. A wave of sadness hit her as she realized that she was too sick to take care of her. She had been drowning herself in alcohol since her divorce and it had taken a toll. Her life had turned into utter despair. She’d been arrested for a DUI traffic accident and in the emergency room, it was determined she needed medical and psychological intervention.
“They referred me to rehab,” said Melanie. “I’d nearly killed a pedestrian while I was driving drunk, rushing home to let the babysitter go.” She swerved and hit a pole, getting a concussion in the process. “It became clear that my car crash was a metaphor for the wreck that had become my life.”
She needed help. But as a single mom, she first she needed to make arrangements for her daughter and her family, as well as her place of work.
“I was afraid to tell people, but when I did a pressure lifted and I realized that people wanted to help, that they would go out of their way to help me so that I could get healthy again. That was a blessing.”
If you’ve been struggling with addiction and have finally made the decision to go to rehab ― or have had an accident or arrest that’s been a wake-up call ― you’re probably wondering how to tell people you’re going to rehab. Here are a few tips:
Your family. If they are like many concerned families they are probably relieved you have made the decision to get help. Some family members may be stressed about your addiction and may not be able to offer full support. Sit down with them and tell them that you must do this save your life so that you can come back fully to your family. Assess who is willing to help most and accept the support that is offered.
Your friends. Friends who truly care about you will support your journey to sobriety. They may also be able to help as extended family members, possibly sharing responsibility for caring for your children or home while you are in residential rehab. Friends may also offer moral support in talking to others about your situation.
Your kids. Children obviously do not like the idea of being separated from their primary caregivers but you can try to help them understand by explaining, “Mommy is sick. In order to be the best mom, I have to go away for a little while to get some help. But don’t worry, you’re going to be staying with Grandma/Aunt/Friend.” Smaller children may show more distress than older kids, but each child is different.
Your boss. Most employers have programs available to help support employees with addiction issues, and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may provide job protection when you seek rehab through a qualified treatment program. Be honest with your boss and the Human Resources department in explaining your situation and your sincere intention to get help. If your boss depends on you for a certain job, and there is time, train someone to fill in for you while you are gone. That may help your boss get along while you are getting the help you need. People are sometimes afraid to tell their employers and then surprised to find that the news is greeted with encouragement and compassionate understanding.
In order to go to rehab, you obviously want to find the best possible care for your kids. During the school year, it’s best if the kids stay in their own home. Here are some of the people who can possibly help:
Remember, as challenging as this may be, there are people in your life who love you and want you to heal. Let them help.
“I was so ashamed that I was afraid to tell people how bad it had become,” Melanie recalled. “I was afraid to ask for help because I didn’t want people to think I was an unfit mother. But I was falling apart. The accident helped me see I had no choice but to get help. I was amazed how many people supported my daughter and me through it all.”
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