Rehab may not always be a community of the most friendly or compassionate people who find themselves in treatment for whatever reason. We may need to be mindful of the fact that not everyone wants to be here, and not every knows how to deal with the situation. The environment of rehab may even put someone who is normally pretty agreeable on edge. Difficult personal situations like this can create difficult people, so we have at least 7 ways to deal with difficult people in rehab.
- Ignore Them
Sometimes the best option to avoid further issues with a difficult individual while in rehab is to just ignore them. There is usually enough going on in treatment that can divert your attention to more like-minded or friendlier individuals. Sometimes the more attention and energy you feed into a situation with a difficult person in rehab just fuels their fire more to act out, because one way or another they are getting results from there negative behavior, and that may be all they need to keep it up.
- Show Sympathy
It is important to remember that a difficult person in rehab is in the same situation you are in. They have been removed from their home, from their comfort zone, and from their drug or drink to begin the process of changing their life and it can be stressful, scary, and frustrating. Try to share with them some of your own concerns, and sympathize with them. The more a difficult person relates to you, and knows your struggles, the more likely they are to ease off of their abrasive behavior and put more effort into getting acclimated to the environment.
- Practice Tolerance
When you are unable to find any middle ground with someone who is difficult while in rehab, you should remind yourself that that individual has issues as you do, and that they are experiencing the same process as you. It is important that you at least practice tolerance. There is no growth or positive outcome from judging others or berating them based off of our expectations. They are a person too, so if you cannot agree and they make themselves impossible to ignore you may just have to accept them.
- Use Humor
Laughter is the best medicine, so they say. When confronted with a difficult person in rehab who is making things harder on you or others, one really good way to deal with that situation is by trying to initiate some kind of humor into the conversation. Sometimes people will forget to be stressful, aggressive, or disrespectful when they are enjoying a laugh with a peer. Making light of situations can also take the sting out of whatever it is that is causing the problem anyway.
- Address the Issue
Sometimes when all other methods have been exhausted you have to take the bull by the horns, grab the wheel and steer the situation into a resolution. Confronting an issue with a difficult person in rehab head-on can be dangerous. In my experience it can have the best or the worst results, but being honest and letting the difficult individual know how their behavior may be affecting you while in this phase of recovery can be so important. Remember to be assertive and stand your ground, but not insulting or instigating.
- Pick Your Battles
Going along with #7 you need to make sure that the difficult situation created by this difficult person is really worth getting all bent out of shape. We are not going to like everyone, especially other drug addicts or alcoholics who can have enough of a hard time liking people in general. So if someone if difficult make sure it is something you should even be concerned with.
- Establish Boundaries
Once everything is said and done at the end of the day you have to set your boundaries. If there is a difficult person you feel strongly about not letting into your life or into your recovery while in rehab, then be sure to behave accordingly and consistently. Establishing boundaries with a difficult person in rehab means that you make it clear to both parties of what you will accept and what you would be opposed to, and you respect the other persons boundaries as well. While you’re taking this kind of self-assessment, you may also want to review the situation that makes them so difficult, and be sure it’s not YOU who is being difficult or unfair.
Sometimes making the commitment to go to rehab can wear on someone, because not too many people are ready to step outside their comfort zone even when they have to. While getting help may not be the easiest thing you ever do, it could very well be the most important. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135