Millions of people are currently in prison in the United States. In fact, the U.S. imprisons more people than any other country in the world, and many of those in jail are there for drug- or alcohol-related offenses. If your loved one is in jail and is also an addict, the problems associated with incarceration are multiplied. Here’s what you need to know about maintaining your sanity as you help your loved one cope with the most challenging of addiction problems.
It’s Not Your Fault
The most important thing to remember following your loved one’s incarceration is that there is nothing you could have done to prevent your loved one’s arrest. Helping your loved one through this challenging time is important; remembering that his or her poor personal choices led to jail — and not yours — is essential. Make a plan for financial support, visitation, and communication early — then stick to it. Also, don’t forget to find a friend or a support group with whom you can share your feelings. You need support, too.
Keeping a Schedule
Keeping a regular schedule — especially if you have children — is essential to regaining and maintaining a normal lifestyle in the absence of your loved one. Do what you can to keep your loved one as involved with family decisions as possible, but don’t stop working on your own personal goals. Your well being — as well as the well being of your children — should be your top priority.
During visitation, prepare yourself in advance by being well-rested and fed. Prepare to be searched, and avoid bringing gifts. Don’t visit for the first time with your children; instead, take a scouting trip so you can tell them what to expect. Have reasonable expectations, never break posted rules, and never lose your temper — respectful behavior and a calm demeanor will help you have the visit you’ve long hoped for.
When your loved one comes home from prison, it will likely be a stressful time. Chances are, he or she never received the kind of addiction treatment provided by inpatient drug rehab facilities; now may be the time to approach that possibility. The idea of going away again so soon after getting out may be hard to accept, but once your loved one understands you only have his or her best interests at heart, the more likely your loved one is to get desperately needed help.