Alcoholism is a vicious cycle that takes its toll not only on alcoholics, but also the friends and family members who are close to them. As many people who are close to alcoholics know, you can't force someone to rehab when they are not ready or don't want to.

When your loved one makes the decision to get help and go to rehab you may feel very excited and hopeful, but entering rehab is only the first step of overcoming an addiction. Use the following tips to help support your loved one during the alcohol rehab process:

Be Ready to Walk Away for a Few Days

The first few days in rehab can be very difficult for an alcoholic, mentally as well as physically. Physical withdrawal from alcohol can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms, such as insomnia, agitation, anxiety, and in extreme cases seizures or delirium tremens (DTs) may occur.

Your loved one will detox under the care of professional medical staff, and during this time period many rehab centers request that friends and family do not try to visit or call the patient. It may be hard not to have contact, but you can rest assured that your loved one is being cared for by professionals who understand the alcohol detox process.

Let Your Loved One Know That You are Proud of Them

After your loved one has physically detoxed alcohol, he or she will begin individual and group counseling sessions. During this time you will be able to visit and phone regularly, and it is recommended that you do so. The first couple of weeks in rehab can leave a recovering alcoholic feeling very vulnerable as he or she learns how to make life changes and exist without alcohol; during this time telling your loved one how proud you are of him or her for his or her progress can be very powerful.

The road to a sober life is made much easier when a recovering alcoholic has friends and family to support him or her in his or her journey.

Participate in Developing an Exit Plan

An extended stay in rehab does not automatically "cure" an alcoholic. Staying sober is a lifelong process after receiving help at a rehab center, and you can play an important part in helping your loved one. Spend time speaking with the counselors at the rehab center to learn relapse prevention strategies so you can provide support and help your loved one curb the urge to consume alcohol when he or she returns home from rehab.

For more help, contact a company such as Pacific Ridge to learn more.

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