Advice on visiting a family member in rehab?

Old 01-23-2016, 08:08 AM
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Advice on visiting a family member in rehab?


My one and only sibling, my sister who is 40-years old and alcoholic, entered rehab for the first time this week. Family can visit her next Sunday. I have educated myself a lot on codependency. I'm getting therapy. I feel like I'm a good listener and getting better at boundary setting but I'm wondering what the best approach is when visiting. In the past I have found it hard to be upbeat or even neutral around my sister because I'm so worried about her. There is a one hour family therapy session before we can go in to visit and I'm assuming I will learn more, but I'm wondering what worked for you? I don't want to start crying. We are very close and I intend on being a good listener and just visiting and talking about whatever comes up.

My sister was fired on Tuesday from her job. She loved her job and I imagine she is at a very low point right now. She was fired from her job on Tuesday and then boom she went to rehab (on her own volition). So on top of feeling really low from her alcoholism, I imagine she is very depressed over being fired. Any comments or advice appreciated.
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Old 01-23-2016, 08:13 AM
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I think you sound like you have a good plan in place by just listening. That is the best thing you can do is listen and support her by being there. No magic answers or fixes. Recovery is a long road and that has to belong to her. Alanon really helps, so does this site.
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Old 01-23-2016, 08:59 AM
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Has she indicated that she wants you to visit?
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Old 01-23-2016, 01:10 PM
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hello Plenty!

Personally, I'd just send a card of encouragement. If you've done work on codependency, good! Let her recover if it's just her first week.
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Old 01-23-2016, 01:18 PM
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I found it was better for me to take this time to 100% focus on my recovery. A card would be lovely. How long is she scheduled to be in rehab?

I hear more concern about her than you in your post. I've been there. You don't have to do, or say anything or be a certain way. She is in good hands.

I'm so glad your sister has taken this step!
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Old 01-23-2016, 04:58 PM
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Yeah, it IS hard to be neutral about someone you love, care about and are very concerned for....totally understandable. Good news is it's likely no one expects you to be neutral. Crying? That's okay in my opinion. She'll understand if you cry, but she might feel guilty like it's her fault for making you cry...idk....

Being upbeat? Well that's a tough one. Sure you want to be positive, and she needs positive right now, but she may take being toooo upbeat as being too casual about it and right now she is probably not feeling that way a is very shaken's hard to say without knowing your sister what APPROACH is best, so I don't know if this is helpful information or not.

Whatever happens, I hope it goes well for you and that your sister will be okay...
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Old 01-23-2016, 05:14 PM
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My sister having seizures and going into a coma from her A is the main reason I found this site. A wealth of knowledge and support here. I remember just telling her and being honest that I didn't know quite what I should be doing and don't want to interfere with her recovery process and just wanted her to know I was supporting of her and would be there for her.
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Old 01-23-2016, 09:03 PM
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First off a few questions.

Is your sister requesting visits from her family? From what I have gathered and seen, the first week or two of rehab are pretty tough and emotional. Some people don't want their family to visit, and some do. Before you and your family visits, make sure she's on board with the visit.

Second question is are you ready to go visit her? You only need to do what you are capable of doing, in regards to supporting your sister through her recovery. If the thought of visiting next weekend seems overwhelming, then perhaps a letter of encouragment is the route you should take. This is a family disease, and every family member matters. So, if you think about it and find that you're not ready for that yet, don't feel bad. Reach out with support in the way that you can, and that is healthy for you.

If she wants her family to visit, and you're feeling like you would like to, then I would suggest simply listening. Like I mentioned, she may be in a very emotional state. She most certainly will be a little foggy. She may be playing the victim and over-exaggerate the treatment there. Or she may be fully embracing it.

I have a niece who went to rehab in the late summer/early fall. She certainly went through a few rounds of emotions during our visits, but all of us (for the most part) just listened. We let her vent, cry, be angy and let out her frustrations, and listened. She was there for two months, and the first couple of weeks were dicey, in that regard, but they do level out.

Just keep that in mind, and try to not let anything worry you if she is in an emotional state. That's pretty normal for the first couple of weeks. I mean, in a lot of cases, they're essentially having to deal with life while sober for the first time in a long time.
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Old 01-24-2016, 06:26 AM
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Thank you for the replies.

She is in detox at this week so we cannot visit her until next Sunday, which is seven days away. So she will be in there 11 days until we visit. I am taking care of her son (sharing with her ex-husband) and I am confident that she would like to see him. I am pretty sure she would like to see me as well.

After detox, she will be inpatient for 28 days, if she stays. 35 days total. This road with my sister has been exhausting emotionally and physically. I am learning to detach and separate. I have always been in a caregiver role. She is the younger sister. We come from dysfunctional alcoholic family, yada, yada.

I have behaved in unhealthy ways -- I have been in the position of checking in on her, taking to her while she is drunk, berating her, reasoning with her, the whole nine-yards. It's a very frightening thing to see someone you love so sick. I cannot control predict the future but 28 days, I don't know... Seems too short. Hopefully she will continue with outpatient care.

Thank you again for your replies. I will continue to read this site. I like the quote about that says you can feel compassion for someone without acting on it.
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