I’ve helped many people commit to inpatient rehab, and I always talk to their families about the call that they’ll receive around day three to five.
The call is always the same. Though patients come from different circumstances and have different struggles, the point is always I have to leave now. People complain about anything from the food, to the other patients, to something going on at home, to the quality of the sheets.
Since I’ve seen this call so many times, I know how to handle it. I always recommend that families accept the call, acknowledge their loved one’s concern, and push the rest of the conversation back to later in the day. I suggest saying something like, “Thanks for calling. This is very important, but can we talk about it this afternoon?”
One of the features of early sobriety is massive mood swings – certainly by the hour and sometimes by the minute. A 9 am crisis may be forgotten by 5pm. At a good inpatient rehab, the staff is used to dealing with the emotional lability of their patients, and you can rest assured that they will work with your loved one on their complaint—be it real or entirely blown out of proportion.
If the family is able to move the call to later in the day, the patient will have had hours to work on their feelings, in individual therapy, group therapy, and over lunch with other patients. Learning how to self-soothe and modulate one’s feelings is an important lesson in recovery. We all know that people who are actively using can have explosive tempers, may not know how to express their emotions, and are sometimes used to getting their way in everything.
When the newly-recovering person makes that call for help, the family usually wants to jump in and save them—but it’s truly part of a lesson that the person needs to learn. Regulating emotions, advocating for their needs, working within a system, processing with friends: these are all crucial, new ways of thinking for the person entering recovery. In early sobriety there will be many moods swings, and what’s problematic one moment may be fine a half an hour later. Either way, the individual is on their own journey—and no longer needs to be rescued.
Adam Banks is a certified recovery coach and interventionist at Suntra Modern Recovery. He received an MBA from the University of Chicago and built a company which United Health Care acquired. He learned his rigor and attention to detail from his career as an airline pilot, holding an ATP, the FAA’s highest license.
Suntra Modern Recovery provides medical treatment for alcohol and opiate addictions via video visit with medical doctors. Suntra’s alcohol and drug intervention services are available in New York, Long Island, and the Hamptons. Treatment for opiate and heroin addiction, including Suboxone treatment, can start today.